Thursday, October 24, 2013

MAMI 2013: Days 5 & 6

For Those In Peril
Language: English
Director: Paul Wright

No film festival is complete without that one 'weird' film. This was that weirdo for me. The film deals with the protagonist's loss of his brother in a boat accident which he himself survived. The entire movie is consciously haphazard. Scenes inter-lap & juxtapose into each other to give the audience a heady experience & there is no discernible 'narrative'. A lot of figuring out is left to do on the audience's part. What I could get from it was how the loss of someone close changes everything-your internal feelings as well as your external outlook to see things including relationships, how the line between insanity & sanity starts to blur due to the grief.

It's all very stylistically shot though, I especially appreciated the sound design. All the film's flashbacks are shown through grainy footage that mirrors those shot by a cell phone or handycam, which may (or may not) be a comment on how memories quite literally become 'grainy'.

Despite this I really found a lack of emotional connect & the ending's just bizzarre. I was really put off by it, but there's a niche audience out there for this kind of a film & that's cool with me.

Another House (L'autre Maison)
Language:- French
Director:- Mathieu Roy

I felt this was an uneven film but when it worked it worked quite well. It questions our treatment of those that brought us into this world after they have reached an age where they find difficult to sustain themselves. There's a note of melancholy throughout the film but it never transforms into garish melodrama, the heart strings are tugged gently.

Despite dealing with a despondent subject it ends rather optimistically (or as optimistically as a film involving Alzheimer's, old age homes & war can end). The last 5 minutes are a meditative experience.

The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza)
Language: Italian
Director: Paulo Sorrentino

Okay, time to bring out the superlatives: Exceptional, brilliant, dazzling, par-excellence, gorgeous take your pick, 'The Great Beauty' is all that & more.


What terrific writing! Some of the best dialogue I have heard/read in quite a long time. Razor sharp wit. Quoting lines from this is going to be my next obsession. A central character that deserves his own mantle piece in cinematic time capsule & so many themes explored that listing them out would take up the rest of this post. Every scene, every frame, every sentence has been incorporated for a reason with meticulous detailing. 

This crisis of existentialism flows like poetry & hits like an arrow. Hard to find a flaw here, even the music is so magnificently used where opera rubs it's shoulders with indie pop. This is powerful cinema, it almost energized me & I cannot wait to revisit it. This movie alone was worth coming to MAMI for. Easily one of the best.

A Touch Of Sin (Tian Zhu Ding)
Language: Mandarin
Director: Jia Zhangke

This is a very cool movie. 4 mildly interrelated stories where the protagonists encounter death in one way or another in their journey. Basically the subject matter explores whether violence is something that is inherently human or something that only swells up when we're pushed to the extreme? The violence depicted isn't very grotesque but the sheer boiling intensity built around it makes it very striking. 

I personally like the leitmotif of captured animals running across all the 4 stories. It's the 'every man''s tale of revenge & crime. Visually eye catching & emotionally turbulent.

The Scorsese & Tarantino type fans may also dig this one. 

Language: Spanish
Director: Sebastian Lelio

58 year old divorcee having a mid life crisis. That sounds depressing but the film is not. On the contrary it's uplifting & at times funny with an outstanding performance by leading lady Paulina Garcia. If this was a Hollywood film there'd be Oscar buzz around her name. Unfortunately it isn't (she did win the Silver Bear at Berlin though). What's noticeable in 'Gloria' is how deftly the intimate moments of everyday life are captured. I loved the way music is incorporated, there's no soundtrack to the film, music only comes into play when someone turns on the radio, plays music in a party or inside a club. it is very cleverly incorporated into the screenplay. This is a compassionate film.

Ilo Ilo
Language: Chinese, English & Tagalong
Director: Anthony Cheng

"Ilo Ilo is a small Singaporean film with a big heart" described director Anthony Cheng. Those words couldn't have been truer. I love this film. Inspired by the director's real life it's about a 10 year old boy forming a bond with his Fillipino maid against the backdrop of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Chen has amazing eye for detail for the time period & the film exposes how each of us in our own ways are flawed yet we have the tendency to go beyond them. This film is a fine example on how to keep it low budget yet create something compelling & lovable. There are just 4 major characters throughout & a majority of it is shot indoors. Yet there's absolutely no sense of monotony. The casting decisions are excellent almost as if these roles were created for these actors & vice versa. It's wonderful to see such an affectionate film coming from this part of the world. 

Language: Hindi
Director: Janki Vishwanathan

A social satire set against the backdrop of rural India. This film instantly reminded me of  Marathi film 'Deool' I saw at MAMI 2 years ago about blind devotion that leads to discrimination & divide. As far as satires go the whole mountain-over-a-molehill subject has been dabbled with numerous times before still the director provides enough interesting material to stay engaged. The film falters at times though, the depiction of politicians is caricaturish & the ending's slightly abrupt. Despite it's flaws it's a film with honest intentions, I hope it gets a wide release.

The Little Mermaid 3D
Language: English
Director: Ron Clements & John Musker

I had a chance to watch the remastered 3D version of this Disney classic on the big screen & I took it. We had a Disney representative take a small class before the screening explaining briefly with the help of slides & videos how they transformed the feature to 3D. Very interesting.

The film's still as enchanting as ever although another perspective did arise as the last time I watched this was many years ago when I was 12 or 13. Isn't it sexist that Ariel wants to give up her royal lineage and become a human just because she's fallen for a prince who is and I quote "sooo handsooome!" & why does the lobster have to be Jamaican? Are there Jamaican lobsters? Thought for another day perhaps.

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