Friday, October 25, 2013

MAMI 2013: The Final Day

Language: Spanish
Director: Amat Escalante

"Heli' was the most disturbing & depressing film I saw at the fest, but that in turn only reminded me of the power of cinema to sometimes make us sit through experiences that shake us up.

An innocent family gets embroiled in a drug trafficking case in the outskirts of Mexico. This results in the local paramilitary force picking them up from their house & what follows then is an extensive torture set piece both physical & cerebral. Instead of trapping the audience in a torture chambers & making it a 'torture porn' flick the film explores the aftermath of this horrific incident & how it changes the lives of the scarred individuals probably forever.

The harsh sun-parched rocky terrain of the region seem to be mirroring the turmoil of the characters.

This was the perennial film festival mindfuck for me.

Don Jon
Language: English
Director: Joseph Gordon Levitt

Well made, smart & funny but ultimately a predictable film. I felt there was a better movie in there somewhere.  Levitt shows a deft hand at handling the material he's working with & for the most part I kept hoping the film would go beyond where it was intended to but it was not to be. 

Johannson looks gorgeous but I felt was a strange choice for this role, Julianne Moore on the other hand is a treat. My favourite though were Tony Danza & Glenn Headley as Jon's parents. 

Despite it's cliche ridden ending I enjoyed watching it, was just expecting something more.

On My Way (Elle S'en Va)
Language: French
Director: Emmanuelle Bercott

For the first 15 minutes it seemed like this would be a woman-dealing-with-mid-life-crisis film like 'Gloria' but then it picked up & turned into a road movie-cum-family dramedy that follows the events occuring in the 48 odd hours in the life of Bettie, an ex-beauty queen of an era gone by where she makes amends with her daughter and connects with a grandson she never knew. Filled with humour & pathos this was a pleasant surprise. Sweet film

Brave Miss World
Language: Hebrew & English
Director: Cecilia Peck

A former Miss World Linor Abargil turns to activism & her Jewish heritage to overcome the trauma of rape in this documentary by Cecilia Peck. 

Dealing with a serious issue like rape & sexual harassment that occur the world over the film has to be commended for giving a voice & platform to previously silent victims to expose the horrors they have gone through & in some cases continue to go through. That said however there seemed to be a tad excess of self-praise & the sections dealing with Abargail's family life mirrored a reality show. Mixed feelings about this one. Serious issue but an obtuse portrayal.  

Language: English
Director: Costa Gavras

As a part of the Costa Gavras retrospective I chose to watch this 2002 flick on the big screen as I am fascinated by films based on Nazi Germany.

Based on real events & (partly) real characters 'Amen' plays out like a tense thriller about the lengths to which  two individuals, one a Nazi army officer & the other a Jesuit priest went in order to reach out to the Pope to let the world know about the atrocities being committed on the Jews.  Alas! to no avail.

This may not rank very high in the pantheon of WWII movies but is still riveting nonetheless.