15th Mumbai Film Festival Diary: Day 2

The MAM team was working overtime during the weekend by trying to watch in as many films possible during the 15th Mumbai Film Festival. Similar to the updates of Day 1 we now bring to you the updates of Day 2 over here.

Day 2

Michael Kohlhaas

Michael KohlhaasThe film is based on the French novel of the same name by Heinrich von Kleist. It opens with a beautiful shot of Bavarian plains and Michael Kohlhaas (Mads Mikkelsen) and his servants taking a few beautiful horses across the plains. The local baron stops Michael in woods, at a temporary check-post. He demands authorization papers and as Michael has none, he forces him to leave behind two beautiful black horses as guarantee. Michael doesn’t have any other option and leaves two beautiful black horses with the baron. And these two black horses becomes the reason for the rebellion. The novel was based on a true story of German trader. Here Mads Mikkelsen is terrific in the titular role. Judith and lisbeth, both wife and daughter are very well written and performed characters. Film drags a little in the middle when Michael has raised the private army to pursue the fleeing local baron and by doing it he incurs the wrath of the princess.At the end the film leaves you with lots of questions. Was the rebellion worth it? Is it worthwhile to lose your wife for ones principals and that too when you have a teenaged daughter? Is it fair to risk the lives of men, who have blind faith in you? And then why surrender? Director tried his best to put Michael’s point of view and does it convincingly. But despite excellence in almost every department, the film stretches too much. And it is because of filmmakers intention to justify the dilemma. But irony sometimes should not be justified. No wonder novel remains one of the Kafka’s all time favorite.

Who is Dayani Cristal

Who is Dayani CristalGael García Bernal is the producer and presenter of this wonderful documentary. It traces the roots of an unknown body found in Arizona desert. There is a name tattooed on his chest. And it is Dayani Cristal. Gael Garcia tries to trace the journey himself, highlighting the immigration issue,  in and around central america. USA is the land of dreams and opportunities, no wonder so many migrants try to go there by whatever means. And it is the notorious Mexican border , that they have to cross. And due to newly constructed wall, they have been forced to take more riskier routes. And it goes through Arizona desert. And the unidentified man took the same route, but could not make it. And all we know is the tattoo on his chest ‘Dayani Cristal’. It is a very emotional documentary on how poor people driven to extreme. How one leaves his beloved and goes to a far away land. And what if one returns not alive, but as a dead corpse. What if the tattoo which becomes his identity,  is actually the name of his 3 yr old daughter. And for her future he undertook the journey to future. As the mother of the dead man tells , at-least she can put flowers beside his grave. Many mothers even don’t know what happened to their sons.

The Amazing Catfish

The Amazing CatfishThis is a heartwarming , mind boggling,  powerful,  mediating film. It is not a film, rather an experience that one should have. Story, characters and emotions are so real and yet so dreamy. Claudia Sainte – Luce is a director to look out for in future. And one hardly realizes that it is her debut film. Performances are as good as real.  You actually end up feeling like being  yet another member of Martha’s amazing family.

Its better not to give away much of the plot, because it is more about feeling this wonderful experience than about plot and story.  It is a simply told film and with some really heartwarming characters. It is a story of a wonderful family and of a beautiful lonely girl-Claudia. And how one day she meets the most amazing catfish.

Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn Davis PosterThis is another gem from the Coen brothers, the film is unique and has characters that you will find only in the universe of Coen’s. The film is about trials and tribulations that one needs to go through to be a star, but it seems factors other than hardwork and dedication are needed, to achieve what one wants.This sad, funny melancholic tale is easily one of the best American films to release this year. Oscar Davis is excellent as struggling folk singer Llewyn Davis. And if you think, you need one more reason to watch this film, then how can you ignore a film in which cats play such an important role.

The Ax (Le Couperet)

Le Couperet (The Ax)Costa-Gavras is widely known for his gritty political thrillers, this film which is adapted from American novel The Ax. The story revolves around a 40 year old who is searching for job for the past 2 years, since he was laid of ,when his company was relocating and restructuring. Things get desperate when he is unable to find a job even after 2 years and he decides to kill some of the other candidates who are vying for the same job. This black comedy is a reflection of our society in modern times, the decline of our moral values and how we place importance to ourselves with regards to our job and other commodities we have. This stunning movie leaves you thinking about what kind of capitalist society we have created, where only profitability matters and nothing else.

The King of Comedy

The King of ComedyJerry Langford (Jerry Lewis) is a successful and much loved stand up comedian on primetime American television. Rupert Pupkin (Robert DeNiro) an aspiring standup comedian who aspires to be like Langford is obsessed with him and also goes to the extent of stalking him for achieving his goal. After working on several iconic films like Goodfellas, Taxi driver and Mean streets, The King of Comedy was quite a departure for the duo of Martin Scorcese and Robert De Niro. Perhaps this was the reason this black comedy didn’t find favor with the critics and audiences when it was initially released as they were perhaps expecting a  gritty fare like their previous collaborations. Over a period of time, much like other cult films The King Of Comedy has gone on to become a much appreciated and acclaimed film. It was nice to watch a good restored print of this film.

The film is a black comedy which depicts the celebrity obsession in a funny yet dark way. Robert De Niro’s performance as a person who worships his idol to the point of even stalking him is superb . His character is one which evokes repulsion and also sympathy to an extent. Amongst the other cast members,  Sandra Bernhard playing the role of crazy fan of Langford also deserves a mention

The King of comedy makes a strong comment on the obsession with celebrities which is relevant all the more today. Though the film is among the lesser celebrated works of Scorsese , it still qualifies as a recommended watch.

Machete Kills

TMachete Killshe U.S Government recruits Machete (Danny Trejo) to take down an arms dealer who plans to launch a rocket into space. Much like the first part, Machete Kills is a hilarious and over the top tribute to the B-movie genre. Not only does director Robert Rodriguez take an asinine plot but he also imbibes a lot of hilarious action scenes and dialogues which makes the film a fun watch.

Besides Danny Trejo and Michelle Rodriguez who reprise their roles from the first part the film also sees several well known actors who star in terrific roles which adds to the fun of watching the film.Most notable amongst them is Charlie Sheen as the U.S president and Mel Gibson as the main villain.

Film festivals are predominantly marked by films which are intense, topical and serious in nature. Machete Kills is the kind of film which makes for a refreshing change among a crowd of the above mentioned films.Don’t miss the fake trailer of ‘Machete Kills Again… In Space’  which plays in the beginning of the film. It is sure to bring the house down


Considering that the film promised a 3D film having 3 different segments made by directors of repute like Peter Greenaway, Jean-Luc Godard and Edgar Pera, this looked like a film worth checking out. The three segments represent three dimensions and supposedly a little quirky but comes across as a little too abstract for comfort. Most likely it could be one of those films which looked very promising on paper but the end result makes you wonder what it was all about eventually.

Autumn Blood

Autumn-BloodHigh in the mountains a teenage sister and her younger brother live on their own in their secluded farm, after their widowed mother also dies. The two of them seem to be living an idyllic life when things take a completely different turn in their lives, thus endangering themselves. An interesting premise for sure is seen in Markus Blunder’s film and visually the film is a treat to watch. Though the pace does test your patience at times, the film manages to be a riveting watch overall. Sophie Lowe in the central character especially does very well.

Blue is the Warmest Color

Blue-is-the-warmest-color hot kissWinner of this year’s Palme D’Or at Cannes, Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color, is a like a wonderful poetry on the big screen. The film is based on the French graphic novel, Blue Angel and talks about the lives of Adele and Emma. The film starts off with Adele, a high school junior and extremely popular girl in school who ends up meeting Emma, a student of Fine Arts and an aspiring artist. Throwing caution to the wind both Adele and Emma embark on a path less trodden, but a decision taken out of choice. What does life have in store for them? How do they deal with love, relationship, heartbreak, commitment and more is what the film takes us through. With brilliant performances from the cast, especially Adele Exarchopoulos (who plays Adele), the film has a simple subject but handles it in admirable fashion. Though the film has a lot of sex on screen, credit to the director for making it look artistic and not vulgar. As the story progresses you forget that the film is all about 2 women as what unfolds can happen between a boy & a girl or even between two boys. That’s how powerful the storytelling is as it literally sucks the viewers in. Easily among the best films seen at MFF this year, this one is a recommended watch.

Note- Among the films mentioned in this post Michael Kohlhaas was seen during Day 1 & not during Day 2 of the fest.


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