15th Mumbai Film Festival Diary: Day 5

We continue the coverage of the 15th Mumbai Film Festival and here’s the roundup of films watched on day 5 of the same. (Check out updates on day 1, day 2, day 3 and day 4 as well).

A Long and Happy Life

A Long and Happy LifeA Short and Okayish Film would have been an appropriate title. A potato farmer dreams of life in the big city after disposing off his farm for a reasonable compensation.  But his farmhands want to carry on for it’s their only means of livelihood. He has a change of heart and takes up cudgels for them against the authorities. The film directed by Boris Khlebnikov never completely involved me and I found myself appreciating the comforts of the Red Lounge seats more than the nuances of the on screen battle.

Barefoot to Goa

Barefoot to GoaThe Red Lounge seats score once again as I was trapped watching this crashing bore of a movie, which is something about a couple of kids who run away from home to meet their mute grandmother. The kids behaved liked robots under the direction of debutant Praveen Morchhale. Overall a very tacky product.

Mastram

Basic CMYKGiving up Heli to watch this sounds unbelievable now. On paper it sounds like a great idea for a film, a biopic of a wildly popular writer of erotica in Hindi. And it’s directed by Akhilesh Jaiswal, the co-writer of Gangs of Wasseypur. But the execution falls flat thanks to a weak script by Jaiswal. He even fails to retake a few gaffes by his actors. The best parts are those when the voiceover reads out from Mastram’s original text. The end too is brought about abruptly without warning making you conclude that Jaiswal has already run out of limited ideas for his film.

Toilet Blues

Toilet BluesWhen you call your film Toilet Blues, you do grab the attention of people. Perhaps it is because one may expect a Farrelly Brothers like comedy that you get deeply disappointed. A lot of films end with a long shot, deep and meditative, that is supposed to make you reflect on everything you have witnessed earlier in the film. Buy when you fill the entire film with such shots it’s a pain to watch them.  This film looks at a young girl looking to lose her virginity who pines for the affections of her co-traveler. But he is on the path to become a priest and cannot accede to her overtures. Why the film is called what it is called I never could quite figure out.

The Major

The Major 2013It starts with a crime scene, which is more of an accident than a crime. A Russian police major Sergey is rushing to hospital, his wife is pregnant. And he unnecessarily speeds his vehicle and being unable to see a boy and his mother appear in front of the car, he ends up running over the boy, and killing him. He immediately gets out, locks the mother in his car and waits until the police arrives. Now seeing their senior officer there is an attempt to to suppress the evidence and make it look like an accident. Also they make it look like that the mother was drunk and it was she who was at the fault. And then starts a drama, which ends up with the killing of 3 policemen and 3 civilians. And the major is somehow is at the center of all the killings.

It is a thriller with lots of human emotions, and at the same time very realistically shot. Acting is superb. Film rarely has a dull moment. Something keeps happening always, and yet the plot looks very natural and twists are believable. It is a rare kind of crime drama thriller,  which holds you right till the end. And it also ask us lots of questions about ethics and morality. It also makes us realize the not so obvious consequences of corruption and crime in general.

Another House

Another HouseHenry (Marcel Sabourin) an aged man suffering from Alzheimer’s condition often wanders off to an unknown place in search of what he says is his home. Gabriel (Roy Dupuix) and Eric (Émile Proulx-Cloutier) his two estranged sons realize that in order to help their father overcome this issue, they need to resolve their differences.Dealing with a person suffering from Alzheimer’s is one of the most testing and stressful situations to deal with for a family.Such situations often end up taking a toll on the people who are dealing with it. Director Mathieu Roy has depicted the proceedings in the most realistic manner. More than terming the children as good and bad, he has tried to depict them as lifelike as possible. Both the children love their father and care for him , but have become impatient esp. Gabriel whilst dealing with the situation. Perhaps the fact that the director had faced a similar situation in real life, helped him to direct the film with an point of view that can be termed as honest and true to life.

Though the film drags at times, Another House makes for poignant viewing with remarkable performance by Sabourin and the rest of the cast supporting him ably.

The Lovers on the Bridge (Les Amants du Pont-Neuf)

The Lovers on the BridgeDirected by Leos Carax and featuting Juliette Binoche and Denis Lavant, naturally this was a film that sounded compelling indeed to watch. It’s a simple story of boy meeting a girl and how both fall in love with each other. For the first 20 mins of the movie as a viewer you are confused, but then trust Leo to do things in his theatrical style.The film keeps you hooked till end.

The Floorwalker

The FloorwalkerCharlie Chaplin is a name which reckons highly even today across film lovers and film makers.This old classic film has been restored due to efforts of Amitabh Bachchan. A typical Charlie Chaplin film, its a laugh riot and it also drive across the point how a good movie can be ageless and can be enjoyed even nearly 100 years later.

Baishe Srabonbaishe_srabon_posterOnce again at Metro Cinema the 12 noon slot had only one film and that was Srijit Mukherji’s 2011 thriller, Baishe Srabon. A spate of murders happen in Kolkata and Abhijit (Parambrata Chatterjee) the cop in charge of the case doesn’t seem to be making much headway in the investigation. It also takes a toll on his relationship with his girlfriend, a T.V journalist (Raima Sen). Abhijit’s superior officer (Rajesh Sharma) decides to recall back to service his friend and a brilliant cop in the past, Prabir Roy Chowdhury (Prosenjit Chatterjee). Probir had been dismissed from service due to his violent streak which resulted once in the encounter of a politician’s son. Foul mouthed and ill-tempered, Prabir is the opposite of Abhijit and they make an unlikely team. But slowly the duo get together to get their act right as they go about trying to solve the case of the serial killings. Noted Bengali filmmaker Gautam Gosh also has a prominent role in the film. Baishe Srabon doesn’t succeed as a thriller as you can guess the turn the film will take. But for the excellent star cast, the cinematography (Soumik Halder) and the wonderful scenes in which Prosenjit and Parambrata share the screen, the film is worth a watch.

Invincible (Ajeyo)

AjeyoVeteran Assamese filmmaker’s recent film Baandhon was screened during MFF 2012 and got a theatrical release this year thanks to PVR Director’s Rare, thus becoming the first Assamese film to release in the rest of India outside Assam as well. He is now ready with his next film Ajeyo which is based on Arun Sharma’s novel of the same name. Gojen Koet is a firebrand youth living in a village in Assam in the 1940’s. He is a supporter of the freedom movement and against the local moneylender and his gang of men. Against the backdrop of India’s independence and partition, Gojen witnesses a lot of pain and anguish all around him. Life takes a turn in his own case as well. In contrast to the period back in the 40’s is Gojen in the present, a well settled man now ready with his book on his own experiences. His grand-daughter, an IPS officer is now the firebrand in the family, ready to face any adversity. A very simple tale, for some reason it looks quite amateurish in terms of execution, something unexpected from a master filmmker like Jahnu Barua.

Virgin Talkies (Kanyaka Talkies)

Kanyaka Talkies PosterK.R.Manoj who won the National Award for Best Investigative film in 2010, A Pestering Journey, makes his foray into feature films with Kanyaka Talkies. In a small town called Kuyyali the only theatre i.e Kanyaka Talkies has fallen on bad times and the owner now plays soft porn movies to make a living. One fine day due to his life taking a curious turn he decides to give away the theatre to the local Parish committee and leave from there. The Parish decides to convert the theatre into a chapel and in comes a young priest (Murali Gopy) who is happy to take up the assignment. But things don’t seem to go all that peaceful for the father after he takes charge. In a peculiar turn of events he ends up getting disturbed in a strange manner. Soon fact and fiction seem to merge, leaving things open ended for interpretation. The film boasts of a good premise and a decent star cast which includes Lena in a powerful role. However the film ends up being too abstract for comfort and at the end one feels completely detached from the feeling without empathizing for the characters. Definitely a lost opportunity from the director’s side, as it had a lot of scope to push the envelope.

Vic + Flo Saw a Bear ( Vic et Flo ont vu un ours)

Vic + Flo Saw a BearWinner of the Alfred Bauer prize at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, this Canadian film (in French) made by Denis Cote, focuses on Vic and Flo, lesbian lovers who retreat to the countryside of Quebec after Vic comes out of prison. Originally intending to tend to her old uncle who is now paralyzed, Vic now is keen to settle down there with Flo. They have to keep running into Vic’s parole officer though and just when you wonder what is going to happen to them, there enters someone which leads to an unexpected turn of events in their lives. The locations are picturesque and the actors are more than competent. The film moves along reasonably well but the end seems a little too abrupt and almost just an attempt to justify the title. Also what’s with the 60’s style exaggerated background music which plays on whenever a particular character appears on screen? A worthwhile watch though no where a contender for the top 5 films of the fest this year.

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