The 15th Mumbai Film Festival had an amazing choice of films and continuing over coverage of the same here is a look at the penultimate day of the festival i.e day 6. (Also check out the highlights of day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4 and day 5)
The Strange Little Cat
This strange little film may not be for every taste but it must be sampled by the discerning viewer. There is no story to speak of. Just a few hours inside a household with a large family as they go about their daily chores. Anyone else would have preferred a hand held camera but director Ramon Zurcher goes for an unflinching steadycam. In the cramped confines of the house, most frames end up choppong off part of the actors’ bodies, giving you an intimate look at the action. Count among the actors a dog, a cat, a moth, few sparrows and an off screen rat. I kid you not.
After five days of maxing out my daily quota of films, sleep is now my critic. If I stay awake throughout the film, I give it the thumbs up. If I doze off, it’s a thumbs down. And I did catch forty winks during Bad Hair. A small boy of Afro-Latino parentage is obsessed with straightening out his curly hair while his mother thinks that these are early signs of homosexuality. She tries everything to make him snap out of it, even if it means giving him a demonstration in heterosexuality. It is a telling comment on how parents fail to read their child right. There were a few beautiful moments but otherwise it was like a half hour idea stretched to an hour and a half.
This film is shot in B & W. I thought maybe the colour green will be brought in at some point but not everyone thinks like Shakespeare. An actor manages to earn just about enough to afford a small apartment with his girlfriend. The girlfriend, an actor herself, but out of work, pines for a more comfortable life. The best bits are scenes featuring the actor’s 6 year old daughter from a previous marriage. She is so good; I would like to see her in a leading role in a film of her own. I couldn’t catch her name though. Director Philippe Garrel ended the film abruptly, so will this review.
This famous sci-fi Spanish thriller about time travel at 88 minutes wonderfully keeps the audience engaged. Timecrimes is a classic example how a director can make a good sci -fi film in low budget.
Excellent subject,very good cinematography, some stunning footages, very interesting characters but lost in narration. It is hard to criticize a documentary, where one can see the hard work of the makers. But this actually ends up in making mockery of a very sensitive topic, may be knowingly or unknowingly. Power/electricity is a very sensitive issue. It is very depressing not to be able to work, study and do business, when one desperately wants to. Though there is mention of it in the documentary, it never makes us realise the intensity of it. And that too it comes the middle of the docu. It should have started with it. Well there is no set standard of editing a documentary. But it should have started with a character, with his/her personal life and how power fits into it. It could well have started with a common person, or Loha singh, the maverick katiyabaaz, or the rebel IAS officer, Ritu Maheshwari.
It starts haphazardly. Filmmaker looked indecisive, as to which side to lean more on. Namrata Rao is an excellent feature film editor, but editing of this documentary is average. Well it might be a collaborative effort and hence no point blaming editor. But it is the structure that is disjoint, may be because of the edit, or may be because it wasn’t shot with a narrative in mind. We see more about protagonist’s personal lives at the end. The film jumps from one topic to other, without any purpose or sense. The film also appears cheap at some places, where sole aim of the makers, is to make people laugh. Even though the opening song is lovely, the music is irritating. Well the music is not bad, but it is used at the wrong places. Riot scenes are shot very well. The scene of beating an electrician is also shot very daringly. So there are lots of good things but it fails on one basic thing that is narrative. And it spoils what would otherwise have been a very beautiful and provoking subject.
All About Eve
Are you a struggling actor or filmmaker? If you are then you should watch this film right away. And there is reason for it, and it is the character of Eve Harrington. First thing you will instantly like about this film are the terrific written dialogues, witty and emotive, which gels with each character to its core. Second thing you will like are the characters, and good thing is you keep discovering them till the end. Sometimes hating them and sometimes loving them. And after more than 50 years the film still remains fresh. This is a restored version which you won’t get on #youknowhere. It was a delight to watch another restored classic in MFF.
A Touch of Sin
This Chinese film written and directed by Zia Jhangke won the Best Screenplay Award at Cannes this year. Its a film that talks about 4 independent stories with some random act of violence bringing in a defining moment in each of these acts/stories. The film is disturbing and makes you pause and reflect thanks to some really interesting moments. The performances are top notch and this is one film that you cannot get enough of. Definitely a recommended watch.
Shield of Straw (Wara No Tate)
Takashi Miike is one of the more popular contemporary Japanese filmmakers and some of his films especially the ones with a lot of action and violence have earned him a cult following. Nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year, Shield of Straw is more of an edge of the seat thriller rather than an action film. A dangerous criminal Kunihide Kiyomaru wanted in a case pertaining to sexual abuse and murder of a 7 year old girl surrenders himself to the police, fearing for his life. The rich grandfather of the girl complicates matters by offering a 1 billion yen as reward for anyone who can exterminate the criminal. A crack team led by Mekari and Shiraiwa is deputed to escort Kunihide safely to Tokyo by a bullet train. But the journey is not safe as there are enough and more people trying to kill Kunihide on the way. An arresting story (though you can predict the flow), this one largely keeps you on your toes till the very end.
Richard Linklater’s 3rd film in the “Before” series of romantic dramas (Before Sunrise and Before Sunset being the other 2 films), the film once again revolves around Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy). Nine years after Before Sunset they are now a couple and parents of twin girls. Jesse is also trying hard to maintain his relationship with his son from his previous marriage. Jesse and Celine are now on a holiday in Greece along with the kids. Their hosts and other friends decide to gift Jesse and Celine a night at a hotel so that they can spend some precious time together. What happens throughout the evening is what the film is all about. Similar to the previous 2 films this one two works mainly due to the terrific chemistry between the lead pair and the witty conversations. Its a worthy 3rd film in a series that has almost gained legendary status by now. For a more detailed review read this and this.
Yeh Ilo Ilo kya hai, yeh Ilo Ilo? Ilo Ilo is proof that good writing can elevate the most mundane of stories to the level of a classic. The story need not be too profound. The thought, the minor details behind every scene is what matters most. The basic structure of Ilo Ilo reminded me of A Separation. A Filipino maid is hired by a family in Singapore. The small boy in the family initially gives her hell but gradually a bond develops between the two, much to the discomfort of the mother. Alongside, the family is facing an economic crunch, reflecting the state of the Singaporean economy. This makes having a maid a luxury they can ill afford. The film touches upon many such issues while keeping the mood light and jovial. Ilo Ilo is a film of the quality achieved when the director has also written the screenplay. A memorable debut by Anthony Chen, this film won the Camera d’Or at Cannes this year.