We end the coverage of the 15th Mumbai Film Festival with a look at the films seen on day 7 i.e the final day of the festival (check out similar coverage of day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, day 5 and day 6).
Siddharth plays out like a police procedural without the police and without a lot of procedures. A zipper fitter who barely manages to earn enough for himself and his family finds his world turned upside down when his son is reported missing. Official channels yield no response and he has no money to undertake a large scale search himself. Relying on hearsay and borrowed funds, he looks to track down his son on his own, even while maintaining his self-respect. There was no forced suspense, no editing flourishes. Only a detailed look at a poor family driven to desperation. Most films like these end with a statistic giving us numbers on the social malaise dealt with by the film. This one stands out because it didn’t. Director Richie Mehta has managed to eke out true to life performances from his entire cast including junior artists who have just one scene. Hope this one gets a wider theatrical release.
The Japanese Dog
Films featuring old people in lead roles often move at a languorous pace. It takes immense patience to sit through them, especially when the story isn’t going anywhere. Tudor Cristian Jurgiu’s The Japanese Dog is a prime example. An old man loses all his property in a flood. For the first half we see him trying to piece his life back together. Then his son, who had moved to Japan and raised a family there, visits him. Old memories flood in even as life’s realities are staring at them in the face. The titular Japanese Dog refers to a robotic dog gifted by the old man’s grandson to him. As it plays a very insignificant part in the story, the film could have done with more relevant title.
Saving General Yang
This film from China is based on legends of Yang family which has been represented in the form of opera, T.V serials and novels. The wafer thin story line mixes fact with fiction. The characters are not developed, the only thing good about this movie is action set pieces in the film. This is a typical popcorn guilty pleasure Hong Kong action film.
This is based on a true story, about a German Citizen who was detained in the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention camp for five years, despite not a single evidence which implicated him as a terrorist. This low budget film works more as thriller and human drama rather than political film, which was the intention of film maker.
This 2002 film made by veteran filmmaker Costa-Gavras is set during the days of the World War II and focuses on Kurt Gerstein, an SS officer employed in the SS Hygiene Institute, designing programs for the purification of water and the destruction of vermin. He is shocked to learn that the process he has developed to eradicate typhus is now being used for killing Jews in concentration camps. Gerstein attempts to notify the Vatican about the gassings, hope that the Pope would be able to do something about it, but is appalled by the lack of response he gets from the Catholic hierarchy. The only person who supports him is Riccardo Fontana, a young Jesuit priest. While the character of Kurt Gerstein is historical, the character of the young priest is fictional and so is the overall plot. A French- German- Romanian collaboration, Amen gets the period look correctly but the film would have looked a lot more genuine if the dialogues were in German rather than English. For those interested in war centric films this one is worth watching though not one of the best of Costa-Gavras.
Brave Miss World
This documentary by Cecilia Peck talks about former Miss World Linor Abargail who hails from Israel. Just a few weeks before being crowned Miss World Linor was raped by a travel agent at knife point. But she not only went on to win the title later on but also had the mental strength to make her case public and fight all the way for justice, with the accused eventually getting a 16 year sentence. Linor has since then gone on to become a lawyer and fight for the rights and support for women like her who have also suffered from sexual violence, becoming popular Worldwide due to her efforts. The film looks at how Linor fought her way for justice and and is now using all her experience and knowledge to help countless others like her. A sensitive topic, the film addresses the same in an earnest manner.
This Mexican film directed by Amat Escalante is Mexico’s official entry to the Oscars in 2014 and won the Best Director Award at Cannes this year. The film’s protagonist Heli is a 17 year old lad, married to his lady love and living along with his wife, baby son, father and sister. Heli and his dad work in a car factory and his 12 year old sister Estela’s boyfriend Alberto is a cadet in the army. Alberto in a bid to make some quick money steals some cocaine caught in a drug bust by the army & plans to sell it off later. With Estela’s consent he stores it in Heli’s home but Heli discovers the same and their affair too. What happens from thereon is a heady mix of drugs, violence and corruption. The film has a slightly unconventional tale and appears a little too bold for universal comfort. Also the shock element at places appears a little to deliberate. One may like or dislike the film but its hard to ignore the film totally.
Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes his foray into direction with this film. Belonging to an Italian family, settled in the U.S, the Maretellos, Martello Jr. loves his bachelor pad, his friends, his family etc and is lucky to have a sexually active life. Yet he enjoys watching porn every day as he feels its better than actual sex as well. Enters Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) in his life and he is swept of his feet. They do indulge in a relationship which eventually sees them having sex as well. Everything is fine except that Martello Jr. still cannot give up on porn. What happens from thereon is what the film is all about. This is a fairly easy going film and a neat directorial debut for Joseph Gordon-Levitt. While it may not be the classic festival film and is more of an eye-candy mainstream film, one does need to watch the odd film like this at festivals like MFF to unwind. And yes the star cast alone is reason enough to try this out.