Jio MAMI 2015 Diaries Days 5, 6 & 7

Here’s the final installment from us of our Jio MAMI 2015 Diaries,with a roundup of films seen by the MAM team on days 5, 6 & 7.

(For days 1 & 2,check here, for days 3 &4,check here).

PikaderoPikadero

A couple just can’t seem to consummate their relationship as they are not able to find a suitably inexpensive spot to do it. Its a commmet on the Euro crisis but the film is much more light hearted than that. The camera stays still and often its the action that moves from one end of the frame to another. The actors look straight ahead and their movements are precise and choreographed. Dialogue is sparse. If you are thinking Wes
Anderson, we are on the same page. Just not as much colour. This is one of the hidden gems of the festival. Go watch it! Directed by Ben Sharrock.

AGNIESZKAAgnieszka

As the movie opens, Agnieszka is being released from prison for an unknown crime. Moments later, she sets on fire, one of the persons responsible for her being in jail. You know straight away that she’s a tough nut to crack. She moves to Germany for work and ends up working as a dominatrix while befriending a teenager. The story has a lot of potential, some of it is explored too. But ultimately director Tomasz Rudzik choses stylish flourishes over logic, watering down the overall impact of the film.

Interruption

A group of terrorists take over the staging of a Greek tragedy and dispel grief in their own violent style. For every con film to succeed the biggest con should be on the viewer. Similarly for two thirds of this film, you are as dumb founded as the audience on the other side of the screen. Its the third act where the film gets weird and stops making sense. Its a brave attempt by director Yorgos Zois.

The Second Mother PosterThe Second Mother

What an unexpected surprise this film turned out to be! The story is straight out a Bollywood social, but the treatment is anything but. A house maid has been a second mother to a teenager all his life. Things change when her own daughter comes to live with them and refuses to be subservient like her mother. An absolute spot on performance by Regina Case and a clever screenplay make this amongst the best at MAMI this year. Directed by Anna Muylaert.

Komal GandharKomal Gandhar

A non-restored print, patchy subtitles and a constant hiss weren’t enough to take the shine of Ritwak Ghatak’s classic on his 90th birthday. Yes the absence of subtitles at key places did hurt but you could get the general drift.  Two rival theatre groups join hands for the production of Shakuntala. Despite the merger, there is some acrimony amongst a few. This is overcome by attraction amongst a few others. The acting may be a bit dated but the metaphor of the partition is relevant even today.

Rough Book PosterRough Book

Another example of good intentions not translating into a great film. Is it Ananth Mahadevan’s direction or is it the performances that lack the punch? Its both. The film lacks the finesse of a quality product. The story is a mixture of To Sir With Love / Dangerous Minds and the philosophy behind 3 Idiots. Although it lacks the depth or humour of either. It makes its point rather tactlessly so in the end you wonder if you have seen a film or learnt a lesson.

Monsoon ShootoutMonsoon Shootout

“Mere babuji kaha karte the…” How many times have you heard this Bollywood cliche? This time babuji’s pearls of wisdom are about three choice life gives you – the right, the wrong and the middle path. This film explores all three using a cops vs robbers story. It moves so hurriedly you barely have time to reflect on what’s happening. Some twists are too contrived. And Nawazuddin Siddique, despite
having an important role doesn’t quite pull the film through. Considering the build up around the film, its underwhelming. Directed by Amit Kumar.

PeddlersPeddlers

The film follows two trajectories – one about small time drug dealers and mules and another about a psychotic cop on their trail dealing with issues of his own. Performances by the ensemble cast and Vasan Bala’s control on the direction make this a very engaging film.

Right Now Wrong Then PosterRight Now Wrong Then

Directed by Korean maverick Sangsoo Hong, this is a delightful watch indeed.The film traces outcome of a romantic encounter between a filmmaker and artist,twice with different outcomes each. Aided by naturalistic acting and dialogues, this is one of my favourite films among the ones I saw at MAMI this year.

Mia Madre-My MotherMia Madre/ My Mother

Directed by Nanni Moretti the man who gave us We have a Pope, the film is inspired by Nanni’s dealing with his mother’s death during the filming of We have a Pope. The film deals with how children react to the inevitability of mortality of their parents. Nanni deals with sensitive subject of death with empathy and humour, reminding us how even in darkest times it is humour which will keep us going.

For the Love of a ManFor the Love of a Man

This documentary by Rinku Kalsy on the fan following that makes Rajinikanth the phenomenon that he is has been on my lookout ever since I first heard of it. Focusing on 4 major stories of fans from different backgrounds,united by their love and passion for Rajinikanth,its good to see a film on them for a change,rather than the star himself. While the film by itself could have probably achieved more,especially for those who are aware of the superstar’s fan following,it is certainly an eyeopener of sorts for those who are unaware of the same.

Schneider vs Bax PosterSchneider vs Bax

A thriller with quite a good dose of humour as well,this Dutch film written and directed by Alex van Warmerdam is easily one of the better films of this year’s MAMI. Witty and engaging,the film talks of a hitman, Schneider who grudgingly agrees to eliminate Ramon Bax,a writer. But Mertens who assigns the task to Schneider has other plans on his mind,and Schneider finds himself surprised while on the job. Certainly recommended.

The ClubThe Club/ El Club

Made by celebrated Chilean filmmaker Pablo Lorrain, The Club won the Jury Grand Prix at Berlin this year. The film talks of a secluded house in a small beachside Chilean town where four retired Catholic priests live, under the vigilant gaze of a female caretaker. All of them are there because of some bad past,one fine day their routing is affected when a stranger arrives who makes them relive the past they thought they had left behind. This is a film with an interesting premise and delivers to potential.

Victoria PosterVictoria

Sebastian Schipper’s Victoria won the Silver Bear at Berlin this year for cinematography and its a film which was highly looked forward to,thanks to the fact that it has been shot in a single continuous take.The film which is partly in German and partly in English has a simple enough plot-Victoria a Spanish girl who is new to Berlin,works in a cafe. One night after partying at a club she comes across 4 guys and they get friendly. What happens from thereon over the next few hours in the lives of Victoria and these guys is what the film is all about. At a run time of around 140 odd minutes, it is indeed quite a challenging feat by DOP Sturla Brandth Grøvlen to have shot the film in one long take. The camera moves around so much that it can even get dizzying for the viewer at times.Victoria is an interesting attempt and worth watching.

Ixcanul Volcano PosterIxcanul Volcano

Winner of the Alfred Bauer Prize at Berlin this year, this Guatemalan film in Spanish and the native language of Kaqchikel by Jayro Bustamante is a lovely window to the cultural heritage of the Kaqchikel people of Guatemala. A young girl has premarital sex with her boyfriend,despite being engaged to someone else,falling pregnant in the process,only to find the boyfriend run away to the U.S.Now wouldn’t this sound like a cliched Bollywood film?Well yes and that’s what most people would assume,but the film is much more than that and is quite a well made film which talks of how the natives Kaqchikel’s are quite progressive in many ways.The difference in the language and customs between them and the Spanish speaking majority also comes across clearly in the film.

The Amina ProfileThe Amina Profile

This Canadian documentary by Sophie Deraspe is an expose of how the hoax of Amina Abdallah, a fictional lesbian character supposedly from Syria came into origin and how the hoax got exposed. Featuring Sandra Bagaria from Montreal who was in an online relationship with Amina (before realizing it was a hoax) and several people all across the Globe,this is quite a painstakingly researched docu film on quite an interesting topic. Definitely quite an engaging documentary.

OttaalOttaal/ The Trap

Winner of 2 National Awards,this Malayalam film by Jayaraj is a beautifully shot film making one fall in love with Kuttanad area of Kerala,all over again. When his parents die,Kuttapaayi an 8 year old lad goes on to live with his grandfather who loves him a lot. The grandfather takes him along as he goes duck rearing in Kuttanad. What looks like an idyllic life changes one fine day unfortunately. With impressive performances,stunning cinematography and a lovely BGM, the film makes for compelling watch. Good to see Jayaraj openly admit that the film is based on Anton Chekhov’s Vanka.

The Brand New TestamentThe Brand New Testament/ Le tout nouveau testament

The last film to be watched at MAMI this year,this French film from Belgium by Jaco Van Dormael is a full on comedy on God,the Apostles and the Testament. What if God was in Brussels and living with his wife and 10 year old daughter. And what if the girl Ea manages to break free from the clutches of God and manages to come up with the Brand New Testament?Genuinely funny at places and sometimes silly,it is a fun film mostly and a good one to end this year’s edition of MAMI.

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