It’s down to last 2 days of the festival. If you are looking for our previous posts on reccos and reviews from Mumbai Film Festival, our Day 1 wrap is here, Day 2 is here, Day 3 is here, and for Day 4 click here.
This was my first theatrical Alejandro Jodorowsky experience and I was blown away! Easily the best film I saw on Day 5 and one of the best of the fest. Jodorowsky makes an autobiographical film which is a lot more than just striking visuals. A satire of sorts, he narrates his story about growing up and comments on the political, cultural pressures of Chile. Jodorowsky does it his way, through OTT performances, set pieces, make up and twisted humour. This is not just for hardcore Jodorowsky fans but for everyone! His most accessible and relatable film to date. Think Udaan meets Boyhood directed by the master Jodorowsky. Operatic and poetic in its execution, the visual design is unlike anything I have seen in recent times. In-camera set changes, high contrast images, musical quirks. A delight to watch! Now please make “DUNE” soon, Alejandrito!
Kaagaz Ki Kashti
Have you seen Pancham. Yes? Okay, then take RD Burman out and put Jagjit Singh in the same template and you have Kaagaz Ki Kashti and that’s perhaps the only fault of it, if you wanna nitpick. If you haven’t seen Pancham, even better. Director Brahmanand Singh weaves this legend’s biography from interviews, excerpts, old clips & sepia tinted pictures, nostalgia inducing trivia and feel your throat choking and eyes moistening.
Pancham worked big time for me. I loved the man and I loved the way Mr B told his story. Just like RD, I’ve grown up listening to Jagjit Saab, I mean all of us have. Even if you’re not a fan, you couldn’t have missed his songs playing in Hostel Daaru parties. Just listening to his silken sensous voice in a Dolby digital surround sound system (for the first time in my life) is worth it.
On top of that, this one gives you a window into this man’s jovial personality even though he made a career out of singing sad Ghazals. How he rejuvenated the ghazal scene, how he gave it a new language, how he took Ghazals to an average Indian household. How the loss of his son broke him and how he bounced back. It shows you the human Jagjit hidden behind the Maestro Jagjit.
It perhaps may not be an extraordinaryly path-breaking film, but the subject matter itself is so fascinating and exuberant that you can’t not be floored by it. It took me to a place I hadn’t visited since a long time. Just like the man’s singing, this one touched me in ways very personal.
It’s gonna get a PVR release soon, as told by the director in the post Q&A session. Don’t miss it.
Director Elite Zexer’s mother, a stills photographer asked Zexer to join her when she began photographing Bedouin women from various villages in the Israeli Negev desert. This adventure led to encounters with incredible women and spurred years of writing, which culminated in Sand Storm. Set in Southern Israel, it gives us an authentic picture of life in a Bedouin village replete with its contact with modernity. It opens with the 18-year-old Layla driving the family’s truck under the supervision of her father, far from the remote village. As they near the hamlet, they switch seats. Zexer accurately captures the cultural specifics of the place like the sex-segregated wedding function, Jalila baking bread on top of an oven and the collision of tradition with modernity. It is these details that tell the story and effectively ‘show more than tell’ . You would still wish that the story was also more revelatory. You would wish that it plumbed the depths allowing us to invest more in the mother-daughter dynamic.
Jalila is hosting the marriage of her husband to a second, much younger wife. As she tries to conceal her inner turmoil, she discovers her daughter Layla’s forbidden affair with a boy.
The revolt of the women in the film is quiet yet resolute. Lammis Amar conveys this self-assured feistiness with her doe eyes. At the heart of it, Sand Storm tells the story of a mother and a daughter, how they adopt each other’s perspectives and despite the fire within, lose their personal battles. Though Zexer is a new cinematic voice to watch out for with the emotionally rife scene design, the subtlety of the film leaves you wanting more from what could have been a story of turbulent interpersonal relationships.
I didn’t watch Mexican filmmaker Amat Escalante’s Heli at last year’s MAMI but I heard people berating it while riding the elevator up to the screens, an old bearded man ranted about how it had gone too far. I never got around to watching it but a viewing of Untamed has all but ensured that I’ll seek it out.
It’s a bizarre lo-fi sci-fi domestic drama about a mother of two and her husband who is in an abusive affair with her gay brother. The science fiction elements mostly take a backseat to the human drama but when it’s there, it’s deliciously done, calling to mind Andrzej Zuwalski’s Possession, with its creature design and erotica. There’s some allusions to the misogyny and homophobia in Mexican society but I’ve little context for it. On some level, I’m in love with the film, but I’m not entirely sure why. It’s definitely not a film for everyone.
Filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s latest film is probably his least impressive. All his films are indulgent and do not adhere to any set rules of cinema. Rather, they are drawn from his years and varied career as a poet, mime, magician, mystic, actor, writer and graphic novelist. Jodorowsky is such a unique artist that to see his flagrant indulgence in any form is always a pleasure. I do not exaggerate when I say that every frame in his films are crammed to the gills with metaphor and symbolism. While all this can be overwhelming, Jodorowsky always manages to eke out a common beauty, a transcendent whole that makes it all work. Endless Poetry picks up right after Dance of Reality, continuing the proposed five movie long autobiography of the director. While Dance was about Jodorowsky’s early years and his father’s hate for Pinochet, this one concerns itself with his later teenage years which yields middling results. It just doesn’t work here. Christopher Doyle’s cinematography exists as a sharp contrast to what usually is the beautiful tackiness of Jodorowsky’s art design and is quite an ill fit. Jodorowsky’s son Adan plays him in the film but he pales in comparison to Jeremiah Herkowitz in the first film, and pales, especially, in comparison to his father, Alejandro, in the few scenes he shares with him. What is particularly off putting is the total lack of humility Jodorowsky exhibits, with the film constantly proclaiming how great a poet the filmmaker is.
This might make an interesting watch for the Jodorowsky virgin and fans will watch nonetheless. The next film in the series will follow Jodorowsky to France, in a more interesting time in his life, and perhaps to a better film.
Apprentice could very well have been a Gulzar or a Manto short story (resisting the pun here involving director’s name — Boo). It is about the emotionally conflicting choices one has to make in dire situations. But it is more personal than political. It is an after-crime story. What happens with their family after someone has committed a crime and has even been punished for it. Does the punishment stop with the perpetrator? It is an after-effects tale where the tale has turned but the cycle goes on. A former soldier has newly joined as a guard in a state prison. He is hiding something about his lost father and then he finds a father-figure in the prison’s executioner. The plot is so predictable that you know right from the beginning what the last shot of the film will be. But it doesn’t matter. You wait to see that. It’s about “how” more than “what”. Engrossing dramatic build-ups, searing emotional tension… everything photographed effectively by Benoit Soler who also shot Singapore’s Oscar entry of 2013, Anthony Chen’s brilliant Ilo Ilo. Chen and now Junfeng are the two young filmmakers from Singapore to watch out for.
What separates Mani Kaul’s films from other Indian parallel cinema exponents is the visual eye. Kaul’s flair for rhythm, mood and images, and the meandering nature of his drama made him a very significant filmmaker at par with the world cinema auteurs.
I knew what to expect of Ahamaq, adapted from Dostoevsky’s ‘The Idiot’, and also the context of films by FTII passouts of the time. In a way, this film is a cinematography achievement. But Kaul’s disregard for performances and drama hurts Ahamaq, mostly because of the length of this feature. There’s only so much unwanted, dated poetic surrealism you can take. I’ll still recommend you to go this and figure this out for yourself. Anup Singh (‘Qissa’) co-wrote and was also the 1st AD on the film. I feel, Kaul would have made a great 21st century filmmaker.
(PS – Before SRK laughed that laugh in Darr, he did it in Ahamaq. In abundance. Mani Kaul was a visionary, in more ways than one)
Staying Vertical (Dir: Alain Guiraudie)
Fun fact: The film has a lot of dick-shots and with every such shot, at least 3 people walked out of the screening. I figured that different people have different tolerance levels on the number of dicks they can see in a film. Some were like – “2 dekh liye, ab teesra nahin dekh sakte.” Respect