Posts Tagged ‘Cold War’

Cold War

The Best Director award winner at Cannes 2018, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War is an epic love saga, in a 4:3 aspect ratio, where a man and a woman begin a tumultuous relationship in the ruins of post world war Poland. The film, as revealed in the end, is inspired and an ode to Pawlikowski’s parents and their love story. For me, this is Pawlikowski’s version of La La Land, and a triumphantly stronger version of it where the couple goes through 15 years of Cold War where they not only cross geographical territories, but also musical ones. Watching this at Regal, moved me into a Sahir Ludhyanvi mood. 

In 1949, while conducting auditions for a Polish folk troupe, Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) is smitten by Zula (Joanna Kulig, earlier seen in Pawlikowski’s stunning Oscar winner Ida), a village girl who could sing extremely well, and is unapologetic in acknowledging her involvement in her father’s murder too. Soon, the ensemble is formed, with Wiktor helming it, and a romance kickstarts,  helmed by Zula’s temperament. This temperamental couple (almost like America and Russia, although more romantically involved) in the cold backdrop, dance their way through this melancholic ballad across thousands of nights, meeting and separating from each other in Berlin, Yugoslavia, and even, Paris. 

The narrative shuffles from highs and low of the relationships, like the tides of the sea, into a melancholic end, almost like the sad ballad which moves from polish folk to French jazz, ultimately ending into a defeating silence. At just 89 minutes, Pawlikowski is completely in control of this epic, where the music allows poetic contemplation upon the carefully designed frames.

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Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Bi Gan gives a surreally hypnotic trip, which is a treat to watch, and an equally amusing trip to write about. Divided into two parts, this film’s first half is in 2D, exploring in no linear fashion, the loss and sadness of the protagonist; the second half of the film is a dreamy sequence, shot in a single take, and to be viewed in 3D. Watching this film is like entering into a local jadugar’s tent, you know everything is unreal, but you are still amazed at the countless possibilities. 

In the first half of the film, I was suspended into a semi lull stage, almost hypnotically following Wong Kar Wai styled sequences between the protagonist and the woman. These stylish sequences are often cut to show us the protagonist pondering poetically over life. Such atmospheric blend is sure to put one into drowsy state, and just when my eyes had completely surrendered to the protagonist, he entered a porn theatre and asked me to wear my 3D glasses with him, leading me into an almost hour long sequence. This part, shot in a surreal fashion, is a single take where the protagonist goes through phenomenal spaces like an old hallway of pool tables, a rustic room of slot machines, and an old touring karaoke van setup. One of the most beautiful portions of this long take is the bizarrely slow ropeway sequence which gives us a wider understanding of the space. Bi Gan shows signs of becoming an auteur, because this plotless film is so ambitious and yet strange. For instance, another sequence of the second half has a kid who promises to help the protagonist only if he can defeat him in Ping Pong -the ping pong game ends in a conversation on memories and time, which is extremely elusive.

Watching this film is a hallucinating experience, I would be unapologetic in saying that this was almost like lucid dreaming. Accompanied by a mesmerising cinematography and mesmerising soundscape, Long Day’s Journey into Night makes every other film playing at Mumbai Film Festival fall short in ambition and execution. However, everything at the end is only transitory.

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Non-Fiction

I am not amongst those who can resist an Oliver Assayas film, especially if it also happens to star the greatest of all time Juliette Binoche. Oliver Assayas has been one of the popular favourites at MAMI, with both Clouds of Sils Maria, and Personal Shopper receiving brilliant response. These earlier films were atmospheric thrillers which tackled contemporary themes, however, his latest Non-Fiction is like a warm evening embrace for writers and their contemporary issues. The mehfil of conversations which the lead characters create is a delightful watch.

Alain and Leonard, a writer and a publisher, are overwhelmed by the radical digitalisation of the publishing world. Deaf to the desires of their wives, they struggle to find their place in a society whose locks they can no longer key into. Twitter and Instagram seem to be new literary platforms, and books are no longer in vogue, however e-books are selling like pancakes, and audiobooks recited by celebrity stars are even more in demand. All the four characters are dealing with the change in times, in their own particular manner. They however, share their frustration while hustling through these changes. 

Using dialogues as verbal duels; references of Michael Haneke, Bergman, and even, Star Wars; and the gorgeous performance of Juliette Binoche; Oliver Assayas delivers a scintillating and thought provokingly beautiful Non-Fiction, which although simple in treatment, is ambitious in digging undiscovered depths of philosophy. Almost like a Woody Allen dialogue based tango, Non-Fiction treats heavy questions in a breezy manner, resulting into a sweet, funny, philosophical, and cheerful drama. It is easy to fall short of words while describing Non-Fiction, because all the lines in Non-Fiction are such literary gems, you might have to watch it twice to get the eloquent delight created here.

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Harsh Desai