Posts Tagged ‘The Artist’

And manage to successfully pull it off too. Now, ‘dare’ is a difficult term to describe.  Let’s try another definition. Do you read the back covers of the dvds where the synopsis of the film is printed? This is the list of the films whose brilliance can’t be summed up in those few lines, either in terms of the subject, story, story telling technique or execution. In no particular order.

1. 50/50 – There are stories that you tell and then there are stories that you have lived. And there’s no substitute for the latter. Nobody can tell that because nobody else has been there. Like Samuel Moaz’s Lebanon, 50/50 is inspired by screenwriter Will Reiser’s own story. Otherwise “cancer comedy” is a difficult genre to crack. The film finds the perfect fine balance between tragedy and comedy and is one of the nicest films of the year.

2. Michael – The subject is creepy and disturbing, the treatment is non-judgmental and brilliant. Inspired by real life events, the Austrian film directed by Markus Schleinzer revolves around the life of a pedophile who has locked up a 10-year old kid in the cellar. Its brilliance lies in the fact that it uses no gimmicks to show the day to day activities of the pedophile’s life and the predatory relationship between the two characters are on the verge of father-son equation, which gives it a human face.

3. The Cave Of Forgotten Dreams  – There is no doubt that 3D is here to stay and it’s a terrible news for people like us who wear glasses. The experience is not even rewarding because most of the films will serve the same purpose in 2D. This is where Werner Herzog scored over everyone else. Even with the new (3)D, trust the old Dude to show how it’s done. Watch this one to know what Depth is and how goregous it can look when captured in 3D. Exploring the Chauvet Cave, this documentary is a meditative piece on life, evolution and human existence.

4. That Girl In Yellow Boots – I was disappointed with this one but the magic of the film lies entirely in its making. Anurag Kashyap could dare to shoot a film in just 13 days and complete it too –  this story is going to be in textbooks of digital film making.

5. The Artist – The film is touted as one of the Oscar favorites now. But imagine, at a time when everyone is hell-bent on going 3D and motion capture, a filmmaker thought about making a black and white silent film. And how many people thought it was a joke? In the words of the filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius, “Nobody believed in the movie. Nobody wanted to put any money in the movie.” The story is nothing new but the story telling is so smart and charming that it will keep you hooked throughout.

6. Gandu – We can claim some credit for discovering this low-budget provocative piece from Calcutta. We uploaded its trailer twice, it was removed both times and we were warned that our account will be blocked. All because of the explicit nature of the content. But the film is much more than that. That thing called aesthetics, which is so rare in bollywood, is in abundance in Q’s Gandu. Plus, the bengali rap and the minimalist style gives it a distinct flavour. And if you have seen Q’s other films (here and here), you know that the filmmaker is not fluke, and he is not just selling sex and nudity.

7. Generation P – A heady cocktail of art, culture, religion, pop, politics, philosophy, advertising, consumerism and Che Guevara. This Russian film directed by Victor Ginzburg was in production for about five years and was the trippiest experience at the movies this year. Its daring in its subject, scale and story telling and the viewing experince was unique, to say the least. It makes fun of so many well-known advertising campaigns and strangely, it got the funding from all those brands which it makes fun of. Convincing everyone wasn’t an easy job but who said filmmaking is a cakewalk.

8.The Tree Of Life  – The Bollywood rule book says the bigger you aim, the dumber you have to be. And my guess is, the rule book is the same everywhere unless you are Terrence Malick. This film goes to the other extreme. Even with all the trappings that define a big hollywood film, this one is a meditative piece that doesn’t give a fuck about your IQ but needs complete submission and respects your EQ. Once you are inside Malick’s world, the experience is difficult to describe and all that you will crave for is some silence and space for your soul.

9. Midnight In Paris  – Trust Woody Allen to do something so ridiculous and still make it so charming. You will think about the absurdity of the plot, but Woody knows his characters and their lines to well that you will happily take the leap of faith. Its a difficult path to tread that could have turned completely messy. Writing anything more about it will kill the joy of discovering it. Watch it if you still haven’t.

10. We Need To Talk About Kevin – This film is like an antidote to The Tree Of Life. No, make that vice-versa. Like many other great films, this one doesn’t provide any easy answers but leave you with million questions. Revolving around a school massacre, Lynne Ramsay’s film is disturbing and will stay with you for hours after its over. It boldly portrays a scary relationship where the mother and son are being competitive to beat each other. Exploring the uncomfortable zones in a family affair, Kevin must have been a very difficult film to get a firm grasp on.

Other than these ten, there have many others which pushed the envelope in many ways. What’s your pick?

Since the day MAMI unveiled its line-up for the Mumbai Film Festival 2011, we all have been waiting eagerly for it to start. Just back from the screenings of Day 2, more cinema, better company and some more conversations. Today’s score – five films, five burgers, tea-coffee, cold drinks and few gallons of water. Dead tired now and so it will be mostly short and sweet ( read copy-pasting the tweets). Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly report of Opening ceremony, Day 1 and Day 2.

Registration  – The online system worked fine. Even the registration desk at the venue is quite efficient. Though heard about some bad experience on the first day but when i went, it just took 5 minutes to get my registration done. Also, good job with all the updates through the festival twitter handle – @mumbaifilmfest.

Opening Ceremony – Whoever came up with the idea of this shortest possible opening ceremony in the history of film festivals, he/she deserves applause. Late year it was a mess. This year the venue was Cinemax Versova. There is no place for the ceremony other than the lobby. So a small dais was created at the centre and sitting arrangements were made in all three directions. By the time we entered the lobby there was no place to sit or stand. But since the wait wasn’t long, we were happy. The main issue was the pass – opening film Moneyball was by invitation only. But thanks to those good souls who helped us out. All of us managed to watch it.

Moneyball – Good film to open the fest with. You have the stars but not completely hollywood and there’s a good buzz around it. The film was so little about Baseball and more about one man’s persistence. Jonah Hill stole the show. With such a fine command over his craft director Bennett Miller is surely going to have a long run. Capote and Moneyball – there is no common ground but both brilliantly directed. The best part of the film was the way it’s shot. Not sure how you define it technically, it was dark, moody, half-lit frames, atmosphere that you can breathe in. Or as Ebert wrote, this is a melancholy movie.

Opening Day Highlight – We suddenly saw that Hong-jin Na, director of Chaser and The Yellow Sea, was sitting in front of us. Varun Grover almost kissed him.

Post-film – Thanks to those good souls again, we went to Sun n Sand, Juhu for the opening ceremony party. As expected, it was too crowded. And the cinema bakchodi continued till late hours.

Day 1

Recruited Love (Zwerbowana Milosc) – Police, prostitution, politics and the politics of love. It’s like Polish version of Lives Of Others which is absolutely brilliant and do watch it if you still haven’t. This one turned hollywoodish thriller mid-way and then redeemed itself a bit in the end.

The Turin Horse (A Torinoi Lo)- We managed to catch the first 20 mins, some without subtitles, bit of it in wrong aspect ratio and then it stopped suddenly. The Horse was killed. We had no choice but to walk out. It was re-scheduled for 10pm.

Deool (Temple) – It was the opening film of the Indian Frame and its director Umesh Kulkarni is one of my favourite filmmakers. He goes to the other extreme with this one, far departure from all his shorts and features. Revolves around the madness, mess and marketing of religion, and Godly affairs in a small village. The stamp of Kulkarni is very much there – characters, humour, plot, but with item numbers and dhol-nagadas going dhoom-dhaam-dhadaap, it went into the Peepli Live zone. Always thought that Kulkarni loves playing with silence, this time it was the opposite. It could have been another kind of Ghabricha Paus too (a brilliant black comedy on farmers suicide issue) but Deool is too ambitious, wants to deal with too many affairs, reflect too many sides and it’s too noisy. It’s easy to understand what the film is trying to do but it’s difficult to endorse this one completely. It’s releasing soon in the theatres. Do watch it.

The Salesman (Le Vendeur) – There is something surreal about an old white man with white hair struggling in a completely white background (snow + sun) on a sunny day. But it could not go beyond the obvious. Too long and offers too little. The lead actor carries the film on his shoulder. By the time it ends, you just want to hug and comfort him.

The Turin Horse (A Torinoi Lo) – We tried our luck again. This time it was a bad copy with time code running on it. The subtitle was correct but it again stopped suddenly after 30mins or so. They killed the dead horse again. We had no choice but to leave. It was re-scheduled again for Day 2 at 10pm.

There was problem with the screening of My Little Princess too. The technical head of the screenings needs to wake up, smell the coffee and check the prints and the projection before showing the films. Don’t embarrass yourself so badly! Day 1 and major problems in three screenings – wow, that’s some score!

DAY 2

The Slut (Hanotenet) – With a title like this, it’s bound to get some attention. But with a female director who also plays the lead role, the gaze is completely different. Takes its own sweet time to unfold and the worst thing you fear, the director goes for it, ending it on a very disturbing note. Has male and female nudity and a long sex scene.

Distance (Distancia) – I thought NSP (Needs Some Patience) genre will be enough to describe some of the films selected for the fest. But this one is NLP where L is for Lots, and lots and lots more. There is so much story that you just hear but don’t see on screen. Was dead by the time it got over.

Generation P  – Quite a heady cocktail of art, culture, religion, pop, politics, philosophy, advertising, consumerism and Che Guevara. Who better than Che to answer some advertising questions. After all who sells more T-shirts than him? A trippy experience where it’s difficult to get all the religious and political context but worth a watch. It’s like an installation art of our pop-culture.

Generation P – Q & A – A QnA session with Victor Ginzburg, director of the Generation P was scheduled after the film. But since the poor soul was lost as there was nobody to do the Q and A, we decided to do an informal discussion. We tried our luck at The Artist but the queue was so long that it went up to the Landmark store on the next floor. We thought QnA was a better idea. The Artist was given another screening at 10pm. The director of the film VG told us that big brands (Coke, Nike and many others which feature in the film) gave him money to make fun of the brands in the film. That’s rare and what a fun it was. He was also unhappy about the bad projection of his film.

Chinese Take Away – We wanted to watch it but it has been re-scheduled on Monday 10am Screen 3.

Michael – We knew that this was the Uneasy film of the fest but had no clue that it would turn out to be so bloody brilliant. Waited in queue for almost 1 hour and it was worth it. Inspired by real life incidents, Michael looks at the day-to-day life of a paedophile who has locked up a 10 year old in a cellar. It sounds creepy and disturbing but the film is completely non-judgmental. Who are these paedophiles? How do they look? Do they come from a different planet? The director doesn’t go for the shock value but gives it a human face and captures the predatory relationship in a unique way that will stay with you for a long time after the film gets over. Easily the best of the fest so far. Must watch.

The Artist– We tried our luck again. As soon as Michael got over, we ran through the exit to be in the queue for the film. But by the time we reached, the queue was already about a kilometer long. This time we managed. A delicious love letter to the silent era, the film not only sets the story in that period and captures the era beautifully, but it also uses all the film-making tools of that era to tell a simple love story that we have seen million times. But the magic is in “how” and not “what”. With almost no dialogues, the lead actors don’t just act, they make you fall in love with them. Easy to understand why it was the Cannes favourite earlier this year. Aha, the magic of movies!

DAY 2 HighlightKartik Krishnan suddenly spotted a actor who had played the role of a Don in Bobby Deol’s Bichhoo. Remember? Nobody does. But we still tried to capture him. Varun went to him and asked him about Bichhoo. Kartik was right. Check out the pic – the bald guy in the background.

Enough for today. Tomorrow is another day. Mihir Desai‘s film Aakra-Man is playing with George Clooney and Ryan Gosling’s The Ides of March, and he is trying to copy their act as you can see in the picture. Good luck, Aakra-Man!

See you at the movies!

(PS – It’s been great fun meeting all those people whom we know only by their twitter handles. The world is indeed small and round.)

( PS1 – To read more about the festival films, click here to read Varun’s blog who is trying to write a fest diary.)