October 20, 2013

Mumbai 2013 Day #2: Masters Take Charge

I have to write this real quick and then go to sleep. So, I'll try to keep it short.

Perhaps it is the effect of the non-fiction reading I've been doing for the last few weeks that I find myself keen on watching documentaries this festival, something I always avoided in its previous editions. And the two that I saw today, both winners at Sundance 2013, did impact me strongly. 'A River Changes Course' takes us into the lives of the people in a village in Cambodia, and 'Who is Dayani Cristal' narrates a moving story of the death of an illegal immigrant from Honduras to the US, and eventually asks more general and significant questions. The revelation in the end, about the title, is so touching that I was left with tears in my eyes.

But mainly, it was the day that completely fulfilled my cinephile craving. Five movies and all good ones. Three of them were the latest movies by some of the most acclaimed film-makers of our time, who have already acquired the status of legends.

Jia Zhangke's Cannes Best Screenplay winner 'A Touch of Sin' (China/ 2013) was an anthology of four stories and each provided pleasures of high degree. The bullets fired in this film were so impactful that I shrieked when one of those cracked open the head of one. Loved those moments.

Richard Linklater's third part of what I call the best romantic film-trilogy ever, 'Before Midnight' (USA/ 2013) had all that I was expecting, and more. More than the cinematic pleasures, it gave me a lot of insight about humans and relationships, and also the belief that being able to engage in meaningful and sensible conversation with your partner is perhaps the most efficient way of handling your relationship. Hearing out your partner with respectful and sincere keenness, and talking sensibly and sensitively is more powerful than the usual "virtues" of love, trust, and the ability to "give".

However, the movie of the day, for me, was Tsai Ming-Liang's difficult, compelling, and unforgettable - 'Stray Dogs' (Taiwan/ 2013). It reminded me of 'The Turin Horse' and, in a way, 'Eraserhead', apart from the maker's earlier classic 'Vive l'amour'. Some of the shots in this film were among the most testing I have experienced as a film-buff. There was in fact a 14-minute shot where two characters were simply staring at a wall. And then can one ever forget the brilliant cabbage-eating scene? A festival experience remains incomplete unless you have at least one film like this.

The warming up is over. It's time to indulge completely now!

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