November 02, 2015

MAMI 2015 Day 3: Inspirations and Humility

12 movies in 3 days. Now, finally, I feel good about myself. Now I think I'm doing reasonably fine!

'The Assassin' is a difficult film to watch. But it is brilliant, to say the least. Hou Hsiao-Hsien, the great Taiwanese master, won Best Director at Cannes for this film which is also Taiwan's Oscar entry this year. And although this film saw the maximum number of walk-outs that I have seen in the festival so far, I thought it was an inimitable recreation of the life and times of assassins and the rulers in the 9th century China, not just with the use of visuals and sound. But something else. The director decided to edit the film in two contrasting styles. Nothing happens for long periods of time, and then suddenly, almost inexplicably, we witness an attack. Only, it ends sooner that we could make sense of it and we are back to the 'nothingness' and the 'anticipation'. Also, we are not allowed clarity into what is happening. So we stay confused and uninformed. During that era, with obviously zero communication technology and long hours of inaction, this is how the people would have felt, right? I have seen several martial arts film from that region, but none has actually managed to transport the audience to that era the way 'The Assassin' does.

'In the Shadow of the Women' was my next film. Philippe Garrel is 67 and has a very impressive filmography. I failed to understand what motivated him to make this very unoriginal and cinematically inert film. It was very accessible, though, and a lot of people loved it. I didn't like it much.

Watching 'Mistress America' was like going back to a popular Bollywood song after days of Jazz and Sufi and Hindustani Classical. Great characters will always inspire great response from the audience. It is as simple as that. Only, creating such characters, and such scenes, and lines - is so bloody tough. In fact, the closing line of the film, a simple sentence tells us so much about the film, storytelling, and life: "Being a beacon of hope for lesser people is a lonely business!" WOW!!!!

The last film of the day was the Chilean documentary 'The Pearl Button'. Despite being a non-fiction film, it won the Best Script award at Berlin this year and hence I wanted to watch it. The good thing about documentaries is that it is unlikely they will disappoint you. And they always give you something new, to cherish forever. Like I never knew that the map of Chile cannot be accommodated on a school-wall, because of its unusual proportions. So the kids in Chile always know their country divided into three maps!

And now let me come to my pick of the best movie of the festival so far. Belgium's Oscar entry 'The Brand New Testament' is nothing short of must-watch-before-you-die and I am definitely going to recommend (#46) it as one. Do not watch its trailer. Do not go further than seeing its poster attached to this blog-post. Just watch it. I don't think you have ever seen anything like this. Something so incredibly imagined, something so full of beauty and joy and hope. The film makes some big statements, in the most endearing manner. It is like a film I wish I had made. Only, I don't know if I'll ever be able to have the capacity to do that! This is the film that I will remember from this year's festival, and the film that proves yet again why the MAMI week will always be the most eagerly awaited week of the year!

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