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October 22, 2014

MAMI Diaries

Text by Nittal Chandarana

From a beautiful coming-of-age story to Czech mime artists and Naxalites, Verve brings to you the hits, misses and sightings at MAMI 2014

  • MAMI, Deepika Padukone, Anupama Chopra,
    Deepika Padukone in conversation with Anupama Chopra
  • Boyhood, MAMI, Richard Linklater
    Boyhood by Richard Linklater
  • IMG-20141016-WA0019
    The Buddha in a Traffic Jam team at the screening
  • Pride, MAMI Film Festival, MAMI Diaries, MAMI 2014
    A still from Pride
  • Saint Laurent, MAMI Film Festival, MAMI Diaries, MAMI 2014
    A still from Saint Laurent
  • Jimmy's Hall, MAMI 2014, MAMI Diaries, MAMI Film Festival
    A still from Jimmy's Hall

When the eyes are swollen, emotions are at their peak, the body lies in wait of a constant chair position. One can tell MAMI has taken over. It has been quite an eventful festival. That voice from the crowd screamed at Imran Khan, Boyhood was flooded with way too many hopefuls, even the 377-seater Cinemax Screen couldn’t accommodate them all, panel discussions had poignant moments when a Q&A session got personal, the schedule was shifted around and such. The rest was fairly calm. The guys at MAMI got a hang of it all, commendable, now that they’re completely on their own. We love that MAMI exposes one to films brilliant, well made, inaccessible and that it is a festival that celebrates cinema. Here’s what we loved, disliked and found plain preposterous.

Chasing the sunshine
Boyhood: We can’t stop raving about this one. It is a coming-of-age film that traces Mason’s life from when he was a little kid to his graduation from high school. Richard Linklater shot this one over a period of 12 years. You can feel the labour and longing that went into making this film and the sheer honesty of the direction. We’re still in our happy bubble after watching this. Linklater’s signature touch of making mundane moments magical shines through the course of this one too. For additional happiness, do watch his Before Sunrise trilogy. You shall not be disappointed. The Americans really know how to tell a story.

Two Days, One Night: This French-Belgian film by brothers Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne stars the lovely Marion Cotillard as the protagonist who has lost her job because her company put it to vote – either she stays or the employees get their bonus. She goes around town talking to her colleagues, trying to convince them to change their minds. The dialogue is standard. “I work with you at Solwal. Could you please vote for me to stay on the secret ballot that happens again on Monday.” The fact that you’re rooting for Cotillard till the very end shows just how brilliant an actor she is and the repetition – she makes it sound different each time! Watch if you’re a fan of hers. For the others, might be a bit of a drag.

Clownwise: This one made MAMI Day 2 worthwhile. An adorable film about three mime artists who have parted ways and finally decide to come together for one last show. Spoiler Alert: We were waiting for this final show, but it never happened. However, there is a cute scene of clowning in the film. Watch it for the endearing story and portrayal and the crazy shots. The DOP is a happy, happy man. The lighting was great too. Major win.

Pride: London’s gay community collects funds for miners on strike forcing them to forgo prejudices and accept help from this unlikely source. If that doesn’t excite you, we don’t know what will! There was a fair amount of drama in the film but it never seemed out of step. An account of what really happened with the miners in 1984. The acceptance of the activists not only by the miners, but also the rest of the village was portrayed so well. Spoiler alert: The last scene when all the miners turn up to support their friends at the Pride parade gives you the feels.

The Good Lie: Sudanese refugees make their way across Africa in an effort to save themselves from the ongoing war. A deeply touching first half that showed the struggle of one Sudanese family to get to a rescue camp. They were later taken to Kansas, America where an employment counselor (played by Reese Witherspoon) helps them find a job. This American part was a little Hollywood-ised but all in all, manages to tell the story of The Lost Boys of Sudan.

Jimmy’s Hall: A beautiful film by Director Ken Loach that gave us a healthy dose of Irish music, dance and defiance. Based on a real life incident, the film traces the change Jimmy makes to his native land through the means of providing space to run music, dance and art lessons. The Church claims it to be heresy and does everything in its power to stop him. Barry Ward makes for a fine Jimmy. We loved the theme of feisty rebellion. Props to George Fenton for the all the lovely music.

Disappearing into the darkness
Fever: Two boys murder a woman, just because. They were bored and when you’re looking for stuff to do, murder, obviously tops the list. A woman living in their neighbourhood cracks the case but surprise surprise, does nothing about it. There are some who might like such open-ended movies (so typical of the French) but we were baffled. So much left unanswered. What we really loved was its background score but somehow, it didn’t do much for the story. Served as a strong but pleasing distractor. Highlight: Rafaël Neal, director of French film Fever, dressed up in a sherwani with a Hindi speech in tow. Trés adorable!

Buddha in a Traffic Jam: Everyone warned me against this one. I should have taken the advice. A film that started off with great promise, but got lost after the first few minutes. We were plain shocked after watching the end. Portraying Naxalites in a bad light? Really? Was there no more research than a Wikipedia article put into this movie? I think Anupam Kher knew what he was getting into. While entering the screening, he loudly remarked to his cast member: ‘I have no recollection of doing this film.’ So much for washing one’s hands off a lost cause.

Saint Laurent: We were excited about this one and quite determined to like it but it didn’t go as planned. A really long movie that portrayed Yves Saint Laurent as a homosexual man who revolutionised the fashion industry (no show of how exactly) and enjoyed this drinks, drugs, et al. A lengthy movie that didn’t manage to capture the magic of this visionary, nor the essence of the man himself. Gasper Ulliel played his part well but where was the real story and where was the fashion?

Zhaojian (ATA): We were intrigued by the plot. A blind boy whose mother pushes him to participate in table tennis tournaments does not wish to continue. He wants to be a photographer instead. After a very long time we sat through a film whose narrative trudged along at snail’s pace waiting for something phenomenal to happen towards the end. Blame it on the Hollywood-isation, but we were a tad disappointed.

Escaping the black hole
Now MAMI has more than its share of bizarre and downright preposterous. We find it impossible to sit through every film we walk in to. We spent a baffled hour of our lives at each of these and then decided to end the trial. Goddard’s Goodbye to Language was something we’re a little ashamed of walking out of. After all, it’s Godard. It’s the only film in 3D screened at the festival, but it was entirely too abstract. Life of Riley sounded so promising. The story of three couples and their friend Riley told through the medium of theatre. The characters spoke, emoted and acted as if on stage. That worked, but the narrative just did not seem to move forward. And then there was The Night is Still Young. It spoke of witches and fairies in the contemporary world. Sadly, MAMI didn’t seem to have a proper reel for this one and played it from a DVD instead. DVD print on 70mm. We didn’t quite buy it.
And thus ends our

journey at MAMI 2014. Until next year.

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