A synopsis of all that we experienced on the second day of the 20th Mumbai Film Festival.
11:00 a.m.: Screening of Chinese film Shadow at Liberty, Marine Lines
Director: Paweł Pawlikowski
Shadow plays out like a historical Chinese Shakespearean tragedy, backed by breathtaking action sequences, opulent set-pieces, stunning cinematography, and a jaw-dropping twist in the finale. It may not be among celebrated Chinese Director #ZhangYimou’s best films, and the interminable dialogues, coupled with the somber tone and long moments of silence won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but fans of Yimou’s works or serious, grim epic films in general will definitely dig this.
2:00 p.m.: Screening of Korean film Burning at Regal, Colaba
Director: Chang-dong Lee
Korean film Burning is the paradigm of a slow-burner thriller. It tears your patience to the limit and only a select few will be able to sit through it to the end. But if you’re among those select few, like me, then the wait is quite rewarding in the last 30 minutes or so, when the narrative comes together and things get interesting. However, you wish that writer #ChangDongLee would have made the big reveal at the end a bit more shocking and slightly less ambiguous, especially after how much time (its runtime is a tad above 2 hours and 20 minutes) and effort (it’s quite a tedious watch until the last half hour and demands extreme levels of concentration) you invest in it.
6:00 p.m.: Screening of Spanish film Roma at Regal, Colaba
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
If you love cinematic family dramas, then you’ll wholeheartedly embrace every frame of the Golden-Lion winning Spanish film, Roma — a consistently moving and profoundly heartfelt masterpiece by writer-Director-cinematographer Alfonso Cuarón. The emotional albeit real family dynamics (not a vestige of melodrama here) are only rivaled by some of the most-arresting shots (be they long, mid, or closeups), haunting sound effects (the placement of everything from nigh silence to a sudden jolting bang is impeccable), and indelible scenes (allegories and visual metaphors that create a lasting impression) assemble together on screen. And just when you think what more brilliance could Cuarón achieve in a single film, the auteur makes this a telling feminist work of art, where the women are left to fend for the family in the face of some A-grade jerks for men. This one is the clearly the frontrunner of the year for this year’s Best Foreign-Language film at the Oscars. As for all the pretentious arty filmmakers and fans out there, well, Roma should be mandatory viewing for their types to see how an art film should be made — the narrative doesn’t crawl at a snail’s pace, the camera doesn’t linger on a frame longer than needed, the actors don’t drawl their lines till time stands still, and not a single shot of the sky, earth, an animal, place, insect, or ant other piece of fluff is taken for the sake of artistic effect.
9:00 p.m.: Screening of Mandy at Regal, Colaba
Director: Panos Cosmatos
A simple grindhouse-styled action film, injected with unnecessary arty-farty drivel to make it look more than the sum of its parts, but all that Director and co-writer, Panos Cosmatos, succeeds in doing is to turn #Mandy from what could have been a fun exploitation romp into a soporific mess till the halfway stage, followed by nonsensical trash till the end. Barring a single emotional outburst and mouthing a couple of cool one-liners, Nicolas Cage’s talents are criminally wasted in what could well be his most-boring film to date. Sure, Cage has been in some awful stuff of late, completely unbefitting his star status, but could any of those films have claimed to offer a cure for insomnia.
Over to MAMI 2018 Day 5.