Cinema is storytelling. Whether it is about a missing lad in the continent that we barely know anything about, or about an ancient ritual that can help a girl come to terms with a relationship that’s over. Whether it is looking at stories about gangsters still not told (and when they are, oh boy how awesome!), or a simple story about a woman whose life is ‘staggering’.
The film that surprised me was by director Luca Guadagnino, not exactly known for brevity — not in terms of a film’s length, but the timeline his films cover in their storyline. His film
Antonia covered ten tumultuous years of a poet’s life; Betrolucci on Bertolucci covered the filmmaker’s life in the movies; and then there’s his soul-capturing Call Me By Your Name which is matchless story of growing up. The film this year is The Staggering Girl. VIDEO
Don’t be fooled by its very short duration. The film packs in so much in 85 minutes that I emerged from the theatre stunned, but with a smile pasted on my face. Illogical of course, but watching Kyle McLachlan is such a visual treat…And can there be anything more beautiful than Julianne Moore?
The film had a super add on.
Nimic, a short film by Yorgos Lanthimos. It stars Matt Dillon who is you and me, lost in this bizarre life in the city. The accompanying music will resonate with anyone who feels like a fish out of water in this rate race. Pardon the mixed metaphors, but here is a glimpse of the film: VIDEO
My film festival began with
Marriage Story. Directed by Noah Baumbach it is a fantastic account that hits home in so many ways. Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver are a husband-wife duo from Brooklyn, their world is practically perfect. She’s the loving mother who cannot cook but is a star on stage. He’s the brilliant director who is a great dad and all round amazing person. Cracks in their marriage appear when she gets a chance to act in a soap that takes her across the continent to Los Angeles.
They decide to get a divorce and everything that should have been cordial ends up as, ‘this is mine!’, ‘no! it’s mine!’ Things don’t help when the two are driven apart by their lawyers Ray Liotta and the still stunning Laura Dern (there was an audible gasp of pleasure when she appears on screen). Alan Alda makes a brief appearance as well. But if you want to see how lawyers twist words, this film is practically brilliant. Yes it won Scarlett her best acting award, but their angry rant at each other is less convincing than the quiet moments of self examination for both husband and wife in the film.
The Two Popes was a fun watch simply because humour and the church (or any other religious institution) is practically unheard of, and although this film is very close to the 2011 comedy Habemus Papam (We Have A Pope) in the humour department, it is different because it gives us a glimpse into the lonely life of the Pope in the Vatican and shows us how two very different philosophies can get along. As a fellow filmgoer said, ‘Jonathan Pryce is priceless in the film!’ VIDEO
Usually cinema is made so that we see beautiful people in beautiful settings doing wonderful things. But it takes a certain kind of stomach to watch films like
The Golden Glove which is a bar that attracts the ugliest people who do ugly things. Can’t deny that I loved watching it and even cheered for the dank, large prostitute who cackles and gets the better of the man (protagonist of the film who chops up prostitutes and packs them away in a hole in the wall. Needless to say, it won’t be easy buying the pine tree shaped car deodorant hanging all over his house. Sorry Scorsese, your new film is a paint by the numbers mob superhero film
At a recent conference Martin Scorcese said that he thinks Marvel movies aren’t really cinema and then said he doesn’t watch them. Such an elitist comment to make about movies that are spectacle and loved by millions all over the world!
Has he not seen the latest
Joker? He should realise how much it borrows from his films and is totally unlike a superhero film. Even so I tried to watch The Irishman without prejudice. After all, he gave us Taxi Driver.
The audience was just screaming fan boys. Screaming at the appearance of familiar stars (drowning out any comprehension of funny lines), whooping at every gunning down of an enemy. That’s when I realised this is as much a superhero film but of the mob.
It stars the usual suspects: Jow Pesci, Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel (don’t know why he was there in the film at all. He just sits around in a club), Al Pacino, Joe Cannavale, Ray Romano and more familiar Scoresese faces. There are beautiful old Cadillacs and Dodges, there are guns, there are killing inside the restaurants and killing outside the restaurant, there are unions and how they work, there is Cannoli (in the film it is ice cream sundae with a cherry on top, there is dancing because Pacino must dance, there are baptisms, there are wilful wives. Even the dialogue style and the unspoken gestures are same ole same ole.
And after 209 minutes I just wanted to know if there was cash/drugs/alcohol being smuggled with the steaks. The worst offender is Pacino, who hammed his role so much I wished he were the rocker grandpa from Danny Collins instead. The one saving grace of the film is Anna Paquin who plays De Niro’s daughter and her disconnect with her father. I wish there were more than what they showed. The film boasts of CGI ageing but when Benjamin Button did such a fantastic job, should we really be impressed?
Suddenly you realise that there is nothing new in the story and despite everyone gushing around you, you feel like cheering for Paramount pictures who did not like this film, and you understand why Netlfix paid so much money for this film. This is a pure fan film. A mob superhero film.
It’s raining in Mumbai, but is this drizzle enough to keep the fans at home? From a Ken Loach film?
Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication. Read her columns