Suddenly missing writing in English, so today’s post in Bond’s language. Also, a day like this, where all the films watched were in English, all goes.
One strange thing I have done this fest (which I don’t think will go down well with veteran festival watchers) is to not even flip over the pages of the thick brochure to look at synopsis written by underpaid writing assistants for festival submissions. (Though if it’s a first film by an independent writer-director, fair chances are he himself has written it, before himself delivering the screener DVDs to the courier man as carefully as a basket of eggs.)
This bordering-on-paranoia refusal to read or hear anything about the film I’m going to watch has given me the slight edge of surprise when the film starts. Though that also means the decision of what to watch has been left on a close group of cinephiles. Fair deal, so far.
Dennis Lee’s Jesus Henry Christ. The name of the film gave me visuals of either a mob film or a character study of a radical. Don’t know why these two visuals but I was pretty sure I wasn’t going in for an easy watch for the 1st film of the day. But what rolled on screen was something entirely different. A mad comedy about a dysfunctional family of ‘freaks’. It was like Wes Anderson (one of my favorite directors from America) done to a higher note. Lack of time and the fact that this is a film about which the lesser you know, the more you’ll enjoy it, I will stop right here. Just watch it. It’ll be on torrents for sure.
That’s how Kartik Krishnan recommended this film to me. “Food-porn hai…chal na!” But S.J. Clarkson’s British film Toast turned out to be a food-period-drama. Yes, that genre sounds random but that is closer to the essence of the film than food-porn or simple, clipped ‘drama’ the official synopsis would have told.
Story of a young kid of a sad family in 60’s Britain, whose only cheerful memories are building around food, Toast has flashes of brilliance every ten minutes or so. And in between, the film sometimes sags into pure repetition, kitchen-politics executed as sloppily as a TV soap, and British accent too hard to understand. But still, the brilliant parts are brilliant enough to ignore the rest.
Shuffle in your seat, sir
The third film of the day, whose synopsis (deliberately, I suppose) didn’t say much about what we are going to get into, was one of the high-points of this festival till now. A film that slips under your skin, and slowly tries to unbutton your multiple-nudities. The Monster’s Dinner, a Turkish film by Ramin Martin is set in a time and place which could be anywhere. “Everything is normal”, as the synopsis reads. A couple are waiting at their home for another couple to have dinner together. But slowly, and very steadily, the ripples start to form. The friends have entered the house with a chained-kid and he is taken to the kitchen table and tied there. Without a flinch or a look. Normally.
(SPOILERS AHEAD) Then the guests see the hosts’ neighbor being killed by cops in the street. From their windows. And joke about telling on their own neighbor and getting him killed. Normally. Then one of the two men excuses himself to go to the loo and masturbate. Normally. Then the kid is brought into the hall for a slapping ceremony. Normally. Then one of the men confesses, almost crying and justifying the trigger for such a heinous act, to having made a painting recently. Normally. You get the point by now, right? The film is like a top-10 list (like stand-up comics do) of ‘things that will happen in an apocalyptic world’. And here’s my disappointment – the film doesn’t go beyond lists. In fact, I can practically write the whole screenplay in the format I just gave above. A film, according to me, should unfold above enlisting. Once you get the ‘accent’ of the times these characters represent, nothing’s left to be discovered. (Spoilers end)
But still, films like these always validate a film festival’s existence. Something unseen, unexpected, unsettling, and brilliant (at least idea-wise). Watch it, whenever, wherever, possible, before the world becomes like the one shown in the film.
“The film’s over? But it just started?” That was our first reaction as soon as the Hollywood biggie and day’s last film, George Clooney’s The Ides of March ended. Brilliant cast, great performances, a taut as a new underwear’s elastic screenplay, and all that….but the film ended even before it started. Just one twist and that’s all. Won’t write more about this as it will get a major release aur sabko aur sabke uncle ji ko dekhne ko milegi.