Monday, December 14, 2009

DIFF 6 – Day 4 Roundup

13th December 2009 (Day #4)

So was it a close competition? Not in the least. Read on to know which one triumphed and also about one particular movie that made me fall asleep!

Earth’s Women (Ddag-ui Yeo-ja)
Woo-jung Kwon | South Korea | 2009
95 mins

In the closing narration of this documentary, the director makes a statement where the three farmer-women, subjects of the film, wonder why they are being filmed since they are not special in any way. The director then, in her narration, agrees that they are not special at all. Then why indeed was this movie made? Even at 95 minutes, it would have felt twice that duration if only I could keep myself awake to watch it all.

Mother (Madeo)
Joon-ho Bong | South Korea | 2009
129 mins

Joon-ho Bong has now made three feature-length films, each as good as the other. After making the lesser-known crime-investigation thriller Memories of Murder followed by the fantastic genre-defying monster movie The Host (played at DIFF ’06), Joon-ho brings us a movie that will remind fans of both. Mother is about a single-mother’s quest to save her only son, a simple fool whose memory regularly fails him, from a murder charge that lands him in prison. Knowing her son to be innocent, she sets out to prove his innocence, In order to do this, she must find the real killer. Not believing in following conventions, Joon-ho’s movie plays with themes and characters in a refreshing fashion, yet again proving how much we have become used to formulae and mediocrity. The soul of the movie is Bin Won’s fantastic performance as the mother. She manages to credibly convey the desperation of an anguished yet resolute mother. A note on the closing shot: it could easily have been cut short by a good ten-seconds for a conventional close. That it does not is Joon-ho’s masterstroke.

Duncan Jones | U.K. | 2009
97 mins

The first thing that strikes you in Moon is the wonderful score by Clint Mansell. The next is Sam Rockwell’s wonderful performances. We have not seen him not do a loud character for some time, an opportunity Moon gives him that he grabs with all his hands. And lastly, the wonderfully nice characters in the movie (revealing more would be spoiling it). What works against it is its predictability. You know something is not right when you guess what will happen next, and the exact same thing happens, not once but throughout the movie. Fortunately, the performances and the score create a tranquil atmosphere that the works to the story’s advantage. Nevertheless, if Moon serves as an amuse-bouche to Duncan Jones’ career, I look forward to the entrée and main course.

Farewell Gary (Adieu Gary)
Nassim Amaouche | France | 2009
75 mins

As far as independent films are concerned, Farewell Gary is as conventional as they come — the kind made by directors at the beginning of their career before they move on to do better (or worse). This does not mean the movie is boring or not good, it just means that the appreciation and accolades this movie is garnering will probably be lost in time and crowd. Contextually, Farewell Gary is a good film. It is about a small town of factory workers and their families as they live through a quiet period in their lives, a little after the factory has been closed. The success of the movie is in presenting this milieu with authenticity and making it interesting enough to hold our attention. It is populated with characters that are all attractive in disposition, making Farewell Gary the indie version of a feel-good movie.

We are beyond the mid-point of the festival now. From tomorrow, the end of each screening will bring the festival wrap-up visibly closer. The last three days include some big movies and some with international acclaim in the festival-circuit, including two from Iran’s prolific film industry. Continue reading these reports to find out what and how good they are.

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