Tuesday, December 15, 2009
DIFF 6 – Day 5 Roundup
14th December 2009 (Day #5)
This day of DIFF was quite tiring. Each movie was emotionally draining, watching them back-to-back multiplying the effects. Fortunately, the festival atmosphere does the work of an energy drink; this makes the going easy.
Shalizeh Arefpour | Iran | 2009
Regrettably, Heiran gives us nothing new or exciting. The initial scenes setup a love-story that could have gone one of many predictable ways – Heiran chooses the route of “village girl alone in big city”. Apart from the female lead’s striking resemblance to the gorgeous Manisha Koirala (looks and performance), there is not much that can be appreciated here; unless you are biased towards it.
Mother and Child
Rodrigo Garcia | U.S.A./Spain | 2009
Garcia, after the dismal Passengers, comes back into his own with Mother and Child. The movie is an exploration of the different facets of Motherhood. A woman who gave up her daughter for adoption due to teenage-pregnancy struggling with the pain of it in the latter years of her life; a pregnant-teenage girl ready to give her baby up for adoption; an infertile woman looking to adopt; a steadfast career-woman who finds herself pregnant. We see each of these characters mothers also and very little of the fathers. Garcia’s brooding examination of these women is layered thick with contemplation. There were some instances that invoked sighs or chuckles from a percentage of the audience, probably mothers themselves. Surely their identification with some scenes proves Garcia’s power over the emotions he captures, but for one not able to empathize, sympathy works almost equally well. Naomi Watts playing one of the women is a big advantage – her character goes through the steepest curve and she rides it high. (Note: The trio of Mexican masters - del Toro, Iñárritu & Cuarón – are involved as executive producers)
Jim Sheridan | U.S.A. | 2009
Brothers has an interesting idea somewhere in it. Unfortunately, Jim Sheridan does a hired-hand job on the movie, letting the script and actors make the movie. While Natalie Portman and especially Jake Gyllenhaal take on this responsibility well, Tobey Maguire falls way short. He is convincing neither as Jake’s model elder brother nor as a war-hero. He even looks like Natalie Portman’s kid brother! In fact, casting Gyllenhaal and Maguire for the other’s character would have served the movie better. We’re left rooting for the couple that isn’t instead, to Thomas Newman’s splendid soundtrack.
Nymph (Nang Mai)
Pen-ek Ratanaruang | Thailand | 2009
In Nymph, a man leaves his wife for a woman who is married to a man who is in love with a tree-nymph. This peculiar Thai movie plays with your mind using the simple approach of immersing you in the location of the story. Nymph starts with a long-shot (it lasts several minutes) in a forest. As we pan and track through the foliage, the visuals seem to appear voyeuristic. In fact, most of the movie seems like a peek into the personal lives of Nop and May, a couple who take a vacation in the woods, expecting only photography and barbeque. The many shots of the forest invoke fear too – an unknown fear that, in reverse to classic horror, is used to establish the unknown rather than the fear. Disappointingly, the low production value hampers the movie. Interesting it is, but could have done with a better director, actors or characters. Any or all.
Of the movies I watch tomorrow, the penultimate day of Dubai International Film Festival ‘09, Almodóvar’s Spanish Broken Embraces is highly anticipated. The other movies take me to Malaysia, France and Morocco. Quite a trip ahead!
Categories: Dubai Int'l Film Festival