Friday, December 17, 2010

DIFF 7 – Day 5 Roundup

16th December 2010 (Day #5)

Violence, intrigue, survival and despair were the order of the day. While there was not much new in the way the first two movies dealt with their respective subjects, the final two movies of the day brought me delight in the way they presented theirs. Here's a lowdown on the four movies I watched on day# 5 of the Dubai Film Festival.

Outrage (Autoreiji)
Takeshi Kitano | Japan | 2010
109 min

Outrage is a Japanese gangster film, focusing on gang-wars between families of the yakuza. When the boss of one of the families makes a deal with a drug supplier for his territory, the yakuza chairman sets in motion an intricate plan; a bloody path that can only lead to an equally bloody end. As expected, the movie is heavy on violence. While the movie does not add anything new to the genre, director Takeshi Kitano manages to sustain the interest of the viewer with a constantly moving story. Unfortunately, too many characters and a predictable plot renders this mainstream endeavor stale.

The Father and the Foreigner (Il Padre e lo Stranie)
Ricky Tognazzi | Italy | 2010
110 min

In an unconvincing mash-up of genres, The Father & The Foreigner is part-drama and part-thriller. The drama: Diego Marini is unable to come to terms with the disability of his son, and hence lives a mechanical life that includes the occasional trip to his son's special-needs clinic. On one such visit, he meets Walid, an Arab-Italian, who soon becomes a friend and opens his eyes to the wonder that being a parent is. The thriller: Walid is super-rich and seemingly connected in all the wrong places. When one fine day Walid disappears, Diego needs to get to the bottom of things, and thus begins a cat-and-mouse game between Diego, Walid, the Italian Secret Service and a few other entities left unexplained. Unfortunately, the movie spectacularly fails in both, re-hashing what movies of either genre have shown us a few dozen times each year.

127 Hours
Danny Boyle | U.S.A. | 2010
95 min

Among the best of contemporary film directors, Danny Boyle brings his visual energy and heroism theme to 127 Hours with renewed fervor. Inspired by true events, the movie is about one man’s 127 hour ordeal of being stuck in a remote canyon crevice with his right-arm trapped under a boulder. With only a few tools and objects at hand, and water to last him a few days, Aron Ralston (James Franco) prepares for the worst and records messages on his handy-cam for his parents. Using the real Aron Ralston recordings as inspiration, Franco and Boyle recreate his time of tribulation, yet make it entertaining enough for a good mainstream movie. While we have seen better work from Boyle, this is James Franco’s tour-de-force. The screen belongs to him, and he carries it through splendidly.

Norwegian Wood (Noruwei no mori)
Anh Hung Tran | Japan | 2010
133 min

Norwegian Wood is an adaptation of a book of the same name by revered author Haruki Murakami. Beginning with the suicide of a 17 year old boy in 1960s Japan, the movie explores the complicated relationship shared by the boy’s girlfriend, Naoko (Rinko Kikuchi), and his best friend, Toru Watanabe (Ken'ichi Matsuyama) – both trying to cope with their sorrow. While Naoko’s pain consumes her, Toru finds it difficult to let go of his confused feelings for Naoko. Further confusing the two are Reiko, Naoko’s consular, and Midori, Toru’s outgoing classmate who likes him. The title of the movie (and the book) refers to the Beetles song. Its reference to the story is the emotional value it holds to one of the characters, and via her, to the others. This small detail is left out of the movie, leaving those not familiar with the novel a little confused about it. Many such details have probably been left out therefore making the movie a little unexplainable without assumptions by an uninformed viewer. So, for instance, when the female characters discuss sex with explicit detail, it comes as a surprise. Hence the overt usage of verbal sexual intimacy and loud musical cues suggests an exploitative intent within the confines of the movie. Norwegian Wood, although mostly about sorrow and despair, is neither heavy nor dreary. Mostly shot with picturesque locations as back-drops, the movie effortlessly glides on its themes of loss and sexuality – even romanticizing them. It is a wonderful journey about the sorrow of loss that comes from the death of a beloved. The characters use sex as a form of release from their inherent pain, while Toru understands and misunderstands the machinations of the great mystery that love is. In the way it deals with these emotions, Norwegian Wood is an excellent movie that, for its most part, succeeds.

Two days of DIFF left to go. 3 movies scheduled on day# 6. My report, tomorrow.

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