Sunday, December 11, 2011

DIFF 8 – Day 3 Roundup

10th December 2011 (Day #3)

Five scheduled movies cut to four (I was late for the first), that ended with only three (the last screening was cancelled, more later). Here's what I managed to watch:

7th August (22se Srabon)
Srijit Mukherji | India | 2011
139 min

This typical main-stream Indian movie from West Bengal, 7th August is a crime-thriller about the search for a serial killer. When a police investigation comes to a dead-end, a suspended seasoned officer is brought in to help solve the mystery of a poet-killer; the killer's modes-operandi is to refer famous classical Bengali poetry for each murder. Typical here is the standard that is expected from popular Indian cinema: songs (two of them), a heroine that was not really needed, obvious focus on a seasoned star-actor, but also the production values of an experienced industry. Although the movie presents nothing new, it manages to be a fascinating watch until the last 10 minutes, when the *big reveal* fizzles into a gimmick that undoes everything before. Much like a good meal that ends with a bug in your dessert.

The Disintegration (La Desintegration)
Philippe Faucon | France | 2011
78 min

The Disintegration is a by-the-numbers fictional account of a disillusioned young French Muslim man of Arab ethnicity, who is recruited by an extremist faction. Without sensationalizing the issue or getting melodramatic or emotional, the movie does well to present an issue of socio-political significance in a matter-of-fact way. The director does not take sides, and has no agenda to dig into the causes of the issue or the possible solutions. The point of the movie is to reveal what really goes on, as a thought & discussion point. Therefore, it works as a social commentary. The craft of the director and production values combined with a short running time ensure the movie stays an interesting watch.

August Drizzle (Nikini Vassa)
Aruna Jayawardana | Sri Lanka | 2011
108 min

When the mortician passes away, his middle-aged daughter decides to continue the business. But the profession is not for women, or so her townsfolk believe, which forces her to lead a lonely and morbid life. The movie, though, does not take up the emotional situation of the woman or the sexist issue she faces. Instead, all we get are multiple side-stories where none do much good for the narrative. Many of these side-stories, like the tragic love-life of the woman's employee, have no relevance to the situation at hand, and neither do they provide for any emotional connection. August Drizzle ends up as a movie that suffers for its mediocrity.

A Simple Life (Tao Jie)
Ann Hui | China | 2011
119 min

The screening for A Simple Life at 10pm was cancelled at the last minute. I was informed at 9:50pm, 10 minutes before the screening, even while the volunteer on duty was being informed that the screening is cancelled. No reason was given. No other shows were scheduled at/after 10pm, so I missed out on a time-slot to catch another movie (I could have caught a screening even at 9:30pm if advised of the cancellation earlier).

Unfortunately, I managed only 60% of my planned viewings, some of it being my fault and some the organizers. I intend to make it up in the next 4 days of the festival. Expect more positive reviews (hopefully!) as we dive deep into the second half of the festival week!

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