Wednesday, December 12, 2012

9th Dubai International Film Festival (2012) – Day 3

11th December 2012 (Day #3)

Day# 3, and I am deep in the zone – living and breathing movies has become second nature! Today, I watched 3 movies.

GATTU/ India/ 80min/ 2012/ In Hindi
Made primarily for children, GATTU is a sweet and an overly simplistic movie with a lesson. Gattu is a little orphan boy who works in his uncle’s tin-yard. Uneducated and not really interested in work, Gattu yearns for kite-flying, and specifically to bring down “kali”, a black kite that reigns supreme in the neighbourhood’s sky. Since the tallest roof in the area is the school’s roof, Gattu tries to steal into school to have a go at kali from there. GATTU is aimed at kids and set in the real world; there are no evil characters and the boy never really finds himself in real peril. What does happen though is that he makes mistakes, and by the end of the film, learns from them to set things right. GATTU is short (only eighty minutes), it is humorous and good fun. Although it will be appreciated by (and be beneficial for) pre-teen children, its limited commercial appeal means very few will actually get to see it.

BLANCANIEVES/ Spain/ 104min/ 2012/ No dialogues
Set during 1920s Spain, BLANCANIEVES is, like THE ARTIST, a black-and-white and silent movie. It is a take on the Snow White tale, adapted for the era and, specifically, with bullfighting as the theme. A famous matador has an incident and turns quadriplegic at the same time as his wife dies while giving birth to their daughter, Carmen. Kept away from her father and raised as a servant by the evil stepmother (previously the father’s nurse), Carmen eventually learns the art of bullfighting by sneaking into her father’s room whenever the stepmother is away or busy. Like the fairytale, the rest of the movie shows us “Snow White” taken into a forest, escaping, being poisoned – well, you know the tale. Like the films of the silent era, the movie features exaggerated expressions, text-cards and a melodramatic score. Alas, since it comes after last year’s THE ARTIST, BLANCANIEVES loses the novelty value that THE ARTIST held. Even so, it is a well-made film that has good production values and is well-directed. Though the story drags early on (we don’t come to the dwarves until half the movie has played out), and there is only so much excitement another adaptation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves can generate, BLANCANIEVES is a good attempt, especially to showcase the director’s talent.

TOUCH OF THE LIGHT/ Taiwan/ 110min/ 2012/ In Taiwanese
Although a work of fiction, TOUCH OF THE LIGHT is based on the real-life experiences of its protagonist, Huang Yu-Siang. Siang plays himself, a piano-prodigy born blind. Hailing from a rural family in Taiwan, Siang enrolls in a city university to study music. Separated from the cushioned life around his family and village, Siang learns to cope up with being by himself, making friends and even inspiring others to follow their dreams. Over time, he befriends Jie (a very cute Yung-yung Chan) who loves dancing but, drowned in the drone of everyday life, doesn’t pursue her dream. Although the premise reads like the sort of human dramas that are dime-a-dozen, director Chang Jung-chi’s deft handling of the characters, their fantastic interplay and a great use of Siang’s musical talent sets apart TOUCH OF THE LIGHT from the crowd. Like SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, the movie revels in what is expected of the story, delivering it with an exuberance and love that only the best of the genre have. At the houseful screening I attended, not one audience member left their seat, even sitting through the *entire* end-credits!

Hardcore day tomorrow - 4 movies lined up, with one of them almost 3 hours long. I think I'll need some wings for that one :)

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