My outing at MAMI 2015

As I walked out of the last screening at the recently-concluded Mumbai film festival, I didn't recall the cancelled screenings or the inability to wade through the teeming crowds. It's worth jumping through those hoops considering I got to watch a dazzling array of transcendental cinema.

India is the only country where week-long film festivals happen and none of those films ever get a theatrical release, for reasons like censor problems and lack of basic patronage. It's a minor tragedy that Sebastian Schipper's splendid movie, Victoria, which unfolds over a night in Berlin and changes the life of a Spaniard forever, will not release in India. This genre-defying thriller, which looks like a single take during its 140-minute duration, invents a new vocabulary for cinema.

Nils Frahm's beautiful soundtrack ably complements the brutal feeling and narrow scope the film is suffused with. Equally compelling is Jacques Audiard's slow burning Dheepan, about three Sri Lankans who escape the Tamil war and try to make a living in France as a "family". The French director never reveals his cards throughout the movie and the Tarantino-esque climax will pull the rug out of everyone's feet.

It strains credulity that multiplexes still think the country is not ready for off-kilter humour of South Korean director Hong Sang-Soo. My jaw was constantly touching the floor throughout his new movie, soju (the national drink) flowing down the characters' throats, some deep insights into human behaviour. The movie is about a film maker who tries to have a one-night stand with a painter in rural South Korea. Hong looks at it through the prism of what would have been the appropriate thing to do.

Equally spell-binding was Miguel Gomes' six-hour-long magnum opus has a charming take down of EU officials and bankers, an intimate look at the lives of people living at a massive council estate in a Lisbon suburb, a protracted mini-documentary on singing bird contests and their owners. In short, Gomes finds a microcosm in the financial crisis to show us what Balzac meant when he said that "in a world where money, power and status are the measure of everything, human beings are reduced to being either fools or knaves".

The shortest 84 minutes of the film festival were spent at the screening of Noah Baumbach's Metropolitan getting a post-Internet treatment with cracking dialogues that might be mistaken as Len Dunham's ramblings. Some of those dialogues really ought to be printed on T-shirts on a mass scale. Baumbach's delicious evisceration of the hipster culture left me in splits from start to finish.

Of course, there were misfires too. Thithi a generic undertone.

Equally weak was Italian director Marco Bellocchio's latest effort, Blood of my Blood. The two-part film about the unjust prosecution of a nun in 17th century and her lover's reincarnation in modern age as a hustler bored me off my pants.

All in all, wish I could have such a good time at the cinemas in Mumbai during the other 51 weeks of the year as well. />

jagannath.jamma@bsmail.in

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