Technically, I saw 4 movies today but all the 4 are not from the International Film Festival. I sneaked in to watch MI 4 Ghost Protocol in between. Somehow, I made it to the morning show of the day in Studio 5 and it was totally worth it.
The Whistleblower (USA/Germany/Canada)
The Whistleblower is the story of Kathy Bolkovac, an United Nations peace keeper from US who exposed the girl trafficking scandal that happened in the war torn Bosnia-Herzegovina. The scandal was one of the biggest black marks in the UN history with many international soldiers, diplomats and higher officials involved in girl trafficking, rape and torture of young women.
Whistleblower is hard hitting and extremely disturbing movie as it takes you in to the lives of these young women. For instance, the scene in which Kathy (played by Rachel Weisz) does the search in the empty bar is more emotionally disturbing than the real torture scenes. And to know that it actually happened and the people who actually need to save them are the ones who are responsible for the plight. Larysa Kondracki has done a wonderful job in depicting the real life story like a thriller and it does affect you when you leave the theater. 7.5/10 and a must watch
The Tree of Life (USA)
Terence Malick is an interesting character and his Thin Red Line was a master classic. Tree of Life is about a journey of an estranged son who goes through his childhood memories of his family. His turbulent adolescent and the dilemma about choosing between living the life of grace (his mother) and nature (his father) is the story.
Tree of Life can test your patience but if you pass through the test that Terence Malick gives you, you may end up appreciating the experience at the end of the movie. The initial 25 minutes or so, you are taken through the evolution and then the movie evolves from it. There are multiple subtexts and inner meanings to the visuals that you need to decode. Tree of Life is only for the patient movie watcher and if you are not do not bite the bait. 7.5/10 for Terence Malick’s imagination and visionary film making.
Last year, Coldfish left me with a lasting impression that I kept yapping about it even last week to my friends. This year Bastard has left me with the same impact that Coldfish created for me. (If you haven’t watched Coldfish, do watch it – not for the weak hearted). This is probably the first review of Bastard online as the movie was shown to the outside world (other than Germany) only in Chennai International Film Festival. The first screening was made in German Film Festival. And I salute them for choosing CIFF to do so.
Bastard is a revenge movie with a difference. A 13 yr old boy takes revenge on his biological mother by kidnapping her son,Nicholas. He takes away her son from her, hides him and threatens her to give him motherly love in exchange. A Criminal Psychoanalyst who is investigating gradually finds the reason behind kidnapping and the secret hidden by Nicholas’ mother. Meanwhile, Mathilda (13 yr old classmate) falls in love with the kidnapper and joins him to torture the victim and his family. The violent love story culminates in a brutal climax and reconciliation.
Bastard is brilliant. You will not believe that the movie is the debut feature film of the director and screenwriter, Carston Unger. Fantastically written and well casted, Carston weaves magic on screen. The lead protagonist played by Marcus Krojer and Mathilda played by Antonia Lingemann will make you fall in love with them. The brutal peacefulness in the way they make their crimes and depiction of emotions are mind boggling. The brilliant acting of the leads are matched by Martina Gedeck, the psychoanalyst. The movie deals with emotional outburst of children who are neglected by their parents and what if they react violently to the situation. The soundtracks and musical score are contemporary. Bastard is not flawless. It has it’s own set of logical loopholes but the gripping screenplay makes the right foil to hide the flaws. A 9/ 10 and miss at your own peril for Bastard. I bet you will have lasting impact when you watch this movie.
There was a short interaction with the Producer and the lead actor after the movie. They were so excited to see the positive response from the audience. I asked about the emotional situation of the lead actors while doing the movie. It seems they had psychiatrists on the sets in order to have a constant monitoring on the lead characters as they were 15 and 13 when they did the movie. It was startling to know that even they are finding difficult to find distributors for the movie. The plight of independent film makers are same whether it’s India or Germany. Of course there were a few stupid questions too, lets leave that aside. But do watch the movie when you get a chance.
Due to my pre-planned work, I could only do two movies for Day 4.
Sleeping Beauty (Australia)
Sleeping Beauty is about a college girl, Lucy who is sucked in to the world of impotent old man and their desires. She joins a service run by a woman where she is sedated in the night and her body is allowed to be in possession of old men with one condition that there should not be any penetration. Lucy doesn’t know what’s happening to her during sleep and the movie ends with how she reacts once she knows.
Sleeping beauty is boring not because of the story line but the way it’s executed. What could have been a thriller ends up as damp drama with long fading shots and languid pace. The movie never takes the audience in to the fold and only sarcasm evolves out of the scenes rather than audience relating to the lead character. A 4/10 and you can definitely miss Julia Leigh’s Sleeping Beauty
Habemus Papam (Italy) – We have a Pope
The pope dies and the cardinals go in to the conclave to elect the new pope. After much deliberation, an unexpected candidate Cardinal Melville is finally chosen as the new pope. When the new Pope is about to be announced, he breaks down and refuses to accept papacy. The cardinals bring in a Psychoanalyst to help the new pope while the whole world is waiting to see the new pope. Meanwhile, he escapes when he goes for a secret meeting with another psychoanalyst. Whether he chose to be the pope and what happens to the cardinals and the psychoanalyst is depicted in a very comic way.
Nani Moretti (Screenwriter and Director) takes a potshot at the most powerful religious high command in the world and what satire it turned it out to be. The dialogues are crisp and extremely funny in this well written script. Although the narrative takes a different turn when the Pope escapes, the movie clearly deals with the mental agony of the new Pope in a more intricate manner. We never see the human side of such leaders and finale is quite shocking, it will not be what you expect. A lot of critics think that the movie indirectly refers to Silvio Berlusconi, a long time foe of Nani Moretti. Anyways, the movie is extremely funny, thought provoking and a must watch. 7.5/10.