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Thursday, 3 November 2016

Experiencing the 18th Annual Mumbai Film Festival

MAMI 2016

The 18th edition of the JIO MAMI Mumbai Film Festival just ended this week with a big bang and great pomp and circumstance.

This was my second ever film festival, my first being last years edition of MAMI. It has been a hectic, entertaining week that allows me to walk away with some new friends, awesome cinematic experiences and emotionally stirring moments.

As a whole I was lucky enough to not only watch the works of internationally renowned film makers, but meet a few such aspiring struggling film buffs from within the Hindi film industry and get an insight into the madness that is cinema and the numbers of individuals who have an unbridled passion for it.

It's both scary and refreshing to see.

Some of the greatest films of the year were on display and of the 175 unbelievable tempting choices, in a roller coaster 7 days; I witnessed 27 amazing films [technically 28, but I walked out of one]

Instead of however doing a top ten, as it becomes so damn difficult. I'm just going to detail each films from a daily basis and give a round up on what to catch, what to miss, what was absolutely phenomenal and more...

Day 1:

Certain Women, Dir. Kelly Reichardt [Language: English]

There's no better opening to have then that off a simple Indie film made by one of this generations most underrated and stellar film makers. Reichardt's Certain Women might lack the thrills of her previous piece Night Moves or the heft of her best work Wendy and Lucy, it makes up for it with some wonderful shot taking, a cavalcade of terrific performances and what are two very well structure narratives (out of 3).

The real highlight of the film is the fact that it's so intelligently shot in film as well as a breakout star in Lily Gladstone and the on the point Jared Harris. The two elevate both the opening and closing of the film with their performances, aided by able characters and realistic but emotionally stirring narrative arcs. A shout out to Kristen Stewart who is just growing from strength to strength as an actor.

It's the kind of opening film one needs, simple, serene, great but not altogether mind blowing to ruin the rest of the line up.

Verdict: Worth The Catch

Fukushima Mon Amour, Dir. Dorris Dorrie [Language: German, Japanese and English]

Sometimes the greatness of festivals lies in discovering certain unexpected gems. I went into Fukushima, intrigued by its premise of a young German woman helping a former geisha in the devastated Fukushima by staying with her and fixing her broken home; all alone and isolated, haunted by their individual pasts.

Despite its heady setting and dreary backdrop, the film with it's fish out of water like narrative and cultural clashes turned out to be an undeniably hilarious adventure with a genuine subtle heart. The highlight of the whole journey none other than veteran actor Kaori Mamoi, who's comic timing and expressive body language brings out the best of both worlds; drama and comedy in the film.

Mon Amour might not be a top tier film of the festival but remains as its dark horse that can entertain and enthral any form of an audience, the one that most cinemagoers should check out regardless of language.

Verdict: Must Watch!

The Lovers and The Despot, Dir. Ross Adam and Robert Cannan [Language: English, Korean, Mandarin]

The one unanimous verdict most people gave to this engaging and intriguing documentary is this; it would have made a thrilling epic fictional film.

The premise itself lands into the absurd and unbelievable for what is a harrowingly true story. North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Il kidnaps renowned South Korean film star Choi Eun-Hee and eventually her estranged husband film maker Shin Sang Ok to make North Korean cinema popular and big around the world.

The documentary details these individual characters, they struggles during the kidnapping not mention Shin and Kim Jong Il's interesting friendship as well as the couples eventual reconciliation and escape from the clutches of this silver tongued monster.

Lovers and the Despot is damn intriguing and could have been more so as a biographical picture, here however despite the revelation of the intriguing nuances and psychological make up of these characters; the film rarely surprises and sticks to it's relative interesting premise but not beyond that.

The Lover and The Despot is worth it, but not as terrific as it could be.

Verdict: Average.

Una, Dir. Benedict Andrews [Language: English]

Based on the play Blackbird by David Harrower, Una is very much a tense near one room films that keeps you on the hook with its simple two person confrontations.

The dual characters have an intriguing relationship and the horrific aftermath of it is what the young woman Una [a simply magnificent and restrained Rooney Mara] comes to address with an in hiding Ray [the equally impressive Ben Mendehlson].

It's the performances that make the film, as much of our time is spent in conversation with the duo, following their prolonged painful silences or the memories of their simpler but questionable times. Twisted to the core but very much a strong romantic story, the climax is a downer as necessitated but one which doesn't allow to unknot our twisted guts and becomes a damper on a film that could have been much more than it is; especially as the half time film on a festival day.

Verdict: Worth the Catch

The Lure, Dir. Agnieszka Smoczynska [Language: Polish]

At last year's MAMI, over some unfounded fear of not finding transport back home; I decided not to check out the festivals delectable section of late night horror movies.  This year, I wanted a taste of some great Halloween gems.

Lure unfortunately wasn't such a horror film, instead it was something more. Masquerading as a nightmarish version of the Little Mermaid [in line with the original fairy tales] is a coming of age gothic fantasy erotic musical that plays on so many levels as a tale of sordid immigrants and the darker truths of monstrosity lurking within humanity itself as well as the mystique of the forbidden.

Lure's capacity to go beyond a simple horror film and entertain in madcap levels is what makes it an engaging last film of the day, keeping you awake with its ludicrously entertaining plot twists and music while falling well in line with the macabre genre and madcap art house space. The kind of film one looks for and the kind of film one doesn't expect at a film festival even a midnight madness horror fest.

Absolutely bold and brilliant!

Verdict: Must Watch!

Day 2:

After the Storm, Dir. Hirokazu Koreeda [Language: Japanese]

The latest light hearted but profoundly meaningful family drama from Koreeda is like Like Father, Like Son; his seminal 2013 masterpiece.

After the Storm however takes some interesting edges and turns in forming a sweet yet moving story between a struggling loser of a father trying to make time for his son from his ex-wife. It's an emotional tale that grasps you right at the start thanks to the prowess of Koreeda's characters, each one bringing a genuine touch to themselves and elevated by a talented ensemble.

At the fore is the affable Hiroshi Abe, as a down on his luck detective and once successful author who has his own vices but at the end of the day is triumphant thanks to his unwavering motive to make sure to keep on seeing his son. It's touching and gets you right into a film that delves in the aftermath of broken relationships of generations of fathers and sons and mothers and their boys.

It might not be Koreeda's finest, but it still makes for the most touching experience at a roller coaster film festival.

Verdict: Worth the Catch

The Commune, Dir. Thomas Vinterberg [Language: Danish]

Vinterberg's latest film [the Official Danish entry for the Oscars] is by and large a predictable film, however that doesn't take away from the fact that along with its refreshingly brisk pace, it is a fascinating study on deeply intertwined relationships between individuals of different backdrops coming together as family.

The complexities at the centre lie in the relationship between husband and wife; Erik and Anna, and the pains and problems living in a commune causes their family and child. The films most haunting shot is one frame at the dinner table, as everyone clears up around them; the original trio of Erik, Anna and their daughter are left to mull over the broken pieces of their family, individually.

Eventually in an operatic movement, each other individual of the commune joins the table; orchestrated with perfection, eventually ending with Erik's new girlfriend Emma. The kind of fluidity Vinterberg achieves in his direction is spellbinding.

He casts a younger Helene Neumann in the role of Emma opposite Trine Dyrholm [Anna], and it's no coincidence they look similar despite the age differences. Their conversation where Anna tries to make sense of her and Erik's relationship and accept Emma into the commune is beautiful. It matches the dry humoristic talk she has with Erik post-sex, when he finally divulges his affair. Such moments sparkle, in a film that is at times inconsistent.

It's Vinterberg's greatest flaw, an uneven screenplay in a premise rife with volcanic eruptions. It helps that his actors are still on a top notch level, especially the heart wrenching Dyrholm, she makes this just barely...

Verdict: Worth the Catch

Tower, Dir. Keith Maitland [Language: English]

One of the finest documentaries ever.

Using rotoscopy animation, testaments from survivors and stock footage/audio; Maitland and team recreate the tragic 1966 University of Texas shootings to provide a film that details a singular specific tragedy but rife with true humanity and the complex understandings of both heroism and fear.

In what is essentially a wide view film, the documentary explores the harrowing tragedy to the perspectives of those that reported it, those that were involved in saving lives and those that suffered.

The intelligence in the use of animation and real footage creates for a harrowing experience as long as you engage with the tragedy on a human level. I must have cried at least twice during the telling of this abject horror that both a human can cause and triumph from.

It's beautiful.

Verdict: Unmissable!!!

Personal Shopper, Dir. Olivier Assayas [Language: English, French]

It still comes as a surprise to me, when movie buffs question Kristen Stewart's abilities as an actor. Sure she's not the most expressive in the game, but beyond the mediocre Twilight films; Stewart has blossomed into a fine actor capable of shouldering some thrilling films.

The other point that so called festival going movie buffs got caught up with; is the haunting ghost in Assayas's latest film and how it never really worked either as a complete scary horror or a methodological rumination on grief.

Yes the film has its flaws and sure a segment dedicated to a thrilling texting contest can't hook everyone, but Assayas's latest does things with a signature style and engrossing narrative that is hard to swallow, but when it goes down; it's damn fine!

Verdict: Must Watch!

Day 3:

The Red Turtle, Dir.Michael Dudok De Wit [Language: Silent]

Studio Ghibli is hands down the finest animation company in the world today [Sorry Pixar].

The Japanese animation giant is responsible not only for the continued resurgence of fine 2D animated cinema but also masterpieces that go beyond the simplified notion that cartoons are for children and touch deeper understandings of emotion, culture, history and in the case of its latest gem; Life.

The Red Turtle's marooned on an island premise might seem old hat, but in animated form it takes on new life and the films near silent expression delves deeper into the organic approach of life even in simple isolation.

A story that stands the test of time and one enriching beyond words. Once again, I spilled tears in this one; hence it is...

Verdict: Unmissable!!!

Neruda, Dir. Pablo Larrain [Language: Spanish]

Pablo Larrain's directorial stylings are not for everyone.

The post-modernist fictionalized story of the hunt for Communist poet Pablo Neruda takes on many absurd levels of intrigue including casting it's protagonist [a fascinating Gael Garcia Bernal] as an over-confident but bumbling inspector trying to catch his true to history prey.

Sharp edits transfer conversations from location to location and back to location and into absurd theatre stage like black spaces to enhance the thought that this is indeed a film and more importantly deconstruct the idea of both protagonist, antagonist and what is a side character.

It however all becomes a distraction from a story that at times feels very meaningful in its revelations and revelry of poet Pablo Neruda but at times also is meaningless. It's not the direction that will sit well with most viewers, but is an enthralling film nonetheless.

Verdict: Worth the Catch.

My Life as Courgette [A Zucchini], Dir. Claude Barras [Language: French]

A stop motion animated film about a young orphaned boy's stay in an orphanage making friends and falling in love. My Life is a beautiful adult examination on abandonment and childhood with some dark humour to boot but also a sweet child like innocent heart that will bring you to laughs and tears, in equal measures.

This is a film that demands the attention of the whole auditorium and it paid dividends in mine, as the crowd was laughing, crying, cheering and awwing ever so sweetly through the proceedings. A fine film that will touch hearts.

Not to forget to mention the painstakingly beautifully created claymation work, applause worthy.

Verdict: Must Watch!

Graduation, Dir. Cristian Mungiu [Language: Romanian]

Mungui's latest drama is not for everyone, it's his most briskly paced picture and even then it tests your patience. More importantly it is not a late night film on a heavy festival day.

Having been profoundly moved by The Red Turtle, it was unfair of me to sustain and I kept on fighting a losing battle against sleep during the screening of Graduation.

However that being said, Mungiu's film definitely doesn't work as well as his former pieces especially the phenomenal 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days, yet the depth and unimaginable power he exudes from a film that relies on a significant incident and a small but impactful time in the life of a young woman and her desperately nervous father brings out an engaging film [even with the spectre of sleep haunting you].

Tiring? Yes. Slow? Yes. But impactful? Absolutely.

Verdict: Must Watch!

Day 4:

Multiple Maniacs, Dir. John Waters [Language: English]

At last years MAMI I had the wonderful opportunity of travelling the train several stops, to catch a chance to watch the restored version of Guru Dutt's opus classic Pyaasa. It was a momentous occasion as the whole theatre revelled in the joy of seeing Dutt's fine film on the big screen and sing to its evergreen melodies.

This year that experience albeit in a very different way i.e. Less singing and more horrific laughter, came in the form of John Waters unreleased wicked and weird second film Multiple Maniacs staring his awe inducing muse Lady Divine.

In comparison to today, Waters films may seem tame in terms of sexual content and violence but the absurdity at play and the disturbingly degenerate form with which he films his loose thread of vomit inducing narrative is what makes this oddball black comedy so genuinely disgusting and hilarious at the same time.

Only a depraved individual could truly value such a work of high art, and the theatre was packed to the brims with them.

Verdict: Must Watch!

The Unknown Girl, Dir. Dardennes [Language: French]

The latest from the Dardenne brothers is another very raw and real film that relies much on the myriad of complex internal emotions of its lead characters and the turmoil that affects her journey ins solving them; amidst a thriller plot testing the notions of the very real dark and dreary world around her.

In this case; a doctor operating a clinic, does not respond to a knocking stranger out of the logical reasoning that at after hours; even the clinic must shut down. It's a small but powerful flaw that informs the rest of the journey and her torrent of grief that gets into motion a fine and throughly executed plot.

Yet with this one, the Dardenne's make an indefinable miss. The film's all well and good, yet something doesn't sit completely right.

Maybe it was the fact that one expects a wow with a Dardenne brothers film, especially considering their previous works. Or maybe it's the oversaturation of cinema, during a festival. Or maybe it's just that underwhelming. Yet don't get me wrong, it's still fascinating.

Verdict: Worth the Catch.

The Salesman, Dir. Asghar Farhadi [Language: Persian]

After rushing through lunch and to the theatre, debating the previous film and letting its impact slip away for a bout of anxious excitement and finally fighting the long line to catch good seats; the moment waited for was about to Asghar Farhadi film!

Now I'm no big Iranian cinema buff, nor am I a huge Farhadi fan. The people I saw this with were swooning like little girls at a Justin Bieber concert [or whatever is the appropriate in vogue reference].

In fact, it's only this year that I caught his masterpiece; A Seperation and About Elly.

In retrospect thus; the Salesman might not be his finest film, yet it's definitely the one I've fallen in love with.


Well with my penchant for loving and I mean LOVING Revenge films, to see one made with such subtlety yet emotional heft and deep deconstruction of the theme; it just bowled me over.

An Asghar Farhadi Revenge Film.

For those well aware of the directors thought process and work, it's an intriguing concept and one that play out extraordinarily well.

This film has got me over that hump and made me a fan!

Verdict: Unmissable!!! [as a word, is not enough]

Elle, Dir. Paul Verhoeven [Language: French]

First of all, after the incredible experience that was The Salesman, I was hesitant to go into Elle and ruin my mood.

It's not that Verhoeven couldn't just match the film possibly, it's just; it becomes difficult to cherish great films at a packed festival when you're seeing one after the other.  I'd made a mistake with Graduation the previous night and I wasn't willing to do the same to Elle and the mastery of Verhoeven.

Yet greater sense prevailed and Elle became the expected entertaining romp that kept me wide awake, engrossed for two late night hours and more importantly made me think of new avenues for my own scripts.

Another pseudo revenge film made in the classic Verhoeven vein with some dry black humour and unshackled violence and twisted characters. This is the kind of late night genre piece that one needs after an exhilarating day, to just pump the blood.

It also helps that Isabelle Huppert is in incredible form!

Verdict: Must Watch!

Day 5:

Untamed, Dir. Amat Escalante [Language: Spanish]

John Waters is tame compared to the craziness that is dispelled in this Mexican art house film.

Sure it explores humanities bestial nature and sexuality, yet Untamed lacks a certain something as it languishes and runs through the motions of a plot that rides on themes of masculinity, pleasurable pain and obsession.

It's an intriguing film and once again at a festival; probably suffers from an early morning hang-up but the film still lacks a completeness and feels like patches forced together with a sombre deliberate pace to enhance the "artiness" of the film.

Verdict: Average.

Sandstorm, Dir. Elite Zexer [Language: Arabic]

I'm having difficulty putting into words, my thoughts on Sandstorm. It has a genuinely interesting premise of a woman struggling with the idea of celebrating the festivities of her husband's second marriage to a younger bride.

At the same time she has discovered that her eldest headstrong daughter is in a relationship with a young boy from outside the tribe.

It's a burden that weighs on her heavy as she collides with the notions of tradition, her own defiance against her husband and more importantly where her daughter falls into the scheme of things. Rarely in comparison to the father-son dichotomy, does cinema find itself in a space of mother-daughter stories. Especially those that lack the cliches of the growing daughter fighting her own mothers notion of a generation and its cultural duties.

Sandstorm is pretty much the same in that regards, with the daughter fighting her mothers idea of what would be right and also struggling to understand her in favour of her supposedly progressive father, blind to his regressive statements through his approved second marriage.

It's that intriguing dynamic in each archetype [to the story, to a fault] character that is brought through in a film that keeps itself going with some internalized conflicts and never much revealed past atrocities. It breathes the cultural space in a way that is both familiar in its abstract notions of patriarchy, yet very much eye opening and engaging in the minute details.

Sandstorm thus becomes not only an easy and great film to follow with character arcs to root for, but also profound in its exploration of the world that ties these characters to each other and makes them who they are.

Verdict: Must Watch!

Swiss Army Man, Dir. The Daniels [Language: English]

This was actually my second time seeing the hilarious hipster tear jerker that is Swiss Army Man, I didn't expect it to be at MAMI and thus enjoyed it in the solace and comfort of my home.

What a delight it was to catch it on the big screen?

With a jam packed theatre; laughing, clapping, awwing and crying its way to delight.

It's the kind of Indie film you find every year at such film festivals, the one that unites the cinematic passions of a crowd into an energy that lights up the film and the film them.

As you may have is my favourite film of the year.

The lead character as played masterfully by Paul Dano reminds me of the lead character in my own half baked first feature length screenplay and thus by extension me.

As for the film, it's a rip rollicking delight with Daniel Radcliffe being the surprise element of unbelivable awesomeness. As a flatulent dead body, he gives a performance for the ages!

I read a quote on this film that absolutely sums it up; "The first fart will make you laugh, the last fart will make you cry."

Verdict: Unmissable!!!

Things to Come, Dir. Mia Hansen Love [Language: French]

Love's latest film runs deep, in an article prior to its release; she mentioned how her heartbreak was a changing point in her life whether for the best or the worst.

With Things to Come, she once again proves to be a powerful voice in threading together a narrative that doesn't just confine itself to plot but rather the emotional experiences informed by every day life with characters aware of the world around them; whether political, social, cultural or otherwise.

It's an easy going films handled with dexterity that happens to by its end elevate those in the audience. Unfortunately for me, due to an upset stomach I missed the last minutes of the film but at least got a sense of a complete film that need not tell me something but make me feel without bludgeoning its emotional core on my head.

This is what great cinema is all about, it helps that a poetic Isabelle Huppert is front and centre providing the piece with a great pillar to stand upon. She is the master of her game and with this performance you will know why.

Verdict: Must Watch!

Day 6:

Hermia and Helena, Dir. Matias Pineiro [Language: English]

I started my sixth day with a multi language film that I hadn't booked for, a nice opener for a heady day I would have missed had it not been the necessity to rush early in the morning to venue to book my 7th day ticket [yes ticket, only one movie to end the festivities].

A Noah Baumbach styled comedy-drama, that follows a young Argentinian girl shifting to Mexico for a summer course at a University in New York and her interaction with her different friends as she leaves as well as the friends and lover she meets and reunites with in the Big Apple.

The film had a nice little structure, divided into chapters with each chapter propelled by a single scene from the day of her moving out from Argentina; as she is driven around to say her goodbyes.

With a simple charm and a twisted look into Shakesperean comedy [hence the films title based on characters from Midsummers Night Dream]. Hermia and Helena is a breezy yet altogether uneventful film that feels more like an easy break, before the festival day truly gets going.

Verdict: Worth the Catch.

Oscuro Animal, Dir. Felipe Guerrero [Language: Silent]

Like an idiot, instead I booked; Oscuro Animal.

An affair that while on paper sounds like a strong and poignant look see into identity in a war torn nation. What I found was a painfully slow, mostly silent film that nearly put me to sleep.

Had it not been for my fear of disrupting the peace of movie-goers [something not even film festival Indians care to think of] I would have walked out in the first five minutes. When I eventually slipped out from the centre of a row with a slew of apologies, I was greeted by a hilarious 'Nobody blames you.'

This was my only walk out of the year, something I faced to often at my first MAMI last year.

Verdict: Terrible!

Hounds of Love, Dir. Ben Young [Language: English]

Ben Young's debut Australian thriller was considered to be one of the most harrowing films across the board at many high class festivals, the same could be said at this years MAMI.

The film inspired by a real life incident in 1980's Australia, is about a volatile couple who kidnap young girls and sexually and mentally torture them for their own sick and sadistic pleasure while they lure the missing girls family into misdirections.

It's an intriguing point to start and is aided by how well fleshed out Young makes the trifecta of characters and their peripherals. With the couple he finds nice balance between vicious, madly in love and more importantly true to thematic conflict that strikes a bridge between them that is razed to the ground. With the young girl he finds a game victim who can eventually manipulate the duo into getting out while fighting what seems like a lost battle. At the precipice is her mother, whom she shares a cold relationship with post her parents divorce, a woman with conviction and belief in chasing down leads to find her.

While the last act might seems rushed and the premise not lived up to potential, Hounds of Love proved to be the kind of entertaining thriller that anyone and everyone would enjoy [if they have the stomach for it] bolstered by the talents of Stephen Curry and Emma Booth as the diametrically opposite halves of a couple that create volatile chemistry and light up the screen.

Verdict: Must Watch!

The Bait [Tope], Dir. Buddhadeb Dasgupta [Language: Bengali]

Early on the festival, me and my friend argued over my penchant of selecting films depending on who is cast in them, and while in this case; the Bengali film starring a fascinating Chandan Roy Sanyal served me wrong [overall I probably had the better festival then she did].

Don't get me wrong, The Bait is a finely serviceable film but that is it. It's simplistic use of magical realism makes for a genuine watch which is equal parts Fellini as it is Jodrowsky. It makes for an intriguing combo that however doesn't add up to much of a spectacle overall, especially when this is sadly the only Indian film I was excited to see this year.

Yet in parts the film holds an odd wonder, with a soothing score matched by some delectable moments such as the dancing king or for that matter Sanyal as the postman who decides to live his life among the trees with monkeys; including one that he anoints his wife and the all too familiar circus like ending echoing the mastery of the aforementioned directorial influences.

It was however a delight to witness Buddhadeb Dasgupta join the conversation on the film and sad to see him lament the sparse crowd for his work of art no matter how good or bad it was.

Verdict: Average.

Death in Sarajevo, Dir. Danis Tanovic [Language: Serbian]

Fair warning, like with his world renowned masterpiece No Man's Land; Tanovic's latest is a hard film and even more so to follow if one is unaware of the violent history of the Balkans that obviously resonates in Bosnia till today.

The film plays as equal parts satire and quick on its feet thriller that keeps one engaged with the multiple characters across the multiple layers of a hotel on the verge of breakdown and rife with conflict during the eve of a UN meet and the celebration of the death of what some would call an assassin and others a martyr.

The film plays across the structure and feels memorably like No Man's Land, just on a different plain. The best part being the rooftop confrontations between a reporter and her guest faced off on different sides of the conflicts; going from spiteful debate into understanding, mutual respect and a sense of other side of a conflict despite stern formed opinions.

What works wonders apart from the prying look see into the aftershock of European history is also the reflection on how it has tarnished modern day Europe; with a manager stuck in the past glories, a workers strike imminent and an empire of a hotel on its last knees at the door of bankruptcy.

Acting as a pit stop between the failed violent rife success of an older Europe and a lost and damaged modern day Europe; Tanovic once again proves he has a grip on political cinema like no one else.

Verdict: Must Watch!

Day 7:

So the final day arrived and what better way to end the festivities with its official closing film. A film that I had been waiting for ever since it took Sundance by storm, earlier this year.

Kenneth Lonergan's much awaited third feature [that thankfully didn't take as long as his sophomore effort to release; Margaret]. The only film I wished to see on the last day, to preserve its memory.

Manchester by the Sea, Dir. Kenneth Lonergan [Language: English]

If you're not crying during or by the time Manchester by the Sea is over, know one thing; you're dead inside.

A very simplistic, naturalistic touching family drama that reigns in it's emotional quotient in a way that neither feels to subtle and experiential nor to overblown and melodramatic. Just the right touch, like Lonergan's first film; the tear jerker underrated You Can Count on Me.

At the centre of it is one of the finest male performances in a long time, Casey Affleck is a mind blowing gem to watch as an actor in mostly all his films. The lesser known Affleck brother has developed as a fine performer under the shadow of his far more accomplished big brother; Ben.

He has always thrilled with performances in Assasination of Jesse James, The Killer Inside Me, Ain't them Bodies Saints, Gone Baby Gone etc.

Yet with Manchester as critics say, he has made it into the land of giants.

But that's not all that works in the films favour, it's Lonergan's ability to mould his environment despite its specificities into a relatable place and conjure honest dramatic moments sprinkled with hints of levity and building terrific characters and their relationships.

Kudos to Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler in small roles as well as Lucas Hedges who is the films beating heart.

One of the finest of the year and undoubtedly a major Oscar contender.

Verdict: Unmissable!!!

I missed a lot of great films at the festival this year, but I wouldn't end it any other way.

Here's a list of cinematic gems I sadly couldn't catch;

Lipstick Under My Burkha [India]
Album [Turkey]
Blue Bicycle [Turkey]
I, Daniel Blake [UK]
Aquarius [Brazil]
My Mothers Wound [Brazil]
Clash [Egypt]
Ventilator [India]
Endless Poetry [Documentary/Fiction]
Lo and Behold [Documentary]
Under the Shadow [Iran]

And I'm sure, a lot more...

Also shout out to Nicolas Winding Refn's Neon Demon, a terrific horror film which plays as a wonderful parallel to his cult classic Drive. Where the latter was an expression of Ultimate Masculine fantasy, the former is a fearsome expression of Ultimate Feminine Fantasy. I saw it earlier in the year.

Anyways that was the MAMI experience, I plan on going next year and hope to see you too if you're in Mumbai take a peek into this amazing cinematic festivity. Get your pass and watch as much as you can and learn the power of cinema! It's Magic! It's MAMI!

'Nuff Said

Aneesh Raikundalia

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