MAMI 2017: The Films That Stole the Show
A&nbsp; still from <i>Mother!</i>
A  still from Mother!

MAMI 2017: The Films That Stole the Show

As the 2017 Mumbai Film Festival moved on to the weekend, huge crowds began to arrive. The long lines of passionate people sitting on the floor in the non reserved lines for hours is what makes MAMI feel familiar. And yet, despite the crowds, I did not witness a single fight or argument about getting into the hall – a testament of how well organised this year’s edition was. I was almost disappointed to see the lack of fist fights, but Kudos to the MAMI and Bookmyshow teams for achieving this.

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Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! starring his muse Jennifer Lawrence naturally pulled the biggest crowds, and deservedly so. If you were shaken up by the finale of Requiem for a Dream, the third act of this film was a 45-minute segment of far more effed up stuff designed to make one cringe.

It is no surprise that the film didn’t do well at the worldwide box office, because a world ruled by deeply religious bigots and supremacists wouldn’t want to see religion being skewered so brutally on the screen. While the film makes way for many interpretations, the religious angle was way too obvious for horror buffs. Subtlety, however has never been Aronofsky’s hallmark.

As the weekend rolled on, there were two rather huge disappointments. The Square, the new film from Ruben Ostlund, was a meandering mess despite one or two brilliant moments.

Just like Ostlund’s previous film Force Majeure, The Square took potshots at upper class behavior but unlike that film, it didn’t have a through line to make the social commentary consistent. The film was intended to be a critique of snooty people who work in art, but much like art itself, the film is blatantly abstract.
A still from <i>The Square</i>.
A still from The Square.

Had Ostlund worked on a more accessible script than dabbling in indulgence, this could have been a classic like The Great Beauty.

The Florida Project was also filled with a dozen lovely moments, but even though it succeeds as a cute film about cute kids doing cute things, unlike Sean Baker’s Tangerine, it doesn’t have a strong enough story to justify its run-time. The film has a strong first act and an idea of a third act, but feeble development of the second act makes you really search for a story within all the cuteness. The child actors, however, are all incredibly adorable so it’s an easy watch. It’s also nice to see Willem Dafoe playing a nice guy for a change.

Another film with kids, Chumbak, directed by Sandeep Modi is a well made movie about an unlikely friendship between a restaurant busboy in the big city and a village simpleton who thinks he’s won a lottery. The film has some memorable moments and the road trip aspect is always a plot device that’s guaranteed to work.

68 Kill directed by Trent Hagga was a nasty piece of work, reveling in its low brow thrills and blood splattered B-movie aesthetics. Fitting right in the After Dark section, the film is a morbidly pulpy comedy thriller peppered with cheap Southern characters indulging in the most tasteless possible things. The grindhouse thrills are so over the top, it becomes difficult to gauge whether you’re supposed to laugh at the proceedings or be disgusted by them.

The Safdie Brothers’ Good Time was a pulsating, thrilling film set largely over one night as we follow a New York City bloke going through increasingly insane set pieces to rescue his brother. The plot is reminiscent of the French film Sleepless Night, but is in fact a more memorable film because of the sheer style and energy that keep getting better as the film progresses.

Robert Pattinson delivers a surprisingly stunning performance, making you wonder why this guy was so wooden in the Twilight movies.

Stray Observations:

Watching films at any of the Andheri multiplexes is a better experience than at Regal because of the superior sound quality. Regal does offer more seats and gets less crowded, but you really need to choose the correct seats to not be annoyed by the sound quality. Curiously, the Bookmyshow team at Andheri seemed to be more efficient than at Regal when it came to handling crowds.

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