Spent one super religious weekend with BM and Shilpi visiting a few thousand year old temples. Showed face to both Siva and Vishnu as well a couple of Nandis with a lot of attitude and dropped in on the 60 ft Bahubali on the way so that when the time comes, recos will come from everywhere. Got back late on Monday and missed a few good movies; so went overboard and watched four movies in the last 36 hours. All four halls were packed, with the balcony seats filled a good 45 minutes before the show.
First, Francisco Vargas's The Violin . Probably the only movie that I will get to see in the competition section. Shot entirely in black and white, The Violin opens with an unconnected but horrific scene of torture and rape, and then abruplty switches to the timeless story of three generations of Hidalgos as they are driven out of their land by seemingly ruthless soldiers. The elderly violinist Don Plutarco plays his fiddle with a string tied to the stump that was once his hand while his son Genaro plays the guitar and his grandson Lucio collects money from the crowd. In the village, Plutarco grows corn while Genaro is a guerilla who is transporting weapons to fight their oppressors. Before the weapons can reach the guerillas, the village is attacked and people driven out. Genaro's attempts to get the weapons out proves unsuccessful but it seems for a while that Plutarco can get past the roadblocks - with his violin he not only gets back to the village but also to the Commander who cannot seem to get enough of Plutarco's music. But the end when it comes is inevitable and the music has to stop. Nothing really changes but if there's any hope for change, surely it lies in the redeeming power of music and art.
From Mexico to the West Bank, the story of oppression and futile retaliation continues. In the Oscar winning Paradise Now, two auto mechanics in Nablus, Said and Khaled are chosen to carry out a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv and they go through the preparations like getting military haircuts so as to look like the settlers, and reading out final statements that are videotaped. The movie is a fast-paced suspense thriller that keeps you glued to the screen chewing your fingernails trying to figure out the ending (someone in the audience was nearly strangled when his cell phone went off in a pivotal moment) and at the same time, it potrays suicide bombers as misguided young men with aspirations and doubts like the rest of us. Quite an achievement.
Retro: Louis Malle's Lacombe, Lucien. A discomfiting coming of age story set in wartime France, Lacombe, Lucien is the story of 18-year old, hospital-cleaner Lucien who when turned down by the Resistance joins the Gestapo as a collaborator. The Gestapo works Lucien giving him small responsibilities making him feel wanted and appreciated. Seduced by power and authority, naive Lucien terrorizes his people and answers only to his German masters. Only after he falls in love with the beautiful daughter of a Jewish tailor does he begin to get second thoughts but by then he realises that its too late. Lucien is both victim and perpetuator and at the end, as the Jewish tailor puts it "we somehow cannot bring ourselves to despise him" regardless of his actions. Some very impressive direction and dialogues, this movie is truly one of Malle's best. Apparently, this movie created a huge controversy when it was released for showing a collaborator as the main character and after watching the movie, one can easily see why.
Homage: Andrei Tarkovsky's Offret (Sacrifice). (Homage for Sven Nykvist who passed away this year). Seriously, I mean, you want me to talk about Offret? Sorry, not happening. I love so many things the movie stands for and there's so many layers about the movie that I probably do not understand, but the problem is that at the end, this movie is a little too Christian for me. Too much of faith. That said, Offret must be seen. For a number of reasons but most of all for Nykvist, for the cinematography. The man is just plain incomparable. Period.
Movies for the next 24 hours:
Louis Malle's Elevator to the Gallows - Pretty sure might have to give this a miss thanks to a bandh but we will see. Some idiot's scheduled Fanny and Alexander and Volver at the same time, so its going to be the former. Promised the 13,000 nephews and nieces that I will take them to Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra which I am looking forward to but then I can't make it back in time for Dosar, so will have to make a choice there.