Sunday, October 15, 2017

MAMI Weekend

Day 1:

On Body and Soul [Ildikó Enyedi] - A different kind of romance that wells up between a meat factory owner with a crippled hand and a quality control inspector with obsessive behavior from borderline Asperger Syndrome when they find that they have identical dreams in which they see themselves as animals. Like a more grounded Michel Gondry film, but very nicely done with a successful ambiguous end. People squeamish about the sight of animal flesh and abbatoir activities are warned.

The Third Murder [Hirokazu Kore-eda] - Slow-burn legal and moral exploration of a murder trial that goes beyond whodunit, to what constitutes truth and justice, and whose actions actually deliver redemption. While Kore-eda has been compared more to Yasujiro Ozu and Mikio Naruse, I find a slight influence of Akira Kurosawa's High & Low (especially the scene where the two opposing characters are reflected in the glass window that separates them). Not enough philosophical depth to fully justify the somber pace with some outright soap opera bits (and I could have done with less of plink-plonk piano to underscore the poignant moments), but a very decent watch.

The Other Side of Hope [Aki Kaurismaki] - AK's film winds the threads of Syrian Refugee Khaled seeking asylum and middle-aged Wikstrom who abandons his existing business and married life to start afresh. Through a fair portion, Other Side... exhibits a wry humor and nuanced character. But once the two threads meet, it gives way to a more unilateral sentimentality with a Chaplin-level simplistic message of charity and universal brotherhood. But it does offer a good bit of mood, especially with its use of music.

Call Me by Your Name [Luca Guadagnino] - This was one of the more hyped films of this fest (the line extended from Regal Cinema to Cafe Mondegar). Adapted from a novel by James Ivory (the other half of Ismail Merchant) the film promised a forgotten summer of romance between a young Italian boy and the American visitor at his house, set amidst lush Mediterranean surroundings, food and culture. Well that's how the theory goes, but frankly the film left me quite bored. For some reason I was never emotionally close to the protagonists, which constitutes a fatal block to one's immersion in the story. Brokeback Mountain worked because the writing and direction made you feel for their characters, this one is just too polite and breezy to make real impact.

Thelma [Joachim Trier] - Solid Carrie-inspired slow-burn horror flick in the vein of Let the Right One In or The Witch. Definitely worth the watch.