Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cannes: Gurvinder Singh Film Screens with Woody Allen and Gus van Sant

CANNES: On day three, our own lion from Punjab, Gurvinder Singh was placed in line with a Woody Allen film in the morning and American Gus van Sant in the evening. India’s avant-garde filmmaker joins hands with two of the world’s iconic cult figures in cinema.

Woody Allen’s latest film “Irrational Man” is in keeping with his quirky, witty and laconic world view of life and its bumbling characters. He takes on academia here and incisively parodies their pretentious sense of being superior and sophisticated when in fact they use their sense of learning as smug manipulation.

Woody Allen's films in his later years (he is to be 80 in 2015) have been somewhat more esoteric than the down-to-earth, whimsical earlier ones.. Now he brings us his 50th film. It follows Abe Lucas, played by Joaquin Phoenix, a charismatic philosophy professor whose good looks and self-deprecating sense of doom is something women find devastatingly attractive. An alcoholic who cares little about his appearance, he seduces those who make a play for him, including a fellow professor and a student. He derides his own profession or any kind of cerebral activity. His deep depression makes him impotent. All this changes when he and the student in awe of him overhear a conversation in a restaurant of a judge in court harassing a woman. Abe decides that the world would be better without such an evil man. This objective injects vitality, optimism and a purpose into the professor. But then a series of events brings about an ironic sense of justice that life itself plays on the man.

Woody Allen is always original and interesting but in this film his wild sense of humour seems to be missing. Most of all, the main character is not well drawn and seems an odd ball caricature.

Gurvinder Singh’s “Chauthi Koot” (Fourth Direction) played to a riveted full house at the Debussy Theatre. The film is set at the time of the Golden Temple massacre in the Punjab. It follows two main sequences, each one filled with tearing, inner tension and a sense of fear and unease. One is of four persons desperate to get to Amritsar. They force their way into a midnight train which has been ordered to reach its destination empty of passengers. Their anxiety and concern is palpably evident in their taut body language as they make the journey. The other and the main story is of a family of a farmer living with his wife, two children, his mother and the dog, Tommy. The carefree, caring Tommy is the main character in the way the humanism or lack of it contained in the events that follow. The hapless family live in fear of the prowling underground militants on one side, and on the other, an unrelenting army bent on unearthing insurgency.

The film excels in the minimal devices it uses for dramatising what it says, relying on facial expressions, individual responses and a simple unveiling of events to convey its harrowing story. The technical skills in every aspect of the film is what hits the viewer. The visuals impress and linger, the clarity of sound enhances every moment, and the striking music track resounds in the silence attached to the visuals. All these elements step by step accentuate the menacing mood of what the simple folk in the film experience. The film received a ten-minute standing ovation.

Gus van Sant’s film “The Sea of Trees” disappointed audiences. The film presents a sermon on personal loss and grieving that cause a yearning for death and how cross-cultural influences turn around the willingness to return to life and its essence.

Courtesy: - India's first independent on-line daily which was launched on January 27, 2014.reproducing Uma da Cunha's column 

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