Thursday, January 23, 2014

Chacun Cherche Son Chat

Everyone's searching for their cat. The dog, of course. The man and the woman. Drumming. Free sex. A little love. Work and money. A little sympathy. Someone else's cat. A reason to live: a reason to stay young or forget being old. A reason to wake up; a reason to talk. A reason to call someone; a reason to express opinions and identity. A reason to say, "I'm not cat." The cat's searching for freedom, and everyone's searching for the cat.

Chloé's cat. A black cat called "Gris-gris" ("Grey-grey"). How odd! And everyone's looking for the cat. Including white French and Arab French. Including black French, who are as black as the Grey-grey. Or more, maybe. Including gays and bisexuals and straight ones. And single ones.

The Bastille is turned topsy-turvy. Plastered with advertisements searching for the cat. On drain pipes. On presidential candidates' campaign fliers. Maybe Jospin and Chirac are also looking for their cat. Or maybe for Chloé's cat. New acquaintances are struck; new glances are stolen. When the drums will stop, beautiful Angolan sounds will creep up: the child is left behind in a land where they are searching for their cats.

Did the cat ever get her freedom? Some did not. They were just trapped. Like the old woman whom the police always caught. Some did. They died.

Bomnaleun Ganda

Hur Jin-ho gives yet another fine romantic film, Bomnaleun Ganda (int'l title: One Fine Spring Day); this one charts the course of a love story, from its birth to its death and offshoots. In the process of doing so, the film explores girls' typical changeableness (often bordering on fickleness), guys' honesty and loyalty, and how human lives and loves undergo seasonal changes as much as time and place. If love could heed, it also warns of not to fall in love with someone who is merely feeling lonely.

For that is what Eun-su feels: lonely. That doesn't mean that she will jump into anyone's bed; but when she feels drawn to Sang-woo with his artistic temperament and strong arms, she lets herself drift into it ... which Sang-woo naively thinks as her loving him; for he does love her, truly and beautifully and forever. Sang-woo's giving it a name, of asking her to meet his family, makes the smooth car ride bump: Eun-su realises that she will miss Sang-woo a lot, but she has other priorities. And then starts a very familiar, very often played out story of heartbrokenness and betrayal: it is here that the film stands the strongest. Sang-woo's utter incapability of understanding what's going on, the impossibility for him to make any sense of it and accept it: anyone who has loved deeply and lost, he knows what Sang-woo is going through.

Sang-woo will keep on loving her: but will learn to reject her, and still cherish what they had together, their story. Like his grandmother rejects the older pictures of his grandfather, he also will learn to live with what was beautiful, and reject what is no more so. It does not mean that he has escaped from reality: rather, he invents a multidimensional reality. He has grown up: he now carries all - pain, joy and love - in his heart at a given moment of time, and life has only become richer for him. Maybe more so since he wasn't successful with Eun-su.

There are very few dialogues in the film: Sang-woo plays a sound recorder, and so the film has ample scope for silences and nature's sounds, which gives the film a poetic beauty, just like Jin-ho's Palwolui Christmas had. Eun-su looks pretty but never got my sympathy; however, she does fit the role. The rest of the cast fit their parts very well. The music used in the film is well known, but that doesn't subtract from the charm and pathos it adds here. Korea is again shot in beautiful ways, making the film overall a little gem worth knowing.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Tubelight ka Chaand

Rarely does a film achieve 'perfection': in the sense that you are amazed by each and every trick, technique and turn of the film. For a live action short film, to do that is even much, much more difficult: and Shlok Sharma's stunningly beautiful film Tubelight ka Chaand (English title: Tubelight's Moon) does that. It manages the kind of dreaminess and awe that the Russian animation short Hedgehog in the Fog does and that watching a field of stars from a lonely camp in the countryside's cold night does.

Set to beautiful music, the film is a rarity in that India, even though a powerhouse of cinema, including some very good cinema, is not the place for short films. They are not really appreciated and watched; or let me rephrase: they are not really known by Indians. The paisa vasool nature of Indians does not allow them to appreciate that they barely spent 10 minutes or 20 minutes and yet got something that maybe a 3-hour-long film couldn't have given them: yet short films are made, in dozens, especially by those passing out of FTII. But, somehow, just like much of contemporary Indian literature in English, those shorts are lost often amidst causes and a desire of voicing out their opinions and concerns. On the contrary, here, Sharma simply tells a beautiful story: and in the process also pokes fun at media and its circus, using also references to Peepli! Live and Delhi 6.

The film deals with that eternal human quest: romance. Love at first sight: often one of the purest forms of love. Not love based on judgements, on trials of living together and comfort, on the other's degree of humour or wit or intelligence, on the alike thinking of the other. Not love that can be dismantled at the first whiff of averse weather, of the incipience of feeling of loss of adventure. But the film celebrates the truest love: love at first sight, and loyalty that often is consequent to it, love that celebrates itself as the greatest adventure, and hence cannot die. Because here the protagonist boy truly finds the complement in terms of the beauty he loves and searches for, and finds it in an external object: rather than the supplement, which today goes by the name of loving and love.

Tubelight's Moon is a film that does not shy from being beautiful.

As of the time of writing, the complete film can be watched at