Tuesday, October 27, 2015


What Dagur Kári's heartwarming film Fúsi (with a very disappointing international title: Virgin Mountain) does best is to avoid the numerous clichés of modern films, and rather tell a story straight and sincerely, dictated by the intensity of Gunnar Jónsson's performance as the title character Fúsi. If Jónsson brings a rarely seen honesty to his performance, reminding me of Kher in Saaransh in that respect, then Kári has the soul to listen to that, change his film and come up with as true a film as Jónsson deserved.

Fúsi is not an easy film to make: it is deceptively simple but provokes a lot of memories and thought, and it makes you immerse in a world of a man whom many would not have taken to at first sight. It is also the story of the travails of growing up, here for a man: in a world hoarse of feminism, too often one forgets what a man goes through when he does not suit the macho or adventurous image that the society expects from someone of the male sex. At the same time, the seemingly baby Fúsi is much more a man than those around him: he lives and loves with truth, and society's pressure or usual reactions do not faze him from what he thinks is right. The beauty of this film is its restraint: in the hands of a Hollywood director, this film would at best have become a Forrest Gump and have lost its shining honesty and attention to detail; thankfully, Kári is a master of his craft and believes as fervently in his story and his own struggles of feeling having "grown up," as does Fúsi in the film. At the end of the film, you are left wondering how intertwined are our struggles in our works, and how we attempt to heal ourselves through our creations.

A magnificent film, its one single flaw is the choice of the main actress: the character of Sjöfn could have been played by an actress with slightly more screen presence in my opinon. However, the towering screen presence of Jónsson, something very much compulsory for the film, does not let you notice it all that much, and accompanied with good music and cinematography, the film lends itself easily to repeated watching.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Love (2015) (3-D)

Gaspar Noé's Love is a film that goes nowhere: except in a world that makes you want to throw up in disgust, nausea and amazement at the obsession with sex (and its conflation with "love", the title of the film) in the West, especially when it comes to directors of Latin American origins or influences. When a film doesn't make you think, doesn't touch you, is it a work of art? Watching Love is an uncomfortable experience: it doesn't even titillate you, as the sex is too much set up and devoid of realism. It makes you as uncomfortable as it does in a Tinto Brass film: and the similarities do not end there. Plot is as much non-existent, characters are as much bored, and acting is as much bad. Watching it in 3-D makes for an even worse experience: one feels trapped in a world where humans translate all beauty into the highs they get (or do not get) through their sexual activity. The modern world is a world where pervertedness and sickness are celebrated: we have had Brass himself, we have had films such as The Last Tango in Paris, we have had directors such as Polanski, and now we have films such as these. It is as if we have started celebrating the decadence of the human world, that we have consigned modern humanity and its future to doldrums of boredom and glitz.

I say glitz, also because Love is often tastefully shot: the green-dominated scene when Electra and Murphy sit in some kind of a cafe is very artistically shot, to take an example; there are many other amazing shots in the film, not necessarily of sex. The all-grey scene in the Père Lachaise cemetery, a fast tracking shot of the couple again, is also a marvel to watch. And yet art for art's sake does not make for art: without substance, style is wasted and even criminal. Without an aim, the film's main character, Murphy, may ramble on, in and out of women's vaginas; however, a film, with no aim to its making, is nothing but an exercise in pleasing one's own ego from the filmmaker's part, and Love as a film comes across as much a jerk as does Murphy.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Koan de printemps

Life is often about learning, and learning is often about journeys: the decision to set out on them, and the readiness to profit from the encounters on the way. Those encounters are not just with other sociable human beings: they are with the tree and the snow, the bandits and the birds, the sun and the silence. Koan de printemps (in English: Koan of Spring) is a beautiful film with its own poetry derived from Asian spirituality and the flowing motion of Sino-Viet martial arts: it tells us to look and appreciate, feel and absorb, know well and proceed. The more you do it, the more open your mind is, the more you can be generous, secure and ready: for a sword or for a flower, for every destiny that befalls you. For though you may not know what shall befall you, you will know yourself, through everything else outside you. And isn't that everything, to be able to fulfill yourself, profiting from every richness given externally to you but with the corresponding fibre in you so as to notice it and appreciate it?

Lovingly shot in Vietnam and France (though the film is set in Vietnam), with shots of beauty enhanced through special effects (not something amiss in this film), the film has by and large able actors and a lovely silence interspersed with wit and humour at times. The music of the film is also a treat, as are the martial arts on display.

For the Zen concept of koan, a quick read is here.