Day 2 at the Mumbai Film Festival and one begins to understand just why people miss out on so many of their first choice movies - the travel. Whoever planned this festival was either under the assumption teleportation was a reality or just plain didn't care. That, coupled with the frustratingly slow BookMyShow 'eight in the morning' experience, looks like it will overshadow the movies themselves at what is supposed to be India's preeminent movie festival.
Spread across seven different cinemas across the city - from Andheri to Colaba and everywhere in between, means it's near impossible to watch the movies you want to. Coming in to the festival, one realises that sticking to a single venue isn't feasible if you're to do the festival justice. But the travelling, combined with Mumbai's traffic, makes it more of a dilemma than it has any right being.
Staying in Colaba, day 2 for me began in Bandra at the newly renovated single-screen Globus Cinema (now called Le Reve). It was a houseful for the 12 PM showing of Cristian Mungiu's Graduation.
Graduation isn't a plot-driven movie - you can pretty much guess what is going to take place in the end, but, despite that, it is one of the standout films of 2016. It deals with a lot of complex family problems and the world around them. It's a nuanced take on a family dealing with multiple issues.
It deals with all sorts of hot button issues - divorce, sexual assault and the uncertain future of the children - with both maturity and sensitivity. By the end of the 128-minute runtime, you've engaged individually with each character and felt a part of their lives. They may be one family, but each character still manages a distinct identity.
The movie is a take on the dysfunctional society we live in. One in which the father has to use his goodwill in the community to ensure his daughter passes a 'life-changing' final exam. Powered by superb performances from Maria Dragus and Adrian Titieni, the movie is a must watch.
Mungiu shared the best director prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival and one can see exactly why. Come the credits, some in the audience were teary-eyed and most were wowed by the performances. I wasn't crying then, but I felt like it after when I had to travel from Bandra to Andheri. Luckily I grabbed some food for the journey, because I definitely didn't have enough time to before the next movie - Man with a Movie Camera.
Man with a Movie Camera
By the time I reached PVR Icon in Infiniti Mall, Andheri, I was shocked to see a gigantic waiting line. Luckily, I had my seats reserved and so I was able to get in and get a good seat. Dziga Vertov's 1929 experimental and silent documentary film is a personal favourite and I couldn't wait to see it again.
Now, I've seen it before on the big screen but nothing like what I experienced at MAMI. MAMI got Ukraine's Vitaly Tkachuk Quartet to perform a soundtrack to the film. From planes buzzing to ships sailing, the quartet rendered it all evocatively through their music, drawing big rounds of applause in the process. The experience was made all the more amazing when one realised the Vitaly Tkachuk Quartet was only formed a week before.
While Graduation is the movie of the festival so far, Man With a Movie Camera is the experience of the festival, drawing a five-minute standing ovation.
Finally, after another break between movies, I settled in for my third and final movie of the day, the hotly-anticipated Olivier Assayas flick Personal Shopper. The waiting line for this one had begun even before Man with a Movie Camera had ended! Clearly, other than Salesman, this is the one everyone is excited for.
Personal Shopper is effectively the Kristen Stewart show. Stewart plays a personal assistant to a celebrity while trying to exorcise herself of her dead twin. She's scarily good as the lead character. Stewart's onscreen almost always and that benefits her character. She's enigmatic. She's fragile. She's at her best. After being widely panned and reviled for her role in the Twilight saga, Personal Shopper is proof that not only can the woman act, but she's great at it.
Personal Shopper is a movie that will leave you with experiencing a wave of emotions. It'll leave you thinking about the movie for hours on end. It's bizarre yet absolutely captivating.
Despite this, the movie received a mixed bag of reactions from those in attendance. From "I need to process it before giving a reaction" to "it was a predictable movie" and even "Kirsten Stewart was good but that movie made no sense", no two people could agree on an appropriate reaction to it.
Remember that after the first showing at Cannes, there was a lot of booing. Process your thoughts, because once you do, you'll realise that this movie will definitely be in your top 10 come the end of the year.