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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



MFF 21, 2019, 04: Ten films seen, with ratings

MFF 21, 2019, 04: Ten films seen, with ratings

Halfway through Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) 21st Mumbai Film Festival MFF), till 21 October, I had managed to see the following films. Here are cryptic reviews, with their star ratings:

  1. A Son, France-Tunisia-Lebanon-Qatar, Directed by Mehdi M. Barsaoui, Rating: *** ½

Influences of Iranian cinema apart, the film has some real depth. It leaves several questions unanswered, but that turns out to be its strength. Performances are A grade.

  1. The Two Popes, Italy-Argentina, Fernando Meirelles, *** ½

City of God and City of Men’s director tales un up-close look at the Papacy, using two English -speaking actors, Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce, to play the German and the Argentinian Popes. Rarely has so much sermonising been done in such an informal and tongue-in-cheek manner.

  1. Atlantics, France-Senegal-Belgium, Mati Diop, Walked out

Some boys in Senegal embark on a boat trip to cross the ocean and enter Spain, to migrate to Europe. This was all that happened for about 25 minutes, and I got impatient.

  1. The Golden Glove, Germany-France, Fatih Akin, **

Blood, gore and mayhem. Sawing of body parts. Serial killer gone the Lars von Trier way. Saved partly by high-level performances, but does no credit t a director of the reputation of Fatih Akin. Cannot believe I sat through the whole film.

  1. Little Joe, Austria-Germany-UK, Jessica Hausner, ** ½

Quaint little sci-fi movie about plants. No super heroes, no super villains. In English, with natural acting. Ambivalent. Its stance seems to shift and waver. Has a very good, off-beat premise.

  1. Invitation, India, Saurav Rai: **

A thin story line, enacted by members of the director’s family. Exquisite landscapes and down-to-earth taking shot taking. Kind of film festivals like but audiences get bored. Amazingly again, I sat through it.

  1. Tommaso, Italy, Abel Ferrera: **

William Dafoe, rehabilitated alcoholic and drug addict is married to a Moldavian woman and is learning Italian, when as he is undergoing therapy and administering therapy himself. Marriage is on the rocks. Yes, sat through this one too.

  1. Other Side of the Box (short), USA, Caleb J. Philips: **

Horror for horror’s sake. An ex boy-friend of a woman gifts a box to her current beau. The box contains a living human head. Scary

  1. Harpoon, Canada, Rob Grant: Walked out

Three persons and a luxury boat. The two men are in love with the same girl, who is the third person on board. A while ago, the girl and the less privileged man gifted a harpoon to their buddy, which they take along on a pleasure cruise. Skeletons tumble out and the harpoon now becomes a weapon. Blood, human and skylark’s, blood drinking, cutting off of a septic fore-arm…I will spare you the rest

  1. Dithee, India, Sumitra Bhave: *** ½

Most likely inspired by the works of Ingmar Bergman. Dealing with floods and the washing away of a son, a man living in the interiors of Maharashtra gets into severe depression, more so because he has been singing praise of Bhagwan for 30 years. Birth and death juxtaposed. A lot of Hindu religiosity, but contextually relevant. Excellent performances. Sumitra Bhave deservedly got the Best Director award at the Singapore Asian Film Festival a couple of months ago. (DFithee means 'seeing', in a Marathi language dialect).

There are four more days to go. Will add to this list at the end of the festival.

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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