Calgary International Film Festival day 8:
- Cooking With Stella ******
I was not expecting to laugh nearly so much at this movie. I went to see it because: India + cooking... what's not for this Hindophile foodie to like?
But the name notwithstanding, there wasn't actually a lot of cooking in the movie. Instead we got scads upon piles of comedy. Which: hey, I'm not complaining!
I was (pleasantly) surprised by the manner in which the film paid homage to Bollywood tropes, was able to insert them into a "western" film (make no mistake—this is a Canadian production through and through), and was actually able to make them work (no small feat, that!) without crossing the line into the ridiculous, or compromising the film as a whole by turning its plot into that of a Bollywood potboiler.
A few movies have sold out at this year's festival. Most on the day of the screening. This one sold out a week in advance—to my knowledge, the only one to do so. I'm curious whether that was on the strength of Deepa Mehta's name, or whether these people knew something I didn't? I hadn't heard of the movie before seeing it listed in the festival's schedule.
Anyway. Not at all the movie I went to see. But at the end of the day, a movie I'm glad I saw.
- Aram bash va ta hatf beshmar (Be Calm and Count to Seven) ****
I don't know what to say about this one. I am tempted to wonder how much got lost in translation? There were definitely a few things about the movie that I didn't understand until I read the IMDb synopsis (written by the filmmaker himself) after-the-fact. At which point there was an "ohhhhh!" moment, and some of what happens made a lot more sense.
If this was the case on reading a four-line synopsis, how much else did I miss? How much better would it have made the movie had I understood these things as they were unfolding on-screen, and not only later, in retrospect?
It's frustrating. There were elements of the movie that I really liked. Some scenes (especially those, like the one opening the movie, depicting a contraband-smuggling operation in a small Iranian village) that were extremely powerful and held me captivated.
But at the end, leaving the theatre, the prevailing feeling was one of "so what?"
How much of that was my fault, or that of circumstance? After I had purchased tickets, I learned of a conflicting event last night that I also wanted to attend. My intention was to get out of the movie, then hop on my bike and dash to the other event to catch its tail end. But there were technical difficulties and the movie's start was delayed half an hour. It was cold when I arrived at the theatre and starting to rain, perhaps sleet. I wasn't looking forward to biking through that. I was distracted, my mind wasn't on the movie, and was probably unable to give it a fair shake.
This movie was probably better than I am able to consider it. Unfortunately my memory can only be one of a few (very good) highlights, punctuating a lot of "so what" and "man, I wish I'd understood that at the time."