MARCELLO MARCELLO, BLIND: Two would-be good movies, and an evening at Kolkata Festival 2008

BY SUDDHASATYA GHOSH. KOLKATA FILM FESTIVAL 2008, INDIA (CINEMA MINIMA) — This evening I have two actors with me at the theatre who had turned into directors — Denis Rabaglia and Tamar van den Dop — courtesy of MARCELLO MARCELLO and BLIND. I had hoped that I would have some good performances, as well, in their movies — and I was right.

In MARCELLO MARCELLO Francesco Mistichelli is truly wonderful as Marcello. I read that he had been chosen after auditions of 1,200 and that’s a lot, really (I can imagine the long queue for that audition). I even can remember Mahsen Makhmalbaf‘s CINEMA CINEMA with this. The first sequence begins with a long queue of would-be actors and then, gradually, we the viewers — along with those actors — start to understand a few things about cinema at the occasion of one hundred years of cinema. But I am afraid that these two directors have yet to learn those lessons.

MARCELLO MARCELLO, I fear, will do a lot more harm to Denis because — at the mention of that name-sound — we have a giant in our mindscape, and that is Fellini. Why is Denis after that revered screen name of another giant, Mastroianni?

The last thing was that this movie, too, is in Italian. Too much of a tough situation here and I am unable to consider his movie lightly. He has a linear narration of love, hate, despair, frustration, and religion. Most complex subjects that is being treated narrowly from the ancient past and had produced so many trashes and this one with its usual cinematography, edit and a placid music score is one among them. At the end, this is a very ordinary film.

Next, BLIND from Tamar van den Dop — a drama student (and an actor herself) — has a beginning that is probably too dramatic. She knows the theatre — and that, too, is of a petty, Roman nature. You know that ancient Rome had killed the drama (or the theatre) of Greece. She — a Dutchwoman — is pretty nearer to Ibsen stuff. A graceful psychological light arrangements, music score with strings playing, an ice-clad backdrop and we were all set to see where she gets from here. The house that has Ruben in is Romanesque in architectural symptom and that is pretty stoic indeed.

Ruben — a befitting character in that palace-like home — delivers a few moments of good performance. Others, too, coöperate and contribute their moments of glory in acting. But the appointed reader — who is sighted in the blind world of Ruben — has the minimum scope to prove her mettle. She has a very little time-space to transit from weary and tortured human being, to sweet lover. She did her best, but the director is seemed to be in a hurry to get the act together in the shape of a movie. It is not actor’s fault. She has a cocktail of Fassbinder and Tarkovsky pattern visuals and a narrative that is not worth it.

Ruben — after getting back his sight — has lost Marie, his love and that ugly-shaped reader. Everybody in this narration is concerned about the look; and this woman, too, believes that she is ugly, and therefore will not be loved by Ruben till her last breath. When Ruben fails to convince her about his love, finally he does an act that reminds me of Œdipus. He gets blind at the last sequence; and we remember a cliché — that the love is blind.

This evening has a gift for me. I had a grievance after seeing GULABI TALKIES yesterday: I was thinking that when we mention India in the moviedom, it is still the rural one, and that is so interesting to the viewers of wealthy nations that the urban life gets a back seat in even serious movies here. Now, I think I can tell you that we here, too, are saturated with searches of individuals in unnecessarily long and close shots and so-called love-and-hate relations.

This is time to be careful! We here are trying to take our movies beyond that rural plane and tribal atmosphere; and you — my dear filmmakers in wealthy parts of the world — must start to find your way out. Otherwise, we, too, will forget that your part of the world has ever been faced with economic depression, wars, and strife.

In BLIND it is a fairytale after the pattern of the Brothers Grimm‘s Snow White and is too boring for us and in MARCELLO MARCELLO, it is Mills and Boon at most.

This again is a reminder that being director is not an easy job. It needs to have a sense for the right thing at right time and a serious lesson on how movie works. These two actors, I think, will need some more time to be good directors at least, being best is too far for them at least for now.