TOO MANY MOVIES, TOO LITTLE TIME
NOV 23, 2008 – I MUST HAVE HAD MY EXCESSIVE-MOVIE-WATCHING FACE ON, for even the stewardess suggested, while landing, that I keep the window shutter open, so I could “see the sights” – as if the landscape-cum-seascape we were hurtling towards were simply a series of images captured between cries of “action” and “cut.” As of this writing, however, that’s pretty much the only real sight I’ve seen, though I have snagged tickets to three interesting features on Sunday, the day regular screenings begin. Today, Saturday, will see the opening ceremony, which, very frankly, is not my cup of Assam brew. Listening to red-carpet dignitaries drone on about this and that can become quite taxing, and I look forward to unwinding by… okay, as my mum and dad are likely to be reading this, let’s not go any further.
BUT THE MAN AT THE INOX COUNTER, would, no doubt have preferred to spend the entire night in thrall before droning dignitaries – at least, compared to being given the third-degree by a number of irate cinephiles. One very stern woman walked up to him and demanded the schedule for the Indian panorama. He said he didn’t know. All the woman said, by way of a reply, is that he’d better know, otherwise she’d… be… very… upset. The man’s moving lips suggested either a silent curse or a thank-you to the sturdy wall of glass that separated him from his interrogator. Before long, another curious soul wandered up to this man, wondering why tickets were being handed out only for Sunday, and why he could not book his seats for films further ahead. I slipped away. I couldn’t watch.
THE INOX THEATRE, BY THE WAY, wore a doleful look, if the sign at the entrance was any indication. “We’ll be back with regular entertainment from December 3,” it announced to its patrons, leaving many with the notion that the films to be screened until that date couldn’t be classified, under any circumstances, as “regular entertainment.” I got the feeling of watching a little boy forced to smile for a host of visiting aunties and uncles when he’d rather be out hitting a ball with his friends (or, in these antisocial times, huddled up in his room with his Xbox). That was perhaps why he asked me to wait a while when I wanted tickets to a screening at the other venue, Goa’s Kala Academy. I thought I heard him muttering, “It’s bad enough I have to fill up my highly lucrative weekend shows with films by Thai directors only their mothers have heard of. Now I have to help improve the occupancy of other theatres? Really.”
BUT FOR THOSE OF US WHO HAPPEN TO BE ART-HOUSE SNOBS – translation: Mrs. Weerasethakul, thank you for raising such a clever boy – it promises to be a mouth-watering fortnight ahead, especially with the retrospectives of Aki Kaurismäki and Wong Kar-wai. A curious addition to the list of directors being honoured with a showing of their life’s work is John Landis. Yes, you heard me. It’s the director of Coming to America and The Blues Brothers. I love both films, but why this honour here? Whatever next? A lifetime achievement award to Ron Howard? These aren’t the Oscars, dammit. These festivals are among the only refuges left any more for lovers of serious cinema to feel infinitely superior over the rest of the world, so can you not take that away from us, please?
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