A day late, because after 4 films yesterday I was knackered and craved a glass of red and a good lie down! But here we are with yesterday’s report.
The morning began with “An”, an amble through a Japanese city and the making of an, which is a sweet red bean paste that is the filling between 2 small pancakes to make the snack called dorayaki. Sentaro is a sad & lonely man in his 30’s who runs a not overly successful dorayaki stall (which is owned by a wealthy widow to whom he has a debt). Into his life comes elderly Tokue, who is desperate to be given the part time job in his stall that he has advertised in the window. Because of her age he says No, but is won over by her delicious an. So, she teaches him the craft of making an, which is all about respecting and listening to the beans. Into the mix is an unhappy teenager (the Japanese do unhappy particularly well I find) – and the fact that Tokue has deformed hands (the reason for which we find out as the film progresses). You know where this film is going, and it proceeds at a leisurely pace, but it is a film with a big heart and a beautiful performance by the actress who plays Tokue. I have to admit to getting teary in this one.
Next up was the Australian documentary “Gayby Baby”, which is a fascinating observational doco about the offspring of 4 gay families (3 lesbian and 1 homosexual). The director, who is herself the daughter of 2 women, wanted to confront the naysayers who claim that children are better off with a Mummy and a Daddy. And boy did she succeed. The kids in this film are sensational – articulate, loving, amusing, aware. I feel I let Abby down by being straight! They are all really nice people and you become involved and invested in their lives. I enjoyed it.
From this feel good experience I went to Zimbabwe, and the chilling reality of the Mugabe regime, as we travelled around with the two men charged with creating a new constitution for Zimbabwe after the 2013 elections. One is from Mugabe’s party, the other from the opposition party. It is fascinating to watch as the former slowly appears to change from being an unquestioning henchman for Mugabe’s interests to someone who seems to recognise the need to be more open to the desires of the people. And even in the short bursts we see of Mugabe it is obvious that he is a very frightening individual. The documentary is called “Democrats”, and won Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival.
The day then finished in ‘weirdesville’, via “The Lobster” – the Jury Prize winner at Cannes this year. I don’t know what drugs the Director is on but they must be good! The film is set in the near future, where coupledom is compulsory. When you stop being a couple, through death or divorce, you are sent to stay in a hotel with other single people and you have 45 days to find a new mate, or you get turned into an animal of your choice. You can add extra days to your stay if you are successful in shooting a loner during the evening hunt in the woods. This has an eclectic cast, including Colin Farrell (who I hope has gone to seed for the role, otherwise, if he was a female actor he’d never get another gig), Rachel Weisz, Olivia Coleman, Lea Seydoux, John C Reilly. I found it amusing for at least half of its 118 minutes, but it did start to wear thin for me. But, it is certainly unusual and absurdist.