23 March 2018.
HUMAN FLOW ***
The very political Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has decided to go to the root of the worst tragedy of our times – the refugee problem. To imagine that there are 65 million people who are displaced around the world today due to wars, famine, and racial and religious discrimination is an almost impossible thought. But it is a fact, and a hugely obscene one.
So Ai Weiwei took his trusty cell phone as camera, along with a large crew and went through 23 countries to document this terrible ‘human flow’, as he rightly calls this tragic, continuous mass of homeless souls. His documentary may not be very professional or smooth, but neither are the people he is covering.
From the Italian and Greek islands constantly under this onslaught, to the closed-off Eastern-block countries, a besieged Yemen, Iraq, or France on the English Channel and the devastated Rohingyas of Myanmar seeking shelter in Bangladesh, he takes us close to these people. Desperate humans who feel lost and helpless everywhere except for a country like Germany, where more than a million of them have been welcomed with both generosity and trepidation.
Ai Weiwei makes no judgements here, he only shows the massive flow. It is disheartening, but terribly important to witness.
MEKTOUB, MY LOVE (Canto 1) *** (vo French, Arab)
The Tunisian-born French director Abdellatif Kechiche has a penchant for lengthy, sensual films focusing on the beauty of the flesh, but also the depth of the soul. As in “La Vénus Noire”, his 2010 lavish, tragic study of a South African woman brought to Europe in the early 19th century as a strange specimen for the medical societies of the time, and nicknamed the ‘Hottentot Venus’. Or “La Vie d’Adele” (“Blue is the Warmest Color”), his smouldering lesbian tale shown at the 2013 Cannes festival, which had audiences shocked by his graphic sexual scenes.
His latest is softer – a sweet summer tale about a handsome young man who comes down from Paris to his hometown on the Mediterranean to be with family and old friends for the holidays. His days are lazy, filled with sunny occasions on the beach, flirty conversations with tantalizing girls and evenings spent in bars and discos. It sounds lightweight, yet Kechiche manages to capture with grace the carefree moments of these young people in a pivotal time of their lives where ‘mektoub’ (fate) may be designing their lives. It’s once again sensual and mesmerizing yet this time with an air of innocence.
THE SONG OF SCORPIONS * (vo Hindi)
Despite featuring the beautiful and talented Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani (plus a tempting poster), this Indian movie cannot be saved.
The film quickly loses its way and the interest of its audience due to a muddled tale of the desert and a nonexistent scenario that simply goes nowhere. Do not waste your time and money.
With her international popularity, Farahani should be more careful of the projects she chooses.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.