DIY Does DIFF 4: Continental Drift

I know that the title makes no sense but I couldn’t think of any other quadrilogy in recent times. Anyway, Russell Grant reviews This Must Be The Place starring Sean Penn as an aging gothic rock star on a mission to kill a Nazi, and Bob Perfect gets bummed out with farmer suicides in Inidia in the documentary Bitter Seeds.

 

This Must Be The Place reviewed by Russell Grant

 

Last night I saw This Must be the Place at the Sneddon. I’d forgotten about this film completely, and wasn’t even planning on heading out, but I’m glad I did. It’s a terrific film. Full stop. At its centre is an eccentric aging rockstar named Cheyenne (Sean Penn), a guilt-ridden, sullen, yet wonderfully charming and comical man who’s bourgeois lifestyle in Dublin with his wife, Jane (Frances McDormand) is becoming almost unbearably boring and depressing, despite their strong and loving relationship. After a call to say that his 30 year estranged father has died, Cheyenne boards a ship to New York for the funeral. Cheyenne is of Jewish decent, and at the funeral he learns of his father’s ongoing mission to chase down his German captor from Auschwitz, who is hiding out in the States somewhere. Cheyenne takes up where his father left off, and a journey of self discovery and learning ensues across America.

The film is at once hilarious and heartbreaking. Cheyenne’s insights cut like a diamond razor through his soft, high, strained voice. It includes some of the most moving pieces of cinematic visuals I’ve seen for a long time. A scene where a woman’s son, who’s afraid of water, walks up to his mother floating in an inflatable pool, is shot so wonderfully I felt more than a slight tugging at my heartstrings. The film is also a subtle piece of anthropological survey, giving a glimpse into the current state of the USA. A fairly strong plot point in the beginning is the most recent economic crisis. There are also a few background TV screens playing speeches from Obama and Sarah Palin, something which Cheyenne takes an interest in, but which is never fully explored in the film. Cheyenne also meets a man in a bar who seems to represent a new breed of American citizen, one who “doesn’t work, but is an artist”, as Cheyenne puts it. All of this greatness is set to music by the great David Byrne, which is superb. See this film if you’re after an all-round great fucking time.

 

Bitter Seeds reviewed by Bob Perfect

 

 

Over the last couple days of DIFF it’s become more apparent to me that although we share the same planet, we all live in very different worlds. Thursday night saw me watching the rather depressing reality for farmers in India in Micha X. Peled’s final installment to his “Globalization Trilogy”, Bitter Seeds. It seems that if you’re a farmer in India, and in particular a cotton farmer, you’re pretty fucked. The documentary follows an Indian farmer, Ram Krishna, and a young aspiring journalist, Manjusha in a time where, according to the film, a farmer commits suicide every half hour. Manjusha wants to become a journalist to investigate the cause of the suicides, having lost her farmer father to suicide. Ram Krishna is a cotton farmer at the mercy of money lenders, genetically modified Bt seeds, traditional customs and the ever fickle weather. The documentary follows them both over the cotton growing season and is a harrowing look into a very corrupt system of economic and social abuse. While Monsato, the company that makes the Bt seeds, are clearly the bad guys – with their assimilation of seed distribution in India – cultural practices such as dowry, the caste system and societal shame plays a big role and probably upset me more than the evil corporation being an evil corporation. It’s a combination of causes that leads these poor men into seeing no way out other than death. The film also has an underlying theme of a woman’s role in India, and you see the  problems Manjusha faces in her goal of becoming a journalist, as well as the effect paying a dowry for a woman to get married has on a poor family. There’s also some super evil money lending mother fuckers and some douchebag corporate types that seem intent on ruining people’s lives which make sure that this isn’t a feel good film at all.Bitter Seeds is a heartbreaking and depressing look into lives that I’m so thankful that I don’t have to lead, and that’s why I’d say go watch it.

Bitter Seeds is on again tonight at 6pm at Suncoast with Beasts Of The Southern Wild on at 8pm  and Hari Kiri on at 10:15pm. All those films are in our DIY Guide To DIFF. There’s a ton of good films on this weekend so pick up a programme and pick one before DIFF closes on Sunday.

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