Strange karmic events that would have these two films side-by-side – both of which were made last year.
The first - pure fantasy depending on the humour of the comic pair to infuse some reality, though of course trying to base on current affairs; and the second a more down to earth albeit exaggerated view of poverty forcing a desperate man to take a chance on gambling. Both I though reflected views of life in Guyana.
The first – Jasmine for a Gardener – was based on a 70’s style Bollywood-type film where the protagonists live an escapist affluent lifestyle, the comic Working-class pair, the ‘helpess’ heroine, the idealist hero, the gangster’s moll with a soft heart, the villain without redemption, and complete with ‘borrowed’ Playback songs from yesteryear in presumably Hindi. So much for originality- but liked that they kept the moral of the Bad Guys get their Come-Upperance in the end! However using it as a template I guess as a first effort it is useful to have something to follow. I totally liked the Guyanese twists - the women in the film looked like Guyanese women apart from the horrible coloured contact lenses making them resemble Martians and over-exaggerated eye-shadow on 'big' occasions making they look like hookers- I totally liked the lead actress who represented a 'thick' Guyanese woman- complete with bust and belly- I give the director/producer/lead actor/location finder/music-picker and other roles too numerous to mention full marks for casting her although she was a bit 'wooden' in parts. Also well-cast was the actress who played 'Annie' the maid-- in my opinion, apart from a tendency to over-act-- and which one of us are not guilty of THAT in front of a camera?- she was the best actor/actress/actor-person in the film. She totally had me and the audience in the Jumbie scene-- I have tried since childhood to get the cross-eyed look and that girl kept it up for at least five minutes while saying lines-- I was impressed! Dimple was also credible/believable as the wronged woman getting stronger to inflict revenge-- it was a nice twist- though the part about 'music healing' belongs to the a couple of decades ago and reflected the archaic 'main man's view of the world'.
It was good to watch the film with a Guyanese audience as we enjoyed picking out the locations- Vreed-en-Hoop's Stelling, the Promenade Gardens (most of the filming), Splashmins... also enjoyable were the comments- like when she gets attacked in the Park and meets the hero for the first time-- they both walk away and forget about the bag--- most of the audience noticed and commented.
They say men have bigger egos - maybe it's a heredity thing to propel the world forward - I noticed most of the local men who acted attended the screening. They must have been gratified as the Theatre Guild was the fullest since the Film Festival started-- shame the EU people were farting around after it ended without announcing that Three Cards was going to start-- there was a 10/15 minute interval-- tedious on those of us who came straight from work by which time most people left.
In stark contrast-- the setting of the second film was a unpainted shack-- probably more familiar than the flashier settings of the first film-- I couldn't figure out if the child was suffering from Epilepsy-- she had fits but then later spat up blood- TB-- neither of which a 'pill' would stop/cure that the frantic father dropped down the sink which surprisingly had clear, running water which they drank directly from the tap -- I found that a bit unbelievable myself-- but I allowed for it being movie-world. Also stretching the imagination a bit was that the father had to raid the child's savings for the last three hundred dollars to buy another set of Pills which had just gone up in price-- he then decides to gamble on the famed three-card trick -- grabbing the money in desperation when he loses, getting chased, caught and beaten. I thought it a nice humourous touch that the beggarman gives him back his coins and a tip on how to win-- and wondered how come the beggarman didn't play and win heself?! Should really switch off my brain and suspend judgement when I watch these things. The acting was less wooden than the first.