December 14, 2015

Junun (2015)

Junun (2015) - Movie Review
Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Country: USA

Movie Review: Topnotch American director, Paul Thomas Anderson, author of a considerable number of masterpieces that confers him the title of one of the best filmmakers of our times, frees himself from fictional scripts and lands in India, where he loosely captures the musical and spiritual encounter between Radiohead’s guitarist, Jonny Greenwood, the Israeli multi-instrumentalist and composer, Shye Ben Tzur, and the Indian ensemble, Rajasthan Express. The 54-minute documentary, “Junun”, sparse in words, assembles several moments of their three-week stay at the Mehrangarh Fort by invitation of the illustrious Maharaja of Jodhpur. From that glorious musical meeting, an album and this film came out, both with the title “Junun”, to envelop us with contagious rhythms, and a perfect blending of exotic Indian melodies and occasional jazzy touches. If the music really made my day, the film, combining that same music with breathtaking landscapes of the Fort’s surroundings and a few close-ups of the performers, experiences some obstacles that sometimes aren't so easy to overcome. The handheld camera is not always objective and often loses consistency with sudden movements that may suggest some sort of dance, or just a relaxed, enjoyable time. Maybe, as it happened to me, the enlightened tunes took Mr. Anderson to another dimension, hitting his heart and soul in such a way that he just decided not to go by the rules or follow what we expect from a documentary. Additionally, the editing isn’t perfect either and should have been carefully considered. Even though, it was very interesting to observe how contrasting was the posture of these amazing musicians – in one hand we witness the serious commitment to the music, and in the other, the immense fun and joy in playing together, producing sounds that alternate from frantically danceable to floatingly celestial. Prayers and blackouts sometimes interrupt the musical rituals, failing to validate the popular saying that in India they have ‘no toilet, no shower, but full power, 24-hour’. Nothing withholds the harmonious tunefulness pitched by this cross-cultural collaboration. Still, I would never think about equating this minor work with Mr. Anderson’s previous fictional gems.

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