Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Day 6

Friends: If I'd accepted that position with the Bicycle Certification Board to certify and rate films according to the proper and plausible use of the bicycle, with special commendation for its promotion, I would have had nothing to report on this day, as it happened to be a Bike Free Monday, a marked contrast to yesterday's Jackpot Sunday.

There were so many noteworthy bicycle sitings yesterday that I neglected to mention all of them. One of the more significant was my first cinematic observation ever of one of Lance Armstrong's yellow Livestrong wristbands. We can thank an extra in a swimming pool in "The King" for this momentous event. I doubt it was purposely placed by the director, as it was one of those incidental inclusions that only an eye attuned to such things would spot. The camera did not linger on it, nor was it strategically placed. But it was there, and in that we can rejoice. I will
be on the alert for many more.

Thankfully I did not have the responsibility from the Bicycling Board for rating yesterday's "Once You're Born," the Italian film about the boy lost at sea. I would have been greatly torn. It deserved accolades for its brief early glimpse of a bicycle, symbolizing, in this instance, a film of social consciousness (in contrast to the more common implication of independence and freedom and innocence), but the director missed the opportunity to build on this when the boy is given a deluxe motorbike to celebrate his return home, even though he can't use it until he's 14. Some prized Italian racing bike, of which there are many to choose from, fully Campy-equipped, would have been much more appropriate and could have won the Board's highest rating.

I didn't expect to find any bicycles or wrist bands in the day's 8:30 a.m. Competition screening in the Palais of Lars Von Trier's "Manderlay," as like "Dogville", it was shot on a bare bones sound stage. Unlike "Dogville," which was set in Colorado, "Manderly" takes place in 1933 Alabama. Not too many people saw "Dogville", despite it winning the Palm d'Or two years ago, and even fewer will want to see this, unless Von Trier rushes a copy to Jesse Jackson along with a phalanx of physicians to make sure he survives his screening of this depiction of a plantation where slavery still survives. The physicians need to be on full red alert during the commentary on the various categories of "niggers" on the plantation--pleasing, proud, etc. etc. Jackson would blast this movie so vociferously, he could make it the year's highest grossing film.

Nor did I expect to have any bicycles to analyze in the market screening of "Pele Forever," a two-hour Brazilian documentary on the Eddy Merckx of soccer. The bulk of the film was a dizzying array of what seemed like every one of the 1,281 goals Pele scored in the 1,371 games of his career, some of the more noteworthy ones showed two or three times. He was born in 1940 and named Edison, as his father was a great admirer of the American inventor. He turned pro at 16 and at 18 led Brazil to the first of three World Cups they won during his era. He was named the athlete of the century by many organizations, including "Sports Illustrated," an honor that would have gone to Merckx if bicycling were as popular world wide as soccer is.

For the first time in my Cannes experience I was rained on as I waited for "Time to Leave," a French film by Francois Ozon, last at Cannes two years ago with his Competition entry "Swimming Pool." When we had rain a couple days ago I discovered that my tent was in a low spot. I hadn't taken the time to move it, so that had me nervous. I barely have the time to eat with all the movies to be seen and these ramblings to get out. I heard the first boos of the festival after this movie by those disappointed in the slightness of this story about a 30-year old guy who learns he has an advanced stage of cancer, leaving him only several months to live. He declines chemotherapy, as it had less than a 5% chance to work, and he elects not to tell his family or friends. Not much happens, but there was enough depth and feeling to this film that I was happy to have seen it, if only for its reminders of dear Crissy.

Helen said she had heard good things about "Little Jerusalem," a French film about a Jewish community in a Parisian suburb, and when I saw one of the director's of the Telluride Film Festival in line to see it, I felt assured that it was going to be worthwhile. Unfortunately, the director takes her time in establishing the story about a young woman philosophy student devoted to philosophy and trying to lead an ascetic, Kantian existence. Once the film does get on track, perhaps a little too late to save it, it earned the commendations it has received.

I squeezed in my dinner of tabouli and cassoulet from the supermarket in the back row of the lightly attended market screening of the Italian "Abide in My Love." I had no reason to see this other than as a quiet place to eat. This film doesn't merit comment.

The Portuguese film "Alice" completed my Bike Free Monday. It was another film about parents who lose their child and are frantic over her loss. This topic is emerging as the theme of the festival. There is another film in the Director's Fortnight devoted to the subject, "Keane", by Lodge Kerrigan that played at Telluride last year. ("Adam and Paul" and "Yes" are also here from Telluride, though only in the market, looking for distribution.) It was also a factor in three other films I have seen so far--"Hidden," "The King," and "Once You're Born." It is also a factor in tomorrow's "The Child." The lost child in "Alice" is a four-year old. The father devotes himself to monitoring several surveillance cameras he has set up around the big city where he lives in hopes of spotting her. It is an utterly hopeless task, making this a not very credible film. It is by a first-time director who previously made commercials. It is a film that looks good, as the footage from the herky-jerky surveillance cameras blown up on the large screen are almost poetic. Their look may well have inspired the director to make a film, any film, where he could showcase them.

Later, George

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