All went as planned with no excess crowds or unexpected circumstances preventing me from knocking off four Competition films in a row, two that received their premieres today and the two that premiered yesterday. It was a risk to skip Cronenberg's "Cosmopolis" yesterday with the hope that I could see its repeated screening today, but I got away with it. If I had seen it yesterday though, it would have made for a pair of Competition films centered around a guy driving around a big city in a stretch white limo in a dream sequence of a movie. Yesterday it was in Paris, today in New York. I didn't much care for yesterday's drive, nor today's either. The script might have been sitting in Cronenberg's drawer for fifty years, dating back to the era of Ionesco and the Theater of the Absurd.
A young, big-time executive wishes to drive across a traffic-clogged, not-so-safe New York to get a hair cut. He has security guards jogging alongside his car. Rats are on the verge of becoming a unit of currency replacing the gold standard. The guy stops a couple of times to have breakfast and then lunch in a small diner with his young wife who isn't as interested in sex as he is. When he takes off his sun glasses she comments, "I didn't know you had blue eyes." She asks him to tell her something. He says, "When I was four I figured out how much I would weigh on each of the planets." Several times during the movie he comments about having an asymmetrical prostrate.
Keller and Ralph were awaiting me at the day's first screening of "Mud" by Jeff Nichols, winner of Critic's Weekly last year with "Take Shelter." I hadn't seen Keller in several days. It was good to see he had stuck it out, rather than leaving early in frustration as he had been threatening. "Has Cannes won you over?," I hopefully asked. "No, but I've made my peace with it," he said. He had been spoiled by the ease of Telluride, the only other festival he has attended, and the quality of its films, with such a limited schedule compared to most festivals. After ten days he had somewhat figured out the lay of the land here, but wasn't willing to admit to being a full-fledged devotee such as Ralph and I.
"Mud" offered up remarkable performances by.a pair of teen-aged boys who befriend a man wanted for murder played by Matthew McConaughey, who is hiding out at a secret spot of theirs on an island in the Mississippi. He is awaiting the arrival of his girl friend payed by Reese Witherspoon. He murdered her husband, rescuing her from a marriage gone bad. Along with the police, a group of Texas vigilante friends of the murder victim are in pursuit as well. The dialogue is crackling and the plot gripping. Various sub plots are all cautionary tales on idolizing women. This could win the award for the best screen play.
My two other Competition films were genre pieces from Russia and South Korea. "In the Fog" takes place on the Western front during WWII amongst Russian peasants. One of them is arrested by the Nazis. They threaten to hang him unless he agrees to a confession. Against his better judgement he decides to live, but then is ostracised by his community for seeming to be a collaborator. This is another of the Character in Deep Shit films that have come to dominate the festival.
A young administrative assistant in "The Taste of Money" wallows in at least shallow shit after he allows himself to be seduced/raped by the 70-year old woman who runs a huge family corporation. Corruption and sex dominate this slick, but irrelevant film.
Ralph, Keller and I slipped into the awards ceremony for Un Certain Regard before dashing to the Director Fortnight's Award winner. Jury president Tim Roth lamented the impossibility of selecting the winners because the films were all so good. They always say that, but it was quite true this year. The three of us were rooting for the Mexican film "After Lucia," which won. Roth gave an extra award to "Le Grand Soir" the French black comedy. He
thanked Thierry Fremaux for including a comedy in the schedule, complaining there
were so many heavy dramas.
The Director Fortnight's jury must have had a similar reaction, as its winner was the French light-hearted comedy "Camille Rewinds." It started out like an all too-typical French film on a film set, but then veered off into slightly original territory when the lead actress, a 40-year old, returns to her parents home and slips into a time warp going back to being a 16-year old. She goes to school as her 40-year old self and connects with her classmates who are still themselves. She doesn't want to have anything to do with her old boy friend, knowing how he treated her, abandoning her after accusing her of being his ball-and-chain. This was a refreshing dose of lightness after the many heavy films, but not necessarily exceptional cinema worthy of an award. At least she rides her old bicycle on occasion, but my enjoyment of the movie was deflated by a couple of crashes, once hitting a car and another time just having the bike slip out from under her, giving me a start and a gasp each time.
The traditional final screening of the festival before Sunday's repeat of all the Competition films and the Closing Night film was a Director Fortnight's film at the Arcades at 10:30 pm. "Fogo" was a largely dialogue-less documentary on a mostly barren, rugged island off the coast of Newfoundland with just a few residents and their dogs. This was a very questionable example of minimalism with very little explanation of what the movie was about.
We were all eager for Sunday's schedule of Competition films. I couldn't have been happier with the line-up as the four I have not seen are all playing in different time slots, allowing me to see them all. Ralph was not so lucky. Two of the three he missed are playing at the same time and at the same time as the Reygadas film, which he wanted to see again. And that will be his choice. Its hard to believe the festival is drawing to a close. It flew by faster than ever. As Ralph and I walked along Antibes after "Fogo," Ralph commented on how much he loves this experience, every aspect of it, and will most certainly be back next year for his third time. I will be celebrating my tenth. Yes it has been another fabulous immersion in the world of cinema.