Sunday, May 19, 2013

Day Four

Today's "bicycle movie" was a false alarm. The program notes for the German film "The Famous Five 2" promised that four kids and a dog would set out on a journey by bike unaccompanied by their parents. That they do, but its just a short bike trip before they set up camp and go hiking. There wasn't much more biking in this children's movie except when the kids have to chase after a guy on a motorcycle carrying a special order pizza to one of their group who has been kidnapped by a couple of thugs, who mistake him for someone else, and who they think holds the key to finding the most valuable jewel in the world.

This was the first film of the festival I left early, half-way through after I finished the can of ravioli that was my lunch for the day. I would have stayed if the kids had spent the whole movie riding their bikes, or if I didn't need a hunk of time to file my report for the day. There wasn't much of a gap between movies for the rest of the day. I might have had to cut back to six for the day rather than the seven I'd been managing.

For the fourth consecutive day an unplanned pregnancy out of wedlock was an element of at least one movie. There were three today just as on Day One. It was the centerpiece of Daniel Auteil's "Fanny," a crowd-pleasing, semi-commercial adaption of a Pagnol story getting a screening in the Market. Auteil is in town serving on Spielberg's exceptional jury, but he did not show himself at his movie, other than on screen.

Auteil is the owner of a small bar in a French port city in Provence early last century. His son goes off to sea without telling him for a five-year stint. He left behind a girl friend, who he doesn't know is two months pregnant. An older wealthy sail-maker has been trying to get her to marry him for some time. She decides to finally accept his proposal for the good of her child, but fears the sail-maker would not have her knowing her condition. But he is delighted to raise the child as his own. There is much debate over these issues, but there is a happy resolution every time, even when the father of the baby makes a surprise, early return. Every conflict is settled amicably, if not nobly, even after heated debate. Pagnol portrays a positive side of human nature, that people can actually be good-hearted and caring.

Fathering a child as a 17-year and initialing denying it is one of the issues tormenting Benico Del Toro in the Competition film "Jimmy P." Jimmy is a native American suffering great trauma after WWII. He has severe headaches. His sister takes him to a special hospital for treatment. He seems physically sound despite having suffered a head wound during the war that left a gash on the top of his head. A psychiatric specialist in Native Americans, played by a quirky Mathieu Amalric flaunting his French accent, is called in to help. The two lead actors deliver worthy performances, but the script portraying psychoanalysis at work left a bit to be desired.

It's not clear if the pregnancy in the Un Certain Regard film "Bends" from Hong Kong is planned or not. The pregnant woman is the wife of a chauffeur. It is their second child, and since they live in China, across the border from Hong Kong, where the chauffeur works for the wealthy wife of a banker, they are only allowed one child. There is a heavy fine for having a second. This is the first of all these pregnancy films to bring up the A-word. At one point, as their options seem to be evaporating, the wife says, "Maybe we should have an abortion." They are trying to avoid the fine by having the child in Hong Kong. But the chauffeur must either get permission to bring his wife to Hong Kong for medical reasons or smuggle her in. The chauffeur asks a favor of the head nurse of a hospital to permit it, but she absolutely refuses. The chauffeur's boss has problems of almost equal magnitude herself. Her husband has not been home for days and her credit cards have been canceled. She starts selling off her art work.

My day's choices also included a pair of movies about 30-year olds taking a stand against the consumer materialistic world. One goes off to the Amazon to assist a nun in her work. The other is a videographer in Finland who decides to put his all too-many belongings in a storage locker to prove happiness does not come from having a lot of stuff. He begins a year of having nothing other than an apartment, without even a refrigerator, to prove he can get along without them. He allows himself to recover one item a day for a year. He also takes a vow not to buy anything other than food for the year.

The movie was appropriately called "My Stuff." The first item he retrieves is a coat, which he wraps himself in to stay warm as he is otherwise naked in his empty apartment on the first night of his withdrawal. It is his only possession. He is so happy when he recovers his mattress a while later he hugs and kisses it. He thinks he can be happy with not much, but he seems very happy with many of the things he gets back. On day eleven he recovers his bicycle and on day twelve his helmet. When his bike is later stolen he must borrow a bike from a friend. It is a necessity, as after 200 days he gets a date with a woman for a bike ride. He must also figure out a way to cut the Kryptonite lock from her bike, as the key is stuck in the lock. That takes five hours of several different attempts. The script was reduced to dwelling on such trivialities, as it didn't have much beyond superficial insights to offer.

"There Will Come a Day" wasn't fully realized either, but it was much more genuine and heartfelt. The young Italian woman featured in this film begins a South American sojourn accompanying a nun on a boat going down the Amazon stopping in at small villages promoting Catholicism. The young woman isn't convinced that encouraging them to observe rituals they do not understand, such as confessing, is right. She eventually goes off on her own and tries to help the indigent in a larger city.

"Viva La Liberta," another Italian movie, rounded out my day. This comedy about a politician who disappears while his look-alike brother masquerades as him while he regains his will was just filler. It had a fine performance by the actor playing the two brothers, and some commentary on the moral vacuity of Italy, while being pleasantly diverting entertainment.

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