Sunday, May 18, 2014

Day Five

With no cycling films in the market this year, running films have had to take their place for me.  I saw my fourth today and have another tomorrow.  Anna is an 18-year national caliber sprinter in Czechoslovakia in the early 1980s in the Czech film "Fair Play."  She's been taking vitamin B injections and then is told to add another injection to her regimen.  When she starts sprouting thicker hair on her legs and a mustache and her period is late, she learns this new injection is steroids.  She stops taking them and her results suffer.  Her mother wants her to make the Olympics so she can have a better life and potentially be able to escape the country as did her athlete father fifteen years before.  She's been the one administrating the drugs to her, so resumes the steroids, pretending they are the B vitamins.  Her daughter's performance improves.  When she is given a blood test and the doctor is pleased by her blood levels, the daughter realizes what her mother has been doing and isn't happy about it.

There was also some running in the Spanish film "Beautiful Youth" in Un Certain Regard.  Four guys chase after a guy who slashed the throat of one of them after the court case trying to gain compensation from him fails.  The injured guy is desperate for money.  His girl friend has just had a baby and the two of these high school drop-outs still live with their parents, both single mothers, and don't have jobs.  This virtual documentary of the near hopelessness of life in economically depressed Spain has the boy's girl friend contemplating moving to Germany where she can get a job. This was as honest and as real as a movie can be, but almost too real to be of any great interest.

The Tommie Lee Jones' Competition film "Homesman" didn't get my day off to as good a day as I had hoped.  I had no tension of gaining entry with an Invitation in hand, but my high expectations based on Jones' other film he directed,"The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada," that won two awards at Cannes in 2005, fell short.  Hilary Swank as a strong, independent 31-year old surviving on her own in the man's world of homesteaders in 19th century Nebraska made for an interesting character and so did the premise of the harsh life driving woman crazy, but the script did no justice to the other women and resorted to acts that begged reality.  As with every premiering film here that has yet to be assessed by the reviewing hoards, I was strongly rooting for this film to rise to the heights I hoped of it.  It started out adequately, as did "Saint Laurent," but did not grow.  Not a failure by any means, only in the respect that it didn't stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the out of the ordinary.

The day's other Competition film, "The Wonders" by the Italian director Alice Rohrwacher, one of two women in the field, gave an entertaining lesson in bee-keeping.  It is a full-fledged family operation with the young children of an eccentric, very Italian father responsible for much of the labor.  The family is battling to survive, but the heart of the movie is what its like to be around bees and honey all day.

I included the French Canadian film "Miraculum" on my slate for the day as the cast included Xaviar Dolan, who has a film in Competition.  He generally directs, but when he acts he lights up the screen with his intense, explosive personality.  His visage with fierce, blazing eyes open this movie of multiple stories, not all of which intersect.  He plays a Jehovah Witness minister of all things who is suffering from leukemia and refuses to have the blood transfusion that could save his life.  Another of the stories is about a guy who smuggles sixty tubes of drugs in his intestinal track into the country.  This market film was another example of the strength of Canadian cinema, what with three films in Competition, more than any other country.

When Australian Gracie Otto noticed everyone flocking around an older man at a party at Cannes several years ago and learned who he was she decided to make a documentary about him, resulting in "The Impressarior."  The man was Michael White, a long-time London producer of plays and movies, including "Oh Calcutta," "My Dinner with Andre," and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."  Unfortunately White has suffered three strokes and couldn't express himself very well.  The film is dominated by interviews with dozens of people he worked with--John Waters, Wally Shawn, Naomi Watts...  In the hands of a more accomplished filmmaker this could have been an extraordinary film but instead it was another of those ho-hum documentaries that was more informative than entertaining.

I couldn't find a new film in the eight p.m. slot with any promise, so rather than risking mind-numbing fare I treated myself to another Cannes Classic--"The Good Life" from 1966 by Jean-Paul Rappeneau on hand to introduce it.  This comedy starred Catherine Deneuve as the wife of a wealthy orchard owner during WWII.  Their chateau has been commandeered by the Germans.  They are also providing temporary refuge to a member of the Resistance.  He along with the German commander are flagrantly vying for the attentions of Denueve right in the face of her husband.  D-Day is imminent.

1 comment:

Matt said...

I've been wanting to see 'The Good Life'. It was release in the US as 'La vie de château' and shows up in IMDB as 'A Matter of Resistance'. Relatively rare film. Hopefully it gets a release on DVD in the US.

Thanks for the daily updates. I check them each day.