Caine refusing a knight-hood from an emissary of the Queen at the outset while he is hanging out at a health spa in the Swiss Alps with Keitel and others of great means made for a fine opening. Then his initial refusal to tell his daughter why her husband, son of Keitel, was leaving her for a ditzy singer also added spice to the story and so it continued as your films always do. At last a film came along that I didn't want to end and was looking forward to seeing again on Repeat Sunday before the awards ceremony. This probably isn't Palm d'Or material, but it could be without anything off the charts just yet.
This fine day of cinema continued with the second Competiton film of the day "Mountains May Depart." This Chinese film, told in three parts, also had an emotional depth beyond most of the rest of the fare. Part one takes place in 1999. A young woman dumps her working class boy friend, who she has a genuine rapport with, to marry a crass, wealthy upstart. In part two fifteen years later their marriage is over and the one she truly loved has come down with cancer and can't afford medical attention. His wife seeks out his former girl friend. And then the film jumps ahead to 2025 in Australia where the rich guy has gone, taking his son with him, who he had named "Dollar," as bizarre of a name as "Sinbad," as Vincent Cassel named his son in the earlier Competiton film "Mon Roi." Throughout these are genuine, well-defined characters. A thank you goes out to Jia Zhangke as well for his directing.
The two Un Certain Regard films of the day maintained this sidebar's theme of giving a fine portrayal of another land. "Lamb" was the first film from Ethiopia to play in this category. In some instances that would give extra impetus for programming a film that might not necessarily be up to par, but this film had the quality to be from anywhere and accepted. Like many of the festival films, it was a story of coping with hardship. Drought is making it difficult to scratch out an existence for a farming family. A young boy who has come to live with them is continually trying to find a place for a lamb to graze and incurs the wrath of many. The spectacular mountain scenery adds great luster to this sensitive, heartfelt story.
The illicit side of dog selling in France provided the backdrop for "I Am a Soldier," the story of a thirty year old woman who has been looking for work for eight months and is reduced to moving in with her mother. She begins working for her uncle who sells dog. She quickly learns not all is on the up and up, but is a good soldier and goes along with it and even starts some illicit side operations of her own. This wasn't an in your face portrayal of the harsh economic times, but more powerful than some of those that are. This was a wonderful, insightful discovery.
The day was also highlighted with a documentary on Orson Welles, "This is Orson Welles," followed by a screening of "Citizen Kane." Watching this masterpiece with French subtitles was an ultimate expierce. As with the Ingrid Bergman documentary, this one featured the commentary of a daughter. And like Bergman's children's, she had nothing but nice things to say about her dad. Scorcese and Bogdonavich and Henry Jaglom were among the talking heads. Though it didn't cover anything new, it was still well worth seeing.
With the festival winding down, there were just a handful of Market screenings. I was happy to be able to fit "Dream Driven" into my schedule, a Finnish documentary about three young men who drove a van from Finland to Nepal to help build a school and to bring attention to the evils of the caste system. It would have been much more noteworthy if they had made a bike trip of it, and they were a bit naive in their idealism, but the opening of a school and two more that they raised funds for brought the young men to tears.