Sunday, May 24, 2015

Cannes Day Eleven

Its hard to remember at times what an extraordinary privilege it is to be at Cannes getting a first look at the best the world of cinema has to offer when I am too often preoccupied with the worry of getting into a screening or thinking about the rush after the movie to the next one and having a backup plan if I'm turned away from it.  Years of seeing a movie that I was delighted to have seen thanks to being turned away from another movie does not ease the frustration of not greeting into something I might have been waiting an hour or more for.  So when I arrived at the Palais a little after eight this morning and was kept waiting for twenty minutes, even though I had an Invitation in hand, I was  nervous rather than exhilarated and expectant of what I was about to see, as I would have been if I had been able to walk right in and take my seat.  

When I was able to take my seat moments before the theater went dark I barely had time to gather myself before being swept into the spectacular highlands of Scotland and the world of "Macbeth."  The cinematagrophy grew more and more astounding, not only the breathtaking landscapes, but the battle scenes in slow motion and close-up.  And heavyweights Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard are more than up to the task playing the principals. Harvey Weistein knew what he was doing putting Australian Justin Kurzel at the helm of this project.   But this is Shakespeare and since my brain has never processed him very well, the words coming out of the mouths of the characters didn't always register, preventing me from liking his movie as much as I would have liked to.

If one of the seven awards the Cannes jury dispenses was for cinematagrophy, giving it to "Macbeth" would be the one sure thing of all the awards. As it is, there is no clear favorite for any of the awards, only that "Carol," "Son of Saul," and "The Asssassins" will receive something.  Usually the list is longer, but nothing else has particularly distinguished itself.  Certainly not "Valley of Love," the other Competition film I saw today.  Isabelle Huppert and Gerard Depardieu play factionalized versions of themselves in Death Valley as a divorced couple hoping to reunite with their son who recently died .  In his suicide note he tells them he will reappear at one of several scenic sites there during a one week period.  

The critics who savaged Gus Van Sant's movie ought to have had at this as well, as the European faction of the press had to forgive the film for its portrayal of the Americans they encounter as unrefined boors.  One guy recognizes Depardieu but can't remember what he has seen him in or his name.  He asks for his autograph.  Depardieu signs it as Bob DiNero.  Later the guy confronts Depardieu as he and Huppert are dining and lambasts him.  Depardieu is apologetic and invites him and his wife to join them.  The movie stars are extremely tolerant of all their foolish questions and comments. As with the married couple in Van Sant's movie, they bicker over long festering and present aggravations, though not quite as venomously.  This is not a film that will rank very high in the work of these actors, but a nice little curiosity.

The Director's Fortnight always includes a film or two that was a hit at Sundance in January. Last year it was "Whiplash."  This year it was "Dope."  As with "Whiplash" it included a mesmerizing performance, but rather than by a veteran actor, this was by a newcomer, Shameik Moore a young black of Jamaican descent who is as glib as was J.K.Simmons. He is a very bright, Harvard-bound kid growing up with a single mother in a  rough neighborhood of Los Angeles.  There's no chance he'll win an Oscar, or even be nominated for one, as this film isn't good enough for that, but he may in the future.   It is the silly story of three high school geeks who come into possession of several kilos of cocaine and how they dispense it.  

The kids in "Welcome, or No Trespassing" are somewhat silly too, but they provide an allegory for the Soviet system in this seminal film from 1964 by Elem Klimov about a kid's summer camp.  They get into all sorts of hijinks. This first film by the acclaimed director was suppressed when it came out. This just restored print was a late addition to the schedule.

It became a two Russian day when I ended it with "Peace To Us In Our Dreams," a Lithuanian-Russian co-production.  This too took place out of the city on the fringe of the woods. A directiomless man and woman are grappling with what they want to do,with their lifes. A young man is living in an abandoned cabin.  He steals tomatoes from their greenhouse and the rifle of some hunters. He shares the sense of purposelessness of those he steals from in this understated film from the Director's Fortnight.

My day also included a repeat screening of the Icelandic film "Rams" after it won the award for the best of the nineteen films in Un Certain Regard.  I had seen thirteen of them.  When clips were shown of all nineteen preceding the awards ceremony, each brought back a fond memory.  I was hoping one of the six I hadn't seen would win the award, so I could see something I hadn't seen, but I realized that I would have been happy to see any of them again, not something I can say of those in Competition.  The Isabella Rossilini-led jury of five gave out five awards.  Three of them went to movies I hadn't seen, adding further emphasis to what a fine batch of films this had been this year, but probably justifiably their top prize went to "Rams."  Surprisingly, Rosselini didn't say how hard it was to choose a winner as is customary saying many deserved it, but instead said how wonderful it was to see all these fils and that she and the jury had felt like they had taken a flight around the planet and that any anthropologist would be envious of them.  As with any commendable work of art, it was most worthwhile to experience "Rams" again and to further  appreciate its great craftsmanship and depth and many nuances.

I was able to do my nightly FaceTime with Janina from outside the Palais and could give her a display of all the women in their gowns and high heels.  I felt like a filmmaker walking amongst all the attendees letting Janina feel as if she was right there as I panned around and up and down. In the twelve years I've been attending the festival the high heels issue never came up and I was oblivious to the fact that they are required for the evening Palais screenings.  My eye has always been drawn to all the stunning gowns.  Now I'm checking out the footwear, or hobble-wear, as Janina regards them. The gowns certainly are stunning, adorning all the svelt, tanned beautiful people of the Côte d'Azur wafting along as if in a state of grace. They are like a second skin to many.  But there are those who are clearly uncomfortable in such attire and footwear, appearing embarrassed and awkward.  It is certainly an entertaining show each evening.

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