Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cannes Day Five

Invited films are often distinguished from those in the Market by a strong charismatic performance by a star.  They can  lend credence to a script that may not be entirely credible engaging an audience enough with their artistry to make their movie seem worthwhile.  The Market is full of very marginal movies with a star hoping their performance can save the day. I could spend the entire festival indulging in such fare. Mickey Rourke can be seen in three Market movies, Nicholas Cage is in two.  Joe Pesci, James Can, Joe Mantegna, Eric Roberts, Richard Jenkins, Michael Madsen, Danny Glover and Oscar Isaac are among a host of actors who can carry a movie who have non red-carpet roles.  I'd be curious to see each of their performances on the Big Screen, but won't be able to work many them into my schedule.

This day was highlighted by a couple of riveting performances in movies of questionable validity that a lesser performance would otherwise have left audiences with a sour taste.  Vincent Cassel dazzled the screen as an über-suave restauranteur in the day's opening Competition film, "Mon Roii." He sweeps Emmanuelle Bercot (director of the opening night film "Standing Tall"), playing a lawyer, off her feet.  He's too perfect to be true and she asks him after their first bout of conjugal bliss if he's for real, or like all men a jerk.  With his non-stop repartee he tells her he's the King of Jerks, not a jerk himself but all other men are his subjects.  He of course turns into the ultimate jerk, and would be further fodder for Janina's gender study class. Initially he fully caters to the object of his desires, but then becomes the ultimate control freak, even insisting they name their baby "Sinbad," rather than Elliot, as she would prefer.  This was  directed by Maiwenn, whose previous film "Polisse" won the Jury Prize, a much more realistic film.

Matthias Schoenaerts, another Gallic actor who can ignite the screen, somewhat redeems the Un Certain Regard "Disorder," playing a part-time security guard while he awaits word on whether he can return to duty in Afghanstan as he deeply wishes despite being shell shocked.  He is guarding the wife and son of a wealthy Lebanese businessman who hobnobs with government ministers.  The businessman is engaged in questionable practices that have him in trouble with the press as well as people he does business with.  His wife becomes a target.  Schoenaerts is a hunk.  The script can't help but lapse into matters of the libido. 

Collin Ferrell is also known for his sexual dynamism.  But they are entirely wasted in "The Lobster," a Competition film I caught up with today.  He plays a nebbish with a paunch and glasses, a role better suited for a Greg Kinear or John C. Reilly.  Reilly does turn up in this movie playing his usual bumbling self, and just like the other Competition film he had a similar role in "Tale of Tales," it was an exercise in inconsequential absurdism.  Reilly and Ferrell are an a holding center for singles in a futuristic world.  They have 45 days to find a mate or they will be forced to be turned into an animal of their choosing.  Ferrell would like to become a lobster. 

This was a rare day with a Market film on a subject matter of personal interest--a documentary on a trek of the US from Mexico to Canada by four recent graduates of Texas A&M on horseback.  The film takes its title "Unbranded" from the wild mustangs they enlist for the ride.  The subject of the west being overrun by wild horses is a recurring theme of the movie.  Their numbers are increasing at 20 per cent a year.  Over 50,000 are being held in corrals awaiting adoption.  It takes three months to train one for domesticity.  The scenery is spectacular as their route includes the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Glacier National Park.  They guys don't entirely get along, distracting from the glory of their experience.

My day included two other documentaries with lengthy, self-explanatory titles--"David Lynch: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" and "Can't Stand Losing You: Surviivng the Police."  Lynch narrates in a droning tone his life-story up until his first movie "Eraserhead."  He is rarely glimpsed though, as his commentary is accompanied by drawings and paintings and sometimes photographs of what he is describing, making this transcend the usual bio-pic. A recurring phrase from his mother as he was growing up was that he was disappointing him. His first ambition was to be a painter.  He rented a studio while he was still in school.  When he upset his father with his benign defiance,  he told him he was no longer a member of the family.  He regained his good graces, but when he went to visit him a few years later where he was living in Philadelphia his father was so unsettled by his work that he advised him that he shouldn't have children.  Little did Lynch know at the time that his girl friend was pregnant.  They married shortly thereafter.  Lynch says his life was saved a few years later when he won a $5,000 grant from the American Film Institute to make a short.  He later earned a scholarship to move to LA from the AFI which led to "Eraserhead."   

The documentary on the Police was based on the memoirs of guitarist Andy Summers, one of the three members of the band.  The group's singer and song writer Sting wasn't invoked at all in the making of the movie, as Summers said all along he only cared about himself.  The film has plenty of archival interviews and concert and rehearsal footage to draw from as well as some recent reunion concerts.  

The day concluded with "Journey to the Shore," another Un Certain Regard film that leant an insightful view into the culture of another country, this time Japan. Ralph and I could fully connect with this movie, as Ralph spent a good part of his working life there and I two months bicycling it.  A young woman's husband returns three years after he was thought to have been lost at sea.  He says he had been depressed and needed to regain his health.  He has spent the time traveling about Japan working an assortment of jobs.  It was just what he needed. His face is continually wreathed in a beatific smile.  He takes his wife on a trip to meet many of the wonderful people he came to know during his time away.  They are all very happy to see him again.  

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