Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Cannes Day Seven

My day was bookended by violent-laced crime thrillers--one an American production about Mexican drug cartels and the other of office politics from South Korea.  One featured inventive plot twists and the other didn't much care about the credibility of its twists. No surprise which was which.

The American production, "Sicario" by Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, put its budget into its cast (Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro) and aerial shots and car chases rather than its script.  Its was slick enough to be shown in Competition, while the Korean film, "Office," was given an Out of Competition  slot.  

"Sicario" began with great promise as Emily Blount leads an FBI raid on a drug house in Phoenix.  Her assured demeanor along with the first-rate action directing remain a strong current through the film.  She is enlisted by higher operatives led by Josh Broslin to cross the border into Mexico and snatch a drug lord.  It is more bravado film-making, though the credibility of the script begins to ebb. It doesn't become as outlandish as Villeneuve's "Prisoners," and can be somewhat overlooked since the premise of a Colombian drug prosecutor, played with matching vigor as the other leads by Del Toro, who turns into a superhero out for the revenge for the death of his wife and daughter by drug lords adds a jolt to the script that is more for the popcorn crowd than the cineste, and a far cry from Villeneuve's masterpieces "Incendies" and "Polytchnique."

"Office" couldn't match the polish and pizzazz of "Sicario," but it was equally gripping, delving into the psyche of the detective trying to track down the employee of a company who inexplicably murdered his wife and son and disappeared.  A surveillance camera shows him returning to the skyscraper where he worked, but not leaving.  The drama bridges upon horror, but more psychological than physical.

I found myself in a minor horror movie of my own when I arrived back at the apartment after midnight and discovered  my email account had been taken hostage and a message sent out to everone in my address book saying I was in Istanbul and had lost my wallet and needed money.  The worst of it was that I could no longer receive emails, as messages replying to the plea would be intercepted by the perpetrator.  At least I can send out emails from the account,  I changed my password, but so far that hasn't helped.  So I have not received any emails in the past 24-hours allowing me to concentrate further in the film festival.

The day wasn't without good fortune as after the 8:30 am screening of "Sicario" a woman walk up to Ralph and I and offered us invitations to the next Competiton screening in the Lumiere at 11:30.  Ralph already had one.  It was the first I had come by this year.  I rushed directly to the Lumiere, but still  ended up in the nose bleed seat in the last row in the balcony. Its a vantage I know well from years past and don't mind at all looking over a sea of heads at the distant screen far below.

I won't have memories of this film though, "Marguerite and Julien," a true story of incest in France in 1600.  Valerie Donzelli returns to those times but tries to jazz up the story with Rock music and odd insertions of twentieth century  technology, including the flash of a helicopter.  Unfortunately it doesn't work.  A straightforward telling of this story that ends in tragedy could have made for a fine movie.  No one much liked it, with a rare below one star overall rating from "Screen's" panel of ten critics, though still better than Van Sant's .6 disaster. 

Today's  Un Certain Regard film, "Trap," took me back to the Philippines through the same post-typoon disaster scene I had bicycled through a year ago.  It captured all the images I know well--UN tents for the survivors, battered  palm trees, religious services, bicycles with side cars, small road side cafes and the great resilience of the Filipinos.  Despite the sure hand of acclaimed director Brillante Mendoza, he accompanied his fine images with just a perfunctory story of recovery.

I filled the rest of the day with three documentaries.  One of them would have been Kent Jones's on the legendary conversations between Hitchcock and Truffaut that resulted in a book, but I was among a hundred or more who were turned away from the Bunuel where special events are held.  One floor below was a Market screening of the Directors Fortnight entry "Beyond My Grandfather Allende" filmed by one of his granddaughters. She wss too young to remember him when his life came to an end in Chile's 1973 coup and this is an attempt to come to know him through her family members.His elderly wife is a most unwillingly subject.  She continually cuts off interviews with her granddaughter laying beside her in bed.  The director's other family members are also very reticent to talk about their memories that they have all suppressed. The best thing about the doc was remembering the exceptional doc by Sarah Polley uncovering her big family secret.

A Swedish documentary, "Ingrid Bergman--In Her Own Words," on the actress who overlooks the entries to the Palais and Debussy as the subject of this year's poster, was given the star treatment with Isabella Rosselini on hand to introduce it in the Soixante.  She was one Bergman's four children by two husbands.  The children are all extensively interviewed in this artful rendition of her life receiving more screen time than movie clips.  Three of the children were fathered by the Italian director, and the first by her Swedish husband, who became a doctor in the US during the early years of their marriage after Bergman had come to Hollywood.  When she left her husband and eight year old daughter for Rosselini, it was an international scandal, even denounced on the Senate floor. She didn't return to the US for eight years, not even for the Oscars when she won her second, accepted by Cary Grant in a year when the Oscars were held in New York. When she finally did return to the US Ed Sullivan took a poll whether he should have her on his show.

My third documentary was one of those few films of personal interest I was most eager to see when I had spotted it in the program on my first perusal--"The Fabulous Story of Mr Riquet."  He engineered the Canal du Midi linking the Atlantic with the Mediterranean under Louis XIV in the 1700s.  It is one of the world's first engineering great feats.  It has a beautiful plane-tree lined bike path along it.  It was exciting to see its beauty captured on the big screen, but unfortunately it didn't have a big enough budget to have added English subtitles, the first such film I've come across in the Market.


dworker said...

Hi George

I am following all your posts, and updating my Netflix waiting list as I go along.

Matt said...

Thanks as always for the reviews. I'm following you and the trades and Keyframe blog and The Dissolve. I'm getting a good picture of the films. Sorry about your email hack. Hopefully it will clear itself up.

Andrew said...

George, check your email account and disable forwarding if it's turned on