Sunday, May 21, 2017

Cannes Day Five

Kenneth Turan began his conversation with Clint Eastwood in the packed Bunuel theater by asking if it was true that he had sat through "The Unforgiven" the day before after introducing it in the Debussy.  Eastwood replied that he had only intended to watch the first five minutes, but that he became caught up in it and watched it to the end.  "It seemed like just five or six years ago that I had made it, not twenty-five," he added.  Eastwood doesn't see many movies these days.  He told Turan that his movie-viewing is mostly older films that he pops into his DVD-player. The last movie he had seen was Sunset Boulevard.  "I like Billy Wilder," he said.

He acknowledged an affection for France and said he was considering a movie on the Americans who thwarted the train terrorist.  Eastwood is 86.  Turan asked him what kept making movies.  He had no better reason than because he liked doing it and it gave him something to do.  He said he liked playing golf, but he wouldn't want to have it become an obligation of retirement every morning.

This was the first Cannes "Master Class" since their inception over ten years ago that did not include clips from the subject's work.  They always highlight the proceedings bringing back warm memories for both the audience and the artist.  It wasn't until half-way into this hour-long conversation jumping from film to film that Turan mentioned a title that brought applause from the mostly young audience--"The Bridges of Madison County."  Turan asked if it was fun working with Meryl Streep.  His response was a mere "yes."  When Turan waited for more, he added, "She was okay."  It wasn't that he was being an uncooperative subject or had anything against her, as he is a genuinely gentle sort who had nothing negative to say about anybody, just that he is taciturn by nature and didn't elaborate much in any of his responses.  He could have told he respected and appreciated her to such an extent that he made a special trip to the Telluride Film Festival to surprise her at her tribute over fifteen years ago.  He greeted her with a line from "Bridges" and nearly brought her to tears.

I had been nervous that I might have to leave this conversation early if it was too clip-heavy in order to make it to my much-anticipated next screening of the Andy Goldsworthy documentary.  I needn't have worried, as Turan came close to exhausting his pages of questions on his lap in less than an hour.  Before he ended their talk he asked Eastwood if there was any movie he had missed that he would like to talk about.  That brought a "no," and I had no worries about getting to "Leaning Into the Wind" in more than ample time.  I was the lone Goldsworthy devotee in town as I the first in line over at the Olympia half an hour early.  No one else was eager enough to turn up until shortly before the screening began--and it was a mere handful despite  the great acclaim the previous documentary the German Thomas Rieselsheimer did on this extraordinary Scottish nature sculpture--"River and Tides" sixteen years ago.

This picks up where the other left off spending time with Goldsworthy at his rural Scottish home constructing works with leaves and twigs and rocks.  A new work he has become fascinated by is laying on the ground on his back with arms slightly detached from his sides whenever a mist appeared and then arising after several minutes leaving a dry patch of the outline of his body.  Like much of his ephemeral art, its image will have to endure in a photo and one's memory. The film follows Goldsworthy to Brazil and Spain and France to his various work, including several around Digne that Janina and I will be biking to after Cannes.  This was a welcome soothing dose of cinema.

I squeezed in one other Market screening, "7 Minutes," along with the day's two Competition unveilings and an Un Certain Regard film.  Seven minutes is the amount of time an Italian textile factory wishes to extract from its workers fifteen-minute break in order to not move the factory to France.  An eleven-member board of women representing the 300 workers is debating whether to accept these conditions.  This was originally a play and made for a very worthwhile film. Each of the women representing an assortment of ethnicities is a strong character with strong opinions.  Their engrossing deliberations raise many relevant issues of our times.  

The dialogue in Noah Baumbach's Competition entry "The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)" sizzled with equal fervor.  Dustin Hoffman is a bearded sculptor living in Manhattan recently retired from teaching and on the verge of selling his house.  He doesn't feel as if his work has received enough recognition and resents that a friend is having an exhibition at MOMA but not him.  He spews his anger towards the world upon his wife and three children, who are tormented and willful in their own way.  Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Emma Thompson and Elizabeth Marvel all shine, even if their characters are less than sympathetic.  

One could debate whether Jean-Luc Godard is sympathetic or reprehensible in Michel Hazanauricius's "Redoubtable," recounting Godard's short-lived marriage to his young actress Anne Wiazemsky, eighteen years his junior.  It is 1967 and Godard is at the height of his fame, as exalted as the Beatles in film circles.  He's tired of making films that entertain and wishes to revolutionize.  His last film starring  Wiazemsky about China and Mao is universally dismissed, especially by the Chinese. He devotes himself to the riots going on in France and is at the forefront of the 1968 boycott of Cannes.  He marches and joins rock-throwing rioters, but wherever he goes he is recognized by fans asking why he can't make another "Brearhless."  It's hard to be nice to such people.  He turns confrontational with everyone from innocents in cafes to those with accouterments of wealth at parties. Even his wife rebels against him when he gets in the face of Bertolucci as they stroll about Rome. He is not the man she married, she tells him.  When she accepts a role in an Italian film his jealousy flares into another storm resulting in a climactic action she can not forgive.  It is hard to find any redeeming features in the man, justifying Agnes Varda calling him a "dirty rat" in her documentary here at the festival. Screen's panel of eleven reviewers gave this the lowest score of the eight Competition films so far played, not so much that it was a bad movie, but that many of them hated to see their icon cast in such a low light.  

My day's Un Certain Regard film, "Before We Vanish," was about aliens who had infiltrated Japan in preparation for an invasion of earth. Kiyoshi Kurosawa is an old hand at delving into subjects that trespass upon the surreal.  This bridges upon the comic and the profound as it wallows along to the point he is trying to make.  Even though this was my second film of the day I had a very hard time not nodding off, especially coming off Baumbach's much stronger film.

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