The Mondo team (both of us!) were in Cannes for a few days for the film festival and to try to raise funds for a couple of projects we’re involved in.
Due to the insane price hikes for accommodation in Cannes (not to mention the “madness of crowds” that seems to affect people at festival time) we decide to stay in Nice. Nice is nice. Much nicer than Cannes. And it’s only 20 minutes away on the train. But, of course, we reckoned without “le strike”.
A regular Cannes feature this, all transport links grind to a halt for a few days during the festival. Not quite sure what this achieves as the rich folks all have chauffeur driven cars and helicopters, but the poor folks (like us) get stuffed. Ah well, no change there then. And of course the first strike coincided with our arrival. Tensions ran high - but not as high as the cab prices....
Consequently, much of Day One was spent trying to get from Nice to Cannes. And then it started raining…
Still, we finally made it and got to see some films and hook up with a bunch of friends – so things were looking up at last.
We watched a load of films – here’s a few notes on some of the ones we were glad to sit through… (in no particular order):
Loved this one. An intriguing premise very well acted out in a confined space by a small number of characters. Great performance by the vastly underrated Stephen McHattie. An unexpected delight.
At last – a GOOD film. Maybe even a great one. It’s too long, by at least twenty minutes, but has so many things going for it that you have to cut it some slack on the pacing front. Great acting from all, but in particular Kim Ok-Bin, who really carried the film for me. Park Chan-wook is a guy at the top of his game cinematically – beautiful to look at and incredibly well put together.
Directed by David Bowie’s son (yes Zowie!) and produced by Sting’s wife, this had all the outward signs of rich folks playing at film maker. Turned out to be a hugely enjoyable and very well made piece of commercial cinema. To say too much about the plot would spoil it; just that it takes a great idea and plays it out to the end without ever letting itself down. How often can you say that about any film?
A shot on video cheapie by a first time Taiwanese director (and touted as that country’s “first ever slasher film!”). I liked this. Bit slow to get started but it kicked in after the establishing “business”. It’s Saw meets Hostel territory, but with an interesting political dimension and becomes quite inventively nasty in some of the set pieces. Japanese porn star Maria Ozawa makes one of her rare “straight” appearances here and acquits herself well.
This is the one to beat. Lars von Trier – is he having a laugh, or what? upping his credentials as the latest and possibly greatest in a long line of Danish situationists and pranksters, seeing this in the prestigious Lumiere Theatre packed with Cannes groupies was hilarious. Porn inserts? Check; Graphic violence? Check; masturbation (male and female)? Check: genital mutilation? Check… The audience howled, groaned and booed. There were many walk outs. And one poor girl seemed to have passed out in the screening we attended. We hope she’s alright. There are magic moments in this movie and stretches of tedium too (I was almost convinced Thom Yorke was going to float in and out of screen in very slow motion at some points). But it’s one to see. And talk about. ( But maybe not with Mr and Mrs Defoe though….)
Not screening, but watched on a promo reel, was the French/Belgian production Amer (the English translation is “bitter”, but that may not become the export title). This is the first full length feature from directing duo Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani who have a number of intriguing and stylish shorts to their name, including Sitges prize winner La Chambre jaune. Intriguing and stylish are certainly adjectives one would apply to Amer. In recent years lots of film makers have tried to bring the giallo vibe to their work. In Amer, Cattet and Forzani have finally got it right. A real giallo with a modern sensibility and as dark and devious as one could wish for. Should be screening towards the end of the year.
We didn’t get to see the Philippines’ entry in competition, Kinatay, but heard good things about it. It’s a violent and gritty thriller set in the mean streets of Manila. We really hadn’t read much about the film before, so imagine our surprise on seeing one of the stars of our DVD release, Daughters of Eve – Maria Isabel Lopez – being interviewed at the film’s press conference. Turns out she’s one of the main performers. Still a stunner 25 years on from her role in Daughters, Maribel gets a hearty three cheers from us for another brave performance marked by her characteristic guts and integrity. The film picked up Best Director for Brillante Mendoza.
Inglourious Basterds –
The croisette was heaving for this one – Brad got more screams than QT but Robert Pattinson got more than Brad.
Anyway..I digress...…the movie….QT does Mel Brooks! Well..what can you say about a movie that has a comedy Hitler in the first ten minutes…err!? Tarantino is the Benjamin Button of cinema – his films get more and more adolescent with each release. That said Basterds was great fun – if you’re a fan of WW2 movies (err..yes!) and are happy to sit through (very) long scenes of arch dialogue (err…yes!) then it’ll be right up your strasse…. Christoph Waltz dervedly won the Best Actor for his turn - but boy…does he look like Rob Brydon! For me the whole end sequence to Bowie's Cat People was genius of some kind. Or was that madness? Who knows.... but hugely entertaining whichever.