Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Cannes Coverage Exclusive from George the cyclist –
Day Seven: Tuesday

Read it here, read it now. More from George the cyclist

The Fest is more than half over and with the end in sight, I'm growing ever more obsessive about seeing films. For the second day in a row I squeezed in a 6th film.

There are no rules against eating in the screenings, at least yet, though I seem to be the only one doing it. There are no concession stands in the theatres, not even offering cola or evian. I try to be as discreet as possible when eating, and even have a favorite secluded nook in the last row of the Palais up in the stratosphere, where I can have a picnic of tabouli and potato salad and cheese roll and quiche without disturbing anyone. Still, I fear the day when signs go up forbidding eating or even bringing food into these theatres. That'd be the end of Ebert at Cannes. I doubt he would countenance being patted down for raisinettes whenever he wanted to see a movie.

I began Tuesday with an Israeli film, Or by Keren Yedaya. Or is the 18 year old daughter of a prostitute who is less than fully functional. The daughter supports them collecting bottles and working as a dish-washer. She is at least the third young woman lead character of the festival struggling nobly against her circumstances. She tries to prevent her mother from working her trade and is greatly upset when she returns home to find her with a john. This was the first film I've seen that didnt have English sub-titles along with the French, but I discovered my French was good enough to comprehend enough of the French sub-titles to follow this straight forward story. It wasn't a bad way at all to start the day.

Then it was from the smallest of venues to the largest for the competition screening of Tropical Malady by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who all of you know is from Thailand. If I hadn't bicycled through regions this film took place in a year-and-a-half ago I would have been thoroughly bored. Instead, I was only marginally bored, especially during the final half hour or so, as one of the characters meanders and crawls though a dense jungle during the day and night while he is haunted by ghosts and a shaman who can turn himself into a tiger. There won't be any awards for this film.

I resumed my movie-going after yesterday afternoon's internet break with The Heart is Deceitful...Above All Things by Asia Argento of the US. The title is a quote from the book of Jeremiah. The movie centers on a young boy of the same name whose sexy and sex-obsessed mother is continually abandoning him when she runs off with one deadbeat after another. This ought to have been a very disturbing and heart-rending movie, but the only thing disturbing about it was that it wasn't. His mother gives a very engaging and energetic performance and the kid is good as well along with much of the supporting cast, making it very watchable, but far from essential viewing, not even for the Peter Fonda cameo as a Bible-thumping fanatic or the kid's rendition of the Sex Pistol's song about the anti-Christ.

The Critic's Week screenings are the only ones here preceded by a short. Usually I can do without them, but the short preceding Calvaire allowed me to arrive late and not miss the feature. Calvaire was the first film by French director Fabrice du Welz and stars the husband from "With a Friend Like Harry" that I mentioned yesterday. This was another thriller, though it unintentionally trespassed on sci-fi, as the story is so far-fetched it's almost as if we've entered into a twilight zone that makes the world of Deliverance seem G-rated. This was the first movie I've attended that was booed, and with good reason.

[Tried to get into Jean Luc Godard's Notre Musique film but they don't seat after the film starts.]

I ended the evening with an Australian film - Somersault by first time director Cate Shortland. This was another of the slew of films I've seen featuring a teen-aged girl. This one was a 16-year old who understands her sexual power over men. When her mother catches her smooching with the mother's boy friend, the girl runs away to an Australian ski town. It is the end of the ski season and work is hard to come by. She uses her sexuality to find a place to stay her first night, but she doesn’t always get what she wants. Her struggles are well-told here, and once again it was a pleasure to watch something other than the one-dimensional portrayal of teens that Hollywood inflicts upon us.