Cannes Film Festival...
George bicycled 600 miles from Paris to Cannes for the film festival before settling in to watch five or six films a day. Below is an excerpt of a few of the films he has seen since the festival opened last Thursday. Enjoy.
HIDDEN - Michael Haneke
The Austrian master Michael Haneke never fails to spice his movies with confrontational moments that have his audiences gripping their armrests in terror of what might happen next. He stays true to from in, "Hidden," his competition entry about an upscale French family terrorized by someone who has them under surveillance.
One of those classic Haneke moments in this one is an altercation between a bicyclist and the lead character, Daniel Auteuil, the host of a TV talk show on books, who blindly steps out into the street between cars, nearly knocking over the bicyclist. Like the typical pedestrian, he starts haranguing the bicyclist, calling him a "dickhead", rather than apologizing for his negligence. This cyclist, a husky, young black man, rather than ignoring him and continuing on his way, harangues back. It is, after all, a Haneke movie.
BASHING - Masahiro Kobayashi
The film opens most promisingly with a young woman speeding into the camera on a mountain bike down a quiet urban side street. She swings past the camera and in the next cut swiftly dismounts, puts down her kickstand and rushes up two flights of stairs to her apartment.
If she'd only have locked her bike, I would have felt in safe hands with a director telling things as they are, but rarely in cinema does anyone lock their bike. It takes time and breaks the rhythm. They are motion pictures, after all.... Time wasn't an issue in this film, as it had a tidy running time of 82 minutes.
Rather than being celebrated for her idealism and her ordeal [as a kidnapped victim in Iraq] she is ostracized and tormented, thus the title "Bashing.". And so is her father, forced to resign from his job, turning him suicidal. The film is based on a true story, but there is no explanation why she is treated as she is.
LEMMING - Dominik Moll
[This film] is slick and full of snappy dialogue, electronic gadgetry and surprises, including a wife tossing a glass of wine into the face of her husband at a dinner party. London bookies had it pegged as the favorite to win the Palm d'Or. Its first hour is exhilarating film-making, which was enough to leave me feeling satisfied, though many regret its marginally trespassing on the realm of the surreal.
KILOMETER ZERO - Hiner Saleem
This film accentuated the hatred the Kurds and Arabs have for one another. A Kurdish soldier is stuck with an Arab driver for a several day trip returning a corpse in a casket to its family. It is lashed to the top of their car and draped with an Iraqi flag. It is quite an image, and even more so when they become a parade of several dozen such vehicles thru the desert. This competition film won't win any awards, but at least it gave a picture of life in Iraq.
DOWN IN THE VALLEY - David Jacobsen
Edward Norton, brilliant as always, plays a down-on-his-luck cowboy from South Dakota working at a gas station in San Fernando Valley. He doesn't even own a car, and knows enough to tell motorists stuck in gridlock, "You don't belong in there, you belong out here," just one of his many homespun remarks in the remarkable script. Early on, as he is putting gas into the car of several teens heading to the beach, he is invited to join them by 18 year old Evan Rachel Wood. He is naive enough to ask his boss if he can have the rest of the day off. He can, but not if he wants to keep his job. He elects to go off with Wood, the first time he's ever been to the beach. Thus begins a romance her father, a law enforcement officer of some sort, is not happy about at all.
WHERE THE TRUTH LIES – Atom Egoyan
Starring former bicycle messenger movie character Kevin Bacon along with Colin Firth as a pair of '60s entertainers a la Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. Egoyan is known for his distinctive intellectual touch, but there wasn't much distinctive in this tale of a woman reporter trying to solve the mystery of a dead woman found in their hotel room years after the event.
LAST DAYS – Gus Van Sant
Michael Pitt mumbles and cowers for 90 minutes in and around a mansion in the woods until his fatal end. The French speakers were lucky, or unlucky, to have sub-titles to make sense of his sporadic utterings. This didn't have the power of "Elephant", Van Sant's Palm d'Or winner of a couple of years ago.