Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Cannes Film Festival 2013 blog: Part Four
Unmade films, fine performances and false advertising. It's just another day at Cannes...
As the films were mounting up, I decided it was time for another doc, and playing as part of Quinzaine des Realisateurs was Jodorowsky's Dune, the story of the greatest film never made. Directed by Frank Pavich, it's largely a heads-to-camera doc, with Jodorowsky himself relaying his vision for the film that would "change humanity"! With input from many of his collaborators on the project, Pavich provides a detailed account of all the work that went into the film. Jodorowsky is a charismatic character and a raconteur extraordinaire. One also gets the impression that you may have to take some of his stories with a grain of salt as many appear to have fallen prey to some enthusiastic embellishment. However, the documentary is a fascinating insight into the obsession and determination that drive Jodorowsky in his ambition and vision, and it's a thoroughly entertaining and amusing watch to boot.
I was very excited to see Mads Mikkelson on screen again this year after his performance in The Hunt which was one of my highlights at Cannes 2012. This time he returned in Arnaud de Palliere's Michael Kohlhaas where he plays the titular character in a film set in 16th century France. After suffering an injustice, and being a man of principles, Kohlhaas looks for justice (initially through legal means and then choosing to take the law into his own hands) with massive repercussions. It's an epic story and, once again, Mikkeksen doesn't disappoint. The story at times seems familiar even with hints of Robin Hood but with such a capable actor at the helm it's still worth a watch.
James Gray's The Immigrant
Next up was James Gray's The Immigrant. Set in 1921, Ewa Cybulska (Marion Cotillard) and her sister Magda leave their home in Poland in search of the American dream and a better life in New York. However, her dreams are shattered from the outset when her sister is quarantined with suspected TB and Ewa is threatened with immediate deportation due to actions of 'low morals' during the boat trip over. Enter Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix) who she begs for help so that she can remain in America. At what price, however, does his help come? Also starring Jeremy Renner (as Bruno's charismatic cousin), the film is a marvellous vehicle for Cotillard, who is spellbinding. While the film doesn't have anything new to say, its leads are interesting and Gray manages to avoid black and white characters, with each having shades of good and bad, making for a much more interesting story.
Nothing Bad Can Happen
A title like Nothing Bad Can Happen arouses suspicion at Cannes where, let's face it, something (very) bad is happening at the vast majority of the films on offer! Well, if a film could be sued for false advertising due to a misleading title then Katrin Gebbe's offering would warrant a court appearance. Based on true events, a young man Tore (played by Julius Feldmeier) joins an extreme religious group called the Jesus Freaks and is desperate to cling to a belief. So when he meets Benno (Sascha Gersak) and his family, he begins to believe that it is God's way that brought them together and he soon moves in with this strange family. What follows is a series of increasingly manipulative and abusive behaviour from Benno (and then also his wife) which makes for very difficult and uncomfortable viewing. While it may be hard to watch and (personally for me) a struggle to identify with what compels Tore to stay, the performances are undeniably good. Gersak gives an intriguing and powerful portrayal of a character who goes from someone who initially appears to be venting some of his frustrations with his life on the new arrival but gradually becomes more psychotic and evil. Regardless, I learned something vital - never trust a title at Cannes!
Posted by IFI at 4:47 PM