Monday, May 27, 2013
Cannes Film Festival 2013 blog: Part Three
Day Four in Cannes and it's all about queuing. Long queues. Despite being full of industry professionals who you'd imagine would be the most reverential of audiences, Cannes audiences seem to have the worst cinema etiquette! Phones are constantly lighting up - it's half understandable as people are often logging on to check on ticket availability - but even at the bigger competition screenings, when they announce that all phones should be switched off, there's a constant glow of mobile phone activity.
Another Cannes staple is the constant in and out as people come and go - again this is partly understandable as time is precious, so if you find yourself at a dud screening, there's always something else just about to start elsewhere that you could hedge your bets on instead. But what is completely infuriating is the constant chat. During L'Inconnu du Lac/Stranger by the Lake, three people had a full-blown conversation and then proceeded to giggle like nervous children at every sex scene. At The Great Beauty/La Grande Bellezza, the people beside me - who clearly weren't getting into Sorrentino's crazy world - were unable to keep their frustrations to themselves and had to critically debate the film there and then. At Grisgris my neighbours managed to combine a lot of my pet peeves - they left the sound on their phone on, took and sent texts, and decided to give a running commentary of the whole film!
Rant nearly over! Today, being the day of queues, Cannes etiquette once again took me by surprise. With all the talk about Nicholas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives, this morning's screening was always going to be in demand, and as Cannes goers realise, that means queuing. For a long time! So two hours in advance of the screening time, I had my place in the queue. However, for the next 90 minutes, new arrivals barged in front with no shame or skipped the queue to join friends. Where is the Cannes Cinema Etiquette? Survival of the fittest?!
So onto Only God Forgives. This divided audiences and critics at its first screening yesterday. But I was pleasantly surprised. It doesn't deserve the vitriolic response it's received in some quarters. Yes it's flawed, resembles a Greek tragedy and has many thinly developed characters. But it held my attention. Set in a Bangkok boxing club which acts as a front for drug business, Julian (a non-emotive Ryan Gosling) is pressured by his mother Crystal (Kirsten Scott Thomas) into avenging the death of his brother who was killed after murdering a young prostitute. Scott Thomas must have had great fun with her OTT role and it's a beautifully lit film. But boy is it violent? Let's just say it gives a whole new meaning to 'see no evil, hear no evil'. That was quite a lot of blood to stomach so soon after breakfast!
And from one queue to the next. As we draw towards the latter stages of the Festival there are reruns of some of the official selection, giving everyone a chance to see some of the bigger titles that they may have missed earlier in the week. So, for another two hours, I stood patiently in line (when else do you think I'd have time to write blogs!) for Arnaud Desplechin's Jimmy P. Based on a true story it follows Jimmy Picard (Benicio Del Toro), a Native American Blackfoot who fought in World War II in France. Upon his return and suffering from a range of symptoms including headaches and temporary blindness, Jimmy is admitted to a mental institution for soldiers. But when no simple medical solution can be found, the hospital management drafts in Georges Devereux (Mathieu Amalric), a French anthropologist and specialist in Native American culture. The relationship between doctor and patient forms the basis of this simply told story. With no huge dramatic climax, it's a gently engaging story with solid performances from both the leads and supporting cast (Gina McKee gives a lovely understated performance as George's partner Madeleine).
Inside Llewyn Davis
Next up was a change in tone as I grabbed a late opportunity to see the Coen Brothers' latest, Inside Llewyn Davis. After a lot of very sombre films with challenging subject matters, it was a refreshing change of pace to enter the world of Ethan and Joel Coen for their story of a young folk singer in Greenwich Village in 1961. Struggling to make a living from his music and living on the kindness (which may be about to wear thin) of friends and family, Llewyn Davis is a little lost in life! Oscar Isaac is a wonderful lead and ably carries the film on his shoulders. The film starts brilliantly but somewhat loses its way during a road trip to Chicago with John Goodman in the back seat! But overall it's an enjoyable watch. There's the usual wonderful soundtrack that one has to come to expect from the Coens, but you'll even get to tap your foot along to a rendition of The Auld Triangle performed in Aran sweaters! It may not go down as a Coen classic but it's still a very enjoyable ride.