Saturday, June 20, 2009

More Fun With LA Weekly: "Cannes You Believe It" Edition

Sometimes I feel like I'm missing out on a memorable cinematic experience by not attending the Cannes Film Festival. But then again, according to Scott Foundas, perhaps not so much:
“It’s very intense, some of the films are very long, and some of them are very weird,” observed the British screenwriter and novelist Hanif Kureshi of his experience serving on the 2009 Cannes Film Festival competition jury. “I saw things I’ve never seen in my life in some of these films,” he added during the annual closing-night press conference, perhaps flashing back on Best Actress winner Charlotte Gainsbourg’s act of clitoral mutilation midway through Lars von Trier’s Antichrist, or the large CGI penis that penetrates an equally photorealistic vaginal canal in the final minutes of Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void, the penultimate competition title to screen for the press and the one that symbolically brought Cannes 2009 — if not cinema itself — to an apocalyptic close.
Pity I couldn't attend. I don't mean to post the entire article here but I'm not really sure what to leave out. It's all quite noteworthy:
The grandest folly of a festival in which it was often difficult to parse the radical from the ridiculous, Noé’s self-proclaimed “psychedelic melodrama” arrived 15 minutes longer than the published 150-minute running time, leading to widespread speculation that the Cannes version was in fact “unfinished” — a generous designation for a film that should never have been started in the first place. Set in a neon-drenched, nocturnal Tokyo that one British critic aptly likened to a very expensive screen saver, Noé’s film opens with an extended hallucinogenic trip experienced by Oscar (monosyllabic nonprofessional actor Nathaniel Brown), an American ex-pat drug dealer who, like most of the film’s thoroughly repellent characters, harbors no higher ambition in life than to get high. (“Everyone who has a real job is a slave,” he assures us, speaking, one suspects, for the director himself.) Tweaking the subjective camera gimmick of the 1947 film noir Lady in the Lake, Noé literally shows us things through Oscar’s eyes, with intermittent frames of black meant to represent the blinking of the character’s eyelids. Then, around the 25-minute mark, Oscar takes a bullet to the chest, watches his entire stultifying life flash before his eyes like an acid-laced version of A Christmas Carol, and spends the rest of the movie as a disembodied spirit floating through the Tokyo skies, where he serves as a sort of guardian angel to the slutty, go-go dancer sister (Pax De La Huerta) with whom, in life, he enjoyed a pseudo-incestuous bond.
Oh, so it's one of those movies. I don't know, it sounds too much like a rip-off of Sleepless In Seattle.
No invented horrors, however, could compare with the real ones of Filipino director Brillante Mendoza, whose family-porn-theater escapade Serbis upset the delicate sensibilities of more than a few festivalgoers during last year’s edition. This year, Mendoza was back with Kinatay, a considerably darker and more upsetting descent into the underbelly of Manila, set mostly over the course of one long night in which a young police cadet becomes an accomplice to the murder and mutilation of a debt-addled prostitute. In something like real time, Mendoza shows the woman’s abduction, killing and the hacking up of her corpse, interspersed with many long scenes of the cadet riding around in a darkened van going to and from the scene of the crime.
Guess it's better to be a slutty Tokyo go-go dancer than a debt-addled Manila prostitute, huh?
Singled out by no less a Cannes veteran than Roger Ebert as the worst film ever to screen at the festival, Kinatay (the title is Tagalog for “slaughter”) isn’t pleasant to watch, nor is it intended to be...Mendoza, who was one of the only directors present at Cannes this year to use such explicit violence for a discernible artistic purpose rather than for superficial titillation, seems aghast at the potential brutality of his fellow man, and how those men can wash away their sins with a shower and a change of shirt — sometimes even a police shirt. To that end, he has made a duly aghast film that cannot easily be shaken — a feeling evidently shared by Huppert’s jury, which awarded Mendoza the Best Director prize to the lusty boos of the international press corps. (Defending the decision afterward, jury member Nuri Bilge Ceylan, the winner of last year’s directing prize for Three Monkeys, praised Mendoza’s film as “one of the most powerful, original films in the competition,” while Kureshi acerbically added, “This is not a dating film.”)
Well, depends on what kind of date.


Herr Zrbo said...

Didn't Ebert name The Brown Bunny as the worst movie he'd ever seen at Cannes?

Speaking of which, I was watching Big Love recently, the HBO drama about the polygamist family, and I realized that the actress who plays the ultra conservative "raised on the polygamist compound" wife is the one who did the deed to Gallo in the Brown Bunny.

Anonymous said...

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