Cannes 2009: An embarrassment of riches
Tweets of Doug Young
• Pick up press materials; crowded film schedule just for competition; many more films being shopped to buyers in separate section. — 8:06 AM, May 13
• Starting tomorrow, look for tweets of all films I see at Cannes. — 3:23 PM, May 13
• Fish Tank: scene of teen girl abducting 8 yr old girl, forcing her to walk through fields & pushing into frigid lake; shocking/moving. — 10:42 AM, May 14
• Air Doll: blow-up sex doll becomes human & stabs real man during sex as she thinks he is also an ‘air doll’ & kills him.
• Thirst: Asian M/F vampires vividly killing & feasting on humans in a bright white painted hallway; strained pathos.
• Bright Star: lush period detail; emotionally wrenching scene of breakdown of poet Keats’ lover when she learns he is dead.
• Police, Adjective: nearly fall asleep in film of cop shadowing young man walking to school & back along quiet village streets. — 1:02 PM, May 15
• Precious: obese minor single mom black girl pushed down stairs by her abusive mom w/ infant son in her arms; sassy/emotional. — 4:13 PM, May 15
• Taking Woodstock: far-out visuals when ‘square’ young man who brings concert to NY town drops acid in a VW bus. — 6:32 PM, May 15
• The Red Shoes: restored classic presented by Martin Scorsese w/ exciting dancing & the torment of sacrificing for one’s art; great! — 10:12 PM, May 15
• A Prophet: brutally graphic throat-cutting scene by young man in prison with razor blade he hides in his mouth; absorbing! — 11:12 AM, May 16
• Samson and Delilah: homeless Aboriginal gas-sniffing boy so high he fails to notice his young fem companion hit by car behind him. — 1:08 PM, May 16
• Kinatay: disturbing/ unflinching; stripper tied to bed in basement of house & cavalierly/graphically dismembered by police recruits. — 9:43 PM, May 16
• Vengence: violent/campy Chinese version of gangster film; main character has goofy fleeting memory affliction; conventional.
• Tzar: insane Ivan the Terrible has disloyal soldiers dropped into pit & graphically disemboweled by grizzly bear; good acting.
• Antichrist: graphic scenes of blood-spurting penis, metal rod drilled through leg, fem genitalia cut off — all by husband and wife! — 9:32 PM, May 17
• Looking for Eric: Brit Play It Again, Sam; French soccer star as Bogart; work/class guys don masks of soccer star & confront gangster! — 10:39 AM, May 18
• Vincere: lush period piece about first wife & son of Il Duce being disavowed, shunned and sent to insane asylum.
• Dogtooth: bizarre yet effective story of parents raising kids as dogs; painful scene of daughter bashing her teeth out with barbell! — 11:53 PM, May 18
• Broken Embraces: complex, talky yarn from Almodovar that’s long on plot, short on emotional impact. — 10:52 AM, May 19
• 9 short films: many are so obtuse & artsy that they are incomprehensible.
• Tomorrow at Dawn: French historic war re-enactors take role-playing seriously & challenge pianist & his bro to a real duel. — 4:27 PM, May 19
• Brand New Life: Fem Oliver Twist set in Korea; touching, well-acted story of 8-yr-old girl sent to an orphanage by overwhelmed dad. — 7:48 PM, May 19
• Inglorious Basterds: 4 mesmerizing/exciting set pieces strung together by a thin, goofy WWII revenge fantasy of killing Hitler. — 11:12 AM, May 20
• Eyes Wide Open: agonizing tale of Orthodox Jewish butcher in Holy Land falling into forbidden affair with gay man. — 1:23 PM, May 20
• Nymph: atmospheric/marital mood piece; Asian husband gets lost in mysterious forest w/ tree spirits & returns — or does he? — 4:13 PM, May 20
• The White Ribbon: dark, brooding tale of strange/violent goings on in small, sternly religious German town before WWI. — 10:02 PM, May 20
• In the Beginning: absorbing modern tale of small-time French crook who deceives small town into building section of hwy! — 11:35 AM, May 21
• Time That Remains: quirky/trifling attempt at wringing humor of Arab/Israeli conflict by man remembering parents. — 9:36 PM, May 21
• Dr. Parnassus: Heath Ledger’s last film a visual dazzler w/strained plot of old man making deals w/devil & a magical mirror. — 10:39 AM, May 22
• The Silent Army: strangely superficial yet harsh; kid soldiers in Africa; young girl takes poison to save man, vomits blood. — 1:23 PM, May 22
• Enter the Void: POV of young man’s spirit floating over Tokyo after killed in drug bust: very graphic sex, inc’l climax view inside coitus! — 5:04 PM, May 22
• Map of Sounds of Tokyo: formulaic story of fem assassin falling for target; businessmen eat sushi off prone naked fems!— 9:31 PM, May 22
• Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky: formulaic/melodramatic saga of cold/forbidden love affair before she invents perfume Chanel No. 5. — 1:09 PM, May 23
• Closing ceremony: see 32 feature films, 9 shorts in 11 days. — 7:12 PM, May 24
• Most films contain graphic, torturous violence and near pornographic sex; just the way Cannes crowd likes ’em!
• Dogtooth no dog at Cannes; wins Un Certain Regard prize; well-deserved for uniqueness alone; yet cold & odd film. — 7:52 PM, May 24
• Christoph Waltz wins for playing Nazi Jew hunter with slick, twisted, sinister fervor & relish in Inglorious Basterds. — 8:03 PM, May 24
• Charlotte Gainsbourg wins deserved best actress for emotionally/ physically raw/ exposed wife in marital-horror Antichrist. — 8:11 PM, May 24
• Brilliante Mendoza wins best director for Kinatay; critically ridiculed as gratuitous, tho gripping/morally difficult, if brutal, film. — 8:16 PM, May 24
• The White Ribbon wins Palme d’Or; no better or worse than any other top-notch contenders (I was rooting for Fish Tank). — 8:27 PM, May 24
• Awards ceremony blissfully short — no longwinded speeches, no dance numbers, no back-patting folderol; Oscar take note! — 8:28 PM, May 24
• 2nd yr at Cannes ends; faith in films unshaken, tho tested w/ ‘out there’ selections by visionary artists & some blah, convt’l films. — 9:06 PM, May 24
• We will see if any of these films make it to US shore — uncensored! — 9:07 PM, May 24
Doug Young is The Statesman’s outstanding film critic. He works for Sen. Mark Udall.