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Posts from May 2010

Cannes 2010 - Sunday 23 May

Posted Sunday 23 May 2010 by Catharine Des Forges in Festival Reports

Catharine's blog

The last Sunday in Cannes is a great day as they repeat all the Competition films and although you do have to queue it's not nearly as annoying as earlier in the week. There's a holiday feel in the air and most of the hassly, bustly Cannes atmosphere seems to have dissipated. We manage to see both Iñárritu's Biutiful and the Mike Leigh although both being over 2 hours it does kind of wipe out most of the morning and early afternoon. I enjoyed Biutiful - apparently the critics have laid into it but I find it elegiac and I think Javier Bardem puts in an astounding performance. It also reminds me of Dirty Pretty Things with its examination of the underbelly of western society and the exploited illegal immigrants who keep the economy moving. I wasn't a big fan of Happy Go Lucky but Another Year is light years away from this and real return to form. There seems to have been a reunion of casts from 2 decades or so ago and this has a real touch of authenticity to it as though Leigh is examining his own generation, at their happiest and their most desperate. I think it's his best film for some time and of course, there are the usual toe curlingly hilarious moments which characterise his work.

We tidy up the flat and then it's time to catch the bus - we meet the two Adams from the QUAD Derby who have had enough and are going to the airport 5 hours early…I've had a great time though, I feel like we've seen a few highlights with none of the hassle, and although there's been nothing amazing - there are still some very interesting filmmakers at work.

Cannes 2010 - Saturday 22 May

Posted Saturday 22 May 2010 by Catharine Des Forges in Festival Reports

Catharine's blog

One thing has definitely changed which is my ability to get up for 8.30am screenings and we even have time to breakfast by the marina on croissants and coffee. My younger self would have staggered to the cinema with 5 minutes to spare but I'm feeling very bouncy and very awake which is good preparation for a just under 3 hour epic, The Exodus - Burnt by the sun 2. I stay awake through it which is a good sign! for an 8.30am film - I believe the critics have been very critical of it, but actually it is very well made with some well realised scenes although too long. Carol thinks it's too reminiscent of the classic Come and See, whilst falling far short of this in terms of quality, but it's actually really great to see a Russian film here I think, as so little gets distributed in the UK.

We go to the repeat screening of Outside of the Law from the director of Days of Glory - it's had a lot of publicity out here and there were riot police everywhere yesterday for its premiere, as it centres on the struggle for Algerian independence, clearly still an emotive subject in France. Again, I liked this - it's long but has the epic quality of a family drama stretching across generations and its focus on three brothers and their different engagements with exile, oppression and struggle I found gripping. It's well-made, beautiful production design, and some great performances. Word this year is that people are generally disappointed in the programme but I'm genuinely appreciating everything I see, even if not entirely successful, there's certainly ambition in this year's programme.

Simon has got us tickets to the new Ken Loach, Route Irish, so this is next a late addition to the programme. Route Irish is the notorious road to the airport in Baghdad considered the most dangerous highway in the world and the film focuses on the private and unpoliced security companies who patrol it. It begins with a funeral in Liverpool of one of those security men and the investigation by his friend of his last weeks and events leading up to his death. Ken Loach is incapable of making anything other than great films in my view - he is such an uncompromising, fearless and unashamedly political filmmaker. For me, this is not his best work but still streets ahead of nearly everything else and full of passion and rage about the war in Iraq and its effects on those who live and serve there. It also seems to be the only film we've seen under 2 hours, everything is very long.

Saturday night we were going to watch Jacques Cousteau sur le plage but seemed to end up going to dinner instead (!) - but it can get chilly on the beach and we had no blankets...

Cannes 2010 - Friday 21 May

Posted Friday 21 May 2010 by Catharine Des Forges in Festival Reports

Catharine's blog

Simon meets us off of the bus which is very nice as we have absolutely no idea where we are going. I haven't been to Cannes for 3 years and Carol hasn't been for 9 years so am wondering if things will have changed at all. But no! It's exactly the same which is quite comforting strangely although the weather could be better, I think it might be hotter in the UK. We go and drop our stuff and then hit the Debussy for our first film which is in Un Certain Regard, Life, Above All, a South African drama about the stigma of HIV. It centres on 12 year old Chandra, her family and her best friend Esther and the devastation that the illness is causing in the community even though it's not acknowledged. Chandra's baby sister has just died and she is attempting to hold her family together despite the whispers of the neighbours. It's fantastic to see a film which has such strong performances by women at its core and I think what a great film this would be for a children's film festival - the young actress who plays Chanda is fantastic and I think it would really work for an 11+ audience - it's brave and bold and very moving. Obviously we are both in tears by the end.

We head home to change and then meet Ben from Artificial Eye for dinner with Simon and Sally from Chapter, Cardiff. Ben has seen everything and tells us what's hot and what's not - they have a cannibal zombie film he's going to have a look at in the am which sounds intriguing - I think we may have some tickets for something slightly more worthy, however which is a bit of a shame.

We have had to find some glad rags for the 10.30pm red carpet screening which is Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Apichatpong made a film for our last edition of The Artists Cinema so it's nice to see him here even if it's only the back of his head as he comes into the theatre. If you like his films, you'll love this, if not, it may not win him any new fans although it does have a fabulous monkey ghost in it and a great dinner scene where the monkey comes to dinner. It has a classic formality to it, beautiful framing, as with all of his films and is witty and original.

We are very tired now, it's been a long day so home to bed and perhaps the most uncomfortable sofa bed in the world.

Cannes 2010 - Tuesday 18 May

Posted Tuesday 18 May 2010 by Sarah Rutterford in Festival Reports

Sarah's blog

On Tuesday I somehow fail to get up as early as planned (hmm) but make it into the first film I head for: Life, Above All by Oliver Schmitz (his third film to be selected for the festival). Chanda, a young girl in South Africa, is her mother’s eldest and takes charge of the family after her youngest half-sibling dies. Her father is dead, her stepfather a drunken bum, and her mother is mysteriously ill. After rumours force her mother to flee, Chanda follows her to understand the truth behind the hateful gossip that fills their small community. This is an intelligent and competent film about the stigma associated with AIDS in South Africa, and it's easy to watch, though there are some clunky moments.

Next up I’ve secured a ticket for competition contender Des Hommes et des Dieux (Of Gods and Men), but then discover my favourite actress Michelle Williams’ latest, Blue Valentine, is screening simultaneously. After a spot of soul-searching, I’ve just decided on the former (Blue Valentine will perhaps more likely come to the UK etc) when Simon texts saying he met an audience member for an earlier Des Hommes... screening who left “citing boredom”. I need no further persuasion, and happily hit the queue early to ensure my place.

It turns out to be my favourite film of the festival, with completely stunning performances from Williams (not that I’m biased) and Half-Nelson’s Ryan Gosling as a couple with a young daughter who, struggling with the reality of their faltering relationship, go away for the night together in an abortive attempt to get away from their problems. Alongside their troubled present, the film also looks back to the early days of their relationship. It’s both incredibly romantic and anti-romantic - even when the characters are in their first flush of love, director Derek Cianfrance shows how the flaws which eventually prove destructive were there all along. Switching between past and present is an effective device showing how they've changed as their relationship has dwindled; Gosling from perkily handsome to beery and balding; Williams’ once hopeful beauty hardened into a mask of barely-concealed despair.

Both bring the savagery of a failing relationship fully to bear, helped by an intelligent, cliché-resisting script. I leave the cinema thrilled it was so good, if in need of a drink to restore my faith in humanity, and head off for a walk along the beach to sit in the sun before catching the bus back to the airport... feeling very satisfied with my first Cannes experience!

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