One year ago
Dazed and confused on the thought that Cannes 2016 is the first film festival I have ever attended. This, in the light of the fact that the second one will probably be the one I’m organising, Câmpulung Film Fest.
Adieu Bonaparte / Egypt, Youssef Chahine, 1985
Selected in Cannes Classics, the film is a historic drama following Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt, (insert personal ignorance) seen from the perspective of a family of Egyptians and one French “enlightened” general.
First film seen in Cannes and I fell asleep directly for the first 20 min, in the Salle Buñuel.
Dreadfully ironic as it presents in a righteous, noble, romanticised light the ideology and rationale considered to be at the base of Islamic extremism nowadays: (the West pillaging distant lands for resources, aggressing other religions) - the French general shouts at Napoleon “Why not take back to France an entire pyramid?”
Characters display the “old fashion realism” - they’re hyper talkative, passionate, always moving.
What makes a Cannes Classic? It feels we treat many old films, the ones that display passion and commitment to the act and to the art, as we would treat our grandparents. Non-judgemental, with a great deal of affection and care.
Tramontane / Lebanon, Vatche Boulghourjian, 2016
Selected in the Semaine de la Critique, Tramontane tells the story of a blind young singer who upon trying to renew his passport discovers that the papers he had until then were fake. This leads him to discover that he has been adopted under unclear circumstances.
Personal and national identity is at stake in this beautifully shot and passionate Lebanese drama, as we’re led to believe that, in general, the themes that the movies present are always more profound when they come from societies and cultures going through turmoil.
Great performance from the main character, songs played entirely, mystery driven narrative form.
Two Lovers and a Bear / Canada, Kim Nguyen, 2016
Love story set in small town from the far Northern regions of Canada. Script lacks in logic and depth what gains in the simple beauty of its pictures. Comic release through the introduction of a CGI manoeuvred talking polar bear.
But pictures take you so far, when, after a while, you feel like you’re watching the love story of two shortsighted people, making terribly poor life choices, the ending being ultimate proof of it.
The marching army of conventional cinema is present allover despite the film’s apparent indie unconventional vibe.
Graduation / Romania, Cristian Mungiu, 2016
Watched in Grand Theatre Lumiere, at the 18.30 screening, in the presence of the team, bow tied and elated.
The most balanced Romanian film in ages, in terms of being extremely careful to offer screen space to every little side of the story. Felt almost too darn balanced, made me wish for a slap of biased opinion.
Brick strong narrative, the intricate causal chain paints an impressive Romanian small-town labyrinth of human relationships. Only flaw I might find here is that it fails to better alternate the dynamics between scenes’ intensities, as action propels the intensity on an straight ascending path. What gets lost is the mood imprinted into small town life, the stillness of it, the lack of horizon. Nuri Bilge Ceylan offers this alternation masterfully.
The Last Face / USA, Sean Penn, 2016
The single most horrible and shameful piece of cinema since forever, The Last Face is an orgy of white characters patting each other’s back, in a disgrace to the real tragedy of people in Africa. Will not even give it another single thought.
Revenged by the copious booing at the end of the screening.
The Salesman / Iran, Asghar Farhadi, 2016
Personally, the festival ended on a high’s high with The Salesman. Coming from previous evening’s late night parties and with the whole event coming to an end, people were falling asleep all over the cinema. And that’s for the 12 AM screening, can’t even begin to think the sleeping beauties that came for the 8.30 AM projection. 🙂
The Salesman is, cliche alert, a dense and slow-burning drama following the turning of a good man, bad. As written in the Guardian, “Farhadi said he was interested in exploring what people felt to be proportionate vengeance. <I’m not talking about uncontrolled violence, but pre-meditated. Sometimes you are convinced that a violent act you are going to do is justified,> he said. <Like terrorists; they feel they have good reason to be violent. Sometimes you can believe you are entitled to be violent and build up a whole body of reasons which lead up to the act. A responsible and kind man can turn into a potentially violent being.>”
For his swiss-watch craftsmanship, Farhadi got the Best Script Award this year.
As for me, I got lucky for being my girlfriend’s boyfriend.
Danger rests now in always dreaming to return to Cannes.
© Bogdan Stamatin 2020-2021