Cannes 2010: Part Six + Awards

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Hollywood blockbusters used to be jokingly accounted by the number of onscreen dead, being bad guys killed by Stallone or Bruce Willis or casualties from the natural disaster of choice. The trend invaded this year’s selection, where an alarmingly number of protagonists died at the end of their movies (the trend started early on, so no real spoilers here). Massacres, war and accidents dominated (not that they like comedies around here). Included at the very last minute, Route Irish marked Ken Loach’s 11th competition entry (the surprise selection came so late that it wasn’t even included in the catalogue of the festival) and finds the Brit talking about the devastating effects of war (in this case Iraq).  A man dies while working as a contractor in Baghdad, but his best friend finds his death very suspicious, and starts investigating, which makes some people very uncomfortable. Widely considered the worst competition entry, this is certainly a minor work. It has some great things, and brings some new angles to the discussion, but being a Loach film, it is didactic and Manichean (so much that it could almost be remade as a Vin Diesel vehicle).

Takeshi Kitano has spent the last ten years reinventing himself, with different degrees of success, and many of his fans were looking forward to his return to the yakuza genre, Outrage. It feels and looks as if it had been 15 years ago, but it also looks like Kitano is just buying time before making something new, and hopefully, something superior to Outrage. Also coherent to his own universe, Alejandro González Iñárritu presented his latest catalogue of human misery, Biutiful. Javier Bardem plays a man in the lower depths of Barcelona who upon finding out he has cancer decides to get his act together. Iñárritu shows his usual flair, and just like in his previous films there are some really extraordinary things, and also some endless subplots that go nowhere. One can only hope that he decides to do a comedy one of these days.

This year there was a film from Chad for the first time in competition, L’Homme qui crie (The Screaming Man), a nice, modest film, that in another year wouldn’t have made the cut, will benefit from the spotlight and will be seen by many people who had never seen an African film. A former swimming champion now works at as a lifeguard in a hotel, and although he is dirt poor, he has a happy life, with his wife and young son.  The Chinese buy the hotel and fire the man, who also needs money to pay a contribution to fight the rebels. It is a minor film, but very moving.

The coolest film of the last days (though it was also hated by most critics) was Kornel Mundruczo’s  Szelid Teremtes- A Frankenstein Terv (Tender Son – The Frankenstein Project), an interesting reinterpretation on Mary Shelley’s gothic novel. Dr. Frankenstein is a filmmaker and the monster is a violent runaway teen. Mundruczo subverts all the clichés from the novel, which now takes place mostly during the day, in a crumbling old apartment building or in the snowy stunning mountains near the Austrian border.

Well, the festival is over, and it looks like Roy Andersson and Lars von Trier have already a place for next year, so we’ll have to be there.

Eduardo Lucatero

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2010 Cannes Film Festival Awards:

Palme d’OrUncle Boonmee Who can Recall His Past Lives
Grand Prize (runner-up) — Of Gods And Men
Jury Prize (third place) — A Screaming Man
Best Director — Mathieu Amalric for Tournee
Best Actor (tie) — Javier Bardem for Biutiful and Elio Germano for A Nostra Vita
Best Actress — Juliette Binoche for Certified Copy
Best Screenplay — Lee Chang-dong for Poetry
Camera d’Or (best first film) — Leap Year
Un Certain RegardHaHaHa
Directors’ FortnightLily Sometimes
Critics’ WeekArmadillo
Queer Palm — Gregg Araki’s Kaboom

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