May 25 2015
These are the films www.asianculturevulture.com saw at the Cannes Film Festival 2015*
“Carol” – Few can doubt the talent that went into this film. Todd Haynes’ beautifully executed 1950s period drama, about ‘Carol’ (Cate Blanchett) a married mother-of-one and Theresa (Rooney Mara), a young shop assistant, falling for each other, is a deftly handled drama of transgression and desire.
Carol is moneyed, decadent and bold, going where her passions lead her – even though her estranged husband (‘Harge’ – Kyle Chandler) warns her of the consequences. Mara plays Theresa with just the right amount of curiosity and innocence, in what is clearly an act of seduction between a far more powerful and older woman and younger, fresher and more impressionable one.
Expect lots of gongs in the award season (it is likely to get a December release set as it is at Christmas time). It feels about 10-15 years too late though – to really have us moved and exercised (about same sex relationships).
ACV rating: *** (Out of five)
“Moi Roi” (‘My King’) – Very French, and not for those who don’t like lots of talking heads, shouting and passionate dialogue.
It could be Eastenders with a very Gallic twist. That is perhaps harsh – there are excellent performances, both from Emmanuelle Bercot (as Tony) and Vincent Cassel (as Giorgio) and they hold this relationship movie together.
Tony is a mid-30s lawyer, looking for excitement, companionship, and the love of her life.
Giorgio is the smart, prowling Alpha male whom she snares. They battle, bicker and holler at each other and yet the first few months are as blissful and memorable as life ever will be.
Director Maiwenn and co-screenwriter Etienne Comar show a keen ear for smart and realistic dialogue, but the film doesn’t pack the punch it perhaps could or should, (in relation say, to another powerful French relationship movie, “Blue is the Warmest Colour”). ACV rating: ** ½
“Mia Madre” (My Mother) Acclaimed Italian director Nanni Moretti film centres his film around a film director, Magherita (played by Margarita Buy) and her family relationships as she makes a big political movie with a star American, Barry Huggins (John Turturro).
Huggins is temperamental, moody, destructive and has high opinion of his own abilities. Turturro, always good value, makes the character a comic delight (for us) and tests poor Magherita’s patience.
Moretti’s skill is to put the rarefied atmosphere of making a film up against normal family life: a dear and dying mother, a close brother (Moretti himself as Giovanni) assuming the daughterly mantle, an awkward teenage daughter ‘Livia’ (Beatrice Mancini).
It isn’t meant to be comfortable viewing but there are also patches of good humour and humanism in a very rounded, balanced film.
It’s good, but doesn’t hit your four-square in the head. As such, to some it might seem indulgent and slight, and too self-referential, but its heart and intention is good – yet it doesn’t really go anywhere terribly significant. There are shades of Michael Haneke’s far more serious and sombre, “Amour” – a Palme D’Or winner in 2012 but “Mia Madre” is too easy- going and good natured to hit home in the same way. ACV rating: ** ½
The Palme d’or winner is “Dheepan“, see news story…
Films out of competition
“Irrational Man” – What can you say about Woody Allen’s films that haven’t been already? This is small, and entertaining and isn’t going to change the world, but as a piece of entertainment for just over one hour and thirty, it’s a delight.
Joaquin Phoenix is Abe, a supposedly radical and free-thinking philosopher, with a colourful past. He is more or less out to graze in his new faculty, when he meets Jill (Emma Stone), one of his bright, new students. She goes crazy and gets a little obsessed like 20 year old beauties do (at least in Allen films) when they are confronted by sloth, shamelessness, and an indifference to the world, (as Abe so wretchedly encapsulates). Even the delights of a smart and beautiful contemporary, Rita (Parker Posey) fail, at least, initially to move Abe. Lo and behold something happens and Abe’s life finds a new dimension and meaning.
It’s fun and does ask some interesting questions but don’t expect it to lay waste to a cinema near you any time soon. ACV rating: ***
“Mad Max – Fury Road” – Already out and laying waste to a cinema near you, this blockbuster was in Cannes because it had that star quotient and the timing was right for it to have a red carpet screening with all the accompanying hullabaloo.
If you’re a fan of the “Mad Max” stable, this is definitely for you. The action scenes are long and breathless and take you on quite a ride. As for emotion and character – it’s weak and a little too superficial for anyone coming to Mad Max for the first time.
Director George Miller does a good job generally and both Tom Hardy as Max and Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa carry enough charisma without having to say much – or anything at all really.
It’s really for teenage kicks – the one affecting scene definitely is for the boys among us – when half a dozen Amazonian-tall supermodels led by Furiosa emerge from the mist and smoke of tangled metal to Max’s sole and disbelieving eyes. But romantic it ain’t. ACV rating:**
Sailesh Ram, editor www.asianculturevulture.com