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Saturday, May 14, 2011
Day 3: Holy father help me
Day 3, May 13
It's only three days, and nobody is going to jump off the cliff or flee to North Africa for not having encountered a cinematic revelation. There is NO cinematic revelation, as long as you're clamouring for one. Let's take it easy, for the big guns will start smoking on Sunday and onto next week -- the Dardenne brothers, Terrence Malick, Lars Von Trier, Pedro Almodovar -- and it surprises me that the most memorable treat so far is the Brazillian film about a haunted supermarket and a hexed enterpreneur, "Trabalhar Cansa", by Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra, screened in the Un Certain Regard sidebar.
We pray for good movies like the faithful pray for a Pope. Nanti Moretti has given us one in the Competition: "We Need a Pope" is the Italian director's droll take on the Vatican and the accidental absurdity of its cloistered lifestyle. The old Pope has passed away, and red-caped cardinals of various nationalities -- they could make for a United Colour of Benetton ads -- gather in the Sistine Chapel to elect a new one. This is a great premise, and Moretti milks religious humour out of papal formality and the fact that the commander-in-chief of the Christian faith is the most dreadful job on Earth. Michel Piccoli plays an underdog cardinal who somehow gets elected and then struck down by stage fright, and Moretti himself plays a wisecracking shrink who's called in to cure the new Pope -- Freud vs the Bible, subconscious vs soul. Only that the film loses its momentum and Moretti's joke is deflated after a while. What's left is the sentimental humanisation of the Pope, which is nice, though it won't be canonised to the rank of on-screen epiphany.
So what's most striking about the film is that, since Moretti couldn't possibly film his story in the Vatican, the production design is impressive enough -- and the editing of actual footage is clever -- to convince us that these old, stooped, crumpled men, like earnest boy scouts who can't go home, actually camp togehter under the vaulted ceilings and Michaelangelo's paintings to carry out their sacred and strange assignments.
After a string of less than satisfactory Comepetition titles in the past three days, guess what's showing tomorrow? Well, well, it's "Pirate of the Caribbean 4", to be screened Out Of Competition though. When times are tough, just call in Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz, and things will be fine.
By the way, I don't think I'll have time or energy or faith to go the Thai boxing matches tomorrow on the far end of the beach. The Thai organisers told me it's an "exclusive event" with "limited seats", but if I arrive early they might "help me get in". God bless them (and Thailand). Amen.
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