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Thursday, May 19, 2011
Day 8: Love! Honour! Revenge! In 3D!
May 18, Day 8
Cosmic calamity is the in thing. While Terrence Malick sees astrophysics as a Biblical wonder, Lars Von Trier, never one to let himself be outdone, has literally thrown a planet into his characters. LVT's new film, "Melancholia", consists of one long wedding scene (Kirsten Dunst is the bride), and the rest concerns the growing depression of the main characters as a rogue planet, called Melancholia, is hurtling towards Earth. Of corse Melancholia is as real as it is metaphorical, especially when Dunst preplexes me by suggesting that that she knows the "magic cave" that might save them all.
Let's say the film has got positive responses. Von Trier doesn't pull punches, but his outrageous scheme seems more grounded and less spiteful this time. I'll say more in the Friday article. The good news is that the film, like Malick's "The Tree of Life", will open in Bangkok soon.
In the evening, we switched gear. Cannes Competiton this year encapsulates the long journey of cinema in two films: the black-and-white silent film "The Artist" and the 3D screening of "Harakiri: Death of a Samurai." It's the first time in the festival's 64-year history to feature a 3D title in the Competition (three years ago, the animation "Up" was shown Out of Competition). The mood was quite jolly at the press screening, as esteemed and not-so-esteemed critics donned the goggles (mostly over their glasses) and watched the solemn Samurai saga unfold in Salle Debussy. Those who expected a Miike bloodbath will be disappointed; "Harakiri", a remake of a 1962 film, is a sombre drama about the meaning of honour, and how the venerable code of samurai may compromise the value of humanity. Ebizo Ichikawa plays an unemployed samurai who hatches a revenge against the death of his stepson, who pulls off a "suicide bluff" with a bamboo sword at the House of Li, ruled by Koji Yakucho.
Miike, a prolific director best known for "Audition", "Ichi the Killer" and recently "13 Assassins", proceeds with unhurried confidence, crafting a classical tragedy rather than boiling up a stew pot -- that means the film feels slow and dragging in the mid-section. After adjusting to the virtual depth, my eyes perceived the bright, vivid image; the layers of depth is fitting with the Japanese architecture, with multiple paper screens and succession of inner rooms. Still, I feel that Miike could've exploited the 3D technology more. The fight sequence comes pretty late in the story, but its brash energy and masterful rhythm make it worth the wait (see the film's trailer here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5cEG2lxp40)
When the Lumiere brothers invented the motion picture 115 years ago, I believe they didn't set out to make black and white, silent and 2D image. Why would they want that? Of course, they wanted to replicate the actual experience of our eyes as they see the world, with colour, depth and perspective. It took a long time for that to happen on the screen, and a longer time for Cannes to embrace it, for better or worse.
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