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Friday, May 20, 2011
Day 9: Drive, Ryan, Drive!
May 19, Day 9
I was wrong. I thought he would come and go peacefully. But Lars Von Trier managed to get himself into a bewildering scandal, again. This afternoon, Cannes officially "condemned" the Danish filmmaker for his Nazi-related remarks and declared him a "Persona Non Grata". It has nothing to do with his film, but perhaps it has everything to do with his personality, and the loose-lipped prankster proves that he never fails to make Cannes more exciting than it deserves to be.
Let's leave it at that for now. Amidst the LVT hullabaloo, we had TWO good films in one day, a bonanza for bleary-eyed critics whose batteries are almost finished after 9 days. In the afternoon, we watched Jafar Panahi's "This is Not a Film" -- which, of course, is a film indeed, a casual, spontaneous documentation of a day in a life of the Iranian filmmaker who has been under house arrest and who may face a 20-year ban from making films. Featuring Panahi in his own home, his pet iguana, a recalcitrant neighbour's dog, the film is an accidental portrait of the filmmaker's quiet anxiety and, incidentally, the power and machination of cinema at its most instinctive."This Is Not a Film" is honest, funny and intriguing, and it comes across as an act of protest precisely because it's not a protest film. One of the festival's best film for sure.
Then in the evening,"Drive" drove me down a vortex of visceral violence and trippy abstraction. Billed as an action film and starring Ryan Goslin and Carrey Mulligan, this LA-set thriller skirts a film noir tradition, reeks with 1980s flair, and invents its own hazy, deliberate rhythm. The director is Nicholas Winding Refn (the "Pusher" trilogy and "Valhalla Rising") and though he might have inherited the stylistic braruva from Micahel Maan, David Cronenberg and even Quentin Tarantino, the crisp, shocking, abrupt turn of violence is entirely his own.
Gosling plays a stoic Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a wheelman for gangsters, and Mulligan is a married woman who lives next door. Cool as Uranus, the driver is a dormant scorpion who lies in wait before he stings. Just when we thought action movies are just action movies, Refn and Gosling show us that this tired and well-beaten genre still has new possibilties and cinematic implications, and that action films can be slow but gut-twisting -- and also surprisingly sad.
The good news is that the film will open in Thailand in a few months. Yes!
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