At the 66th Cannes film Festival, off-screen drama attempts to steal the limelight from on-screen offerings. Last Friday, the news of a diamond robbery at a hotel room from which a burglar made off with US$1 million (about 30 million baht) worth of Chopard jewellery astonished (and amused) festival-goers; the crime took pace hours after the screening of Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring, about brazen heists of celebrity homes.
Like Father, Like Son .
On the same day, Oscar winner and Cannes jury member Christoph Waltz experienced a moment that could have been lifted from a Tarantino movie when, during an outdoor interview with a TV station, a man walked up, pointed a pistol at him and fired _ a blank shot. He also claimed to have a hand grenade, which turned out to be phoney too.
But of course in the cocoon of the cinemas, on-screen drama proposes to be more potent and, at the same time, safe. The robbery and the Waltz incident didn't ruffle the mad rhythm of the world's most influential movie festival, and this year Cannes proves its heft and relevance, as long as we stop looking for the lost, overrated tribe of masterpieces.
The Competition has a few head-scratchers, but in general the films are fairly robust _ and we still have four more days to go until the Palme d'Or is announced on Sunday evening.
Meanwhile the sidebar Un Certain Regard has been pretty hearty; again with a few embarrassments but for the most part any excessive complaints would be unjust.
In the Competition, Jia Zhangke's tableau of Chinese discontent A Touch Of Sin and the Coen brothers' surprisingly moving Inside Llewyn Davis, about a pre-Dylan folk artist, have racked up critical support (which has nothing to do with the Steven Spielberg-led jury's decision). More quietly satisfying, however, is a Japanese parenting drama Like Father, Like Son, a baby-switching story directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. A filmmaker whose touch is famously delicate, Kore-eda explores the doubts, tensions and invisible quivering of family dynamics and ponders the question of whether blood is thicker than everything else, including love. The two families in the film _ one rich, the other not _ discover that their six-year-old boys were switched at birth and now go through the process of trying to undo all that they've done in six years _ undoing, un-parenting, un-loving.
Kore-eda's films have had their releases in Thailand, including Nobody Knows and I Wish, and let's hope the new one will find its way to our shores soon. Family mess, more extroverted and melodramatic, is also the subject of Asghar Fahardi's The Past. The director is Iranian, but the film, which is in French, feels very French, or internationalised.
Fahardi's previous domestic drama A Separation digs into Teheran's social divides and throws a harsh light on how justice affects personal choices, and The Past, while skilfully written, pales in comparison. French actress Benerice Bejo plays a woman who's going to divorce her Iranian husband while pursuing a new relationship with a man (Tahar Rahim) whose wife is in a coma. The emotional rollercoaster works all right, though the film feels more like an exercise than a show of conviction. Obviously, this is a strong contender for best script _ and it's possible that the film will come to Thai cinemas later.
A few words on other Competition titles: Family mess (again) is the subject of Alex van Warmerdam's Borgman _ though this time the trouble is engineered by a group of mysterious vagabonds/fascists who infiltrate the home of a well-to-do family and disrupt their bourgeois complacency. Satire and violence mix in this funny cinematic game from the Netherlands _ the first Competition film from that country in 38 years (Thailand had two in the past decade). Then, we have the movie that perhaps recalls the mood of real-world crimes in Cannes _ Japanese gangster film Shield Of Straw by Takashi Miike, which clearly isn't the prolific director's best effort. And from Mexico, director Amat Escalante serves up the Central American dishes of drugs, desert, torture (an inflammable penis, literally), and family bonds in Heli, an unconvincing attempt at poeticising the brutal existence of rural Mexico.
But of course, the crime and misdemeanours that a lot of Cannes critics are waiting for is the Bangkok-set Only God Forgives, with the fist-fighting Ryan Gosling and sword-wielding Vithaya Pansringarm. The film will have its red-carpet premiere tonight, and we will have a report online. The Palme d'Or will be announced on Sunday.
Inside Llewyn Davis .
About the author
- Writer: Kong Rithdee
Position: Deputy Life Editor