There seems to be more sparkling wine at Cannes than sparkling performances this year, but there are some gems worth the Palme D'Or, or at least the effort to leave the party by the Med and head into a theatre.
After watching Natalie Imbruglia perform at the Replay Jeans party last night in front of the likes of Paris Hilton and co, I went to bed early (1am) and contemplated just how much rosé win is consumed over this festival. Think the phrase ‘like a sea of wine’ might be apt. I’ve done a few gallons myself. But that is part of the whole shebang. Meeting, greeting, letting people know you’re still alive – although too many of these festivals might just test my mettle.
Catching films comes first, though there haven’t been too many films to rave about this year. Yesterday, I did see a few pictures that must win something.
The excellent Gods and Men, directed by Xavier Beauvois, tells the story of a gang of monks ensconced in a monastery atop a mountain in Maghreb who live in harmony with their Muslim counterparts despite the ever-growing violence that surrounds the region. It’s strongly tipped for the top award.
Poetry, by Korean director Lee Chang Dong, is also a cracker that tells the tale of an elegantly dressed sixty-something, Mija (beautifully realised by Yun Junghee), who takes up poetry and whose optimism and courage is juxtaposed against the cruel world in which we live. Intelligent, funny and delightfully observed, it is a joy.
Maybe the prize for the most violent and amoral flick must go to Takeshi Kitano who, with Outrage, goes back to his roots with another dyed-in-the-wool Yakuza picture that might be his best in a decade.
Outrage opens with a time-honoured Japanese banquet hosted by the Sanno-kai mob. Minor boss Kato (Tomokazu Miura) berates Ikemoto (Jun Kunimura), the boss of an offshoot outfit, for being too friendly with the less prestigious Murase Mob. This seemingly small conversation subsequently triggers off a series of vendettas and convoluted double crosses that provoke much traditional cutting-off of fingers, gangland executions and a rather harrowing scene in a dentist’s chair robbed from Marathon Man – all of which give the director ample opportunity to wow us with his bone dry sense of humour.
Of course, Takeshi stars, and when asked at the press conference why he always features in his own films, said in his gruff downtown Tokyo growl, “If I put a famous actor in to play a part, then the film is not about me any more, as the audience will look at him and not my work. I want all the credit.”