The winners of the 69th Cannes Film Festival were announced last night, in the program of which this year were entirely Big Important Directors. The festival is deservedly reproached that the selectors from year to year shuffle the same authors in the competition, turning it into a tournament of champions, where it is very difficult for young people to break through. The structure of the festival is really arranged in such a way that the path to the shortlist most often goes through all circles - from the program of the association of independent film distributors "for their own" to "Criticism Week", then to Directors' Fortnight, to Unofficial View, and finally, in the main competition. So, Christy Puyu and Alain Guirody have moved to the "top floor" this year. There a pantheon of names awaited them there, it was very difficult to stand out against the background of which it was very difficult: among the applicants for this year's prizes were, as they say, all of their own.
Pedro Almodovar, who is not losing ground. Bruno Dumont, who made a 180-degree turn from metaphysical drama to absurd comedy. Brothers Dardenne, masterly able to tell human stories with morality. Olivier Assayas, demonstrating this time his sympathy for luxury brands and the ability to transfer filming to oil-rich regions in order to cover the sky-high budget of co-production. Jim Jarmusch with rock and roll and poetry. Romanians using the bleak post-Soviet environment as an effective texture for a parable. White-haired and shaded by numerous palm branches Ken Loach. In the end, the already inevitable Xavier Dolan, gradually turning into a Cannes mascot. But there was also another movie in the program. We are talking about films that have become a surprise and a real pleasant surprise this year.
After The Escape King and The Stranger by the Lake, it was already clear that Alain Guirody is able to show unconventional sexuality as a universal human tenderness, inscribed in an idyllic landscape and an exciting adventure story. In the new film, the director's alter ego - a highly sensitive screenwriter - travels the Pyrenean hills in search of real wolves and inspiration. Instead, he meets different characters on his way: a beautiful, puffy shepherdess (India Hare), who is ready to give him a rosy-cheeked baby, or the incredibly beautiful Pazolinia rural dunce living with a gloomy grandfather who sits on the porch all day and listens to Pink Floyd. Curpulent bodies, authentic peasant faces, angry old men and rude adolescents, a semiotically significant landscape - all this was before Girody's field of vision.
The contrasts of the landscape repeat the plot schemes (city and village, space and dead end - a mountain road describes the development of family relations). The green hills of the Pyrenees replace the cargo ports of Brittany - France at Guirody is both geographically recognizable and very conventional. There is a place for mythology in it: Aida and Telemachus, Circe and lotophages. Anything that another director would look hysterical and transgressive, be it the unexpected physical attraction of a hefty farmer to the father of his daughter's child, or the assisted suicide of an old man through anal penetration, Girodi turns out sensually and organically, plastically expressive, like a baroque sculpture, and innocent, like court pastoral. "Do you want to act in a movie?" - "No". "Are you sure you're not interested in this at all?" - "Perfect." By avoiding clichés, including queer movie cliches, Girody eludes classifications. In the center of the picture, he puts an almost biblical image of a single father, persecuted by society, a man with a baby in his arms.
In the August issue of the Le Monde diplomatique newspaper, there was a detailed report on the life of mountain shepherds, proletarians of the French meat and dairy industry. One of their main problems, along with poverty and constant loneliness, is wolves: according to French law, they cannot be killed, even if they are dangerous. The director sees this as a metaphor for the necessary evil of the political system and at the same time control over the power of his destructive desires. The name that gives off erectile dysfunction is actually a code of honor and at the same time a rule of survival in the world of predators - this is how you need to look at a wolf: without bending over, looking straight into the eyes so that it does not eat you.
Another film that was difficult to suspect in favorites and which now leads in all polls of the press and viewers is "Tony Erdmann" by the German director Maren Ade, a representative of the "Berlin School" little-known in France - a circle of students and teachers that emerged in the 2000s around the Berlin film and television schools. The main character of "Tony" - an elderly music teacher Winfred - loves stupid jokes and practical jokes. Scaring a postman or learning a funny song about death and old age with children at a concert in honor of a retiring colleague is only part of his repertoire. Winfried has an old sick dog, but she will soon die. He also has an adult daughter Ines, but she lives in a world of globalized capitalism unknown to him, constantly negotiates on the phone and cannot relax for a minute, because she is a foreign consultant to an international oil company in Bucharest.
First, Winfried gives her daughter a surprise visit, but the conversation ends with a bruised finger and a confession that it was the worst weekend of her life. Instead of returning home with nothing, the old man puts on a wig and vampire teeth and invades the lives of Ines and her colleagues in the guise of business coach Tony Erdmann. Juggling corporate terms with ease, he charms her hissing girlfriends and hypocritical bosses, breaks the vicious circle of cocaine parties, fitness clubs and plasticine sex in a hotel room. The tense Ines is at first forced to play along out of a feeling of awkwardness, but gradually (very gradually, the film has been running for almost three hours) she starts to taste.
The engine of this comedy is the embarrassment that Ines feels for her father. Maren Ade for three hours shows how to overcome it, accurately checking the nuances. The conflict of generations develops in parallel with the conflict of management styles. As for the young Romanian economy, which is ashamed of its national characteristics, reconciliation with a provincial dad with vampire teeth for Ines is not only a humanistic demarche, but also liberation and reconciliation with herself. The climactic naked party generally deserves a separate semantic and psychoanalytic analysis of corporeality and elements of folklore in conflict resolution. The awkwardness of the naked body and the impossibility of confusion in the result-oriented corporate culture lies at the heart of this film's strange humor. Perhaps the secret is that these jokes are not very funny and rather evoke tenderness.
La Mort de Louis XIV
In Albert Serra's still-life film The Death of Louis XIV, the legend of French cinema Jean-Pierre Leo in the role of the sun king rots day after day in his own bed - like an exotic fruit on a sumptuous dish. Silks and velvets embroidered with lace, gold and purple, juicy figs and tender wild duck meat - all disgust the feeble king. Each frame of this film is perfect in color and composition, the play of light and shade in the folds of fabric and sfumato snow-white wigs.
Louis, surrounded by nobles and doctors of varying degrees of charlatanism, from the very beginning resembles a corpse - and yet his every gesture is filled with the grace of the Rococo era. The ladies of the court call the king to join in the amusement. With an imperious old man's gesture, he asks the jack to bring him a hat, with which he bows to the ladies while lying down. The king tasted the egg, the king slowly chewed the calisson - every movement is public and evokes a flurry of approval and applause, as in the play of some decrepit great artist. The audience of the Cannes premiere found itself in a similar situation, standing with generous applause showered every word of Jean-Pierre Leo - the icon of the "new wave", who received the "Honorary Palm" for his contribution to cinema at the festival.
Flesh in the century in rationalism has remained the main plot. The king remembers the delights of the Marquise de Montespan as food, and his own entrails, dissected, resemble French delicacies. A significant role in this sacralization of the flesh is played by the Catholic ritual: the cardinal forgives sins before dinner, the rosary hangs from his limp hand. The language used by the nobles to speak to the king matches the decoration. And the last joys - smooth fur of greyhounds, angelic curls of a four-year-old hereditary great-great-grandson or a canary in a massive cage - remain the details of the picture. The king is dead, long live Albert Serra. Even if he is no longer the hero of "Fortnight", but is on a special screening.
One of the prizes of the Week of Criticism went to the French-Cambodian "Diamond Island" Davi Shu. This is not the only film given its name to an elite residential complex in the capital of Cambodia (another new building is the Brazilian "Aquarius" from "Unofficial View"). The entire film features a 3D documentary showing developers selling square meters of the future to new Cambodians. Charming teenagers from 16 to 25 years old, who came from rural regions to conquer the capital, work on its construction. At night, they drive mopeds with neon lights, meet girls, and try to establish romantic relationships with them.
The affection of a simple guy for an older brother on a motorcycle who is engaged in something illegal (possibly related to sex tourism or drugs) is reminiscent of Coppola's "Rumble Fish", but as if re-shot in the spirit of Apichatpong Verasetakun. There are night races, and parties in empty apartments with marble floors, strewn with chips and illuminated by magical iridescent neon. The huge difference between rich and poor looks absolutely fabulous and even mythologically justified, showing through in quiet nocturnal dialogues. In addition, all the actors in the film are amateurs whom the film's director (Cambodian-raised in France) David Shue found in Phnom Penh, literally hanging around a construction site.
Voir du pays
Dolphin and Muriel Koolen moved from Criticism Week to Special Look and immediately took a worthy place there with a film about female soldiers played by Ariana Labed (Lobster, Attenberg) and Stephanie Sokolinsky, better known as the singer Soko … "See the world (Voir du pays)" - this is the slogan the French army invites volunteers to contract service, including women. And now a group of soldiers is flying home after a difficult mission in Afghanistan, where they have lost several people killed and wounded.
As part of the post-traumatic rehabilitation program, they are brought for several days to a five-star hotel in Cyprus, where they will meet with a psychologist and work together on traumatic memories using a virtual helmet and three-dimensional simulation of the experienced situation. It is hard to believe that this practice is indeed the norm in many armies of the world. In their free time, soldiers can relax in the spa and try to communicate normally with ordinary tourists: violent Russians, tanned Germans, red-cheeked Englishmen.
Soldiers look at naked bodies, lollipop swimsuits, blue sea and blue sky, learn to channel their aggression and not look for enemies everywhere. For the time being, opposite-sex colleagues remain comrades, until the young ladies are invited to ride in the mountains by seemingly friendly Cypriots. Modeling of aggression and the influence of military conflicts on peaceful life has been moved to neutral territory - to the closed world of a hotel and an island. In the end, not everyone succeeds in overcoming the worst instincts unleashed by the war - but at least the heroine Soko lets loose a snake brought from Afghanistan in a sock.
Photos: Les Films du Worso, Komplizen Film, Capricci Films, Aurora Films, Archipel 35