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Cannes Film FestivalVenice 09: The Bad Lieutenant!

Posted on Friday September 4, 2009, 13:44 by Damon Wise in Cannes Film Festival
Venice 09: The Bad Lieutenant!

Waiting in the queue for The Bad Lieutenant Port Of Call: New Orleans (to give it its full title), I couldn't decide what to think. After all, it's a remake of an Abel Ferrara film, which can only be a bad thing. But it's made by Werner Herzog, which can only be a good thing. It turned over in my mind with a mechanical precision – bad, good, bad – until the credits began, appropriately enough, with a shot of a snake swimming in black water. The scene, it turns out, is a New Orleans cop shop in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the holding cell is filling up with water, rising to neck level on its lone inmate. Upstairs, soon-to-be promoted police sergeant Terence McDonough (Nicolas Cage) is talking business with a colleague (Val Kilmer), and when they realise there's still someone down there, there's a darkly comic scene in which they wonder whether or not to leave the poor guy there. Will Terence do something good? Bad? Good? Bad? Finally, despite wearing $55 cotton boxer shorts, he jumps into the filthy water to spring the jailbird. It bodes well for a film that, despite some considerable flaws and a daring, out-there performance from Cage, is pretty good too.
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Cannes Film FestivalVenice 09: The Road

Posted on Thursday September 3, 2009, 16:00 by Damon Wise in Cannes Film Festival
Venice 09: The Road

Venice began this year with the usual chaos, this time enhanced by the construction work that will continueslong after the festival has finished, transforming the once-tranquil Lido, literally, into a building site. I won't mention the fact that the festival gave me the wrong pass (again), or that the opening film (Baalia) was a flashy, noisy, elegantly designed bore, or that last night's documentary presentation Great Directors – comprising interviews with such random subjects as Bernardo Bertolucci, David Lynch and, er, Richard Linklater – was very disappointing. Instead, I'll star with the first good film: John Hillcoat's The Road, a dark, apocalyptic drama based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy. Admirers of Hillcoat's last film, The Proposition, will be interested to see that he hasn't sold out his uncompromising vision, and, though it ends on a note of hope, The Road is one of the most resolutely stark and challenging English-language films you'll see next year. The closest comparison I can think of is Alfonso Cuaron's Children Of men, which I saw in the same cinema several years back, but minus that film's leavening mordant humour. The Road is a film about mortality and parenthood too, and as such takes its duties very seriously.
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Cannes Film FestivalCannes: The End

Posted on Thursday May 28, 2009, 08:52 by Damon Wise in Cannes Film Festival
Cannes: The End

The awards are over, and who would have thought that The White Ribbon would win? Well, most people really. I would have gone for it myself, except that Lars Von Trier was still around on Saturday afternoon, which is often a sign that the filmmaker has been tipped off about a possible win. As it was, his surreal, brilliant Antichrist only won the best actress award, for Charlotte Gainsbourg, and she looked visibly moved at the closing ceremony. Other than that, the awards went pretty much as I thought; it was only ever really between Michael Haneke and Von Trier for the Palme D'Or. A Prophet got the Grand Prix, Christoph Waltz took best actor (“You gave me back my vocation,” he told Tarantino from the stage), Alain Resnais received a special honorary award, and Andrea Arnold and Park Chan-Wook shared a jury prize for Fish Tank and Thirst respectively.

The only what-the-f... came with the best director prize, which went to Brillanta Mendoza, whose film Kinatay was, ironically,...

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Cannes Film FestivalCannes Day Ten: The White Ribbon

Posted on Friday May 22, 2009, 18:59 by Damon Wise in Cannes Film Festival
Cannes Day Ten: The White Ribbon

Apologies for not updating, but the rigours of Cannes mean that one can either do interviews, see films, or get drunk and do nothing at all. I have, of course, been taking the first option, and although I cannot reveal who with, I can now say with impunity that I now know quite a lot about one of the 20 films in competition, having spoken to pretty much everyone in it or involved in it. In the last 48 hours I've only seen one film: Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon. And while tiredness, bad signage in the Palais and pathetic air conditioning conspired to ruin that viewing experience, I think this is a very strong film with a lot of potential to win several of the prizes available on Sunday.

In my semi-official reaction to the film's PR people I described it as The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher as related by The Fast Show's Rowley Birkin QC; it's a sort of pre-WW1 Midsomer Murders mystery in which the crimes are never solved while the seeds of many, many more are sown. I haven't li...

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Cannes Film FestivalPhoto Special: Inglourious Basterds Photocall

Posted on Wednesday May 20, 2009, 15:34 by Amar Vijay in Cannes Film Festival
Photo Special: Inglourious Basterds Photocall

Photos from the Cannes photocall for Inglourious Basterds
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Cannes Film FestivalCannes Day Eight: Basterds!

Posted on Wednesday May 20, 2009, 11:05 by Damon Wise in Cannes Film Festival
Cannes Day Eight: Basterds!

As the lights went down for Inglourious Basterds I seriously thought I might have an anxiety attack. One minute this film looked like it would never be made, the next it was in production, then it was in post and then it was in the can. And then it was in Cannes, all within the space of under a year. But the reason I felt so nervous was because I wasn't sure he would have enough time to get it right. The script was a monster; it involved an ensemble cast that would need perfect – not just good – choices, and the ending was a very, very bold gambit. To the point of madness, in fact. So I'm pleased to report that not only is Inglourious Basterds the film I wanted it to be, it really should satisfy those who want Quentin Tarantino to get back to the intricate, pop Rubik's cube stylings of Pulp Fiction, but with more subtext to chew on and deeper emotional shading.

The only cue I had to the film's finished form was a promise from producer Erica Steinberg: “I...

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Cannes Film FestivalCannes Photo Roundup

Posted on Wednesday May 20, 2009, 10:04 by Amar Vijay in Cannes Film Festival
Cannes Photo Roundup

More photos of stars in Cannes

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Cannes Film FestivalCannes Day Seven: Broken Embraces

Posted on Wednesday May 20, 2009, 00:21 by Damon Wise in Cannes Film Festival
Cannes Day Seven: Broken Embraces

Excuse the late blog but I'm still not quite sure what to say about the new film by Pedro Almodovar. I saw Broken Embraces just before the festival (it's been out in Spain for a few weeks now), and it really didn't grab me. I've seen all but one of the Spanish director's 17 major features – all on the big screen, my favourites being Matador and High Heels – so I'm not being mealy mouthed: I just can't quite figure out anything better to say, other than it's one of the director's better minor-key works, with a stronger-than-usual melancholy edge. I think the problem is that the main character is male, and for some reason I just don't find Almodovar's heroes as engaging as his heroines. And, also, I was misled by the mistranslated pre-publicity, which suggested an almost Charlie Kaufman-esque film-within-a-film. But as it stands, Broken Embraces is a very straightforward melodrama about a blind film director (Lluis Homar) who has lost his sight and the love of his life (Penelo...

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Cannes Film FestivalCannes Day Six: Looking For Eric

Posted on Monday May 18, 2009, 16:46 by Damon Wise in Cannes Film Festival
Cannes Day Six: Looking For Eric

After the weekend's love-in, during which I showered praise on Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock and went slightly insane for Lars Von Trier's Antichrist, I feel I have to calm my fevered mind down a little bit in anticipation for Inglourious Basterds, a film that's about to occupy the best part of three days of my life. I've already given it two on set; I did an unforgettable set visit in December that has pretty much left me desperate to see it and... I WANT THE WAIT TO BE OVER NOW! But the thing that's really killing me is that Tarantino is so supremely confident about it. Pretty much the last thing he said to me, when I asked if he had any reservations about tackling a WW2 movie, was, “Do I look like I have any reservations?” Well, he didn't and he still doesn't. I'm not naming any names (Cough! Gaspar Noe! Cough!), but while other directors are still fiddling with their films to get them ready for the competition, QT has locked his and banked it. He's been out seeing other movies, too, since he a...

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Cannes Film FestivalCannes Photo Roundup

Posted on Monday May 18, 2009, 11:14 by Amar Vijay in Cannes Film Festival
Cannes Photo Roundup

A selection of snaps from the 2009 Cannes Film Festival
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