Cannes - the films, the stars, the glitz
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As the great and glamoruous gather on the French Riviera, Rosslyn Hyams tells us about the films, the stars and maybe a bit of the gossip.
Here's a look at the first offerings from China, France and, of course, Sherwood Forest:
Rizhao Chongqing, (Chongqing blues) - an official competition entry - directed by China's Wang Xiaoshuai is a tale about father and son, about their roots and the pull of the sea.
A sailor from Chongqing learns that his 25-year-old son Lin Bo, has been killed by a policeman six months earlier. On his return to the city for the first time in 15 years, he learns that his former wife has remarried and that his son was a crazy, mixed-up kid.
The camera follows Lin Chuan-Hai on his search for the young man he hasn’t seen since he was 10. Is Lin chuan-high trying to find out what happened to his son, or what happened to him as a father?
Wang conveys a strong emotional theme played with the kind of reserve not uncommonly found in Chinese films and among Chinese film-makers. He also depicts Chinese urban landscape, portscape and seascape through a clear lens, taking us to the beach, to a night club and to a variety of Chongqing’s neighbourhoods.
Tournée (On tour) - official competition entry - is partly in English, partly in French. It takes the strained relations between a father and his two sons and turns what looks like a documentary into a work of fiction.
French actor/director Mathieu Amalric’s film called follows New Burlesque strip-teasers with creative names like Mimi Le Meaux , Kitten on the Keys and Dirty Martini.
So, as well as the father-son thing, the film also makes a point of showing women without nips and tucks. “It takes a long time to love your body," one of them comments. But they have fun on stage with feathers and glitter performing “what they decide to perform” through saucy cabaret revival and song.
In his own film, Amalric plays the tour producer who ends up in bed with Mimi whom he told earlier in French, “If you had talent I could fall in love with you.”
That happens almost the end of the film. The rest of the time he’s looking for a hall where they can perform in Paris or looking for his children or looking for that intangible thing that is going to make his life worth living. And he has to overcome the rejection of a father-figure a brother-figure and a mistress and a wife.
Cinematographically, the play on lights, alternating the whiteness of stage lights and the midday sun, with the half-light of the backstage and bedrooms, keeps your eyes on the screen. Some however may be riveted on the voluminous bottoms and breasts instead.
Robin Hood - the hale and hearty tightly-filmed and polished mainstream movie full of action, drama, love, fun and a few songs got the festival off too a relaxed start.
Scott fans will recognise his epic-scale battle scenes, this time climaxing over the white cliffs of Dover and in the lapping waves of the English channel.
Scott’s 2h20 feature, starring Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, William Hurt and Max von Sydow tells the tale of Robin Hood before he becomes an outlaw, helping King John get rid of an enemy who has betrayed England to France.
That’s basically what’s new in this film. All the main characters know how to fire an arrow, wield a sword and scowl. The good guys are the good guys, if not a little insolent, the bad guys are the bad guys, and Friar Tuck is round, jovial and keeps bees.
And there’s a forest.
But a fair part of it takes place in France and brings to mind Monthy Python and the Holy Grail. The festival’s general director, Thierry Frémaux, particularly likes the fact that Scott pokes fun at the French whose soldiers get drunk on Friar Tuck’s unorthodox and alcoholic honey brew in Nottingham, and who, in Normandy, manage to kill King Richard I, the Lionheart, while they are having lunch.
Visually and emotionally, it’s not so different from Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, set in the same crusade period. The script is peppered with well-intentioned serious ideas about the oppressed rising up and overthrowing weak ill-advised rulers. “Rise and rise again, till lambs become lions ... my father died for this.”
Russell Crowe, who plays the title role and is one of the film’s producers, thinks “there’s an element of Robin Hood in all of us” and suggests that if Robin were to have to identify an enemy today, it might well be the monopolisation of the media.
Robin Hood, less green than one imagines, and less black and white than Michael Curtiz’ Adventures of, starring Errol Flyn and Olivia de Havilland of 1938.
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