Lina Lamont

"What do you think I am, dumb or something?"

And then the rains came

…and so I went to see Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale to most of you, but to the cognoscenti – and let’s face it, that’s who I’m mingling with here – he was also the star of many a Danish wunderfilm, including After the Wedding, plus the NZ Rialto Cinema-goers will know him from Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky) – ANYWAY, he is the star of Jagten (The Hunt) which I’d be pretty sure will make it down to the Southern Hemisphere, and which I think festival audiences will enjoy. I admit it, though – I left the cinema in something of a fury, railing against the film for various moments in the script or narrative that I felt to be unrealistic or just plain wrong, and feeling generally very annoyed. My reaction was at odds, however, with the two young men from North America who I saw it with, and who “loved” it. So I let it percolate overnight, and next morning I got to watch the press conference with the director Thomas Vinterberg, Mads, and many of the other actors, at least three of whom are massive stars in Denmark. And I must admit, as the press asked their questions and interrogated some of the issues in the film and the rationale behind some of the action, I felt slightly less cross and found myself nodding “ah, OK then, I see where you were going with that”.

Now, my only problem with that is that the audience who sees the film won’t be privy to those inner thoughts and motivations, and may (though I concede may not) feel as I did initially – that the plot advances too quickly, too conveniently, leaves aside burning issues and potential turns, perhaps in the name of drama, but ultimately causing me frustration and making it harder for me to get carried away with the story.  So I have my work cut out for me, writing this review in due course, without giving away any of the key plot points but making an argument for whether and why audiences should go see it.  Watch this space! (well, don’t start watching now – but maybe around July/August with any luck).

Sunday was a slow, quiet day; I didn’t rise early (there was no 8:30 film that I wanted to see) and it started to rain, heavily and in the cold, which I must say is not at all what this trip to the South of France said on the can(nes). But it turned out to be a great day for networking and meeting new people.  Most importantly, I headed along to the NZ Film Commission office to interview NZ’s only competitor in this year’s festival (if you don’t count Andrew Dominik, described in Le Monde as an Australian – grrr – but who has not been brought here by the New Zealand team so doesn’t count).  Zia Mandviwalla is an Auckland-based, Indian-born, Dubai-raised filmmaker with enormous energy and a winning way about her – a delight to talk to about her journey to Cannes with the film Night Shift which is in the short film competition.  Understandably, Zia is excited to be in Cannes for the first time, and has been spending her days doing interviews with foreign press, donning a dress and abandoning her jandals for high heels (she makes a good point about the cobblestoned streets of Cannes being treacherous!) of an evening, and participating in the many sessions put on for film makers of the short- and feature-length kind. She acknowledges it’s a huge privilege to be in Cannes, but Zia’s film was selected out of 4,500 entries to be one in a category of ten in competition, so to be fair it is the creative talent of her and her team that has got her this far. Fingers crossed for an award next weekend.

Today, Monday – beaucoup plus de pluie, and sodden feet because I am still taking the “smart-casual” thing seriously, but honestly tomorrow I’m just going to wear sneakers. It is ridiculous to sit in the cinema with wet feet, not to mention I’m sure it’s not very French. A movie this morning, eagerly anticipated thanks to all the press materials I’d read about it – Abbas Kiarostami’s Like Someone in Love.  Did. Not. Like. Well, it’s beautiful, and there are some lovely moments, and the acting is great, and the story could be SO engaging and enthralling even, if only it would get on with it… but, as much as it goes against “critical cache” to admit it, it was just too darn slow. I honestly kept expecting someone to suddenly get shot in the head (obviously I see too many of that kind of movie) but – SPOILER ALERT – they didn’t. Because it’s not at all that kind of movie.  Those who saw and loved Certified Copy may be happy with this one, but as I was torn about that too (for different reasons), I’m not your girl. It’s made by a hugely acclaimed Iranian director, as a French co-production, set in Japan and all the dialogue in Japanese. That’s all awesome. But the film was a disappointment.  I shall be interested to read what the cognoscenti say about it and realise how wrong I am (sic).

THEN on to something much more exciting – a quick Nutella and Banana panini (yes. That’s right.) then we hot-footed it down the Croisette to a panel discussion entitled Cronenberg: Master & Son or somesuchlike, since both David and his son Brandon are here at Cannes this year, both with films in competition (though not against one another). They were both witty, humble, amusing, interesting, and it was a terrifically enlightening hour, not least because in my previous post I somewhat meanly suggested Brandon couldn’t think outside of his father’s square [when picking a theme for his movie], and of course that was discussed right away and those assumptions put paid to. I’ve not yet seen Antiviral and would genuinely like to, but even if I miss out on that, I am busting to see Cronenberg Senior’s Cosmopolis later in the week. So more about both their press conference and their movies as the week progresses.

And finally, despite the rain and my natural inclination towards bunking off big occasions and going home to be cosy, I went to a party. The India Pavillion was hosting a cocktail party to celebrate and promote India’s latest major movie, Gangs of Wassepuyar, and I got invited, and so I went. Changed into a dress and heels and everything. And then I met some fantastic people, filmmakers from Hungary and Lithuania, bloggers and reviewers and short film promoters. Then a quick dash home to change out of awful shoes (I am sure the feminist argument has been made about high heels being a paternalistic mechanism to keep women in their place by limiting our ability to move, but that’s not for here).

Back into town in time to queue for a screening of a crazy documentary about The Shining called Room 237. Conspiracy theories abound, some convincing, some tenuous, and the film is a must-see for any Kubrick fan if they get the chance. I will review that in another post. But that’s quite enough for one day.

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