Cannes Diary 2007 | 5.24.07

cannes2007Outside on the Croisette right now is the gala premiere of Death Proof. They were blaring “Little Green Bag” a minute ago. I’m sure “Misirlou” will be played in short order.







May 24, 2007
8:30 p.m.

When I finished my entry yesterday, I realized that both of the two films I would be seeing in the remainder of my day stood the chance of being very good—the animated film Persepolis and the Korean film Secret Sunshine. Turns out I was right, there were both very good, and seeing them more or less back to back as I did made yesterday one of the more enjoyable days at what has been one of the most enjoyable film festivals of my life.

Persepolis is already pretty well known amongst Americans as a series of graphic novels with a stark, black-and-white art style by Marjane Satrapi that concern her coming of age in Tehran. I haven’t read the graphic novels but have heard from people that I trust that they are good, and if the film is any indication, they are. It’s very funny and the style of animation is interesting (it’s not far off from what you’d expect from Tim Burton), and, despite being an animated film that will likely get an R rating (or at least a PG-13, depending on how accurately they translate the dialogue from its original French), it looks to me like it will be one of the under-the-radar hits in the coming year.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for Asian dramas, and Lee Chang-dong’s Secret Sunshine is one of the best ones I’ve seen in the past few years. Its plot synopsis in the press kit is very short and vague—something about how a recently widowed woman and her son move to the town her dead husband grew up in, and try to get used to it after having lived in Seoul—and I figured it to be a minimalist, drifty, slow (it’s 142 minutes long) filmsecret about death. As it turns out, a lot of stuff happens in the movie and the plot never really goes where you’re expecting it, and it becomes something of an emotional epic by the time it is done. I’ve never seen any of Chang-dong’s previous work, but when I get back to the States I’m going to see if I can track some down. And chalk another success up for Song Kang-ho, who seems to never be in a movie unless it’s a really good one.

The first film I saw this morning was Alexander Sokurov’s Alexandra, which was slow and boring and not ideal to see when you’re really, really tired.

After Alexandra let out I got back in line immediately to go back into the Lumiere to see the press screening of Ocean’s 13. I don’t feel particularly compelled to write about it here, as it will come out in the States and everyone will see it in just a few weeks’ time, but it is fun. Of course, I was one of the few that liked Ocean’s 12, too, so we’ll see what everyone else thinks about it.

We’re running up on the end of the festival—there’s only three more days, and I will likely only see two films per day. I have already seen the last film in the Director’s Fortnight that I will see this year, a compilation of six short films by renowned international directors called The State of the World. My main motivation for seeing it was the presence of a new Apichatpong Weerasethakul short, but it turned out that it was just okay. All six of the films were good enough, but the sum of them together was sort of trying and not as thematically grand as one might have hoped. My favorite of the six was the final one, by Chantal Ackerman, which was a silent-with-music, almost 20-minute-long, static shot of Singapore’s skyline. Tons of people walked out during it, despite the movie being just minutes away from being over anyway, and despite that the directors (minus Weerasethakul) were all in the audience. The ones that stayed talked loudly over it, too. I’ve never seen anything like that. It was like how people act before a movie starts or when the credits start rolling or whatever.

All right, I need to go get in line for the 10 p.m. We Own the Night at Bazin. It’s American, the 7 at Debussy filled up, and it is in competition, so I probably ought to get up there as soon as possible. Also, it was one of the first major sales of the festival, so it has been getting a lot of press. It would be really annoying if I missed a competition film this late in the festival.│Pete Timmermann

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