2009 Cannes Film Festival Competitors

By Maddox Penner

Los abrazos rotos – Passion, obsession, wealth, jealousy, family, guilt, and creativity. In Madrid, Harry Caine is a blind screenwriter, assisted by Judit and her son Diego. The past comes rushing in when Harry learns of the death of Ernesto Martel, a wealthy businessman, and Ernesto’s son pays Harry a visit. In a series of flashbacks to the 1990s, we see Harry, who was then Mateo Blanco, a director; he falls in love with Ernesto’s mistress, Lena, and casts her in a film, which Ernesto finances. Ernesto is jealous and obsessive, sending his son to film the making of the movie, to follow Lena and Mateo, and to give him the daily footage. Judit doesn’t like Lena. It’s a collision course.

Map of the Sounds of Tokyo – It is difficult to point out what fails in this movie, but I certainly did not connect at all with its characters and situations. The movie is set in Tokyo, but contrary to “Lost in translation” here the movie tries to build half on Japanese characters and half on western ones, which really demands a deeper knowledge about japan. It is difficult for me to believe the Japanese part of the movie, first of all they all seem to speak very good English, which is, at least, difficult to believe, e.g. why would the Japanese girl, played by Kinko Rikuchi, speak good English at all?, why is the other guy working with the Spanish seller almost American? Must say maybe I am biased by my own experience with the Japanese people I met in japan, but certainly communication is in general much tougher than what Isabel portraits here.

Inglourious Basterds – During World War II, Lt. Aldo Raine leads his squad of Jewish-American soldiers behind enemy lines in Nazi occupied France. Their job is simple: kill the enemy. They also have a particularly violent approach to what they do scalping their victims. Soon they are known and feared throughout the German army. In Paris, Shosanna runs a cinema and through a chance meeting with a German war hero, is selected to host the premiere of one of Dr. Josef Goebbels propaganda film. With all of the German high command scheduled to attend – including Hitler, Goering and Martin Bormann – it seems like the ideal opportunity for Lt. Raine and his men to bring the war to a quick end. Shosanna, who is Jewish and whose parents and siblings were killed before her eyes, also has her own plans for the evening’s festivities. When she realizes that the man who killed her family Colonel Hans Landa, known as the Jew Hunter, will also be there it makes her own plans complete.

The Time That Remains – The Time That Remains starts in 1948 in Palestine with the invasion by the Israeli armed forces. This event casts a long shadow over the entire movie. It’s a Palestinian account, occasionally a very personal account, of how life has continued since then. The movie is contending that in cultural terms there’s been a huge degradation, and people have lived in stasis, their lives not moving forward at all. The movie is a farce which reminds me of the Georgian cinematic tradition of military/political farces such as Brigands Chapter VII from Otar Iosseliani and Repentance from Tenghiz Abuladze. It’s very funny at times, and very deadpan, but at others it’s very poignant. For example there is literally a tug’o’war in a hospital corridor (shot from outside the building – a neutral absurd position typical of this film) between policemen and doctors concerning a wounded man on a gurney, who presumably is wanted for “questioning”.

Chun feng chen zui de ye wan – I attended the North American Premiere of “Spring Fever” at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. A co-production of Hong Kong and France, director Ye Lou’s “Spring Fever” is quite a unique film about a gay love triangle. There’s very little dialogue, which is a device I normally relish, but here it just drags out the already minimal action. The film is shot with all hand-held and shaky camera style, using lots of extreme closeups. It might not have been that hard to handle except that the picture itself was very dark at times so it was often difficult to even see what was taking place. I don’t know if it was the source print, digital transfer, or projection, but it made for a very disappointing experience.

Looking for Eric – Eric Bishop, a middle-aged postman working for the Manchester sorting office, is going through a dreadful crisis. For starters, his second life companion has not resurfaced although she was released from prison a few months ago. He is left alone with two stepsons to look after, which is no bed of roses since the two teens disrespect him and keep disobeying him. To make matters worse, Ryan, the older boy, fascinated by Zac, a dangerous gangster, has accepted to hide his gun in Eric’s house. On the other hand, he is asked by Sam, his student daughter who has a newborn baby,to get back in touch with Lily, his separated wife. Now, Eric left her not long after she gave back to their daughter. As a result Eric panics… Having lost all his bearings, Eric Bishop soliloquizes face to the poster of his idol, another Eric, French footballer Eric Cantona, when the latter appears just like the genie out of Aladdin’s lamp. Through a series of aphorisms peculiar to him, the footballer-philosopher will help remorse-ridden desperate Eric Bishop to get by.

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