Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Spending the Morning with Sean Penn

This morning we all decamped to the press conference for Paolo Sorrentino’s This Must be the Place. The latest from the director of Il Divo and The Family Friend is a really interesting piece of work. Mr Penn plays a …

Fri, May 20, 2011, 13:53

   

This morning we all decamped to the press conference for Paolo Sorrentino’s This Must be the Place. The latest from the director of Il Divo and The Family Friend is a really interesting piece of work. Mr Penn plays a rock star, currently retired in Dublin, who decides to hunt down a Nazi war criminal. Sounds odd. Doesn’t it? Yes, the film is strange — chock-full of Sorrentino’s trademark casual surrealism. But it’s also a really touching study of a pathetic, but decent, man. Full marks to Penn for delivering his most amusing turn since Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

At the conference, answering a question from this writer, he waxed lyrical about working in Dublin, before delivering a most peculiar comment on the Irish temperament: “We don’t get along with two kinds of people: blacks and whites.” What’s with this “we”, old man?

The other big hit of the last few days has been Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive. Cannes doesn’t always get it right when picking mainstream pictures for the competition, but the Danish director’s existential thriller — Ryan Gosling plays a getaway driver — hit every one of its intended marks. The press screening concluded with actual cheers. Cheers, I say.

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