Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Last words on Cannes

Well, that’s over for another year. By common consent, Cannes 2011 was a pretty good edition. Mr Von Trier did his job — if they still put occupations on passports it would say “controversialist” on his — and stirred up …

Mon, May 23, 2011, 22:59


Well, that’s over for another year. By common consent, Cannes 2011 was a pretty good edition. Mr Von Trier did his job — if they still put occupations on passports it would say “controversialist” on his — and stirred up an amusing news story. More importantly, the films were pretty darn fine. Old hands stepped up to the plate and a few new tyros emerged. From the latter camp we must pay special heed to Michel Hazanavicius, whose The Artist charmed, and Markus Schleinzer, whose Michael chilled the blood.

Now to the prizes. Well, I can’t boast about getting much correct in my predictions. Yes, I guessed that The Tree of Life would win the Palme d’Or, but it already was a pretty strong favourite (though reports suggest that Robert De Niro, jury president, had a bit of a fight to get it through). The question remains as to when it will be released here. Icon Entertainment have made a bit of a hash of it all. Having threatened to sneak it out earlier this month, the company got their wrist slapped by the American distributors and the release has now been kicked into nowhere land. I’ll look into this tomorrow and report back. It would be astonishing if the film — released in Europe and the states on Friday — hung around in limbo for too long. It’s too darn hot.

I wouldn’t argue too strongly with the jury’s decisions. The granting of the Jury Prize to Poliss did seem a bit barmy. It’s a solid film. But it certainly didn’t deserve to beat out such fine ignored pictures as We Need to Talk About Kevin, Le Havre and The Skin I Live In. Did the jury feel that they needed to recognise a French picture? Surely, politics would never come into such an important decision. Har, har.

Also, while I admired Von Trier’s Melancholia and liked Kirsten Dunst in it, she was hardly the equal of Tilda Swinton in Kevin. Again, politics may have come in to play. Did the panel want to make a comment about the festival’s over-reaction to Von Trier’s cretinous “jokes”? Maybe I’m reading a little too much into that.

Anyway, the rest of the honoured pictures all deserved their gongs. I was particularly pleased to see Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Once Upon a Time in Anatolia share the Grand Prix. The film arrived late — hence no review in this newspaper — and duly confirmed that the Turkish director has one of the most singular voices in world cinema.

It was also a real delight that Nicolas Winding Refn won best director for the cracking Drive. Very few American thrillers have managed such a feat. Mind you, it was directed by a Dane and it did feature existentialist mumbling.

Alas, most of these films will — it’s the way of things, I’m afraid — not come our way until after the London Film Festival in bleeding October. Stupid indestructible festival circuit.

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