Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

A day of Resnais, Hong Sang-soo and Chris O’Dowd.

Honestly. Some of the people here. If I may paraphrase John Gielgud in Arthur, one usually has to go to a bowling alley to encounter people of this calibre. I should hurriedly explain that I’m not talking about the distinguished …

Mon, May 21, 2012, 21:12

   

Honestly. Some of the people here. If I may paraphrase John Gielgud in Arthur, one usually has to go to a bowling alley to encounter people of this calibre. I should hurriedly explain that I’m not talking about the distinguished Alain Resnais, the talented Hong Sangsoo or the amiable Chris O’Dowd. The latest film from the 89-year-old Resnais — optimistically titled You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet — was shown to the press at 8.30 this morning. A few hours later the press conference took place upstairs. What tends to happen is that, as it’s often a bit of a struggle to get in, hacks sit around watching the live relay on the TV. Anyway, two English journalists were sitting in front of me hammering out copy to Lord knows what outlet. At one point, the male one said to the female one: “Who was the old geezer who came in late. Reznay? Is that his name.” What the hell are you doing here? The world is full of people who’d kill to attend a festival that screened the new film from the director of Hiroshima Mon Amour, Nuit et Brouillard and Je t’aime, Je t’aime. And you don’t even know who he is. Oh, it makes me so mad.

Hang on. It looks as if the man in the green shirt has already dozed off.

Anyway, I’m now reluctantly going to be rude about the great man myself. You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet really isn’t very good. Based on Jean Anouilh’s 1941 play Eurydice, the film is a dry, artful contrivance in which a swathe of French theatrical royalty –  Lambert Wilson, Mathieu Amalric, Michel Piccoli and others — play versions of themselves. I’m afraid to say that I saw several critics drifting off to sleepy-land during the screening. More than a few more walked out. Still, you can’t blame Cannes for placing the new Alain Resnais film in the main competition. He’s Alain Resnais, dude. If he delivered a stuffed walrus to the event (and I wouldn’t rule it out) they would be entitled to display that beast in the largest auditorium. Show some bleeding respect.

We also got to see the latest film from Korean master Hong Sang-Soo. In Another Country was also a tricky beast. A film student  and her mum travel to a seaside town after falling into debt. Three women appear — each played by Isabelle Huppert — and act out different, but linked, stories. It’s a very lively piece featuring funky, relaxed cinematography and well-pitched performances from all concerned. The puzzles are worth solving. The structural games are not too irritating. But ultimately it feels like a competition makeweight that is not likely to trouble the scorers at the end of the day.

In between the two pictures I had a chat with Chris O’Dowd who is in town for an out-of-competition screening of his new flick The Sapphires. Chris had amusing stories to tell about his first time in Cannes — indeed, his first time at any film festival — that you can read in the paper of record over tomorrow’s marmalade. The Sapphires features Chris as the manager of an Aboriginal soul band. It’s zippy, lippy and it should be with us any time now.

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