Thursday, January 20

Recap of the first week of Cannes 2021: saliva tests and strange visions | Cannes 2021

PI will periodically have an anxious dream about Cannes. One night I will dream that somehow I have brought the wrong pass, another that I have three reservations, I am late and I have lost myself inside the Palais. All of which is perfectly understandable. The festival is hectic and unnerving. It gets into your subconscious and conjures up strange visions. In this one, for example, I am surrounded by hundreds of people in masks and I have to queue in a pavilion and spit into a tube. At some point I guess I will be woken up by jolts.

This is the 74th Cannes film festival, the 15th I’ve attended and the absolute winner of the Palme d’Or for rarity, staged in defiance of the global pandemic with everyone waving the Covid test results to get in. Thierry Frémaux, the event artistic director, compares his presence to a miracle, although he is obviously biased and his review is a bit premature. If this works, it is a triumph, and if it stumbles, we are in hell, but that is the nature of the place; part of the festival’s DNA. One way or another, Cannes has never taken half measures. As wild as you dream of it, reality is always wilder.

Down on the red carpet is crazy business as usual. Press photographers line the shoelaces, yelling for attention, as fans pull down their masks with one hand and take selfies with the other. Inside, on stage, Spike Lee takes his place alongside Pedro Almodóvar, Jodie Foster, and Bong Joon-ho to officially open the procedure. Lee, the first black chairman of the jury, wears a Louis Vuitton suit so strikingly pink that he runs the risk of blowing his retinas. He looks like a jolly old Satan presiding over a church of the damned.

At least the most monstrous in Cannes gets the opening movie he deserves. Leos Carax, the wayward imp of French cinema, last came to town in the 2012 freestyle Santos engines, in which a lot of white limousines gathered at night to chat. He struts again with Annette, a scandalous operetta about romance, death and madness, with music by Sparks and a creepy articulated doll in the title role. Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard play the hapless lovers of the story (he is an ape and she is an angelic soprano). They sing their love around a haunted Los Angeles night, barely pausing for breath, even as they ride their motorcycle or climax in bed or battle a storm that will throw one of them overboard.

Marion Cotillard in Leos Carax's 'Windswept and Lewd' Annette.
Marion Cotillard in Leos Carax’s ‘Windswept and Lewd’ Annette.

Annette he is also often in danger of going overboard. He’s windswept and lascivious, a thing of grand gestures and kamikaze daring; almost inviting disaster, the end of his anguish. The applause when he finished was, at best, grudging. A man got up from his seat to shout a complaint on the screen. But I liked Carax’s crazed quasi-mashup Pinocchio Y A star has been born. Only he could have done it. No substitute would come close.

If nothing else, Annette provided a more glamorous opening than the unofficial Cannes launch on the Covid site next door, where guests must line up for a saliva test in advance. “Only liquid is good,” a doctor sternly informs us. “Foam doesn’t count.” And so we stand in a booth and spit into our tubes until each of us produces the required level of liquid. Everyone, it seems, is crowded together. The filmmakers working on their latest production. Critics who present their critiques literally drooling. It takes quite a while, at which point we are all thirsty. They say that the human body is 60% water. But that’s before it leaves the booth at the Cannes test site.

The 2020 festival was canceled at the last minute, which means this edition is going through a two-year film backlog, flooding the show with so many titles that the official website continues to stock and one risks spending more time reserving. a seat for Arthur Harari. Onoda: 10,000 nights in the jungle (about a Japanese soldier who won’t stop fighting the war) than to sit back and look at the damn thing. Meanwhile, it seems that the landscape has changed. The family lions of British cinema (Mike Leigh, Ken Loach) are losing the competition, ceding the calendar to homegrown products like Clio Barnard. Ali and Ava and the documentary on cross farming by Andrea Arnold Cow. The pick of the crop so far is Joanna Hogg’s precise and penetrating. The Souvenir Part II, the next chapter in his autobiographical account of an unfortunate love story. Based on this year’s evidence, the future is female, and it’s already upon us.

French cinema, for its part, maintains a more balanced keel. First, the rank in the fifteen directors is Between two worlds, which features a steadfast Juliette Binoche as Marianne, a bourgeois writer who went undercover to report on zero-hour cleaners in a dying port city. Emmanuel Carrère’s drama is alive to the complexities of its central presumption, navigating themes of liberal condescension and poverty tourism, aware of the possibility that Marianne, in her own way, is as exploitative as the system she has set out to expose.

Sophie Marceau, Géraldine Pailhas and André Dussollier
Sophie Marceau, Géraldine Pailhas and André Dussollier in François Ozon’s ‘impressive’ Everything Went Fine.

Equally impressive is All went well, François Ozon’s drama Dignitas, which is stately and stealthy and features a stately performance by Sophie Marceau as the unshakable daughter of a wealthy family, who strove to carry out her father’s last wish. It seemed like only a few minutes ago that Ozon was framing free and lustful young men as Sitcom Y Drops of water on burning rocks. Now he’s making movies about pills, wills, and urinals; the business of dying; the last goodbye to the children. Pass the bottle, drink deep. It is later than we think.

The sky has darkened as guests climb the stairs for the 10:30 PM screening of the Todd Haynes documentary. The velvet meter. It’s dark on screen too: lots of moody black-and-white Super-8s interspersed with handheld images of colorful mid-1960s Manhattan. Lou Reed and John Cale were the misfit kids who combined beat poetry with classical viola and got a new and electrifying sound. But The velvet meter it is not just a biography of the most radical band of the time. He paints a vivid portrait of Andy Warhol’s Factory and Max’s Kansas City pregentrified New York, a world that feels as distant from us now as ancient Rome.

Here in Cannes, veterans love to reminisce about the decadent days of the past, when social distancing was a joke, when you could help yourself between bars and screenings and discuss dark signature images aboard a multi-million dollar yacht. This year’s dream is different: more nervous, less fun. There are fewer people, more security checkpoints, and a conspicuous absence from the party scene throughout the night. But the adventurous spirit still survives in the cracks, and visitors fall for the movies with the same ardor of yesteryear. These caffeine-fueled pilgrims are on the hunt for the movie’s next masterpiece, a left-field firework. They come rushing from the test site hungry for fresh produce, which is substantial, essential, because foam doesn’t count.

Upcoming attractions in Cannes

Elisabeth Moss, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Fisher Stevens, and Griffin Dunne at The French Dispatch.
Elisabeth Moss, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Fisher Stevens, and Griffin Dunne at The French Dispatch. Photograph: Entertainment Pictures / Alamy

The French office
Keep the interior free for Wes Anderson’s new feature, packed with literate prose and illustrated with impeccably composed paintings. The French office It’s his Valentine at the height of print media, taking off his cap to the New Yorker with its focus on the foreign office of a refined Midwestern magazine. Co-signing with regular stars Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, and Owen Wilson.

Buzz is already growing around the latest delicacy from French director Julia Ducournau, creator of the acclaimed rites of passage horror film. Raw. The plot is off the menu; Ducournau likes to surprise us. But if this Cannes competition requires some red meat for the senses, Titanium (supposedly about the ominous reappearance of a missing child) seems like the best cut.

The 1996 Port Arthur massacre remains one of the darkest chapters in recent Australian history, killing 35 people and prompting immediate changes to the country’s gun laws. Now director Justin Kurzel is trying to shed new light on the tragedy, with the help of a cast that includes Judy Davis, Anthony LaPaglia and Caleb Landry Jones.

Red rocket
Screenwriter and director Sean Baker was the rising star of the Directors’ Fortnight section with his latest film, The Florida Project. Your reward: a ticket to the main competition with this hilarious comedy-drama, filmed in the teeth of the Covid pandemic and highlighting the tribulations of a sold-out porn scammer who lands in his old Texas hometown.

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