Day three and another slate of films on the schedule: four to be exact.
Even though I tell myself not to do four films a day, I can't help it. It is a film festival after all, so why not load up?! But in all actuality, it is just the most draining experience, and if you see some long films (or films that move along glacially), you may start regretting that decision.
I felt surprisingly perked up Saturday morning after getting three films in the bag Friday. I did my little write-up, probably littered with grammar and spelling mistakes as I rushed out to the fest this morning, and got ready for more, more, more! There was a bit of fatigue pulling myself together as I thrust myself for nine more days of screenings ahead. Sometimes I ask, "what did I get myself into?" attending this festival.
Unless you've seen all the movies, it may be hard to select what might be ONLY the good films since taste is subjective. My slate had a film from a different programming section so at least the selections were varied. Whether I like them or not is a whole other conversation.
To start was the "3D" dance documentary "Cunningham" about the life and work of choreographer Merce Cunningham. Capturing dance on film, and in 3D no less, has been done before (see the Oscar-nominated "Pina"). What doesn't change is how different the dance is perceived from stage to screen. Recreating Cunningham's works from stage to screen relies heavily on capturing all of the right camera angles to get every perspective. We don't get that watching a live performance on stage so the dance can be manipulated to be blocked most appropriately for the camera's lens. The choreographed motions may not change, but their placement within the space for the camera is. And the 3D? It started out with a very effective opening shot, then it hung over to manipulate the layers. Maybe if you want 3D dancing see a live performance from the front row? This overly used technology had a very modest effect in this outing.
There is a huge difference between dancing for the camera, and dancing to the camera. Take "West Side Story". The opening duel dance between the Jets and the Sharks in the 1961 film was dancing for the camera and making optimal use of setting and camerawork to do it. Conversely, star Rita Moreno said the film flubbed the dance-off at the gym because it was so much better on stage. In this one film you get a perfect example of dancing for/to the camera when you have the stage as the originating source material. "Cunningham" proved that moving from stage to film is only dancing to the camera.
Also, it didn't delve too much into Cunningham, merely stringing along his personality and thoughts of music between dance performances.
Seeing that my spirit was slightly dampened by the energetic letdown of "Cunningham", I knew the next feature, "A Hidden Life" wouldn't pick it up any faster.
Not to discount any other director, but Terrance Malick deserves to be seen on the big screen. Period. End of discussion. "A Hidden Life's" three-hour runtime was off-putting, but with this being its only showing at the fest, I made the investment.
In true Malick style, "A Hidden Life" is a visually rich stream-of-consciousness piece about a young Austrian farmer prosecuted for resisting to join the army to fight for Adolf Hitler. It's a simple story at face value, but Malick knows how to crank it up to maximize every single morsel of thought and meditation to make it a purposefully exacting 173-minute film. Unfortunately, it can get very tiring to experience a Malick film in the theater (I once saw a handful of people walk out of "The Tree of Life") and "A Hidden Life" is no different. How many narrated, wide-angle tracking shots of people walking in fields, views of open skies and interiors can one take? I know, they're part of Malick's oeuvre. Between those two films, "The Tree of Life" was so much lighter in story but heavier on these Malick trademarks, which I really adored because that movie was about meditation and the awareness of self. "A Hidden Life" didn't need as much padding as "The Tree of Life" yet it lasts 30 minutes longer.
Anyone looking for a redeeming, emotionally palatable, or heart-wrenching tale about fighting the Nazis, this is not the film for you.
"A Hidden Life" competed for the Palme d'Or this year with "Sibyl," my third film of the day and yet another loser of Cannes's biggest prizes. Because the former was so dense, "Sibyl's" psycho-obsessed tale was a walk-in-the-park.
"Sibyl" is about a therapist looking to get back into writing. An actress named Margot seeks Sibyl's counseling for an affair she had with her co-star on a new movie. This is perfect material for Sibyl's book! Sibyl starts to infuse her self more and more into the movie production making each other woman crazier. At least the director of the film in the film (Sandra Huller who killed it in "Toni Erdmann") provides superb laughs as the stressed out director who is in a relationship with her movie's male lead... who happens to be the same person Margot is sleeping with.
The movie wasn't so funny you forgot that Sibyl and Margot were crazy, and it wasn't so dramatic that you really believed how crazy they were. Both of the leading ladies got on my nerves. One, a therapist wouldn't get so damn deep with their new patient to be their coordinator on a film shoot. Second, that actress, apparently new to the movie business, would have had her ass checked in a second. If there was a whole movie about the director (featuring Huller in her uptight "Toni Erdmann" glory) I would be all for it. Everyone else around her? Throw them overboard.
Finally was a small nugget of a dark comedy called "Deerskin". If fashion makes a statement, "Deerskin" kills the competition... literally.
This bitterly funny drama stars Jean Dujardin as Georges, a loner who flaunts a deerskin jacket to impress himself and the world. The jacket takes over his psyche and tells him to rid the world of other jackets. Georges gets a young waitress involved in his plan to use her editing skills to make a movie about it.
Since this was my fourth film of the day I didn't want to give this too much time, even if it's approximately 75 minutes long. The beginning wasn't giving me too much to stick around for, but the second half ramped up the laughs, the chaos, the jacket/body count and insight into Georges and the waitress's character. I'm not sure I can say that the deerskin jacket made Georges act the way he did (we get glimpses about his awful behavior early on), but I believe it was a security blanket for him to act that much more vicious to people. And Adele Haenel as the waitress? Perfect.
Check it out on whatever source you can when it becomes available. "Deerskin" is a funny fashion story gone totally awry!
The Whistlers: Very Good
The Lodge: Poor
A Hidden Life: Fair/Good
Deerskin: Very Good