This 66th Cannes Festival was a genuinely social affair. No, I don’t mean the bacchanalian soirees and the private parties which happened relentlessly during the eleven days or so of the festival. I’m referring to social media. Cannes’ Twitter ecosystem really came into its own this year, with people (“les tweetos” as the French like to call them) taking to the bandwidths to comment on everything from the selection to the celebs (les “pipoles”), via the #cannes2013 hashtag in higher numbers than before (no Ashton Kutcher-sized gaffes to report, sadly).
Everyone’s 140-character prose made the Cannes Festival all the more interesting, making me wonder why anyone with a smartphone would ignore Twitter’s obvious advantages (I know you’re out there). Want to know what the buzz is right now? Search for it on Twitter, or just click on the hashtag #cannes2013 to get to-the-second updates by those people who are (mostly) there. Festival president Gilles Jacob’s tweets from today Sunday’s conclave–during which jury president Steven Spielberg and the other members lock themselves up in a villa in the heights of Cannes–have become an institution by now. Everyone is looking at the images that Gilles J. is sending, hoping for something out of the ordinary or some kind of leak. Or just to pretend like finally, they are the fly on the wall.
To the movies …
This year’s selection was remarkable for its shock value, an unintended effect, obviously. Whether they put political agenda on loudspeaker (such as in Mohammad Rasoulof with “Manuscripts don’t burn”) or relentlessly flaunted sexual gambits (“Blue is the Warmest Colour”) in narrative takes that were urgent and original, filmmakers took a brave, uncompromising stance. Mostly though, they answered art’s calling.
Some heavily-anticipated films, like the Coen Brothers-directed “Inside Llewyn Davis” or Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Only God Forgives,” in spite of their brightly-colored titles and affecting premises (a 1960s Greenwich Village folk musician’s unsuccessful comeback and the sometimes-oedipian, often-lethal mother-son relationship, respectively) turned out to be humorless, unfulfilling and unfulfilled films marking some of the biggest disappointments in Cannes this year. Hoping for more, and better, next time. If the Coen Brothers did win for “Llewyn Davis” they would join the exclusive brotherhood of filmmakers who have won the Palme D’Or more than once (this club counts six members as of today). The pair previously earned Cannes’ top nod in 1991, for “Barton Fink.”
All in all, twenty films have been invited to the Palme D’Or party. But as guests will get drunk, a fistfight is to be expected between the U.S. and France (lots of French titles this year, in the various selections—or tables). Francois Ozon’s “Young and Beautiful” was shown at the beginning of the festival and caused quite a stir, as much because of its risqué content as for its courageous young actress, Marina Vacth, who gave a strong, if a little humorless, performance, having putting herself in a challenging position for an actress to be in. And we should applaud her courage.
Could Japan spoil the party? It’s possible. “Like Father Like Son,” by Hirokazu Kore-Eda, about class differences and family, was very well-received, although it never did quite strike an emotion in me. Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke “A Touch of Sin,” a tale of corruption and violence set in a rural China that’s modernizing quickly, was a fascinating film to watch and is a good candidate for a writing or directing award.
“La Grande Bellezza” by Paolo Sorrentino, about the existential travails of a socialite set in a Rome in full moral decay, or the Iranian Asghar Farhadi’s “The past,” which chronicles a family’s dour unraveling, all have brought something tangible to the party and could pose a serious threat to the Americans and the French. Ali Mosaffa, who plays Ahmad in “The Past,” could earn the Best Actor award, and that would be nothing to sneeze at.
Even though Toni Servillo (“La Grande Bellezza”), Oscar Isaac (“Inside Llewyn Davis”) and Bruce Dern (in Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska”), didn’t get the best tables, terrific performances were given by one and all. But careful, Mathieu Amalric (“Jimmy P.: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian,” and “Venus in Fur,” by Roman Polanski) could swoop down at any moment and grab the prize—because he is deserving of it.
One of the last films to be shown this year in Cannes was the new Jim Jarmusch cru, “Only Lovers Left Alive.” And what a joyful experience that was (even though we’re talking about incredibly jaded, and sometimes mournful, vampires here). Jarmusch, who seems to get younger as he’s getting older, made his own mayonaise again, and this time it took. None of the vast ocean of nothingness that was “The Limits of Control,” here. Ideas and characters are suffused with humanity and they speak hilarious lines that had the entire Debussy Theatre laughing. The great underrated title at this year’s Cannes, a failure of a film for some but that might just be from a lack of discernment. If Jarmusch gets a prize, then justice would’ve been served.
The women who have won me over this year are, Bérénice Béjo for “The Past,” Adele Exarchopoulos in “Blue is the Warmest Colour,” and Emmanuelle Seigner in “Venus in Fur.” Here’s hoping one of them will go home with an award for best acting tonight.
(photo: Oscar Isaac in a still from “Llewyn Davis”)
Let the best table win.