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Cannes Diary

Entry Nine: Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Day Seven of the Festival
Movies: The Old Place, Fail Safe, Sweet Sixteen, and Spider


The routine again of tickets, breakfast, and email before it was off for our meeting with Fahey and Cressler. I was glad that I got the chance to see their movie before meeting them because it made the conversation much more on target. Hearing the two of them debate the merits of the movie and discuss their disagreements was a unique chance not often had outside of maybe DVD commentaries. After the meeting, it was time for getting in line for the Godard and Lumet films, my movies for the day before the premieres at night.

The Old Place
France, Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
Salle Bunuel: 05/21/02: 02:15pm
(**) of four
Time slept during: None.

A short film so Godard that it almost hurts, The Old Place betrays its art museum roots too quickly. It simply doesn’t sustain over the course of its 40 minutes, instead likely being better in shorter, more digestible portions. It panders and never really goes anywhere and I will fully admit that many of its messages were just lost on me. Also, Godard’s style is really showing its seams--the movie looks as if it could have been made in 2000 or 1960. Being a fan of many of Godard’s early works, I was hoping to see him change with the times, but it doesn’t seem to come out that way. Disappointing.


Fail Safe
USA, Directed by Sydney Lumet
Salle Bunuel: 05/21/02: 03:00pm
(****) of four
Time slept during: None.

A fantastic piece of filmmaking, from script to screen, Lumet’s atomic bomb nightmare plays out with even more chilling plausibility now than it would have 40 years ago. A top-notch script propels you along, slowly building up tension so that, by the time the finale arrives, you’re almost sweating in your seat to find out what happens. The ultra-frightening ending also guarantees goosebumps both then and whenever you think about it later on. A stunning anti-war message that everyone should see.


Sweet Sixteen
England, Directed by Ken Loach
Lumiere: 05/21/02: 07:30pm
(*** and 1/2) of four
Time slept during: None.

Loach’s coming-of-age working-class drama succeeds admirably in evoking the lost innocence of the poor youths desperately trying to break free of their dour lives. An example of the gloomy English drama that works, Loach injects some much needed humor and humanity into the film, creating genuine sympathy in the audience towards the lead character. The English subtitles are a must, making the film much easier to watch when you don’t have to constantly worry about missing dialogue through the extremely thick accents.


Spider
Canada, Directed by David Cronenberg
Lumiere: 05/21/02: 10:30pm
(**) of four
Time slept during: None.

Easily the most disappointing film of the entire Festival, Cronenberg’s new film plays out like an uninterrupted drone with no real surprises or developments. The plot has potential, but it is too uneventful to carry an entire film, especially when the "twist" at the end can be guessed before the film even begins. Ralph Fiennes does an excellent job embodying the lead role, but does very little except mutter incomprehensibly and putter along the streets slowly. There’s no considerable development and no real sympathy is generated for him. There are some sparks of good filmmaking in the movie, such as the application of Miranda Richardson in multiple roles, but none of it is enough to maintain any interest in the movie. I kept waiting for it to pick up before I fell asleep, but it simply just ended. Since mental illness is Cronenberg’s bread and butter, I expected much, much more from him with this one.


As usual, my exhaustion at this point drove me back to the comfort of my nice bed and the few hours of sleep I would get before the next early morning.
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Lauren at the Lumiere
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