The 71st Cannes Film Festival ended on May 19th, with the President of the jury, Cate Blanchett handing the Palme d 'Or to the Japanese director, Hirokazu Kore-eda, for his movie Shoplifters (2018). Though Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian did say that this was not the movie he predicted to win or choose himself, he does say it is a noteworthy movie.
" It's a very complex film - one which pays its audience the compliment of treating them like intelligent people who are prepared to engage intensely with his film."Bradshaw reviewed most of the movies in the Cannes film festival. I think this is the reason why it won as Blanchett has stated that the ending was something unexpected. Bradshaw also likened the twist to M. Night Shyamalan's style of movie making.
Shoplifters (2018) is the story of Osamu (Lily Franky) and Noboyu (Sakura Andô), and their family that consists of Shota (Kairi Jyo), teenage daughter Aki (Mayu Matsuoka) and their grandma Hatsue (Kirin Kiki). They primarily make their money through shoplifting, and one day Osamu and Shota comes across a homeless girl, Juri (Miyu Sasaki). As Bradshaw comments, Osamu taking in young Juri is more like shoplifting in itself.
He wants a new accomplice to their schemes, which results in Shota's envy in the newfound attention Juri possesses from Osamu. In one part, Shota deliberately attempts to sabotage a shoplifting scheme and have his family put to task because of the seeds of envy.
The movie has complex areas and gray layers. As Bradshaw writes: " Shoplifters is the story of a group of frightened, damaged people who have made common cause with each other, banded together under the flag of family, under the radar of the law, making the best of things from day to day, until they realize they have been making the worst of things. It is desperately sad when Noboyu says calmly to Osamu that Shota is too good for them. A rich, satisfying film."
The Grand Prix winner is Spike Lee's Black Klansam, which is adapted from book Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth and is a real life story based on Stallworth's own work as a detective. Bradshaw stated it as " a broad satirical comedy of the 70s American race war, and a parable of passing for black and passing for white - based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, the black Colorado police officer who masterminded the infiltration of a local KKK chapter by posing as a white bigot over the phone and sending in white officers for face-to-face work."
The Guardian quoted Lee stating: "Next year is going to be the 30th anniversary of Do The Right Thing - a lot's changed but a few things need to happen. This administration has turned back the clock, that's why I say it's the year of living dangerously. Good film too!"
Samal Yesyamova won Best Actress for playing the titular character Ayka (2018) which is directed by Sergei Dvortsevoy. The whole film focused on Ayka's plight to survive from debt, being jobless, being without money and having her work permit expired. She also lives with undocumented immigrants from Kyrgyzstan . Ayka also has given birth but runs away from the hospital and her baby.
The film seems generic by critics by is carried through by Yesyamov's performance as Ayka. Marcello Fonte plays Marcello, a dog groomer and a cocaine dealer on the side in the movie Dogman (2018) that handed him the win for Best Actor.
Bradshaw talked about the psychological nuances in the film where Marcello is "best friend" for aggressive and abusive crime boss, Simone ( Edoardo Pesce) . Despite, Simone's abuse towards Marcello he stays loyal almost like some ideal dog. They are both dogs, Bradshaw pointed, one seemingly too domesticated and the other so rabid that needs to be put down. "The actual dogs in this film have a dignity and charm wholly lacking in the humans," Bradhshaw observes.
Alice Rohrwacher, alongside Jafar Panahi and Nader Saeivar win the prizes for Best Screenplay for their movies Happy As Lazzaro (2018) and Three Faces(2018). Lazzaro is a young peasant boy who can be dubbed as the "village clown" who everyone has somehow targeted to exploit. However, Lazzaro is a lacuna in description because no one can truly pin him down and what he is and why he puts up with all their actions.
Panahi and Saeivar's story is about the complex lives of wannabe actresses, viral videos, retired actresses who go to villages to be painters (and are looked at suspicion by the community) and trying to uncover if something was a suicide or not. The Jury Prize is won by Capernaum (2018) directed by Nadine Labak, which tells the tale of a 12-year old boy in Beirut called Zain (Zain Alrafeea), who decides to sue his parents for the abject poverty he is born in and all the horrors he had to witness growing up in such poverty.
Pawel Pawlikowski won Best director for his movie Cold War (2018), a tale about love attempting to survive in Cold War Poland and after it. Bradshaw describes the film as "A love affair thrashes and wilts in the freedom of a foreign country, and then begins to submit to the homeland's doomy gravitational pull." A Special Palme d'Or was given to Jean-Luc Goddard for his movie The Image Book (2018), which is an examination of the modern Arabic world. The film seemingly has no actors but does have a storyteller.
Bradshaw stated that The Image Book is a critique of the cinematic world: " In The Image Book he appears to gesture, again, at the subject of cinema's culpable failure to witness the horrors of the modern world, failure to account for Auschwitz and Hiroshima. Cinema, that thrillingly seductive and diversionary mass-image-industry of the twentieth century, evolved in tandem with technologies that gave us wholesale slaughter, genocide and tyranny - outrages which happened behind cinema's back."
The Caméra d'Or is won by the Spectacular Girl (2018) by Lukas Dhont. The story is of a trans 15-year old girl, played by Victor Polster, who dreams of becoming a ballerina. The movie is exceptional not only in its nuanced way of handling its subject matter but Polster's performance was lauded by critics. The Short Fim Palme d'Or was won by All These Creatures (2018) directed by Charles Williams.
The story is about a young boy, in the beginning of a strange infestation; also starts seeing something wicked grow inside his father alluding to the little creatures that are within us all. There was a special mention in this category of Wei Shujun's On the Border (2018).
Cate Blanchett, Kristen Stewart Ava DuVernay, Jane Fonda and Salma Hayek alongside 82 women also stood in the red carpet in silence to acknowledge that dearth of female directors at the Cannes. The closing ceremony also had an impassioned speech by actor Asia Argento, as she talked about Harvey Weinstein's assault on her. "In 1997, I was raped by Harvey Weinstein here at Cannes. I was 21 years old.
This festival was his hunting ground. I want to make a prediction: Harvey Weinstein will never be welcomed here ever again... But more importantly, we know who you are. And we're not going to allow you to get away with it any longer."
The Cannes Film Festival also held the 25th AmFAR gala, which was held this year to help raising awareness and funds for HIV/AIDs. There were many popular models and famous people attending the gala such as Honorary Chairs, Alessandra Ambrosio, Kate Hudson, Milla Jovovich, Scarlett Johansson, Sienna Miller, Katy Perry, Lara Stone, Vanessa Redgrave, Aishwarya Rai, Heidi Klum, Donatella Versace and Michelle Yeoh.
The most problematic movie in this in this Cannes was Lars Von Trier's movie The House That Jack Built (2018) which was panned by most critics and there was a mass walkout out of the theater.
The Guardian also quoted it being "vomitive" and "pathetic" as it had graphic scenes of body mutilation, animal cruelty and murders of children. Trier seems least bothered and seems to have wanted such a reaction to his film and even wondered if more people should have hated his film. The critics still thought his movie was in poor taste and did not like this bizarre movie to be showcased as such.
Overall, this year's Cannes had a selection of some lauded, exceptional movies and truly was a memorable event.
The writer is a Copy Editor of
The Asian Age
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