Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Foursome I Cannes Wait To See

The Cannes line-up has just been announced, and I'm looking most forward to seeing Gasper Noe's Japan-set Into the Void.

I Stand Alone is one of my favorite films of all time, as is Irreversible, so my hopes for Noe's latest are not modest.

I haven't liked his short subjects much, but I admire his courage and sensibility.

Pedro Almodovar's Broken Embraces once again stars the dynamic Penelope Cruz.

My affection for Almodovar's films goes way back to Matador (my favorite film of his; '86), Law of Desire ('87), Pepi, Luci, Bom and the Other Girls ('80), and Labyrinth of Passion ('82).

This Vengeance poster has a Blade Runner/Black Rain vibe.

Johnny To's The Red Circle remake is listed as being "in production" on imdb, but that could easily be one hundred and eighty degrees north of the truth.

Frenchman Johnny Hallyday and the ever-reliable Simon Yam topline Vengeance.

The beautiful Camilla Belle stars in Heitor Dhalia's Adrift.

The plot shares parallels with Bertrand Blier's superb French erotic classic Beau Pere ('81):

"A 14 year-old girl finds out that her father has a mistress on the beach. From this moment on, she enters the complex adult world and has voyeristic relationship with the father."

Film also stars Vincent Cassell, Debora Bloch, and Tais Araujo.


  1. That title.


  2. loved i stand alone, but wasn't crazy about irreversible...made me feel manipulated. i'm definitely hyped for the new release as i am of anything from johnny to (despite sparrow being a slight disappointment). what do you expect from tarantino's new one?

  3. 'Cannes wait to see'- nice one, Phantom!

    Which reminds me, I must watch 'Trainspotting' again, or something by Forsyth...

    I have to agree with regard to Gaspar Noe; I admire his audacity, like you, but I think most of all I admire 'I Stand Alone' because it so accurately and unashamedly gives us a chilling insight into the twisted psyche of the 'hero' in the style of, say, Sartre.

    It is very literary indeed; the words often sound as if they have been lifted from 'Antoin Roquentin'- with a touch of the psychotic.

    Certainly, I like the extreme nature of the film, but I admire it most because of all the rules Noe breaks, the one he breaks with the greatest success is that fallacious scriptwriting convention that 'voiceover is bad'; not all voiceover is bad- it merely takes care. I write like that; and when I am finsihed, I am never certain if I have a film, a book, or a play. Doesn't matter; write like Hell what comes, and let the work tell you what it is. Noe's work could be a play, or a book, or a talking book, or a musical...

    I think the style opens up possibilities, rather than limiting them.

    Cinema is about 'showing' rather than 'telling', for the most part, but I feel there is also a place for solid attempts at merging the literary and the cinematic; done carefully (and let's face it, most voiceover now in Hollywood films is mainly laziness on the part of writers, who lift piecemeal chunks of text and paste them into the script rather than thinking carefully about what should be voiced, and what shown) it can be done very, very well. Hence 'I Stand Alone' stands alone not only as a good example of the possibilities of 'literary cinema', but also gripping, audacious film making.

  4. I think all of these sound fascinating. Pedro Almodovar's Broken Embraces is probably the one I would be most wanting to see. I'm a big fan of his and Penelope Cruz.

  5. Kotto -- I STAND ALONE is my favorite Noe film. It's consistent. IRREVERSIBLE I find a little bit in need of an edit (a crime my films and I have also been guilty of), but I do love it.

    I'm looking forward to Tarantino's newie. My favorite Tarantino film is JACKIE BROWN. He makes very watchable stuff, but becauise I've seen all the films he references, I don't find his material as fresh as the average joe, which isn't surprising.

    Favorite To films are HERO NEVER DIES, RUNNING OUT OF TIME, A MOMENT OF ROMANCE, THE MISSION and EXILED. Wasn't a big fan of SPARROW. Liked MAD DETECTIVE with reservations.

    Making a good film is so fuckin hard. If any film is even half decent, I respect the maker.


    mandingo -- antoin roquentin is a nice reference for Noe's voice-over writing in I STAND ALONE.

    I think V/O has a place, too. It's silly making a blanket statement that V/O is bad.


    I like Almodovar a lot.

    All four of these flicks piqued my interest.

    I won't be rushing to see Jane Campion's newie. I really enjoyed ANGEL AT MY TABLE and THE PIANO, but not much else of hers.

    Ken Loach's new film I'd be up for, too. Hell, I know I'll see them all, but some get the juices flowing more than others.

  6. I must say I wholeheartedly agree with Kotto in his admiration for 'Jackie Brown'; it is my fave Tarantino film as well.

    Would I be overstating the case to say it is somewhat underestimated?

    I had the distinct pleasure of chatting with Robert Forster while he was in Melbourne shooting, and I mentioned I had a sense that there was some improv on his part in 'J.B.'; but, no, there was none- it just seemed that way. Beautifully written, shot, and played.

    For mine, the opening credit sequence- the choice of song, the anticipation of a new Q.T. film, seeing Pam Grier back where she belongs in the centre of the frame- film moments don't get much better.

    And yet watching 'Death Proof' was like watching a snail crawling along the edge of a straight razor for moi.

    Oh, and while I think of it, for anyone who is interested in other films that reflect the interior monologue of the tortured, check out Lous Malle's film 'Fire Within'- on youtube if you speak French- otherwise go directly to Criterion. It is based on a bio written by a chap released from a mental home who goes to all his friends to say goodbye before he tops himself. It is not unlike 'Leaving Las Vegas' in that it balances the literary and filmic necessities and requirements beautifully.

    I just caught up with it, and I would have to say it is one of Malle's finest.

    Excellent thread this time around, kudos to all concerned.

  7. mandingo -- that was me admiring JACKIE BROWN, not Kotto, although he may admire it, too (don't know).

    I remember you telling me about meeting Forster on the night you met Geoffrey Rush (I was there at the St.K Film Fest with you).

    I watched FIRES WITHIN quite recently. It's superb.

  8. mandingo must be in my head because jackie brown actually IS my favorite tarantino a long shot.

    perhaps it was the great source material, perhaps it was the lack of blatant (ringo lam's city of fire, scorsese's american boy: steven prince's adrenaline needle to the heart story, etc.) ripoffs, maybe it was the great pacing, or the comeback of robert forster and pam grier. so many reasons to like jackie brown.

    as many do, i see tarantino as a bit of a fraud and i think his weaknesses really came through in death proof. being inspired and influenced is one thing, but this guy blatantly steals from a lot of great (albeit, more obscure) stuff.

    imo, tarantino could be a really great director if he'd stop writing, stop stealing and stop deluding himself that he's cool.

  9. My Dear Phantom, my apologies.

    And my dear Kotto, my sincerest apologies for getting 'in your head'!

    Christ, I have enough trouble with my own head without spreading the evil!

    Reminds me of that great bit in 'Young Ones' where Vivian is sleeping in Rick's bed, and in his consternation, Rick demands to know 'why'.

    Vivian replies- with inarguable logic-'because I was sick all over mine!'

    Anyway, glad you all like 'J.B.' as much as I do, and sorry for misreading the originator of the comment in my excitement, although it all seems to have worked out well in the end.

    This is why I feel film is more than just 'entertainment'; it has been known to bring folk together Woody Guthrie style.

    I don't want to labour the point about Q.T.'s weaknesses- he's doin' it, for the most part I'm diggin' it, and for me to put shit on him smacks of sour grapes, sitting on my fat arsehole lamenting the fact that I can't do what he's doing.

    Like Clint says, a good man knows his limitations.

    I like Q.T.'s style, in person and in his work, I dig a large part of his work, and I don't mind if he rips off other work.

    That never bothered me; pop will eat itself like the proverbial serpent eating it's tail endlessly, eternally.

    The bottom line for me is that 'Death Proof' is not so much derivative- although it is that-but is totally original in being a complete stinker!! 'Grindhouse'??

    It WISHES it was Grindhouse!!

    Neither of the Grindhouse films suceeded for me on a THEMATIC level (wait for it, because I did like 'Planet Terror on a VISCERAL level), because they both had strong women characters who prevail; my fondest memories of Grindhouse-indeed the very foundation of Grindhouse- with the exception of say 'I Spit On Your Grave'- is that the women are raped, tortured and murdered, and if the balance is restored, it is some other Deux Et Machina that intervenes, rather than the chick sucking it up and getting her own back!

    There is a Grindhouse sub genre where the woman gets back at the baddies- for the moment 'Fair Game', and a couple of others spring to mind- but she has to be so much badder than the baddies.

    A la Camille Keaton.

    These two 'Grindhouse' films were blatant (to me) feminist tracts, which kind of defeats the purpose of the Grindhouse 'ethic'; in my '42nd Street Top 10', none of the women survive, unless they are zombies or cannibals.

    The chicks in the two most recent films rise above, which always strangely irked me; but at least Rodriguez was true to the spirit of the genre when his angry chick strikes back in such a nasty over the top way.

    They have to be 'honorary men', in a way. She is virtually a female 'Hatchet'.

    The chicks in 'Death Proof'? They got their own back, but in a desultory, even anti-climactic manner.

    And the way they crapped on throughout the movie- blah blah blah blah- by the end, I don't think I gave a shit what happened to any of them!! It virtually obscured what good Kurt Russell brought to the mix with blabber!

    Given his money and talent, and affection for the genre, Q.T., like 'Antoine Rockey-Horror'- should have 'better known better'. On that film, he really broke loose from his moorings.

    Or perhaps I am quite simply insane, and on the hunt for a better brain to take up residency in.

    I haven't seen 'Bastards' but I look forward to his return to form. Let's face it, one film does not a failure make, and many liked 'Death Proof', so 'ugly is- as always- in the eye of the beholder'.

    I still 'dig it all', the good the bad and the ugly, and I am honoured to be able to chat to you enlightened and intelligent guys about these matters.

    'Viva La Monde...'

  10. Sorry, did I say 'Hatchet'? Perhaps I meant 'Machete'...

  11. Wow, someone actually thinks that Camilla Belle has talent?

    No offense, but I am not a fan of her "blank stare" type of acting.

  12. Buscemi -- a certain kind of "talent" I would say.

    No offense taken.