Five personal highlights of Cannes 2011
Time Out Film editor Dave Calhoun selects the moments that made his Cannes Film Festival this year
And there may well be some shouting on Sunday night if Robert de Niro's prize jury makes some strange decisions. De Niro and Co (Jude Law, Uma Thurman, Oliver Assayas and others) will have their work cut out in choosing a winner of the Palme d'Or. In other years, there has been an obvious frontrunner, such as Michael Haneke's 'The White Ribbon' in 2009 or Laurent Cantet's 'The Class' the year before.
This year, any number of titles could bag world cinema's top prize. It could be Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar or Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki, both Cannes regulars who have never won the award. Almodóvar's 'The Skin I Live in' is a thriller in a similar vein to his 'Broken Embraces' which sees Antonio Banderas as a plastic surgeon coming on like Frankenstein in reaction to the collapse of his family life.
Kaurismäki's 'Le Havre' is a typically laconic and very big-hearted celebration of romance and goodwill in the French port town. Other possible winners, or at least winners of one of the other prizes, are 'The Artist', a celebration of silent-era Hollywood from French director Michel Hazanavicius, or 'The Tree of Life', a spiritual epic about life, the universe and everything from American director Terrence Malick. It's also entirely possible that the Dardenne brothers from Belgium could win the prize for a record-breaking third time with their simple parable of parenting and growing up, 'The Kid with a Bike'.
But that's enough speculation. For now, I'm gently musing over the past ten days of the festival, thinking back over what I've seen and heard, and these are the five images I'm utterly failing to get out of my head as the event finally draws to an end. In fact, I'm not even trying…
1. The sound of Boney M's 'Sunny'The Austrian film 'Michael' – about a paedophile who keeps a young boy prisoner in his basement – ends on a pretty bleak note, and so what sad and sombre song kicks in as the credits start to roll? Why, Boney M's 'Sunny' of course! I haven't been able to get this completely inappropriate (and brilliantly so) tune out of my head ever since. Not heard it? Click here to listen.
2. Jean Dujardin lapping up applause in 'The Artist'Michel Hazanavicius's 'The Artist' tells of the downfall of a silent movie star in 1929 and does so in the wonderful style of films from the time. Dujardin plays screen idol George Valentin who at the film's beginning refuses to leave the stage at the end of a premiere, hoovering up the adulation and even inviting his cute dog to join his smiling, hammy aw-shucks routine as the rest of his cast look on exasperatedly from the wings.
3. A samurai trying to commit ritual suicide with a wooden swordTakashi Miike's 'Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai' wasn't one of the festival strongest titles, but it's impossible to forget the sight of a young Japanese man in the seventeenth century being forced to stab himself in the stomach with a wooden sword when he tries to call the bluff of a group of samurai to blackmail his way out of poverty. He tries and tries and tries to pierce his belly with the knife, and then when it finally goes in, it breaks and the samurai force him to continue… No – I'm shivering just thinking of it.
4. Lars von Trier wondering, 'How do I get out of this sentence?'Too late… I wasn't paying attention as Von Trier's press conference for 'Melancholia' played on a screen in the room in which I was working. Then I looked up just in time to hear him say, 'Okay, I'm a Nazi'. Cue 24 hours during which he was forced to apologise formally, a dinner for 200 people in honour of his film was cancelled, he received a very muted and embarrassed round of applause at the end of his film, 'Melancholia', and, finally, he was declared persona non grata by the Cannes Film Festival board of directors. Was this the last time we'll see Von Trier at Cannes? Most likely, yes. And which actors will want to work with him next time round?
5. Sean Penn in lipstick, a huge black wig, tiny sports shorts and knee-high white socksNo, I didn't bump into Penn in a backstreet Cannes bar – he was dressed like this to play Cheyenne, a fading and depressed American rock star living in Dublin in Paolo Sorrentino's 'This Must Be the Place'. In this scene, he puts on his sports gear and joins his wife (Frances McDormand) for a round of Fives in his empty swimming pool. In another scene, he's caught in a lift with a gaggle of society women talking about make-up: he interrupts them and shares a vital tip on how to apply lipstick and powder that will last the whole day long. It reminds us that Penn can be so much more than the po-faced persona he so often projects.The Cannes Film Festival 2011 announces its prizes from 7pm on Sun May 22. Return here for final festival coverage on May 23 or follow us at Twitter for the latest updates.
Author: Dave Calhoun
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