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lingering feeling about the International Festival du Film’s opening gala. the Scorcese (‘oppola Allen portmanteau New York Stories. Marty‘s opener about burly artist Nick Nolte‘s obsession with ex-girlfriend was hackneyed but passable; Frankie’s tale of NY rich kiddies plain embarrassing; while Woody‘s ()edipus Wrecks segment was the sort of throwaway skit on
.maternal domination that would
have been good for five minutes in his wacky Bananas period but seemed over-stretched and fifteen years too late in these surroundings. Sorry guys. but that's a thumbs down.
From then on however. things got considerably better as the films selected for the Official Competition turned up some excellent work. Denys Arcand's impressive modern day passion play Jesus uf.'llmttrea/. and Shohei lmamura‘s dour post-l liroshima domestic drama Black Rain were early favourites in
the running for the prestigious Palme
d'()r. while the French loved the brilliant performancesin latest Bertrand Blier Gerard Depardieu collaboration Tmp Bel/e l’our Toi. but President of the .lury Wim Wenders confounded almost
Forty-two movies in thirteen days was the final tally from Cannes 8‘) for this dedicated follower ofcinematic fashion. And with a substantial number ofthose due for forthcoming or eventual British release. any (‘annes round-up also serves as a loose preview of things to come. Not that any of this should be taken as the last word on any of the titles about to be mentioned. you understand. As any festival-goer knows. the critical faculty can start to experience a kind of snowblindness in the face of prolonged exposure to just so much dazzling excellence/ineptitude. but having said that. those first impressions can often be the most lasting.
'I'hus. disappointment remains one's
everyone by giving the prize to Sex. Lies and Videotape. A surprise winner but undoubtedly a worthy one. this astonishingly confident
debut feature from 2b year-old
American Steve Sodebergh is a controlled chamber piece filmed in restrained style which adds to a bizarre love triangle the figure of
. James Spader as a young man who
confronts his impotence by taping women‘s most intimate sexual revelations. In a daring change of direction from his early career as a
I fig. I
l Gordon R Strachan in Venus Peter
teen cad in John Hughes movies like Pretty In Pink. Spader also walked off with the Best Actor award.
With the young Yugoslav Emir Kusturica (a previous Palme l)‘()r recipient for When Father Was A way On Business) getting Best Director for his not universally admired Time of The Gypsies. obviously the message had come down from somewhere on high that this was to be the year when youth was to be encouraged. Perhaps this criteria includes Jim Jarmusch. whose vignettes of Memphis life in Mystery Train gained the prize for Artistic Contribution to the (‘inema. but maybe he was just gaining recognition for the film‘s further refinement of his laidback comic aesthetic. No prize for Spike Lee seemed an oversight. for [)0 The Right Thing won much acclaim for its impassioned but analytic study of inter—racial tensions. but with the Un (‘ertain Regard screening of(‘harles Lane's superb (‘haplinesque treatment of homelessness in his silent movie Sidewalk Stories getting a five minute standing ovation. that meant that two of the best films I saw at (‘annes were by Black American directors. which can only be a very encouraging sign for the American cinema.
As for the British screen. well the lack of an entry battling for the prizes was seen by some as an indication of the current ill-health ofour homegrown production. 'l'rue. Michael (‘aton—Jones‘ Scandal was an Official Selection but not In ('ompetition. but that hardly counts and it seemed more of a sop to calm the Brits down more than anything
else. In the end we were left to console ourselves with the Director‘s Fortnight appearance of distributor turned director Andy lingel’s Melanehnlia. which turned out to be a most engrossing attempt at an existential thriller. and the encouraging reception in the [in (‘ertain Regard section of Ian Sellar's Venus Peter. the chronicle of Island life substantially financed by the Scottish Film Production Fund. ()n the downside though. the newly-completed Bill Forsyth movie Breaking In. from a John Sayles screenplay and starring Burt Reynolds in a character comedy about an ageing safecracker. seemed something of a damp squib given all the right noises we had heard about it and the considerable if finally none too-compatible talents involved.
[.iv‘enttially. the fortnight closed
with [.uis Puenzo‘s adaptation of novelist (‘arlos‘ Fuentes’ ()ld Gringo. an epic picture of Mexico in revolution with Jane Fonda and (iregory Peck that combined a huge burden ofcultural statement with a stumbling narrative and ended up falling over itself. Still. people kept telling me that at least it was much better than both Aria and ll’i/lmv. which for reasons known only to Festival [)irector (iilles Jacob had 2 closed the whole shebang on the two previous years. and one was forced
to grudgingly concur.
What I brought home with me however. was the image of two amputated arms spinning lyricallv towards an overhead camera. ' spraying blood as they flew. It‘s a moment from Alexandro Jodorovvsky"s Santa Sangre. easily the most disturbing. reprehensible. 5 yet obsessively haunting piece I saw in Cannes. which comes when our young hero watches his tightrope artiste mother being mutilated by fellow circus performer father. All i she had done was to pour acid ov er 1 his genitals when she caught him making a play for the tattooed lady. j
and that's merely the start of an epic journey through every kind of human malformation and j misfortune possible. one that evokes 5 the perverse poetry of’l‘od l-reaks l Browning and Luis Bunuel. Unfortunately British censorship being what it is. the film is probably unreleasable over here. but the flying arms. there's a real coup de cinema for you.