Available in Cannes
It‘s a tough job but someone‘s got to do it. Alan Morrison reports directly from the 1996 Cannes Film Festival and (below) sifts through the cinematic highlights.
It opened with Ridicule and. by the titne it closes. it will be 'l-‘lirting With Disaster. But in between Patrice Leconte‘s Versailles period piece and David 0. Russell's American independent comedy. the 49th Cannes Film Festival has delivered its typically unpredictable set of pleasant surprises and crushing disappointments. Festival director Gilles Jacob has shifted the focus away frotn the I'Iollywood mainstream in order to give French cinema more roorn to breathe at what is undoubtedly the world's most glamorous — and crassest ~ cinematic binge. It's a decision that has also favoured the filtrrmaking talents of Scotland and the rest ofthe UK. Nothing here has had more of a slap. bang. in-your-face impact than 'l'rainspntting. selected for an Official Out Of Competition Midnight Screening on Monday I3 May. The V-
fingered salute of Robert Carlyle‘s Begbie. plastered onto palm trees along the seafront. is enough to make the local ladies drop their pampered poodles in shock. The film itself is the one true ‘buzz‘ item at the Festival. and press interest isn‘t just limited to Europe and America: what Irvine Welsh made of his interview session with a group of Japanese journalists is sure to be a story in itself.
'l'rains/mtting's star. Ewart McGregor. is also to be seen in Peter Greenaway‘s visual masterpiece The l’t/lmv Bonk. As the lover of a young woman who covers the bodies of her sexual partners with oriental calligraphy. MeCtregor‘s kit is more off than on. a factor that may boost the film‘s box office more than Greenaway's beautifully crafted frames.
Continuing the Shallow (irave connection. Christopher Eccleston delivers another powerful yet controlled performance in Jude. a big screen version of Hardy's novel which shot for two weeks in Edinburgh last year. The capital's locations look splendid. particularly in the procession scene which saw 500 extras march from the City Chambers across the Royal Mile to the back of St Giles' Cathedral.
Scotland is also the location for Lars Von Trier's Breaking The Ii’aves. an emotionally wrought tale of the sacrifices made by a young woman in a strict Calvinistic community when her Scandinavian oil-rig worker husband is paralysed in an accident. Newcomer Emily Watson is a Londoner (you‘d never tell from her perfect Highland
accent). but the cast features Scottish actors ranging from veterans like Phil McCall and Sandra V'oe to recent Queen Margaret College graduate Sarah Gudgeon. This film is my tip for the Palme l)‘()r. although it's sad to report that. of its 28 co-production partners. not one is from the UK.
Even before the Saltire gets its annual Riviera unfurling at the l)rambuie Edinburgh Film Festival's annual launch party. the Scots have done themselves proud across the breadth of Cannes. Actress Phyllis Logan contributes to a fine ensemble effort in Mike Leigh‘s well received Secrets And [.ies; Lynda .Vlyles has her third Roddy Doyle feature film credit as producer of The Van; up-and-coming director Jim
The Van, based on Roddy Doyle’s novel, premieres at Cannes
(iiliespie provides the visuals for ‘Mother Love'. one of seven shorts inspired by tracks from Queen's Made In Heaven album. which was unveiled at a special screening in the presence of Brian May and Roger Taylor; and David IIayman's as-yct-unr‘cleased disturbing (iIaswegian noir 'I'he Near Room seeks buyers in the Festival's market.
With the concrete evidence of the country‘s talents up on screen. it's no wonder that Cannes was selected as the ideal place to launch a CI)—R()M on Scottish locations. At Cannes. the eyes of the world are watching. and Scotland is proving there’s plenty to be seen.
The ('annes l’thn l-‘estival closes on .‘iltntdav 20 May
Looking For Richard: Al Pacino's directorial debut
I Looking For Richard Al Pacino is one of the few genuine star names at Cannes this year. in town to promote his directorial debut. a documentary- style look at a version of Richard III. while also examining the aecessibilty of Shakespeare to a modern. albeit American. audience. Some have compared it to Truffaut‘s Day For Night; others reckon self-indulgent actors-tumed-directors should keep their home movies at home.
I Temptress Moon it wouldn‘t be Cannes without a film starring Gong Li in competition. Chen Kaige‘s followup to Farewell My Coneabine is set in 1911 and has the actress installed in her
familiar world of dominating men and Shanghai gangsters. only to take control ofthe ‘family‘ when her father dies. The film looks good. but this period and milieu are becoming over familiar.
I Crash David Cronenberg turns his attentions to J. G. Ballard for what is described as ‘a futuristic love story set in the present‘ in which James Spader begins a perverse relationship with Holly Hunter after a near fatal crash. Their Iove also involves accident victim Rosanna Arquette. And you thought Naked Lunch and Dead Ringers were strange.
I [in lléros Tres Discret Matthieu _I_(_assovit7.. director of La Haine, is seen displaying his acting talents in Jacques Audiard's World War II story of a man who invents a lifestyle for himself that makes him a hero even though he hasn‘t done any lighting. A Walter Mitty-style premise takes on wider political connotations.
I The Eighth Day The biggest ‘Euro- buzz‘ aside from Lars Von Trier‘s Breaking The Waves concerns Belgian director Jaco Van Dormael‘s follow-up to Toto Le He'ms. Again. the oddball element is in place. as normal guy Harry meets up with and befriends Georges. a young man with Downs Syndrome.
I lone Star A present-day Texan sheriffdiseovers the body of one of his hated predecessors and reckons the murderer was the local hero — his late father. John Sayles‘s thriller has a complex backdrop that reveals how the
past and present are irredeemably linked. though not by the ‘truths‘ that seem mos_t obvious.
I I Shot Andy Warhol There‘s tnore to Valerie Solana's fifteen minutes of fame than the time she put a bullet into the King of Pop Art. So claims Mary Harron‘s debut feature. which evocativer r‘c—ereates Warhol's (30s enclave and boasts one of the Festival‘s strongest performances from actress Lin Taylor.
I Some Mother’s Son Terry George and Jim Sheridan return to the politics of Northern Ireland after In The Name ()f'l'he Father for this semi- fictionalised tale of the Bobby Sands hunger strike. By transferring the film‘s point of view to the mothers of the IRA prisoners. the filmmakers ensure a wider emotional relevance.
l Shot Andy Warhol: re-creates Warhol’s 60s enclave
Stealing Beauty: cinematically lush
I Stealing Beauty Bernardo Bertolucci returns to Italy for one of the most cinematically Itiin films in competition. Liv Tyler plays a young American who travels to Tuscany to meet again the boy with whom she shared her first kiss four years before. Jeremy Irons and French veteran Jean Mar'ais also star.
I Trees lounge Actor Steve Buscemi makes his directorial debut while also starring as a no-hoper bartIy whose confused relationships draw him towards the seventeen-year-old niece of his cit—girlfriend. The characters are strongly constructed. the direction confident enough to allow them space to build their own weirdo community.
28 The List 17-30 May I996