Name Laurent Cantet

Born 5 June, 1961. Melle. France Background A graduate of La Femis film school in Paris. Cantet made his impressive feature debut in 1999 Willi Human Resources. which used a mainly non- professional cast and married the personal and the political in its account of generational conflict at a factory. Cantet's follow-up was Time Out, the intriguing story of an unemployed executive. who pretends to friends and family that he has a new position working for the UN. His third feature Heading South, starring Charlotte Rainpling, was set in Haiti and focused on Western female sexual tourists. What’s he up to now? Cantet's new film The Class is a portrait of a school year for a class of inner-city French teenagers and their teacher (Francois Begaudeau). Cantet won the writer-director the Palme d'Or last May at Cannes. It attracted over 1.5 million spectators in France.

On directing teenage non- professionals “For most of a school year we did improvised workshops with the students and the teacher Francois [Begaudeau] every Wednesday afternoon. It wasn’t so much about training them as actors. It was about listening to their life experiences and what they were going through, and then letting them express themselves. '

On the school system 'I wanted to show the complexity of the system and its contradictions. There is no magical solution and the film doesn't judge the characters. We tried to avoid making Francois into an inspirational teacher he does make mistakes. In France some teachers have complained that the film doesn't show them in a positive enough light.‘

On winning the Palme d’Or “I haven't had time since winning the Palme d'Or to think ab0ut my next film. I hope winning the prize gives me the strength to do the films I want to do. in the way I want to do them. To me reality can provide so many interesting stories, if you are prepared to look at if from different angles.‘

Interesting Fact Both of Cantet's parents were schoolteachers. (Tom Dawson)

I The Class. selected release. out now.

46 THE LIST 5—19 Mar 3009

HUSH" (15) 91min 0.

sci i i 'lllHIl i l H WATCHMEN (18) 161 min 00.

Considering that Alan Moore’s Watchmen was believed unfilmmable. Director Zach Snyder has done a sterling job in bringing Moore‘s influential graphic novel to the big screen. Snyder worked with comic book scribe Frank Miller on 300 and has gone to similar lengths to be as faithful to the source material here.

It's New York City in 1985, President Richard Nixon has been elected to the White House for the third time on the strength of victory in Vietnam. The world is on the brink of nuclear war, and a group of costumed vigilantes, who became outlawed in 1977, remember the good old days when they could mete out justice unregulated.

It was partly the shock of seeing so-called costumed heroes rape, do drugs and commit adultery that arguably changed the face of comics forever. But most of all Watchmen questioned what type of Machiavellian mindset would allow someone to believe that they

could do-good by dressing up in costumes and fighting crime.

Classic pulp dialogue has been kept word for word and some of the camera angles are exactly the same as the animated drawings. Essentially Snyder has filmed the comic book, with the exception of a slightly changed ending and the loss of a ‘pirate prologue’ (that will apparently appear on the DVD).

Snyder’s film has one major failing and several minor ones that will prevent it being as well loved as the graphic novel. For starters the cliched music choices are jarring and unbearable, so much so that they continually take the viewer out of the movie. The performance of Malin Ackerman as Laurie/Silk Spectre ll misfires, especially in the scenes with Dr Manhattan (Billy Crudup) on Mars, which call for greater emotional resonance. The new ending has its plusses but sadly there is less ambiguity and afar greater faith in humanity than was in the original text. However, even with this failings, Watchmen is still atmospheric and entertaining. (Kaleem Aftab)

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