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Cannes Awards

A surprise, but for a change, a nice one: Laurent Cantet’s “Entre les murs,” a pedagogical fiction based on a novel by a French schoolteacher (Francois Begaudeau, who plays himself), has won the Palme d’or of the 61st Cannes Film Festival, becoming the first French film to win in 21 years. (It was Maurice Pialat’s “Under the Sun of Satan” the last time, and I can still hear the booing and hissing that broke out in the Palais. “If you don’t like me,” said the ever diplomatic Pialat, “Then allow me to say that I don’t like you, either.”)

I admired Cantet’s “Human Resources” and “Time Out,” though his “Heading South” seemed a bit of a misstep. A Palm should help him find a distributor for the US, though “Entre les murs” sounds like exactly the kind of precisely observed social drama that the French seem to be excelling at right now (as in Abdellatif Kechiche’s “Le Graine et le mulet”) and that the American art house audience has firmly rejected (too many poor people, not enough elegant adultery).

Le Grand prix du Festival, aka second place, went to Matteo Garrone’s “Gomorra,” an adaptation of Roberto Saviano’s very strong book about the pervasive corruption that continues to reign in Naples. Benicio Del Toro won best actor, as expected, for “Che” (though he will have to go a way to beat Omar Sharif’s performance in Richard Fleischer’s 1969 version), and the best actress award went to first-timer Sandra Corveloni for her portrayal of a working class mother in “Linha de passe” by Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas. Do you get the feeling that Sean Penn was the president of the jury?

The brothers Dardenne took home the screenplay award for “Le Silence de Lorna,” and Nuri Bilge Ceylan was named best director for his “The Three Monkeys,” a film that seemed to have few if any passionate supporters among the press. The Camera d’or, for best first or second film, went to Steve McQueen for his IRA prison drama “Hunger,” and the jury prize went to “Il Divo,” an unflattering portrait of the Italian politician Giulio Andreotti directed by Paolo Sorrentino. Catherine Deneuve and Clint Eastwood both received awards for showing up — or rather, the “Special Prize of the 61st Festival for the ensemble of their careers.” For the highly touted Israeli animated film “Waltz with Bachir”: bupkus.

59 comments to Cannes Awards

  • Kent Jones

    I second the Professor’s appreciation. Is RUN FOR YOUR LIFE terrible? That’s too bad. So long ago that I really don’t have a clear memory. I would love to see THE OUTSIDER. And as long as we’re on the subject of television, is it possible to see THE ROGUES, of which I have fond memories?

  • nicolas saada

    Kent, you should check TJ HOOKER, probably the best comedy on tv ever, with SEINFELD…
    Another FUGITIVE Inspired tv series, which was definitely “on the road” but not at all “left wing” was THE INVADERS, that I personnally liked a lot. Another Quinn Martin special.

  • Professor Echo

    Kent, the essential problem I had with RUN FOR YOUR LIFE all these decades later was its predominant theme about how soulfully impoverished the upper classes are, ala Richie Rich, “the poor little rich boy.” It echoes many of DeMille’s silent melodramas, this idea of the intrinsic moral superiority of the noble destitute, while it gloriously wallows in the excesses of wealthy decadence and depravity. Perhaps it might have been a more poignant idea if the show’s protagonist, a high powered attorney to the blue bloods, had lost most of his fortune and chose to explore what else the world had to offer and vice versa besides money, rather than the catalyst being the tired saddled with a terminal illness gimmick. It’s true that premise would have ventured even closer into FUGITIVE territory, as well as ROUTE 66, but at least it would have had the potential to explore more substantial ideas instead of all the repetitious, superficial soul searching amidst Monaco race tracks and exclusive Swiss ski resorts. The prevalent notion is that he must defy his imminent death with daredevil virtuosity, undertaking and thriving on dangerous ventures to prove that in his heart he will live forever, no matter what the doctors say, spiritually running for his life. This leads to some highly improbable, if not impossible, situations such as being hired as a spy to infiltrate the iron curtain or outwitting cannibals in the jungles of New Guinea. But so few times does he ever learn much in the thick of or after these quests, either about himself or the world around him. There are some episodes where circumstances impose the unwashed masses upon him, such as one first season story which contrives a 60’s variation of riding the rails Depression style, but there is always some prevailing condescension in them. A wealthy powerful man discovering that money can’t buy happiness or immortality can now exude profound wisdom and benevolent guidance even to a hobo and his wayward love life, yet all of it with virtually no sense of irony. The life lessons we’re supposed to ponder through the lawyer’s eyes, commensurate with his inner tragedy, never really amount to much, simply because even before each week’s journey starts he is already benighted as the ever wise, psychical savior of the world. Unlike Richard Kimble, who is literally running for his life toward some semblance of salvation, Paul Bryan has already arrived.

    In addition, as has been mentioned above, the show absolutely REEKS of being a typically cheesy Universal production, especially with such similarly themed contemporary series as ROUTE 66, THE FUGITIVE and I SPY. Shredded stock footage reigns; a backlot Europe that would make all those Paramount stand-ins for the endless parade of fictional Commie countries in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE blush (“Hey look, in the background, that evil dictator’s minions are riding a studio golf cart!”); Fernando Lamas in a recurring role as a gigolo; etc. etc. Even Gazzara, as good as he is, can only make so much of this work.

    The first season of THE INVADERS, which comes with my highest recommendation, was just released this past week on DVD in Region 1.

    And Kent, I can rustle up a few episodes of THE ROGUES on DVD-R if you are ever interested.

  • Belated reader of this thread. Interesting comment about cable TV dramas. Have not seen many episodes of Firefly, but would vouch for the excellence of the storytelling of the writer-creator of the show (Joss Whedon, who also made Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel). Suspect the Firefly series is good–I saw and enjoyed its big-screen incarnation, titled Serenity.

    Would or has anyone thought to compare these series (The Wire, The Sopranos) to, say, Dennis Potters’ works?

    And is anyone familiar with Steven Moffat? He’s done good work in the new Dr. Who series, I thought (his episodes include “The Empty Child,” “The Doctor Dances,” “The Girl in the Fireplace,” “Blink,” and two episodes in the new season), plus a mini series called Jekyll, and an old comedy series called Coupling (basically Freinds with British accents, that on occasion does clever things with timelines and points of view).

    Mike Grost, who has some interest in science fiction, might be familiar with Dr. Who.

  • nicolas saada

    Dr Who is great, but I really like the first series, shot on video in the seventies; They were really interesting.

  • The first Dalek invasion, the golden age of Tom
    Baker, the various lovely companions (a special favorite being, of course, Elisabeth Sladen), absolutely.

    Not a fan of Harlan Ellison, but I agree with him when he says fans can keep their Star Wars and Star Trek toys and conventions and fanfic–there is only Doctor Who.

  • Mike Grost

    Thanks fot the tips about Dr. Who – will check this out!
    The British space hero known best here is Dan Dare, star of Eagle Comics. Don’t think they ever made a movie of him, though! His helicopter number is SF171…

  • Mike, the June 20 8 pm Eastern airing of Dr. Who at the Sci Fi Channel will feature a two-part script by Steven Moffat–Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead. Worth watching, I think.

    Might add that Moffat’s won two Hugo Awards, both for Dr. Who scripts–the aforementioned The Empty Child and Girl in the Fireplace. And his Dr. Who script for Blink (a nicely scary little thriller) won him the writer prize at the BAFTA Awards.

    He’s also just been named lead writer for the fifth season of Dr. Who–so we’re going to hear more from him.