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Amour and Beyond the Hills top critics fave list at Cannes, by Moira Sullivan

 

From the clear blue waves from the Mediterranean washing up on the
shore, to a new film by Jackie Chan, and nearly non-stop fireworks every
few days, the city of Cannes is nothing less than spectacular in
ushering in 12 days of cinema magic at the 65th Cannes Film Festival.
This is an inferno of media, fans, celebrities and press. Churches stay
open at night, street singers set up stages, and red carpets are out
everywhere. Hundreds of people ascend "les steppes" - the steps of the
"Red Carpet" with the major stars, and thousands of fans wait outside
trying to get a view, or get autographs.Guards monitor it all, for
better or worse.

It’s hard to believe that over 4,000 media can crowd into the facilities
at the festival cinema palace, the "Palais", but in fact they do. There
has been a great line up of films including Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D.
The film stars Argento's daughter Asia Argento as Mina, and Thomas
Kretchman as Dracula. The two were previously figured in Argento's
Stendahl Syndrome. Van Helsing is played by Rutger Hauer. It is great to
see the Italian master of horror at Cannes with a new film, even if it
is a bit uneven and stagey. Meanwhile, Argento's Suspiria is in
pre-production by David Gordon Green with Michael Nykvist (The Girl with
the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish version) and Isabelle Huppert.

Nicole Kidman plays an unusual role in the "Official Selection" film of
Lee Daniel's Paperboyy screening today,regarded as having the most
erotic scene of the competition. The tall Australian was hounded by an
ecstatic group of photographers and towering over them, made her way
with massive security through the basement of the Palais to her press
conference. Paperboy, however was the only film in the competition to
receive loud boos from the French. Nicole Kidman admitted she had not
seen the film, a smart reply to make amidst controversy. For her, it is
a new role at risk - a Barbie character never boring in the role of an
almost hysterical lover of a dingo (John Cusack) accused of murder.
Scratchy and uncouth, the film also received a fair amount of whistling,
which typically expresses disapproval in a largely French
audience.Nevertheless the film is brilliant.

Oscar winner Marion Cottilard plays a killer whale trainer who loses her
legs in a water show in Jack Audiard's Rust & Bone.  The title means the
particular taste of blood in one's mouth after taking a dunk on the
head. And Cottilard's boyfriend played by Matthias Schoenaerts takes a
lot of hits to the skull. The film is stunningly beautiful with
excellent acting, editing by Juliette Welfling (The Hunger Games, A
Prophet) and cinematography by Stéphane Fountaine (The Prophet). It is
on the list for one of the best films in the "Official Selection".

There are also film sidebars to Cannes outside of the Palais. Kanye West
had a new film 26 minute film, which was screened in a tent with
multiple screen projections. With Kim Kardashian on his arm he announced
- Cruel West. And West packs a lot into his films such as Runaway. This
one will marshall in a new album - Cruel Summer.

Tilda Swinton has come and gone from the first day of the festival on
May 16 with the opening film Moonrise Kingdom. As Cannes draws towards
the close, and with only two days remaining of competition films, it
would appear that there are at least two top runners: Michael Haneke’s
Amour (Love) and Cristian Mungiu's  Beyond the Hills.

Amour is a priceless portrait of an elderly couple played by Jean Louis
Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva. When Anne loses her memory one day it
is not long until her body is in a continual meltdown. She is dutifully
cared for by her loving husband Georges. The account of this
metamorphosis is phenomenal and Haneke knows how to tell it.

Beyond the Hills is set in a Rumanian convent where a young woman comes
to visit her past lover after working in Germany. They had plans to live
together and Alina  (Cristina Flutur) was even saving up to buy land for
a home. But Voichita (Cosmina Stratan) decides she doesn't want to leave
the monastery with her and Alina flips out. The "Father" and "Mother" as
they are called of the monastery do a "pray in", chaining Alina to a
board in a bizarre sort of exorcism. The film is a bit overdone, and
there is not enough substance to the relationship between the two women,
giving the impression that they just happened to be together. The film
is more of an indictment on the religious and medical persecution of
"hysterical" women, who usuallyhave some background that qualifies them
to be "hysterical", as in this case.

Moira Sullivan

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