Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Films in Review: 2008 at Cannes

Film Review: Comment on Cannes

Eric Green

Cannes' 61st Season

Cannes is a term that has come to represent celebrities, new international films, recognition of actors and actresses and, of course, money and power as reprented by the outrageous expenditure of money in that Souther French town.

Most US theater goers who have an interest in Cannes events look forward to the desgniation of the best films and acting performances. The titles of the awards are in French and are often confusing. But, this year one film has captured the attention of the whole festival and much of the international theater world. That film is the 41/2 hour film by Steven Soderbergh, "Che." The comments from US commentators are predictabley mixied.

"…but, his brutal role in turning a revolutionary movement into a dictatorship goes virtually unmentioned." Leave it to the NY Times to inject their anti-communism into tCannes. Given the myriads of NY Times articles against the widening array of Commmunist and progressive Central and Latin America, this kind of comment is to be expected. But, even with that cold ward caveat, A.O. Scott, leading Times film reviewer had to give the impression that it was a good film. On the last day of the Cannes, Benicio Del Toro was awarded the best actor award for playing Che Guevara.

British filmmaker, Steve McQueen, received the Camera d'Or for best feature film. The film is about the Irish hunger strikers and especially, Bobby Sands. The film takes place in the early 1980s. Needless to say this not the Steve McQueen people in this country are familiar with. He is a well known Black filmmaker from England.

But, the Palme d'Or was awarded to French filmmaker Laurent Cantet. His film is about life in a French school through the eyes and life of Francios Begaudeau, whose autobiography the film is based on. To complete the picture, Begaudeau plays himself in the film. When this film was awarded the best him award, kids who are both students at the school and also play themselves in the film were invited on to the stage. It was reported as a very wonderful experience.

This year Sean Penn chaired the awards committee.

At the time of the Festival, "Che" still did not have a US distributor. That will change soon. The next hill to climb will be theater goers to settle down to a rather long film.

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