Over the past few days I have endeavored to see as many films as my mind and body can handle. This has meant attending late screenings which finish just before the last train leaves for Antibes(the neighbouring town I am now staying in) followed by early screenings which start at 8.30 every day and require me to get a train at around 7.30. It's a week now since the festival began and all I can say is, Je suis fatigue. Yes the tiredness is starting to set in and I admit there has been the odd snooze during a couple of the less exciting films Iíve seen so far. And Iíve had one walk out, I swore I wouldn't and lasted for most of the film but in the end couldn't bare it any longer and stormed out, accidently smacking some poor old critic in front of me in the back of the head with my bag as I left. The film of this walkout was Film Socialisme
directed by the formerly great Jean Luc Godard. The warning bells were ringing when I noticed that the film was competing in the Un Certain Regard section of the festival which is secondary to the main competition. Of course this is not to be sniffed at at all, but given the fact that Godard is one of the most influential filmmakers of all time and a legend of French cinema, it suggested that the film might be slightly sub-standard. Even so, I went in to it optimistic and hopeful of sighting the great man himself. He didn't show, and, as I later found out, had decided to skip the festival altogether. His enigmatic explanation was that he had "problems of the Greek typeĒ. Really I suspect he feared a barrage of mouldy fruit and veg from a mob of angry journalists.
Even more so than his other recent films, Godard completely abandons any sort of comprehendible narrative. The films is basically structured in 3 acts. The first part on a cruise ship is basically a series of conversations and includes sections shot on a mobile phone. The second is about a child prodigy and a llama as far as I could work out. The third is a montage of images from different cities chopped up with obscure inter-titles and whatever else.
As with any film as extreme and obscure as this, there are going to be a few who come out insisting they have just witnessed a masterpiece. Don't believe them. Godard seems as though he is just breaking rules for the sake of it and deliberately attempting to alienate the audience as much as possible for no reason other than he can. I suspect angrily storming out is exactly the kind of reaction that would please him and cursed my hot-headedness soon afterwards for this reason. I would have been able to endure it had it not been for the subtitles that the film used. Godard had said before that he intended to subtitle the film in Navajo English. Basically what this meant was that whole conversations were sometimes stripped down to about 3 words of subtitles, therefore meaning that the French speakers amongst the audience were having a completely different viewing experience to the non-French speakers. It was just too much for me.
One of the highlights for me so far has been Stephen Frearsí 'Tamara Drewe'
, based on the comic strip by Posy Simmonds. Polar opposite to the Godard film, itís the tale of a Londoner returning to home to her home village in the country. She is barely recognizable to the locals who remember her as a bit of an ugly duckling with a huge nose and is now a sexy young woman, played by Gemma Arterton.. Itís genuinely funny and slightly edgier than this sort of English comedy usually is due to a couple of shock deaths, one animal, one human, both of which induced a surprised and uncomfortable laugh from me and most others in the audience. The film as a whole seemed to go down well. I think people found it a breath of fresh air from all the social realism of the competition line-up.
I also attended the press conference afterwards and found it to be as entertaining as the film itself. Gemma Arterton didnít show as she was in America promoting the ĎThe Prince of Persiaí, or as Stephen Frears called it when asked about her absence ďThe Princess and the PeaĒ. Although I was disappointed by her absence (which helped explain how easily I was able to waltz into the room) Frears and the rest of the cast, particularly Tamsin Greig, provided plenty of chuckles throughout the conference.
It is well known that out and out comedies are rarely included in the competition but even so, many pondered as to why Tamara Drewe was not included as part of this yearís competition . When asked as to why it was not entered into the competiton in the press conference, Frearsís reply was simple.
ďBecause I didnít want to loseĒ