Amid the pandemic, the 2021 Cannes Film Festival has remained a site where well-dressed celebrities, moviegoers and filmmakers have come together to celebrate an art form that has felt fraught with fragility over the past year. . Whether viewers apparently applauded just about any movie they witnessed, or whether critics shot a piece they thought was unimpressive, one thing was clear: the cinema was sorely missed by all over the course of the film. the past year and a half of home movie streaming.
The eighteen months leading up to the 2021 Cannes Film Festival were my longest period of conscious memory without seeing a movie in a movie theater. It was like a new beginning and hopefully a once in a lifetime opportunity to rediscover this strange form of entertainment, life and dreams projected onto a screen in a room with strangers. Every movie I’ve seen has reminded me of what a movie can (or shouldn’t) do. Below are some of these highlights.
The bittersweet tale of coming of age
This winner of the Jury Prize at the Directors’ Fortnight was the first film at Cannes that I loved. The third film by American-Italian director Jonas Carpignano, A Chiara takes place in Calabria, just like its previous two. Swamy Rotolo is Chiara, a 15 year old teenage girl from a tight-knit family (all played by actual members of Rotolo’s family). Shortly after her sister’s 18th birthday party, Chiara discovers that her father has a secret that she becomes obsessed with finding. It then unfolds like a genre film, Chiara’s fixation and determined approach providing the film’s impetus. The end of the film is abrupt; that moved me enormously. My heart sank and my vision widened. I realized A Chiara is a coming-of-age story, not about minor romances or pre-college summers, but a reminder that 15-18 is so young, a time when you feel like you have no choice . Yet your family, friends, and location right now is determining the outcome of your life.
The buddy movie
Compartment n ° 6 is another movie where the set-up (two strangers meet on a train) looks familiar, but the lack of romance makes it cool. Laura is a Finnish student forced to share a small train compartment across Russia with drunken thug Vadim. The film was shot on 35mm film on an actual moving train, and the close-ups of smeared faces and hideous vinyl patterns do a brilliant job of invoking its 1990s setting. good friends movies, an improbable friendship story) oozes humanity and optimism, without ever feeling too sentimental.
The stylized vehicle Timothée Chalamet
Wes Anderson’s new film looks like a sequel to The Royal Tenenbaums. It also sounds like one of Anderson’s most personal movies. The Royal Tenenbaums was about a fictionalized view of New York City (where Anderson lived) from the perspective of adult children. The French dispatch is a fictionalized view of Paris (where Anderson lives) from the perspective of someone accepting their new position as a young old man. It is broken down into vignettes, or magazine stories (“The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun,” also the full title of the film). One story stars Timothée Chalamet as a revolutionary leader in May 1969, which now takes place in March, from the perspective of an older writer played by Frances McDormand. Like a Gen X filmmaker watching Gen Z, McDormand doesn’t understand their idealistic political agenda, but also knows they’re right. Chalamet’s arrogant but insecure delivery works perfectly for Anderson’s fiery aesthetic.
The meditative sound bath
The first three films on this list are emotions translated, respectively, through structure, story, and pure imagery. By the time we come to Memory, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s new film starring Tilda Swinton, which premiered towards the end of the festival, reminded me of the importance of dreams in cinema. Literally, because I fell asleep! It’s not a charming and subtle shot at film, in which the silence and shadows are interrupted by a lingering, violent bang. Swinton’s character is worried that she might lose her mind and is assured that she is, but all is well. Much of the film is like a feature film meditation through sound.
Falling asleep in a movie is a common experience at festivals due to early morning screenings, late evenings, and persistent jet lag. Lucrecia Martel, Tsai Ming-liang, and Abbas Kiarostami all endorsed the act for their films and the like. Watching home movies for the past year and a half, I might have seen some things in parts, continuing the next day if I was tired, but I didn’t miss a thing. Memory felt like a weird and charming comeback to the cinema to fall asleep for a few seconds at a time, mind blowing scenes from other films, from the previous days, which all blended together like a collage. Memory is surreal, but looks more like a daydream than a nightmare (at least to me). I can’t wait to see him again.
The new classic
Drive my car is a new film by thrilling Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi, based on a short story by Haruki Murakami, and winner of the Cannes Jury Best Screenplay Award. Hamaguchi creates ineffable worlds where dreams and illusions become practical and ingrained. This sweet three hour film was the strongest film of the festival.
The courageous reinterpretation of cinema
While Drive my car was the best film, and that of Julia Ducournau Titanium rightly won the Palme d’Or, the new film by Gaspar Noé Vortex was the most daring piece of the festival. Noah is known for movies like Step into the void, Love and Climax, who used formal gadgets to feature subculture scenes in movies that looked like parties. Queuing for this midnight screening was like trying to get into a club, filled with French fans dressed in neon, see-through and bondage outfits. So what a surprise to find a film with Françoise Lebrun (The mother and the whore) and filmmaker Dario Argento on an elderly couple with health problems. Not giving up on formal invention, Noah uses a real-time split screen to show the daily minutiae of a couple in the last days of living in their own home. This bad boy of French cinema always wants to shock, but does so to the sound of a gurgling heart or the horror of a clogged toilet.
It was the only movie that rewired my time expectations. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, when I could relax, and when it was time to grab my bag and go. I left the movie hearing the sounds differently and walking away from Vortex in the dark, with a new perspective on what can be “cinematographic”. I couldn’t ask for anything more.