So it actually happened – the Cannes film festival was defiantly held in the Covid era, and two months later than usual, in sweltering July. More tourists, but fewer real festival-goers from the media. Some streets were eerily quiet and the legendary bar, Le Petit Majestic, usually filled with people from the movie world, getting drunk, exchanging cards and crowding the street densely every night until three in the morning, was barely doing no business.
Masks were worn in all films, but not on the sacred red carpet, and every 48 hours we had to report to a special tent for Covid testing: it was not possible to enter the Palace without having the vital QR code for “Negative” on your phone. The whole business was a bit laborious and confusing, but it was a great logistical triumph for the festival. The only victim of the Covid was the French star Léa Seydoux, who could not come, having tested positive.
And the films in competition presented real nuggets: Drive My Car by Japanese director Ryu Hamaguchi was a magnificent adaptation of a short story by Murakami, a film rich in ideas and emotions about a famous director who finds himself in entrust to the young woman who has just been hired. like his driver. Thai artist and filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul gave us something weird, winding and slow without compromise with Memoria, starring Tilda Swinton: bizarre tableau scenes and uninterrupted takes that promise to open doors to perception. . Australian director Justin Kurzel directed Nitram, a very disturbing film about the disturbed young man responsible for the horrific Port Arthur massacre in 1996 – and the bizarre “Harold and Maude” relationship he had with a wealthy heiress. in the years leading up to the outrage.
Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch was a visual and verbal treat in its very distinctive and eccentric style, although some critics have ducked their noses, on the grounds that they had already seen too much from it. I have to say, on this form I can’t see enough or get enough of this very funny and quirky director.
Sean Baker gave us Red Rocket, the highly entertaining and dark satire-comedy about a pornstar who suffered a Trumpian disaster in his career and is now preparing his return to greatness in his hometown of Texas, rather like the evil- beloved and unmissable C -in-C is rumoring a return to Florida.
Most people here weren’t impressed with Sean Penn’s great drama Flag Day, with Penn as a con artist and ’90s counterfeiter who broke his daughter’s heart with her inability to go straight. Some here found it to be a bit of a vanity project because Penn both played and chose his own daughter Dylan as the character’s daughter. But I thought it was very watchable and Penn is an old school Hollywood star.
Elsewhere, Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier, renowned for his tough and tough films, kind of conjured up an absolutely stunning relationship comedy: The Worst Person in the World, something to compare with Nora Ephron or David Nicholls.
There were some movies I couldn’t quite get along with: Benedetta, Paul Verhoeven’s absurd non-sploitation drama, taken from the true story of a 17th century lesbian nun, made people laugh. in front of its supposedly intentional and significant ironies. I am not convinced. But Verhoeven certainly takes advantage of the fact that her initially derided sex drama Showgirls was later praised by contrarian sophistication. So people don’t want to be taken on the wrong side of the story. There was serious critical support for Julia Ducournau’s gonzo horror film Titanium, but I found it silly and macho.
Perhaps the two most passionate films, and the films I responded to the most, were out of competition, in the Directors’ Fortnight: Joanna Hogg’s autobiographical The Souvenir Part II was a captivating self-portrait of the artist as a young woman. And Clio Barnard’s Ali & Ava was a wonderful love story in the style of Ken Loach’s Ae Fond Kiss.
Here are my predictions for this year’s Cannes prizes, and I have also included my imaginary prizes (AKA “Braddies d’Or” for categories that are not officially awarded).
Palme d’Or: Drive my car
Grand Prize: Memoria
Jury Prize: The Worst Person in the World
Best Director: Sean Baker for Red Rocket
Best screenplay: Jacques Audiard, Céline Sciamma and Léa Mysius for Paris XIIIe
Best Actor: Amir Jadidi for A Hero
Best actress: Achouackh Abakar for Lingui
Imaginary Cannes awards – AKA Braddies d’Or
Best Supporting Actor: André Dussollier for Everything went well
Best Supporting Actress: Essie Davis and Judy Davis for Nitram
Best Cinematography: Robert D Yeoman for The French Dispatch
Best Music: Ron and Russell Mael for Annette
Best scenography: Adam Stockhausen for The French Dispatch