In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_sin_city_a_dame_to_kill_for_ver13

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

"Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" doesn't have the electricity of the original, mainly because we've already seen it. Nothing more is really revealed…

Thumb_pqlny7o714q2rle1gszmorzzjue

To Be Takei

“To Be Takei” is a conventional documentary that has a surprising emotional heft. A fun, informative exploration of the life of actor, activist and Trekkie…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Chaz's Blog Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives
Primary_queenandcountry2

Cannes: John Boorman's "Queen and Country" and Xavier Dolan's "Mommy"

CANNES, FRANCE—We're at the point in the festival when films are starting to bleed into each other. This morning's competition screening of Ken Loach's "Jimmy's Hall"—a serviceable true-life advocacy story that pits the 1932 patrons of an Irish dance hall against a rigid, traditionalist church that resists the "Los Angelization" of local culture—felt like an unavoidable callback to John Boorman's "Queen and Country," which premiered on Tuesday in Directors' Fortnight.

Set in the early 1950s, Boorman's follow-up to "Hope and Glory" (1987) is loosely based on the director's own experiences with mandatory conscription in the British army. I've only seen parts of "Hope and Glory" (and not in many years), but the new movie functions as a standalone work, a bracing dose of classical filmmaking at a festival where demanding aesthetics are the norm. Like many biopics, it's essentially episodic, following Boorman surrogate Bill Rohan (Callum Turner) and his friend Percy (Caleb Landry Jones) as they make mischief during basic training.

The depiction of the military is striking in that discipline seems to be mostly a formality; superior officers dole it out reluctantly (except where a sergeant major played by a bald David Thewlis is concerned, and until Bill is charged with "seducing an officer from the course of his duty"). Bill also experiences unrequited love with a woman (the ethereal Tamsin Egerton) a few years older than he is. "Queen and Country" to be moving in its accrual of period details—experiencing a new kind of cinema during a date viewing of "Rashomon," watching the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on TV—without offering much distinctive or new.

As a portrait of adolescence, it's preferable to Xavier Dolan's "Mommy," the Quebecois auteur's first film in competition; he's already made splashes in both Directors' Fortnight ("I Killed My Mother") and Un Certain Regard ("Heartbeats," "Laurence Anyways"). Did I mention he's all of 25? And as he grows older, his fixation on close mother-son relationships grows slightly queasier, though judging from reactions, I'm something of an outlier in finding "Mommy" an irritating sit. (Some people claim it's a serious contender for the Palme d'Or.)

Set in 2015, "Mommy" opens with a mild sci-fi feel. Title cards announce that a change to Canadian health law will allow parents to give up troubled children to the state. That's about the end of the future-is-now vibe. "Mommy" introduces us to one such troubled teen, Steve (Antoine Olivier Pilon); his single mother, Diane, whom he nicknames "Die" (Anne Dorval); and a neighborhood teacher, Kyla (Suzanne Clément), who becomes part of their lives. They fight, eat, shop, take tentative steps toward mutual understanding, and dance to interminable musical interludes.

By far the most interesting thing about "Mommy" is that most of it is shot in an invented, narrow aspect ratio. (Others are calling it 1:1, but at least from a far side seat it looked more like 0.6:1—meaning that the film is just a narrow band within the frame.) The claustrophobic shape allows Dolan to avoid most of the niceties of good composition; an unstructured, rambling narrative complements the haphazard visuals. It helps that two of the actors in constant surgical close-up are scene-stealers from elsewhere in the Dolan oeuvre—Dorval from  "I Killed My Mother" and Clément from "Laurence Anyways," both wonderful here. If only there were more of a movie for them to steal this time.

Popular Blog Posts

Different rules apply

White privilege, lived.

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Ferguson, Missouri: Third World America vs. Atlas Shrugged

An FFC looks at the horrible situation in Ferguson, MO and what it says about where we are and where we're going.

Retrieving the Grail: Robin Williams and "The Fisher King"

An examination and appreciation of one of Robin Williams' greatest films, "The Fisher King."

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus