Darkest Hour stands apart from more routine historical dramas.
The following video was produced by Chaz Ebert and Scott Dummler of Mint Media Works.
Below is the transcript from the video...
That’s George Clooney from the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, responding to one of my questions. And while George was wrong, as was I frankly, everyone in Cannes is still talking about the political situation in America, and around the world, just as much as they are talking about the films.
But many of those films here at the festival are taking on the political issues of the day head on. For example, the global refugee crisis is front and center in several films at the festival, like Vanessa Redgraves's documentary, "Sea of Sorrow," and even in a Virtual Reality installation here in Cannes created by director Alejandro G. Iñárritu.
And in competition for this year’s Palme d’Or, the film "Jupiter’s Moon" from Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó is about a Syrian refugee who develops supernatural powers after he is shot in cold blood by a border guard. While the early parts of the film give you a realistic sense of the very dangerous situations that refugees must go through, the film then turns fantastical. This movie tries to be several things: is the flying refugee a Christ-like figure? He says his father is a carpenter. Or is it more magical realism? It even has car chases, giving part of it a "French Connection" feel. At certain parts, the flying boy even reminded me of Michael Jackson doing the moonwalk. Either way, I have to give Mundruczó credit for attempting something we haven't seen before.
Of course, not all politics are national or international, some of it is local. And the ongoing Netflix controversy is VERY local here in Cannes. The film "Okja" from Korean director Bong Joon Ho was the first film in competition under the Netflix banner, and it quickly became a lightning rod. During the press screening for "Okja," while some cheered, a number of other people in the crowd booed the screen when the Netflix logo appeared, illustrating that the controversy about streaming films here at the festival won’t be going away any time soon. However, some in the audience continued to boo the screen after the film began, and many in the audience thought that the screening was being sabotaged by those opposed to Netflix. But actually, the film was being projected in the wrong aspect ratio, causing the top of the frame to be cut off. So the audience was reacting, trying to get the projectionists to fix the frame. After a few minutes, they did get it fixed and the screening continued on as normal.
As for the film itself, it features the stellar Tilda Swinton as the daughter of a horrible billionaire businessman—draw your own conclusions about that. She and Jake Gyllenhaal are representatives for a large agribusiness corporation that has created a line of super pigs, designed to feed the world and create a huge business opportunity. However, the owner of one of these super pigs is a young girl in Korea who has grown up with this lovable animal for most of her life. She doesn’t want to give him up, just to allow him to be turned into someone’s meal. Paul Dano plays the head of an animal rights group that tries to help the girl save her pet. While there are some heartwarming scenes early in the film, a couple of the performances are oddly over the top, especially Jake Gyllenhaal’s. But that was exactly the director’s intention.
The French film, "120 Beats Per Minute," from director Robin Campillo tells the story of the emerging AIDS crisis of the early 1990s. It shows a group of young people in Paris, called ACT-up, that try and affect change with the politics and medical research of the time, while dealing with their own illnesses and the loss of friends. It has poignancy and a great ensemble cast, but ultimately the film's focus on internal debates within the group dilutes its impact versus the subject matter it's trying to tackle.
Also screening in competition is the Swedish film "The Square" from director Ruben Ostlund and starring Claes Bang and Elisabeth Moss. Ostlund previously directed the well-received film "Force Majeure." As in that film, "The Square" examines the peculiarities and habits of people of privilege being put in situations that cause them to question their very beliefs about how the world works and whether they have taken their social status for granted. Claes Bang plays the director of a modern art museum and a number of unusual events in his life start to pile up, causing him more and more stress. And the situations start to become as surreal as some of the art installations in his museum. Some of the vignettes even reminded me of the Swedish director Roy Andersson who directed "Songs From The Second Floor," but not as naturally surrealistic.
In one particularly memorable scene at a lavish, black tie fundraiser for the museum, a man acting like an ape is brought out to interact with the guests. However as his ape character continues to push the envelope further and further, those at the event, and those of us in the film audience, wonder when it will stop. American actor Terry Notary even reenacted his role out on the red carpet. At the press conference for the film, a lot of attention was paid to the the demanding process that Ostlund put his actors through to achieve what he wanted.
We have many more interesting films coming up this week to tell you about, so check back often at rogerebert.com/cannes for our next report as well as written reports by Barbara Scharres along with our other writers. We’ll see you next time out on the red carpet!Click here to read Barbara Scharres' take on "Okja" and "The Square."
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