Saturday, April 21, 2007

Politics, Entertainment & Naturalism

The day started with the screening of Mon Colonel, a heavy political work co-written by Costa-Gavras about the use of torture during the war in Algeria. Following the same structure as Missing, the film proved to be intense during its flashbacks but lost some of its momentum during the investigation sequences set in modern days.

Hunting & Gathering, a comedy by Claude Berry starring Audrey Tautou & Guillaume Canet was certainly enjoyable but suffered at times from its mainstream cheesiness.

Flanders was certainly the roughest moment of the festival. Built on naturalism, Bruno Dumont's film was both a haunting and difficult experience, which bordered on autistic art. The film was followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker, which turned into the most excruciating and interesting discussion of the week From the beginning, it was clear that the director wasn't comfortable being there -- there was actually the same feeling with Olivier Dahan. While giving some great insights about his film, the director was at times pompous, at times somewhat autistic -- in an artistic way of expression -- which he actually admitted as being his method of work.

Filmmakers, like most real artists, use their media to express themselves and they shouldn't have to give away the meaning of their work to their audience. More disturbing were the questions -- or would I say vapid comments -- from an audience over-intellectuazing everything, turning this Q&A into a pretentious, grotesque and ridiculous freak show.

Talking about Q&A's, I was pretty surprised to see that most interviewers this week had absolutely nothing interesting to say, beside endlessly praising the filmmakers. It looks like most of them hadn't done their homework and either used praises or questions from audience to mask their lack of inspiration.

Paris, je ne t'aime pas

Of course, this title shouldn't surprise those of you who know I'm from Marseille..It's actually not what you think but let me get back to this in a minute.

I started the day with the screening of Antoine De Caune's Twice A Upon a Time, a bitter romantic comedy starring Charlotte Rampling & Jean Rochefort. Seeing a love story between senior citizens is pretty rare, at least here in an industry only focusing on youth faces, but writer/director Antoine De Caune (below, on the left, with his brand new cowboy boots) created an entertaining and amusing work, mostly thanks to great dialogues and a strong cast. The screening was followed by a Q&A with the director and producer of the film.

A pretty intense and sharp thriller, Eric Barbier's The Snake did however suffer from a lack of originality, looking too much like an American film -- this is an example of a new trend in French cinema -- and TV -- where French filmmakers try to emulate their Hollywood counterparts.

But the most disappointing moment was undoubtedly Paris, je t'aime. How can you screw up a project with such a beautiful setting? It's easy, just gather a group of filmmakers whose vision is reduced to the touristic cliche of the American in Paris, instead of hiring filmmakers who live in Paris and know the real city of lights. Not that there wasn't some great moments. The Coen brothers and Alexander Payne actually found the right contrast between the American Parisian experience and real Parisians. The short about the mimes was another highlight, but most of the time, Paris, je t'aime was a waste of resources and talents, with even some ridiculous moments such as Vincenzo Natali's Sin City-like vampire sequence (I've been saying for years that this director should have been locked in his cube) as well as the short with Nathalie Portman and her blind boyfriend. Even local master, Olivier Assayas couldn't breath life into the project. The screening was followed by a Q&A with directors Wes Craven and Oliver Assayas.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Starring Audrey Tautou, Priceless, a romantic comedy, was certainly not what I was looking forward to the most, since my taste goes to artsy-pantsy stuff and edgy fares rather than chick flicks, but I must admit spending a good time, easily falling under charm of this film about a gold-digger finding love on the French Riviera -- by the way I'll be at the festival until the end of the week, in case some rich Hollywood widow would like to buy me a $40,000 watch or a scooter!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tell No One: "Don't Worry!"

The highlight today was talking for a while to actor/director Antoine de Caune, whom I must admit having been a big fan of, when I was in high school. The film that screened that night, Guillaume Canet's Tell No One, proved however to be a major disappointment, despite a good premise.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Opening Gala COL COA 2007

With a lot of good food and champagne – I can’t even count how many glasses I had, which shouldn’t surprise anybody --, a good film and a few French celebrities, the COL COA gala opened the French festivalen fanfare”.

To be frank, I don’t think there could have been a better film to kick of the festivities than La Vie en Rose, a Oliver Dahan film about the life of singer Edith Piaf, played here by Marion Cotillard (photo below). A solid work avoiding the traps of biopic-type melodrama, La Vie en Rose not only perfectly embodies what France is about – art and decadence – but it also appeals to both fans and haters of Piaf – shouldn’t be too hard to guess I belong to the latter category.

The screening was followed by a Q&A with Cotillard, Dahan and their producer, a moment so bizarre that it looked like a sequence from a David Lynch movie. Not only did the people from the film seemed to have drunk as much as I did, but most questions from the audience didn’t make any sense, even including some insults.

Beside the drunkenness and the film, other highlights included meeting actress Marion Cotillard as well as directors Antoine de Caune and Olivier Dahan - photos coming soon.