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Cannes, Day 8: And so to bed

Posted by Ty Burr  May 20, 2008 02:49 PM

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I just saw my last Cannes film: "La Mujer Sin Cabeza" ("The Headless Woman"), from director Lucrecia Martel (2004's "The Holy Girl"). It's a minor but effective "Blow-Up" about an upper-class Argentine woman (Maria Onetto) whose life becomes unmoored after she possibly kills a young boy while driving on a country road. Onetto's quite special as bourgeoisette who drifts into and then out of a state of heightened clarity, and you can feel the anger burning away under the movie's cool glass surface. Perhaps Martel should have let more of it erupt onto the screen. There may be a cultural disconnect on my part, since the Argentine guys I sat next to during the screening roundly booed it. But movies are a blood sport here; that's part of the sadistic fun.

I leave tomorrow morning and head back to Boston -- believe me, I haven't built up the necessary physical endurance yet to do this festival from beginning to end. So I'll miss Steven Soderbergh's two-part "Che" biopic starring Benicio del Toro, as well as Charlie Kaufman's "Synecdoche, New York" and "Wendy and Lucy," the new film by Kelly Reichardt ("Old Joy"). Plus all the good movies I won't even know that I'm missing. (II'll also miss walking the kilometer down the Rue D'Antibes from my rabbit hole to the Palais every morning while swifts circle overhead and emit piercing calls easily mistaken for the cries of rabid Italian journalists.)

Eastwood's "The Exchange" (see post below) continues to divide audiences, which is always a good thing. I'm still sorting my negative response to the film out -- I might have responded more favorably with a lead actress who didn't pack so much star baggage. That's arguably my problem more than Jolie's or Eastwood's, but, still: As dowdy as this star gets, it's impossible to deglamorize her, and that cuts into the sense of realism the filmmaker is purporting to create. Glenn Kenny begs to differ, and he's always a good read. He taps into something, though, when he points out that this may be Clint's angriest film since "Unforgiven". That anger results in portrayals of the villainous LAPD higher-ups (I'm giving nothing away here) that are as nuanced as Victorian stage heavies. In other words, if Jeffrey Donovan as Capt. J.J. Jones had a moustache, he'd twirl it.

Glenn points out something else I'd neglected to mention: James Gray's "Two Lovers" (see post below) is in fact based on Fyodor Dostoevsky's "White Nights," and in it's clammy Brooklyn way, manages to honor the source. Until the ending. I still say that ending's spinach.

Some housecleaning: "Los Bastardos," from Mexico's Amat Escalanto is "Funny Games" with an illegal immigrant political gloss: Two migrant laborers (Jesus Moises Rodriguez and Ruben Sosa) are hired by an unseen L.A. man to kill his wife (Nina Zavarin). Interesting, well-done, wholly painful to sit through, and not as intellectually savvy as it thinks.

"The Silence of Lorna," the latest from the beloved Dardenne brothers, Jean-Pierre et Luc, is pretty rock-solid, with the young actress Arta Dobroshi (a less porcelain Juliette Binoche; see photo up top) heartbreakingly effective as an Albanian illegal caught up in a complex green-card scheme in Belgium that forces her to recalibrate her morals. It's not top-drawer Dardenne -- the necessary tending to plot seems to have dulled their focus a bit -- but it's quite good.

"Liverpool" -- I walked into this one thinking it might be an unexpected companion piece to "Of Time and the City" (see post below). Silly me: it's a Lisandro Alonso movie, which means a total of 11 camera shots lasting seemingly 10 minutes each and a dead-end narrative about a prodigal son's dead-end return to a small snowbound village. It's my first encounter with Alonso, and I'm told his earlier movies, "La Libertad" in particular, are quite good. This one struck me as a Bela Tarr movie left to die in a snowbank.

Lastly, "The Pleasure of Being Robbed," one of the few SxSW/Sundance-y sort of American indies to unspool here. Low-fi in the extreme, with Eleanore Hendricks endearing in a completely maddening way as a New York City klepto-chick who drifts through life and other women's handbags, it's directed by Josh Safdie, part of the Red Bucket Films collective of depressingly recent B.U. graduates. Pretty much the whole gang's in Cannes and I'll be writing a piece on them for the newspaper, but here's a photo I took of them in a park, and, yes, they're as young and spilling over with beautiful cinema ideals as they appear. Oh, to be 23 and in love with the films of Robert Bresson.

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Ty Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.

Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.

Janice Page is movies editor for The Boston Globe.

Tom Russo is a regular correspondent for the Movies section and writes a weekly column on DVD releases.

Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.

Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.

Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer for Boston.com.

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