Well readers, the greatest film festival in the world has come to a close for the 63rd time. How was it? Well, according to Roger Ebert...it was pretty lukewarm. As he wrote on twitter: "Where are the basterds when you need them?"
But that's not to say that there were not some incredible films showing this year. Kiarostami, Loach, and Leigh, all past festival winners, were in full force this year. Unlike their European counterparts, most of the American productions, like Woody Allen's "You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger," Oliver Stone's "Wall Street 2," and Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood," were shown out of competition. Only one American film was in competition for the Palme D'Or, Doug Liman's "Fair Game." I guess as an American I can't complain. After all, America took home two Golden Palms last decade. The point of international film festivals is to spread the love. Oh well, there is always next year...
But who are the winners?
Well, the infamous Palme D'Or was given to Thailand's "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Allow me to indulge by quoting BBC News concerning the content of the movie. After all, I haven't seen it yet.
Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the winning film is about a dying man who is visited by his late wife and his missing son, who has become an ape...Suffering kidney failure, the character is visited by a selection of spiritual beings, both human and animal, as the director uses a dreamlike style to examine the themes of reincarnation and animism.
Weerasethakul gave what could be one of my favorite acceptance speeches in history, saying, "I would like to thank all the spirits and all the ghosts in Thailand who made it possible for me to be here."
I am personally shocked and amazed that he won. I am aware of his work, having seen "Mysterious Object at Noon," his first film. It was a bizarre, experimental film that I have no reservations in saying that I hated. But I did admire his tenacity and willingness to innovate. In all honesty, I distinctly remember the first time that I heard that he was entering a film into this year's festival. I saw his name on the list and I thought, "Wouldn't it be a hoot if he won?" And so, truthfully (would I ever lie to you?) I rooted for him in the back of my mind. I had no expectations for him to win. So I was gobsmacked when Weerasethakul won. Just proves how surprising life can be when you root for the underdog. So, hurrah for Weerasethakul and hurrah for Thailand, as this is the first time that the country has won a Golden Palm.
I have one more little note to add. The winner of the Un Certain Regard category (basically the films that were recognized as good enough to be in the festival but not good enough to compete for the Golden Palm) was South Korean director Hong Sang-soo's "HaHaHa." Why is this important? Because Hong Sang-soo was in a unique opportunity to be one of the first directors to win both of Cannes' top prizes, as he had a second film competing for the Palme d'Or. What film was it.
A little film entitled "The Housemaid."
That's right. One of this year's favorites for the Palme d'Or was a remake of the classic 1960 thriller, "The Housemaid." As in, the movie that I have previously written about on this site. So I would encourage all of you to do three things.
1) Read the review. It can be reached at this link:http://forgottenclassicsofyesteryear.blogspot.com/2009/11/housemaid.html
2) Watch the original. It can be watched for free at this link:
3) Keep an eye out for the remake. If your local theaters show it, see it. If worse comes to worse, download it. But only as a last resort!
So now we have a whole year ahead of us until the next Cannes Film Festival and I have a new list of movies that I need to see.
Guess it's time to get back to the grind and watch some more movies.
Life can be sweet sometimes.