Saturday, May 21, 2005

Saturday morning

So here I am at the Monaco grand prix, I got into the nosebleed section and managed to get all the way down to the expensive area near the media center, who won't let me in with only my NYC press credentials, the question is why anyone would get a thrill out of watching misshapen cars go around a track, even if it's around the Quay at Monte Carlo. Boring!

What makes everything worse is that the nosebleed seats cost forty euros, and the bleachers cost almost two hundred. I know people who pay more in rent every month than what the regular tickets cost.

Tomarrow is all sold out, so there must be something to this...

So while we're waiting to sneak into one of the expensive seats, here's the last batch of reviews from Cannes:

This is the last batch of reviews from Cannes. We've got the Monte Carlo Grand Prix auto race this morning, and no films to see. So here they are:

Operetta Tanukigoten (Princess Raccoon) Japan

Written and Directed
by Seijun Suzuk

So what is the weirdest movie of the year? A trippy multicultural musical romp done in front of a blue screen to have a very strange and artistic background where characters in traditional kabuki dress sing calypso music and rap?

You can't get weirder than that!

According to the opening expostion, it's a terrible idea for people and raccoons [biological note: Japanese raccoons are not related to American raccoons, one is a species of dog and one is, well a raccoon] to fall in love. But it's the thirteenth month of the year, and anything could happen.

The evil and vain Lord Azuchi Momoyama(Mikijiro Hira) is the most narcissistic man in all Japan. He thinks he's the fairest of them all, that is until his devout Catholic witch, the Old Maid Virgen(Saori Yuki) says that his son Amechiyo (Odagiri Jô) is actually better looking, so he Azuchi sends his son into the forest with a ninja to…yeah, they probably stole it from “Snow White” but there are no seven dwarves….here he meets Princess Tanuki (Zhang Ziyi) a Chinese princess of the raccoon dogs who's generally disguised as a human.

They fall in love. They sing and dance. There's a quest for the frog of heaven. We don't know what's going on half the time. The plot is thin and the music generally inappropriate. It's hilarious! The melodrama is insane and the choreography is actually pretty good, as is the acting and the singing.

I don't think that this'll ever see release in the North American market as no one will know what to do with this thing. It's the most inscrutable of films. Weird.

The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada (USA)

Directed by
Tommy Lee Jones

Guillermo Arriaga, who penned the screenplays for “Amores Perros” and “24 Grams” is a Mexican who doesn't like the US border patrol. In fact, he thinks the idea that the US has a right to defend it's own borders is offensive, and he wrote a script about it. Then he gave it to Tommy Lee Jones who's starring and directing.

Melquiades Estrada(Julio César Cedillo) is an illegal immigrant who works on a cattle ranch in Southwest Texas. He's made friends with his boss, Pete Perkins(Tommy Lee Jones), a bit of a nutcase who likes to commit adultery with some of the local married ladies, mostly Rachel(Melissa Leo), who 's a waitress at the local bistro.

Into this area come Mike(Barry Pepper) and Lou Ann Norton(January Jones), a young couple who's moving there involuntarily. He's with the border patrol and has to go catch illegal aliens trying to run the border. He's good at his job, and that makes some of his coworkers mad, them being Hispanic and all. We then start going back and forth in time between the time Mike and Lu Ann arrive and the time Malquiades' body is found, and we learn in the meantime that Mike had accidentally done it. After all, he had no choice, Malquiades was shooting at coyotes in his direction. Pete wants justice, but since there's no real evidence to convict or even indict Mike, Sheriff Belmont(Dwight Yoakam) says there's nothing to be done, so he buries the body in a local cemetery and that, it seems is that…but no.

Pete decided to kidnap Mike, tie up Lou Ann, and force Mike to dig the body up and accompany him to Mexico, to the place where Malquiedes asked to be put in the ground.

This is a nasty film. One of the most brutal I've seen this year, and we've had some real buisers. The body is shown in an advanced state of decay, Mike gets bitten by a rattle snake and gets the crap beat out of him, and the whole thing goes overlong on the quest through the exotic western desert.

This, despite the brutality and diversions [two of the most boring sex scenes this year], this is well worth a look. It seems that Mr. Jones knows how to direct himself.

Chromophobia (UK)

Written and Directed
by Martha Fiennes

Just because you're rich doesn't mean you're happy. This is true for pretty much everywhere in the world. What appears to be an extremely expensive ranch house in Southern California is, in fact in the suburbs of London, and Marcus(Damian Lewis) and Iona Aylesbury(Kristin Scott Thomas) live here with their son Orlando in upper class splender. These aren't the famous upper-class twits from the Monty Python sketches, no, these are intelligent people of the kind you meet in Woody Allen films.

Marcus is a lawyer, and when we meet him he's just being made partner. This, is great financially, but he has to work longer hours than ever, making Iona suspect that he's having an affair with his secretary, which he's not.

While walking to lunch our hero meets up with his old band-mate Trent(Ben Chaplin), who works for the London tabloids and can't get his exposé on he environment published. What they want is dirt about celebrities, the British being madder about then we in the states are. That or a political scandal, which is what Mark is going to inadvertently provide. So Trent begins to stick to Mark like glue, going to visit Marks parents(Ian Holm and Harriet Walter) and the like, and secretly taping Mark's rantings…

They have other problems too. Their best friend Stephen the gay art dealer (Ralph Fiennes) was beaten nearly to death in his own apartement by some kids he befreiended and the cops discovered a quicktime movie of Orlando stripping off his shirt and dancing….is this innocent?

Then there's the question as to where the relationship between social worker Colin(Rhys Ifans) and prostitute Gloria Ramiriz de Arroyo (Penélope Cruz) fits into all this. She's got cancer and a kid, and she doesn't want to give it up until the very last minute.

The acting is really good and the story is compelling. We aren't sure who to root for, as every one of the main character is actually rather nice and we don't want to see them hurt, but they do, and badly.

This is a compelling film. Funny and smart, it's well worth a look.

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