31 May 2019.
Run to these before they are gone from the Geneva screens…
PAIN AND GLORY (Douleur et Gloire) **** (vo Spanish)
Pedro Almodovar was back at the Cannes Film Festival for the 7th time on the Côte d’Azur where he has always felt highly appreciated by the public and has obtained various prizes, but never the coveted Palme.
Even before having seen the rest of the lineup, this was my personal Palme d’Or. More or less based on his life, this quite perfect film has all his trademarks – deep relationships, heightened colors and decor, superb editing, intricate scenario – and favorite actors such as Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz, who both deserved Best Actor’s awards. Almodovar did say at their press conference that many of the scenes were fictionalized, as his having lived underground, fainting at the sight of a beautiful man when he was a mere child, or the painful conversation with his beloved mother. He said he is a filmmaker, not a documentarist. The magic of Almodovar is that he can make the most taboo subject beautiful (as he has done in his previous films), and can turn melodrama and sentimentality into art. He is a master, and this is his latest masterwork.
(Antonio Banderas won the Best Actor award – highly deserved, and beautifully accepted. Almadovar went away empty-handed).
UN TRAMWAY À JÉRUSALEM **** (vo English, Hebrew, French, Arabic)
Amos Gitai is no doubt the grand maitre of Israeli cinema, and this fictional film that looks and feels like a documentary may be his finest work in a long time. We find all sorts of lives and characters on this tram which he uses as a microcosm of life both in the world, and specifically in Jerusalem.
His clear eye and egalitarian sensibility bring together various people ranging from Orthodox students in deep discussion, to militant Palestinians, a quarrelling couple, a father and son listening to a tram entertainer, a lonely woman, and many more types that make up the humanity and diversity he wishes to portray. They all have their place on this tram of life. The lighting, contemplative music and enclosed space that connects the different segments puts one in a hypnotic mood, as we follow his love affair and preoccupation with the Israel that he knows so well.
IMMER UND EWIG (POUR TOUJOURS / A JOURNEY – A STORY OF LOVE) **** (vo German, Swiss German)
Here is the epitomy of true love. This very realistic yet tender Swiss documentary by Fanny Bräuning spans the life of the director’s parents, who met in art school where mother was a painter and father a consummate photographer. Leading an idyllic, bohemian life, they married and started a family.
With beautifully edited old photos, amateur films of their lives, and the events leading up to the present day, Bräuning recounts the calamity of her mother’s Multiple Sclerosis caught soon after the marriage.
But the crux of the film is not the tragedy that struck, rather the incredible, completely loving devotion of her father to his wife. This is not a sad account, but a deeply-felt homage to a family that manages to turn a debilitating condition into one of truly unconditional love and complete, joyful sacrifice. This is an amazing, beautiful love letter between them and the world.
SYBIL *** (vo French)
With three fine actresses – Virginie Efira, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Sandra Hüller – French director Justine Triet has created a gripping triangle of love, dependance and emotional treason in this melodramatic story of a psychiatrist (Efira) who wants to be a novelist, and gets too mixed up in the love life of her fragile patient.
This is a roller-coaster ride of uncontrolled feelings.
Don’t run… :
LE JEUNE AHMED ** (vo French)
I am not a fan of the Dardenne brothers though they are favorite sons of the Cannes festival. They make solid, social films about ordinary folk, especially in Belgium, their home country. The acting is ultra-realist, the cinematography is often hand-held, back-of-the-head camera work, dull and grey.
Enough to lull you to sleep. They may be the Ken Loach/Mike Leigh of the European mainland, but without the tenderness, humor and charm.
So their latest film – in Competition once again in Cannes – depressed me as usual, and then it just wiped itself off my mind. Possibly self-preservation. It is about an adolescent who is turning into an Islamic radical under the influence of his charismatic religious mentor, to the horror of his mother. Better films have been done about this subject – the Pakistani “Khamosh Pani” from 2003, and the Belgian “Cowboy” by Benoît Mariage – with far more depth and passion. But then this is a Dardenne film…(The brothers took the Best Director award – unjustified).
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.