CANNES 2018: DOGMAN, BLACKKKLANSMAN, IN MY ROOM

This entry was posted on May 17th, 2018

Por Mónica Delgado

We’re arriving at the final days of Cannes, and Dogman, from Italian Filmmaker Matteo Garrone arrived this morning, a film which takes some element of Gomorra, but staying away from the Camorra and other mafias to center in a character involved in the petty criminal underworld. The start of the film presents Marcello, a dog groom who also deals drugs (despite the kindness with which Garrone portrays him), and who makes every effort to provide with drugs to his neighborhood friend, Simone, who becomes his cross to bear and greatest torment.

The best of Dogman, competing for the Golden Palm, is in the scenario that Garrone chose for his story. The Italian periphery with its wore zones, barely habited, something between decadent city and miserable resort. He propitiates the construction of a dry, boring, enclosed place, which shelters this atypical character in his charisma and goodness. However, this atmosphere of thriller or mafia movie, crumbles slowly to fit the analogy that the filmmaker takes from the beginning of his film. The character has a little business of dog grooming, and Garrone, recurring to a metaphor for his film, makes the ideal dog analogy, violent and primal (the first show where Marcello bathes a hostile dog), which little by little will materialize in the raw relationship between Marcello and his friend, the lout Simone.

However, the worst part of Dogman appears when, unexplainably Marcello becomes a martyr, a being who decides to protect the most despicable person of the neighborhood. Suddenly, the filmmaker transforms his character in an even worst being, a neighbor who wants to recover his honor by the way of blood and beating. In this way, Marcello puts on the costume with all the condiments of human nature, goodness and animality, passivity and violence, joy and pay. All in one.

Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman is a comedy with hilarious moments, which achieves its political goal from satire, picking up some real events of the fight against the Ku Klux Klan to incorporate them in a police investigation in the sixties in America. But Lee doesn’t stop in this irony; he goes beyond that to establish a parallel with actuality, something which is much more evident in the film epilogue. A black detective (John David Washington) manages to infiltrate the world of this racist and nationalist movement, with the help of his white colleague Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), who becomes the ideal body for the modus operandi of this white supremacy group. This game of appearances, highly imbued with blunders and winks, draws the radical right’s ideology, and also poses the exaltation of the Black Panthers from its women activists, and their role to destigmatize and liberate black America.

With some hints of blaxplotation (and direct quotes through the characters), police and buddy movies, BlacKkKlansman opens with a take extracted from Gone with the wind, to then quote The Birth of a Nation, as part of this great common sense about African Americans that is still present in American cinema, something which Lee places as an ideological magma to be neutralized. If the fresh air that Lee provides his film allows for a lot of laughter, it also offers other layers, which go beyond the two significant scenes of the conferences with leaders and activists of the black cause, which become the political statement in the film. However, BlacKkKlansman, loses power with an imposed ending, which includes documentary scenes from the Charlottesville incidents, affirming that this isn’t only a comedy, but also takes on a “necessary” or “urgent” topic in Trump’s era, and thus, worth of an award.

Ulrich Köhler’s In my room, presented in Un certain regard, is a tale in two times of a thirty year old man, single, whose boring life transforms with the disappearing of the human race. Maybe the best thing of In my room is in its beginning, in the testimony of the incapacity of the lead character to assume some work related tasks, which the filmmaker portrays using a smart visual resource. However, creating a forced Eden for the lead character becomes a too comfortable option, since it seems made to prove that the character can survive alone, in contrast to the futility and his failed familiar and friend relationships in the beginning of the film. Then the filmmaker includes in this fable of loneliness, a new character, a foreign woman who confronts the lead, something that could be read in two ways: the impossibility, again, of the character to relate with the women around him, or a take on how the feminine agency show itself even in the end of times. A feminist option against the last man of earth.