By Mónica Delgado
The journey of the last few days in Cannes has been an eclectic one, as in a film like Godard’s latest film essay or the remarkable film by Jia Zhang-ke have improved the panorama in its diversity. In this search, we give account of some films seen in the Official Selection, in Un Certain Regard and one from Critic’s Week.
Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War recovers the stylized black and white of the remarkable Ida to give account of a dry love story in a post-world war period in Poland. The start of the film is its best part. A couple of ethnomusicologists travelling and recovering songs, lyrics and melodies in tape recorders in order to build a great archive and conform a group of dance and music with artists of the towns they visit. The close ups of the two musicians singing about drinking and love loss, while they look to the camera in a fixated way, are hints of a possible treatment of the film (that reminded me of the best shots of Aleksei German), but what comes after that is frustrating, because Pawlikowski would not return to the use of this documentary touch, but bet for a dry love drama, unpolished, but portraying the best of a wonderful actress like Joanna Kulig. Many people see this film as the favorite for the Golden Globe, but for me it was an empty film, whose visual bet of careful composition is its greatest achievement.
In the Critics’ Week we could watch the Portuguese film Diamantino, of Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt, which first minutes are a delight, on this caricature of a soccer player that we unavoidably relate to Cristiano Ronaldo. Taking a lot of B-series filmmaking, trash cinema and exploitation, and other paraphernalia of cheap science-fiction, Abrantes and Schmidt manage to build a visual folly, potent and creative, of little dogs playing soccer in the field, of villain twins a-la Austin Powers, or experiments in laboratories leaded by an eccentric handicapped woman. However, the film decays when it becomes a political satire, and the cocktail of neo-fascists, refugees and post-Brexit diatribe starts, or the amour fou and kitsch treatment of other part of the film. Here, I missed the short film’s Abrantes.
Far away are the days where Argentina was present with films like Lisandro Alonso’s Jauja in Un Certain Regard, but, since the times are changing, what we have is a coproduction with Spain, where Pedro Almodóvar appears as a producer, which gives some lights on what the film is. El Ángel is based in passages of the life of a media character, Carlos Eduardo Robledo Puch, a sort of adolescent Charles Manson that becomes the first white blonde person to be captured for his robberies and murders, and who is still behind bars. Luis Ortega portrays his story through a cop comedy treatment, where there’s space for songs of Palito Ortega, Billy Bond or Leonardo Favio, and where there’s space for choreographies and a Scorsese-like mise in scéne.
The film does keep a stable rhythm, has a lead character fallen from heavens and an art direction that traces the interior ambient of a Buenos Aires in the sixties. However, there’s a sound vacuum horror present, since there’s not a moment where the filmmaker takes on a different strategy. Ortega wants to make a “soundtrack film” (like Tarantino) and achieves that, and maybe that’s where the total ambition of the movie lies.
Christophe Honoré’s Sorry Angel has echoes of Wild Nights with Cyril Collard, recreating an essential time on how HIV molded the interpersonal relations in the beginning of the nineties. Honoré manages to do a film of atmospheres through an interesting use of the soundtrack –including rhythms of the Cocteau Twins for a bedroom scene (something that I could’ve never imagined to watch, despite the sensuality of an Elizabeth Fraser), to transmit the malaise and depression of a lovesick writer in his days of fighting HIV. Faraway of films with a similar theme, if we remember the comedy A Virus Knows No Morals or the trilogy of Aids by Rosa von Prauhmhein, or the film also in competition last year, 120 beats per minute, Sorry Angel poses a human look of homosexuality, tedious at moments and also maybe run over by a prejudiced view of promiscuity in the middle class, as a cause of all evils.