South Korean “Parasite” and Palestian “It Must be Heaven” strong contenders for the Palm
Vecdi Sayar – CANNES
This is due to the fact that it has been a fruitful festival, with quite a number of good films. Several newcomers joined the competition, besides the acclaimed directors of the world cinema scene. Although there are still a few more films to see, we can now make some predictions concerning the awards to be distributed on Saturday evening.
You never know how the jury will operate. Sometimes, the president leaves his/her fingerprints on the award list. Sometimes, the jury functions very democratically, everyone imposing their own taste. In fact, Cannes jury does not have many awards in hand. Considering the quality of this year’s selection, I can say that it will not be an easy determination.
Usually, some pictures get eliminated at the first stage of discussions, if none of the members defend the film vigorously. This time, some of the ‘genre’ films, which constituted a large part of the program, might be the first losers. “Little Joe” by Austrian director Jessica Hausner will probably be one of them. Although it’s based on an interesting concept, the film fails to fulfill its promises. This is a critique of modern science, which plays with the DNA of all living creatures. The protagonist of the film is a plant designed to give happiness to people.
Film-noir and politics
The ‘zombie’ film, “Jarmusch,” translated to “The Dead Don’t Die,” will also be on the losing side of the game, I think. We watched several examples of the popular genre ‘film noir’ in the official competition. I don’t give much chance to the Chinese picture, “The Wild Goose Lake” of Diao Yinan. The chances also are dim for French director Arnaud Depleschin’s “Oh Mercy!” - a realistic cop story which takes place in Roubaix, a district of Paris famous for its criminals, or “The Whistlers” (La Gomera), another film-noir which shows the corruption in present-day Romanian society. The Brazilian action-fantasy film with political overtones,
“Bacurau,” and the fantasy-love-immigration story taking place in Senegal, “Atlantics,” by French director Mati Diop, also have little chances to win the Palm, but they have a chance to grab one acting prize, considering that juries often prefer to award young actors/actresses instead of big stars such as Isabelle Huppert or Leonardo Di Caprio and Brad Pitt.
Once upon a time, Tarantino
In my opinion, Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood” is not a powerful movie. It aims to reflect the atmosphere of the late 60s in Hollywood, with an episodic structure. Although it has some funny scenes, the film does not appeal to my aesthetic taste. In my opinion, it was not necessary to speak about the nostalgia of a glamorous and kitsch period. It is surely made for youngsters who constitute the greatest part of world cinema-goers. But, you never know, there might be some jury members who enjoy this comedy revolving around the murder of Sharon Tate, then-wife of French-Polish film director Roman Polanski.
“Les Miserables” by French director Ladj Ly might get the Golden Camera. The politically-engaged film, “A Hidden Life,” by director Terence Malick certainly deserves a big prize, the Best Director or Best Script award, in my opinion. The film is based on real life events during World War II and comments on the disobedience of a simple farmer in Austria, who rejects to fight for Hitler.
As most of the critics suggest, the jury presided by the Mexican helmer Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, may give the Golden Palm to Pedro Almodovar’s film “Pain and Glory,” which I have written about previously. This is a very personal and accomplished film like Celine Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”, which also deserves to be in the awards list. Why not a shared Best Actress award for the duo Noemie Merlant and Adele Haenel? It is very difficult to imagine who will be the winners, especially on the acting side. We witnessed impressive performances of the two leading actresses of “Oh Mercy!” Lea Seydoux and Sara Forestier, and the leading female figure of “A Hidden Life,” Valerie Pechner. One of them might get the award.
Comedies in the foreground
Although I admired the films mentioned above, my preference would be a comedy this year. Either the black comedy of South Korean Bong Joon Ho, “Gisaengchung / The Parasite,” or the Palestinian director Elia Suleyman’s “It Must be Heaven.” Suleyman directs his camera to the everyday realities in his own country and in the Western world (Paris and New York) and shows how it is the same absurdity everywhere. Although some parts do not integrate into the totality of the film and seem unnecessary, it is really funny and certainly deserves an award (a Jury prize?). On the other hand, Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” is a more flawless picture, starting as a comedy with political overtones and ending in horror and tragedy, presenting the class conflicts in present-day Korean society. This intelligent comedy should get an award in this festival and why not a Golden Palm?