Cannes 2018 - The End
Tale of Tails
After playing away with surreal 17th century fantasy drama Tale of Tales, Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah) has returned home to the underbelly of contemporary Italy, with his bags at his feet, to beg for forgiveness. Given that Dogman is electrifying and is already picking up awards, I personally feel we should forgive him and take him back in.
The feral lovechild of Roberto Benigni and Buster Keaton, Marcello Fonte snaffled the festival’s Best Actor award for his performance as Marcello, a cruelly downtrodden but lovably roguish dog lover. Marcello owns a shabby dog grooming salon in a paint-blistered seaside housing estate (think the Margate of Pawilowski’s Last Resort with the dereliction of Kubrick’s Isle of Dogs in Full Metal Jacket and you’re still not there!). He plays five-a-side and hangs out with his mates, plans diving holidays with his young daughter on her visits, and she assists him when he enters poodles into competitions. He’s proud of his minor standing and good reputation within the community.
However, Garrone peppers Marcello’s salt-of-the-earth persona with some moral complications - he deals a bit of cocaine on the side, you know, to his pals. Unfortunately for the slightly framed and gentle Marcello, his small-time criminal endeavours draw the attention of Simoncino, a bulked-up monster of a local bully who’s been terrorizing the neighbourhood for years. Edoardo Pesce’s appearance and portrayal of Simoncino is truly terrifying, a dangerous mix of Matthias Schoenaerts’ breakout performance in Bullhead and Frankenstein's Monster. Simoncino preys on poor Marcello, stealing his drugs without payment and forcing him to assist in burglaries, until the relationship finally reaches breaking point.
Dogman lacks Gomorrah’s ensemble innovation, but instead it’s a meticulously crafted character study that darkens towards a foreboding climax. As a return to form, the best way to approach Garrone’s David-versus-Goliath tale is as a grubby and dirty counter-piece to Paolo Sorrentino's The Consequences of Love. And if ensemble is what you’re looking for, Garrone has assembled one of the most impressive casts of canines ever before seen in world cinema, not least Joy the chihuahua, who - in a blaze of glory - picked up the ‘Palm Dog’, the award for best canine performance on the Croisette.
That's a Wrap
With The Third Murder still warm from a run at Curzon Bloomsbury, prolific Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda (Our Little Sister) was back in Cannes with the bittersweet Shoplifters, a beautifully crafted and performed drama about a ‘family’ of petty thieves eking out a tough but joyful existence in a tiny Tokyo hideaway. The announcement on Saturday that Kore-eda had won the top prize, the Palme d’Or, as selected by Cate Blanchett’s jury, was met with a mix of mild approval and surprise.
The South Korean Lee Chang-dong’s Burning, an adaptation of a short story by Haruki Murakami (Norwegian Wood), was the bookies’ choice after it had broken records with the highest Screen critic score in the magazine’s history. Chang-dong had to make do with a FIPRESCI prize, a more minor honour. I was frustrated to have missed it, as I was the hotly tipped Capernaum from Lebanese director Nadine Labaki (Caramel), another buzz title that scooped a couple of Jury Awards.
Paweł Pawlikowski’s monochromatic Cold War was another favourite, a passionate and musically gifted tale of a pan-European love affair that spans several decades after the Second World War. The 60-year-old Polish-born filmmaker - who’s lived most of his life in the UK - won the Best Director award, some welcome company in his prize cabinet for the 2015 Oscar he won for Ida.
Other prizes gifted out in the main competition included a Grand Prix for Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman (produced by Jordan Peele, Get Out), a witty and sparky mix of protest movie and Blaxploitation; a story that would be outrageous in the extreme if it wasn’t the completely true tale of a black cop who, in 1979, infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan as part of a daring police operation.
In the other categories, surreal football fantasy Diamantino won Critics’ Week and agent provocateur Gaspar Noé picked up the Directors’ Fortnight Award for his dance movie Climax, a crazed LCD-infused fever dream that had critics buzzing. And Border won Un Certain Regard, an out-there Nordic genre bender that is a mongrel combination of woodland fairytale romance and body horror.
Worthy of mention is Lukas Dhont’s Girl, a Flemish transgender coming-of-age drama that drew attention as the astonishingly assured fledging feature of a filmmaker who is just 26 years’ old, the story surrounding the film’s gender-neutral casting and a performance from Victor Polster that lit up the festival. Acting for the first time, Polster plays a 15-year-old cisgender boy training to become a ballerina. He’s utterly convincing in the part, both physically and emotionally; a performance of great sensitivity and courage that won the Un Certain Regard acting award. Girl also won the Camera d’Or (best first feature in Cannes), the Queer Palm for best LGBT film and a FIPRESCI prize.
[Words by Damian 'Damo' Spandley, Director of Programme at Curzon]
Our Man in Cannes #3
On the last weekend of Cannes, Jake and Damo round up their favourite final watches, including Hirokazu Kore-eda's Shoplifters and Matteo Garrone's Dogman. For discussion on the Semaine Award winning Diamantino, Pawel Pawlikowski's Cold War and Leave No Trace, Debra Granik's acclaimed follow up to Winter's Bone, go back and listen to our previous episodes of Our Man In Cannes #1 and #2.