I covered the Cannes Film Festival this year for several outlets, giving me the opportunity to record my thoughts on pretty much everything I encountered there. Here’s the second in a series of posts recapping my experience.
After the festival tenderly began with Pixar's Up, things quickly started to get a little crazier, a littler sexier, a little bloodier.
By the end of the second day, I was reporting for The Wrap on two features "with explicit and controversial subject matter":
"Spring Fever," a romantic drama from daring Chinese filmmaker Lou Ye, focuses on a woman who hires a private investigator to follow her husband as he engages in an affair with a man. The movie contains multiple scenes of explicit gay sex, not to mention a dense, hardly decipherable plot and monotonous performances...The other provocative offering that has unspooled here at the beginning of the festival, Park Chan-wook's "Thirst," offers a lot more to write home about. The director of such bloody modern cult classics as "Oldboy" makes an altogether twistedly satisfying contribution to the vampire genre with his latest work.
Read more here.
A few days later, I caught Brillante Mendoza's divisive Kinatay, which hardly any journalists liked. In Moving Pictures, I expressed appreciation for Mendoza's skill, but questioned his motives:
To be fair, there's a lot more going on in the movie than sheer exploitation; in fact, it's a class act as far as temporal experiences go, with elaborate sequences unfolding over lengthy periods where little happens other than that a fully formed environment emerges on the screen...But this conceptual extraction only becomes apparent once the credits roll. There's a lot of stomach-churning involved in getting there, and at whose expense? Intellectual revelations notwithstanding, Kinatay is principally an ambitious form of cinematic masturbation.
Read the full review here.
Eventually, it became clear that Cannes 2009 was a year marked by cinematic violence. But who's the goriest filmmaker at the fest? I explored that question for The Wrap, and concluded that it's Park. "When it comes to gore, it is not in there because of some impulsive decision," he told me in an interview. "It has been predetermined. If it has any adverse effects at the end of the day, I don't have any excuses." Read more here.