With Jacques Bidou, Anne Kravz-Tarnavsky, Narda Blanchet, Radslav Kinski, Arrigo Mozzo, and Iosseliani.
** (Worth seeing)
Directed by Im Kwon-taek
Written by Kim Yong-oak and Im
With Choi Min-sik, Han Myung-goo, Yoo Ho-jung, Ahn Sung-ki, Kim Yeo-jin, and Son Yae-jin.
I haven’t attended the Cannes film festival in five years, but one thing that keeps it fascinating from a distance is the ideological tension that gets exposed there. The Americans display a sense of entitlement, which tends to irritate representatives of other countries. And the conflict is played out in the form of rants from both sides about what’s shown in competition and what wins prizes.
The usual hyperbolic level of the discourse was exacerbated this year by the war in Iraq. American critics — especially in the trade press, which tends to have the highest profile at Cannes — expressed the same sort of disdain for French critics as other American journalists had for French politicians just before and after the invasion. In turn the French and British media bashed Hollywood studios and their flacks, just as they’d bashed the U.S. Read more
This review was written in June 2004 for the Guardian — who paid me for the piece but then chose not to run it — before I read Nicole Brenez’s remarkable book on Ferrara, translated into English by Adrian Martin and published by the University of Illinois Press in 2007. (This same book came out in French, published by Cahiers du Cinéma.) The Stevens book is also still in print, and still very much worth reading and having. –-J.R.
Abel Ferrara: The Moral Vision
by Brad Stevens
367pp, FAB Press, £16.99
Reviewed by Jonathan Rosenbaum
I have to confess I’m a slow learner when it comes to Abel Ferrara — even though his talent is hard to shrug off, and the degree to which some of my smarter colleagues swear by him has made him impossible to ignore. For many of them, one sometimes feels Ferrara isn’t so much a major filmmaker as the major filmmaker. But this is a wild man whose first official feature, in which he plays the title role, a starving painter in lower Manhattan, is called The Driller Killer (1979) — and whose first unofficial feature, made three years earlier, is a porn item called 9 Lives of a Wet Pussy. Read more
This vulgar Billy Wilder comedy scandalized the Legion of Decency and large segments of the American public when it came out in 1964. At the time Wilder pointed out that the film is about human dignity and the sanctity of marriage, but its undisguised contempt for the American hinterlands and the success ethic makes the sexual element seem dirtier than it actually is. Dean Martin plays a carousing parody of himself, stranded in the godforsaken town of Climax, Nevada, while a desperate songwriter (Ray Walston), hoping to sell him a tune, tries to get him shacked up with a prostitute (Kim Novak) impersonating the songwriter’s wife (Felicia Farr). This restoration includes the original ending, which originally played only in Europe, followed by the forced ending that played in the U.S. Both Martin and Novak are at their near best, and the undertone of small-town desperation in Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond’s script is effectively captured by Walston and his sidekick, Cliff Osmond. Shot in black-and-white ‘Scope. 126 min. (JR)