AMERICAN CINEMA PAPERS
CANNES – 2015
YOUNG AT ART
by Harlan Kennedy
Old is the new young. That much was apparent – gloriously and goldenly – at the 68th Cannes Film Festival. Screen actors who make it to 68 themselves or beyond are, now more than ever, in with a shout at the best roles. More than a shout, a banshee’d ululation. Is this the shape of cinema to come?
Sir Mike Caine and Harvey Keitel, both a country mile past the spring chicken
age, had the fest’s best double act in Paolo Sorrentino’s YOUTH. (The title
might be ironic). Gerard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppert, yesterday’s young
bloods of French film, were today’s Darby and Joan in
And then look at the movies about ever-so-slightly-younger people being chased by time’s winged Cabriolet: from Woody Allen’s IRRATIONAL MAN (Joaquin Phoenix as a menopausal college professor turned wannabe murderer) to Asif Kapadia’s pop doc AMY. Kapadia homes in on the last days of jazz-soul yowler Amy Winehouse, a British singer-songwriter whose fame and greatness surely lay in her making every song sound as if it might be her last. She was a soothsayer of eternity even at 23, old in the best and deepest sense.
One of my
favourite oldies-beat-youngies offerings was the prizewinner
of the main
This nutty Icelandic saga, about two old brothers living in hostile neighbourliness while rearing rival sheep flocks, melted everyone’s cockles. Even though the film is set in a country where a cup of cocoa freezes solid if you set it on a table, there are warming hilarity and humanity galore. Each brother looks as if he’s stepped from the Old Testament: gnarled features, vengeance-sparkling eyes, white beards to wag at the world. But the story, born of sibling enmity, ranges towards love and redemption across a flurry of plots, subplots and counterplots. The ending, amid the mother of hilltop snowstorms, is moving proof that clocks can be set back restoratively – and with them youth’s idealism and forgiveness – even in a family where time’s moving finger seems to have frozen in mid-writ.
Other “let’s celebrate the seniors” flicks on the fringe included Arnaud Despleschin’s MY GOLDEN DAYS (TROIS SOUVENIRS DE MA JEUNESSE), a prizewinner in the Directors Fortnight, and Woody’s wonderwork, shown out of competition. Mr Allen has been at the philosophy shelves again. The film adds about 20 years to Joaquin Phoenix’s appearance as his cranky lecturer cranks on about Schopenauer et al, while trying to rejuvenate himself by romancing the Stone. That’s Emma Stone. She’s Lolita as a college girl. It’s dark and feisty fun.
Matthieu Amalric, a lovable French star now approaching that certain age himself, is the framing figure in MY GOLDEN DAYS. He looks back in extended flashback at his jeunesse dore. Here’s the thing about growing old – our growing old – with a star we like. He or she is much more interesting than his or her younger alter ego on screen, here played by Fred Frogg, even if the latter is easier on the eye.
Amalric has become a clatter of quirks; a bible of blinks, tics and charismatic beckonings. He looks more than ever like Roman Polanski. And he’s terrific in near-actionless movies where his face and voice provide the action. Remember THE BUTTERFLY AND THE DIVING BELL? Understandably he’s been Desplechin’s favourite self-stand-in for 15 years, ever since this director made the young and nicely titled MA VIE SEXUELLE (COMME JE ME SUIS DISPUTE..) – MY SEX LIFE (HOW I’VE BEEN ARGUING WITH MYSELF…)
Growing old. It’s
often best to do it disgracefully. Take Gerard Depardieu. The incontinent
swaggerer of life, art and French cinema, a true sacred monster, is now grown
as bloated as Silenus. (Didn’t I spot him in a Poussin
painting the other day?) He was last seen at
Isabelle Huppert – only she could compete – matches his acting quirk for
quirk, if not kilo for kilo, in a potty plot about an aging French mom and
pop rendezvousing with a successfully suicided gay son. The boy left a note
to meet him in
Byrne grew old and watchable in
Yes, another WMUSA. For
But yes, it
has to be, for the Palme d’Or to wrinklies made
radiant, to old-timers spurning Alzheimers, to
supernovas refusing to become black holes, Mike Caine and Harve
Keitel in YOUTH. We’re used to seeing seagulls over Sorrentino. Director
Paolo has started catching boats big-time, an Italian regista voyaging the world to make,
last time round, an aging-rocker odyssey in
Mike and Harve play, respectively, a semi-retired conductor and a
fists-not-yet-in-the-sprocket filmmaker. They muse on life past, love past
and present, and death approaching over the Julie Andrews hills. (I know,
So the curtain
came down on
readers. Tithonus is the mythic guy who contracted
with the gods never to grow old. He lived a long time, stayed at various
deluxe international spa hotels, and finally founded
COURTESY T.P. MOVIE NEWS.
WITH THANKS TO THE AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE FOR THEIR CONTINUING INTEREST IN WORLD CINEMA.
©HARLAN KENNEDY. All rights reserved