Cannes 2022: De Humani Corporis Fabrica, Crimes of the Future, Jerry Lee Lewis: Trouble in Mind, The Almond Trees
The man seated two seats away had looked away from the screen a few times before finally reaching his breaking point. I saw a penis and some kind of drill come straight to the urethra and heard a doctor say he was going to put the device on the “Kalashnikov setting”. What, I wondered, could that mean? When the drill started pumping and the blood spurted out, the poor guy had had enough and got out quickly, and I absolutely couldn’t blame him. This was the second showing of the infamous Instantly De Humani Corporis Fabrica That day; After the first, Twitter replies made it clear that this is a movie you’re going to watch as much of the walkouts as the movie itself. My only real distaste is looking at the internal organs of the body, and I was more than willing to bail myself out and call it a day for self-preservation rather than indulging in cinemachismo for bragging. But, after all this accumulation, Made turned out to be (mostly) smooth navigation; although Lucien Castaing-Tayler and Véréna Paravel (Leviathan, Caniba) are up to snuff, being visual edgelords isn’t the main job, and if something i ended up wanting After operation.
Alternating this material with the more banal daily work of several Parisian hospitals, Made toggle between something like Fantastic trip and a particularly grumpy documentary from Wiseman. The defamiliarizing images on the old front include a camera inserted deep inside… something (I don’t want to know) that made me wonder why I’ve never seen a sculpted sci-fi setting to make it look like it was made of guts, and eye surgery where the iris has the intense yellow of a very fresh egg yolk. The most grueling images are preloaded; As what was left of the audience settled in, it became clear that there were indeed good places to laugh, especially when a doctor observes, during a prostate operation, “It becomes a bit abstract.” The images of caring for patients with dementia are arguably more heartbreaking than surgery, among the overwhelming tasks for staff who complain of being underfunded and undervalued, a sense of daily worker solidarity easy to obtain. Very smart viewers of this festival think From Humani is a masterpiece – I can’t get over it, but it’s definitely valid in its extremity.
Comparatively, David Cronenberg Future Crimes was downright cuddly, the writer-director’s welcome return to working from his own original material for the first time since 1999 exist. It’s Cronenberg’s prototype of the signature opening credits sequence, with titles set against mysterious red backgrounds backed by Howard Shore’s typically/refreshing score. Characters with names seemingly taken from an obscure Quebec pulp sci-fi novel (Scott Speedman plays “Lang Dotrice”) deliver near-impossible dialogue that could have been generated by a Cronenberg algorithm bot (“Sex is the new surgery”) and slimy, vaguely breathing objects interact with bodies in ways that don’t seem to be good. Performance artist Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) has, for years, produced self-generated organs unlike any in human history; he turns these alarming evictions into art, his companion Caprice (Léa Seydoux) tattooing them and removing them in happenings surrounded by caricatured gallerists, some brandishing Bolex. The plot, along Videodrome lines, Saul and Caprice navigate interactions with various interested factions, some more overtly sinister than others.
None of the lines are overtly comical in the sense of being considered funny by those delivering them, but audiences always know when to laugh at a particularly odd exchange, even if Shore’s score keeps a straight face. The throbbing furniture is, to the viewer, clearly repulsive and sinister, but loved and fetishized by the characters; this discrepancy – the ability to perceive implications not yet perceived by the most sinister of objects or ideas that have been normalized – is a mark of the predictive clarity of the futurist. (A clip that recently made the rounds online pointed out to Cronenberg, with almost unhappy glee, the recent discovery of microplastics in all of our bodies. Being vindicated isn’t always a good thing!) Much of the dialogue is unabashedly Big Picture themes, repeatedly making the connection between suffering and his ability to generate art while questioning whether the two are actually inseparable. But this thematic inflection, which is both direct and vague (and therefore seemingly infinitely suggestive without actually engaging with anything), is less absorbing than Cronenberg’s style, a finely honed and mysterious ability to make a cover medium shot of characters speaking in chiaroscuro. the scene builds eerily hauntingly.
An oft-used nerd critical cliche, taken from Roberto Rossellini’s admiring appreciation of Charlie Chaplin A King in New York, is to describe a work that is distasteful to most and therefore commendable for its idiosyncrasy, as “the film of a free man”. This certainly applies to Ethan Coen’s sketch of a music documentary, Jerry Lee Lewis: Trouble in Mind: freshly separated from his brother Joel, Ethan is here even more freed from the narration, even from the need to shoot images. It’s an almost entirely archival affair, his most recent material shot in January 2020 to document a recording session produced by Coen’s longtime executive producer/collaborator T-Bone Burnett. Its assembly was undertaken during the pandemic by Coen and his editor wife Tricia Cooke in the spirit of, in her words“a home movie project” – he didn’t have to generate anything at all.
The Coens’ fiercest critics regularly complained that their work was too clever and airless, devoid of any surprises and impermeable to fault. No one could impose this accusation against mind problem, which unfolds, in no particular thematic or chronological order that I can discern, through the life and career of Lewis, a musician as important as an abysmal human. The movie’s subtitle is misdirected: it inevitably mentions the time Lewis married his 12-year-old cousin, as well as the time he shot his bassist, but not much other than even a very superficial of his wiki might bring up. Coen’s film is therefore doubly the work of a free man, as he does not seem to feel compelled to really delve into the moral flesh of his subject’s transgressions and instead immerses himself guiltlessly in his interviews and musical performances, both presented at lengths that are, thankfully, relatively untruncated by music doc standards. That’s fine with me: surely no one needs to be told that Jerry Lee Lewis is problematic. It’s as graciously unambitious a time-killer as you might expect from Live Nation Productions, a logical extension of the Coens’ penchant for being deeply invested in American popular music history that otherwise sheds no light. on their previous work.
At Valeria Bruni Tedeschi The Almond Trees takes its title from the operating theater where, from 1982, Patrice Chéreau was director. (Although it is understandable that there was a desire for a different English title, since it is not common knowledge outside of France, I absolutely refuse to use the official English title, forever Young, with its unfortunate and irrelevant overtones to both the Alphaville song and the 1992 Mel Gibson film. If an English-speaking distributor finds out, they really need to find a replacement.) Tedeschi was a student at and, alongside co-screenwriters Noémie Lvovsky and Agnès de Sacy, draws on her personal memories in her sixth feature film as a director. . It has been pointed out that the plot – following 12 students selected to join the ensemble and their ups and downs over the course of a year under the direction of Chéreau (Louis Garrel) – bears a strong resemblance to Memory, like one of the aspiring actors, Etienne (Sofianne Bennacer), is a drug addict whose love affair with protagonist Stella (Nadia Tereszkiewicz) is the main guideline. I choose to believe it’s a coincidence, given that all junkie stories are basically the same. (In the press kit, Tedeschi acknowledges that this character is based on someone from his youth, without specifying further, and quotes Panic in Needle Park as a landmark.)
The film falls into the category of dramas whose arc means it’s great fun until, by design, it isn’t, and deflation unfortunately comes sooner rather than later. I was charmed by the opening half hour or so, a series of often hilarious auditions to get into the school and the general good mood, and for a while almond trees walks a very fine line in making performers looking for spontaneity interesting in their own right, rather than a tedious study in watching acting exercises. That opening act generated so much benevolence that I didn’t even bother when that bristiest soundtrack, “Me and Bobby McGee,” was dropped on a montage of the kids arriving for practice at the Actors. Studio in New York. It is here, alas, that the tragic Etienne begins to delve into heroin, a common thread that slowly and sadly redirects that from a vivid overall portrait to an increasingly claustrophobic portrait of being in love with ‘a drug addict. However, I am not sorry to have seen it: it would be a mistake to come to France and not see something very culturally French here. A film venerating a nationally beloved theater troupe, based on the assumption that everyone knows the legacy of Patrice Chéreau, fits the bill perfectly.