Twelve months ago, at Cannes 2005, Tommy Lee Jones’ new film, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada was very well received (won Best Actor for Tommy and Best Screenplay for Guillermo Arriaga who I will come back to in a moment) and I have been waiting to see it ever since. It is now in Australian cinemas and is on my (very) short list. I just have to shore up a date with Uncle J (whose connection to Melquiades is now more complex than I would ever have realised twelve months ago and not something I will dwell on now).
Mexican screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga has had a long and fruitful partnership with fellow Mexican, director Alejandro Inarritu who are both responsible for Amores Perros and 21 Grams. At Cannes 2006, they have teamed up again with Babel that stars Cate Blanchett, Brad Pitt and Gael Garcia Bernal (Che Guerra from Motorcycle Diaries). 21 Grams I am a huge fan of and Amores Perros is my homework assignment for this weekend and so I am very keen for Babel to be released here which won Inarritu Best Director at Cannes this year and tells three interlocking stories of lives disrupted by borders.
Another Cannes highlight is the promise of Sophia Coppola’s newest film, Marie Antoinette which stars Kirsten Dunst (as Marie) and Jason Schwartzman (as Louis XVI). Roger Ebert describes Marie Antoinette as “an ambitious film, visually splendid, with some of the most elaborate costumes in movie history, and the real Versailles as a location.” Kirsten ‘delivers’ as Coppola’s vision for Marie according to Ebert but doesn’t quite triumph as a film either. Coppola’s previous outings has been The Virgin Suicides (also starring Dunst) and the excellent Lost in Translation.
Spanish director Pedro Almodovar has a Cannes entry, Volver, which has an excellent female cast (they collectively won Best Ensemble) including Pen. Cruz. I am forced to rethink my attitude to Cruz’s contribution to film as her Spanish roles are quite good however I am able to attribute that to talented directors, like Almodovar, and not give her credit where it may be due. Certainly her Cruise/Cruz tabloid exposure did nothing to endear her to me. Volver is a tribute, says Almodovar, to the strong women in his life, notably his mother but all of the village women from when he was growing up. Previous Almodovar (and Cruz too for that matter) films include Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down, All About My Mother, Talk To Her and Bad Education.
This is to say nothing either of actual Palme D’Or winner, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, starring Cillian Murphy and directed by Ken Loach about how the Irish Republican Army waged war against the British and enforced deadly discipline within its own ranks.