Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Cannes and the Palme d'Or

Yes, it is the merry month of May and what does that mean to we film fans? It means the Cannes Film Festival! The festival is running from May 16th to May 27th this year. As an added bit of celebrity watching, the Independent Film Channel is sponsoring a Cannes Cam
so you can watch all the red carpet shenanigans from the comfort of your own home.

The most prestigious award given out at Cannes is the Palme d'Or ("Golden Palm") for the best film. The film is selected by the jury of the festival, made up of a small international selection of movie professionals. Some of the past Palme d’Or winners are alive and well and living on DVD at (or soon to be at) HBPL. Taxi Driver, The Piano, Pulp Fiction, The Pianist and sex, lies and videotape are all well-known winners of the past. But have you seen Missing, Secrets & Lies or L’enfant (the Child)?

not only won the Palme d’Or in 1982 but its star, Jack Lemmon, was selected as the Best Actor at Cannes that year. Deservedly so! He puts in a powerful and moving performance of a father whose son goes missing in a South American country during civil unrest. (This DVD is now available at HBPL).

Secrets & Lies
The amazing Brenda Blethyn heads the cast of this 1996 Palme d’Or winner. Once again, while the film took the top prize, Ms. Blethyn was the Best Actress that year at Cannes. Her co-star, Marianne Jean-Baptiste (better known for her time as Vivian Johnson on “Without a Trace”) plays a successful black woman that traces her birth mother to a lower-class white woman (Blethyn). What follows is a touching tale full of, you guessed it, secrets, oh yes, and lies! (Available at HBPL).

L’enfant (The Child)
This 2005 winner of the Palme d’Or is currently available on DVD at HBPL. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's heartbreaking film follows the repercussions of a disastrous decision. Twenty year old Bruno, who lives an “in the moment” existence on the streets of an industrial town in Belgium, sells his newborn child to an adoption ring for a large bundle of cash. Is the “child” in this film the newborn baby or does it reflect the immaturity of the father? This is not an easy film to experience but one that, once seen, will be unforgettable.

The Wind that Shakes the Barley, the 2006 Palme d’Or winner, is currently playing in limited release in southern California. It should be available on DVD in July or August of this year. What film will take this prize for 2007? We will just have to wait (in the dark of a movie theater) and see.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Two Capotes

We had our first Saturday Film Forum screening (Benny & Joon) last weekend. I want to thank those that attended! A good time seemed to be had by all! Hopefully we will have even more Johnny Depp fans for our next film, "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" on June 23rd!

In 2005, a film called Capote hit the scene and by the time the 2006 Oscars rolled around it was a front runner for many awards. It had five nominations: Best Actor, Supporting Actress, Director, Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay. As many of you know, the wonderful Phillip Seymour Hoffman won the award for Best Actor for this film. Deservedly so! Hoffman is an amazing actor whose presence in any film elevates its worth.

Fast forward to the fall of 2006 when the “other” Capote film was released: Infamous. Because of the acclaim of Capote, many missed Infamous both in the theatres and on DVD. A pity! Infamous and Capote both capture the same time period of Truman Capote’s life but are quite different films. Toby Jones embodies the character of Capote, both looking and sounding much more like Capote than Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

And if you think you know the latest James Bond, Daniel Craig; think again! He is chillingly convincing as the murderer, Perry Smith.

Another bright spot in this film is Sandra Bullock! More prone to casting in films like Miss Congeniality or Speed, her portrayal of Capote’s buddy, Harper Lee was a pleasant surprise.
This film is rated R for language, violence and some sexuality. And, of course, available at the Huntington Beach Public Library Media Department!