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Today in Cannes

One of these years, I am going to make it to Cannes during the Festival International du Film. From what I've been told, it's not really worth going unless you have some sort of access. So, when my friend and co-blogger Todd takes a movie to Cannes, I will be there for Ionarts. (Todd's last movie review here is buried in the archives months ago. We miss his insights into the seventh art. Damn it, why am I such a bad friend? Would it kill me to call Los Angeles every once in a while?) Todd? Seen Revenge of the Sith yet?

Showing today in the competition is Jim Jarmusch's latest, as described by an article ("Broken Flowers" : un voyage sentimental entre humour et mélancolie, March 18) by Florence Colombani for Le Monde (my translation):

In contrast to Night on Earth (1991) and Coffee and Cigarettes (2004), where in each scene we met new characters, Broken Flowers recounts the impact of one man on the lives of different women. What follows is a gallery of appearances, never foreseen, ranging between humor and bitterness. This should remind us that Jim Jarmusch's great talent lies in, above all, his love of people.

Not that the director wallows in generous and carried-away love of humanity, like Frank Capra. Simply put, in the way that other people know good wine, Jarmusch knows human beings. He has a taste for melancholy people, stifled by the solitude of modern life. He knows, with discrete elegance, how to frame their silhouettes in a story, to say everything about their existence by capturing only an instant, to suggest an atmosphere: forests drenched with rain and enveloping music, the disarray of waking up too early in the morning in a sad motel room.
Bill Murray with Sharon Stone, Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange, Tilda Swinton, Julie Delpy, and Chloë Sevigny, under Jarmusch's baton? I'm there. Also in competition today was a "social thriller" by brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, called L'Enfant, starring Jérémie Renier as a young man living off theft and selling drugs. In an article ("L'Enfant" : l'inconscience agitée de Bruno, enfermé dans son enfance, March 19) by Jean-Luc Douin for Le Monde (my translation):
Former documentary filmmakers, the Dardenne brothers have brought the Lumière brothers' invention into the little towns around Lyon and planted it midstream in the poor neighborhoods of northern France. Factory entrances fascinate them, but also, far beyond that, how workers come out of them when they have no way out, everything that is trembling at the margins of society, at home with the excluded, all the people who move and fight to survive.

Can we say that they are filming fiction? Gripped by reality, they observe anonymous people, capturing "cases" and imagining destinies. They came up with the story of L'Enfant (The Baby) one day, when they saw a young girl go by, pushing a stroller with a newborn sleeping in it. "She didn't seem to have a destination, just to be walking and pushing the stroller. We have thought a lot about that young woman since then, about the sleeping baby, and about the one who was not there, the baby's father." A Dardenne brothers' film is like a Cartier-Bresson or Doisneau photograph come to life, which makes us follow its characters through a believable adventure, one of mute people trying to desperately to climb out of the hole.
The young woman, left with no options after her baby is born, sets off to try to find the father, the petty criminal played by Jérémie Renier. The story doesn't get any happier from that point. So far, the films in competition have all sounded like they are worth watching, so it will be interesting to see what way the jury goes. I'm looking for some figures for betting people.

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