Mostly Links – 20 May 2011

by Indy Datta

Mel Gibson must be quietly relieved he skipped the Cannes press conference for The Beaver (no link: I have some standards). Poor old Lars von Trier, eh, all those critically acclaimed movies and you just express sympathy for Hitler once, and you end up being declared persona non grata – a decision that looks so bizarrely humourless that one ironically assumes that it must be some kind of joke. Far be it from me to suggest that all this is more than quite likely to be more entertaining than Melancholia, which has been probably the most critically divisive film of the Cannes competition so far, with some saying masterpiece and some saying meh-sterpiece.

In any event, the response to the film, and the press-conference controversy (by the way, thank all the gods I’m getting this out before someone can do one of those Downfall parodies) has pretty definitively eclipsed the slightly weedy “did many people really boo Tree of Life?” imbroglio from earlier in the week – Malick’s film turning out not to be all that critically divisive in the end, with most critics a mixture of respectful and baffled (Justin Chang’s immediate reaction for Variety is a fair reflection of the more thoughtful end of the positive reviews, leaving aside the bit about the t____ p___). Probably the most vehement basher was the Village Voice’s J Hoberman (who loved Melancholia).

So, will the Palme go to one of these big, ambitious, controversial beasts? Or will the Dardenne Bros, who seem to have come, taken care of business and gone, without causing much of a stir, be the first film makers to get to three Palmes? Or will the jury go for one of the arthouse veterans who’ve never won: Aki Kaurismaki or Pedro AlmodĂłvar? Or will they go leftfield and reward a genre piece like Nicolas Winding Refn’s Ryan Gosling vehicle Drive, or The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius’s silent comedy-melodrama about the birth of the talkies?

Or Sleeping Beauty! Come on Bobby, I’ve got a tenner on it.

So, I talked about Bridesmaids a bit last week. And, yeah, sure, it was a box office hit, but the real way you know your comedy movie has made an impact is when the media starts to leak at the seams with a volume of loogy think pieces entirely out of proportion to any significance you ever intended your film to have. I’ve just made this ridiculousness slightly worse, right? Happy to help!

The whole women-in-comedy navel-gazing moment we’re going through has also generated a New Yorker profile of Anna Farris, in which a successful female screenwriter notes that, to make a female romantic comedy lead adorable, you have to humiliate her early on in the film. So, that’s why women are always falling down in romantic comedies.

Notable new releases this week include Fire in Babylon, which we reviewed yesterday, and Tom McCarthy’s Win Win, but I’ll probably make a beeline for Blitz, which looks really silly. Still, the last film to be based on a Ken Bruen book, William Monahan’s remarkably tedious London Boulevard, would have been much improved by including Jason Statham kicking people in the head, so there’s that.

(Yeah, that fuzzy shit is the official trailer. Sort it out, Lionsgate.)

The US this weekend gets to choose between Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and the new Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris, which is supposedly his best since [Crimes and Misdemeanours/Match Point/Hannah and her Sisters/delete as appropriate]. Here’s Tim Powers, who wrote the book on which the new Pirates film is partly based (and to which I suspect the original film owed an unspoken debt), being interviewed on his way in to the premiere, blissfully unaware of whether any of his book made it to the screen.

In other stuff:

Yuen Woo Ping chooses his favourite Yuen Woo Ping fight scenes.

Roseanne Barr is not bitter

That’ll do for now, I think? No Mostly Links next week, because on Friday we’ll be announcing an exciting new recurring feature here at Mostly Film. Other stuff in store next week: Bob Dylan at 70, films you’ve never seen, more from Cannes, and even more cool shit.

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