Gautaman Bhaskaran
an indian journalist
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Cannes 2007: Guess time

I have seen this for 15 years at the Cannes Film Festival. Half way through the 12-day event, it is time for punters. I really do not know whether people bet with money, but they sure challenge one another with a drink or dinner, and my god, little wonder, then, that the restaurants and cafes are full-up after the Golden Palms have popped out of the envelopes.

This year, my favourite remains Wong Kar-wai’s first English language movie, “My Blueberry Nights”, which, as one critic wrote, was beginning to look better and more alluring in the rear-view mirror. But, I differ with this gentleman on a point of technicality: I did not have to use the mirror. I felt a sense of deep attachment to Wong’s work soon after it opened the 60th Festival, still unspooling cinema by yards.

Norah Jones’ road ride across the American plains -- reminiscing about her blueberry pie and the man who intoxicated her with it, Jude Law -- is a fascinating narrative that won me over with its sheer simplicity and great performances, not to speak of the stunning images that Wong strung together.

But “My Blueberry Nights” has a serious contender, though. Romania’s “4 months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days’ (by Cristian Mungiu) delivers the tale of bravery in a very repressive society, where a girl is desperate to abort her baby. Her friend makes enormous sacrifices to help terminate the pregnancy, and though it is a rather dark film, it is powerful enough to transport us beyond sorrow and suffering to a higher realm of hope and joy. Maybe, the Cannes jury, headed by Stephen Frears, will be moved by this.

Paranoid Park
Another Croisette favourite is Gus Van Sant’s “Paranoid Park”, where a young skateboarder accidentally kills a security guard on a railway track. Perhaps, the director’s most experimental work till now, “Paranoid Park” illuminates the dilemma of the boy, torn between guilt and self-preservation. His parents’ divorce adds to his suffering. But I have a quarrel with this movie which seems to suggest that if you are not caught you are not guilty. “Paranoid Park” tells me precisely this. I really cannot agree with it.

Christophe Honore’s “Love Song” may be very French, but that is precisely what endeared me to this film. A lovely musical where a girl’s untimely death drives her boyfriend to cope with grief in a manner that he himself may not have quite liked. Will the jury like this?

It is possible that Coen Brothers’ “No Country for Old Men” might just about swing the jury to vote it as the best or the second best work, meaning the Grand Prize. Josh Brolin plays a good old boy who stumbles upon huge money with Javier Bardem as an eccentric killer who wants his cash back. The Coen Brothers have been declared Best Director three times at Cannes – “The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001), “Fargo” (1996) and “Barton Fink” (1991). The last also won the Golden Palm.

On May 27, the awards will be announced.

(Webposted May 23 2007)