Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Virtual Cannes Film Festival: Competition, Part 2

(All synopses from the official Cannes site.)

Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)

In the first year of the German occupation of France, Shosanna Dreyfus witnesses the execution of her family at the hand of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa. Shosanna narrowly escapes and flees to Paris, where she forges a new identity as the owner and operator of a cinema. Elsewhere in Europe, Lieutenant Aldo Raine organizes a group of Jewish American soldiers to perform swift, shocking acts of retribution. Later known to their enemy as "The Basterds", Raine’s squad joins German actress and undercover agent Bridget Von Hammersmark on a mission to take down the leaders of The Third Reich. Fates converge under a cinema marquee, where Shosanna is poised to carry out a revenge plan of her own...

Looking for Eric (Ken Loach)

Eric the postman is slipping through his own fingers... His chaotic family, his wild stepsons and the cement mixer in the front garden don’t help, but it is Eric’s own secret that drives him to the brink. Can he face Lily, the woman he once loved 30 years ago? Despite outrageous efforts and misplaced goodwill from his football fan mates, Eric continues to sink. In desperate times it takes a spliff and a special friend from foreign parts to challenge a lost postman to make that journey into the most perilous territory of all - the past. As the Chinese, and one Frenchman, say: "He who is afraid to throw the dice will never throw a six."

Broken Embraces (Pedro Almodóvar)

A man writes, lives and loves in darkness. Fourteen years before, he was in a brutal car crash on the island of Lanzarote. In the accident, he didn’t lose only his sight, he also lost Lena, the love of his life. This man uses two names: Harry Caine, a playful pseudonym with which he signs his literary works, stories and scripts, and Mateo Blanco, his real name, with which he lives and signs the film he directs. After the accident, Mateo Blanco reduces himself to his pseudonym, Harry Caine. If he can’t direct films he can only survive with the idea that Mateo Blanco died on Lanzarote with his beloved Lena.

Map the Sounds of Tokyo (Isabel Coixet)

Ryu is a solitary girl whose fragile appearance is in stark contrast with the double life she leads, working nights at a Tokyo fishmarket and sporadically taking on jobs as a hit-woman. Mr Nagara is a powerful impresario mourning the loss of his daughter Midori, who has committed suicide. He blames David, a Spaniard who runs a wine business in Tokyo. Mr Nagara's employee, Ishida, was silently in love with Midori and hires Ryu to murder David. A sound engineer, obsessed with the sounds of the Japanese city and fascinated with Ryu, witnesses this love story which searches the shadows of the human soul, reaching deep into places where only silence has the power of eloquence.

Taking Woodstock (Ang Lee)

It’s 1969, and Elliot Tiber, a down-on-his-luck interior designer in Greenwich Village, New York, has to move back upstate to help his parents run their dilapidated Catskills motel, the El Monaco. The bank is about to foreclose; his father wants to burn the place down, but hasn’t paid theinsurance; and Elliot is still figuring how to come out to his parents. When Elliot hears that a neighbouring town has pulled the permit on a hippie music festival, he calls the producers, thinking he could drum up some much needed business for the motel. Three weeks later, half a million people are on their way to his neighbour's farm in White Lake, NY, and Elliot finds himself swept up in a generation-defining experience that would change his life, and popular culture, forever.

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