Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Virtual Cannes Film Festival: Competition, Part 1

This year's Cannes Film Festival is heavy on familiar names (Quentin Tarantino, Park Chan-wook, Jane Campion, Lars von Trier, Alain Resnais, Ang Lee, Ken Loach, etc.), so much so that there isn't a single first-timer in competition, and no less than four former Palme D'or winners (Tarantino, von Trier, Campion, Loach) are vying for this year's top prize. Still, it's shaping up to be a fairly strong line-up, at least as far as the critical dispatches from the festival indicate.

So for those of us (like me) unable to make the trip to the Croisette this year. I thought I'd offer a taste of what's being shown. So below are trailers and other video clips of some of this year's selections.

(Note: all synopses are taken from the official Cannes site.)

Antichrist (Lars von Trier)

A grieving couple retreat to ’Eden’, their isolated cabin in the woods, where they hope to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage. But nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse...

Interview with Lars von Trier:

Thirst (Bak-jwi) (Park Chan-wook)

Sang-hyun is a beloved and admired priest in a small town, who devotedly serves at a local hospital. He goes to Africa to volunteer as a test subject in an experiment to find a vaccine to the new deadly infectious disease caused by Emmanuel Virus (E.V.). During the experiment, he is infected by the E.V. and dies. But transfusion of some unidentified blood miraculously brings him back to life, and unbeknownst to him, it has also turned him into a vampire. After his return home, news of Sang-hyun's recovery from E.V. spreads and people start believing he has the gift of healing and flock to receive his prayers. From those who come to him, Sang-hyun meets a childhood friend named Kang-woo and his wife Tae-ju. Sang-hyun is immediately drawn to Tae-ju. Tae-ju gets attracted to Sang-hyun, who now realizes he has turned into a vampire, and they begin a secret love affair. Sang-hyun asks Tae-ju to run away with him but she turns him down. Instead, she tries to involve Sang-hyun in a plot to kill Kang-woo...

Bright Star (Jane Campion)

London 1818: a secret love affair begins between 23 year old English poet, John Keats, and the girl next door, Fanny Brawne, an outspoken student of fashion. This unlikely pair started at odds; he thinking her a stylish minx, she unimpressed by literature in general. It was the illness of Keats’s younger brother that drew them together. Keats was touched by Fanny’s efforts to help and agreed to teach her poetry. By the time Fanny’s alarmed mother and Keats’s best friend Brown realised their attachment, the relationship had an unstoppable momentum. Intensely and helplessly absorbed in each other, the young lovers were swept into powerful new sensations, "I have the feeling as if I were dissolving", Keats wrote to her. Together they rode a wave of romantic obsession that deepened as their troubles mounted. Only Keats’s illness proved insurmountable.

Spring Fever (Chun feng chen zui de ye wan) (Lou Ye)

Nanjing, 2009. Luo Haitao has been hired by Wang Ping’s wife to spy on the passionate relationship between her husband and another man, but slowly loses control of the situation. With his beautiful girlfriend, Li Jing, he is drawn in to the affair, overcome by the fever of drunken spring nights. All are possessed by an exhilarating madness of the senses, a dangerous malady that leads the heart and head astray...

Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold)

Fifteen year old Mia’s life is turned on its head when her Mum brings home a new boyfriend.

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