The “If You’re Weak Like Me, You’ll Cry” Award
Winner: Life is Beautiful (La Vita è Bella)
Where do I even start? I have to admit that it took me a while to get into it. The film didn’t really grab me till the moment it became really serious, and the family was put on the train. Roberto Benigni blends comedy and drama so well, that I think that it was the absence of the latter in the beginning that turned me off. Or maybe it was simply the absence of Joshua.
Once we’re in the concentration camp, it becomes impossible to get detached. I find it hard to believe that this film gets criticized for trivializing the holocaust. If that’s your takeaway, I don’t think you get the message. In the end this film is about the good, despite of all the bad and the ugly. The humour always comes with an icing of sadness on top, and the hopelessness is never all-consuming. Life really is beautiful, especially if you’re lucky enough to have a father like Guido.
I saw Tarzan again, and my love for it has only grown. It’s pretty embarrassing when you’re watching a Disney movie with your nine year old brother and, ten minutes in, you’re the one crying, while he’s the one making fun of you. I also watched the official sequel to Tarzan for the first time. Tarzan and Jane is basically just three episodes of the television series strung together. Not only did it fail to make me cry, it failed to make me feel anything.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is in many ways ‘one of those ya movies.’ It’s almost impossible not to compare it to The Fault in Our Stars, since both films deal with teenagers and cancer, but Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, is a much better film. Greg and Earl are young cinephiles who have quite the repertoire already. Their parodies of film classics are a treat to other cinephiles, and the way the film deals with death and high school is a perfect mix of sincerity and cynicism.
The “Unlike Anything I’ve Ever Seen” Award
Sebastian Schipper delivers the impossible. This two hours and twenty minutes long feature was shot in one take. Not in a Birdman way, but actually in one single take. The fact that it only took three times to get it right is astonishing, especially considering the fact that the film really does take place all over Berlin.
We start our journey in a night club with Victoria, a girl from Madrid currently living in Berlin. She encounters a group of local guys, and thus the adventure starts. Well, the actual adventure doesn’t start till an hour into the movie, which makes the first part a bit slow, but when that ends with a beautiful piano piece, it all folds into place. We definitely needed that slow burn, or we just wouldn’t care. The tender moment in front of the piano is disturbed and we drive towards Berlin’s criminal underworld. It gets scary, it gets enticing, it gets fun, and then it gets really bad. The film has its release in the States this Friday, so I won’t spoil anything. Definitely see it on the big screen. In a way, the film feels like one big ride, that you’re a part of, and seeing it at home gives you the possibility to press pause, and that would only harm the experience.
Antonioni‘s masterpiece received one of Cannes’ notorious boos. It shocked the film world by presenting a narrative one way, and then completely going somewhere else. Now, we might not find it shocking anymore, but it has not become commonplace either. We don’t get answers to our questions, not because they don’t matter, but because we, as humans, can never really understand another human being. In this case, that other human being is Anna. The woman who disappears somewhere in the first ‘act.’ Antonioni sets up a detective narrative, and then completely abandons it in favour of an affair between Anna’s partner and her best friend. Both storylines are essentially about the inability to communicate with others, to build meaningful relationships. We get presented with all the riches of the world, but when the film ends, there’s only emptiness. This gets even more accentuated by Antonioni‘s visual style. Long shots in which the people almost disappear, the overwhelming force of nature, the entrapping architecture, and the way the camera seems to have its own agenda, not bound to the plot. The final shot, pictured here, says enough.