Tuesday, August 23, 2011

To Each His Own Cinema

Note: The Version of the Film I Saw Does Not Feature the Coen Brothers’ World Cinema short starring Josh Brolin and Grant Heslov that Can be Seen Here.

Chacun son Cinema (To Each His Own Cinema) is a 2007 anthology film project produced by Cannes Film Festival organizer Gilles Jacob to celebrate the festival’s 60th anniversary. Inviting many filmmakers from five different continents and twenty-five countries, each filmmaker has to create a three-minute short to exemplify their love for cinema. Among the filmmakers contributing to this project are the Coen Brothers, Gus Van Sant, Ken Loach, Lars von Trier, David Cronenberg, Wong Kar-Wai, Roman Polanski, David Lynch, Michael Cimino, Walter Salles, Atom Egoyan, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, the Dardenne Brothers, and many more.  The result is one of the most fascinating collection of shorts from some of the world's revered filmmakers.

Cinema d’ete (Open-Air Cinema) (Raymond Depardon) is about a gathering of young Islamic people going up the roof of a building to see a Bollywood movie as they enjoy themselves. One Fine Day (Takeshi Kitano) has a laborer (Takeshi Kitano) going to a small theater in the middle of Japan to watch Kitano’s Kids Return by himself only for things to go wrong during the screening. In Trois minutes (Three Minutes) (Theo Angelopoulos), a woman (Jeanne Moreau) enters an empty theater where she talks to the ghost of Marcello Mastroianni. Dans le noir (In the Dark) (Andrei Konchalovski) has a woman (Yola Sanko) watching Fellini’s 8 ½ while hearing a young couple having sex in her theater. In Diaro di uno spettatore (Diary of a Moviegoer) (Nanni Moretti), Nanni Moretti reflects his own experiences watching films in a cinema along with the places he watches those movies.

The Electric Princess Picture House (Hou Hsiao-hsien) is about Hsiao-hsien’s reflection of an old theater where he has a family in the 1960s going to this beloved theater to watch Robert Bresson’s Mouchette. Dans l’obscurite (Darkness) (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne) is about a young thief (Jeremie Segard) trying to steal the purse of a woman (Emilie Dequenne) as she is crying during a screening of Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar. In Absurda (David Lynch) has a group of teens watching a movie where a man on the film presents them horrifying images that scares them. Anna (Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu) has a blind woman (Luisa Williams) watching Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt with her friend (Shaun Madden) as she is moved by what she’s hearing. En regardant le film (Movie Night) (Zhang Yimou) is about a little boy along with a group of children and adults in a small Chinese village waiting to see a movie as they wait for nightfall to see a movie.

In Le Dibbouk de Haifa (The Dybbuk of Haifa) (Amos Gitai), two different groups of people in 1936 Warsaw and in 2006 Haifa are watching the same film just before things would change around them. The Lady Bug (Jane Campion) is the story of a cleaning man (Clayton Jacobson) trying to kill a dancing bug (Erica Englert) as audio from a film is being played. Artaud Double Bill (Atom Egoyan) is about a woman watching Godard’s Vivre sa vie as she texts her boyfriend who is at another theater watching Egoyan’s The Adjuster. La Fonderie (The Foundry) (Aki Kaurismaki) is about a group of factory workers finishing up their job so they can see a film by the Lumiere brothers inside their factory. Recrudescence (Upsurge) (Olivier Assayas) has a couple (Deniz Gazme Erguven & Lionel Dray) go to a movie while a man (George Babluani) eyes the woman for some strange reason.

47 ans aspres (47 Years Later) (Youssef Chahine) is about Chahine’s experience back at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival where his second film was receiving bad reviews as he looks back 47 years later where he receives a lifetime achievement award at the same festival. It’s a Dream (Tsai Ming-liang) has a man recalling his days when his grandmother took him to the cinema as she eats a certain specialty as he watches a movie with his mother, son, and a picture of his grandmother. Occupations (Lars von Trier) has von Trier at a premiere for his own film Manderlay where he’s being pestered by a rude man (Jacques Frantz) as von Trier deals with him in his way. Le Don (The Gift) (Raoul Ruiz) has a blind film buff (Michael Lonsdale) talking to his anthropologist niece (Miriam Heard) about his own experiences while they watch a film in a theater.

Cinema de boulevard (The Cinema Around the Corner) (Claude Lelouch) is about Lelouch recalling the moment his parents met at a theater and how his life was transformed by the films that would impact his life. In First Kiss (Gus Van Sant), a young projectionist (Paul Parson) puts on a movie as a woman (Viva Las Vegas) appears on screen as he‘s transfixed by her. Cinema Erotique (Erotic Cinema) (Roman Polanski) has an old couple watching Emmanuelle where they’re bothered by a man supposedly masturbating to the movie. No Translation Needed (Michael Cimino) has a budding filmmaker (Yves Courbet) wanting to make a movie about a Cuban band with a diva-esque singer (Juliana Munoz) by asking them to perform in a theater. At the Suicide of the Last Jew in the Last Cinema of the World (David Cronenberg) has Cronenberg set to kill himself at the last cinema in the world as it’s being reported by two reporters commenting on the situation.

I Travelled 9000 km to Give It to You (Wong Kar-Wai) is about a man (Fan Chih Wei) and a woman (Farini Chang Yui Ling) falling for each other during a screening of Godard’s Alphaville. Where is My Romeo? (Abbas Kiarostami) has a group of Muslim women watching Romeo & Juliet in a theater to a strong reaction. In The Last Dating Show (Bille August), a Danish man and an Islamic woman go on a blind date to see a movie as a group of men are bothered by the man translating the wrong things to the woman. Itrebak (Awkward) (Elia Suleiman) has Suleiman attend a screening of a film where things don’t work out while he later does a Q&A where everything feels awkward. Rencontre unique (Sole Meeting) (Manoel de Oliveira) has people watching a silent film about a meeting between Nikita Khrushchev (Michel Piccoli) and Pope Jean XXIII (Duarte D’Almeida).

A 8 944 km de Cannes (5,557 Miles From Cannes) (Walter Salles) is about two men having a musical interlude about one’s trip to Cannes as they’re about to go into a theater to watch The 400 Blows. War in Peace (Wim Wenders) is about a group of people in Kabalo watching Black Hawk Down on a television inside a small building. Zhanxiou Village (Chen Kaige) is about a man reflecting the time he watched a Charles Chaplin film as a child as his friends try to find a way to play the film. In Happy Ending (Ken Loach), a father and son (Bradley Walsh & Joe Siffleet) try to figure out what movie to see at a multiplex. World Cinema (Joel & Ethan Coen) is about a cowboy (Josh Brolin) who walks into an art house theater asking an usher (Grant Heslov) about the event as he watches Climates by Nuri Bilge Ceylan to a surprising reaction.

The concept is simple, a collection of short stories by some of the world’s greatest filmmakers expressing their love for cinema. Whether it’s personal, humorous, or serious, it’s all about going to the movies and what does it mean. With many filmmakers choosing to use clips of other movies to express their love of cinema, they also allow to create some kind of statement about what cinema means to them or to express something about what cinema does to them.

The film opens and ends with two different shorts about going to the movies as Raymond Depardon and Ken Loach each create two amazing shorts about going to the movies. In Depardon, he creates the joy of going to a cinema on a building rooftop in an Islamic country just for a bit of freedom. In Loach’s short, it’s all about a father and son trying to figure out what to see amidst a group of annoyed people waiting in line. These two shorts each exemplify the importance of cinema as they each set an example of what these shorts should tell.

Loach and Depardon are among two of the best shorts in the anthology films as many other filmmakers create some amazing gems for varying different reasons. In the humorous department, the shorts by Roman Polanski, Nanni Moretti, Takeshi Kitano, Elia Suleiman, and Lars von Trier provide different arrays of humor. With Moretti, he adds a personal element about his love of going to the movies where he sings the theme to Rocky while Suleiman reveals the awkwardness of attending a movie. The von Trier segment is easily the most gruesome because it’s all about what not to do when watching a movie with Lars von Trier.

Other great shorts involve personal stories such as the shorts by Hou Hsiao-hsien, Claude Lelouch, Chen Kaige, Tsai Ming-liang, and Yousseff Chahine where they each give their own personal stories. For the dramatic moments, Zhang Yimou, Abbas Kiarostami, Andrei Konchalovski, Aki Kaurismaki, Theo Angelopoulos, and Alejandro Gonzalez Innarritu each provide some narratives to their shorts to exemplify the power of cinema. Directors that are known for their style such as the Dardenne Brothers, Walter Salles, the Coen Brothers, Wong Kar-Wai, and David Lynch use the shorts to display part of their own ideas to the anthology. Yet, it’s David Cronenberg’s short that is the major highlight because it has Cronenberg literally shooting himself as he’s about to kill himself over the state of cinema.

With a lot of shorts in this film, there are a slew of great ones but also some good ones that don’t really stand out. The shorts by Gus Van Sant, Bille August, Olivier Assayas, Raoul Ruiz, and Manoel de Oliveira don’t stand out as much but do provide some insight into the power of film. The two shorts by Wim Wenders and Amos Gitai each have political elements though Wenders chooses to downplay at the end of his short while Gitai’s exploration of Hebrews watching a film in two different eras in times of war comes off as pretentious and overbearing. Jane Campion’s short doesn’t really show a film but rather a performance that doesn’t fit in with the entire concept of the film. Yet, her short isn’t the worst as it belongs to Michael Cimino that ends up being extremely ridiculous and very self-indulgent as Cimino tries to make fun of himself for being an egomaniacal filmmaker.

Chacun son Cinema is an extraordinary collection of short films that truly exemplify the brilliance that is cinema. With some amazing shorts from Lars von Trier, David Lynch, David Cronenberg, the Coen Brothers, the Dardenne Brothers, Ken Loach, and several more. There is a great collection that allows fans of these filmmakers to check out while for those who had never heard some of the filmmakers who contribute to this anthology film will get a chance to discover them. In the end, Chacun son Cinema is an anthology film that film buffs must see for these gems from some of the world’s best filmmakers.

© thevoid99 2011

No comments: