There was a disappointing absence of Hungarian films during this year’s edition. Apart from the restored version of Béla Tarr’s Sátántangó (1994) the sole film from Hungary was Deva by Petra Szöcz. In the director’s first feature, we follow Kató. a young albino girl who lives in an orphanage in the Romanian town of the film’s title. One day she is electrocuted while drying her hair. The event seems to, somewhat, change the world around her. “Your hair is even whiter than before” the children muse. Meanwhile, a new volunteer, Bogi, is hired for two months. Kató takes a shine to her and takes action to try to get rid of the regular volunteer Ana, played by Peter Strickland regular, Fatma Mohamed.
As far as the plot goes, that’s about it. Szöcz and cinematographer Zóltan Dévényi have a naturalistic style, which doesn’t prevent giving the film a good look, and it’s always attractive to watch. However, there is not so much more to the film than that. Former novelist Szöcz doesn’t really dig deep enough into the subject, and when the 76 minutes have passed, I’m not exactly sure what I just watched, but not in the good mind-blowing way. It should be said that she coaxes good performances out of her young cast. I will keep an eye on Petra Szöcz, but I will not go out of my way to see her upcoming films.
Bong Joon-Hoo has been a favourite of mine ever since his first film, Barking dogs never bite (Flandersui gae 2000) I was, however, less than thrilled with his two latest films, made in English. Therefore I was happy to learn that his upcoming film would be in Korean. It premiered in Cannes where it won the Palme d’Or. The reviews so far have been unanimous in their praise, and for once I will not disapprove. This is Bong’s return to form. The members of the family of Kim Ki-taek (Song Kang-Ho) are all unemployed and live in a basement. One day the son gets a job through a friend, teaching English to the daughter of rich family Park. Little by little, the whole household manages to manoeuvre themselves into the Park residence, in different capacities, without letting the Park’s in on the fact that they are related. During this part of the film I was amused, but also slightly sceptical. It felt like the Parks were too gullible, and that it was too easy for the Kims to weasel their way into the household. I asked myself where this was going.
Well, it turned out it was going somewhere. I am not the kind of person who worries about spoilers, but when it comes to this film, I would say that the less you know, the better. Suffice it to say that Bong fires on all cylinders in his writing (the script was co-written by Han Jin Won) Acting, direction, cinematography, editing, and even the music, that has been a weakness in the past, are all top-notch. This is a film I can not recommend enough.
Quentin Dupieux has made a name for himself with weird films like Rubber (2010), Wrong (2012) and Réalité (2014) Now he is back with Le Daim (Deerskin). Jean Dujardin plays George who is obsessed with his new, and fairly expensive, deerskin jacket. The seller of the garment gives George a camcorder as a bonus. This will come in handy later when he will pretend to be a filmmaker. To achieve this he manages to fool a bar waitress Denise (Adèle Haenel being much more interesting than in the Portrait of a woman misfire) to give him, virtually all her money. Meanwhile, his obsession with the jacket escalates to unhealthy proportions.
There is an obvious link to Georges obsession with his jacket and the likewise obsessive determination that a film director needs to realize his vision. It turns out that Denise dreams of becoming an editor. She has been training on her own, by re-arranging Pulp Fiction chronologically. Here it could work as a companion piece to Adam Rifkin’s Director’s cut (2016) where Penn Jillette plays a man who steals footage of a film being shot, kidnaps the star and proceeds to make his own Director’s cut, that, of course, looks terrible. Deerskin is possibly a slighter film than Dupieux’s previous films, but nevertheless entertaining and thought-provoking.
This will be the only film by a director named Quentin, covered in these reports.