L’Avventura

I saw Antonioni’s L’Avventura last night and much of the cast was at the screening. I’ve seen L’Avventura before but not in a theater. I’m now convinced that movie theaters were invented for this film. While it is great on a small screen, Antonioni’s long, drawn out shots that depend entirely on compostition are more impactful when seen on the big screen.

The best part of the screening was a sequence in which Monica Vitti walks out onto a porch. This shot is the poster for this years festival and when the audience realized this, everyone clapped. If there is one thing I will miss about Cannes it is how the audience claps for everything, EVERYTHING. It doesn’t matter if what is great, like this shot, is in the middle of the film, somebody always claps.

Los Abrazos Rotos and Vincere

I saw two competition films today, Los Abrazos Rotos (dir. Almodovar) and Vincere (dir. Marco Bellocchio).

Los Abrazos Rotos (Broken Embraces) is Spanish directors 17th feature film. It stars Penelope Cruz and Lluis Homer. Homer plays Mateo, a film director who was blinded in a car accident 14 years ago. Cruz plays his lover Lena. Like Bad Education and Talk to Her, the film is a puzzle. It is also reminiscent of Almodovar’s 1988 classic Woman on a Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, often recreating scenes from film with Lena’s character performing the role of Pena. It’s a great film, so check it out when you can.

Vincere, however, is another story. I walked out after an hour and a half. The biopic tells the story of Mussolini’s first wife, Ida Dalser, played by Giovanna Mezzogiorno. Dalser married Mussolini in 1914 but the Italian dictator denied their marriage and son. She spent much of her life confined in asylums. The film does not do this compelling story justice. It is poorly constructed with too much emphasis on found footage. It does not concretely establish the foundation of the relationship, making Ida an unsympathetic character. All in all, not worth the 30 minute wait in the rush line.

Quesadillas with Suzan-Lori Parks

This afternoon I attended a SAG Indie panel with Suzan-Lori Parks at the American Pavilion. Parks is in Cannes promoting The Making of Plus One, which she is starring in.

Not only is Parks one of my favorite playwrights but she is also an alumna of Mount Holyoke, where I currently attend college. The discussion was very informal – Parks began by sharing her quesadilla with the students. Then every student introduced themselves and their interests in the film industry. We discussed Mount Holyoke and she loved that there is now a film major at Mount Holyoke. Ironically there was also a UMass and Smith student in attendance so there was a ton of Five College pride – and competition – in the room.

Parks discussed at great length her writing process (to always be writing), her favorite playwrights (too many to name) and her advice to aspiring screenwriters. Her main advice was to always be writing but know when it is someone elses turn – a director or producer – to take over the creative process.

Writers are often told to only write about what they know, which translates into writing about yourself. Parks however advised to ignore that and to just write about what you want.

Her anecdotes about James Baldwin (who mentored her while she was student at Mount Holyoke), and Spike Lee I was excited to learn that her next work Father Comes Home From the Wars is premiering off-Broadway in the next few weeks.

It was a great opportunity to meet Suzan-Lori Parks and to learn about her creative process. The informal conversation was a one in a lifetime chance – much like attending the Cannes Film Festival – to meet and chat with a reknowned playwright. And the quesadilla was pretty tasty as well.