Cannes Day #2: Jimmy P. & The Dance of Reality
This morning I made a rookie mistake by leaving my umbrella at the hotel and not checking the weather before I left. The weather in Cannes can turn from sun-baked beaches surrounded by palm trees to a cold downpour in an instance. As I made my way down to the Croisette for a bright and early 8:30 AM press screening for Jimmy P. I was astounded by just how quiet the streets were. It makes sense as the parties here in Cannes can go on all night as long as you know the right people to get in. It seemed as if only once the rain started to let up a little that the security guards felt like opening the gates for the press to walk up the red carpet into the breathtaking Grand Lumiere Theater. It may be just another way that the guards remind everyone who has power at the festival.
Cannes Red Carpet
After suffering apparent brain trauma a few years past his time spent at war, Jimmy Picard (Benicio Del Toro) has frequent migraine attacks and even experiences temporary blindness from time to time. Doctors examine him only to stubbornly conclude that because Jimmy P. is an Indian, that they cannot accurately determine the extent of his psychological issues that plague him. That is not until a new arrival of a doctor that a more sympathetic view on the Native American culture takes place. The portrayal of ignorance that Americans had at the time toward the Native Americans is heavily present in the beginning of the film, but the film ends up being less of a history lesson as it is an unlikely friendship bonding film between Jimmy and the only doctor that seems to want to understand.
The new doctor (Mathieu Amalric) explains the phenomenon of how the Native American tribe Blackfoot tends to believe dreams shed light on the future rather than on the past. So when Jimmy has a frightening nightmare about killing animals, the doctor suspects that it could potentially unlock what is going in Jimmy’s head. Their daily sessions quickly become the main focus of the film, which subsequently shifts the overall theme that the film began with.
Even though there was some great acting by Benicio Del Toro and some dream reenactments that were entertaining to watch, nothing else is very groundbreaking. Given the time period the film is set in and the stereotypes against Native Americans in that time period and even still today, I felt like the story could have been more than just a bland narrative that is was. Jimmy P. is a straight-forward film that could have been better if it did not feel so uninspired. This true life story makes for a better case study than it does a feature film.
My original plan was to head to the second press screening of Inside Llewyn Davis, but the chatter on Twitter expressed the demand was very high for the first screening (not surprising) but that many people who were turned away from it immediately formed a new line for the later show. Therefore, I decided to catch another Director’s Fortnight film by the legendary filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky. Unbeknownst to me, and likely everyone, Nicolas Winding Refn, who is in town for his own film which is In Competition for the Palme d’Or (Only God Forgives), came on stage to introduce the filmmaker. Refn proclaimed, “[Jodorowksy] is the last king of cinema”.
Nicolas Winding Refn introduces Alejandro Jodorowsky
La danza de la realidad (The Dance of Reality)
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Dance of Reality pans out to be more like a theatrical play than your typical biographical film. Which is what the film dramatizes; Jodorowsky’s own upbringing. Everything found in the film is presented and told in fairy tale style. The mother who is portrayed as a heavenly angel of sorts, sings each one of her lines in an operatic fashion.
Although much of The Dance of Reality is rather comical and playful, there are some depictions of some deep personal emotional pains in the film. For example, the young Jodorowsky boy seeks constant approval from his father, Jamie (Brontis Jodorowsky), who is nothing but resentful of his son. The first half of the film is about the son trying to earn his father’s respect. Jamie claims that his long curly blonde haired son is more like a whore than a real man, and eventually resorts to some gruesome tests to prove the manhood of his son. For instance, for each slap across the face the young boy’s face received from this father, gains him more admiration from him.
The Dance of Reality is certainly not for the squeamish or the easily offended. A buzzed about topic around the festival is how shocking it was for the film Mexican film Heli to feature a man’s genitals set on fire. Perhaps equally as shocking is when a female urinates on her husbands face in full detail. There is no doubt that this film contains the work of a legendary filmmaker, but Jodorowsky’s style alone cannot save for the film’s lack of overall consistency. Parts of the film are semi-autobiographical and other parts are flamboyantly told in a over-dramatic ways. Jodorowsky himself makes several cameos in the film but does not always help improve the scene or story. All said and done, the film felt equally as great as it did disorganized.