Cannes Day #4: Borgman and As I Lay Dying
Thus far I have been very fortunate to get into each screening that I have stepped in line for, even though not every film I stood in line for was worth the effort. This is mostly surprising considering the level of my press badge in festival which has several levels of higher priory. Granted, I completely skipped trying to see the Coen brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis because some helpful Twitter friends alerted me of the crazy high demand. So far that film seems to be the talk of the town, though it is one that will be playing all over in the States, therefore catching something more obscure makes the most sense. I can only imagine that similar demands for Only God Forgives will be in store when it premieres in the coming days.
Tonight at the premiere of his new film, James Franco was in attendence and took the stage to introduce the film. I was within arms reach, do not worry, I did not measure, but it did allow me to capture some decent photos.
James Franco at premiere of As I Lay Dying
Borgman sets its strange tone from the very beginning when a man who somewhat resembles features that of Jesus, long-hair and long-beard, awakes from his underground hideout by the sound of a sharp spear piercing down from the ground above. Yet Borgman is far from being Jesus-like; he is actually the exact opposite. That might explain why it is a priest who is seeking to kill this man with his spear from above. But Borgman manages to escape through a complex tunnel system. As he is making his escape he warns other underground dwelling friends of the danger.
After fleeing the woods Borgman ends up at a very nice looking home on the countryside. The haggard looking man walks up to the door and asks if he is able to use their shower. The man answering the door politely declines. Not satisfied, he knocks again and pretends to know the man’s wife as a last ditch effort to be let in. From there the film ventures into a dark and twisted joy ride of murders and manipulations.
Borgman is the first film from the Netherlands’ that is In Competition for the Palme d’Or in nearly forty years – though it contains more of a Greek new wave sense of style. This is an unique film that is hard to make comparisons to, but if Dogtooth director Giorgos Lanthimos created his own take of the home invasion film Funny Games by Haneke, you would get something close to this. The first two acts of Borgman are magnificent but the final act straddles the line of mediocrocy – which is not the only straddling that occurs in the film (reference the photo above).
As I Lay Dying
James Franco came on stage to introduce the film at its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and bluntly said, “This is a weird film.” Indeed it was. For better or worse, As I Lay Dying certainly felt like a literal interpretation of the novel, but as I mentioned before I have not read the book, therefore I cannot say that with absolute certainty. The acting in the film was very strong but the obvious standout is the film’s poetic and Malick like cinematography. Whether or not the film works may very well come down to one simple question, did you read the book beforehand?