Wednesday, May 18, 2005

And the Golden Palm for the most anti-American film goes to... 

There's a surprise:
The dark underside of the United States has taken center stage in several films at Cannes this year, capped on Monday with a scathing attack of past and present racism in America by Danish director Lars von Trier.
Von Trier, who's Danish, seems to be motivated by a sort of an artistic vendetta: "We are all under the influence -- and it's a very bad influence -- from America... In my country everything has to do with America. America is kind of sitting on the world. America has to do with 60 percent of my brain and all things I experience in my life, and I'm not happy about that... I'd say 60 percent of my life is American so I am in fact an 'American' too. But I can't go there and vote or change anything there. That is why I make films about America." Give this man a vote and shut him up.

But as the story notes, von Trier, the "60% American", is not the only one for whom bashing the world's only superpower has become the sure way to artistic recognition among the cosmopolitan sophisticates swarming in the south of France. So what's on offer?

Von Trier's "Manderlay" - "about a fictional Alabama plantation where people are living in 1933 as if slavery were never abolished, staggered festival-goers with a disturbing portrayal of America that fails, even today, to come to terms with its racist past." I am staggered too, that a lurid fantasy taking place 70 years ago is supposed to be a commentary about a contemporary America.

Gus van Sant's "Last Days" - "about rocker Kurt Cobain's drug-induced demise and suicide while parasite friends ignored his distress."

Atom Egoyan's "Where the Truth Lies" - "with Kevin Bacon as an over-sexed, over-drugged celebrity."

David Cronenberg's "A History of Violence" - "a portrayal of redneck American bloodletting."

Robert Rodriguez's "Sin City" - "with Bruce Willis needs no further explanation."

Wim Wenders' "Don't Come Knocking" - "about an over-the-hill Western hero's steep fall with alcohol and drugs."

Out of 21 films in the competition, and out of 8 films that take place in America, that's not bad. Add to that the out-of-competition favorites "The Power of Nightmares" and "Revenge of the Sith", now sadly, because of George Lucas' statements, perceived as a political indictment of American foreign policy, and no wonder that Cannes is such a hit among Europe's glitterati.


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