The Square

And so here we are. Another year, another film festival. This one’s got heaps of goodies to explore – screenings of Nikita, some exciting looking horror, the who-knows-what-it-will-be-like craziness of Dave Made A Maze… And once again, pass in hand, I’m going to as many as possible. And writing up as many as possible here. Will I make it to the end? Will I give up writing reviews halfway through? Will I fall asleep in the comfy seats at the Everyman (again)? Who knows?

So without further ado, onto the first film of the year!

The Square won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. This makes it serious cinema. Not a serious film, you understand, but serious cinema. A proper film. A film that people-who-know-about-film think is a really good film.

I didn’t much like it.

We follow museum curator Christian (Claes Bang) in his descent from suave media-savvy middle class chic to broken man, rummaging through the bins. Via daylight robbery, one-night stands, threatening letters, showdowns with children, and a monkey impersonator. So far, so good.

But the film sacrifices what little it has by way of narrative for a series of spectacular set-pieces. I can be as negative as I like about this film but I could never deny that it has some truly memorable (and toe-curling!) scenes. Similarly, there’s no escaping that its a beautiful film: some of the shots are absolutely stunning.

The strength of these elements only serves to throw the things it lacks into stronger contrast though. Put simply: I don’t care. Every other character in the film only really serves as a backdrop against which Christian’s flaws can be demonstrated – we scarcely see a conversation in which he is not involved. And at the end of the day that means I spent two and a half hours watching a man make some crummy decisions, employ a PR agency straight out of Nathan Barley, alienate everyone he should be close to, etc. etc. etc.

It looks amazing. Bits of it are fantastic. But as a film it just doesn’t hit the right notes. (But I’m not the Cannes jury…)

Drive

Having missed this at cinemas a few years ago and never really warmed to the idea of seeing it on a small screen, I was glad that this was given a second airing at the festival. It’s without doubt a pretty cinematic film and deserved to be shown on such as big screen. The soundtrack’s pretty killer too – definitely rewards a good sound system.

I’ll get the criticism out the way upfront. There wasn’t nearly enough driving in this film. Given the central premise, that Gosling is a supremely skilled driver, flitting between stunt driving, criminal getaway driving and race driving, you could be forgiven for expecting a fair bit of car action in this film. Its even called Drive, for heaven’s sake. We was robbed. After a pretty great opening sequence, all criminal driving flair to avoid the cops, we’re treated to one single measly car chase. And it’s not even as good as the opening sequence. That makes this film the equivalent of a Bond movie in which all the spy action takes place before the opening credits.

This is a shame. The rest of the film is fine. It’s mob justice, gang violence and petty thuggery tied up around a slender love/like story between Gosling, his neighbour and his neighbour’s permanently unlucky husband. It’s interesting enough, has some good and funny moments, and barrels along at a decent pace but it’s nothing all that special. Although maybe I’m just bitter the lack of driving.

A stylish film, an enjoyable film, a cinematic film, but one that never quite lives up to its potential.

Drinks
Wylam Pieces of What a tasty IPA from what I remember – though it obviously wasn’t striking enough to have made much of an impression on me. Maybe I ought to give this one another go…