Cannibalism and a red carpet protest: the best of Cannes 2016

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Cannes 2016

It was one of the least suspenseful contests in the history of Cannes – and also the most emotional in years. Fittingly for an edition marked by androgyny and fluid sexuality, one of Cannes’ most highly coveted awards went to a transgender artist: Marvin, born Nellie, the four-legged protagonist of Jim Jarmusch’s “Paterson”, became the runaway winner of the 2016 Palm Dog. Award founder Toby Rose said the cuddly British bulldog triumphed over a “truly pawsome” field with no “pawcity of choice”, including Ken Loach’s three-legged mongrel (from “I, Daniel Blake”) and Steven Spielberg’s farting corgis (in “The BFG”). But sadly Marvin died before witnessing the film’s warm reception on the Croisette, meaning this year’s coveted trophy collar was also the first posthumous one. (It was picked up by “Paterson” producer Carter Logan, accompanied by Monaco-born bulldog James and – a terror-alert obligation – sniffer dog Stratus).

Best man-meets-wild-beast scene

Despite Marvin’s best efforts, domestic animals were outlegged this year by an abundance of wildlife. Indeed the Palm Dog jury had to rule on whether a pack of wolves in Alain Guiraudie’s competition entry “Staying Vertical” should be allowed to compete. (The verdict was no.) The wolf scene is absolutely ludicrous, but still deserving of a prize for its sheer beauty. It beats out the stags that cause a car accident in Paul Verhoeven’s “Elle” and very nearly derail a train in Pedro Almodovar’s “Julieta” – and of course the ridiculous grizzly bear that come out of nowhere in Andrea Arnold’s “American Honey”.

Best costume

The furry Bulgarian head-to-toes mask in Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdmann” (see picture above). Easy peasy.

Best laugh

Maren Ade’s inveterate prankster-dad prompted the heartiest laughs, followed by Paul Verhoeven’s provocative “Elle”, a gripping rape-revenge thriller that dared to be cruelly funny. But the incontrollable giggle that caps the exhausting, nerve-wracking portrayal of a never-starting dinner in Cristi Puiu’s “Sieranevada” is worth the 173-minute wait alone.

Best country

Romanian cinema is having a field day at Cannes. Early on in the festival, “Sieranevada” provided a copious serving of the austere aesthetics and bleak humour associated with the Romanian New Wave. Then came Cristian Mungiu’s excellent “Graduation”, centred on an overbearing and self-righteous father who is ready to partake in the corruption he publicly deprecates in order to get his daughter out of the country. The Romania they portray may not be pretty, but it is increasingly becoming Europe’s most reliable source of interesting films.

Best red carpet

Cannes has rarely seen this much stardust on the red carpet, with the cream of Hollywood showing up on the French Riviera. The highlights for our red-carpet photographer included Iggy Pop and Jim Jarmusch sticking out their middle fingers and Robert De Niro taking a clinched-fists Raging Bull pose. My pick is the protest against Brazil’s “coup d’état”, staged by the cast and crew of Kleber Mendonca Filho’s stunning “Aquarius” – if only because it pricked the Cannes bubble of celebrity-gazing, foolishness and general aloofness, for a few precious minutes.

The cast and crew of Kleber Mendonca Filho’s “Aquarius” stage a red-carpet protest against Brazil’s “coup d’état”. © Mehdi Chebil

Best cannibal scene

There’s been enough cannibalism at Cannes this year to make it a whole new film genre. Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Neon Demon” featured fashion models literally chewing up and spitting out their rivals (or bathing in their blood), though for sheer comical crudeness I prefer the rustic family of fishermen enjoying an orgy of bourgeois limbs in Bruno Dumont’s outlandish social farce “Slack Bay”.

 

 

Best aperitif

Dumont’s extravagant (and not all that funny) foray into black comedy wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but it did deliver some tasty scenes, including a ludicrous garden aperitif featuring degenerate, inbred snobs tasting “wisseki” on collapsing deck chairs outside their faux-Egyptian mansion.

‘The Last Farce’ prize for most groan-worthy dialogue

This is one category where Sean Penn’s woeful “The Last Face” – a crass tale of romance between white folks in blood-soaked Africa – is prize-worthy. My favourite line, spoken by Javier Bardem: “I told her that I loved her, but I never told her that I loved her as much as I love you.”

Best title

The Marché du film in Cannes, which runs parallel with the festival, is the world’s largest film market, and a chance for low-budget movies with wacky titles to shine. I didn’t see anything quite as outrageous as last year’s Indian production “The Monk who Fucked a Limousine”, but Scott Wheeler put in a good effort with his “Attack of the Killer Donuts”.

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