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Cannes report: 'Up,' 'Tetro,' and lots of balloons

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WeeFee — you know, the way the French connect wirelessly to the Internet — is old news at the Cannes Film Festival this year. But Tweeeter, ah, that’s something novel. Not that you’ll be receiving any twits from me. This singular festival is made for real sentences, even for quick impressions. And on the second full day of Cannes 2009 (a splashy event taking place against a backdrop of what the local papers call le crise economique), here are three Twitter-resistant talking points.

Up is an upper. And not only because during the opening night ceremonies — as Isabelle Huppert, Robin Wright Penn, and the rest of this year’s glammed-up jury promenaded up the red carpeted stairs of the Palais wearing expressions of Cannes-quality cool — the cheery gawking crowd clutched candy-colored balloons in honor of the movie’s sweet plot involving a grumpy old man who ties thousands of balloons to his stumpy old house and floats away to adventure in South America. Nope. Up freshens traditional Disney values with Pixar vivacity. Why is it that the most original and most profound movie storylines these days belong to animated characters? I’ll be writing in depth about the (available in 3-D) movie when it’s released on May 29, but for now I’ll marvel that a 10-minute montage summarizing the courtship and long marriage of Carl (the grumpy old man) and Ellie (his wife) has the contours of a rich novel, compacted into powerful wordlessness. Bravo to Cannes for opening with an animated movie. In 3-D. Where Ed Asner (the voice of Carl) qualifies as the biggest name in the cast. And he’s not even here; I guess he hates Cannes spunk. I just wish I could have seen begowned Mmes. Huppert and Penn putting on their 3-D glasses.

Francis Coppola made a student film. Well, more of a young filmmaker’s film, with all the intriguing gangliness that condition implies. Tetro is the Godfather director’s first script since The Conversation (which won the Palme d’Or in 1974), and for inspiration he turns to family, his family: The fevered story — at times awkwardly dramatique to the point of self-indulgent delirium, but gorgeously shot in voluptuous black and white with hot splashes of color sequences — involves competitive Italian-American brothers, the sons and nephews of famous conductors. (Vincent Gallo plays a black sheep of a writer who has moved to Argentina, intriguing teenage newcomer Alden Ehrenreich plays the kid brother who arrives looking to re-establish connection). Oh, right, Coppola’s father and uncle were conductors, and he’s got children competing in the creative biz, too. What’s fact, what’s fiction? “Nothing in the story happened, but everything is true,” Coppola explained at a Q&A with the audience following the first screening.

addCredit(“John Shearer/WireImage.com”)

Asian cinema thrives on sex, death, and rock ‘n’ roll. Or at least on the first two, judging from the first three selections I’ve seen. Spring Fever,

by Chinese director Lou Ye, opens with vivid, graphic, intently

realistic sex between two men in love. (Ah, but one of the men is

married, and his wife suspects adultery but not, you know, gay

adultery). Air Doll, from Japan’s Hirokazu Kore-eda, stars a sex toy who, unlike Ryan Gosling’s inanimate costar in Lars and the Real Girl,

actually comes alive and develops a soul. The movie opens with vivid,

graphic, intently realistic sex between a man and a plastic woman. Thirst,

by Korean art-house bad boy Park Chan-wook, features a priest who

becomes a vampire, and a young woman who eventually shares his

milkshake. Or his blood. Not to worry, the movie includes scenes of

vivid, graphic, intently realistic sex between a vampire and a

vampiress-in-waiting.

More Cannes Film Fest coverage:
20 classics launched at Cannes

Asian cinema thrives on sex, death, and rock ‘n’ roll. Or at least on the first two, judging from the first three selections I’ve seen. Spring Fever,by Chinese director Lou Ye, opens with vivid, graphic, intentlyrealistic sex between two men in love. (Ah, but one of the men ismarried, and his wife suspects adultery but not, you know, gayadultery). Air Doll, from Japan’s Hirokazu Kore-eda, stars a sex toy who, unlike Ryan Gosling’s inanimate costar in Lars and the Real Girl,actually comes alive and develops a soul. The movie opens with vivid,graphic, intently realistic sex between a man and a plastic woman. Thirst,by Korean art-house bad boy Park Chan-wook, features a priest whobecomes a vampire, and a young woman who eventually shares hismilkshake. Or his blood. Not to worry, the movie includes scenes ofvivid, graphic, intently realistic sex between a vampire and avampiress-in-waiting.

More Cannes Film Fest coverage:
20 classics launched at Cannes

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