Staying Vertical and Money Monster

Day 2 began with the usual, brutally early 830 screening. It was Alain Guiraudie’s Staying Vertical, his follow up to the excellent Cannes discovery Stranger By the Lake, about a killer in the gay community by a rural cruising spot.

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Damien Bonnard, India Hair and Raphaël Thiéry

This was a really weird one, though you couldn’t accuse it of being predictable. A man drives the country lanes and tries to pick up a handsome local boy.

Then he’s walking on the hills and talks to a shepherdess, who’s got a rifle to fend off wolves. “I like wolves,” he says. (And I don’t think he meant the Wanderers).

Soon enough, they’re having sex (the man and the woman, not the wolves) and her stumpy yokel of a Dad is looking on.

We learn he’s a scriptwriter struggling to come up with a story, so, er, instead he stays in the sticks and has a baby with the lusty farm girl. A baby we see delivered in practically veterinary close-up. Not sure I’ve ever seen that – an actual real birth, on camera, with the purple and the goo. I didn’t even get that close to my own children’s exit…

Suddenly, he’s left holding the crying baby as she buggers off with depression and her two other kids. He still can’t birth a screenplay and visits some kind of wood nymph baby whisperer woman at the end of a river in a wood.

With the wolves and the tangled branches and the woods, it’s a fairytale of desire and lust and mental meltdown. Then the farmer takes a fancy to him, and then another old geezer who listens to Pink Floyd.

Blimey. This was nuts, not really in a good way, but firmly in the French tradition of rural desperation and extended metaphor for film making and the creative process. The wolves are out to get you, it says, so go feral. Or something.

It was a relief to get to the mainstream glitz of Jodie Foster’s Money Monster quickly after. This stars George Clooney as a flashy financial TV host whose recommendation of buying stock in a company called Ibis (run by CEO Dominic West) comes back to haunt him when the firm takes a “$800 million bath” on a crash day.

It starts like Newsroom, with George bantering wittily with his producer, Patty, played by Julia Roberts – nice to see them together. But then Jack O’Connell invades the set and holds George hostage, live on air, for the world to watch.

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Jack O’Connell

Jack is live-wire good as Kyle, who’s lost all his savings on Ibis, and now straps a bomb to George. Producer Patty tries to manage the situation and track down Dominic West and find out what really happened on the story.

Money Monster is well made, zippy, and actually pretty good fun. But it shouldn’t really be. It’s got the zing of Sorkin and the power of Lumet’s Network, plus the tensions of Speed, because Jack O’ Connell has to keep his finger on a button or the bomb will go off.

Meanwhile, we find out the banker is the baddie. Not much of a reveal that one, Jodie. But the film’s got a decent enough message – just wish it wasn’t quite so timid in being vague about the financial aspects. In brushing over that, it sort of does what it’s accusing the media of doing in the first place, and all of us, being complicit with the capitalist, out of control banking system.

The press conference after saw George being charming and Julia Roberts gushing on her first ever visit to Cannes. I loved it when Jack O’Connell was asked about his on-screen intensity and he revealed he learned it all from watching Stephen Graham when he was just 14 and had a small part in Shane Meadows’ This Is England. It was lovely to hear about Combo while George Clooney and Julia Roberts beamed on.

I’m off to see the new Ken Loach now, and then do a bit of radio for Monocle before making it my friend James Erskine’s beach party for his Le Mans 3D film, which should have racing driver Mark Webber there.

 

 

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