Day 3 (Friday 19th May 2017)
Okja, Bong Joon-ho’s engaging all-ages eco-friendly adventure has been overshadowed by a much-publicised spat between its financier Netflix and Cannes officialdom over the former’s collapsed theatrical window meaning Okja will not get its initial airing in cinemas.
From next year however, Netflix titles will be forced to commit to a French theatrical release prior to streaming if they are to secure a competition slot at Cannes. Not the case with Okja which will be on Netflix in a few weeks.
In principle I’m with Cannes on this one, which is not to devalue the enormous investment Netflix, Amazon et al are making in original, non-franchise, quality, mid-budget art house cinema, the like of which the studios have shied away from supporting of late (the Amazon-funded Manchester by The Sea being a good example).
As for Okja, it’s a lot of fun with some fantastically orchestrated action sequences, but Jake Gyllenhaal’s mannered comedic turn tends to grate and he ought to have been kept on a tighter leash.
The Departure, Lana Wilson’s follow-up to After Tiller (which screened at the 2013 IFI Documentary Festival), is a moving study of a Buddhist monk who acts as councillor to severely depressed and suicidal patients, even though he is quite unwell himself with a heart condition.
The afternoon was spent with a perfectly fine yet unremarkable double-bill in the same venue, The Olympia. French first feature Ava about a teen girl coming to terms with imminent blindness, and Thumper, a well made but overly familiar ‘cops undercover going native’ tale which I was drawn to on account of Cary Fukunaga’s production credit.
The day ended with the arresting though flawed Jupiter’s Moon. A Syrian refugee is gunned down and miraculously returns to life imbued with the gift of flight in Kornel Mundruczo’s wildly ambitious follow up to White God, in which the canine population of Budapest arose in revolt against their human masters.
He forms an alliance of sorts with a guilt-ridden doctor who initially views this naive young ‘angel’ as a money-spinner and, later, a means for redemption. Not all of it works and it is overextended, but there are stunning individual scenes and images with some bracingly staged action sequences and kinetic energy to the cinematography throughout. It’s nothing if not original.
Check back soon for more updates from Cannes 2017.
The IFI is supported by The Arts Council