Sunday, May 27, 2007

Cannes Closes with Days of Darkness from Arcand - It's A COMEDY, folks!

Cannes Closes on Light Note With Comedy
The Associated Press

Sunday, May 27, 2007; 1:39 PM
CANNES, France -- After a 12-day lineup of weighty films, the Cannes Film Festival came to a close Sunday with a movie called "Days of Darkness" _ despite its title, a comedy. French-Canadian filmmaker Denys Arcand, (photo, l. with actress Diane Kruger) who won best foreign language Oscar in 2004 for his funny, moving, "The Barbarian Invasions," has a thing for over-the-top titles.

"They're big titles, and the films are small films," he joked in an interview with The Associated Press. "It started when I did 'The Decline of the American Empire.' I did this film which was basically about sex, about couples cheating on one another and stuff like that, and we didn't know what to call it ...

"I came up with the title and everybody said, that's ridiculous, and it worked perfectly," he said.
"Days of Darkness" (L'Age des Tenebres) tells the story of Jean-Marc (Marc Labreche, photo, r., with Diane Kruger, at Cannes), a civil servant with a house in suburbia, a boring job, a high-powered wife who does not listen to him and two daughters who do not look up from their video game when he walks into the room.
The one thing he does have is an active fantasy life.
Jean-Marc dreams of a gorgeous actress (Diane Kruger) paying him visits in the shower. When his tough, sexy, boss berates him, he imagines her being carried off by men in loincloths and tied up. He dreams of himself as a famous author, a Roman emperor and a prince charming (played by singer Rufus Wainwright in a few gorgeous opera scenes).

The film closes the trilogy that started with "Decline" and continued with "Invasions," an alternately merry and melancholy story of a dying man's reunion with his estranged son.
Though "Days of Darkness" criticizes the isolation and aseptic blandness of modern life, and though the main character's aging mother is dying in a hospital, it is a much lighter film than "Invasions." Arcand says it is the first time he has included elements of slapstick comedy in a movie.
The film is screening out of competition at Cannes. Arcand points out that comedies tend to be snubbed on awards nights anyway.

"Charlie Chaplin, all his life, never won an Oscar (in a major competitive category like best picture or best director) ...
"Somehow, juries or people who vote, take themselves extremely seriously. Comedy ... says something about the world: 'We are all ridiculous.' And people who take themselves seriously don't want to hear that."