Kaige Chen “100 Flowers Hidden Deep”
Víctor Erice “Lifeline”
Werner Herzog “Ten Thousand Years Older”
Jim Jarmusch “Int. Trailer Night”
Aki Kaurismäki “Dogs Have No Hell”
Spike Lee “We Wuz Robbed”
Wim Wenders “Twelve Miles to Trona”
Ten Minutes Older – The Trumpet (Germany/UK)
CANNES — The concept is both intriguing and simple. With the promise of complete creative freedom, a lineup of the world’s leading directors are given the same assignment: Make a film dealing with the theme of time in their own inimitable fashions, with the ego-curbing catch being that they have only 10 minutes with which to work.
While the results are predictably mixed, most manage to rise to the occasion, with Spike Lee, Spain’s Victor Erice and Chinese director Chen Kaige doing particularly impressive stuff.
Set to air this summer on Showtime (a second completed anthology will feature shorts by Bernardo Bertolucci, Mike Figgis, Michael Radford and Claire Denis, among others), the collection certainly makes for one appetizing auteur sampler platter.
Although Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki (whose feature-length “The Man Without a Past” was an Official Competition entry) gets the program off to an uninspired start with the typically quirky but unsatisfying “Dogs Have No Hell,” things pick up considerably with the evocative “Lifeline,” from acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Victor Erice (The Spirit of the Beehive).
Set during a very specific point in time — namely June 28, 1940, the day the Nazis crossed the French border into Spain — the black-and-white piece is composed of a series of stirring tableaux chronicling everyday domestic activities from baking bread to working at a sewing machine, while foreboding drops of blood form beneath a sleeping newborn baby’s gown.
Werner Herzog finds himself back in “Fitzcarraldo” territory with “Ten Thousand Years Older,” a mini-documentary revisiting a remote Brazilian rain forest tribe that had its first introduction to the modern world 20 years earlier. While intriguing in concept, Herzog’s dull narration and nothing-special approach to the task at hand makes for equally unexceptional viewing.
Jim Jarmusch, returning to the monochromatics of his early “Stranger Than Paradise” days, takes the 10-minute limit literally with the curious “INT. TRAILER. NIGHT,” a private look at a movie actress (Chloe Sevigny), all decked out in vintage flapper garb, who takes five (times two) in her Winnebago in between shots.
“Twelve Miles to Trona,” meanwhile, finds Wim Wenders back in his early road movie mode with a visually revved-up story about a young man (Charles Esten) who has unwittingly overdosed on drug-laced cookies and is trying to get to a hospital before they take their full, heart-racing effect.
Wenders isn’t the only one who seems to have regained his moviemaking mojo thanks to this project. A re-energized Lee seizes the opportunity to deliver “We Wuz Robbed,” an invigorating recap of the events of Nov. 7, 2000, leading up to Al Gore’s famous “You don’t have to be snippy” phone call to George W. Bush in which he retracted his earlier concession call.
Talking to several Gore campaign movers and shakers, Lee blends tightly edited black-and-white and color footage with the resulting stylized zip of one of his old Nike spots combined with an acute political punch.
Rounding out the collection, Chen (Farewell My Concubine) contributes “100 Flowers Hidden Deep,” a gentle, lyrical parable about the rapidly changing face of present-day Beijing and a seemingly crazy old man who forces a group of movers to stop and smell the cherry blossoms.
With Hugh Masekela’s reflective trumpet interpretations of Paul Englishby’s music providing the elegant transitions, this is one anthology that has its art in the right place.
Michael Rechtshaffen, Hollywood Reporter, Jan. 01, 2005.
Language(s):English / German / Mandarin / Spanish / Finnish