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Cannes Capsules – Elizabeth Taylor: The Lost Tapes | The Other Way Around | Kinds Of Kindness



Elizabeth: The Lost Tapes – 5/5

“The press no longer wanted glamour. They wanted the destruction of glamour.”

An astute observation in this fascinating look at the life of one of cinemas’s greatest icons and probably the most beautiful woman to ever grace the silver screen, Elizabeth Taylor. It’s perhaps hard for us now to understand exactly how famous Elizabeth Taylor was in the 1960s and ’70s. Her extraordinary, dramatic, scandalous, diamond laden life was covered frantically by the media who chased her as she went from yacht to yacht, husband to husband and, indeed, Oscar to Oscar (she won two and was nominated five times). She was the first actor, male or female to be paid $1 million for a movie (Cleopatra). And during the making of that film her affair with Welsh actor, Richard Burton, who played Mark Anthony, became such an international scandal that even the Vatican denounced her . The hordes of photographers pursuing her for a glimpse of her with Burton almost single-handedly created what is now known worldwide as the ‘paparazzi.’

The intrusion into her private life was immense. Even in today’s celebrity obsessed world, it’s hard to comprehend the level of invasion of their private lives that early superstars like Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe endured. What is remarkable, when you listen to any of their interviews, however, is how stoic they were about it, despite their obvious frustrations. There is none of the self pity that minor celebrities like Reality show contestants or Meghan Markle now whine about when they get not even a fraction of the attention those icons did.

The Lost Tapes offers an unprecedented glimpse into Taylor’s life. In her own words, shared inseventy hours of newly unearthed audio tapes, recorded over many years,Elizabeth Taylor gives her verdict on her life and career: from childhood star at MGM, making films such as Lassie and National Velvet, through her roles alongside James Dean, Montgomery Clift and Paul Newman, among others, to her Oscar wins for Butterfield 8 (which she hated) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and the excesses of her eight marriages (two to Richard Burton, her great love) and her charity work and activism, especially around the AIDS crisis.

The tapes reveal a woman who is candid, courageous, fiercely loyal, passionate and yearning to be acknowledged as an actress and given some respect for her talent not just her looks and tabloid friendly personal life.

A critic once wrote, ‘the tragedy of Marilyn Monroe is that she had too few years while that of Elizabeth Taylor is that she had too many.’ It’s an interesting assessment. Elizabeth Taylor may be less well known to today’s younger filmgoers than the ubiquitous Monroe whose fame comes as much from her early death as her career, but she was a very good actress, a dazzling screen presence and a trailblazer both for women and as a humanitarian.

This film does her justice.

The Other Way Around – 3/5

For some reason, middle-class angst doesn’t translate as well to the screen as the trials of working class people and the scandals of the upper-class do. It’s hard to understand because the average filmgoer would probably both identify as middle class and see themselves in the characters portrayed, but somehow their stories are rarely as compelling.

However, Director Jonas Trueba’s Spanish film which seeks to celebrate the breakup of a long term relationship because it’s ‘amicable’ and deserves a party, is an enjoyable and tender, literary narrative strong, film referential strong, anti rom com, romantic comedy.

Film editor Ale (Itsaso Arana) and struggling actor Alex (Vito Sanz) decide they have come to the end of their romantic journey together.

Taking note of something her father (Fernando Trueba) said, that separations not unions should be celebrated, Ale suggests they host a party to mark the decision. Alex, who is already secretly ambivalent about the decision to separate, reluctantly agrees to go along with the idea.

The rest of the film is the couple inviting disbelieving friends and relatives to this odd celebration. One by one, the invitees react unexpectedly, causing the couple to rethink their plan and, privately reevaluate their decision to part ways. It’s clear from the start that Alex is less convinced of the need to separate but over time the more composed and together Ale also begins to have her doubts about the wisdom of her decision.

The film’s Spanish title is Volvereis, which translates as ‘you’ll get back together’. The likely ending, therefore, seems predictable from early on. Nevertheless, the journey to it and the party is an engaging and charming one.

Kinds Of Kindness – 3/5

The post production process for Poor Things was so lengthy, the prolific Yorgos Lanthimos just made another film! Or rather, three films; a ‘tryptic fable.’ With a small cast that includes Lanthimos regulars, Emma Stone and Willem Dafoe with the addition of Jesse Plemons, the films explore themes of abuse and cruelty that the actors playing different characters inflict on each other. The mysterious R.M.F played, silently, by Yorgos Stefanakos provides a connection.

The entire film is long, 165 minutes with the third story taking up most of the time. Like the longest tracks on many music albums, it’s also the weakest part of the film which divides into: “The Death of R.M.F,” in which Plemons is a weak man dominated by his boss, Dafoe, who controls his life. Ever eager to please the boss, Plemons is told to do something by Dafoe which even he considers a step too far. Part two, “R.M.F. is Flying,” has Plemons as a policeman whose scientist wife (Stone) is rescued after months of being lost at sea but he soon becomes suspicious that she is an imposter. The third story, “R.M.F. Eats a Sandwich,” has Stone as a member of a sex cult whose job it is to find a person with the ability to resurrect the dead.

The film has the usual Lanthimos trademarks; the moments of surrealism in ordinary settings, the gleefully provocative challenges to the audience’s sensitivities , the sly ‘should I laugh at this?’ humour but it always feels like a side project.

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