North London directors at the Cannes Film Festival, 2019
- Credit: Archant
Dexter Fletcherr, Asif Kapadia and Ken Loach were on the Croisette to show off their latest films
The rain came back to Cannes this year but the line-up was hotter than ever.
Julianne Moore, Penelope Cruz, Henry Fonda, Alain Delon, Elton John and Tilda Swinton graced the Croisette with new films from Jim Jarmusch, Quentin Tarantino; Terrence Malick and veterans Werner Herzog and Claude Lelouch, who reunites the lovers from his 1966 Palme d'Or winner Un Home et Une Femme 53 years later in a poetic dramady The Best Years of a Life.
Meanwhile, Catalan auteur Albert Serra was there with Liberté, an 18th Century pornographic arthouse drama that would surprise even Sade with its level of loucheness. 120 Days of Sodom fans take note!
The Elton John biopic Rocketman is an all singing all dancing affair with Taron Egerton performing the classic numbers and Clerkenwell-based Dexter, Fletcher, an alumni of Anna Scher's Theatre School, behind the camera. Told through a clever framing device, written by Lee Hall (Billy Elliot), it's a proper musical with fantasy sequences, sharing an extraordinary human story of the shy but talented schoolboy Reginald Dwight from Pinner, who found fame and fortune, only to land up in drug therapy and finally accept his sexual orientation after a failed marriage. Fletcher has Elton recounting the story looking back through a lens clouded with drug and alcohol abuse, and this gives the film its fantasy element. Egerton has a good voice; he performed a version of I'm Still Standing in the comedy animation film Sing (2016). With a nice fat budget of 40 million, Rocketman actually looks glamorous too.
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After his Palme d'Or win in 2015 with I, Daniel Black, Cannes old timer and Dartmouth Park resident Ken Loach is back with his regular writer Paul Laverty and another slice of social realism with a title that will resonate bitterly if you're still waiting for that parcel. Sorry We Missed You takes Loach back to the North East and the streets of Gateshead and Newcastle where hard-up grafter Ricky and his family have been facing an uphill struggle against debt since the 2008 financial crash and the rise of the gig economy and zero contract hours.
An opportunity to get back into the black again comes in the shape of a shiny new van and a chance to run his own business as a self-employed delivery driver. But things don't quite work out as expected despite his best efforts, and we feel for him.
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Laverty's script flows along as smoothly as the Tyne in scenes that showcase Loach's talent for bringing out the best in newcomers in an able cast that includes Kris Hitchen and Debbie Honeywood with Rhys Stone and Katie Proctor as their son and daughter.
This time humour and honesty keep sentimentality low key. The locale is very much a character too, Shields Road and Byker which we get to know like the back of our hand in this enjoyable tale of woe, and we have his regular photographer Robbie Ryan to thank for that.
Asif Kapadia is no stranger to Cannes. The Stoke Newington raised ex Hackney schoolboy's Cannes biopic Amy went on to win an Oscar and became the highest grossing British documentary after its Cannes premiere in 2015. It was even more popular than his 2010 biopic Senna. Diego Maradona rounds off his trilogy about child geniuses and fame. Football fanatic Kapadia is clearly fascinated by the Argentine football legend's charisma, low cunning and leadership, but mostly by his sheer ability to bounce back from the lows in his career: "He was always the little guy fighting against the system, and he was willing to do anything to use all of his cunning and intelligence to win."
This all-footage foray blends over 500 hours of grainy media coverage with home video material to transform Maradona's story into an adrenaline fuelled two hours that sees the cheeky mummy's boy from a poor barrio in Buenos Aires transformed into a charismatic winner whose undiluted hubris was bound to send him Icarus-style on a meteoric mission to the sun. Kapadia's film is about both sides of the megastar's personality: the affectionate insecure slumdog, and the epic hero who would finally crash to earth.
See more film news and reviews from Meredith Taylor at filmuforia.co.uk