Tag Archives: Wong Kar-Wai

History at the Cannes Film Festival – Part VII the 1990’s

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 1990s ushered in a time of significant change globally and that change was reflected at the Cannes Film Festival. “Promotion” became the driving new buzzword. Hardly anyone was more creative than Madonna. After Italian politician, La Cicciolina, answered the age-old question of how to dress at Cannes, the former porn actress wore an outfit that seemed more appropriate for the bedroom than the red carpet, Madonna walked the steps and red carpet with her La Cicciolina-inspired outfit.




True to say cinema had broken loose and perpetual change was underway.

In 1990, Federico Fellini presented The Voice of the Moon at the Cannes Film Festival. Fellini had once declared that “Cannes is like a natural harbor for a film to moor in”. Despite having once said that he didn’t like ceremonies, this was his tenth film presented on La Croisette, after films such as The Nights of Cabiria in 1957, La Dolce Vita in 1960, Amarcord in 1974, and City of Women in 1980. The Festival paid tribute to him by presenting effigies of his characters on the Festival’s Louis Lumière theater stage curtain. The Voice of the Moon would be the last film by the legendary director who died in 1994.


Federico Fellini (Cr.Cannes_Festival)


In 1991, the award winners chosen under the presidency of Roman Polanski stirred up less debate but nevertheless set a precedent. The members of the jury, swept up by their enthusiasm, attributed all the major awards to the film Barton Fink. The Coen brothers won the Palme d’Or and the award for Best Director and the award for Best Actor went to its star John Turturro. From then on the Festival forbade future juries from attributing all the major awards to one film.

In 1993, the Palme d’Or was jointly awarded to Farewell, My Concubine by Chen Kaige, and to a woman, the director Jane Campion for The Piano. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first ‘Cinema & Liberty’ conference was held and attracted a hundred plus directors from all around the world. Tellingly, prizes were awarded to representatives from around the world: Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern European countries. The Festival also surpassed 20000 participants.



In 1995, American Sharon Stone was all the rage as she was on full display making a name for herself with controversial scenes in the neo-noir erotic thriller, Basic Instinct. The following year Quintin Tarantino premiered his Palme d’Or-winning, cult-classic, Pulp Fiction.


Quintin Tarantino (Cr. Cannes_Festival)


But, 1995 seemed to be a pivotal year in capturing the spirit of the time with new film genres utilizing the camera as a witness to history and capturing socio-cultural issues of the day such as the phenomenon of suburban slums with Matthieu Kassovitz’s film La Haine (Hate), which took the Best Director’s prize, or the fight against racism with the film Jungle Fever by the renowned Spike Lee. These new contemporary genres and accompanying film work created a buzz in public opinion as well as a source of controversy.


Cinema Paradiso


Undeniably, the recurrent reproach had been that the Festival rewards cinema d’auteur and not what the public wants to watch. The nineties largely proved this wrong. The decade saw the Palme d’Or going to The Piano, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, Secrets and Lies by Mike Leigh, and other prizes going to Hate by Mathieu Kassovitz and The Eighth Day by Jaco van Dormael, all of which were big box office successes. In certain cases, the Cannes Festival has even helped a film to find its public. Cinema Paradiso initially met with very poor reception in Italy. In 1989, its director Giuseppe Tornatore shortened it by half an hour before presenting it at Cannes. It won the Jury Grand Prix and went on to be an international success.



With its worldwide reputation, the Festival continued to grow throughout the 1990s and left an indelible mark with such iconic moments as the Italian actor-director Roberto Benigni’s satisfaction, on his knees under the spotlights, after winning for his film Life is Beautiful at the end of the 90s. These films left their mark on the history of worldwide cinema, contributing to the democratization of various social phenomena such as homosexuality with the film Happy Together by Wong Kar-Wai.



50 years of promoting cinema

Growing over the years, the Cannes Film Festival celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1997. 1,289 films from all around the world had been part of the official selection since the first Festival in 1946, through 50 years of cinema that has captured the evolution of our societies.

Stay tuned for new awareness and the new millennium!


Baz Poonpiriya’s “One For the Road” Will Leave You Wanting More

Posted by Larry Gleeson

When I viewed One For the Road, recipient of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Creative Vision, and directed by Baz Poonpiriya (the first Thai director to feature in Sundance’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition), my mind wandered as I became aware of a thought, “This film reminds me of Wong Kar Wai’s work, In the Mood for Love.” The film had a wonderful soundtrack with some Cat Stevens music along with several mainstream hits, a strong production design, and a lovely mise-en-scene with exquisite cinematography and a touch of colorization. One For the Road follows a young Thai man, who is dying from cancer and has decided to make his final amends by delivering a parting gift to those closest to him on the earthly plane. The narrative structure is non-linear as the director uses flashbacks to inform the viewer and add depth of meaning to the present.

Unfortunately for the film’s lead character, Aood, portrayed by Ice Natara, the only Thai runway model in South Korea, he doesn’t drive and doesn’t own a car. So, he calls on his best friend, Boss, portrayed by actor/singer/model Tor Thanapob, to drive him across Thailand beginning in the north and traversing the length of the country down to the south in order to bring closure with the people from Aood’s past. Only, Boss owns a bar in New York where he seems to be living the dream with an endless lineup of beautiful women that he entertains after hours.

Boss and his family had supported Aood over the years and the two were as close as two blood brothers until a falling out left them estranged. But when Aood tells Boss he is sick and needs Boss’s help to complete a final “to do” list, Boss comes to help. As the two rekindle their friendship,  Boss puts up with Aood’s idiosyncrasies and his overt intrusions into people’s lives with his parting gifts. Yet, when Aood tries to give Boss a gift, truths are revealed threatening their friendship while simultaneously offering an opportune moment for redemption.

One for the Road is full of nostalgia as multiple genres come together including romance, buddy film, as well as sex-positive melodrama. It’s very visual, very visceral, and one I was sad to see it end after 136 minutes. But end it did and as the credits began to roll, there it was – a title revealing “Produced by Wong Kar Wai” – “… a filmmaker who specializes in making the evanescent tangible, in capturing fleeting emotions in a style that is always poetic, often ravishing and, despite his films’ surface-level dreaminess, unerringly precise.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/26/movies/Wong-Kar-wai-romance-films.html) I’m a huge fan of Mr. Wong’s work so all I could do in that moment was sit and smile. What a wonderful gift. (Wong and Baz worked together on One For The Road for three years.)

Director Baz Poonpiriya, a strong storyteller who has come into his own, had previously helmed Bad Genius the 2017 Thai box-office smashing and the record-breaking winner of twelve categories at the 27th Suphannahong National Film Awards (the Thai Oscars), before embarking on One For The Road with Wong. If you’re a fan of Wong, this is a film you don’t want to miss. And, if you’re a fan of Thai film (Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s 2010 Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives turned me on to Thai film), it’s a must-see! Lastly, if you simply enjoy exquisitely told films, I highly recommend you see Baz Poonpiriya’s One For The Road!