President Bush no hero in US films at Cannes

22nd May 2006, Comments 0 comments

CANNES, France, May 21, 2006 (AFP) - US directors are using this year's Cannes Film Festival to pummel President George W. Bush, showing movies that take the US leader to task for everything ranging from sexual repression, Iraq, corporate collusion and climate change.

CANNES, France, May 21, 2006 (AFP) - US directors are using this year's Cannes Film Festival to pummel President George W. Bush, showing movies that take the US leader to task for everything ranging from sexual repression, Iraq, corporate collusion and climate change.

Sunday saw one of the most egregious attacks in the form of 'Southland Tales' by Richard Kelly, the director behind 2001's cult movie 'Donnie Darko'.

In his new film, a satire set in a dystopian future Los Angeles, broad parallels are drawn between fascist pre-WWII Germany and the United States under a Bush government that holds onto power well into 2008.

A star-heavy cast moves the story along as it takes scattershot aim at a range of targets, particularly the war in Iraq, Big Brother-style spying on US citizens, the US dependence on energy and the fusion between celebrity and politics.

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson plays a big-name actor tied to a political family who tries to unravel a plot involving him travelling into the future and back and trying to stop Armageddon. And any resemblance to a certain California governor who starred in 'The Terminator' is coincidental.

Also spotted is 'Buffy' star Sarah Michelle Gellar, putting in a delightful turn as a marketing-savvy porn star, and pop singer Justin Timberlake who treats the sometimes befuddled audience to a music clip underlining the damage the US military has taken in Iraq.

"The film is meant to be a tapestry of ideas all related to the biggest issues we're facing right now," Kelly told a media conference.

Although it depicts "the very sad situation that we find ourselves as a country," he stressed. "I love our country and I'm a very patriotic person and the movie is meant to be a patriotic piece to say 'Let's solve these problems'."

'Southland Tales' covered some of the same ground as another, edgier US film, 'Shortbus', which is filled provocatively with scenes of real sex in what director John Cameron Mitchell said was "a call to arms" against the Bush administration.

Both films had scenes where renditions of the US national anthem were played as a way for the left-wing directors to reclaim the flag from America's ruling right.

Only 'Shortbus' did it in a memorable way that surely has to be a first on celluloid: bellowed into the anus of a man during a three-way gay sex romp.

Mitchell said his offensive against the fears surrounding sex had much to do with living in "the era of Bush, which is about clamping down, being scared".

He added by way of justification of his movie: "If you can't do elections you might as well do erections."

More stitched up than either of those two movies was a documentary also seen in Cannes' official line-up featuring former US vice president Al Gore Saturday and his personal crusade against global warming.

'An Inconvienent Truth', fronted by Gore, explains the dangerous path which the planet is pursuing, and presents statistics confirming the place of the United States as the principal energy-guzzler and principal polluter.

In it, the man who almost was president, admits that his defeat by Bush was "a hard blow" — made all the harder because it made it tougher for him to get his environmental campaign on to the political agenda.

"The key to solving this crisis depends upon the people demanding action and not just of a president, but of the Congress as well," Gore told journalists Saturday.

'Fast Food Nation', a pointed jab at the creeping consumerism of US society and the power of corporations to dehumanise workers, also earned applause for its director, Richard Linklater, especially during a scene where characters proclaimed it their patriotic duty to violate the US Patriot Act.

Other films being screened out of the official selection are taking further pot shots at the US leader, who has been a favourite punching bag with the mainly independent filmmaking crowd at Cannes since he first came to power in 2001.

But for all the fairly predictable shows of support the films are getting during their screenings, there is also a feeling that the blows are landing wide — ineffective against a president who has already survived the onslaught behind the Cannes 2003 winner, 'Fahrenheit 9/11'.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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