Cannes, Day 3: Madagascar 3, the Sundance favourite and a yacht

Friday May 18th 2012

We should never have gotten complacent. After three days of glorious sunshine, our casual summer wear was made a mockery of today when the heavens opened and the rain began to fall. After a late one last night, I failed to wake up for opted to skip the 8:30am screening of Matteo Garrone’s Italian reality television satire Reality and instead made my way to the midday showing of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, screening out of competition in the Grand Théâtre Lumière.

A few broad Hollywood blockbusters tend make their way into the programme each year, wedged uncomfortably between the Audiards and the Hanekes of the competition, and Dreamworks Animation have got an especially consistent attendance record. Both Shrek and Shrek 2 actually competed for the Palme d’Or (losing out to The Son’s Room and Fahrenheit 9/11 respectively) and since then, most of their films have had some kind of presence at the festival.

There’s something very odd about watching a kids film in the company of a 2000 adult critics, all inexplicably laughing at every pratfall and lame innuendo. It’s as if all the inherent snobbishness of the festival has suddenly vanished, and you can’t help but wish such an honour had been bestowed upon something a little more deserving than Madagascar 3.

Better than its predecessor but worse than most other things, the film sees Alex, Marty and the other two idiots traveling across Europe Cars-2-stylee in a horribly contrived scheme to return to New York. It fucks with the franchise rulebook — the animals now talk freely in front of humans — and has a weird pro-animal-circus stance that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, but if you voluntarily agree to watch a new Madagascar movie, you’ve no real right to be disappointed by what is essentially a repeat of the first movie with a few new penis jokes.

From the ridiculous to the sublime, the day’s second film was Beasts of the Southern Wild, which quite justifiably won the grand jury prize back at Sundance in January. Its a father-daughter story told in alternating bursts of exuberance and melancholy, featuring one of the all-time great child performances from six-year-old newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis. It might be a little while before it makes it over to the UK, but you’ll want to devour this beautiful monster of a film the first chance you get.

Then I went to a yacht party. Yep, me. On a yacht. A real one. It didn’t actually leave the harbour and the party only went on until 8pm, but still, I felt pretty special.

The final film of the day was a 10:15pm screening of Laurence Anyways, the new one from hot young bastard Xavier Dolan (pictured above receiving a standing ovation – his third in Cannes by the age of 23). The film’s excellent, but at a cost. As if making a movie about transgender identity wasn’t challenging enough in the first place, Dolan has tested his industry heft to the very limit and delivered a 159-minute, 1.37:1-aspect-ratio, mostly-episodic relationship drama set across an eleven year period. Needless to say, it doesn’t all hold together, but there’s a lot to love in this sprawling, melodramatic shambles, and Dolan still does attractive young people walking in slow-motion to electropop better than anyone else.

And wait until you see the title card — holy mother of fuck.