It seems auspicious to start this blog on the night when the Cannes Film Festival is the focus of BBC2’s Late Review. This is the annual jaunt to Cannes and this year follows the usual pattern – with only one film reviewer amongst the quartet. In fact, Mark Kermode is just about the only visible film critic of any standing on UK television. My argument on this blog will be that UK media generally don’t take film seriously as an art form and Late Review lives up to this billing.
There are 22 films in competition, but the programme’s running order is utterly predictable. Four American films are discussed first, beginning with a totally unnecessary discussion of the new Indiana Jones (i.e. because it is being reviewed everywhere else) followed by Soderbergh’s Che, Kaufman’s Synecdoche and the new Clint Eastwood. The token ‘foreign’ segment comes in the middle with an Israeli animation, a Walter Salles film and the latest Dardennes Brothers venture. The programme then rounds off with the three highest profile British films. I would have risked folding money that they wouldn’t discuss any East Asian films or any others from Latin America outside of the named directors’ films (i.e. those already known). There are 500+ plus films released theatrically in the UK each year, but there won’t be space for many of those seen at Cannes — certainly not in the next few weeks. There is a connection between what a supposedly ‘high culture’ BBC arts programme will discuss and what gets released. Why not ask (for once a year) a round table of knowledgable reviewers, some at least with wider tastes, to join Kermode just for once? (I quite like the good Doctor, but it would probably do him good to be on with someone who knows as much, if not more than he does.) Someone like Jonathan Romney plus an academic like Ginnette Vincendeau anda controversial figure like Tony Rayns would make up an interesting panel. I suspect they might select a slightly different set of films to discuss.