Lush images, audience walk-outs as Cannes winds up

Sat May 23, 2009 9:52am EDT
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By James Mackenzie

CANNES, France (Reuters) - The neon-lit streets of Tokyo and the corridors of the Louvre museum in Paris provide the setting for a trio of stylized East-meets-West films that caused audience walk-outs as the Cannes festival ended.

Gaspar Noe's "Enter the Void," a drug-fueled trip to the afterlife, and Isabel Coixet's romantically charged "Map of the Sounds of Tokyo," both confront out-of-place Westerners in the Japanese capital with death and the meaning of existence.

"Visage," by Tsai Ming-Liang, travels in the other direction, bringing a Taiwanese director to Paris where he tries to film the story of Salome in the Louvre using a cast that recalls some of the great moments of French cinema.

All three favor striking visual imagery over conventional plot or characterization but the steady stream of viewers walking out of all of the press screenings testified to the difficulty many had in keeping up.

"I make my films rather like a painter. It's the image which is extremely important to me," Tsai told a news conference after the screening. "All my efforts are directed toward how I can present my scenes in terms of images."

The curtain comes down on the festival on Sunday with the award of the Palme d'Or for the best film but, judging by the audience and early critical reaction, none of the three films shown on Friday and Saturday seemed likely to win.

The presence in "Visage" of Jean-Pierre Leaud, who lit up Cannes 50 years ago as the teenaged star of Francois Truffaut's "Les 400 Coups" and Jeanne Moreau, star of another Truffaut classic, "Jules et Jim," underlined Tsai's homage to French films.

EAST AND WEST   Continued...

<p>Cast member Rinko Kikuchi poses during a photocall for the film "Map Of The Sounds Of Tokyo" by director Isabelle Coixet in competition at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival May 23, 2009. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier</p>