Dear Diary #4 – Crooning cowboys and mad monarchs take over the Lido

It might be a little early in the festival for themes to be emerging, but here we go…

Freshly Popped

Dear Diary

Well, it might be a little early in the festival for themes to be emerging, but here we go nevertheless. Yesterday I have only been to see two films, but both of them contained singing cowboys. What were the chances? The first screening (at the ungodly hour of 8.30am) brought us Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born. Embargoes mean that no comment can be made about the quality of the film, but I don’t think it’s breaking any rules to say that Bradley Cooper, as well as having the sparkliest baby blues in Hollywood, can actually sing. His character plays some mean country and western and rarely is he without a Stetson (or a cowboy hat at any rate) planted on his lovely head.

A Hat Is Born. Sorry, A Star Is Born.

After seeing him wow enormous crowds on the big screen and sing a couple of duets with Lady Gaga, it was time to head for screening number two of the day, the Coen brothers’ The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs. And would you believe it, the opening scene has Tim Blake Nelson on horseback singing a song and wearing a cowboy hat. If we are looking for other similarities between these two seemingly disparate films, it is that they both contain handsome blue-eyed cowboy types – not Tim Blake Nelson (sorry, Tim), but Bill Heck, who also appears in The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs. He and Bradley Cooper give cowboy outfits a good name.

White Hat or White Heat? Tim Blake Nelson in Coen’s Buster Scruggs.

I’m not sure there’s any actual singing on the part of the characters, but Jacques Audiard’s The Sisters Brothers certainly has some handsome actors (Joaquin Phoenix and Jake Gyllenhaal) all dressed up in your typical 19th century western garb. If any of the characters sing, I’ll be writing about it for sure. However, the trailer has Freda Payne’s northern soul classic ‘Tainted Love’ blasting out over the action, so it looks pretty certain that music will have an important role in this western tale.

Brothers in Hat: Joaquin Phoenix and John C.Reilly.

And then, Mike Leigh’s Peterloo. I doubt there’ll be much singing in that. Historically it comes after Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite, but both share a mad monarch. Queen Anne is the fragile and petulant ruler in the latter film, while the notoriously insane George III was king when the massacre at St Peter’s Field in Manchester took place in 1819. Both films deal in part with the famine and abject poverty wrought by the respective governments on the people due to wars with the French.

Hat in the Crowd: Mike Leigh’s Peterloo.

However, while the proletariat was barely seen in Lanthimos’s film, bar the occasional servant or prostitute, I’m pretty sure the people will have their voice and take centre stage in Leigh’s highly-anticipated film. So, singing cowboys and England ruled by crazy monarchs link some of the films seen so far on the Lido. Who knows what connecting threads will be woven tomorrow?

Dear Diary #1: So, what makes this old lady of the festival circuit so special?

Dear Diary #2: Fly me to the Moon. Ryan Gosling and Neil Armstrong’s legacy

Dear Diary #3: It wouldn’t be a festival if there weren’t a few complaints…


Leave a Comment

Cold War, warm hearts – Wiktor, Zula and five more great romances

Bradley Cooper: “Learning comes from you facing fears. I certainly did with A Star Is Born…”