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Cannes commercials are back!

Fan favourite makes long-awaited return

By: Scott Hayes

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 18, 2014 06:00 am

DUMB WAYS TO DIE Ė A public service campaign promoting rail safety for Metro Trains in Melbourne, Australia, was the Grand Prix winner at the 2013 Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity.
DUMB WAYS TO DIE Ė A public service campaign promoting rail safety for Metro Trains in Melbourne, Australia, was the Grand Prix winner at the 2013 Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity.
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2013 Cannes International Festival of Creativity
Rating: 3.5
Rated 14A for sexual content and violence
Runtime: 120 minutes
Directors: various
Plays Thursday and Friday at 7:00 p.m., Saturday at 4:15 p.m. and 9:15 p.m., Sunday at 6:45 p.m., and next Monday and Thursday at 9:15 p.m.

Metro Cinema Garneau Theatre at 8712 109 St. in south Edmonton

You could say that itís weird to do a movie review of a series of commercials but there are dozens of compelling and interesting stories and oodles of talented technical filmmaking going on at Metro Cinema this week.

The Worldís Best Commercials has been an immensely popular annual screening in Edmonton but itís been away for a few years. Now, itís back with a vengeance. Viewers will be treated to 120 minutes of some of the most unique, dazzling and strange video advertisements from around the entire globe.

And it all starts off with a grand, weird, five-and-a-half-minute patience-testing spot for Lady Gagaís perfume, Fame. Itís obtuse and visually dark, as one might expect considering the musicianís gonzo art sensibilities. It comes across like the opening sequence for David Fincherís version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Itís a singular kind of video but one wonders how anyone could have sold anything with it, except maybe stain remover.

Personally, I prefer commercials that have humour or are clever in their stories or visuals.

Iím a bit out of luck with this batch of winners, as I counted no more than a good handful of funny ads. Still, I found myself enthralled with the density of the storytelling at work here.

Through voiceover, a camera seemingly tells the tale of a war photographer in the Second World War. Another, a movie tie-in, shows a man being mistaken for James Bond at a train station. He quickly takes on the part, evading danger in the most debonair fashion before he bumps back into the British spy and completes the circle of confusion.

The Worldís Best Commercials features more than 60 Cannes Lion award-winning selections from 15 countries, including three from Canada. The Cannes International Festival of Creativity is the world's biggest awards show and festival for professionals in the creative communications industry. The 2014 awards will be handed out throughout this week, culminating on Saturday with the film and film craft awards.

The one thing that I find the most problematic is the very reason why these videos are made in the first place: to sell us things. For instance, thereís a really fun commercial with three different dancers having a dance battle with a well-trained horse. Thereís a peppy soundtrack and each of the competitors has their fun for about 10 seconds. At the end, we see that it was all for nail polish. All of the joy that I received from the activity was immediately diminished by this rather abrupt reminder.

I do understand the challenges though. Products have to be sold somehow and these many filmmakers donít have much time to connect with the audience, to establish something as valuable in the viewersí hearts and minds. Itís a tricky game that advertisers are in and so the value of these awards is apparent.

All that I can say is that I especially enjoyed the people falling down the mountain and across the countryside, right into a pool at the base of a waterfall. They smiled all the way. It certainly looked invigorating and refreshing but it doesnít make me want to buy any carbonated beverages despite how Schweppervescent it might be.


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