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Thread: Cannes Film Festival 2018

  1. #31
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    The Load: Leon Lucev as Vlada

    Fahrenheit 451 (Raman Bahrani).

    (Shown in Midnight Screenings.)
    A not-quite-successful HBO-sponsored adaptation of the Bradberry novel already famously adapted by Truffaut in 1966 with a memorable cast (Julie Christie, Osker Werner, Cyril Cusack). Kevin O'Keefe in his Variety review confirms an impression of the new film's trailer: that Bahrani has slashed and burned the source itself, doubtless in an effort to make it "up to date" and pointedly relevant to current cultural depredations. There may even be something over-pushed toward the trendy in the casting of Michael B. Jordan with Michael Shannon. Bahrani has added new key words, "eels" for book-advocates, their program "OMNIS," "The Nine" for the TV propaganda station, the government "the ministry." And the whole has been flashily dumbed down for YA "Hunger Games" or "Maze Runners" fans. Gwilym Mumford in the Guardian argues the Trump era has led adapters to hunt wildly for sci-fi dystopia books that will seem relevant, but this one isn't, really, at a time when so much information is as close as your smart phone. I like Mumford's end note: "No film adaption could match the potency and thrill of reading a book about a world where books are banned." Tood McCarthy in Hollywood Reporter is underwhelmed too and says even with Jordan this "wouldn't have cut it as a theatrical release." The first part he says has been turned (inappropriately) into "a kick-ass actioner." He finds Jordan far less good than in Black Panther and thinks (as do I) that Shannon needs reprogramming to some more non-formulaic typecast roles if he's not to become tedious and repetitive. One can only be glad Woody Harrelson isn't in this. As with most film adaptations of classics, this will provide good material for debate.

    Diamandino (Gabriel Abrantes, Daniel Schmidt).

    (Shown in Critics Week.)
    "A sweetly bizarre fantasy mocking the cult of fame," says Sophie Monks Kaufman in Sight and Sound (BFI online), who says it's intentionally "overstuffed" with visual and narrative details. "Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt rustle up one of the year's most singular debuts with this winningly bizarre, genre-melding political satire," writes Guy Lodge in his Variety review of Diamantino. In this EU-endorsing comic satire, set in Portugal, a bunch of giant floppy puppies run onto the field every time a soccer star scores a goal, like the Winnie-the-Poohs that shower the rink when Yuzuru Hanyu finishes one of his dreamily near-perfect figure skating performances. But it's all in the head of the eponymous star (Carloto Cotto), who turns out to be. . . gayish, to say the least. Somehow it's all a sendup of right wingers when the protagonist is duped into participating in an anti-EU campaign by his evil twin sisters - but it's better not to know much before seeing this film, says Lodge. And so says also Boyd van Hoeij in Hollywood Reporter in an even more glowing review. This "potential cult object" is sure to be a festival hit, and would be fun to watch, if we get the chance.

    Bergman — A Year in a Life (James Magnusson).

    (Shown in Cannes Classics.)
    A documentary depicting the great filmmaker's lust for life, ambition and competitiveness, focusing on his life in 1957, the year he made The Seventh Seal and Wild Srawberries and changed the lives of all cinephiles old enough to go to the movies then. Reviewed by Owen Gleiberman in Variety, who says " it captures Bergman as the tender and prickly, effusive and demon-driven, tyrannical and half-crazy celebrity-genius he was: a man so consumed by work, and by his obsessive relationships with women, that he seemed to be carrying on three lives at once." Another panel in the diorama showing that great artists need not be and often aren't nice guys.

    The Load/Teret (Ognjen Glavonić).

    (Shown in Directors' Fortnight.)
    Kosovo 1999, violent events depicted in the distance while focused on the driver of a small trick over tough terrain carrying a secret yet officially sanctioned cargo, in this subtle reference to an actual grim incident. A "harshly intelligent and uncompromisingly spare story," writes Jessica Kiang in her Variety review, which makes this fiction feature debut sound very intriguing. "A strong inclusion in Directors' Fortnight," writes Sarah Ward in her ScreenDaily review.

    Climax (Gaspar Noé).

    (Shown in Directors' Fortnight.)
    This latest phantasmagoria focuses on a dance troupe in 1996 a remote snowbound lodge whose dance battles take an extreme turn after someone spikes the sangria with LSD. Better (and more succinct at 96 minutes) than Enter the Void or Love says Owen Gleiberman in his Variety review, and it continues Noé's talented efforts to show his audience the depths of hell. Eric Kohn in his Indiewire review finds this Noé's "most focused achievement" and says this "might be his best movie." Robbie Collin in the Telegraph says Climax "plays something like Pasolini’s stomach-churning Salò by way of the old Busby Berkeley extravaganza Gold Diggers of 1933." Difficult to picture, of course. So if you want to know what it means, you'll have to see the film. I'm guessing it will release in New York and Los Angeles, the former possibly at IFC Center.

    Climax has now won the Directors' Fortnight Jury Prize (May 17).

    Pope Francis: A Man of His Word (Wim Wenders).

    (Shown in Special Screenings.)
    The news may be partly the excellent access (but without, not surprisingly, deep revelations about the inner man), and partly just the fact of Wim Wenders doing this, though one recalles his making a 3D documentary about a famous dancer that he loved, Pina (2011, NYFF); there have been many films from him since then). This will come to Landmark Theaters before very long. (You can read my May 18 review of Pope Francis here: CLICK.)

    A Man of Integrity (Mohammad Rasoulof).

    This sterling drama continues the Iranian director's home-made cinematic crusade against the moral depredations of his country, which therefore are clandestinely made and locally banned. This one focuses on a man who, as the title suggests, fights the immorality and injustice around him or, as Alissa Simon puts it in her Variety review, "examines what defines a human being in a society that has lost its moral center." The protagonist goes to a country town after opposing bad food fed to factory workers in Tehran gets him expelled from a teacher's college, and he runs a goldfish farm, but this town turns out to be dominated by evil, corrupt forces. We see Reza, the hero, go through the trials of Job because he refuses to conform, explains Deborah Young in Hollywood Reporter. Some of the references may elude a non-Iranian audience, she says. So it is not certain how you or I would experience this film.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-19-2018 at 08:58 AM.

  2. #32
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    Newcomer Adriano Tardiolo as "Lazzaro"

    Happy As Lazzaro/Lazzaro felice (Alice Rohrwacher).

    (Shown in Competition.)
    The Italian director's ambitious third film was reviewed by Guy Lodge in Variety and Boyd van Hoeij in Hollywood Reporter. The bipartite film shot in 16mm blends past and present as it depicts a near-saintly youth, a goofy sage a little like Forrest Gump, living in a rural town not far from Rome maybe a few decades ago who works as a sharecropper for a lady aristocrat's illegal tobacco farm (and this part is a ripped-from-the-headlines true Eighties story, as a starting point). The film is absorbing, deeply Italian, but flawed, with a magic realist style marred by confusion and occasional preciousness, Van Hoeij says, that "can’t seem to make up its mind between being literal, allegorical, simply anecdotal or a kind of loose association of all of these possibilities." Guy Lodge is more favorable, calling it a "slow but bewitching burn that rewards viewers’ patience with humor and uncanny grace." I liked Rohrwacher's much-admired second film The Marvels less than her debut Corpo Celeste. From the descriptions, I'm not certain this would bring back the love. Nonetheless despite my mixed report here, this wound up ranked in the top five on the Screen Jury Grid.

    Alice Rohrwacher's Happy As Lazzaro is a Cannes awards contender.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-19-2018 at 09:05 AM.

  3. #33
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    Still from Koreda's Shoplifters

    Shoplifters (Hirokazu Koreeda).

    (Shown in Competition.)
    Koreeda's new movie, explains Peter Bradshaw (4/5 stars in the Guardian) concerns a family of petty thieves and lowlifes, father and son shoplifting, mother stealing from a laundry, daughter involved in soft core porn, "grandma" a scam artist addicted to pachinko. The father having trained his son to steal, then adopts a lost girl to use her, becoming like Fagin in Oliver Twist . The film Bradshaw says, depicts "a group of frightened, damaged people who have made common cause with each other" who realize their lives have gone wrong. It's a triumph of a classic Japanese style Koreeda himself has helped perfect, he says, and is "a rich, satisfying film." "Heart-shattering," says David Erlich in indiewire: Koreeda "reaffirms himself as one of the world's best auteurs." "Heart-wrenching," chimes in Maggie Lee in her detailed Variety review: she shows the film is about the crumbling Japanese family and declining work conditions, and links the film with the director's great (and also heart-wrenching) Nobody Knows. Obviously, a must-see.

    Shoplifters is the clear standout and Palme d'Or candidate, just above Pawel Pawlikowski's Cold War, Jia Zhang-ke's Ash Is Purest White, Rohrbacher's Lazzaro - topping Screen's Jury Grid now (May 15).

    Sir (Rohena Gera).

    (Shown in Critics Week.)
    This film from India, modestly successful according to Jordan Mintzer in his Hollywood Reporter review, is a gentle picture, keenly aware of India's current social complexities (and age-old rigidities), of a class-bridging romance between a young man of a wealthy Mumbai real estate family, disappointed from a cancelled wedding, who falls for an impoverished young widow from the provinces who comes to be his chambermaid. Lensed by veteran French cameraman Dominique Colin (L’auberge espagnole). Creditable fiction feature directing debut by Gera, though the production feels like a TV movie at times, says Mintzer. A contender for the Camera d'Or award. Gera previously made the documentary about arranged marriage, What’s Love Got To Do With It?. Good on some details but not on others, says Wendy Ide in her ScreenDaily review. Bradshaw gives in 3/5 stars in his Guardian review, which shows better than most how the two people could fall in love, but he, like other reviewers, sees the poor woman's world depicted more convincingly than that of the posh man. This sounds eminently watchable, but not completely satisfying.

    Girls of the Sun (Eva Husson).

    (Shown in Competition. )
    This odd transition indeed, a conventional, sometimes corny war movie involving women about a French journalist embedded with a female peshmerga unit as they free a town under ISIS control - odd, that is, coming from the previous director of the near-pornographic and conceptually radical teen sex movie Bang Gang: A Modern Love Story (R-V 2016). Ratings vary hugely. Girls of the Sun has been wildly overrated and overhyped just because it is by a woman, according to Agnès Poirier in the Guardian, who says Me Too advocates are confusing themselves with critics. Peter Bradshaw (who has been known to get carried away) gives it 4/5 stars. Jay Weissberg in his Variety review calls it a "pedantically commonplace drama," saying it's naive about the fact that in war journalism or any journalism there are many different kinds of "truth." But due to its female-empowerment theme it's "a shoo-in for international distribution." It also has the striking Golshifteh Farahani in a starring role as a female warrior with Emmanuelle Bercot (Polisse, My KIng) as an eye-patch-wearing French journalist. Sounds like another Competition mistake.It's at the bottom of the May 15 Screen Jury Grid.

    Sauvage (Camille Vidal-Naque)

    (Shown in Critics Week.)
    This is a French film about a tough and tender young gay male hustler (99 mins.) wandering the streets and byways of Strasbourg looking for love beyond the sex he sells. Guy Lodge says in his Variety review that "the sometimes violent queerness of its perspective" makes Sauvage "genuinely bracing." Unlike his colleagues, the unnamed protagonist (an impressive and brave Félix Maritaud, who had a minor role in BPM) takes pride in his work and enjoys it, even kissing, which is disapproved of his presumably gay-for-pay colleague Ahd, whom he's hopelessly in love with. Slated for French release Aug. 22. Though it has some clichés of the genre (the strobe-lit club scenes), this sounds good, and very French in the way it views its subject. (The director lays out his philosophy and working method very clearly in a six-minute (subtitled) video interview on YouTube here: Click.)

    Mandy (Panos Cosmatos)

    (Shown in Directors'Fortnight.)
    This is an accomplished genre revenge picture providing Nocolas Cage with an extreme role In "the primal wilderness of 1983 where Red Miller, a broken and haunted man[,] hunts an unhinged religious sect who slaughtered the love of his life" (IMDb). Jordan Hoffman gives iit 4/5 stars in his Guardian review. Its Metascore is 81%. Eric Kohn of Indiewire calls it "[A] hypnotic midnight movie, which veers from astonishing, expressionistic exchanges to gory mayhem without an iota of compromise." Multiple reviews show this is very good at what it does and one just needs to see it to find if what it does is what one likes - or has a stomach for.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-19-2018 at 09:07 AM.

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    On Saturday 82 women protested at Cannes for better gender equality in film


    A Cannes pact for female equity.

    Or "parity," they call it. The Festival organizers, headed by Thierry Fremaux, have signed a pact to guarantee women equal status on juries, as reported by Deusche Welle and many other journals.

    The leaders of the Cannes Film Festival signed a charter Monday promising to push for an equal number of men and women on its decision-making boards, as well as calling for greater transparency in the film selection process.

    Their signatures hit the page just two days after 82 female film industry figures staged a red-carpet protest at the world-famous French film festival, demanding an end to gender imbalance in the film industry.

    Cannes Director Thierry Fremaux signed the pledge along with Edouard Waintrop and Charles Tesson, two of Cannes' artistic directors. Looking on from the front row were members of this year's nine-person jury, among them Kristen Stewart and jury president Cate Blanchett, both of whom took part in Saturday's protest.

    We hope that it will reinforce the realization that the world is not the same anymore," Fremaux said. "The world has changed."

    "We must question our history and our habits," the Cannes festival director added, calling on other international film festivals to follow suit.

    Fremaux's promise to make selection committees transparent in order "to rule out any suspicion of a lack of diversity or parity" marks a significant step for the prominent film industry figure, who is also the head of the French-focused Lumiere Film Festival and the Institut Lumiere. He had previously insisted that Cannes should choose its films based purely on quality.

    Cannes has been criticized over the years for the gender imbalance in films selected for screening at the festival.

    Only 82 female directors have ever competed for the festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or, since 1946 compared with almost 1,700 male directors. Only one woman has ever taken home the top prize: Jane Campion for "The Piano" in 1993.

    In 2018 only three out of the 21 directors in the competition for the Palme d'Or are women.

    The signing of the pledge coincided with 2018 jury head Blanchett's birthday. The attendees broke into a rendition of "Happy Birthday" for the Hollywood actress after the signing.
    -Deutsche Welle

    Thierry Fremaux makes the announcement, signs the pact.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-14-2018 at 06:08 PM.

  5. #35
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    A scene from Shéhérazade

    BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee).

    (Shown in Competition.)
    Spike Lee's new feature has premiered at Cannes (Mon. night May 14), and it received a six-minute standing ovation. In his Guardian review Peter Bradshaw, giving it 3/5 stars, calls the movie "a broad satirical comedy of the 70's American race war." Tim Grierson in his ScreenDaily review calls it "a movie of raw anger and sadness" that is "uneven, and impossible to ignore," saying Lee "prefers a hammer to a scalpel" but tempers his rough approach with "a mature thoughtfulness." It's based on the true story of Ron Stallsworth, an African American Colorado policeman who in 1979 spearheaded the penetration of a local KKK chapter by posing as a white bigot over the phone (he was good at doing white voices) and sending in a Caucasian officer for face-to-face work at the local chapter. (Stallsworth recounted this in a book; Jordan Peele proposed the adaptation to Spike Lee.) John David Washington, son of Denzel, plays Ron, and Adam Driver plays Flip Zimmerman, the Jewish fellow officer who is his stand-in/collaborator. (Driver will also appear as the costar of Gilliam's closing night "Quixote" movie.) Regular Lee composer Terence Blanchard "drapes the film in melancholy tones and majestic swirls" (Grierson). To underline his film's timeliness Spike ends it with a clip of Trump refusing to condemn the white supremacists at Charlottesville, and other Trump digs run through the film. Trump is linked with former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke (Topher Grace), who is also threaded through the film as someone Ron talks to. Obviously a must-see, and quite probably a prime Cannes Palme d'Or candidate, though feelings about it seem mixed. The movie opens in US theaters Aug. 10.

    Another Palme d'Or contender, or in line for a Cannes award, anyway.

    Shéhérazade (Jean-Bernard Marlin).

    (Shown in Critics Week.)
    Deborah Young in her Hollywood Reporter review draws an appealing picture of this gritty French-style romance set in the slums of Marseille where the boys deal drugs and the girls sell their bodies with or without a pimp. The film features non-actors; Marlin is from Marseille and knows the territory. A boy, Zach, 17, just out of juvie, is rejected by his mother and cruises the wild side of Marseille, where he meets Shéhérazade, a teen prostitute, who he falls in love with, oddly, choosing to become a pimp for her and several other girls. Conflicts and confusions nonetheless lead to a "satisfying courtroom dénoument." Jean-Bernard Marlin's short film, The Runaway, had already made him known by winning the Golden Bear for best short film at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival, and this energetic feature has been getting many good reviews, according to Playlist, due to great authenticity and engaging performances. Sounds very cool, and I would watch this - but maybe not for the French, which from the clip I saw, is so slangy and oddly accented I might not understand it worth a darn.

    The House That Jack Built (Lars von Trier).

    (Shown out of competition.)
    It is, on the surface, a 12-year chronicle of an architect-engineer serial killer in the Pacific Northwest in the '70's and '80's. It stars Matt Dillon, with Bruno Ganz and Uma Thurman, among others. Von Trier has never played his provocateur card harder, according to David Rooney's Hollywood Reporter review because it is also largely a masturbatory taunt referring to his jocular pro-Hitler remarks that got him ousted from Cannes six years ago, with many references to his filmography. And it is a taunting response to charges that his films are misogynistic, with a "methodical display of sadistic violence against women" through the soft-spoken protagonist. Seems "a direct FU to the current climate of reckoning over gender bias and sexual misconduct." But Jack pleads that he targets women as victims only because they are "easier to work with." The film's dialogue-interrogation structure with Ganz as questioner "Verge" refers to Dante's Divine Comedy, but, Rooney says, "Even with all the fancy detours into Glenn Gould (like Hannibal Lecter), William Blake, gothic cathedral architecture and dessert wine production, this is pretty much serial killer 101," "visually drab" and "one of his least forceful films." Bradshaw in his Guardian review (whose cool-headed and vivid review I recommend if you want to read one) gives it 2/5 stars and calls it "a smirking ordeal of gruesomeness" but one " partly redeemed by its spectacular finale." Bradshaw notes the American setting is very obviously fake. See also Owen Gleiberman's Variety review on how the Cannes audience received Von Trier in person (ecstatically) and the film (100 walked out). Eric Kohn in his Indiewire review calls it "horrifying, sadistic, possibly brilliant" and rates it A-. Of course, we must see for ourselves, nonetheless: Von Trier is always news and always a topic to debate.

    This will probably be the most controversial Cannes 2018 film.


    Matt Dillon as a serial killer in The House That Jack Built

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-19-2018 at 09:12 AM.

  6. #36
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    Vincent Lindon (Center) in AT War

    At War/En Guerre (Stéphane Brizé)

    (Shown in Competition.)
    Vincent Lindon and Stéphane Brizé bring back the alliance that led to The Measure of a Man/La loi du marché, which won Lindon the Best Actor award at Cannes in 2015. This one is an intense picture of a labor strike that left Peter Bradshaw unmoved, rating it only 2/5 stars in his Guardian review. He acknowledges some "smart, shrewd touches" but finds it "bafflingly cacophonous" that's mostly "one-note" "shouting acrimony" and "martyred self-pity." But the French critical response tells quite another story, going by the AlloCiné press rating of 3.8 from 8 reviews, including favorable ones by the hard-to-please Cahiers du Cinéma and Les Inrockuptibles. They admire the film's "immersive" "vibrant" production and its "continuation," yet significant "variation" on the earlier collaboration. Frankly, I found The Measure of a Man a more dutiful than inspiring experience, despite Lindon's fine performance, but it will be equally a duty to watch and think about this one.

    Asako I & II (Ryūsuke Hamaguchi).

    (Shown in Competition.)
    It's an "earnest romance," says Bradshaw in his Guardian review, that "switches things up by having a woman obsessed with a man’s beauty and then falling for his double." 3/5 stars nonetheless. This is a less provocative or unusual followup to the director's 5-hour Happy Hour (ND/NF 2016 Filmleaf), which palled a bit for me in the last couple of hours, but was quite wonderful for a long time, and in its patient, immersive detail, bold and original. Variety (Maggie Lee) and others agree on the difference, but it seems the point is the woman's inability to choose between two very alike looking men, but a more interesting novel source turns to "a banal indecision" here, says Lee. This ranks around 8th on the Jury Grid. The theme appeals to me.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-07-2018 at 07:41 PM.

  7. #37
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    Andrew Garfield in Under the Silver Lake

    Under the Silver Lake (David Robert Mitchell).

    (Shown in Competition.)
    Andrew Garfield stars in this oddball L.A noir about a "curious mind who investigates missing persons from his neighborhood. Riley Keogh and Topher Grace [Topher in two Competition films, then, like Adam Driver] also star" (Grid summary). Owen Gleiberman in his Variety review suggests this movie channels the more far-out aspects of David Lynch. He calls it "at once gripping and baffling, fueled by erotic passion and dread but also by the code-fixated opacity of conspiracy theory." He says it's "impeccably shot and staged" and has "an insanely lush" "Bernard Herrmann-meets-Angelo-Badalamenti-on-opioids" soundtrack and is a "meta-mystery" that feels like the work of an obsessive fan of Infinite Jest. Eric Kohn is also admiring of this smart, hip, trendy film full of pastiches and references to L.A. noir traditions, which was received very well by critics in general (though Bradshaw didn't get it, calling it "ghastly" and giving it 1/5 stars). I am definitely down to see this one (love neo-noir, Infinite Jest, and Garfield), even though I wasn't a big fan of Mitchell's hugely successful debut It Follows. Coming to US theaters June 22. Not high on the Jury Grid (only a 2) but it was a favorite among younger critics.


    Jaafar Panihi's Three Faces

    Three Faces (Jaafar Panahi).

    (Shown in Competition.)
    A Filmstage review (by Giovanni Marchini Camia) calls this "a loose, empathetic, ultimately minor work," and that is the general critics' opinion. They note that it draws on Iranian cinematic tradition, but disappointingly eschews Panahi's own more adventurous stylistic strategies. Bradshaw called it "calm, modest – and inscrutable" and gave it 3/5 stars. Panahi's fourth film made since he was banned from making them, this again premiered with an empty seat in his honor because he has no passport to leave Iran. In the film Panahhi appears driving an SUV, and it's a road trip movie with references to suicide, women with acting aspirations, and male chauvinism. It has meta-narrative aspects, but "staggers along," says Eric Kohn in his Indiewire review, in a film that echoes Kiarostami but lacks his warmth and charm. One gets the impression this is a distinctive but definitely minor effort. Not excited about this one but, of course, one must follow Panahi.


    Alden Ehrenreich in A Star Wars Story: Solo

    Solo: A Star Wars Story (Ron Howard).

    (Shown out of competition.)
    Alden Ehrenreich is the new Han Solo, whom I remember from as far back as Coppola's largely ignored 2009 Tetro . (I liked it, and him.) Todd McCarthy, in Variety (then) said Tetro would be "marginal" in the states, but "likely will be most remembered for introducing a highly promising young actor, Alden Ehrenreich." Check. Then he got to play in another "marginal" movie by a legend, Warren Beatty's Rules Don't Apply. Peter Bradshaw in his Guardian review calls Solo a "cracklingly enjoyable adventure" and gives it 4/5 stars. Never mind that he trashed the cool-sounding Under the Silver Lake just a few hours ago and never mind what "cracklingly enjoyable" means; must be a Britishism. It doesn't matter too much whether we parse this movie profoundly or not, if that's even possible. It will make money. It's one of Cannes 2018's few big popular blockbusters, if there are even any others. As for Ehrenreich, will he ever be in anything but a high profile clunker? Dave Erlich of IndieWire argues that his hiring as Han Solo proves there are no stars anymore, only franchises. But Ehrenreich was hilarious and cool in the Coens' Hail, Caesar! and he's got the looks and the chops to play Han Solo. It just feels to me that discussing blockbusters is more about economics and brands than cinema or art, and it's just contributing to the pointless hype to indulge in it before one has seen the actual film.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-07-2018 at 10:05 PM.

  8. #38
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    Screen Daily's Screen Grid for May 15 shows current rankings of Competition films.

    The Screen Daily "grid" of mostly European film critics' ratings of the Competition films is a god indicator of the awards potential of what's been seen so far. Here is a roundup. you can see the Grid here: CLICK.


    Hirokazu Kore-eda's 'Shoplifters' tops Screen's jury grid; four new titles land

    Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters has taken the lead in the latest edition of Screen’s Cannes 2018 jury grid, which sees four more Competition films take their place.

    JURY GRID DAY 8

    The ensemble piece, about an alternative family forced to live on its wits, took top spot with an average of 3.2. It received no lower than a 2 from any critic, with top marks from Tim Robey and Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph, Justin Chang of the LA Times and Screen’s own critic.

    Alice Rohrwacher’s Happy As Lazzaro took a mix of marks for an average of 2.9, currently enough for joint third position on the grid. Set in a ramshackle village in rural Italy and following a commune of sharecroppers, the film took 4s from Tim Robey and Robbie Collin, Meduza’s Anton Dolin and Screen’s own critic, but was weighed down by a 1 from Julien Gester and Didier Péron of Libération.

    Also appearing on the grid is Asako I & II, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s story of two lovers who are physically identical to each other. The mode for this title was 2, but 3s from Justin Chang, Julien Gester and Didier Péron and Die Zeit’s Katja Nicodemus, plus a 4 from the Bangkok Post’s Kong Rithdee lifted it to a 2.4 average.

    Finally, Spike Lee’s Cannes return with Ku Klux Klan infiltration pic BlacKkKlansman mainly pleased the critics, with six 3s contributing to a 2.5 average.

    The next two grid titles are Stephane Brizé’s At War starring Vincent Lindon, and Andrew Garfield in David Robert Mitchell’s Under The Silver Lake.


    Here is the summary of the Screen JURY GRID for yesterday, in descending scores. These are the rankings of Competition films so far shown for a representative group of mostly European critics:

    3.2 Shoplifters (Hirakazu Koreeda)
    3.0 The Image Book (Jean-Luc Godard)
    2.9 Cold War (Pawel Pawelowski)
    2.9 Ash Is Purest White (Jia Zhang-ke)
    2.9 Happy As Lazzaro (Alice Rohrwacher)
    2.6 Three Faces (Jafar Panahi)
    2.5 BlacKKKlansman (Spike Lee)
    2.4 Leto (Kiril Serebrenekov)
    2.4 Asaki I & II (Ryunosuke Hamaguchi)
    2.3 Sorry, Angel (Christophe Honoré)
    1.8 Yomeddine (A.b. Shoukry)
    1.0 Girls of the Sun (Eva Husson)
    LATER SCORES:
    3.8 Burning - a record
    2.3 Dogman
    2.1 At War
    2.0 Under the Silver Lake
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-19-2018 at 09:23 AM.

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    The Snach Thief

    The Snatch Thief (Agustín Toscano).

    (Shown in Directors' Fortnight.)
    This little Latin American indie from Argentina, despite an unfortunate English translation of the title, is a "nicely plotted" film, says Jay Weissberg in his Variety review, about a purse snatching specialist whose guilt over one heist leads to a friendship with a handicapped person. The rough two-man motorbike robbery has banged up a woman and caused her to lose her memory, and then one thief picks her up at a hospital, saying he's her tenant. Director Toscano makes the film more nuanced and interesting by not making his protagonists "nice" or cuddly. Cool Spanish title: El Motoarrebatador . Jonathan Romney in his ScreenDaily review notes humor, but also some "unevenness of tone." I'd see this if you twisted my arm, but it doesn't seem essential.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-16-2018 at 09:57 PM.

  10. #40
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    A stunning and already celebrated second film from a 28-year-old Chinese wunderkind, and others less noted.


    From Ling Day's Journey into Night

    Long Day's Journey into Night (Bi Gan).

    (Shown Out of Competition.)
    Anything by the maker of the hallucinatory Kaili Blues (ND/NF 2016)[/URL] should arouse great expectations in cinephiles. Not surprisingly this second film also is a journey, is rooted in the director's Kaili province, winds up being dreamlike, and has a technically astonishing finale, in a single take, in 3D. Lee Marshall provides a detailed and appreciative account in his ScreenDaily review. This one I am eager to see. Bi Gan's debut was the highlight of the 2016 ND/NF, and an astonishment. Eric Kohn of Indiewire says it's "the revelation of this year's Cannes Film Festival." Playlist says it' "indisputably great," "a masterfully mysterious effort and maybe the best at Cannes." Jordan Mitzer's Hollywood Reporter review is a bit more restrained, but as he goes deeply into the plot and chronology, it's clear he also greatly admires this movie. In fact I'm not just excited to see it, but happy that Bi Gan has fully lived up to the promise of his beginning, and perhaps, in technical terms at least, gone beyond it.That doesn't always happen, and is cause for rejoicing.

    Bi Gan's new film will be clearly one of the true gems to emerge from Cannes 2018.

    Euforia (Valeria Golino)

    (Shown in Un Certain Regard.)
    It is the story of two brothers, a flashy city one and plain country one who's stayed in the dull petit-bourgeois milieu they grew up in, and the two are brought together when disease is destined to bring on the death of one of them. The disease and death themes were already dealt with in Golino's debut film Miele. This is an Italian film that stars former heartthrob Riccardo Scamarcio and Valerio Mastandrea. But Deborah Young in her Hollywood Reporter review considers this a big step backward from Golino's bolder debut (which dared to deal with assisted suicide), and marred by a host of clichés and little depth of observation.

    Mirai (Momoru Hosoda).

    (Shown in Directors' Fortnight.)
    This charming Japan animation is a toddler's-eye view of the arrival of a new sibling, a simple theme, but handled with great delicacy, says ScreenInternational's Wendy Ide. Not quite my cup of tea, though fans of Japanese animation will be very interested.

    Whitney (Kevin MacDonald).

    (Shown in Midnight Screenings.)
    A "sombre" documentary biography of the pop superstar shows how a damaged past led to Whitney Houston's "troubled life." It reveals that she was sexually abused as a child by her cousin, Dee Dee Warwick. Excitement, thrill, and heartbreak in this from the Oscar-winning filmmaker. Pop music fans will be interested but there was another Whitney Houston documentary last year on Showtime, and this is kind of TV stuff. US theatrical release July 6.

    Sofia (Meryem Benm’Barek)

    (Shown in Un Certain Regard.)
    Debut set in Casablanca follows a young, unmarried Moroccan mother as she gives birth. It's a worthy effort, acted with undeniable commitment by its lead, but is a "little too linear" and fails to provide depth of social and economic context, writes Lee Marshall in his ScreenDaily review.

    Carmen & Lola (Arantxa Echevarría).

    (Shown in Directors' Fortnight.)
    The director's fiction debut is "the story of a romantic relationship between two gypsy teenage girls who are tread upon by society for both their heritage and sexual orientation," reports Variety in a piece about the filmmaker. Also sounds like a worthy effort, but not likely to be widely seen.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-18-2018 at 10:02 AM.

  11. #41
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    Marcello Fonte in Dogman

    Dogman (Matteo Garrone).

    (Shown in Competition.)
    The director of Italy's celebrated Gomorrah (which won the Cannes Grand Jury Prize 2008 as did his Reality in 2012) and set in Gomorrah's Naples gangster milieu, though less overtly violent, delivers "a neutered revenge saga about fascism and poodles," that's not very convincing, according to David Erlich in his Indiewiere review. In a lively, vivid Guardian review Peter Bradshaw says Dogman "nitpicks gangster insecurities with hilarious flair" and rates it higher than any other film he's seen at Cannes, 5/5 stars. The setup and look recall Garrone's early The Embalmer.The focus is on a homely and "kind but cowardly" dog groomer-cum-coke dealer, Marcello (Marcello Fonte), who's constantly menaced by a brutish ex-boxer, Simone (Simoncino, Edoardo Pesce), who tempts him and forces him into committing crimes. Sales have been brisk for the film and most reviews are positive. Deborah Young in her Hollywood Reporter review hails the "superb performances" of the leads, surreal action, and sets that are "humorous and depressingly real." Bradshaw says Dogman goes further than Gomorrah "in explaining the toxic emotional inadequacy of gangsterism — its brutality, its sycophancy, its pusillanimity, its craven addictions." Clearly, a must-see, and a potential awards contender.

    Burning (Lee Chang-dong.)

    (Shown in Competition.)
    Bradshaw is also enthusiastic in his Guardian review (4/5 stars) about Korean director Lee's "masterfully crafted Murakami adaptation" (more a loose riff) which he describes as a "riveting mystery" composed of "sex, envy and pyromania." The story focuses on a young man with few prospects befriended by a lovely girl, who's then pushed out by a more handsome, rich and sophisticated man she meets on a trip abroad, who turns out to be a sociopath and pyromaniac; and then the girl disappears. Eric Kohn of Indiewire calls this "a mesmerizing tale of working-class frustrations." Indeed this is a story, apart from its striking foreground narrative, of today's increasing class consciousnesses and starker contrasts between haves and have-nots. Peter Debruge in his meditative Variety review gives more contrasts with the "haiku-like" Murikami short story, also points out the interesting contrast with Under the Silver Lake (shown at Canes just before), much different depictions of young men searching for lost girls; also that Lee's two masterpieces Secret Sunshine and Poetry show he won't offer simple answers or easy closure - nor is Jongsu, the lower class protagonist, easily relatable, as presented. This over two-hour film may frustrate as well as intrigue, Debruge suggests, but "Lee creates a sense of mood and place with masterly flair" (Bradshaw). Another good one.

    Both Dogman and Burning are clearly among Cannes 2018's best. Burning has now received a record average of 3.8 from ScreenDaily’s ten "JURY GRID" critics, thereby surpassing the 3.7 achieved by Toni Erdmann in 2016.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-17-2018 at 11:28 PM.

  12. #42
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    Fantastic stuff Chris!
    Love your Cannes coverage.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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    Thanks, Johann!


    Gabriela Muskała in Fugue

    Gotti (Kevin Connolly).

    (Shown in Special Screening.)
    This biopic starring John Travolta isn't a crime-does-not-pay story as usual, says Jordan Mintzer of Hollywood Reporter, but "hagiographic - one could even say pro-mob." Maybe this is why Indiewiere calls it "incoherent." Mintzer says it's "pretty terrible: poorly written, devoid of tension, ridiculous in spots and just plain dull in others." At the screening, junior Gotti was present, along with Thierry Fremaux, the Festival director. Mintzer writes, "instead of banning selfies on the red carpet, perhaps Fremaux should consider banning guests who have been indicted on racketeering, extortion, kidnapping and murder conspiracy charges. One to avoid? A guilty pleasure? An irresistibly curiosity-arousing flop like Travolta's Scientology silliness Battleship Earth? You decide.

    Fugue (Agnieszka Smoczyńska).

    (Shown in Critics Week.)
    Smoczyńska is the filmmaker who debuted with the well-received 2016 The Lure (Filmleaf review), her much admired kinky, surreal mermaid musical, already a Criterion selection. This one may disappoint some, because it's a "more sober affair,"writes Guy Lodge in his Variety review. The title uses "fugue" ("Fuga") in the sense of wandering, focussed as it is on a woman who emerges in a train station with amnesia, in a fugue state. When she is identified two years later with a husband and child, she does not accept them or her "old" name; her rough experience has made her a different person. The new film's "controlled expansiveness of tone, psychology and camera mark its helmer" aided by writer-star by writer-star Gabriela Muskała — "as a stylist of considerable, unpredictable finesse," says Lodge. Erlich of Indiewire is one of the disappointed ones, feeling this new film "doesn't live up to its potential," though he admits is "scrubs away" the "schmaltz" of the well-worn amnesia theme and the process is "compelling" "the watch." Leslie Felpein in her Hollywood Reporter review gives more detail and, while not as glowing as Lodge, admits this film has a degree of "Kink" that makes it "more interesting than the usual thriller about memory loss" So, hard to guess how this will be, but The Lure lingers in my memory.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-17-2018 at 06:25 PM.

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    Zain Alrafeea in Capernaum

    Capernaum (Nadine Labaki).

    (Shown in Competition.)
    Labaki received a 15-minute standing ovation at Cannes today for her new, third, film, Capernaum. I wrote about this Lebanese director's debut film Caramel in 2007 from Paris. She is more known for the 2011 Where Do We Go Now? (reviewed also by me from Paris, and again for 2012 ND/NF). Capernaum/Capharnaüm ( كفر ناحوم) is a place name signifying chaos. The new film, honored by Cannes Competition status, is about children living on the street in the slums of Beirut. It is a political fable about a child called Zain who takes his parents to court and sues them, from prison, for bringing him into the world when they could not treat him properly. Jay Weissberg says in his Variety review that this film far surpasses Labaki's first two, that it is excellent in its depiction of milieu and visually more sophisticated "and certainly more gritty." Zain is a "pint-sized James Dean," Weissberg explains, who's "a sensitive toughie simmering with righteous resentment." He runs away from his crowded home to escape the bad behavior of his parents, then is saddled with a small Ethiopian child he babysits when that boy's mother disappears. This is sure to get awards, Weissberg says, and is "a splendid addition to the ranks of great guttersnipe dramas." Peter Bradshaw is considerably less glowing in his Guardian review, giving it 3/5 stars, but says that "for all its occasional sentimentality, this film is about the link between poverty and anger." A.A. Ddowd of AV Club agrees it's "definitely a big leap forward in ambition and craft for Labaki," but thinks this it's "the kind of social-issue sadness pile that confuses nonstop hardship for drama, begging for our tears at every moment," and gives it C+.It has been snapped up by Sony Pictures Classics for December release. The over two-hour length is a liability - it could have used some trimming; and so is the odd title. But, justified buzz here. Maybe an Italian neorealist vibe - though Zain is far more articulate, feisty, and foul-mouthed than the kid in Bicycle Thieves. Many say the premise is silly, and the beauty is in the authentic details. Jury's out on this one.


    Labaki et al at Cannes: Khaled Mouzanar, Zain Alrafeea, Yordanos Shifera

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-18-2018 at 10:19 PM.

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    A series of minor Un Certain Regard offerings. Some may get no reviews, we'll see.

    My Favorite Fabric (Gaya Jiji).

    (Shown in Un Certain Regard).
    A autobiographical debut female coming-of-ager from Syria about a young women who rejects an arranged marriage designed to allow her to escape to America, and takes refuge in a tantasy lover, then joins a nearby brothel. My Favorite Fabric/Ma tissu préféré "has commendably grand ambitions," says Stephen Dalton in his Hollywood Reporter review, but is "an unpolished, underpowered, navel-gazing affair which strains too hard to map private emotional angst onto the genocidal horrors of Syria's civil war." There's a huge disconnect, in this far-fetched story littered with missed opportunities, as Jay Weissberg also convirms in his Variety review. Only my interest in the region and the language would lead me to watch this.


    Knife+Heart (Yann Gonzalez).

    (Shown in Competition.)
    "Yann Gonzalez uses his unusual obsession with the world of 1970s gay porn to deliver a queer spin on a Brian De Palma-style thriller, says Peter Debruge in his Variety review.Vanessa Paradis seems odd, but amusing, casting as an aspiring gay soft-core porn auteur, who decides to use an actual ongoing series of serial killings of her gay male stars as the theme of her next porno film. "Picture Cruising as directed by Brian De Palma, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from this frisky parody-homage," Debruge adds. Bradshaw caught it, but was not so intrigued. He calls it a "bizarre shaggy dog story" in hisGuardia review, "a strange, violent fantasy," that's neither funny nor serious enough. Good material for LGBT festivals, no doubt, but not everyone even there.

    The Gentle Indifference of the World (Adilkhan Yerzhanov).

    (Shown in Un Certain Regard.)
    The original title is Laskovoe Bezrazlichie Mira. This film depicts two penniless villagers who try to make it in the city. The 6-film oeuvre of the prolific, or fast-working, Kazakh indie filmmaker constitutes a "cinema of poverty", says Alissa Simon's Variety review, and the films are shot in a style resembling the early Aki Kaurismaaki. But their content has grown more narrow since 2012. Despite "gussying up the narrative with allusions to French New Wave amour fou and gangster noir, Gentle Indifference still feels like a slight knock off of his earlier work," Simon says. We might safely skip this one.

    In My Room (Ulrich Kohler).

    (Shown in Un Certain Regard.)
    "[German director] Ulrich Köhler follows up Sleeping Sickness [Silver Bear at Berlinale 2011] with a survivalist story centered around one man's struggle to stay alive," says ScreenDaily, which clearly provides the most thorough and fast Anglophone coverage of the festival, but my free access has run out. "Armin is getting too old for his nightlife habits and the woman he likes. He's not really happy, but can't picture living a different life. One morning he wakes up: the world looks the same as always, but mankind has disappeared. - A film about the frightening gift of maximum freedom," goes the description by the distributor, Pandora Film. This is Kohler's fourth feature, which have come after a bunch of earlier short ones. This sounds intriguing, and I'd like to see more new German films, because some of the ones I've seen have been so good.

    Manto (Nandita Das).

    (Shown in Un Certain Regard.)
    "Through the story of celebrated writer Saadat Hasan Manto, Das explores the birthing pains of two new nations, post partition. It’s a handsomely mounted prestige piece, but the problem of an overly expository script is compounded by a slightly choppy quality, which may or may not be intended to evoke the lean economy of Manto’s short stories. Nawazuddin Siddiqui puts in an impressive central performance as writer Saadat Hasan Manto, wrote Wendy Ide on ScreenDaily,helpfully quoted on BollywoodLIfe.com. Of considerable interest to Indians or students of Indian history.

    .
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-18-2018 at 12:15 PM.

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