Cannes Film Festival

It feels like a millennium has passed since it was announced that Terrence Malick – aka The Man Who Won’t Be Rushed – would be next turning his hand to The Tree of Life, which landed at Cannes this morning to shed light on its most infuriatingly purblind synopsis, and a mysterious trailer that didn’t exactly clear things up. Would Malick be able to live up to the increasingly stifling expectations heaped on him by his infamously ponderous post-production technique? Could the film recapture the director’s incredible eye for composition and visuals, or would we be treated to another mess of in-determination, whose quality of substance wildly misses that of its aesthetic, as some have come to predict? Flicking through the accompanying press pack, it is striking to note how much those involved in the film’s production seem to insist on its deep, universally appropriate meaning, and the fact that the film should be judged not as something conventional cinematic, but rather as a unique and visceral experience, infinite in scope, organic, which transcends words and definition. If the alarm bells hadn’t already been ringing, the bell-ringer would surely have collapsed with exhaustion at this point.

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On paper, Michel Hazanavicius‘s The Artist looks a fairly difficult sell. Tell anyone you’re off to see a black and white, silent movie that runs over 90 minutes long and they might look at you with a mix of pity and downright confusion, and it will probably take a Herculean effort by Warner Brothers and The Weinstein Company to convince audiences to come out to see it. But make no mistake, the film is as good as any cinematic experience gets, and will have a far more lasting effect on the world of film than any bloated 3D “epic” that screens out here. The Artist is an infinitely charming, and incredibly clever homage to the Golden Age of silent film: as authentic and believable as if it were made circa 1927, right from the opening credits which are so subtly unquestionable that you’re immediately gripped by the glamour and romance of the era, before we’ve even met a character. When we do, it’s Jean Dujardin’s George Valentin, an intoxicatingly charming mega-star of the silent period, who has the whole Hollywood world on their knees before him – the film subsequently charts his peek, before the advent of the talkies arrives, and he finds himself cast out overnight in favor of the new breed of speaking stars. Along the way he meets Berenice Bejo’s Peppy Miller, a wannabe who miraculously finds her way to stardom when she bumps into George during a photo shoot, and takes her fate in her own hands to […]

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Cannes often courts controversy, and with potentially volatile films centered on a Child Protection Unit, and one on the Pope already screened, this year looks to be no different. Add to this the inclusion of Michael, a film that explores the relationship between a pedophile and his ten-year-old victim. Man alive that’s a change of direction from this morning’s show-case of Pirates of the Caribbean! That very brief synopsis may sound pretty despicable, and I have to admit I wrestled with why I would want to go and see it, but at the end of the day, I idolize good filmmaking, and who am I to judge how a director chooses to express his skill? The most difficult aspect is that it is impossible to resist comparisons with the harrowing real-life story of Austrian Natasha Kampusch, though thankfully director Markus Schleinzer (famously Michael Haneke’s casting director of choice) has chosen a far more tactful approach than presenting an obscene and intentionally controversial style.

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The second film of the day, and one of the reasons why I so enjoy the Un Certain Regard section of this festival: for among the intentional oddities, and the boring experiments there are usually a number of gems that fit the competition’s manifesto of presenting films that are “worth a look” extremely well, Miss Bala is an incredibly terse, and successfully tense situational horror/thriller. The film begins conventionally enough, with Laura (Stephanie Sigman), attempting to enter the Miss Baja California with her friend Suzu, and then joining her at a club with its own police-devoted VIP section (or so it seems), in order to – as Suzu suggests – get in with some powerful men who can help them win the contest. Following an altercation with one of said policemen, Laura finds herself in the toilet, surrounded by armed gang members, who shoot the place up, leaving Laura to survive, but to fret over her friend’s fate. Attempting to track down what happened to her, Laura ends up being delivered to the same cartel, after approaching the wrong policeman, and becomes embroiled in an endlessly progressing spiral of events alongside the charismatically malignant cartel leader. Miss Bala presents a Mexico that is rotting from the inside: corruption runs rampant to the extent that no one is to be trusted, regardless of what their badge might suggest, drug trafficking and running gun battles are an everyday occurrence, and the value of human life is far less than the appeal of power […]

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Holy Hollywood, the selections for this year’s Cannes Film Festival (both confirmed and mostly-confirmed) are a star-studded bunch so far, if the rumormongers are to be believed, anyway. The news is coming pretty quick-fire at the minute, so I’ll run down the latest… First off, yesterday French site Le Figaro announced that Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides will play on the Croisette out of competition on Saturday May 14th, before it opens to French cinemas on May 18th and in the US on the 20th. This is one I was half-expecting, given the coincidental release dates, and the fact that there are traditionally a couple of mainstream releases showing out of competition at the fest. The third out of competition (joining Pirates and Terrence Malick’s already announced Tree of Life) looks likely to be Kung Fu Panda 2, according to Thompson on Hollywood, who say the 3D Dreamworks sequel starring Jack Black will follow Jeff Katzenberg’s tradition of bringing a DreamWorks project to Cannes to take advantage of a “worldwide marketing blitz.”

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Writer-director Jorge Michel Grau faces a steep challenge with We Are What We Are. As the maker of an existential drama centered on a morose family of Mexican cannibals, Grau must find some way to connect his audience to the material, to unearth the humanity behind a gruesome, depressing subject. Let the Right One In and Let Me In, its American remake, established a template for this sort of enterprise, mixing the pangs of young love and the aching loneliness of the vampire’s everyday existence with the characteristic gore of a genre flick. Yet, cannibals are less sympathetic than vampires, the pop culture ghouls-of-the-moment, whose survival depends on human blood. There’s something far less romantic about humans who devour other humans just because they’ve developed a taste for them instead of, oh, McDonald’s. Filmmakers have traditionally understood this: Aside from one Hannibal Lecter, it’d be hard to finger a movie cannibal of note.

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Robert Levin explains why ‘Daddy Longlegs,’ now in limited release and available on demand, is a terrific movie, no matter what Neil Miller says.

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Keanu Reeves in Space

At a brunch over the weekend in Cannes, executives at Morgan Creek announced a new project being billed as “Adam and Eve in space,” that will star Keanu Reeves and a yet to be determined sultry leading lady.

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Discover the girl you thought you knew from the new film by Stephen Frears.

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Those silly French, they do love to name-drop in their Cannes line-up. Twenty ten will bring names like Jean-Luc Godard, Woody Allen, Steven Frears, Oliver Stone, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and more to the world’s most glamorous film fest, the 63rd Festival de Cannes.

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Our Culture Warrior Landon Palmer digs into next month’s Cannes line up so you won’t have to. Learn what to look out for when they hit the states and feign sounding cultured at parties!

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Have you ever wanted to have a swanky weekend at the Cannes Film Festival? Have you ever wanted to earn said weekend through a bit of international deception? Yes, we have been wanting to do the same for some time, as well.

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Robin Hood

Last year, the Cannes Film Festival played an interesting card by opening with Pixar’s Up in 3D. It struck new ground for major film festivals, taking an incredibly mainstream, progressively formatted film and placing it as the fest’s biggest slice of real estate. This year, they’re going back to the mainstream well. Only this time, no houses will be flying away to South America. This time, some houses of peasants will probably be burned to the ground. Coming in to save the day will be Russell Crowe, naturally.

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‘A Prophet,’ a nominee for best foreign language film, is a clichéd but effective prison drama that successfully gets you in its protagonist’s head.

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precious-review1

In Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, director Lee Daniels pulls off an improbable feat.

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Lars von Trier’s new film is about a dysfunctional couple.

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‘Amreeka,’ a hit at this year’s Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals, tells a warmhearted, recognizable story about a family of Palestinian immigrants that smartly resists the urge to preach or turn political.

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Not too long ago — mere minutes, I know — I wrote about a brand new photo from Sylvester Stallone’s upcoming actioner The Expendables. I’m back right here, right now, with bigger, better and more badass images.

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The production blog for Sylvester Stallone’s upcoming action film The Expendables has posted a brand new image from the film that features Sly holding on for dear life to a plane that appears to be flying away.

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Photos of promotional banners from this year’s Cannes Film Festival have begun springing up online. Time to see what font their using on that Lovely Bones banner…

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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.19.2014
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published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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