One Final Festival Wrap-Up of the 63rd Cannes Film Festival
My trip to the 63rd Cannes Film Festival is coming to end the same way it began - I'm writing this as I blaze through the French countryside in a high speed train on my way back to Paris. The awards have been announced, I'm finally on my way home, and it's time to reflect on the films I saw one more time, especially because I wrote that I was struggling to find any good films some five days ago. In the end I'll have seen only 18 films in total, one of which was a market film, but I'm a bit disappointed by the festival this year. While there are some highlights (more on those films below), this was ultimately a very forgettable year in Cannes.
I'm not the only one who's been saying that this year's Cannes was unimpressive. Kirk Honeycutt of the Hollywood Reporter wrote that: "The 2010 Festival de Cannes desperately required a von Trier film or better yet von Trier press conference -- the Danish provocateur's true art form -- to enliven this year's slog through mediocrity and failure in the Official Selection." I've sent in my final scores to indieWIRE for inclusion in their Cannes criticWIRE wrap-up, which presents a much more well-rounded look at the opinions of numerous "critics and bloggers" who attended Cannes this year. But instead of dwelling on the negative, I prefer to focus on the positive. So what are the best films from Cannes this year that I saw?
Well, we can start at the very top with Gareth Edwards' Monsters, which is the one market screening I saw (it was not a part of the festival in any way), but coincidentally the best film I saw the entire time. You can read my review of it, but I'd rather focus on the films that were a part of this year's fest. The next film in my list that I loved the most was Alejandro González Iñárritu's Biutiful, which should've received the Palme d'Or, but it's notoriously known that filmmaker's who've won before usually won't win again, and the jury usually picks someone who hasn't won before. In any case, Biutiful is a moving, emotional, and incredible film, and I suggest seeing it if you're a fan of Iñárritu (Amores Perros, Babel) or Javier Bardem.
Next up is a great discovery from Canada, Xavier Dolan's Les Amours Imaginaires, or Heartbeats, which I loved primarily for its gorgeous style, use of music, and three wonderful lead actors. This is one film that I will be following and looking forward to seeing again. Luckily it was picked up by IFC Films at the fest, so it will eventually make its way to theaters. Another great French-language film that I will be following is Simon Werner a Disparu…, or Lights Out in English, which is a Brick-like high school murder mystery that I raved about in my review from a few days ago. A great end-of-the-festival discovery.
The last few I want to mention are Beat Takeshi's Outrage, Gregg Araki's Kaboom, Rachid Bouchareb's Outside the Law (or Hors la Loi), and Gustavo Hernández's The Silent House (or La Casa Muda). I didn't completely fall in love with any of these films, but I did enjoy them enough to point them out at the end of the fest, as they're all still great films. Outrage is badass Japanese yakuza flick, Kaboom is a trippy comedy that is so-bad-it's-good, The Silent House is a technical marvel for being shot in one-take, and Outside the Law is a powerful epic about Algerian freedom fighters. I recommend all of them.
Of course, before I fully wrap this up, I must voice my opinion on two films that are receiving quite a bit of critical buzz coming out of Cannes that I personally hated. The first is Mike Leigh's Another Year, which was dull, boring, uninteresting, and completely pointless, despite containing a few great performances. A complete waste of two hours of my time. And secondly, I tried to watch the Palme d'Or winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, but I walked out after an hour. Not that it was that bad, but I just can't stand Thai films, they move so damn slowly. And after watching a red-eyed "Ghost Monkey" talk about life with his father, I decided my time would be better spent eating lunch, packing, and writing about films that people should actually care about.
So with that, this puts a cap on my coverage of the 63rd Cannes Film Festival. I will be back next year and I will be hitting other festivals throughout this year, despite how unimpressed and disappointed I was by the Cannes selection in 2010. I really do love attending this festival, I love traveling to Cannes for two weeks and seeing films, I just hope the 2011 line-up is a lot more promising. If you want to see a rundown of the scores I gave to all 18 films, you can check out my criticWIRE profile. And coming up in September is the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals - I'll be back to see many more films then, so stick around!