A historical epic at Cannes? That doesn't seem right, but indeed, Agora fits, not perfectly, but it's a good Cannes period piece, at least. In his latest ambitious film Agora, Spanish-Chilean director Alejandro Amenabar takes us back to ancient Egypt, in the city of Alexandria around the year 391 A.D. We are shown the story of the professor and philosopher Hypatia (Rachel Weisz), and the events that occur in Alexandria around her, mainly the rise of Christianity. Agora boasts some wonderful production design and presents a fascinating look at the religious feuds of the time, but otherwise struggles with some writing problems.
Although we're officially 4 days into the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, this is my very first video blog. Apologies for taking so long getting this posted, as it's been a challenge to find time for two of us to chat films. I've been working my ass off at Cannes so far - whenever I'm not in a screening, I'm working hard to keep the site updated every day. In the very first video blog below, I'm joined by Sperling Reich (find him on Twitter), who attends every major film festival, and has returned to Cannes for the 11th time. We talk about Park Chan-wook's Thirst, Jane Campion's Bright Star, and Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock. Enjoy!
I had never seen a Jacques Audiard film before today, but now I want to go back watch all of his films. I was waiting to finally discover something exceptional here at Cannes, and this it. I caught Audiard's Un Prophete - which stands for just A Prophet in English - this morning and was mesmerized. Even though it has an immense 150 minute running time and it was very early in the morning, I was captivated from start to finish, never at all restless. From Tahar Rahim's stand out performance to Alexandre Desplat's amazing score to Stéphane Fontaine's wonderful cinematography, everything about Un Prophete is exceptional.
I'm not a child of the 60's, and I wasn't around when Woodstock took place in 1969, so I have a lot to learn and a lot to appreciate regarding the three-day long concert. That said, Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock is less about the concert itself, and more about Elliot Tiber (Demetri Martin), a White Plains, New York local who could be held responsible for helping pull off such a successful event. Ang Lee's take on this story isn't all rock 'n roll, it's a lot more subtle, but it's still an intriguing story and I still enjoyed watching it play out. It's a much more muted look at the concert that changed the world than any studio would've probably liked.
Let's make it clear that before I start this, I am indeed a fan of Park Chan-wook and his past films, specifically the Vengeance trilogy. For his latest film, Chan-wook has decided to explore the vampire "genre," or at least explore the idea of vampirism. And considering it is Chan-wook, that means we're going to see something much crazier than we would otherwise ever expect, and that is indeed the case with Thirst. Officially, it was the third film I watched here at Cannes, and besides Pixar's Up, it's the best live-action film I've seen so far (that also includes Francis Ford Coppola's Tetro, which was only okay).
My decision to fly out to France a few days early has paid off. Earlier today, I went down to explore the Croisette, the famous street where everything takes place during the Cannes Film Festival. It is traditional that all major and minor studios and distributors line the street with new posters and marketing material, not only to capture the interest of the thousands of cinephiles who have come to this city for the fest, but it's also (for the indie studios) an attempt to gain the attention of international distributors. Below we have the first exclusive photos of a few of these promo posters from both big and small releases!
I've been dropping hints about this for a while, but this is the official announcement. I'm currently on my way to the airport to catch a flight to France, then a train to the French Riviera, where I'll be attending the world famous Cannes Film Festival. I'll be covering the full festival - May 13th to May 24th - and will be writing reviews and providing all the normal festival coverage (like I do at Sundance). Additionally, I'll be doing my very best to cover all the daily news, however with time difference (9 hours) and with the schedule at Cannes, updates might be a bit sporadic. If I'm late on getting something posted, now you know why!
The 62nd Cannes Film Festival official selection was announced this morning. A total of 52 films are featured in four categories: Competition, Un Certain Regard, Out of Competition, and Special Screenings. The festival kicks off on May 13th and last for 11 days until May 24th; I will be attending this year. It was previously announced that Pixar's Up is opening the festival. Highlights from this year's line-up at Cannes also include Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, Terry Gilliam's Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (which is Heath Ledger's last film), Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock, and many more. Read on for the list!
Disney has announced today that Pixar's Up will premiere in Digital 3D as the opening night movie at this year's 62nd Cannes Film Festival. This is the first time ever that either a Disney feature or an animated film have opened the prestigious festival. Disney's Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter said: "We are absolutely thrilled that the Cannes Film Festival has chosen Up to be its prestigious opening night offering. This is a huge step for animation, and further supports our belief that a great animated film is simply a great film." The festival opens on Wednesday, May 13th and lasts for 11 days until Sunday, May 24th.