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.
Yep, that funky "Ghost Monkey" with red eyes seen above was the winner of the Palme d'Or this year. Well, sort of at least, as the very trippy Thai film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives won the coveted Golden Palm at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival. The awards were announced tonight and we have the full list below. The jury this year was led by Tim Burton and included Kate Beckinsale, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Alberto Barbera, Emmanuel Carrere, Benicio Del Toro, Victor Erice, Alexandre Desplat & Shekhar Kapur. I really wanted Iñárritu's Biutiful to win, but instead the one film that I walked out of is the one that won.
Yes, that is actually Batman, and it's just one of the many memorable images from this year's Cannes Film Festival. As the festival winds down and comes to an end, and as I prepare for my long journey home after arriving in Cannes 12 days ago, I thought I'd put together a quick look back at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival in photos. You've been able to read my reviews of the films, but the experience of attending a festival in this small town in the south of France is something that's very hard to describe in text, so I thought I'd give you a taste of the imagery and the sights (
and sounds) of Cannes. So without any further ado, let's get right into it!
One film at Cannes that was particularly unique was Gustavo Hernández's The Silent House, or La Casa Muda, a Uruguayan horror film shot entirely in one-take. This 79-minute haunted house film was shot on a professional Canon DSLR camera in one full non-stop, non-cutting take. While the film's story didn't really stand out, it was a technical and visual achievement like no other, and incredible to watch simply because it was amazing that Hernández and his cast could pull of something like this. If you're a fan of horror or want to just want to be mesmerized by a great technical achievement like this, The Silent House is a must see.
Unless you're from France or Algeria, you probably don't know much about the backstory behind this. But at Cannes this year, Rachid Bouchareb's Outside the Law, or Hors la Loi in French, was potentially the most controversial films that played here. There were even French Gendarmerie troops in full riot gear protecting the Palais on the day it premiered because of potential riots. The reason for the controversy comes a bit from supposed inaccuracies in the film and simply from the subject matter it deals with. The story is about three Algerian brothers who, following the Sétif massacre in 1945 after WWII, become freedom fighters in France.
The official English title for this film is Lights Out, but that's such a bland and unrepresentative title, I'm sticking with the official French title - Simon Werner A Disparu… (with the ellipses), which translates to Simon Werner Disappeared… This is yet another new festival favorite that I discovered rather late in the fest, but I'm ecstatic that I caught it, because it was a breath of fresh air in a line-up that I haven't otherwise been impressed by this year. Simon Werner is, essentially, a fun lightweight exercise in the world of skewed high school gossip by way of a murder mystery. It's not a complete home run, but it was pretty damn good.
As you may have noticed, my coverage of the Cannes Film Festival this year has not been up to par with other festivals or even my coverage of last year's Cannes. It's not that I haven't had the time to do as much coverage, per se, but as the fest goes on I'm starting to feel like it has to do with my lack of excitement, lack of interest, and lack of enthusiasm for this year's line-up. I'm struggling to find great films beyond the ones I've expected to like and I'm not sure whether to say that it's a bad year for films or whether it's the line-up Cannes chose. I'm leaning towards the latter, but I know I'll get crap for saying that, even if it's my opinion.
Although I already walked out of one film earlier at the Cannes Film Festival asking "what the fuck did I just watch?", this movie deserves that exclamation much more than that other one (Hideo Nakata's Chatroom). After hearing some interesting buzz about American indie filmmaker Gregg Araki's new film Kaboom, I decided to check out the film at its last screening in Cannes and man, was it crazy. It's pretty much an acid trip version of Rules of Attraction about some college kids and, well, I can't even really start to explain what happens. If you're in to low budget mind-trip wacky films, then maybe you'll end up liking Kaboom as well.
It took six days, but I finally may have found my favorite film of the 63rd Cannes Film Festival. I've already seen a few good films, a few okay films, and a few terrible films in Cannes, but Alejandro González Iñárritu's Biutiful is the first incredible film I've seen. Javier Bardem stars as Uxbal, a troubled father living with two children in present day Barcelona, and he gives one of the festival's single greatest performances. If he doesn't end up getting an award in Cannes for his performance or at the Oscars next year, I'll be surprised. Biutiful is powerful, depressing, and emotional, but also an incredibly "beautiful" film (to use that cliche).
A few days ago I watched my first Takeshi Kitano film. I'm not sure why I haven't seen any of his previous films (he's directed quite a few), but I was excited to check out his newest Cannes entry Outrage, a modern Japanese mobster film that's literally just two hours of yakuza yelling at each other and killing each other in brutal ways. But I'm now a Takeshi Kitano, or Beat Takeshi (as they call him in Japan), fan because I dug the hell out of this film. It's one of those totally badass Japanese mobster flicks that anyone can kick back and watch with friends and totally enjoy just because it's so damn crazy. There's not much to it, but it's great.
I haven't been able to sit down and write an actual blog about the Cannes Film Festival since I arrived last week. It's now the evening of Day 5 and I'm absolutely amazed that five days have already whizzed by so quickly. This festival is grueling and exhausting, both physically and mentally, because there's so much going on non-stop, the time difference is killer, and it's just a challenge to keep up with the site and all the films. But that said, I'm having a great time, and although I haven't enjoyed every film I've seen so far (more on that below), I still love coming here to discover and enjoy films from all over the world every single day.
One of the most buzzed about films in this year's Semaine de la Critique (Critic's Week) is French filmmaker Quentin Dupieux's wacky new film Rubber about an angry sentient tire that explodes peoples' heads using psycho-kinetic powers. The film is self-defined (directly in the beginning) as an homage to "no reason" in film - as in, the idea that things happen "for no reason" in many films. And, for no reason, Dupieux decided to make a film about a tire that's alive. Alas, there's only so much anyone can do with this concept, and it doesn't have enough to last a full film, so he uses some other tricks to keep it running for a full 85 minutes.
Another film I was looking forward to seeing here in Cannes (after the trailer) was young Quebec filmmaker Xavier Dolan's newest lavish love story, Les Amours Imaginaires, or simply just Heartbeats in English. I'm not even sure how to explain the style of the film, since I could categorize it as hyper-stylized, but it was one of the most beautifully shot films at Cannes this year and one film that I will definitely not be forgetting anytime soon. Its a uniquely modern bit of cinema that I'm absolutely in love with and I can't even begin to think about it without listening to Dalida's "Bang, Bang" which is used almost as a theme song in the film.
One of the big premieres in Cannes that I was really looking forward to this year was for Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, his sequel to the classic 1987 stock market film Wall Street. Considering its now 23 years later and we're in a new economic recession, the film feels very much like a fresh, modern take on the Wall Street idea but wrapped around the economic troubles of today, which will instantly anger and distance some critics who don't like looking into that world. But that doesn't mean it's not an enjoyable film with fantastic performances all around and a stellar script from one of the best screenwriters working today.