Every once in a while I get a rare opportunity to interview a person I consider a true genius. I'm an admirer of movie scores and my very favorite composer is Alexandre Desplat, of lots of scores like Syriana, The Queen, Golden Compass, Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Un Prophet, Fantastic Mr. Fox, New Moon, The Ghost Writer, The King's Speech, and finally Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, plus A Better Life, Ides of March and Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 coming up. I met with Desplat on the beach at the Cannes Film Festival the day I saw The Tree of Life for an in-depth chat on scores and inspirations.
We promised to keep you updated on the situation regarding Danish director Lars von Trier being named persona non grata at the Cannes Film Festival. While there isn't much news to report, per se, von Trier himself has remained in the press over the last week. He's issued numerous apologies, conducted quite a few interviews, and spoken out for and against everything that happened. I'm not here to debate whether he's truly apologetic or not, or whether he's truly a Nazi or just made a huge mistake at the press conference, but I decided to collect the various responses that von Trier has had since he was banned from Cannes last week.
The 2011 Cannes Film Festival awards winners were announced on Sunday evening in France. As we've been following the fest closely this year, I was curious to see who would win, and it indeed was Terrence Malick's year, as his abstract new film The Tree of Life took home the coveted Palme d'Or. Additionally, Kirsten Dunst from Melancholia, directed by since banned filmmaker Lars von Trier, won Best Acting. I've seen the film and she deserves it, so congrats. The jury included: Robert De Niro, Olivier Assayas, Martina Gusman, Jude Law, Uma Thurman, Johnnie To and Linn Ullmann. Read on for a full winners list!
Any cinephile knows it's rare to come across a film so incredible that they would happily watch it again immediately after seeing it for the first time, not to mention endless times over again on DVD. But I will thankfully say that Drive is one of those rare films, which I was lucky enough to catch as my final film in Cannes. Drive is the latest collaboration between actor Ryan Gosling and Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn, that not only played in competition at Cannes (an impressive feat), but is one of the few films I could potentially call flawless. It is indeed that good and I do want to see it again immediately.
I love when great films surprise me. Both in terms of story and in terms of my expectations. I had no clue what to expect with Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar's latest film La piel que habito, which roughly translates to The Skin I Live In (weird teasers didn't help either), but hot damn was this fantastic. Pedro is a Cannes Film Festival regular but has delivered a film this year that is completely different from most of his previous work yet still kicks ass. It was a wild and crazy experience, to be frank, but damn good. In fact, I'll even call it a brilliant film for the story and its ideas and the way Almodovar challenges sexuality.
Oh boy, this is very big news. After the premiere of his latest film Melancholia at the Cannes Film Festival just yesterday (read my review), controversial Danish director Lars von Trier settled in to a room full of international press for a press conference. He's always been known to give wild answers and say crazy things, but von Trier made a statement this time that went a little too far. Answering a question, he said that he found out he was a Nazi and sympathized with Hitler. At first, Cannes retaliated by issuing an official apology on behalf of von Trier. But pressure has caused them to officially ban him, effective immediately.
The apocalypse is coming and Lars von Trier just seems depressed. The controversial Danish director is back in Cannes again, following Antichrist from a few years ago (I was there for that infamous screening) to premiere his latest movie, Melancholia. As one might expect with von Trier, the film has some truly breathtaking visuals, especially the opening sequence and the closing few minutes, but in-between that, there's not much to it. He starts with a big idea, then just lets it slowly trickle out for 130 minutes, ending at the moment everyone is expecting, but without having said much throughout. Sadly, it was underwhelming.
There are occasionally films I watch where I appreciate the filmmaking, but due to the subject matter, can't reasonably say I enjoyed (I would put Precious in that category, as I haven't ever wanted to watch it again). The Australian film I saw today from the Cannes Critics' Week (Semaine de la Critique), titled Snowtown, is another one of those films. It's a gritty, realistic Aussie crime drama in the same vein as David Michôd's Animal Kingdom (a fantastic film itself, highly recommended) but the story is so disturbing, unnerving, and just sick at times, that in no way could I say I enjoyed it. But it is actually a damn good film, that's for sure.
It has finally arrived. After years of waiting, Terrence Malick's highly anticipated new film The Tree of Life officially premiered today at the Cannes Film Festival, to quite a bit of acclaim and discussion. Most have probably already heard that the film is considerably abstract and very cosmic, focusing not only on a family in Texas in the 50s, but also showing the creation of the universe and life as we know on it Earth. It's such an interpretive film, that I felt I really needed to watch it a second time before writing a formal review, so instead I decided to have a quick discussion about the film with a few friends, shot on location in Cannes.
In today's modern world, we're used to seeing films in color, with sound, with music, with dialogue, and sometimes even in 3D. Every once in a while a filmmaker goes black-and-white to tell a story. But before yesterday, never have I seen a modern filmmaker attempt to create a completely new B&W silent film. Not only did French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius do exactly that, but he has crafted a wonderful homage that's just wonderful and exudes an effusive love for cinema. It's called The Artist and stars French actors Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo and is set in the late 20s in Hollywood at the end of the silent film era.
This is the year. I need to say it again because I truly believe it. I keep seeing one incredible movie after another at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. And they're not just great films, but they're films I'm loving, that I'm already excited to see again. It's the eve of the very first premiere of Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life (on Monday morning at 8:30AM), the big turning point in the festival as it's not only the mid-way point, but it's that film, the one everyone is expecting to be the best of the festival. And it's exciting we're reaching this point now when I could say I'm already satisfied by many of the amazing movies I've come across so far.
It has been an incredible year at Cannes and this is yet another film to add to my growing list of those that surprised and amazed me; another favorite. Coming from Mexican writer/director Gerardo Naranjo is a riveting new drama called Miss Bala, more of a thriller about a young 23-year-old beauty pageant wannabe (played by Stephanie Sigman) who mistakenly gets caught up in the insane world of organized crime in Mexico. I say insane because, well, there's crazy things that happen. It starts quickly and never lets up, pushing forwarded relentlessly and barely giving the audience a chance to take a breath. It was exhilarating.
I love most martial arts movies, but there are a few in particular that stand out above others, like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (which premiered in Cannes in 2000), and Wu Xia is one of those exceptional films. Now I know why Cannes chose to feature it. Wu Xia (being titled either Swordsmen and/or Dragon in English) is the latest film from Chinese director Peter Ho-Sun Chan, also of The Warlords a few years ago, and it's awesome. While it does have a few fantastic fight scenes, he never sacrifices story for spectacle, which pays off as it's a film that I enjoyed from start to finish and will definitely be revisiting in the future.
This is the year, the year I think I've been waiting for, the vintage year at the Cannes Film Festival that I knew was one day coming. We've only just finished Day 2 (it's currently Friday morning here in France) and I've only seen four films so far, but everything has been absolutely parfait so far. For those who don't speak French, that means "perfect". My travel here, the films I've seen, the experience so far, even the apartment we rented to stay in (with Eric from IONCinema) has been better than ever before. And I'm hoping it'll only get even better as the fest continues. How are the films I've seen? All but one of them I thoroughly enjoyed.