Two questions: what was your favorite film and best experience? One last recap of the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, this time in video form, featuring a group of my blogger/critic friends. Throughout the last few days in Cannes, I met up with five of my colleagues in various places around the festival to ask them those two questions - their favorite film and favorite experiences. Everyone gave me a different answer for each question, and if you're tired of hearing my opinion, this features a range of opinions mentioning a variety of great films this year. I couldn't be happier with how this turned out and the responses I got. Watch below!
"This is the end… My only friend, the end." I couldn't get that Doors song out of my head the last few days in Cannes. This year I stuck it out to the end, living in France nearly 14 days before packing up and heading out. The 2012 Cannes Film Festival has finally come to an end, the awards have been announced, and everyone has caught their flight back to destinations around the world. Things always seem different at the end; I'm infamously the one who didn't like the Palme d'Or-winning Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild has a better chance at Oscar love, and Holy Motors seems to be a critical breakout. But what else happened?
Haneke wins again. The official 65th Cannes Film Festival awards for 2012 were announced tonight, wrapping up 12 days of the international fest. The biggest winner, taking home the Palme d'Or for his 2nd time, is director Michael Haneke and his film Amour (aka Love), followed by Matteo Garrone's Reality, which won the Grand Prix as second place. The fest also awarded a number of other prizes, including giving Benh Zeitlin's Sundance favorite Beasts of the Southern Wild the Camera d'Or, top prize for first-time filmmakers. While the Palme is one of the most prestigious awards, the top winner usually isn't my favorite.
Happy to report news that one of the must buzzed about, highly acclaimed, incredibly weird, original, and impressive films coming out of the Cannes Film Festival has been bought. Deadline & THR are reporting that Indomina Releasing, an upstart indie distributor with titles like True Legend and Tiny Furniture, has acquired US distribution rights for Leos Carax's Holy Motors, starring Denis Lavant. It may yet win an award tonight in Cannes, possibly even Palme d'Or, but at the least it's a fantastic film unlike anything you've ever seen. It deserves a good release with a potential to break out, especially in the US. Trailer below!
Ah yes, this is what I've been waiting for. One of the last major premieres at the Cannes Film Festival was Jeff Nichols' third film following Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter, titled simply Mud. This Arkansas-set southern drama is a wonderfully charming, classic Americana adventure following two young boys and their experience with a man named Mud that changes their lives. It's a coming-of-age film filled with heart, and passion, and brilliant filmmaking. I now affectionately refer to it as Stand By Me of the Southern Wild because it's a blend of the classic Stand By Me and the charm of Sundance hit Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Before seeing this, I was considerably curious to see how filmmaker David Cronenberg (of A Dangerous Method most recently) would handle a philosophical character study about a billionaire taking a limo across New York City. Alas, I was let down to discover an overly-complex, dialogue-heavy exposé on how money corrupts that follows a rather cold, careless character who continually emphasizes his power over everyone below him, without any concern for that power. Cronenberg establishes an unique world (and the inside of a limo) for us to follow Robert Pattinson as billionaire Eric Packer in, but that's about all that's interesting.
British caravan campers gone wild. Very wild. And very deadly. Sightseers is the latest film from British filmmaker on-the-rise Ben Wheatley, of the controverisal Kill List and Down Terrace previously, and he's back with something a little more lighthearted, but just as sickly dark, twisted and wholly entertaining as his previous work. A quaint, sheltered couple of 30-somethings go on a holiday road trip around Britain and end up becoming Natural Born Killers with a brilliantly comedic edge (as James Rocchi calls it, "Natural Born Campers"). Not necessarily as bold as Kill List, but just as memorable, especially if you like Wheatley.
Why do I go to film festivals? It's a good question, but perhaps not, because it really has a simple answer: I love film. I love cinema. I love movies. There isn't much required beyond that; it's enough motivation for me to make this small French town—Cannes—my home for two weeks. What day is it? I have no idea. I think we've passed the halfway point, but I don't know how many days I've been here and how many are left. Well, actually, I think there are four days left, it ends on Sunday. And I have three more 8:30AM screenings in a row coming up. Brutal (I've already used that word!) but amazing. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
This film can really be summed up in one word: brutal. But there's other words that work just as well: cool, or badass, or violent, or grim, or smart, or criminal. Killing Them Softly, formerly known as Cogan's Trade (the title of George V. Higgins's book it's based on), is the latest from director Andrew Dominik, of Chopper and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford previously. This time he gathers up an ensemble lead by Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy to tell a more straightforward crime story. Another typical hit-then-kill (as I call it) kind of story, with too thin of a plot.
Through all the tragedy and killing and hopelessness seen at Cannes so far (there's a lot this year), it's a refreshing relief to see something with a little bit of insightful charm. Enough charm to make me smile and laugh while watching, then grow warmly within me the more I think back to it. Like Someone in Love is openly my first experience with Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami (Homework, Certified Copy) and, coincidentally, it's also his first experience shooting in Japan with a fully Japanese cast. The results aren't perfect, but despite its flaws, I've fallen in love with this film. Or maybe just its characters, odd as they are.
As initially stated in my tweet immediately after seeing this: "weirdest, sickest shit I've seen yet." Indeed. Antiviral is the directorial debut of one Brandon Cronenberg, son of the legendarily twisted filmmaker David Cronenberg, and it involves celebrity obsession taken to the extremes. Imagine a culture, a world like our own, where the popular masses are so into celebrities, that they pay money to be injected with the same disease a celebrity recently had to feel a sort of "biological communion." Where can they go with that idea? Only the Cronenbergs can make it as weird and as sick as this is, but still utterly fascinating in its own right.
Some worthwhile acquisitions news from the Cannes Film Festival. Sony Pictures Classics has acquired the Chilean drama from director Pablo Larraín titled simply No, referring to the yes/no referendum vote in Chile in 1988. I saw the film last night, it's playing in the Director's Fortnight sidebar, and it's incredibly unique, very engaging, and most importantly, rather unforgettable partially due to the way it was shot (to look like U-matic). Sony Classics has picked up all North American distribution rights to the real-life drama, starring Gael Garcia Bernal as an ad exec who creates a campaign to free his country from oppression.