"Art is not about perfection... perfection is not art." Now this is a great interview. At the end of the Cannes Film Festival I was given the opportunity to interview Nicolas Winding Refn, the controversial Danish writer & director of Only God Forgives, Drive, Valhalla Rising and Bronson. I was at Cannes back in 2011 when Drive premiered and was on the positive side of Only God Forgives when it premiered this year. I lucked out and ended up having a full 22-minute video discussion with Refn in Cannes, covering art and cinema to the Chinese food he just ate, to collaboration in Thailand and violence in society to everything else inbetween. Plus, that James Bond scoop I posted the other day is my last question at the end. Must watch!
2013's breakout success - Ryan Coogler. He swept the awards at Sundance this year, with Fruitvale taking home both the Grand Jury & Audience Award, then went on to play Cannes to a standing ovation. Next stop, Oscars? Well, before we get to that, it's time to catch up with the man behind it all, Ryan Coogler himself. I've been looking forward to talking with him ever since first seeing Fruitvale during Sundance. I finally got the chance to catch up with Ryan and chat about the film on the beach at the Cannes Film Festival this summer. The interview was recorded on a Flipcam and gives a good introduction to the story. Watch below.
The best of the fest revealed. Over the last few years I've notoriously disliked the Palme d'Or winner in Cannes. Ironically enough, this year's Palme d'Or winner and Grand Prix winner happened to match my own #1 and #2 best films. And I wrote up this list on the flight home before the winners were announced. As a recap, I've also listed 4 other favorite films of the fest, ones that left an impression and have been lingering in my mind ever since first seeing them. My #1 film (Blue!) I saw late in the fest but it swept me off my feet and I fell in love with it, even though it runs 3 hours long (the longest film I saw). Other than that, I enjoyed a good variety of other unique films and wanted to highlight the best out of the 24 Cannes movies I watched.
The 2013 Cannes Film Festival just concluded this past weekend, and most critics and attendees have returned home. Capturing the experience of Cannes is hard to do in words alone, as it takes place right on the beach on the French Riviera, mostly inside of a building called the Palais des Festivals. After spending two weeks there taking photos on the Croisette and inside the various theaters, I wanted to share a gallery that provides a better idea of what it's like to be there. I love attending this fest and I love living in France for two weeks, and I capture my experiences best in photos on Instagram and 6-second Vines. Take a look!
All good things must come to an end. It's that time again. That time when the last of us still left in Cannes pack our bags, grab a final dinner and drinks with friends, and head to the airport. We've reached the end of the 12 days of the Cannes Film Festival and my typically cheery demeanor has morphed into bittersweet sadness. Nostalgia has already kicked in thinking back over the last two weeks (and the last four years) I've spent in the South of France in cinema heaven with amazing friends. My fifth year at Cannes has come to an end, but I've begun to love this fest more and more each year I go. Now 24 films later it's time to get home.
Blue! Winners of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival awards, including the coveted Palme d'Or, were revealed at a ceremony today in Cannes. The big winner is Blue is the Warmest Color, the 3-hour lesbian drama that won over just about everyone late in the fest. Over the past few years I've often complained about the Palme winner usually being a film I did not like, or just didn't care for, but this year I truly respect all the winners. It seems to be a particularly superb year, with the Coen Brothers earning the second place Grand Prix prize as well and Berenice Bejo from Farhadi's The Past taking Best Actress. Fantastic picks all around.
One of the very last films to premiere late in the Cannes Film Festival, wrapping up this weekend, is Jim Jarmusch's new film - Only Lovers Left Alive, starring Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt and Mia Wasikowska as long-haired hipsterish vampires living in Detroit. Not long after the film showed to a theater full of press, Sony Pictures Classics released a press release announcing their acquisition of the film for North American release. It's a smart move and fast buy, likely pre-arranged, and perfectly timed with the film's unveiling, which received quite a bit of positive buzz. It's a low-key but awkwardly funny film.
This past Wednesday morning at 8:30AM, Nicolas Winding Refn's ninth feature film, Only God Forgives, premiered inside the Grand Lumiere at the Cannes Film Festival to a crowd of critics and press from all over the world. The response 90 minutes later was instantly divisive, with reactions ranging from incredibly negative and "hated it" to overly positive and "loved it". While the majority of responses I saw seemed to lean towards the negative side, there's always something fun about emerging from a film that gets such split response. As long as there are people who did love it (like me!), there's something curious there to discuss.
Lost at sea. This film is a work of art. Stunning in so many ways, and it couldn't be simpler, but that's why it's so extraordinary. All is Lost, the second feature from Oscar nominated writer/director J.C. Chandor (of Margin Call previously), stars Robert Redford and only Redford as the sole captain of a sailboat that ends up lost at sea after being damaged in the Indian Ocean. There isn't any dialogue, only a few lines from Redford throughout, and nothing but him trying to survive on a boat for 106 minutes. It's grueling, thrilling, meticulous, inspiring and most importantly, moving. I can't stop thinking about it and how wonderful it is.
Tarantino is out, Refn is in. At the start of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, it opens with the Klingon Proverb, "Revenge is a dish best served cold." Back in the 90s, Tarantino was leading the genre game in Cannes, winning the Palme d'Or for Pulp Fiction. While he's still making great films today, the next generation has tagged in. In 2011, Nicolas Winding Refn rocked the Croisette with the film Drive and he has returned this year to premiere Only God Forgives. Starring Ryan Gosling again this artsy, slow burn, extremely violent Bangkok-set revenge drama is a dish definitely served cold, with a slice of style and minor substance.
One of the very few full-on science fiction films premiering at the Cannes Film Festival this year is a thriller called The Last Days on Mars, directed by Irish filmmaker Ruairi Robinson making his feature debut after a number of shorts including Blinky™ and Fifty Percent Grey. Set on Mars at the end of a six month manned mission to the planet to search for signs of life, it starts out as an intriguing indie sci-fi with some promise. But alas devolves into something that I hate to say is derivative and brings absolutely nothing new to the sci-fi game, which is a bit unfortunate because it otherwise visually looks great—some concept work was done by Weta, but the rest of the visual effects were made entirely by Screen Scene based out of Ireland.
Would you wait in line for over an hour in the pouring Mediterranean rain, drenched and dripping by the time the doors open up, just to see the new Coen Brothers film? If you love cinema, the answer to that is an undeniable yes. And yes, me and about two thousand other members of the press huddled underneath umbrellas of all shapes and sizes to wait in a torrential downpour just to catch the very first screening ever of Inside Llweyn Davis. That's Cannes for you. Cinema fiends and movie lovers ignoring the bad weather just to be there for more cinema. Rain or shine, we're all here to see films, all day, every day until the end.
Ah yes, the Coen Brothers. We all know them. We all love them. They've made some of finest films cinema has to offer. But what if they did something a bit different? Inside Llewyn Davis, while unquestionably a Coen Brothers film, is a breath of fresh air from the filmmaker brothers. It's not as dark or deeply moving as No Country for Old Men, nor is it at overly joyful as Burn After Reading, it falls somewhere inbetween, an engrossing exploration of a musician named Llewyn Davis living in New York in the 1960s. It's a perfect period piece and a dark, but fun, earnest, entertaining film that I thoroughly enjoyed every last second of.
In mid-February of last year I went, by myself, to a screening of Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi's A Separation and fell for it completely, a masterpiece. A month later the film went on to win the Oscar, and Farhadi started working on his next feature, which I knew I had to see. Premiering at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival is Asghar Farhadi's The Past, a French film dealing with a series of complex relationships between two families in Paris. It's further proof that Farhadi is an absolute master of human dynamics, relationships and performances that expertly captures the complex, deep layers that exist between all of us in this world.