The Cannes Film Festival is drawing to a close (check out all our coverage here), and while most of the big players for the coveted Palme d'Or prize have already played, there's at least one more film yet to premiere that still has a chance. Olivier Assayas latest drama Clouds of Sils Maria is debuting in France this week, the story of an aging actress (Juliette Binoche), starring in a new production of a play that made her famous a long time ago. The younger role she played in the beginning of her career has gone to a younger actress (Chloe Grace Moretz), and she finds herself reflecting on the star she used to be. Kristen Stewart also has a prominent role as Binoche's assistant, and she seems to hold her own. Watch!
The days are starting to blur, our conversations are starting to sound like poorly-written SNL sketches. It's Day 9, I think, at Cannes 2014 and we're still here - most of us. Droves of critics who have been going to sleep at 1AM, and waking up at 7AM for the last 8 days straight. We're all exhausted, delirious, starting to forget which films we saw only a few days ago. This is what it's like at film festivals, especially if you stick it out for all 12 days, from the beginning to the end. We all start to burn out after the midway point, but then we see a film that blows us away, reminding us why we travel all the way over here - all for the love of film.
This is the film I was waiting to see at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. The one that is not only phenomenal in every way, but pushes the form, challenging audiences and cinema as we know it. Quebecois filmmaker Xavier Dolan has returned to Cannes with his fifth feature, titled Mommy, a remarkably entertaining and ravishing work of art about raising a wild teen with ADHD in a fictional Canada. It's breathtaking, beautiful, stimulating and actually takes advantage of the art of visuals and the format of cinema in a remarkable way. Mommy is the masterpiece of Cannes 2014 that I was waiting to fall in love with. Dolan has done it again.
Every May, I fly all the way across the Atlantic to Cannes Film Festival just to watch good films. Films that are interesting, invigorating, exciting, entertaining, moving, no matter what they may be or who may have directed them, as along as they are good. Even those that are stories we may have seen before in other films, it doesn't matter, I'm not here to see failed experiments, I'm here to watch well-made, well-meaning movies. Ever since The Artist won the Best Picture Oscar in 2011, critics have been unnecessarily hating on director Michel Hazanavicius. I believe he's a great filmmaker and his latest, The Search, is another solid film.
You never know who you'll meet on the Croisette. That's the joy of it. Every year I come to the Cannes Film Festival I always make new friends. While I'm just as anxious to catch up with old friends and colleagues I've been attending with for years, it's just as exciting to meet new ones. A few days ago while at the festival, I stopped to grab a lunch at a small cafe near the flat we are staying in. I had just finished a few screenings, was incredibly hungry and tired, and stopped in by myself. It was there I met two friends who inspired me to write about them, and this is only just the start. I could tell so many more stories about all the people here.
What if you returned home to your loved one, a wife, a husband, any significant other, after years apart and they didn't recognize you? That is the idea behind Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou's latest film, Coming Home, based on Geling Yan's novel The Criminal Lu Yanshi, which opened in China a few weeks ago and just premiered out-of-competition at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. This is a beautiful, tender, moving film about love and dedication and patience, and will leave you with tears in your eyes, as long as you still have a beating heart inside your chest. It may be a simple story, but it's such a special, sincere film made with care.
The Cannes Film Festival has just a few days left, and there's still some great films left to premiere overseas. One such film marks the reunion of The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius and star Berenice Bejo in The Search, set against the backdrop of the second Cechen War. Annette Bening also stars in the film, and now the first trailer from France has arrived. Thankfully, most of the trailer is in English, though there are some moments in French that don't have English subtitles. But even without that clarification, we still get the vibe that this could be a pretty big Oscar contender that is much different than The Artist from 2011 as it focuses on the war from the point-of-view of children as victims stuck in the middle of the danger. Watch!
It's a breath of fresh air in the cinema when a film premieres that is very hard to compare to any other films. It represents something entirely unique, in the story, the characters, the subtle decisions made throughout, and while it may be categorized as a sports drama, it is so much more. Foxcatcher is the third feature film from Bennett Miller, and it is his best work yet, showing that he continues to improve as he continues to make more films. Following his last two Best Picture-nominated films, Capote and Moneyball, Miller tells another based-on-real-life story that resonates as poignantly today as it did when the events first occurred.
I never would've thought I might encounter a ski movie comedy at Cannes, and that it would be something I could call brilliant, yet every year I'm surprised by discoveries and this is another that will go down as one of my favorites of this festival. From Sweden comes a film titled Force Majeure, or also known as Turist (in French) at the festival, a dark comedy set in the French Alps following a family on a ski vacation. Directed by Ruben Östlund, who made two Free Radicals ski movies back in the 90s, the film plays with human dynamics and our responses to situations, but is enlivened by hilarious dark comedy. I really loved this one.
"Une Invitation, S'il vous plaît!" Those who frequent the Palais day in, and day out, at the Cannes Film Festival are unquestionably aware of the ticket seekers found outside of the entrance. They're there every day, from morning to midnight, requesting "one ticket, please (and thank you)". "Une" just means "one", and an invitation is the name for the ticket at the festival. S'il vous plaît, often abbreviated "S.V.P." on the signs, means "please" in French. After years of encountering, interacting with, and admiring these dedicate moviegoers, and their increasingly impressive signage, once again inspired by Ebert I've decided to write a tribute to them. If you've ever wondered how to get a ticket in to a Cannes screening this is the trick to learn.
The power of silence. At Sundance in 2010 I fell hard for a gritty, unforgiving Australian crime drama called Animal Kingdom, directed by David Michôd. His next film, titled The Rover, just premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and Michôd has once again created an unrelenting, brutal and carefully calculated subversive post-apocalyptic thriller with hints of Mad Max. But a much better comparison, even though I hate to make another comparison, is Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive, the Cannes 2011 breakout. The power of The Rover is in its silence, and bleak imagery. Michod's choices and shots speak loudly without being loud.
From behind the Iron Curtain comes an inside look at Soviet Russia's Red Army hockey team in a new documentary titled Red Army, which just premiered at Cannes 2014. Directed by Gabe Polsky (The Motel Life), this outstanding doc focuses one of the greatest hockey players to ever live, Viacheslav "Slava" Fetisov, who was trained by the national Red Army team since age 10, playing for the USSR throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, as well as in the NHL before eventually taking the job as Minister of Sport in Russia. It's a fascinating and surprisingly moving doc about passionate hockey players just playing the sport they love.
Continuing my "Two Weeks in the South of France" adventures at the Cannes Film Festival, I finally have some thoughts to write after my morning press screening of Atom Egoyan's Captives. This festival, in all its grandeur, attracts the most diverse group of critics from all over the world. There is likely a critic attending from almost every country in the world, at least the majority of them, and this makes Cannes the ultimate global film festival, something that many other fests aspire to be but can't pull off like they do. I love this diversity and have made many new friends, but there are interesting quirks with a group of press this large.
Just over a week ago, we learned that Spring Breakers was getting a sequel in the form of Spring Breakers: The Second Coming. However, director Harmony Korine wasn't involved in the project at all, and Jonas Akerlund was set to direct the film from Trainspotting writer Irvine Welsh. Well, James Franco took to Instagram to blast the sequel, and let everyone know that the project was moving forward without Korine's permission, and he made a pretty bold comparison to complain about the mere existence of the sequel. But the producers, busy selling the film at Cannes, have already fired back at the actor. Read on!