Cannes Update: I'm Struggling to Find Great Films - But Why?
by Alex Billington
May 19, 2010
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.
I'm may be putting my critical reputation on the line by being as honest as I possibly can be about this year's Cannes Film Festival, but so be it. By now I've only seen about 15 films, which is about half as many as Eric Lavallee from IONCinema.com has seen at this point, but that's because I know my tastes and interests very well (and I'm just not even remotely interested in most of the films playing). And even the films that I try to open myself up to, like Mike Leigh's Another Year, I've ended up disliking. In fact, I hated Mike Leigh's film, and that's ironically the film that is getting the most positive praise from "professional" critics. Obviously my tastes in cinema differ than most of the critics here, but there's nothing wrong with that, that's just me.
The odd thing is that I loved last year's Cannes Film Festival, through and through. I saw some films I really didn't like (I hated Giorgos Lanthimos' Dogtooth), but I was able to watch some fantastic films, and not just Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, but films like Jacques Audiard's Un Prophete and Heitor Dhalia's Adrift. I think the problem with this year's line-up is that there aren't as many films that particularly stand out as huge discoveries like those two. I've seen some great film this year, like Alejandro González Iñárritu's Biutiful, but where are the other wonderful discoveries? I'm struggling to find more great stand out films.
I've had long talks with Eric and other friends in Cannes about the line-up, and most seem to agree that it's not a great year, even if they say they've loved more films than I have so far (there still are four more days left). The biggest criticism I've received is that I haven't seen enough films (that might be good). I'm trying to see as many more as I can by the end of the festival, but besides the few I'm looking forward to, I've just lost my enthusiasm for the films that are here, especially because I feel like the line-up in particular is pretty bad. As in, I know that I'm not going to like most of the foreign films that they chose, and the question still remains: Who is to blame? Was it just the kind of films there were ready by Cannes, or was it the selection?
I really don't have an answer to those questions because it's on-going endless debate, and some will say that it's just me, while others will agree. Everyone has their own tastes and it seems as if mine differ from most at the fest. Cannes is known as a festival for auteurs, which I don't have anything against and it's obvious that I've discovered and loved great films from great auteurs (Audiard, Iñárritu, Tarantino), but this year's pick of auteurs just doesn't seem to be up to the level I usually expect from Cannes (even the average grades on criticWIRE are C's and B's). Other critics may like the films, but I feel like they could've chosen some other better films. I don't know what they could've been, but I just feel like this year's selection was disappointing.
Anyway, I guess I'm trying to come up with an excuse for the lack of coverage this year, and there really isn't one besides the fact that there's something about this Cannes that just feels like a huge let down. I love the festival and I love being here, I truly do, and I'm glad that I have at least seen a few good films (Les Amours Imaginaires, Outrage, Biutiful) but it's just not my year here. I'm already looking forward to the Telluride and Toronto Film Festival line-ups, as they'll likely show the films that I wanted to see here, but didn't show up. So until then, I'll do my best to finish these last few days and bring you as much coverage as I can!
I respect your honesty, and I have to tell you that one of the main reasons that I keep coming back to this website is because your movie tastes seem to bridge the gap nicely between movie snob critics and fanboys. You let us know which movies you think are cinematically important, but are also aware of the fact that most of your readers will also watch the big blockbusters. Hearing this article makes me think that the kind of films that were chosen may not be that bad, but just aren't all that entertaining or engaging. I also think that you not liking many of these films gives your reviews of the ones you did like much more credit. You don't just like films because they are at Cannes, you are discerning and honest. Thank you.
the weatherman on May 19, 2010
It's ok -- I'm sure Cannes suffers from an artistic decline too.. By the way, how'd you manage to put 'auteurs' 3 times in the same sentence? 😉
[A] on May 19, 2010
Agreed #1, I hate it when critics have opinions in their little bubble and lose touch with the real world. Cheers
Guy on May 19, 2010
Bummer about the film fest, dude. Better luck next Cannes, maybe.
Zantorian on May 19, 2010
Maybe it's due to the fact that the makers of the big studio vehicles are too full of themselves and the indie movie types have gotten, well, too full of themselves as well and both sides simply need to check their egos at the sound stage door and get back to the basics of film making.
Hattori Hanzo on May 19, 2010
I agree with #1, too.
Richard on May 19, 2010
i also agree with #1 i love your honesty which means i can trust you to guide me to good films not just popular or well advertised movies. thanx
jebstuart on May 19, 2010
If you can watch "Carancho" by Pablo Trapero. Kinda harsh but with a great scritp and performances. thanx
Jorge on May 19, 2010
Yeah wow, 1# said it all better than I ever could. You dont bullshit people, you give YOUR actual opinion and best of all you know when a movie is trying to be fun or when a movie is actually going for a serious engaging emotional tone. Which is something very lacking in all the movie-news sites and asshole critics attitudes. Too often do I see a not so serious fun movie get shredded and picked apart by big time critics, when the whole time they read too deeply into things and never saw the real point. Also like #1 said you dont just automatically like films because they were at cannes, you gave your opinion and you dont let anyone elses opinions sway you from stating your own. Also on a side note, its articles like this that further push me into the thought that good true cinema is in its last years.
Cody w on May 19, 2010
what about Carlos?
Dave on May 20, 2010
Could it be because all the good films played at South by Southwest? Here are some I would recommend. Barry Munday The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Leaves of Grass Micmacs Monsters Saturday Night The Loved Ones Life 2.0 Tiny Furniture Lemmy Centurion Hood to Coast The People vs. George Lucas Get Low Suck Tony Marwencol Brothehood Tucker & Dale Waking Sleeping Beauty Four Lions
Travis on May 20, 2010
The reaction to Weerasethakul's "Uncle Boonmee..." has been CRAZY; everybody raving it. I know he's not your type of filmmaker at all, but I hope you get to see it tomorrow just to have something to say.
taptup on May 20, 2010
Yeah wow, 1# said it all better than I ever could. You dont bullshit people, you give YOUR actual opinion and best of all you know when a movie is trying to be fun or when a movie is actually going for a serious engaging emotional tone. Which is something very lacking in all the movie-news sites and asshole critics attitudes..
pörn on May 20, 2010
Alex, I have to agree with you - it's been a lackluster festival this year at Cannes. I've seen 34 films in the last 8 days and made only two discoveries: BLUE VALENTINE by Derek Cianfrance with glowing performances by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, and Sophie Fiennes' very cinematic documentary OVER YOUR CITIES GRASS WILL GROW. No competition entry stood out so far, and there have been quite unwatchable films in the official program like Lodge Kerrigan's REBECCA H. and Godard's FILM SOCIALISME. Let's hope for a better Cannes 2011...
cardigans on May 21, 2010
Because you touch yourself at night.
Glass on May 24, 2010
wow, keep up the great work man, your amazing and hope you have fun at the festival as well.
Rey on May 13, 2011
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