As part of my wrap-up on the Cannes Film Festival, I wanted to feature two great articles found around the web today. The first is indieWIRE's Best of Cannes, a list of the best films, best actors, best directors, and worst films from this year, as ranked by critics and bloggers. A group of sixteen people (including me) were polled by indieWIRE and they've comprised the three films in each category with the most votes. The big winner is Un Prophete, which is still my favorite film of the fest. Additionally, Rotten Tomatoes has a great feature looking at the 10 Must-See Movies coming out of the fest. Both lists have some great picks.
When I stepped out of my screening of Agora at Cannes last week, I knew I needed to talk with director Alejandro Amenabar. While the performances were great, it was the production design and the directing that was really one of the best parts of Agora. I had so much to ask him regarding taking on such an ambitious project, how much research and work went into it, and more. Luckily I was given the chance to sit down with Amenabar for 15 or so minutes on the Croisette in Cannes to talk about Agora. Not only did we cover a lot of ground, but a special guests shows up at the very end to put a cap on it all. Watch and enjoy.
So was it a great year at Cannes or not? What were my favorites? Throughout my entire trip here in France, my good friend Eric Lavallee of the indie site IONCinema.com was my wingman and guide. Not only is he from Montreal and speaks fluent French, but he's been to Cannes before. So as a wrap up to the fest, I sat down with Eric (in a movie theater) to talk about our favorite Cannes films, our impressions of the festival, and our thoughts on some particular picks. The good news is that Eric and I have vastly different tastes - he usually loves everything I hate. So this may be the most well-rounded Cannes wrap-up you'll ever find.
This was one of the first films to kick off the festival, and the very last film I saw. Andrea Arnold's directing debut was in 2007 with the Scottish indie film Red Road and she returns to Cannes this year with her follow up Fish Tank. That title is just as obscure this time as well, and doesn't have much to do with the actual story, but that doesn't mean she's unable to still give us a glimpse at her true talent as an auteur and filmmaker. In a very well-made coming-of-age drama about a 15-year-old girl living in slum-like conditions in England, Arnold gives us, at least, one of the best performances of the year, on top of a great story.
The 62nd Cannes Film Festival has come to an end. To put the finishing touches on another great festival, this year's awards, including the coveted Palme d'Or, have been announced. The jury was lead by actress Isabelle Huppert and included members Asia Argento, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, James Gray, Hanif Kureishi, Chang-dong Lee, Shu Qi, Sharmila Tagore, and Robin Wright Penn. There were a lot of strong contenders in the competition category this year, but big winner this year is The White Ribbon. Also, Best Director is a huge letdown, as I absolutely hated that movie! Read on for the complete list of winners.
Where have you taken us this time Mr. Gilliam? In the latest film from one of the wackiest and most beloved filmmakers, we're given a somewhat psychedelic glimpse into his truly wonderful imagination. It's his best film in a decade, the very last film starring Heath Ledger, and the first starring role for model Lily Cole. I'm not exactly the biggest fan of Gilliam (especially after Tideland), but I'm happy to say that I'm a fan again after watching The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Gilliam takes us on a whimsical journey through the streets of London with a story that may have some big flaws, but is still an experience to watch.
I think I stumbled across a big Cannes sleeper hit. From the beaches of Brazil comes Adrift, known as À Deriva in Portuguese, the third film from Brazilian director Heitor Dhalia. I'm going to say right up front - following in the footsteps of City of God director Fernando Meirelles, Dhalia is the next great Brazilian filmmaker on the verge of breaking out. Adrift is his calling card, a gorgeous family drama about a beautiful young girl (seen above) and her parents. It's not a masterpiece, but it is definitely one of the better films I've seen here that offers so much to fall in love with, whether it be the actors, cinematography, or story.
What the heck is Jim Carrey doing in Cannes? Well, there's a sidebar selection of films, not officially part of the festival, but in the Directors' Fortnight. Since I missed seeing I Love You Phillip Morris at Sundance this year, I wanted to catch it while it was showing in Cannes - I'm glad I did. Not only was it a breath of fresh air to see an American indie film while at Cannes, but it was simply a great film. Screenwriters Glenn Ficarra and John Requa make their directing debut with Phillip Morris, a comedy based on a true story about two gay lovers who meet in prison that I could describe as Carrey's take on Catch Me If You Can.
What were you expecting? Quentin Tarantino's long-awaited WWII extravaganza Inglourious Basterds premiered today in Cannes amidst a considerable amount of buzz. I'll admit that it was the one Cannes film I was looking forward to seeing the most. But is it a masterpiece? Not exactly. Tarantino doesn't reach those heights this time, though he does kick things up a notch in a way that even I wasn't expecting. Basterds is a bit light on the action, heavy on the talking, and full of great performances. It's as awesome as Tarantino's first two films and as entertaining as his most recent few. It's the WWII movie we've been waiting to see.
I'm back again live from Cannes, this time with a tour of the Palais des Festival, the Cannes headquarters where the famous Grand Théâtre Lumière is located, and where I work out of most of the days in the press room. A few days ago I put up my first video blog featuring a chat with Sperling Reich, and I expect to have another one in the next few days talking about the last few films I've seen. But today I just wanted to show those of you who aren't here, like my friends at other websites, what it's like to be working in Cannes, including how the press boxes work and how crowded the press room always is. Enjoy this latest video!
Am I as screwed up as either of the characters in Antichrist if I say I had a blast watching this? Maybe it was the excitement in the air before it started, or maybe it was the combination of the laughs, shrieks, cheers, and jeers throughout Lars von Trier's latest film, but I think I enjoyed it. See that's the problem - Antichrist is fucked up. In a good way? Or in a bad way? Even I don't know the answer to that question (or maybe that's something you'll decide for yourself), but I can tell you it's one hell of an exhilarating experience watching this. My gut feeling coming out of it is that I actually liked it, screwed up or not.
A historical epic at Cannes? That doesn't seem right, but indeed, Agora fits, not perfectly, but it's a good Cannes period piece, at least. In his latest ambitious film Agora, Spanish-Chilean director Alejandro Amenabar takes us back to ancient Egypt, in the city of Alexandria around the year 391 A.D. We are shown the story of the professor and philosopher Hypatia (Rachel Weisz), and the events that occur in Alexandria around her, mainly the rise of Christianity. Agora boasts some wonderful production design and presents a fascinating look at the religious feuds of the time, but otherwise struggles with some writing problems.