It's not often that the Cannes Film Festival plays science fiction films, but when they do, they're some of the best science fiction films all year. After Yang is the second feature film directed by the Korean-American filmmaker known as "Kogonada", who made his debut in 2017 at the Sundance Film Festival with a feature called Columbus after creating video essays about cinema for years before that. It seems he has taken his experience with that film (and his vast knowledge of cinema) and developed even more as a filmmaker in crafting After Yang, a remarkably astute and beautifully compelling story about family and memory. After Yang is the best sci-fi film about artificial intelligence since Ex Machina, the kind of film that pulls you in and entices repeat viewings right away. It's one of these films that is going to be dissected and analyzed for years. The details in every frame, the depth in the storytelling, all while remaining so slick and minimalistic.
There will be before Cow, and there will be after Cow. But in all seriousness… Andrea Arnold's documentary film Cow is the latest offering on the Vegan Cinema menu, premiering at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival in a brand new out-of-competition section called Cannes Première. The film features almost no talking, and no dialogue except for a few words spoken in the background by farm workers. There is some music, but that's a different surprise. Instead, the camera focuses on cows at a factory farm in the UK. Specifically one older bovine and two of her calves, which she gives birth to in the film. This isn't the first film to do this – Viktor Kosakovskiy's Gunda, which premiered at the 2020 Berlin Film Festival, also features nothing but footage of farm animals roaming around. But this time we get a much closer look at the brutality of factory farming, and the sickening process of breeding and raising animals solely to produce food for humans – and that's it.
"Laughing at my pain…" An early teaser trailer has debuted for the chilling film Nitram, which is the latest from gritty Australian filmmaker Justin Kurzel. The film will be premiering at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival currently underway, premiering in the Main Competition section at the very end of the fest. The film focuses on a young man named Nitram, and the events leading up to the 1996 Port Arthur massacre on Tasmania (Australia's worst mass shooting) in an attempt to understand why and how the atrocity occurred. The title is a reference to the name of the actual killer, Martin, and is a reverse spelling of his name. Caleb Landry Jones stars as Nitram, and the superb cast includes Essie Davis, Anthony LaPaglia, Judy Davis, and Sean Keenan. This is a very unnerving introduction and first look at an Australian film that seems like it will be haunting and uncomfortable to sit through. Only talented filmmakers can handle an upsetting story.
What better way to kick off the 2021 Cannes Film Festival than with an epic, wild, absurdly original musical about the vanity and selfishness of show business. "So may we start?" Annette is the latest creation of French director Leos Carax, who certainly has a knack for musical cinema, and the Sparks Brothers, two extremely talented musical brothers (who are also profiled in this year's documentary The Sparks Brothers directed by Edgar Wright). Together they've created an unquestionably original and unquestionably wild big screen musical based around a love story which eventually turns into something else entirely involving an odd wooden puppet baby as its plays out over 2 hours, 20 minutes. There's something beautifully admirable about a movie musical that is this audacious, and this cynical when it really gets into the depths of the plot.
We're back again in the South of France for the glorious and grand 2021 Cannes Film Festival. The fest reluctantly cancelled last year due to the pandemic and due to an inability to figure out how to come up with some kind of alternative festival (a virtual version or a delay or anything else that wouldn't risk the safety of the attendees). Last year during the usual Cannes dates in May, I watched a series of Cannes Film Festival-esque films and wrote a tribute to the magic of the festival. This year we're finally back in action. The biggest difference is that the festival is now taking place in July instead of May (but only for this year). It's sunnier, there are more tourists around, and the COVID-19 pandemic is still ever-present. But… I couldn't resist the temptation, and I had to come back. Just to see some films, catch up with old friends that I haven't seen for a while, and relax in the Mediterranean (though there's not much relaxing when I'm seeing four films a day).
"Whoever you are… come travel with me!" Time to rock the Acropolis! An official promo trailer has debuted for a fascinating film titled New Worlds: The Cradle of Civilization, which is premiering at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival kicking off next week. It's a filmed presentation of one remarkable performance. On a glorious Greek evening, screen legend Bill Murray and world-renowned cellist Jan Vogler perform the Acropolis with a timeless mix of music and poetry. Captured on film by director Andrew Muscato, Murray & Vogler are joined by the dazzling Mira Wang (on violin) and dynamic Vanessa Perez (on piano). Spanning from Bach to Van Morrison, Whitman to West Side Story, the wildly entertaining, humorous and deeply touching show is infused with the one-of-a-kind charm of Bill Murray. This sounds and looks great! I wish I could've been there for the actual performance, but I'm glad they captured this on film so we can all enjoy it.
"You want me to like your admirer?" Films Boutique has unveiled a festival promo trailer for The Story of My Wife, the first English-language feature from acclaimed, award-winning Hungarian filmmaker Ildikó Enyedi. She won the Golden Bear top prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 2017 for her last film On Body and Soul. The Story of My Wife, adapted from Hungarian author Milán Füst's novel, is set to premiere at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival in the Main Competition, and it runs a full 2 hours, 49 minutes. Whew. There's not of a description. Only an introduction: the film follows a Dutch sea captain who makes a bet in a café to wed the first woman who enters through the door. In walks Lizzy, played by Léa Seydoux. The cast also includes Gijs Naber and the ubiquitous Louis Garrel. This is the best of any Cannes trailer we've posted before the festival so far - easily one of my most anticipated this year. It looks ravishing; many elegant shots.
"I just miss the way she used to look at me…" ScreenDaily has revealed the first official promo trailer for a Finnish-Russian drama titled Compartment No. 6, originally known as Hytti nro 6 in Finnish. This is premiering in the Main Competition at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival coming up in just a few weeks. This is Finnish filmmaker Juho Kuosmanen's follow-up to his acclaimed Cannes 2016 hit film The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki. As a train weaves its way up to the arctic circle, two strangers share a journey that will change their perspective on life. A woman must spend her long ride and a tiny sleeping car with a Russian miner, and this strange and unusual unexpected encounter leads them to face the truth about their own yearning for human connection. Oooh. Starring Seidi Haarla & Yuriy Borisov. "The film is a real journey through Russia's society with two unforgettable characters," a producer states. "It is a generous homage to humanity, in all its contradictions." Sounds great and this first look footage has already piqued my interest.
"What should we do if one of us has to leave suddenly?" The Match Factory has released an official trailer for an emotional Mexican drama titled Prayers for the Stolen in English, originally known as Noche de Fuego (which translates directly to Night of Fire) in Spanish. This is premiering at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section, one of the few films from Latin America and one of the few films directed by a woman at this year's festival. Prayers for the Stolen is about life in a solitary town nestled in the mountains that is at war, as seen through the eyes of three young girls on their path to adolescence. "In their own impenetrable universe, magic and joy abound; meanwhile, their mothers train them to flee from those who turn them into slaves or ghosts. But one day, one of the girls doesn't make it to their hideout in time." Starring Mayra Batalla, Ana Cristina Ordóñez González, Marya Membreño, Norma Pablo, Eileen Yáñez, and Memo Villegas. It looks like an achingly beautiful Mexican film that's worth a watch.
"Is nothing sacred to you?!" Amazon Studios has unveiled an official US trailer for Annette, the new Leos Carax film that will kick off the 2021 Cannes Film Festival on opening night in just a few weeks. This film was also part of last year's selection before the festival was cancelled, and has been held over to debut this year instead. The description for Annette says it's "a magnificent, glorious musical set in Hollywood." Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard star as famous lovers, who end up having a baby, named Annette, that gets extra attention and is instantly famous. Also starring Simon Helberg as "The Conductor". This new trailer is very similar to the original French trailer, using most of the same footage with a few extra shots thrown in. This does look like an epic Sparks musical (they wrote the script and music) about famous musicians and how their life changes when they have a baby. Or at least that's what all these trailers make it look like.
"I'm forty-five years old, and I hunt dead bodies for a living." ScreenDaily has revealed an official promo trailer for an indie film from Africa titled The Gravedigger's Wife, marking the feature directorial debut of a Somalian filmmaker named Khadar Ahmed. This is premiering at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival in the sidebar known as Critics' Week (Semaine de la Critique), where they often premiere a lot of great under-the-radar films. The Gravedigger's Wife is set in the East Africa country of Djibouti. In times of misfortune, Guled and his family have to push themselves to the limits. Guled is already working hard as a gravedigger to make ends meet: how can they find more money to save Nasra and keep the family together? The film stars Omar Abdi as Guled, Yasmin Warsame, Kadar Abdoul-Aziz Ibrahim, Samaleh Ali Obsieh, Hamdi Ahmed Omar, and Awa Ali Nour. "The family drama plays out against the colourful backdrop of the makeshift homes & teeming streets of Djibouti City, which has rarely been captured on the big screen…"
Neon has unveiled a promo teaser trailer for the the film Titane, the second feature film made by acclaimed French filmmaker Julia Ducournau following her horror hit Raw a few years ago. There is not much of a synopsis available yet, only that "Titane" means "A metal, highly resistant to heat and corrosion, with high tensile strength alloys often used in medical prostheses due to pronounced biocompatibility." There's clearly a lot of crazy things going on in this! It stars Agathe Rousselle and Vincent Lindon - seen prominently throughout this teaser. Along with Garance Marillier and Laïs Salameh. The French description also adds: "After a series of unexplained crimes, a father finds his son who has been missing for 10 years." Even without any idea what's going on in all this footage, I am very interested in this and all the intense moments in this trailer. Titane is premiering at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival in the Competition in just a few weeks.