Being a lover of the art of cinema and not having the 80s very close to your heart is practically impossible. Culturally impactful movies such as Empire Strikes Back, Die Hard, The Terminator, Back to the Future, and hundreds more were so unforgettable that people who have never seen these movies can still recite many of their most famous lines from memory. Top Gun may not be the first film that comes to mind when going back more than thirty years, but its epic score and energetic male camaraderie maintain the high entertainment levels of a pure blockbuster - not to mention better action sequences than many movies of today. That said, Top Gun: Maverick surpasses the original in every aspect in every imaginable way.
Sometimes we really do need some direction in life. Wandering around without any real plans or hopes or dreams can only take you so far - wisdom for all of us to consider. One of the last films to premiere at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival is the latest from acclaimed American indie filmmaker Kelly Reichardt, her highly anticipated follow-up to the award-winning First Cow. As a huge fan of First Cow, and an admirer of her early minimal films like Old Joy and Wendy & Lucy, I was looking forward to seeing what she has been working on. Alas, Showing Up one of her worst films so far, an aimless and drab creation that is nothing more than a meandering showcase of entirely uninteresting artists who have never made anything of value but still keep going. It seems after First Cow all she could possibly think of was to film in her own backyard, walking around her neighborhood and honestly, I hope she never does this again. Please go anywhere else.
There's only so much I can really talk about with this film in a review from the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, because it's one of these vitally important works of cinema that you must see for yourself. I don't want to spoil it or discuss too much before everyone else has the opportunity to watch it, because the discussions are best once you've watched it as well. The most I can do now is talk about how beautiful this film is, how much it's a genuine work of art that exemplifies all of what cinema can and should be. How it utilizies emotional storytelling as a way to offer audiences hope to heal and understand, to empathize and sympathize with the characters. You may not even be able to realize just how this film will get stuck in your mind, how it will linger and affect you for months and years after. The power of extraordinary cinema. Close is the latest film by Belgian writer / filmmaker Lukas Dhont, who already played in Cannes back in 2018 with the film Girl.
Is there anything new I can say about the wonderful Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda that hasn't already been said by more adept film critics? Not really. He's beloved and so many critics have analyzed him in great depth already. His talent isn't in question, we know he's a master filmmaker, it's only whether each new film he makes is interesting or worthwhile. Broker is Hirokazu Kore-eda's latest feature, premiering at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival in the main competition section where just 4 years ago he already won the coveted Palme d'Or (for the film Shoplifters). Broker is actually set in Korea and filmed in Korean, marking the first time that the Japanese director has made a Korean film, but it's still as wonderful as ever. Even if he's telling pretty much the same story as Shoplifters, following a pieced-together family of lonely people - most of them orphans who have found solace and comfort in their amusing renegade family they've formed.
Falling in love is unique to each and everyone one of us, indescribable and yet extraordinary. We all express our love differently, and interact with our loved ones in our own special ways. How do you capture this on camera? Filmmakers have been telling love stories on the big screen since the very beginning of cinema, and it's a vital element of its evolution. Which brings us to the newest example of cinema evolving through an exceptional love story. Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook is already well known and loved, celebrated for his iconic Vengeance series (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Lady Vengeance) from the early 2000s. As we all grow older, I believe that most people get softer and sweeter, becoming more romantic and tender as they appreciate the little things in life that continue to bring them joy and warmth day after day. It seems as if Park has evolved as well, with his latest film Decision to Leave he's made a surprisingly tender film that isn't as dark or as twisted as the rest of the features in his oeuvre, but is still as masterful and moving.
There's only one David Bowie – no one else has ever been like him, no one will ever be like him again. A one-of-a-kind artist, creator, human (maybe? maybe not?), lover, dreamer, musician. How do you tell his story? Is it even possible? Probably not. It's better to not even try - there is so much about him that can't be explained, that can't be described in words. Moonage Daydream is a documentary about David Bowie, but it's not really a biopic, and it's not really a documentary. Much like Bowie himself, it's a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience that will blow you away. It's a profound experience - one of the most moving viewings I've had at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. Emerging from the cinema it's like entering a whole new world, with a new outlook on life and fresh perspective. It's a mind-melting, cosmically existential journey through Bowie's existence & endlessly wise mind. The epitome of a cinematic experience in every way. Amazing.
There have been many films made before about what it's like to be an adopted child from a far away country, how hard it is and all the psychological challenges that come with it. But there has never been a film like this before, telling a brutally honest story of one young Korean woman who grew up in France and her struggles with emotions. Return to Seoul (originally Retour à Séoul in France) is the second feature film made by filmmaker Davy Chou, who seems to be telling a story similar to his own about being raised in France as an adoptee. It's also going under alternate the English title All the People I'll Never Be, and it's premiering at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section. Unlike many other films about adoptees, everything doesn't get better when they go home and rediscover their original country or find their parents, it's not a feel-good story of redemption and rediscovery. It's a much harsher look at how hard it is to try and meet or find the biological parents, and how much this can mess with the minds of those struggling with it.
What does your heart truly desire? If you were asked this question on the spot, right now, would you be able to answer it? Would it be the actual, deep down truth? Or is the answer so complex and frightening that it's not easy to say without prying into the many dark twists & turns throughout our lives? George Miller's latest movie is a glorious, ambitious, one-of-a-kind creation called Three Thousand Years of Longing that explores this question (and others) by taking us on a journey with one lonely woman who is presented with this very provocation. She doesn't want to admit she is lonely, she claims to be content and satisfied being all by herself, but with time and understanding, she admits it. Deep down I wonder if it's true that we all wish for someone to be with, or something to take away that loneliness that I know we all feel. But some of us are more open to admitting this than others… And some are so afraid of always being lonely that they pretend they're totally fine with it and never confront these feelings. Perhaps meeting a Djinn could help…?
So this is what happens when you put a bunch of rich assholes on a big yacht! Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund is one of my favorite filmmakers these days - he's a genius when it comes to satire and mocking the most absurd parts of society. He makes films that say what you shouldn't say, that directly call out the bullshit, and then fling that bullshit around right back into everyone's face. Östlund already won the Palme d'Or in Cannes a few years ago with his comedy The Square, and already earned acclaim and tons of awards for Force Majuere from 2014. He's pretty much free to do whatever he wants now and his new film is titled Triangle of Sadness, which is an odd name for a film about a yacht full of rich assholes. That's because the name is a reference to the patch of skin between the eyes and the nose, most prominent in models who need to downplay their triangles of sadness. Look sharp and pretend you love capitalism, folks! All aboard.
Every year there are a handful of top notch films that premiere at major film festivals that are so impressive it's hard to believe they're the first feature film made by the filmmakers behind them. Earlier this year it was Fresh slicing it up at Sundance, directed by Mimi Cave; and last year it was The Lost Daughter, directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal (she even won the DGA Award for Best First Feature). Watch these films and they seem to be made by exceptionally talented directors with years of experience directing many other films, as they know how to craft scenes and hone the narrative at the same level as the best filmmakers out there. At this year's Cannes Film Festival, Rodeo is one of the most impressive feature debuts - joining these others as a stand out film that feels like it was made by someone who has made plenty of films before. In reality, this really is French filmmaker Lola Quivoron's feature directorial debut - and it's a gripping & exhilarating film.
"It's not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves." –Sir Edmund Hillary. Mountains are mystical, magical, and extraordinary. Some people are born in the mountains, and they never leave, unable to step away from them. Some people are born in the mountains, and leave to find their place elsewhere, yet always longing to return. Those who are drawn to their poetic majesty never forget their grandeur and immensity no matter where they are on this planet. One of the best films from the 2022 Cannes Film Festival so far is The Eight Mountains, an Italian feature (originally Le Otto Montagne) co-directed by Belgian filmmakers Felix van Groeningen (director of The Broken Circle Breakdown, Belgica, and Beautiful Boy) and Charlotte Vandermeersch. It's another breathtaking, slow burn story about men and mountains. It takes its time, following boys growing into men as two friends navigate the cliffs, passages, and snowy peaks of their lives.
It's time again. The 2022 Cannes Film Festival begins this week, and I'm back in the South of France for my 12th time covering this festival. I always love being back, and even with updates and frustrations, there is nowhere else I'd rather be right now. Choosing an Opening Night film for any festival is always a daunting task. This year the Cannes opener is the French zombie comedy called Final Cut (or Coupez! in French), which just so happens to be a French remake of the beloved Japanese indie classic One Cut of the Dead. It was originally set to premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, but when that festival announced they would have to shut down their physical in-person fest due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film backed out. I had a feeling it would end up in Cannes instead, and yep, I was right. And here it is! Ready to knock the socks off of the audiences in Cannes and remind them that filmmaking is a collaborative effort.