Sunday, May 18, 2014

2014 Cannes Film Festival: Day 4-5

Grand Théâtre Lumière © FDC
  • Day 4 & 5 - Saturday-Sunday, May 16-17

  • Recap of the first weekend (Days 4 & 5) of the 67th Cannes Film Festival (Festival de Cannes), which runs until May 25, 2014.

    Four Compétition films were screened:
    • Saint Laurent by Bertand Bonello (France).

      This is the French director's third time in the main competition. A biopic of the legendary French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.

      Official Synopsis:
      As one of History's greatest fashion designers entered a decade of freedom, neither came out of it in one piece.
    • Wild Tales by Damián Szifrón (Argentina, Spain).

      The Argentinian director makes his Cannes debut with a compendium of six short films involving revenge.

      Official Synopsis:
      Vulnerable before a reality that can suddenly be modified and become unpredictable, the characters of Wild Tales cross the thin line that divides civilization from brutality. A story about love deception, the return of the past, a tragedy, or even the violence contained in an everyday detail, appear themselves to push them towards the abyss, into the undeniable pleasure of losing control.
    • The Homesman by Tommy Lee Jones (USA).

      In 2005, Jones made his debut at Cannes with The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, a film for which he won the Best Actor award. He returns with a western adapted from a novel by Glendon Swarthout.

      Official Synopsis:
      Mary Bee Cuddy, 31, lives a solitary existence in a God-fearing mid-western town. She is designated by members of her church to take back East three women who have lost their minds. On the way from Nebraska to Iowa, where those women will at last find refuge, Mary Bee saves the life of Briggs, a claim-jumper and outlaw. He agrees to help in her mission through snowstorms and perilous encounters with settlers, Indians and the harshness of the Frontier territory.
    • The Wonders (Le Meraviglie) by Alice Rohrwacher (Italy, Switzerland, Germany).

      The Italian director's second feature film and her first competition nod. Her first film, Corpo Celeste, appeared in the 2011 Director's Fortnight.

      Official Synopsis:
      Nothing will be the same at the end of this summer for Gelsomina and her three younger sisters. She is the designated heir of the strange, secluded kingdom that her father constructed around them to protect his family from “the end of the world”. An extraordinary summer, when the strict rules that hold the family together, are beginning to break: in part due to the arrival of Martin, a German boy on a youth rehabilitation program, and in part the local community’s participation in a TV competition for big prizes “Village Wonders”, presented by the mysterious Milly Catena.

    In the Un Certain Regard section:
    • Run by Philippe Lacôte (Côte d'Ivoire, France).

      Competing for the Camera d'Or with his first film.

      Official Synopsis:
      RUN is running away… He has just killed his country’s Prime Minister. Therefore he had to take the face and clothes of a madman wandering throughout the town for months. His life returns to him in flashes: his childhood with master Tourou, when he dreamt of becoming a rainmaker, his incredible adventures with Greedy Gladys and his militia past as a Young Patriot in Ivory Coast's political and military conflict. RUN has not chosen all of these lives. He stumbled into them, escaping from one life to another. This is why he is called RUN.
    • The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby by Ned Benson (USA).

      Competing for the Camera d'Or with his first film. A new concise edit of the two-parter that premiered last year at TIFF. It stars Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy.

      Official Synopsis:
      An enviable couple are seemingly so in love until their marriage is shaken to the core when life throws them a devastating curve. Now this New York couple must try to understand each other as they cope with loss and attempt to reclaim the life and love they once had.
    • White God (Fehér Isten) by Kornél Mundruczó (Hungary, Germany, Sweden).

      The sixth feature film from the Hungarian actor-director. He has been twice previously selected for the main competition, winning the FIPRESCI Prize in 2008 for Delta.

      Official Synopsis:
      A cautionary tale between a superior species and its disgraced inferior...
    • Force Majeure (Turist) by Ruben Östlund (Sweden).

      The fourth feature from the Swedish director, winner of the Short Film Golden Bear at Berlin (2010: Incident by a Bank).

      Official Synopsis:
      A Swedish family travels to the French Alps to enjoy a few days of skiing. The sun is shining and the slopes are spectacular but, during a lunch at a mountainside restaurant, an avalanche turns everything upside down.
    • Beautiful Youth (Hermosa Juventud) by Jaime Rosales (Spain, France).

      The fifth feature film from the Spanish director, and his third to appear in the Un Certain Regard section. He previously won the FIPRESCI Prize in the Directors' Fortnight section (2003: The Hours of the Day)

      Official Synopsis:
      Natalia and Carlos, both aged 20, are in love and struggling to survive in today’s Spain. Their limited resources prevent them from getting ahead as they’d like to. They have no great ambitions because they have no great hopes. To earn some money, they decide to shoot an amateur porno film. The birth of their daughter Julia is the main catalyst for the changes they make.
    • Jauja by Lisandro Alonso (Argentina, USA, Netherlands, France, Mexico).

      The fifth feature film from the Argentinian director.

      Official Synopsis:
      The Ancient Ones said that Jauja was a mythological land of abundance and happiness. Many expeditions tried to find the place to verify this. With time, the legend grew disproportionately. People were undoubtedly exaggerating, as they usually do. The only thing that is known for certain is that all who tried to find this earthly paradise got lost on the way.
    Competition Film
    Saint Laurent
    directed by Bertand Bonello

    Critical response:
    "while seductively silly and largely unmoving, does a better job than its predecessor of celebrating Saint Laurent’s flamboyant artistry. "Guy Lodge (Variety)
    "Endowed with an immense reserve of personal creativity and a very highly skilled sense of aesthetics, Bertrand Bonello gives to the trajectory of Yves Saint Laurent all of the wealth which it merits, and the film is full of original and surprising ideas, always arriving at the right time."Favien Lemercier (Cineuropa)
    "Succeeds as a warts and all story of a legendary fashion designer, but as with Jalil Lespert’s more soap opera orientated film Yves Saint Laurent, released earlier this year, it offers little insight into this complex character."Mark Adams (Screen Daily)
    "The screenplay seems to generally lack a throughline or focus, coasting from party scenes full of drugs and alcohol to work-related drama but rarely managing to get inside the head of the self-destructive character the designer had become by the 1970s."Boyd van Hoeij (The Hollywood Reporter)
    "Perhaps through time this hallucinatory quasi-dream of a biopic will grow in stature, but as first impressions go, the film loves itself so much it renders itself beautiful, but utterly shallow."Nikola Grozdanovic (The Playlist)
    "Over two and a half hours, it becomes not just tedious but thunderously vapid, and you leave feeling drained, wondering if the film even knew what it wanted to tell you. "Robbie Collin (The Telegraph)
    "Traditional chronology is eschewed in favour of smelting moments together via sounds, images, objects and ideas, which does well to help place us into the mindset of our subject, even if it does tamp down any real over-arching dramatic sweep."David Jenkins (Little White Lies)
    Competition Film
    Wild Tales (Relatos Salvajes)
    directed by Damián Szifrón
    Argentina, Spain

    Critical response:
    "A wickedly delightful compendium of six standalone shorts united by a theme of vengeance — the kind that explodes in spectacular bursts after a put-upon soul is screwed over too many times."Jay Weissberg (Variety)
    "It’s entertaining and subdued, and it’s a pure moment of rock’n’roll fun which could have perhaps been better placed in a Special Screening, rather than in the Official Competition of the Cannes Film Festival."Domenico La Porta (Cineuropa)
    "Its tales of the unexpected have twists and turns, but they’re always innovative, and the music choices are unexpectedly left-field and pulpishly entertaining."Fionnuala Halligan (Screen Daily)
    "Opens and closes with a bang, and at its best is a riotously funny and cathartic exorcism of the frustrations of contemporary life."David Rooney (The Hollywood Reporter)
    "Almost any one of these shorts would have you sitting up and paying attention. Together, it only cements Szifron's clear talent, but it does also overstay its welcome just a tiny bit. "Oliver Lyttleton (The Playlist)
    Competition Film
    The Homesman
    directed by Tommy Lee Jones

    Critical response:
    "Unlike other actor-directors, Jones never seems to indulge excess on the part of his cast. Though the characters are strong, the performances are understated."Peter Debruge (Variety)
    "By concentrating on the vast human toll of those pioneer days, Tommy Lee Jones has created a beautifully crafted, heartbreaker of a tale that will find a ready welcome among older audience attracted by the unusual subject matter and the classical, unfussy elegance of the storytelling."Allan Hunter (Screen Daily)
    "In what’s probably her best big screen role since Million Dollar Baby, Swank is obliged to keep Mary Bee’s emotions in tight check, but the pain her valiant character bottles up emerges in piercing flashes to lasting effect."Todd McCarthy (The Hollywood Reporter)
    "Jones' alternately skillful and irreverent approach results in a mixed bag of possibilities, with many terrifically entertaining on their own even as the overall picture remains muddled."Eric Kohn (IndieWire)
    "Too meditative to tick boxes for the gunplay crowd, and too silly and uneven for the arthouse gang, the film will likely be dismissed by many as a misfire."Oliver Lyttleton (The Playlist)
    "Swank and Jones are a sensational pairing and their peculiar chemistry places the film at almost the precise mid-point between two more modern Westerns: the smoky whimsy of the Coen brothers’ True Grit and the tougher, drier Meek’s Cutoff, from Kelly Reichardt"Robbie Collin (The Telegraph)
    Competition Film
    The Wonders (Le Meraviglie)
    directed by Alice Rohrwacher
    Italy, Switzerland, Germany

    Critical response:
    "Rohrwacher’s style lays more emphasis on mood than plot (though the storyline is clear), conjuring a conflicted world of regulation and freedom in all aspects of the characters’ lives."Jay Weissberg (Variety)
    "Although we can’t say it’s an autobiography, it’s true that Alice is delving into a subject she knows well. Her parents are bee keepers, and what she observed as a child, the act of questioning her own identity in a family in which different languages were spoken, lit the spark to this story endowed with great power and elegance."Camillo Di Marco (Cineuropa)
    "Rohrwacher listens to her characters, lets them take the story in unexpected directions, at the same time building resonance out of recurrent symbols and triggers."Lee Marshall (Screen Daily)
    "The tone hovers mysteriously between dream and reality and Rohrwacher pins the film on stark and striking images."Deborah Young (The Hollywood Reporter)
    "The film comes and goes without commotion, but its magic settles on you as softly and as steadily as dust."Robbie Collin (The Telegraph)
    "As a quirky coming-of-ager with a dash of magical realism, The Wonders achieves what it sets out to do and as such it will surely enhance its director's reputation, but it's too slight to make it a serious Palme d'Or contender."Adam Woodward (Little White Lies)
    Un Certain Regard Film
    directed by Philippe Lacôte
    Côte d'Ivoire, France

    Critical response:
    "Feels both deeply personal and urgent, but not strident or mannered. The current hotness of African cinema just got a little hotter."Leslie Felperin (The Hollywood Reporter)
Un Certain Regard Film
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
directed by Ned Benson

Critical response:
"A far more conventional film and, as it turns out, a much less fascinating journey with the characters. More committed audiences would do well to invest in the whole shebang when the full two-part film finds limited art house release later in the fall."Deborah Young (The Hollywood Reporter)
"It is very much a first film, albeit one of rare ambition, and there's every reason to think that Benson will nail it next time around."Oliver Lyttleton (The Playlist)
"It's like a decent TV dinner, where the individual flavours risk blurring into mulch."Xan Brooks (The Guardian)
"Despite the refreshingly honest treatment of its subject, however, not to mention some terrific central performances, the film is let down by not allowing what makes it work enough room to breathe."Adam Woodward (Little White Lies)
Un Certain Regard Film
White God (Fehér Isten)
directed by Kornél Mundruczó
Hungary, Germany, Sweden

Critical response:
"Best feature to date from distinctive Hungarian stylist Kornel Mundruczo, “White God” initially looks to be a sizable departure from his previous work, with its appealingly naive adventure narrative, until the story’s mythic proportions, not to mention its visceral violence, reveal themselves."Guy Lodge (Variety)
"A real feat in terms of shooting, the film very quickly chucks away its Lassie clone disguise for a brutal immersion in an environment in which the authority obeys unjust laws which provoke violence and which backfire on it."Fabien Lemercier (Cineuropa)
"Animal lovers will look away in some of the scenes here but ultimately, they should be pleased….because ultimately dogs have the upper hand."Dan Fainaru (Screen Daily)
"Most shot in jerky hand-held style, with a stridently percussive score pumping up every hint of tension, White God falls somewhere between a superior genre thriller and a Big Statement movie"Stephen Dalton (The Hollywood Reporter)
Un Certain Regard Film
Force Majeure (Turist)
directed by Ruben Östlund

Critical response:
"One of this superbly directed film’s many pleasures is the way Ostlund risks provoking out and out laughs from the midway point on, as the dramatic stakes heighten."Lee Marshall (Screen Daily)
"Visually stunning even in its most banal moments and emotionally perceptive almost to a fault, the film stands to complicate many a romantic arthouse date."Peter Debruge (Variety)
"Though the two-hour film should’ve ended a reel or so before it actually fades to black, this is another solid and provocative feature from Ostlund."Boyd van Hoeij (The Hollywood Reporter)
"Östlund invites us to look at ourselves honestly. He points out our inconsistencies, attempts to hold us to account for our worst hypocrisies. Force Majeure is a frightening film. It brushes off our surface layer, shows us the icy truth underneath."Hernry Barnes (The Guardian)
Un Certain Regard Film
Beautiful Youth (Hermosa Juventud)
directed by Jaime Rosales
Spain, France

Critical response:
"Rosales’ film subscribes to the philosophy that “real life” doesn’t reduce to neatly packaged narratives, offering instead an episodic series of incidents set in real apartments and buses and alleys."Peter Debruge (Variety)
"Filmed with such raw cinematography that it leaves the audience in no doubt as to the movie’s realism"Alfonso Rivera (Cineuropa)
"The film’s depiction of unemployed, directionless 20-somethings is anything but pretty, revealing a lost generation where few viable solutions exist beyond exploitation or expatriation."Jordan Mintzer (The Hollywood Reporter)
Un Certain Regard Film
directed by Lisandro Alonso
Argentina, USA, Netherlands, France, Mexico

Critical response:
"A more magical, philosophical and indeed surreal trip than we’re used to from him, Jauja is likely to divide Lisandro’s admirers, purists liable to balk at the story’s dream elements."Jonathan Romney (Screen Daily)
"An extremely enigmatic work that dangles possible meanings before viewers, who are forced to put their thinking caps on."Deborah Young (The Hollywood Reporter)
"Perversely episodic, strangely empty, and unfolding in a series of beautifully composed but static wide shots, the film is a test of patience which may work better if you think of it as staring at a series of lovely paintings for two hours. Watching them dry. "Jessica Kiang (The Playlist)
The 2014 Cannes Film Festival runs from May 14-25, be sure to return for our daily coverage!

Screening Tomorrow at #Cannes2014 (Monday, May 19):
  • Foxcatcher by Bennett Miller (In Competition)
  • Maps to the Stars by David Cronenberg (In Competition)
  • A Girl at my Door by July Jung (Un Certain Regard)
  • Xenia by Panos H. Koutras (Un Certain Regard)
  • Bird People by Pascale Ferran (Un Certain Regard)

See our other coverage of the 67th Cannes Film Festival:


Unknown said...

I'm not surprised by the mixed review for the new Tommy Lee Jones movie but I'm glad The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is getting excellent reviews as I really love Jessica Chastain.

Unknown said...

I saw Ruben Östlund's Play (2011), which was pretty good, maybe I should give his latest a shot. However the image you shared reminds me of another Cannes film, Sisters (2012)
I've read mixed things about Rigby, so I don't know what to think about that yet, the premise is intriguing, but maybe is undermined by a 1st time director.

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