Sunday, 24 May 2015

Cannes 2015: The Winners!

Just like I was saying on yesterday's post, Cannes awards are even more unpredictable than the Oscars, because of the way they are selected by a jury made of up to nine people at the most, as opposed to a whole academy. And since the jury members are all artists, that often yields some very different results than if the awards were chosen by critics. Indeed the Coen brothers made some snarky comments claiming these were not critic's awards, all the most surprising considering their choices were mostly (bar one very surprising pick!) the critic's favourites!

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Cannes 2015: Awards Wishlist and Predictions

It is hard enough to guess what the Academy will vote as best film at the Oscars from a list of maximum ten films, a usually consensual choice, so it is impossible to ever predict the Cannes Film Festival awards. They are chosen from a list of usually twenty films, by a small jury of eight people, and as it has become the tradition ever since Isabelle Adjani, then President of the Jury in 1997 for the festival's 50th birthday, requested it, they are all artists. As a result, awards have become perhaps less dry than if chosen by critics for example, with some unexpected, sometimes maddening choices.

It is also pointless exercise to try to second guess what films the juries will have gone for based on their own films, as who knew Steven Spielberg would find himself so moved by Blue Is The Warmest Colour two years ago. Having read the daily interview of each members of the jury on the Cannes Film Festival website, they seem to have thankfully taken their task very seriously and loving the post screening discussions and discovering a certain kind of cinema they are not accustomed to.

Cannes 2015: Valley of Love by Guillaume Nicloux - Official Selection

It has been a while since Gérard Depardieu has been making the headlines for a film he was involved in as opposed to his personal life, so after his towering return to form in Welcome to New York last year (which was rejected by every selection of the Cannes Film Festival however!), he is back on the Croisette for Valley of Love. This new film has an intriguing premise: divorced couple Gérard (Gérard Depardieu) and Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert) travel to Death Valley after receiving some posthumous letters from their recently deceased son with some specific instructions and a promise they would see him there.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Cannes 2015: Mountains May Depart by Jia Zangke - Official Selection

Having been noticed with such films as Still Life (2006) and 24 City (2008), Chinese director Jia Zangke made a real impact with his previous film, A Touch of Sin (2013), which tackled corruption and violence in modern China, and won a prize for best screenplay in Cannes. And he is back on the Croisette this year with the poetically named Mountains May Depart.

Mountains May Depart is set in three different time periods. We first meet childhood friends Tao (Zhao Tao), Zhang (Zhang Jinsheng) and Liangzi (Liang Jin Dong) in 1999 while in their mid twenties. The trio first appears to be friends, but love rivalry soon emerges, leading to jealousy and even violence. And Zhao is having to choose between her two suitors, the former an ambitious entrepreneur and the latter a miner. Fast forward to 2014 (the Malaysia Airlines is mentioned as if to anchor this part in the present even more) and a lot have changed, relationships have ended, characters have moved on (or not)... Then we skip to 2025, a period during which the repercussions of the character's life choices are now felt by the next generation.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Cannes 2015: Office by Hong Won-Chan - Midnight Screenings

The Midnight Screenings within the official selection at the Cannes Film Festival seem to have been neglected over the last few years and have a distressing lack of proper genre cinema. There are fewer of them (only 3 this year) and the picks are not always inspired. If anything, it feels as if the Director's Fortnight sidebar selection has been grabbing all the best horror/indie/cult films over its last editions. Still, this year we had Amy which was widely celebrated, and everybody has wild hopes for Love tomorrow. And the third film within the Midnight Screening line-up, Office, was unleashed last night.

In Office, the employee of a big corporation slaughters his family in the shocking opening scene before going on the run. An homicide inspector interrogates his colleagues and superiors trying to understand how a seemingly normal man could commit such an act. But there seems to be a culture of secrecy, and the killer seems to be felt or even seen within the premises.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Cannes 2015: Green Room by Jeremy Saulnier

One of the best aspects of Cannes is being among the very first audience in the world to discover films, sometimes without having read any reviews, seen as much as a trailer or even a still. Indeed it is often a complaint for some that films who get a rapturous reception in Cannes do not live up to their growing hype by the time they reach cinemas months later. But sometimes the Cannes hype machine gets into overdrive so quickly that watching a film at the festival itself merely a few hours after its first well received screening can also lead to disappointment, and this is what happened to Green Room as far as I am concerned, after enthusiastic words all over Twitter after its first screening of the day.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Cannes 2015: The Lobster by Yorgos Lanthimos

In The Lobtser, single people in a dystopian world are sent to a seaside hotel in which they have forty five days to find a companion and fall in love. If they fail, they are turned into the animal of their choice and released into the wild. And there are severe punishments for those who try to lie about their true feelings.

On paper, The Lobster logically should not have worked. Many promising European directors have had their fingers burned when turning to the English language (or worse, going to Hollywood!). Add to the mix a quirky premise and an international cast with various accents, it sounded like a recipe for disaster or some kind of arthouse Euro pudding (think the godawful Mr Nobody by Jaco Van Dormael). And yet…