Happy birthday, sir.
Friday, May 24, 2013
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Boos rained down as the credits rolled for Only God Forgives. Me, I liked the movie. Didn't love it, but liked it. Or maybe I just appreciated what director Nicolas Winding Refn was going for. I make the case for the film, somewhat, over at Paste.
I've already told you how much I like All Is Lost. But for my latest Cannes diary entry for Backstage, I discuss his possible Oscar odds. Yes, it's not too early to start thinking about those bloody things again. Here's my post.
Behind the Candelabra will be playing on HBO soon, but at Cannes it's screening as part of the Official Competition. Twenty-four years ago, Steven Soderbergh won the Palme d'Or for his first film, Sex, Lies & Videotape. I don't think he'll repeat that feat with what he says is his final film. The movie's not bad at all -- it's just not up to that level. My review is up at Paste.
One of the most divisive films at this year's Cannes is Bastards, the latest from director Claire Denis. Well, put me firmly in the "pro" category: I loved its snarling darkness. I sing the film's praises over at Paste.
I have a father who's been a passionate runner for more than 30 years. I could never catch the fever, but it's deeply, deeply engrained in his life. I can't think of a movie in some time that so captured that mentality as Sarah Prefers to Run, a strong film here at Cannes from a first-time feature Canadian filmmaker, Chloé Robichaud. My review is up at Paste.
Currently on Screen International's critics grid of the Cannes competition films, A Touch of Sin is the second-highest-rated film, right behind Inside Llewyn Davis. Which is funny because many people I've chatted with seem down on director Jia Zhangke's latest. I'm not one of them, as I explain in my Paste review.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Sometimes you just get a feeling -- a hope, really -- that a movie will be special. And with All Is Lost, my gut instinct turned out to be correct. Though somewhat predictable in its overall shape, this survival-at-sea movie is really interesting, starring Robert Redford as a character we learn nothing about and who speaks almost no dialogue. It's an experiment that works, as I explain in my Screen International review.
(By the way, the above still is from All Is Lost, but that sure doesn't look like Redford, does it? I have no idea what that's about.)
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
For a while now, I've accepted the fact that I'm a morning person. That doesn't bother me, actually, my feelings summed up quite nicely by a certain Eels song. Have such a temperament is rather helpful at film festivals, especially here at Cannes where press screenings are often at 8:30am. For my latest Backstage diary entry, I talk about my morning routine at the festival.
(By the way, the above still is from the Competition film Borgman. I haven't seen it yet, but it seemed appropriate for this particular post.)
One of the less-beloved entries in the Official Competition at Cannes thus far has been Jimmy P. (Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian), a mouthful of a title, to be sure. But, at least in my view, not an unenjoyable film experience. It's a drama starring Mathieu Amalric as an anthropologist and psychoanalysis sent to investigate what is causing a Native American World War II vet (Benicio del Toro) to develop dizzy spells and vision problems. Based on a true story and set in the late 1940s, it's most interesting for how it plays with typical therapist-movie conventions. My review of Jimmy P. is up at Paste.
Since the Cannes Film Festival is about half over, I decided to take a look at which films in the competition have the best shot of winning the Palme d'Or. It's the subject of my latest Backstage diary entry.
I love Woody Allen, but I understand why some people find his movies jokey, shtick-y, cutesy and strained. I understand because sometimes I'll see a movie like A Castle in Italy and think, "Oh god, this is what they're talking about." My review from Cannes is up at Screen International.
Monday, May 20, 2013
One of the phenomenons you notice during film festivals is critics and journalists tweeting about their experience, letting us in on every quirky observation and venting complaint they have. For example, even if you aren't at Cannes right now, you've probably heard how rainy it's been this year. For my latest Backstage diary entry, I explain why I try to never let such hassles bug me.
I've liked director Takashi Miike's last few films, 13 Assassins and Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai, but for his latest, he leaves the period samurai action behind. Shield of Straw is a contemporary action-thriller that I wouldn't be surprised if Hollywood tries to remake sooner rather than later. It's got a fun premise -- elite team of cops must protect murder suspect from a whole nation of people who want to kill him for a reward -- but it gets bogged down. My review is up at Screen International.
What a fun little treat Bombay Talkies is. Hardly revelatory or life-changing, this collection of four short films from up-and-coming Indian directors is just plain enjoyable. Which isn't to say it's not also touching and thoughtful, but when I walked out of the theater, I was just genuinely pleased by the experience. When you sit through somber movies that are far more ambitious but also far less successful, trust me, you'll happily welcome a Bombay Talkies into your life. My review is up at Screen International.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Few filmmakers do family drama as well as Kore-eda Hirokazu. Nobody Knows, Still Walking, I Wish ... and now comes Like Father, Like Son, which part of me knows is a touch sappy. But other parts of me say to just feel the emotions and not question it. So I obey. My review is live at Paste.
Though it's nowhere near as good, I got a strong Yi Yi vibe while watching the Singaporean comedy-drama Ilo Ilo. Like Edward Yang's great film, Ilo Ilo is modest but also incredibly wise about its characters, each one of them developed and going about their own story. Again, it's not quite as accomplished as Yi Yi, but any movie that puts me in that mindset is doing something right. My review of Ilo Ilo is up at Screen International.
I feel guilty for not liking Bends more than I do. A quiet two-hander from Hong Kong, it's all delicate beauty and subtle nuance. A rich housewife and her young driver share the same orbit, but they know nothing about the struggles in each other's world. This is the sort of film I eat up, but Bends didn't quite work for me. I explain why over at Screen International.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
If like me, you prefer the Coen brothers when they're in character-piece mode (Barton Fink, The Man Who Wasn't There, A Serious Man), then you may utterly love Inside Llewyn Davis. It's just terrific. I can't wait to see it again. My glowing review is up at Screen International.
Writer-director Asghar Farhadi wowed critics and Oscar voters alike with A Separation. I admired the film greatly, but I also found it a bit too manufactured for my liking -- a criticism that's more of a quibble, really. That quibble continues with his new film, The Past. Again, I'm enormously impressed with so much here. And yet, there's something that holds me back from full-on love. I try to explain all this in my Paste review.
A French film about a pretty 17-year-old hooker won't be a hard sell for a lot of people. Still, director Francois Ozon has taken a standard art-house template and made it nicely enigmatic. And said hooker is played by Marine Vacth, who is quite good in the role. My review of Young & Beautiful is up at Paste.