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Cannes Festivals News

Cannes 2009 Winners

Cannes 2009 winners

Here is the full list of winners at the 62nd Cannes film festival.

MAIN COMPETITION

Palme d’Or
The White Ribbon, Dir. Michael Haneke (Germany-France-Austria-Italy)

Grand Prix
A Prophet, Dir. Jacques Audiard (France)

Special Jury Prize
Alain ResnaisWild Grass (France)

Director
Brillante Mendoza, Kinatay, Philippines

Jury Prize
Fish Tank, Dir. Andrea Arnold (UK)
Thirst, Dir. Park Chan-wook (South Korea-U.S)

Actor
Christoph WaltzInglourious Basterds (U.S.-Germany)

Actress
Charlotte GainsbourgAntichrist (Denmark-Germany-France-Sweden-Italy-Poland)

Screenplay
Mei FengSpring Fever (Hong Kong-France)

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SHORT FILMS

Palme d’Or
Arena, Joao Salaviza, Portugal

Special Mention
The Six Dollar Fifty Man, Mark Albiston, Louis Sutherland, New Zealand

UN CERTAIN REGARD

Main Prize
Dogtooth, Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos (Greece)

Jury Prize
Police, Adjective, Dir. Corneliu Porumboiu (Romania)

Special Prize
No One Knows About Persian Cats, Bahman Ghobadi, Iran
Father of My Children, Mia Hansen-Love, France

OTHER MAIN JURY AWARDS

Camera d’Or
Samson And Delilah, Dir. Warwick Thornton

Special Mention
Ajami, Dir. Scandar Copti, Yaron Shani (Israel-Germany)

Critics’ Week Grand Prix
Farewell Gary, Dir. Nassim Amamouche (France)

FIPRESCI AWARDS

Competition
The White Ribbon, Dir. Michael Haneke (Germany-Austria-France-Italy)

Un Certain Regard
Police, Adjective, Dir. Corneliu Porumboiu (Romania)

Directors’ Fortnight
Amreeka, Cherien Dabis (Canada-Kuwait-U.S.)

> Official festival site
> IFC with all the winners and a lot of links

Categories
Cannes Festivals News

The White Ribbon wins the Palme d’Or

The White Ribbon

The White Ribbon has won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes film festival.

Directed by Michael Haneke, it explores the strange and disturbing things that start to happen in a German village on the eve of World War I.

Shot in black and white, it has no musical score and focuses on the generation that would grow up to embrace national socialism.

The story is narrated by schoolteacher in the village and the cryptic and sombre style has already led some critics to compare it to Hidden (2005).

The winners in the major categories were:

> Read more about The White Ribbon at IFC
> Michael Haneke at Wikipedia
> Official Cannes site

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Cannes

Cannes 2009 Reactions: Inglourious Basterds

Brad Pitt in Inglorious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino has long been a favourite of the Cannes Film Festival, winning the Palme d’Or in 1994 with Pulp Fiction and heading the jury in 2004.

His latest film is Inglourious Basterds, which is set in Nazi-occupied France during World War II.

The plot follows a group of Jewish-American soldiers (led by Brad Pitt) whose mission is to kill Nazis, and the other follows a young Jewish woman (Mélanie Laurent) who seeks to avenge the death of her parents by the Nazis.

There has been a lot on anticipation for the film and here is a summary of the critical reaction, which ranges from mixed to disappointing.

Todd McCarthy of Variety calls it an entertaining fairytale:

‘Inglourious Basterds’ is a violent fairy tale, an increasingly entertaining fantasia in which the history of World War II is wildly reimagined so that the cinema can play the decisive role in destroying the Third Reich.

Tarantino’s long-gestating war saga invests a long-simmering revenge plot with reworkings of innumerable genre conventions, but only fully finds its tonal footing about halfway through, after which it’s off to the races.

By turns surprising, nutty, windy, audacious and a bit caught up in its own cleverness, the picture is a completely distinctive piece of American pop art with a strong Euro flavor that’s new for the director.”

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian (a longtime fan of QT) is massively disappointed:

Quentin Tarantino‘s cod-WW2 shlocker about a Jewish-American revenge squad intent on killing Nazis in German-occupied France is awful. It is achtung-achtung-ach-mein-Gott atrocious.

It isn’t funny; it isn’t exciting; it isn’t a realistic war movie, yet neither is it an entertaining genre spoof or a clever counterfactual wartime yarn. It isn’t emotionally involving or deliciously ironic or a brilliant tissue of trash-pop references. Nothing like that.

Brad Pitt gives the worst performance of his life, with a permanent smirk as if he’s had the left side of his jaw injected with cement, and which he must uncomfortably maintain for long scenes on camera without dialogue.

His Guardian colleague Xan Brooks also thinks the film is a mess:

Quentin Tarantino‘s self-styled spaghetti-western war movie sends Hitler to the movies where, by God, he gets what’s coming to him.

“For all that, ‘Inglourious Basterds‘ remains a mess: an obese, pampered adolescent of a film that somehow manages to be both indolent and overexcited at the same time.

Oh sure, this adolescent is talented and has ambition and moxy to burn. But he’s so bumptious, brattish and full of himself that it becomes a little wearing.

And what was with all those movie references? Michael Fassbender plays a heroic film critic, while Tarantino’s script pays extended, obsequious tribute to French cinema and the auteur theory.

It all struck me as special pleading; the smarm-tactics of a schoolboy who has rushed through his homework and decides that his best hope is to butter up the teacher.”

Mike Goodridge of Screen International has mixed feelings:

An intermittently-inspired World War II epic which illustrates both Quentin Tarantino’s brilliance and his tendency towards indulgence, Inglourious Basterdsis composed of a series of long-running vignettes strung together by a slender story thread.

The problem is that no one character or set of characters runs through the entire two-and-a-half hour running time, and, with some of the scenes running up to half an hour each, the thread of the drama is left disjointed and the focus ever-changing.

Eric Kohn of indieWIRE thinks it lacks ambition:

“Given what the world expects from Quentin Tarantino – the man, the myth, the pastiche-driven movie machine – his latest feature, ‘Inglorious Basterds,’ stands out for its seemingly low ambition.”

“‘Basterds’ lacks the crackly excitement of Tarantino’s other efforts, mainly because he can’t seem to tie the whole package together.”

David Bourgeois of Movieline feels it was lightweight:

“‘Inglourious Basterds’ felt slight.

More time fleshing out characters and less time showcasing stylistic flourishes might have helped make it glorious indeed.

Sukhdev Sandhu of The Telegraph has some praise but feels it to be undistinguished:

“Casting Mike Myers and pal Eli Roth (director of ‘Hostel‘) is self-indulgent, Christoph Waltz though, as a cackling and multi-lingual German colonel, makes for a terrific villain.

Long-time fans will enjoy the Morricone-slathered soundtrack, and the allusions to Kubrick and Henri-Georges Clouzot.

Cannes normally adores Tarantino (he won the Palme d’Or for ‘Pulp Fiction‘), but this time? It’s not so much inglorious as undistinguished.”

Dave Calhoun of Time Out has mixed feelings:

“You get the feeling with ‘Inglourious Basterds’ that Quentin Tarantino desperately wants to put away childish things. Nor is he hiding the fact.

Not only is Brad Pitt’s closing line of the movie ‘This may well be my masterpiece,’ but ‘Inglourious Basterds’ is, a lot of the time, a little more restrained, a little quieter than we’ve come to expect from films like ‘Death Proof’ and ‘Kill Bill.’…

For all its shallow pleasures, there’s no getting away from the troubling theme of sadistic revenge at the heart of ‘Inglourious Basterds’, a theme that’s hard to take seriously in such a movie, about such a period of history.

Alison Willmore of IFC thinks there is way too much talk:

The ratio of talk to action – not gun fights or explosions, but just people doing stuff – in ‘Inglourious Basterds’ is, generously, nine to one.

Again and again, characters sit down over drinks (whiskey, champagne, milk), and the stakes may be high, but the conversations are meandering and lengthy, and no matter how clever they may get, they end up defeated by their own pace and their writer’s inability to let anything go.”

Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere is disappointed and also thinks there is too much talking:

It’s not great. It’s a fairly engaging Quentin chit-chat personality film in World War II dress-up. It’s arch and very confidently rendered from QT’s end, but it’s basically talk, talk, talk .

No characters are subjected to tests of characters by having to make hard choices and stand up for what they believe, and nobody pours their heart out. What they do is yap their asses off. Cleverly and enjoyably at times, yes, but brisk repartee does not a solid movie make.

The theme, I suppose is the penetrating and transformative power of film. The secondary theme is a Jewish revenge fantasy against the Nazis. (Costar Eli Rothcalled it “kosher porn” in this sense.)

No emotional currents, no sense of realism and no characters you’re allowed to really and truly enjoy and care about.

It’s an arch exercise in World War II genre filmmaking, a kind of filmic valentine for people who love film and film culture, and a put-on about World War II movies.

Mike D’Angelo of The AV Club thinks it the strangest film QT has made:

“Conceptually, this is easily the strangest film he’s ever made, as well as the least commercially viable.

In terms of its tone, its rhythms, its (sorry, I have to) mise-en-scène, its moment-to-moment creativity and imagination and inventiveness, this is far and away the most ordinary film Tarantino has ever made….

I was never bored by ‘Inglourious Basterds,’ I was never terribly excited by it, either. It was just kind of… there, stuck in second gear, functioning like the longest decent B-movie programmer of all time.”

J Hoberman of the Village Voice thinks it emblematic of QT’s recent movies:

Inglourious Basterds’ might well be QT’s [masterpiece] – if by that we mean the fullest expression of a particular artist’s worldview…

Perhaps one should call ‘Inglourious Basterds’ – a sort of World War II spaghetti western, even more drenched in film references than blood – quintessential Tarantino.

A little long, a bit too pleased with itself, it’s a movie of enthusiastic performances, terrific dialogue, amoral, surprisingly crude, mayhem, and mind-boggling juvenile fantasy.

It proves once again that Quentin Tarantino really knows movies – and that movies may be all he really knows.”

Check out the full press conference over at the official site.

> Inglorious Basterds at the IMDb
> Official site

Categories
Cannes Festivals Interesting

Cannes 2009: New Media Panel

Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere recorded some parts of a debate about film journalism and the internet chaired by Eugene Hernandez of indieWIRE.

It featured the following: James Rocchi (MSN Movies and AMCtv.com), Sharon Waxman (The Wrap), John Horn (LA Times), Anne Thompson (Variety) and Karina Longworth (Spout).

Part of me rolls my eyes at yet another ‘new media’ debate as the new in ‘new media’ is actually a bit old, but this did contain some nuggets of interest.

Anne Thompson shot a bit of footage at the beginning:


Find more videos like this on AnneCam

Plus, you can read her brief take on the panel here.  

Then Jeff Wells shot the following two sections, which I’m guessing pick up somewhere around the middle until the end.

There are a few points raised here that are worth chewing over.

  • News Speed: Sharon Waxman seems to think the days of long form pieces are over, but I don’t think this is the case. For sites like hers, which wants to be all over the latest breaking news, speed is of the essence. But only part of your audience is interested in that – there is still room for longer, more reflective articles which take more time to prepare. Karina’s point about ‘drowning in noise’ from too many articles is a good one. There is too much duplication amongst movie blogs (and I guess other sites too) but more posts equals more page views, so I’m guessing the trend will carry on.
  • Trade Journalism: Sharon launched The Wrap back in January as a kind of rival to Variety (the biggest movie trade journal), Deadline Hollywood Daily (an influential blog by Nikki Finke that regularly breaks Hollywood news to the point where Variety were reportedly thinking of buying it) and MovieCityNews (a movie news hub with daily links and blogs). The idea, I think, is a good one and although I don’t tend to visit it that much at the moment, it has the potential to grow and certainly become a rival to the trades if the creators play their cards right. I had a feeling someone would bring up that fake Avatar trailer business (and James did), which for the unenlightened was when the wrap posted a trailer for the new James Cameron movie that wasn’t in fact the real thing but a fan made one. But Sharon’s response was right – own up, admit mistake and move one. When you are posting a lot of daily stories, mistakes will happen – the important thing is to have an honest and open corrections policy. 

 

 

On this wrapping up segment, things get a little more serious as the wider future of journalism is discussed.

  • People Are Not Paying For News: John Horn brings up this point that has been raised many times before but never satisfactorily answered (maybe there just isn’t an answer yet). When you apply it to current affairs and the whole news ecosystem it is a scary thought. Will ‘serious news’ as we have known it just wither and be propped by publicly funded organisations (e.g. BBC) or trusts (e.g. The Guardian). Obviously the ongoing financial crisis makes it all worse, but when (if?) that goes away, what sort of media landscape are we really looking at in 5-10 years time? 
  • The Costs of Print: Anne points out that the inefficiencies of print (cutting down trees, squirting ink on papers and shipping them around the country on trucks) can be replaced by a new demand for online journalism. I broadly agree, but an age where efficient websites have actually replaced inefficient print publications still (even now) seems like a tempting mirage in the desert – it’s visible but somehow a long way off. 
  • New Models and Smaller Institutions: Sharon’s idea that journalists have to pool their talents and assets to create new models is a good one, but for a generation raised in the old analogue system (if we can call it that) it isn’t so easy to change and adapt to a new one that is still in a state of flux. However, the idea that smaller organisations tight on costs will replace bigger and more inefficient ones is probably correct in the long term.

The main thing that struck me about these discussions is that we have finally reached the point where we can actually see the end of print newspapers.

That’s because titles like the Rocky Mountain News and Seattle PI have actually closed their print operations (although both still have websites) and heavyweights like the LA Times and New York Times are in dire financial trouble.

Although I tend towards the view that print newspapers dying out is part of an evolutionary economic process, this video about the closure of the aforementioned Rocky Mountain News made me really sad.

Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.

Film journalism is just one slice of a larger media pie, but the issues remain the same.

From my perspective things look incredibly bleak for mainstream outlets and only slightly less alarming for smaller, more independent operators.

On a final note, given that the event was moderated by indieWIRE at the American Pavillion (the hub of US activity at Cannes), why wasn’t there official audio and/or video of this on either of their sites?

Am I missing something? 

Props must go again to Jeff Wells, who has audio of the whole event which can be downloaded as an MP3 here.

> indieWIRE
> American Pavillion
> Jeff Jarvis on the death of newspapers 

Categories
Cannes Festivals

Cannes 2009 Reactions: Antichrist

Antichrist

Danish director Lars Von Trier has returned to Cannes and caused an almighty stink with his new film Antichrist.

The plot involves a grieving couple (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) who retreat to an isolated cabin in the woods, where they hope to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage.

Mike Collett-White of Reuters reports on the boos and jeers that greeted the screening: 

“Danish director Lars von Trier elicited derisive laughter, gasps of disbelief, a smattering of applause and loud boos on Sunday as the credits rolled on his drama ‘Antichrist‘ at the Cannes film festival.

Cannes’ notoriously picky critics and press often react audibly to films during screenings, but Sunday evening’s viewing was unusually demonstrative.

Jeers and laughter broke out during scenes ranging from a talking fox to graphically-portrayed sexual mutilation.

Wendy Ide of The Times is appalled:

Lars von Trier, we get it. You really, really don’t like women.

The Danish arch-provocateur who challenged the movie world to get back to basics with the Dogme movement, and famously fell out with Bjork in the Palme d’Or-winning Dancer In The Dark, returns from a creative wilderness period resulting from a bout of chronic depression.

He has described Antichrist, a melodramatic psychological horror film, as being a therapeutic and deeply personal piece of work – which suggests that there is a special circle of hell which exists solely in Lars von Trier’s head.

But the cynical might suggest that it’s not the work that von Trier finds so cathartic, but the attention that results from the shockingly graphic mutilations in the movie’s overwrought final act.

It’s fair to say that one particular scene is easily the most controversial image ever to be screened in competition in Cannes.

It’s calculated to affront and it does. So on that level at least the film must be considered a success.

Todd McCarthy of Variety (who was upset in 2003 with Dogville) was not pleased:

Lars von Trier cuts a big fat art-film fart with “Antichrist.”

As if deliberately courting critical abuse, the Danish bad boy densely packs this theological-psychological horror opus with grotesque, self-consciously provocative images that might have impressed even Hieronymus Bosch, as the director pursues personal demons of sexual, religious and esoteric bodily harm, as well as feelings about women that must be a comfort to those closest to him.

Traveling deep into NC-17 territory, this may prove a great date movie for pain-is-pleasure couples.

Otherwise, most of the director’s usual fans will find this outing risible, off-putting or both – derisive hoots were much in evidence during and after the Cannes press screening – while the artiness quotient is far too high for mainstream-gore groupies.

Xan Brooks of The Guardian thinks he loves it:

I stumble out in a daze, momentarily unsure whether I loved it or loathed it. Abruptly I realise that I love it.

Von Trier has slapped Cannes with an astonishing, extraordinary picture – shocking and comical; a funhouse of terrors (of primal nature, of female sexuality) that rattles the bones and fizzes the blood before bowing out with a presumptuous dedication to Andrei Tarkovsky that had sections of the crowd hooting in fury

… Pound for pound, (”A Prophet”) is surely the strongest film of the competition so far. Why, then, is it “Antichrist” that keeps me awake last night, whirling like a dervish in the darkness of the room?

Richard Corliss of Time thinks the first half works better than the second:

The first half of Antichrist has enough storytelling vigor and sheen convince any critic, including those who thought von Trier went off the rails with his Dogville and Manderlay epics, that, hey, the guy can make a normal movie, and with the highest skill.

There are visions here worth savoring, pure von Trier weirdo-magic, like the sight of Gainsbourg lying on the forest ground, willing herself to blend with the green … but von Trier doesn’t have the craft to bring the moviegoer along in the most extreme parts of Antichrist.

The thought was that we were being subject to the spectacle, not of a woman going mad, but of a director.

Jonathan Romney of Screen International has mixed feelings:

Von Trier deserves credit for audacity, not least in making a genuine two-hander: apart from the couple’s sporadically glimpsed child, Gainsbourg and Defoe are the only players, other humans appearing with faces digitally blurred.

Dod Mantle’s elegant DV photography, using RED and Phantom cameras, makes for visual distinction, both in the stylised sequences and in the straighter chamber-drama sequences.

But you can’t help wondering why a director this sophisticated would want to put his audience through the mill quite so crudely.

Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly was impressed by the visuals after being repulsed by the gore:

“Blood spurts, bones are broken, genitals are mutilated… hellooo? Are you still with me?”

“The movie looks almost tauntingly great, of course, with von Trier’s longtime collaborator (and ‘Slumdog Millionaire‘ Oscar winner) Anthony Dod Mantle as cinematographer.

So it’s one good-looking, publicity-grabbing provocation, with an overlay of pseudo-Christian allegory thrown in to deflect a reasonable person’s accusations of misogyny.

As a kicker, the director dedicates the picture to the memory of the great Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky – a final flip of the bird to the Cannes audience.”

Charles Ealy of the Austin Movie Blog feels he witnessed film history:

“It’s not often that you leave a movie and feel like you’ve just experienced a moment in cinematic history.

“The movie’s violence has an emotional impact that hasn’t been seen since Gaspar Noé‘s ‘Irréversible,’ which premiered here a few years ago. That’s because you care about the characters, long before the violence comes.”

Elizabeth Renzetti for The Globe and Mail compares it to Don’t Look Now:

It’s as if ‘Don’t Look Now‘ took a huge hit of peyote and moved to the mountains.”

Von Trier “seems, however nuttily, to be making some point about women, nature and history – though I’m honestly not sure if I know what it is or if he does, either.”

The film is “loaded with a big trunkful of crazy … Ingmar Bergman meets ‘Saw,’ let’s say.”

Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere was gobsmacked at what he saw:

…easily one of the biggest debacles in Cannes Film Festival history and the complete meltdown of a major film artist in a way that invites comparison to the sinking of the Titanic.

There’s no way Antichrist isn’t a major career embarassment for costars Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, and a possible career stopper for Von Trier.

It’s an out-and-out disaster — one of the most absurdly on-the-nose, heavy-handed and unintentionally comedic calamities I’ve ever seen in my life.

On top of which it’s dedicated to the late Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, whose rotted and decomposed body is now quite possibly clawing its way out of the grave to stalk the earth, find an axe and slay Von Trier in his bed.

Gunnar Rehlin interviewed von Trier for Variety and got a fantastic quote from the Dane: 

“I’m not religious. I’ve tried to be, but I can’t. If I believe in anything, it is some sort of good power.

People can be very nice to each other, and I think that the foundation to survival is kindness and cooperation.

But I would not want to be one of God’s friends on Facebook.”

At the press conference, which you can see on the official festival site, things got really funny as Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail lost it (around 2.40), indignantly asking Von Trier to ‘justify’ why he made it.

Outrage, controversy and the Daily Mail are pissed off. 

Who isn’t dying to see this now?

> Antichrist at the IMDb
> Lars Von Trier at Wikipedia
> Official site for Antichrist

Categories
Animation Cannes Festivals

Pixar’s Up at Cannes

Here is a short video feature of the world premiere of Pixar’s Up at the Cannes film festival this week.

The film opened to largely rave reviews.

> Official site for Up
> Critical reactions to the film at the festival
> Up at IMDb
> More about Pixar at Wikipedia

Categories
Cannes Festivals

Cannes 2009 Reactions: Bright Star

Abbie Cornish and Ben Wishaw in Bright Star

Bright Star is the latest film from director Jane Campion and it explores the last years of John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and his relationship with Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish).

It is screening in competition and initial reviews seem to suggest it is a return to form for ther Kiwi director who hasn’t made a film since 2003’s In the Cut (now best remembered for Meg Ryan’s awkward interview on Parkinson).

Here is a summary of the initial critical reaction: 

Todd McCarthy of Variety thinks it is an impressive return for Campion:

The Jane Campion embraced by 1990s arthouse audiences but who’s been missing of late makes an impressive return with “Bright Star.”

Breaking through any period piece mustiness with piercing insight into the emotions and behavior of her characters, the writer-director examines the final years in the short life of 19th century romantic poet John Keats through the eyes of his beloved, Fanny Brawne, played by Abbie Cornish in an outstanding performance.

Beautifully made film possesses solid appeal for specialized auds in most markets, including the U.S., where it will be released by Bob Berney’s and Bill Pohlad’s as-yet unnamed new distribution company, although its poetic orientation and dramatic restraint will likely stand in the way of wider acceptance.

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian thinks Campion could be up for another Palme d’Or (she won in 1993 for The Piano):

Jane Campion has put herself in line for her second Palme d’Or here at the Cannes film festival with a film which I think could be the best of her career.

Campion brings to this story an unfashionable, unapologetic reverence for romance and romantic love, and she responds to Keats’s life and work with intelligence and grace.”

Allan Hunter of Screen International is impressed by

Sixteen years after The Piano, Jane Campion has found renewed artistic inspiration in a tragic romance to match the haunting intensity of that Palme D’Or winning feature.

Bright Star deftly avoids the stilted, starchy quality often found in lesser period dramas. Characters appear comfortable in their clothes and settings, the dialogue flows easily from their lips and there is a quiet, everyday intimacy to the way events unfold.

We are invited into this world rather than kept at arm’s length because nothing jars or seems out of place. The keen attention to detail is never obtrusive  but instead creates a complete, credible universe.

Beautifully crafted in every department from the composure of the camerawork to the precision of the costume and production design, Bright Star is a film to savour.

Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere admires it with some reservations:

It’s been done quite perfectly — I was especially taken with Grieg Frasder‘s vermeer-lit photography — with immaculate fealty for the textures and tones of early 19th Century London, and a devotion to capturing the kind of love that is achingly conveyed in hand-written notes that are hand delivered by caring young fellows in waistcoats.

But it struck me nonetheless as too slow and restricted and…well, just too damnably refined. I looked at my watch three times and decided around the two-thirds mark that it should have run 100 rather than 120 minutes. 

The pacing is just right for the time period — it would have felt appalling on some level if it had been shot and cut with haste for haste’s sake — but there’s no getting around the feeling that it’s a too-long sit. It’s basically a Masterpiece Theatre thing that my mother will love. I’m not putting it down on its own terms. I felt nothing but admiration for the various elements. 

Dave Calhoun of Time Out thinks it has an admirable lightness of touch:

[it is] free of the hysterics so often associated with films about writers and deftly avoids the distracting surface tendencies that can plague British period pieces set in the 18th and 19th centuries. 

“It’s also remarkable in its lightness of touch: the film barely tries to persuade us that Keats is a valid object of this girl’s affection or that he is a fine literary talent; we are left to learn both incidentally.

They’re wise choices, leaving Campion to concentrate on character and emotion rather than any special pleading about genius and its offshoots.”

Ray Bennett in The Hollywood Reporter predicts an arthouse hit:

With much grace and at considerable leisure, 1993 Palme d’Or winner Campion (“The Piano”) tells the story of the brief love affair between the gifted but early dead poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne.

Ben Whishaw plays Keats with impeccable tragedy and Abbie Cornish portrays winningly the beautiful seamstress Fanny, whose passion is constrained only by the rigorous mores of the times.

Cynics need not apply and it’s doubtful that “Bright Star” will be the shining light at many suburban cineplexes, but festivals will eat it up, art house audiences will swoon and it will have a lucrative life on DVD and Blu-ray, not to mention the BBC and PBS.

Here is a clip of the film from AFP:

Check the official Cannes site which has audio and video from the press conference.

More photos of the film can be seen here at Filmofilia.

> Bright Star at the IMDb
> Jane Campion at Wikipedia

Categories
Cannes Festivals

Cannes 2009 Reactions: Fish Tank

Fish Tank

Fish Tank is the second film by British director Andrea Arnold and is also her second visit to Cannes after she went home with the Jury Prize for Red Road in 2006.

Her latest is about a rebellious English teenager (Katie Jarvis) who’s life appears like it could change for the better when her mother’s new boyfriend (Michael Fassbender) strikes a chord with her.

Here is a summary of the critical reaction, which appears to be largely positive.

Allan Hunter of Screen International thinks it is a strong second feature: 

“Andrea Arnold confidently navigates the pitfalls of the ‘difficult’ second feature with ‘Fish Tank,’ which confirms her status as a torchbearer for the social realist traditions of Ken Loach and the Dardenne brothers.” 

“The heartbreaking tale of a teenage misfit has a grim inevitability to the plotting which is offset by Arnold’s talent for multi-layered characters and naturalistic dialogue and her eye for finding the poetic moments in even the bleakest of lives.”

Leslie Felperin of Variety praises it but also points out that the people it is about will probably not get to see it:

Brit helmer Andrea Arnold’s sophomore feature offers such an entirely credible and – there’s no way around it – grim portrait of a sullen teenage girl living in a rough housing project in England’s Essex that it almost seems banal.

However, what makes pic feel special is its unflinching honesty and lack of sentimentality or moralizing, along with assured direction and excellent perfs.

Paradoxically, though immediately accessible to auds from the background depicted, “Fish Tank” is destined to swim only in arthouse aquariums, while likely adult-only ratings will keep teens – who really should see this – from getting in the door legally.

Only Catherine Hardwicke‘s ‘Thirteen‘ and a handful of other films have dared to evoke so frankly the nature of teenage femme sexuality, as young women test their power with a mixture of precocity and naivete.”

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian is full of praise, especially for Jarvis and Fassbender:

Andrea Arnold’s Palme d’Or contender is a powerful film of betrayed love in a bleak landscape, powered by fizzing performances from Michael Fassbender and newcomer Katie Jarvis.

Fish Tank is a powerfully acted drama, beautifully photographed by cinematographer Robbie Ryan, who intersperses bleak interiors with sudden, gasp-inducing landscapes like something by Turner.

Arnold takes elements of tough social-realist drama which are, if not cliches exactly, then certainly familiar — but makes them live again and steers the movie away from miserabilism, driven by a heartfelt central performance.

The performances of Jarvis and Fassbender are outstanding and their chemistry fizzes — and then explodes. It is another highly intelligent, involving film from one of the most powerful voices in British cinema.

Dave Calhoun of Time Out thinks that it is another chapter in the rise of Arnold as one of Britain’s most significant new directors:

It’s hugely satisfying to report that ‘Fish Tank’ shows Arnold going from strength to strength, offering new depths of filmmaking while at the same time building on a view of the world and a way of telling stories that are distinctly her own.

She also coaxes a performance of extraordinary emotion from young British newcomer Katie Jarvis.

‘Fish Tank’ is another intimate portrait of a female character living on the margins of a city.”

Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere admires the film but is left cold by the themes: 

The chops in Fish Tank are accomplished and impressive. Arnold, who directed and wrote, knows exactly what she’s doing — she’s the real deal as far as having a voice and a vision of life is concerned.

I liked that she and cinematographer Robbie Ryan shot the film in 1.33, which is usually a result of an intention or a deal to air it on analog TV.

Fassbender, a very hot guy now, is natural and believable, charming and genuine. Ryan’s hand-held camera work is unpretentious and the images are appropriately plain — i.e., naturally lit but not excessively grim.

It feels right all the way, in short, but it didn’t leave me with much save the quality of the work.

Eugene Hernandez of IndieWIRE feels Katie Jarvis is a major new talent:

Jarvis’s bio reads simply: ‘Katie makes her acting debut in ‘Fish Tank.’

Starring as Mia in every scene in ‘Fish Tank,’ Katie Jarvis is the first major acting discovery of the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.”

The film (as Wells notes) was shot in the unusual 1:33 aspect ratio, which is rare these days outside of Gus Van Sant movies like Elephant, and can be seen in this clip:

 

The official festival site has video and audio from the press conference.

> Fish Tank at the IMDb
> Andrea Arnold at Wikipedia

Categories
Cannes Festivals News

Cannes Film Festival Lineup 2009

Cannes 2009 logo

The official lineup for the 2009 Cannes Film Festival was announced today at a press conference in Paris.

The main talking point for some will be the lack of American filmmakers in competition for the Palme d’Or.

The festival runs from May 13th until 24th and here is the lineup in full. 

OPENING FILM

  • Up (U.S.A, Dir. Pete Docter and Bob Peterson)

IN COMPETITION

CLOSING NIGHT FILM

  • Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (France, Dir. Jan Kounen)

OUT OF COMPETITION

MIDNIGHT SCREENINGS

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

  • Petition (China, Dir. Zhao Liang)
  • L’epine dans le coeur (France, Dir. Michel Gondry)
  • Min ye (France-Mali, Dir. Souleyumane Cisse)
  • Jaffa (Israel-France-Germany, Dir. Keren Yedaya)
  • Manila (Philippines, Dir. Adolfo Alix Jr. and Raya Martin)
  • My Neighbor, My Killer (U.S.A, Dir. Anne Aghion)

UN CERTAIN REGARD

THE JURY

LA CINEFONDATION AND SHORT FILM JURY

One little interesting note.

At the end of the press conference Cannes president Gilles Jacob said:

…the Festival de Cannes has decided to continue helping independent creators as best it can.

Since our new website has greater bandwidth, we would like to offer this platform to any of the films in the Official Selection that would like to make use of it, when comes the time of their theatre release.

The idea is to present to the audience, and especially young audiences, the first 5 minutes of the film and not the usual typical trailer that extinguishes all desire.

Was it Altman or Renoir, I forget, who said that the great artists are at their best in the first and last reel? Let’s hope that Internet users everywhere might drop their games and be tempted to rush to their nearest theatre to find out what happens next.

Let’s hope so, for the sake of the artists. We make no distinction between their films.

They are all there, somewhere, in the atmosphere that surrounds us all. They are all there and available, chemically, digitally, electronically, in binary, in VOD, virtually, we can feel them, they surround us. They are looking out for us.

Let’s not abandon them.

You can read the full speech here.

> Official site for the Cannes Film Festival
> IndieWIRE with a transcript of Cannes president Gillies Jacob at the launch press conference 
> Find out more about the festival at Wikipedia