Garnering a ton of buzz (including Oscar), Andrew Dominik‘s Killing Them Softly has a stellar cast including Brad Pitt and Ray Liotta. It had its Gala Presentation at the 65th Festival de Cannes recently and the first reactions below.
About the Film When their poker game is knocked off by petty thieves, the Mob calls in their best enforcer, Jackie Cogan, to make things right. Under the eye of a mysterious driver, Jackie must track down and punish those responsible for the heist. His assignment is complicated by those he comes up against along the way – an aging, drunken hit man, some bumbling local gangsters, and the ladies’ man who ran the ill-fated game.
About the Film Just after his father’s death, Sal Paradise, an aspiring New York writer, meets Dean Moriarty, a devastatingly charming ex-con, married to the very liberated and seductive Marylou. Sal and Dean bond instantly. Determined not to get locked in to a constricted life, the two friends cut their ties and take to the road with Marylou. Thirsting for freedom, the three young people head off in search of the world, of other encounters, and of themselves.
As the first week of Cannes draws to a close, the headline so far is that there is no major headline so far.
The 65th Festival de Cannes kicked off last Thursday evening with a screening of the much-anticipated new Wes Anderson pic Moonrise Kingdom. It opened to warm applause and has scored strong early reviews at rottentomatoes (97% after 34 reviews). The dramedy is set in 1965 on an island off the cost of New England and tells the story of two 12 yr-old’s who fall in love and run away. It stars Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand and Edward Norton in supporting adult roles to newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, who are being cited for their fine perfomances as the youngsters who lead much of the movie.
Matteo Garrone follows up 2008′s Italian drug saga Gomorrah with Reality, a light-hearted dramedy that also opened well. If his first film was gritty and hard-bitten, than Reality, with its story of a fisherman from Naples who wishes to make it onto Italy’s version of Big Brother, goes back to the future with touches of whimsy and fantasy. Reviewers have placed Garrone in the territory of Vittorio De Sica (The Bicycle Thief) and Luis Bunuel (The Phantom of Liberty). Not bad company to be in.
Beyond the Hills is Christian Mungui‘s follow-up to his Palm D’Or Winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and is based on the real-life events about a woman who died upon visiting a monastery and who was involved in an exorcism. Like his first film, audiences tend not to clap or cheer too loudly, but then the praise starts coming in in the days following, long after the haze of a hard-hitting but slow-moving drama clears and you’re left with a fine movie that you want to see again.
Rust and Bone opened to strong reviews and has garnered the first serious Oscar buzz of the year for Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose) as Stephanie, a killer whale trainer, in this human drama about her brother Ali who comes to live with her and her husband. The movie is director Jacques Audiard‘s follow-up to his impressive A Prophet from a couple years ago.
John Hillcoat came to Cannes with his new 30′s bootlegging actioner Lawless with Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce and Gary Oldman. The movie opened to mixed reviews early on in the same way his previous The Road did. That movie went on to build acclaim as it opened wider and I’m thinking that while Lawless is a 30′s gangster pic that doesn’t transcend the genre or break any new ground but is just plain good, that the reception at a place like Cannes would be more or less what we’ve seen so far, with 2-to-1 positive reviews since its premiere a few days ago. Can’t wait to see it.
Another crime-epic, Killing Them Softly, is Andrew Dominik‘s hotly-anticipated follow-up to his 2007 sleeper The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. They both star Brad Pitt as sociopaths, this time in a mob drama with a star-studded cast that includes Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta, Sam Rockwell and Sam Sheppard. It may be too mainstream to win anything at Cannes, but watch for it to show up as either a Gala or a Special Presentation here in Toronto.
If those movie had some degree of success at Cannes, it is Michael Haneke‘s Amour that has garnered the best reaction so far of the crop of films In Competition. It is another human drama, this time about a long-married couple well into their 80′s, the both of them retired music teachers. It’s a story about the the indignity of aging and how health problems threaten the couple. The consensus is that it’s a masterpiece, but after his White Ribbon won the Palm D’Or at the 2009 fest, can Haneke take the prize again? It’s a different jury every year, so who can really tell at this point? Amour is already getting early Oscar Buzz for Best Foreign Language Film.
The biggest news appears to be what has yet to come. With big films that have yet to premiere, including David Cronenberg‘s Cosmopolis starring Robert Pattinson; Lee Daniels’ (Precious) The Paperboy; Ken Loach‘s The Angel’s Share; and Jeff Nichols‘ (Take Shelter) new one, Mud.
Out of Competition
There are 22 films In Competition at Cannes, but there are a couple hundred other movies playing Out of Competition, from the Un Certain Regard category all the way to the Cannes Marketplace, with screenings held mainly for prospective buyers and distributors.
No other film has garnered as much applause as Beasts of the Southern Wild, the post-Katrina allegory with arresting early visuals of an industrial coastline laid to waste. At the heart of the film is Hushpuppy, a plucky 6 year-old who lives with her very ill father in an isolated squatters’ community where they live off the land by trapping and fishing. This appears to be the kind of film destined to be picked up by TIFF this September.
The elder Cronenberg in the family has yet to show his film, but the younger has just premiered his and to mixed early reviews. Brandon Cronenberg‘s Antiviral opened in Un Certain Regard, and it’s reported that the film follows closely in the footsteps of his father’s 70′s titles such as Shiver, Rabid and The Brood. In an overall positive review, the Hollywood Reporter calls it “a petri-dish of high-concept perversity and cultural commentary teeming with lo-fi ickiness” while Barbara Scharres, doing the coverage of Cannes at rogerebert.com reports, “it takes up where his dad’s work left off in the 70′s, except for one thing–it’s nowhere near as good”. That only adds to the intrigue of this indie-looking sci-fi drama, and we’ll probably see father and son reunite once more in Toronto in September.
90 year-old French auteur and Cannes Lifetime Achievement Award, Alain Resnais, presented his latest film You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, running In Competition, during the 65 Festival de Cannes recently. Early buzz is extremely positive and first reactions are below.
About the Film From beyond the grave, celebrated playwright Antoine d’Anthac gathers together all his friends who have appeared over the years in his play “Eurydice“. These actors watch a recording of the work performed by a young acting company, La Compagnie de la Colombe. Do love, life, death and love after death still have any place on a theater stage? It’s up to them to decide. And the surprises have only just begun…
While it seems that the films In Competition at the 65 Festival de Cannes get all the attention, the Un Certain Regard programme has some lovely films that are worthy of note. Amongst them, Moussa Toure’s La Pirogue which just had its premiere. See below for first reactions as well as three clips from the film.
About the Film Baye Laye is the captain of a fishing pirogue. Like many of his Senegalese compatriots, he sometimes dreams of new horizons, where he can earn a better living for his family. When he is offered to lead one of the many pirogues that head towards Europe via the Canary Island, he reluctantly accepts the job, knowing full-well the dangers that lie ahead. Leading a group of 30 men who don’t all speak the same language, some of whom have never seen the sea, Baye Laye will confront many perils in order to reach the distant coasts of Europe.
Another film In Competition at the 65 Festival de Cannes is Michael Haneke‘s Amour. It had its premier recently and below are the first reactions to this film that is producing a lot of buzz at the festival.
About the Film Georges and Anne are in their eighties. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, who is also a musician, lives abroad with her family. One day, Anne has an attack. The couple’s bond of love is severely tested.