Sunday, May 24, 2009

Who cares about the Cannes Film Festival?

Well, me, of course. The 62 Festival de Cannes wrapped up today handing Michael Haneke's new film The White Ribbon the grand poo-baa, also known as the Palm d'Or. From all accounts, the film looks to be a miserable experience filled with brutality and sweeping socio-political connotations. Sounds good to me. Here's a rundown of the awards and the films we can expect to see in the next couple of years or maybe never:

Palme d'Or

The White Ribbon directed by Michael Haneke
Sony has already pick this film up for US distribution and thanks to Caché we actually might see it here in the Twin Cities. (Don't look for the poster to be boasting "From the director of Funny Games...") Haneke is overrated as a provocateur and underrated as a filmmaker. The White Ribbon is set in set in pre-WWI Germany and shot entirely in black and white. It is maybe not so ironic that Isabelle Huppert, who starred in Haneke's The Piano Teacher, was jury president this year at Cannes.

Grand Prix

A Prophet directed by Jacques Audiard
Maybe this film received second place because no one booed at it. Overall, everyone praised this film. Weird. (This phenomenon of people booing at films would make me crazy.) Also picked up by Sony.

Best Director

Brillante Mendoza for Kinatay
Well, this is kind of a surprise. Mendoza isn't exactly loved at Cannes, but I'm glad to see him win. I'm pretty sure everyone hated Sebris from last year, and Kinatay (aka Slaughter) was, to barrow a phrase from Manohla Dargis, "widely loathed." Mendoza's Tirador (Slingshot) played at the MSPIFF last year, and I could swear I saw Sebris listed on the local Landmark site, but alas is nowhere to be found. Maybe we can personally loath Kinatay at next year's MSPIFF.

Jury Prize (shared)

Fish Tank directed by Andrea Arnold/Thirst directed by Park Chan-Wook
Sharing prizes is so nice. Fish Tank is the new film from the director of Red Road, which played at the Walker and at the Lagoon. Big news in this pair for me is Thirst which was championed by Darcy Paquet and pooped on by everyone else. I'm hardly a neutral in this sight-unseen argument simply because I think Park, despite having a misstep with I'm a Cyborg, is one of the better directors around. Sympathy for Mr Vengeance is pretty high up there on my overall best films, and I am willing to give Park the benefit of the doubt with Thirst. I am very very excited to see this film. Word on the street was that Focus Features was going to release Thirst in the US this summer. Given the poor reception at Cannes, we'll see if they change their mind.

Best Performance for an Actor

Christopher Waltz
in Inglourious Basterds directed by Quentin Tarantino
If one film dominated the press it was Tarantino's Inglorious Basturds...I mean Basterds...whatever. If we weren't hearing about what Brad and Angelina were wearing, we were hearing the constant debate, 'Will it be good? Will it be bad?' Poor Christopher Waltz, who from all reports deserves the award, will still be minor talk when it comes to this ego-maniacs divulgence on WWII. Brad Pitt looks to be playing a character somewhere between Benjamin Button and Jeffery Goines—intolerable for 30 seconds, let alone 2 and a half hours. Ever heard an interview with Eli Roth? Do you think his performance will be any different?

Best Performance by an Actress

Charlotte Gainsbourg
in Antichrist directed by Lars von Trier
It looks like von Trier has successfully overcome his depression with a little venting. Antichrist sounds to be the most press worthy film of the festival. As audacious as it should be, Gainbourg gets her award for a lot of nudity and masturbation. Papa would be proud! IFC will be responsible for unleashing the beast in the US. I'm looking forward to it.

Best Screenplay

Mei Feng
for Spring Fever directed by Lou Ye
Another film that clearly got overlooked by the hub-bub of sex and violence and Brad Pitt's suit, Lou Ye isn't far behind Jia Zhangke as one of the best Six Generation Chinese filmmakers. Driven by a populace aesthetic but condemned by the state, Lou three films since 2000 have been rock solid productions. I can only assume the same from Spring Fever.

Personally I want to see all the films that screened regardless of awards, but here are a few of the other films that got my attention even though they didn't get the juries attention:
Bright Star directed by Jane Campion
Visage directed by Tsai Ming-liang
The Time That Remains directed by Elia Suleiman
Vengeance directed by Johnny To
Air Doll directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda
Mother directed by Bong Joon-ho
Enter the Void directed by Gaspar Noé

Everyone does a little Cannes coverage, but here are some of the sources I've been watching:
New York Times
Art Forum
The Playlist
The Guardian (don't miss their awesome video roundup)

No comments: