Festivals (#110 of 1074)

Cannes Film Festival 2017 Winner Predictions

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Cannes Film Festival 2017 Winner Predictions

Sony Pictures Classics

Cannes Film Festival 2017 Winner Predictions

The Cannes Film Festival isn't the Oscars, but there's still a certain formula that often defines the recipients of its first-place-finishing Palme d'Or. These films, in recent years especially, tend to have a sense of importance about them (Fahrenheit 9/11), frequently due to their sociopolitical awareness of the world (The Class), or of specific societal ills (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days). Very occasionally, the Palme goes to a bold, experimental, and divisive vision from a well-liked auteur (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives), but more often it's awarded to a film in the lineup that the most people on the Cannes jury can probably agree is good (I, Daniel Blake).

Cannes Film Festival 2017 Roman Polanski’s Based on a True Story

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Cannes Film Review: Based on a True Story

Sony Pictures Classics

Cannes Film Review: Based on a True Story

Roman Polanski's Based on a True Story, contrary to its title, isn't: It's a fiction film about a successful author who avoids her past and an eerily obsessive fan who pushes her to write the “hidden book” her previous work seemed to promise. Of course, Polanski's film is also transparently about the director himself—as well as about his co-writer, French filmmaker Olivier Assayas. And there's an almost incredible arrogance to that.

Polanski surrogate Delphine (Emmanuelle Seigner) is enjoying great success with her new autobiographical novel but also burned out from the promo tour. Elle (Eva Green)—whose name, as is often commented on in the film, literally translates to “Her”—is a supposed super-fan who ingratiates herself into Delphine's life as a “good listener” before gradually moving into the author's flat and taking over her work, deleting slanderous Facebook posts, responding to emails, and even attending a face-to-face gig in her place. Elle also impresses on Delphine the importance of “reality” and tries to dissuade her from writing the fictional book she's pitched to her publisher.

Cannes Film Festival 2017 Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here

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Cannes Film Review: You Were Never Really Here

Amazon Studios

Cannes Film Review: You Were Never Really Here

In the six years since her last feature, We Need to Talk About Kevin, which also premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, Lynne Ramsay seems to have come very close to figuring out a mode of experimental but psychologically lucid filmmaking that almost completely eluded her before. You Were Never Really Here, adapted from a Jonathan Ames novella of the same name, is every bit as oblique as its lengthy title makes it sound. It's a character study conducted primarily through an aesthetic vision: Heavy-for-hire Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) stumbles through his daily existence in an expressionistic haze of prescription drugs and disturbed memories, his mind flashing on images of childhood abuse and former lives as a military soldier and an F.B.I. agent.

Cannes Film Festival 2017 Robin Campillo’s 120 Beats Per Minute

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Cannes Film Review: 120 Beats Per Minute

The Orchard

Cannes Film Review: 120 Beats Per Minute

Robin Campillo had a breakout moment at this year's Cannes Film Festival with 120 Beats Per Minute, which has been widely tipped as the film to beat for the Palme d'Or. It's only Campillo's third film as a director, following 2004's They Came Back and 2013's Eastern Boys, but as a writer he's already penned one Palme d'Or winner: Laurent Cantet's 2008 docudrama The Class, which relied heavily on the real-life dynamic between a teacher and his racially diverse students. Inspired by Campillo's true-life experience as a member of AIDS activist group ACT UP Paris in the 1990s, 120 Beats Per Minute feels like a close cousin to The Class, as it similarly spends much of its runtime on lengthy debates between a close-knit community's various members.

Cannes Film Festival 2017 Ben and Joshua Safdie’s Good Time

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Cannes Film Review: Good Time

A24

Cannes Film Review: Good Time

Josh and Ben Safdie's Good Time is another one of the brother filmmakers' harrowing odysseys of the marginalized. The plot, kicking off in New York City before moving to the suburbs, spins out from a failed bank heist, as the mentally handicapped Nick (Ben Safdie) is arrested and jailed at Riker's Island before then being moved to Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens. Nick's resourceful brother, Connie (Robert Pattinson), the mastermind of the heist, works on a scheme to get him out. If this premise sounds like typical genre fare, the Safdies get that and they deliver: Good Time is an action-packed, neon-streaked rush, all elaborate scenarios, racing against time, and police in hot pursuit. But this is also a film from the same people that made the emotionally devastating Heaven Knows What, and underneath this film's barrage of incident and its screaming score (composed by Oneohtrix Point Never) is a sense of intimacy and emotional vulnerability.

Cannes Film Festival 2017 Hong Sang-soo’s The Day After and Claire’s Camera

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Cannes Film Review: The Day After and Claire’s Camera

Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Review: The Day After and Claire’s Camera

In 2015, while working on Right Now, Wrong Then, Hong Sang-soo began an affair with his lead actress, Kim Min-hee. The news came out later, at one of the film's press conferences. Eventually, Hong filed for divorce from his wife of 30 years—and in the time since, he and Kim have chosen to openly explore the nature of their ongoing relationship through his films. First came 2016's On the Beach Alone at Night, and now the Cannes competition entry The Day After and festival special screening Claire's Camera.

Cannes Film Festival 2017 Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled

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Cannes Film Review: The Beguiled

Focus Features

Cannes Film Review: The Beguiled

Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, the writer-director’s adaptation of Thomas Cullinan’s 1966 Civil War-set novel A Painted Devil, begins as a straightforward Southern Gothic psychodrama. The filmmaker, though, distinguishes her version of the source novel from the 1971 Don Siegel-helmed adaptation starring Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Page by treating Union soldier Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell) as a more enigmatic catalyst for the changes that take place inside Miss Martha Farnsworth’s Seminary for Young Ladies upon his arrival. Rather than primarily focus on McBurney and the horrifying consequences of his unchecked horniness, Coppola intensely homes in on her heroines’ conflicted feelings about sex.

Siegel’s film pulpily fixates on McBurney and his outsider status, and how his unchecked lust drives him to monstrously stalk the seminary—like a fox in a hen house. But Coppola’s take is more interested in the boarding school’s all-female residents’ personal struggles to accept that they’re allowed to be sexually attracted to an enemy soldier. Women like headmistress Martha Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman) and her school’s head teacher, Edwina Dabney (Kirsten Dunst), are obviously drawn to McBurney, though they go to great lengths to avoid admitting that attraction. The film is set, after all, in Virginia in 1864, and McBurney is, as Edwina cautions, the kind of man they’ve been warned about: one with a predilection for raping Southern women.

Cannes Film Festival 2017 A Man of Integrity and 24 Frames

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Cannes Film Review: A Man of Integrity and 24 Frames

Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Review: A Man of Integrity and 24 Frames

Mohammad Rasoulof’s slow-burn conspiracy thriller A Man of Integrity, a character study about one man’s quixotic struggle to get revenge or monetary compensation after his fish nursery is poisoned by an unnamed corporation, is defined by a righteous kind of fatalism. That tenor is apropos given that the film was shot by Rasoulof in secret, while he waited for his prison sentence of six years—later reduced to one—to be carried out.

Rasoulof’s films, among them the fable-like Iron Island and The White Meadows, have never screened in his native Iran, and maybe never will. They’re caustic yet lyrical allegories that dig deep into the filmmaker’s growing certainty that Iranian society is systemically corrupt and that the only people who try to live by a strict moral code in this context are bound to either regret their stubborn decisions or become crooked themselves.

Conversely, Abbas Kiarostami’s final film, 24 Frames, is more bittersweet than it is flat-out bitter. As Kiarostami passed away shortly before he could finish the project, a collection of four-and-a-half-minute tableaux vivants based on preexisting paintings and photographs, it was left to his son, Ahmad Kiarostami, to complete it based on notes that the auteur left behind. As in A Man of Integrity, a sense of impending doom hangs over 24 Frames, though it also exhibits a refreshing awe for life, and for the gentle passage of time.

Cannes Film Festival 2017 Yorgos Lanthimos’s Killing of a Sacred Deer

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Cannes Film Review: The Killing of a Sacred Deer

A24

Cannes Film Review: The Killing of a Sacred Deer

A blackly comic performance by Colin Farrell provides the emotional anchor for Yorgos Lanthimos's The Killing of a Sacred Deer. As clinically detached surgeon Steven Murphy, Farrell effortlessly switches from arch, quasi-robotic line readings to frantic, plate-smashing furor. His skillful transition from deep-in-denial emotional repression to manic rage is crucial to the film's success, as Lanthimos and co-screenwriter Efthymis Filippou's characters don't talk like anyone you've ever met in real life.

When Steven, his family, and a mysterious friend, Martin (Barry Keoghan), speak to each other, they fixate on nothing of real importance. They dwell on trivial subjects, and the questions they ask each other—about everything from gauging someone's fondness for lemonade to whether or not someone else prefers leather or metal as a watchstrap—are bleakly funny when you consider that the film begins with a confrontationally gross close-up of a beating human heart, exposed during one of Steven's characteristically dangerous procedures. It's clear right away that this atmospheric horror-thriller's dramatic stakes are as high as life and death. So why is it that these characters can't stop talking about food and household chores?

Cannes Film Festival 2017 Michel Hazanavicius’s Redoubtable

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Cannes Film Review: Redoubtable

StudioCanal

Cannes Film Review: Redoubtable

Michel Hazanavicius never has trouble coming up with bad ideas, and turning the romantic life of Jean-Luc Godard into a screwball comedy will be hard for him to beat. One good thing comes out of this, at least in part: the casting of Louis Garrel as the Nouvelle Vague pioneer. His is a credible on-screen representation of JLG, though less because of the actor's performance than his look, which incorporates a falsified receding hairline and a pair of dark eyeglasses. But each time Garrel's pop facsimile deviates from that look, especially when he takes off those shades, the illusion is instantly broken.

The comedic action is superficially entertaining at the start, with Garrel lisping his way through a self-aware imitation of Godard and Hazanavicius playfully stitching together scenes of marital discord and sociopolitical bickering with brisk editing rhythms and rapid-fire dialogue. But as that effort continues to reduce the bold ideas and philosophies of Godard's “revolutionary” period—as well as the toll his ideologies took on his personal and professional relationships—into fodder for dopey, simple-minded parody, Hazanavicius once again outs himself as a shallow opportunist, and Redoubtable as another empty exercise in borrowed style.