Cannes 2013 review roundup
The 66th annual Cannes Film Festival is officially over as the winners and losers make their way home from the south of France. Will we be talking about these films during the Oscar season? Time will tell. But for now, a quick cheat sheet of our take on the festivities.
Gregory Ellwood and Guy Lodge reviewed 17 films from the fest (and certainly Tweet-reacted many more besides). It was a busy schedule and I imagine if you were trying to follow along at home, you could have been a bit lost along the way. But never fear! Below you can find links to each of the films reviewed along with blurbs from the reviewer and the grade assigned for each film, giving you a solid cross-section of our coverage, which you can also, of course, read through here.
Check back later as Greg and Guy close things out on their end with a pair of video packages charting both the best and worst of the festival's second week and the Oscar implications of the 66th annual.
Steven Soderbergh's "Behind the Candelabra" (Guy Lodge, A-)
"The film is too much fun…to feel much like social tract, but a cool-headed, universal advocacy of gay marriage prevails amid its flashy indulgence of this particular relationship’s peculiarities. Soderbergh and [screenwriter Richard] LaGravenese don’t shy from the tabloid salaciousness of the older man’s adoption of the younger, but the film is also posited as an extreme example of how social structures can be subverted, and potentially warped, if gay men are denied the right to conventional legal partnership."
James Gray's "The Immigrant" (Guy Lodge, A-)
"There’s an instinctive tendency among critics to ascribe the word “valentine” to any film this exquisitely textured and regionally specific, but if “The Immigrant” is a valentine to the Big Apple, it’s a tattered, tear-stained one: rarely has the promised land looked quite so unpromising, even within the geographically consistent and consistently moody oeuvre of James Gray."
Sofia Coppola's "The Bling Ring" (Guy Lodge, B+)
"Some would argue that this is well-worn territory for Coppola, an unapologetically silver-spoon-fed filmmaker who has charted the ennui and corruption of celebrity culture in every film she's made since her 1999 debut 'The Virgin Suicides' – which at least bookends 'The Bling Ring' as a study in warped adolescent self-actualization. But to lazily rehash already skimpy jabs at Coppola for her privileged tunnel vision would be to miss her new film's significant shift in perspective. After three films about those firmly ensconced in the ivory tower – the Chateau Marmont in one incarnation, the Palace of Versailles in another – Coppola is, for the first time, on the outside looking in."
Rebecca Zlotowski's "Grand Central" (Gregory Ellwood, B+)
"Audiences will clearly recognize Gary's path of emotionally-directed self-sabotage, but for every expected moment Klotowski and co-screenwriter Gaelle Mace surprise with an unexpected turn…Rahim remarkably communicates most of Gary's plight with little exposition laced dialogue, a challenge not many actors could pull off."
Joel and Ethan Coen's "Inside Llewyn Davis" (Guy Lodge, B+)
"Perhaps middle-aged melancholy has finally caught up with the dark indie princes, spurred on by the colossal box office for 2010’s 'True Grit,' their most sentimental, studio-flavored release to date. Or perhaps the heart-on-sleeve integrity of pre-hippy 1960s folk music simply rubbed off in the research. None of which is to say 'Inside Llewyn Davis' is a soft or overly forgiving film: rather, it’s as generously dimensional an individual character study as anything in their canon."
Asghar Farhadi's "The Past" (Guy Lodge, B+)
"'The Past' further showcases Farhadi's dexterity as a dramatist of uncommon perspicacity and fairness…It never feels torrid or shrill, though its less compelling final act does raise the question of whether a writer can be democratic to a fault: blame is distributed and delegated so many times in the run-up to its ambiguous finale that dramatic momentum takes a slight hit…Bejo inherited the role from an over-scheduled Marion Cotillard and attacks it with the conviction of an actress hungry to surprise -- her take on Marie-Anne is not outwardly sympathetic, but has a hostile, last-nerve vulnerability that plays excitingly against the more evenly tempered performances of her excellent male co-stars."
Alain Guiraudie's "Stranger by the Lake" (Guy Lodge, B)
"Yes, 'Stranger by the Lake' features more graphic man-on-man action on screen than you can, er, shake a stick at, granting it an immediate festival-world notoriety that will dissipate swiftly as many distributors simply cast it into the 'unreleasable' pile. But while some will deem the film barely distinguishable from gay pornography, its surfeit of explicit sex scenes has a function beyond base titillation (though, let it be said, there's plenty of that too). If many films have put the practicalities and politics of casual sex to more rigorous examination on film in recent years, I either haven't seen them or napped through a lot of the subtext in 'Hitch.'"
J.C. Chandor's "All is Lost" (Gregory Ellwood, B-)
"Disappointingly, while he creates one realistic peril after another, Chandor's screenplay does not give [Robert] Redford much of a character to play with…If the lack of character in his screenplay constitutes a slight miscalculation, Chandor does everything he can to make up for it in his direction. A big jump from the suit and tie drama of 'Margin Call,' 'All Is Lost' features two very impressive set pieces and the action moves along remarkably considering a silent Redford is the sole focus of almost every shot."
Ari Folman's "The Congress" (Guy Lodge, B-)
"It's precisely as bonkers as it sounds, and at two hours, both wearisome and claustrophobic. (I'm somewhat surprised, though not disappointed, that Folman resisted the lure of 3D for the animated stretch that makes up the majority of the film.) But flashes of fury and beauty remain -- and I'm not just talking about the electrifying orchestral score by Max Richter. There's something exhilarating -- mesmerizing, even -- about 'The Congress''s most ludicrous flourishes."