Cannes report: Festival favourites
- Published: 26/05/2013 at 09:49 AM
- Online news:
After 11 days of hits and misses, of expectations fulfilled and dashed, the 66th Cannes Film Festival will announce the Palme d'Or winner on Sunday.
As usual, the guessing games, conspiratorial buzz and swirling rumours descend on the gathering of journalists; for instance, it is believed that Steven Spielberg, who heads the jury this year, is unlikely to award an American film because that would be come across as too predictable, too conspicuous -- a Hollywood eminence coming to Europe's premier cine-event and giving a prize to one of his peers.
Of course, that's just conjecture. Two of the frontrunners, at least among certain critics, are the Coen brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis", a pleasant drift along the folk music scene of the 1960s, and James Gray's solid drama "The Immigrant", starring Marion Cotillard as a Polish woman who arrives in New York in the 1920s and Joaquin Phoenix as a cabaret impresario/pimp. Both films stand a chance of taking the top trophy (which last year went to Michael Hanake's "Amour"), along with a red-hot favourite among French critics, "La Vie d'Adele" (Blue is the Warmest Color), a tale of a teenage girl who, after meeting a blue-haired tomboy, takes an intense plunge to discover her sexuality.
Let the jury do their job then. Here I would like to share with you my personal favourites from the festival; Cannes is where some of the films you're likely to hear about in the next 12 months first are delivered to the world. For me, it turns out that the so-called "sidebar" section of Un Certain Regard had yielded more horsepower than the established Competition league.
Top 5 from Cannes (in no particular order)
"A Touch of Sin" by Jia Zhangke
Shown in Competition, Jia's new film is a rage-fuelled poetry about the soul-crushing place that is today's China. Among other things, it's a film about the tensions brought on by economic gaps, corruption, internal migration, and the struggle of the people to cope with the encompassing, tightening bear-hugs of progress.
"The Missing Image" by Rithy Panh
Shown in Un Certain Regard, this documentary by the Paris-based Cambodian filmmaker revisits the Khmer Rouge atrocity through the director's deeply personal story. Panh uses footage of propaganda films and fills in the "missing images" with little clay figurines as he recounts his teenage years in a Khmer Rouge work camp.
"Norte, The End of the History" by Lav Diaz
Shown in Un Certain Regard, this 250-minute film by Filipino maestro Lav Diaz shows how cinema can make even the smallest life seem monumental. The film, about a crime that alters so many lives, has a Dostoyevskian scope and Bela Tarr-like cinematic architecture. Diaz is an original though, and he fires up leftist humanism that haunts and stuns.
"Stranger by the Lake" by Alain Guiraudie
Shown in Un Certain Regard, this beautiful film is set entirely around a lakeside gay cruising spot, and slowly reveals itself to be a cross between porn and Impressionism, between murder mystery and whimsical drama. What drives the character here is a sense of danger, with its sweet thrill and genuine menace.
"Manuscripts Don't Burn" by Mohammad Rasoulof
Shown in Un Certain Regard, this Iranian film tells the story of a government-hired assassin who takes up a mission to threaten, torture and perhaps to kill writers who are about to publish a prohibited manuscript.
**PLUS THREE MORE**
"Omar" by Hany Abu-Assad (A gripping Palestinian film about a rebel fighter caught in a vicious cycle of honour and mistrust -- both from his side and the Israeli's.)
"The Immigrant" by James Gray (Joaquin Phoenix and Marion Cotillard in 1920s New York.)
"Inside Llewyn Davis" by Joel and Ethan Coen (Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake as folk singers in the 1960s.)
About the author
- Writer: Kong Rithdee
Position: Deputy Life Editor