DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: CANNES 2008 REPORT Part II

Monday 26 May 2008


The hardware has been handed out and here's the winners:

Palme D'Or - THE CLASS dir. Laurent Cante
Grand Prix - GOMORRA dir. Matteo Garrone
Jury Prize - IL DIVO dir. Giulio Andreotti
Best Director - Nuri Bilge Ceylan for THREE MONKEYS
Best Actor - Benecio Del Toro in CHE
Best Actress - Sandra Corveloni in LINHA DE PASSE
Best Screenplay - Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne for LORNA'S SILENCE
Special Jury Prize - Catherine Deneuve for her body of work
Special Jury Prize - Clint Eastwood for THE CHANGLING

Please read PART 1 of my report which covers the films from the first 6 days of the festival.

TWO LOVERS dir. James Gray

James Gray who took 7 years from “The Yards” to last year’s Cannes entry “We Own the Night”, is back one year later with “Two Lovers”. Gray has moved away from the crime genre, and crafted a touching relationship film about man who is love with two women – a good girl (Vinessa Shaw) and a bad girl (Gwyneth Paltrow). Anne Thompson of Variety calls it “a gem”. Variety’s Todd McCarthy calls it “An involving, ultimately touching romantic drama.” Though Allan Hunter of Screen Daily says, “it is well-crafted and ably acted but never especially moving and winds up feeling like something from the classier end of the American TV movie spectrum.” The old-fashioned nature of the film seems to be polarizing some people.

CHANGLING dir. Clint Eastwood
Special Jury Prize

Clint just can’t seem to do wrong, and he makes it look so easy. Clint’s new film is a 1920’s period film starring Angelina Jolie as a loner who fights against corruption amongst police and the courts. More praise from Todd McCarthy, who writes, “Changeling impressively continues Clint Eastwood's great run of ambitious late-career pictures.” Time’s Richard Corliss writes, “the movie is a companion piece to last year's Cannes entry A Mighty Heart, in which Jolie played the wife of kidnapped journalist Daniel Pearl - except that Changeling is far more taut, twisty and compelling.” Comparisons are already been made with “Million Dollar Baby” – good and bad – UK Guardian’s Xan Brooks writes, “It's a solid, confident, old-school studio picture that packs a few big emotional wallops, but it is also ponderous and self-important, with a surfeit of lead in its boots.”

DELTA dir. Kornel Mundruczo

Delta is an unabashed European art film from Hungarian director Mundruczo. A story of a man who returns home to the delta region he grew up in, where he will find romantic love with the sister he never knew. NY Times’ AO Scott finds it, “slow, difficult, formally austere,” but “a welcome antidote to the fast-moving, accessible movies that thrive in the sphere of commercial cinema.” Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa writes “staggeringly beautiful from an aesthetic perspective, the film manages to captivate viewers despite its minimalist plot and dialogues.”


"The Headless Woman" tells an intriguing story of a woman who thinks she ran something over on the highway. The event haunts her until she travels back to the site only to find a dead dog. The relief only last so long until a new gruesome discovery is revealed. The Boston Globe’s Ty Burr writes it “a minor but effective ‘Blow Up’”. Peter Bruenette of the Hollywood reporter comments on Ms. Martel’s direction, “she isa master of visual and aural technique, which is on full and splendid display.” Lee Marshall of Screen Daily isn’t impressed: “a dour tale of moral and social paralysis.”

CHE dir. Steven Soderbergh
Best Actor - Benecio Del Toro

Perhaps the most anticipated premiere was Steven Soderbergh’s 4 ½ opus on Che Guevera. The film is divided in two parts “The Guerilla” and “The Argentine” but at Cannes was screened as one entire film. Whatever people thought of watching a 4+ hour film, James Rocchi of Cinematical says , “what a rare pleasure it is to have a film (or films) that, in our box-office obsessed, event-movie, Oscar-craving age, is actually worth talking about on so many levels.” AO Scott (NY Times) is mostly ambivalent, “Che” itself is interesting, partly because it has the power to provoke some serious argument — about its own tactics and methods, as well as those of its subject.” Variety’s Todd McCarthy writes, “Unfortunately, Che doesn't feel epic - just long.” The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw praises Benecio Del Toro’s performance, buts call the film, “a flawed masterpiece.”

ADORATION dir. Atom Egoyan
Winner of the Ecumenical Jury prize

Cannes’s Canadian regular, Atom Egoyan, was back with his 8th Cannes premiere. “Adoration” is a more intimate film than “Where The Truth Lies”, centering on a boy who reinvents himself as another person on the internet. Kim Voynar of Cinematical found the film “a beautifully evocative film, though some may find its convoluted storyline distracting.” Variety’s Justin Chang finds it “a very Egoyanesque miasma of elegantly fractured chronology and provocative ideas, this ambitious think-piece ultimately smothers its good intentions in didactic revelations.”


“Frontier of Dawn” is a familiar but peculiar love story about a married movie star who strikes up a passionate affair with a photographer who has been assigned to shoot her. Lisa Nesselson of Screen Daily finds it an “earnest, inherently divisive effort, lusciously photographed in black and white, is one of the weaker recent entries in Philippe Garrel's four decade career of bravely iconoclastic art films." Leslie Felperin (Variety) calls it "a risible slice of pretentious hokum.”

SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK dir. Charlie Kaufman

It’s Charlie Kaufman’s first visit to Cannes, and I’m curious how the world press would react to his quirky sensibilities. This latest Kaufman adventure puts the audience in the mind of a theatre director (Philip Seymour Hoffman) whose personal life is in shambles, and who has a mysterious medical condition which finds his body’s automatic functions systematically shutting down. Wendy Idle at Times Online UK finds it ‘staggering’, though “a defiantly uncommercial movie - it's infuriatingly enigmatic, philosophical.” Todd McCarthy finds it “Unusual for a first film, the strangely titled opus feels more like a summation work, such as 8½ or especially All That Jazz. “Kaufman could use a Spike Jonze (less so a Michel Gondry) to rein in his indulgences, but this is a funny, self-lacerating film," blogs Ben Kenigsberg for Time Out Chicago.

IL DIVO dir. Paolo Sorrentino
Jury Prize

Il Divo is satirical biopic about Italian post-war politician Giulio Andreotti. Screen Daily’s Lee Marshall likes “Paolo Sorrentino's enjoyably original, lurid, sardonic political opera.” Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere writes, “I knew I was seeing something intensely audacious and stylistically exciting, but the political arena it depicts is so dry and complex and wholly-unto-itself that gradually the film makes you feel as if you're lying in an isolation tank."

MY MAGIC dir. By Eric Khoo

"My Magic" is another film about a man whose wife leaves him and finds solace in his work. This time protagonist Francis becomes a magician to reconnect with his son. The film received a 15min standing ovation after its premiere. Dan Fairnaru of Screen Daily called Eric Khoo an ‘acquired taste’ and in My Magic, “Khoo's usual minimalism here is pared down to a level where the direction almost appears non-existent.” There’s very little coverage of this film, which is the first film from Singapore accepted into competition, but more importantly was shot on a shoestring budget. Good on them.

ENTRE LES MURS (THE CLASS) dir. By Laurent Cantet
Palme D'Or

Laurent Cantet’s film takes us into the classroom of an unconventional teacher in a tough suburban Parisian high school. Timeout’s Geoff Andrew loves the film, “Everything rings absolutely true in this film, and everything is utterly engrossing from start to finish.” Justin Change of Variety finds it one of the most entertaining films at the festival this year, “the film exhilarates with its lively, authentic classroom banter while its emotional undercurrents build steadily but almost imperceptibly over a swift 129 minutes.”


Cannes favourite Wim Wenders closes off the competition slate with a story of a photographer who travels from Düsseldorf to Sicily and comes face to face with death as played by Dennis Hopper. James Rocchi at Cinematical says “it’s hardly the worst film I've ever seen at Cannes” but, “it's still a little sad to see a major filmmaker make such a series of major mistakes in the name of a fairly minor film.” Jonathan Romney at Screen Daily says, “the Palermo Shooting is a glossy travelogue-thriller with metaphysical pretentions, and one of the low points of this year's Cannes Competition.”

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