TAKING WOODSTOCK (US) dir. Ang Lee
The much anticipated story of Woodstock told from the point of view of a struggling motel owner in the area.
Eric Kohn of Indiewire seemed to hate it saying, "this messy historical fiction plays like a two hour “Saturday Night Live” sketch, and not a very good one, either."
Todd McCarthy of Variety was a bit kinder, though not raving, "A sort of let's-put-on-a-show summer-camp lark for director Ang Lee after the dramatic rigors of "Brokeback Mountain" and "Lust, Caution," the picture serves up intermittent pleasures but is too raggedy and laid-back for its own good, its images evaporating nearly as soon as they hit the screen."
Sukhdev Sandhu of the Telegraph UK, concurs and elaborates, "Taking Woodstock is a loving recreation of a time that holds a special place in the hearts of millions of people all across the world. But, pitched at the hypothetical half-way point between The Graduate and Almost Famous, it's almost too sweet for its own good, tasteful rather than transcendental, imbued with a nostalgia that Lee doesn't convince us he truly feels."
UN PROPHÈTE (France) dir. Jacques Audiard
Condemned to six years in prison, Malik El Djebena cannot read nor write. Arriving at the jail entirely alone, he appears younger and more fragile than the other convicts. He is 19 years old. Cornered by the leader of the Corsican gang who rules the prison, he is given a number of "missions" to carry out, toughening him up and gaining the gang leader’s confidence in the process. But Malik is brave and a fast learner, daring to secretly develop his own plans...
Though running at two and a half hours, Jonathan Romney of Screendaily was entertained, "When it comes to hard-bitten crime cinema, Jacques Audiard has few equals in Europe, and his violent, gripping prison drama A Prophet shows him extending his range with unimpeachable command. The story of a gauche young inmate who rises through the criminal ranks to become a formidable player, A Prophet works both as hard-edged, painstaking detailed social realism and as a compelling genre entertainment."
Alex Billington of FirstShowing.net writes, "I had never seen a Jacques Audiard film before today, but now I want to go back watch all of his films. I was waiting to finally discover something exceptional here at Cannes, and this it....From Tahar Rahim's stand out performance to Alexandre Desplat's amazing score to Stéphane Fontaine's wonderful cinematography, everything about Un Prophete is exceptional."
Justin Chang of Variety, describes the film as having "headlong momentum" and of Audiard's direction, "a flair for pulse-pounding setpieces."
Here's a trailer:
Un Prophète, de Jacques Audiard, bande-annonce
MOTHER (Korea) dir. Bong Joon Ho
Playing in En Certain Regard, Mother is the newest film from the director of the The Host - another police investigative drama for Joon-Ho, about a mother's fight to exonerate her son who is accused of murder.
Jamie Graham of Totalfilm is not enthused, "Mother is slow-burner that unfurls with great deliberation...Mother is competent, no more, no less"
On the other hand, Maggie Lee of The Hollywood Reporter, loves it, "Bong Joon-ho's top opus zooms in on one character with smothering intensity to examine the primal quality of motherhood. At the same time, it is a superb murder mystery, with twists coming thick and fast yet always at the right moments."
Mike Goodridge of Screendaily, concurs with Lee, calling it "an operatic melodrama revolving around a knockout central performance from TV star Kim Hye-ja. Filled with the elegant compositions and mood-drenched cinematography which are becoming Bong’s specialty, Mother is a largely satisfying film which marks the director out as South Korea’s most versatile young auteur."
SAMSON & DELILAH (Australia) Warwick Thornton
(En Certain Regard) Samson, a cheeky 15-year-old boy, and Delilah live in an isolated Aboriginal community in the Central Australian desert. In amongst a tiny collection of houses, everything here happens in a cycle. Day in and day out – nothing changes, everything stays the same and no one seems to care. The two teenagers soon discover that life outside the community can be cruel. Though hungry and rejected Samson and Delilah fall in love. It is all they have. It is real. And when tragedy strikes they turn their backs on home and embark on a journey of survival. Lost, unwanted and alone they discover that life isn’t always fair, but love never judges.
An older review from Oz, Sandra Hall of the Sidney Morning Herald writes, "It's a demanding film, so determined to replicate the listless rhythm which governs the community's routines that you feel a need to slow your pulse beat to adapt to it. Thornton, who shot the film himself, has the action unfold in long takes which give you plenty of time to dwell on the desert vastness."
Sukdev Sandhu, Telegraph UK writing from Cannes gives is 5 Stars, calling it "an outstanding feature debut...There are shades of the Dardennes brothers here, and of Charles Burnett’s classic Killer of Sheep. Mostly, Samson and Delilah looks - and sounds (its sound design, both playful and dissonant, is terrific) – like no Australian film I’ve seen. Timeless and also utterly contemporary, it will leave hearts bruised, but aching with joy."