Sunday, May 25, 2014

2014 Cannes Marathon Post-Mortem

Another Cannes marathon has come to an end and so has the 67th Cannes Film Festival which was great to read about. This year’s festival was fun not just for the films that was played but also for some of the things that happened such as some guy trying to look up America Ferrera’s dress during the premiere of How to Train Your Dragon 2. Yet, it’s all about the films as this year’s festival had some surprises as well as some great films that came out. Though it started off with a whimper with Grace of Monaco that got a poor reception, it was a good thing that good movies started to pick things up.

I was glad that Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, the Dardenne Brothers’ Two Days, One Night, Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, Olivier Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria, and Ken Loach’s Jimmy’s Hall got some excellent notices while I wasn’t surprised by the mixed reaction towards David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars. Yet, I was surprised by the negative reaction towards Atom Egoyan’s Captives, Michael Hazanavicius’ The Search, and Ryan Gosling’s new film Lost River where the last of which I’m intrigued to see. One thing about the festival that I always enjoy reading about are the surprises as I’m not interested in seeing the new films by Xavier Dolan, Alice Rohrwacher, and Andrey Zvyagintsev which got a lot of buzz as did Ned Benson’s The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby and It Follows by David Robert Mitchell.

As for the winners of the main competition, I’m ecstatic that Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep won the Palme d’Or despite the mixed reaction it got while I’m also happy that Timothy Spall and Bennett Miller respectively won awards for Best Actor for Mr. Turner and Best Director for Foxcatcher. I’m really happy that Xavier Dolan gets to share the third place Jury Prize with Jean-Luc Godard for his new film which I want to see. I’m glad that Alice Rohrwacher’s The Wonders got the Grand Jury Prize and Andrey Zvyagintsev won the Best Screenplay prize for Leviathan. Yet, I was surprised that Julianne Moore won Best Actress for Maps to the Stars as I was hoping that Marion Cotillard would win for Two Days, One Night as the Dardenne Brothers got shut out for the very first time.

Overall, it was an excellent film festival as I want to credit Indiewire, the Dissolve, HitFix, and the AV Club for their coverage as well as Bonjour Tristesse and The Film Experience for their coverage as they made the festival fun to read.

As for the marathon, I will admit that it was a step down from last year because the films that I chose to see weren’t as diverse as the ones I had seen last year or the year before. Now that I’ve seen a total of 50 Palme d’Or films, I have to say that the ones I saw for this year had a lot of substance as there’s not a bad one in the bunch. I was just a bit disappointed by its lack of diversity as I would make a last-minute addition in Marty to the marathon just to shake things up but it wasn’t enough as I opened the festival with Fahrenheit 9/11 and ended it with Blow-Up. Here are my picks for this fictional version of the Cannes awards for this marathon.

The Palme d’Or Goes to… if...

This was a fucking knockout of a film. I was blown away by the film from start to finish not just for its sense of anarchy but also the style that is created where it plays this conflict between old ideas and the ideas of a new world order. It’s a film that is surprising for how confrontational it is while showcasing this very repressive world of British boarding schools as Lindsay Anderson’s direction and Malcolm McDowell’s performance are just absolute highlights of the film as I want to see more of Anderson’s work.

The 2nd Place Grand Jury Prize Goes to… The Cranes are Flying

This is one of the best anti-war films I had ever seen as it is told with such amazing visual style and has a story that is just captivating. All of which is told from the perspective of a young woman waiting for her lover to come home. There’s a lot of internal conflicts as well as creating questions about fighting for a country as well as what people go through waiting for those serving the war as it’s a grim but exhilarating film from Mikhail Kalatozov.

The 3rd Place Jury Prize Goes to… The Third Man

Carol Reed’s noir film is truly one of the standard-bearers of what film noir is and what it should be. It’s a film that is very gripping but also has this sense of style that is just entrancing to watch. The performances of Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, and Orson Welles just adds a lot to the film as it isn’t afraid to keep people guessing while exploring this shady world of the black market in postwar Vienna.

The Best Director Prize Goes to…. Volker Schlondorff for The Tin Drum

Schlondorff created something that was off-the-wall but also very exciting but with a sense of style as it is this very unconventional yet engaging film about a boy growing up into a man though still having the body of a boy. It’s a film with a lot of style as well as some satire as it is really unlike anything out there as Schlondorff does brilliant work.

The Best Actor Prize Goes to…. Jean-Louis Tritignant for A Man and A Woman

The Best Actress Prize Goes to…. Anouk Aimee for A Man and A Woman

The performances of Jean-Louis Tritignant and Anouk Aimee in Claude Lelouch’s A Man and A Woman is really the highlight of the film as they give very mesmerizing performances as two people who are widowed with children as they come together dealing with loss as well as loneliness. With Tritignant being the more light-hearted of the two and Aimee exuding radiance in her role, the two together are just fun to watch.

Best Screenplay Goes to… Billy Wilder & Charles Brackett for The Lost Weekend

The screenplay for Billy Wilder’s film about a man battling alcoholism is truly gripping as well as a unique study of a man coming to terms with his demons and struggles as a writer. All of which is told on a weekend where Wilder and co-writer Charles Brackett take Charles R. Jackson’s novel and go very deep into a man and his demons while showcasing his desperation and willingness to get drunk as it’s a fantastic script.

Technical Jury Prize Goes to… Mariya Timofeyeva for The Cranes are Flying and Robert Krasker for The Third Man (tie)

This was tough as there were a lot of films with some great technical work as I eventually chose two that stood out. The first is Mariya Timofeyeva’s editing which was a highlight of The Cranes are Flying for the way it seamlessly creates these superimposed dissolves with such amazing style and play to the offbeat rhythms of war. Robert Krasker’s cinematography in The Third Man is a mastery in the art of black-and-white photography for the way it sets a mood and adds a style that is just entrancing to watch as these two achievements in editing and photography are just examples into the strengths of filmmaking. 

The Special Jury Prize Goes to… David Bennent for The Tin Drum

David Bennent’s performance in The Tin Drum is truly one of the key factors into why the film is so important. Especially as he was 11 during the film’s production as he had to play the ages of three to twenty-one as it’s a very wild and uncompromising performance. Notably for those piercing screams that just adds a lot of style and power to the film as Bennent’s performance is a key factor to it success.

And now the for the ranking of the six remaining films of the marathon:

4. The Tin Drum

Volker Schlondorff’s 1979 film is an extraordinary piece of cinema that explores the life of a boy who encounters World War II and Nazism while rebelling against the world of adulthood.

5. A Man and A Woman

Claude Lelouch’s film is a major highlight of the marathon as it is this very touching and low-key film that explores two people dealing with the loss of their respective spouses while coming together to deal with their own loneliness as it’s a remarkable film that is highlighted by Jean-Louis Trintignant and Anouk Aimee.

6. The Lost Weekend

Billy Wilder’s Oscar-award winning film is not just rare Best Picture winner that actually lives up to its prestige but it’s also a very daring film that explores the world of alcoholism that features a magnificent performance from Ray Milland as a troubled writer who tries to drink himself to death.

7. The Mission

Roland Joffe’s film is really a must-see for those wanting a strong film about faith as it explores this unique relationship between a Jesuit priest and a former slave trader played respectively by Jeremy Irons and Robert de Niro as they build a mission at the Iguazu Falls that is eventually threatened by men who want the land for profit.

8. The Son's Room

Nanni Moretti’s film is a haunting yet touching film about a family dealing with the death of a son as it is a very sensitive yet realistic film that has Moretti play a father dealing with guilt over the decision he made on the day of his son’s death.

9. Marty

Delbert Mann’s tale on the life of a lonely butcher in the span of 48 hours features a great script from Paddy Chayefsky as well as a marvelous performance from Ernest Borgnine in the titular role as it’s a very simple yet upbeat film that explores loneliness and the anxieties of adulthood.

Well, that is all for the marathon as well the list of films that had won the Palme d’Or. For anyone interested in the Palme d’Or winners that I’ve seen so far, go to this list, with links to the reviews of films I've seen so far, as I hope next year’s festival will be just as good while I hope the marathon for next year will be more diverse and wild. Until then, au revoir.

© thevoid99 2014

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