Sunday, May 24, 2015
2015 Cannes Film Festival Marathon Post-Mortem
The 2015 Cannes Film Festival has just ended with a lot of pizazz and spectacle as the winners have been announced as the festival and this marathon is now over. First, I want to thank The Film Experience for their coverage as well as the Dissolve, Hitfix, and IndieWire for their coverage as well. I would have to say that this year's festival was a bit underwhelming. Not a lot of standouts this year as there were some good films but also some bad ones. One of the big disappointments that definitely scared me is Gus Van Sant's Sea of Trees which I had hoped would be a return-to-form of sorts for him due to its subject matter. Instead, it's being called his worst film to date as it got booed very badly. One of the films I'm anticipating for in Gaspar Noe's Love, like a lot of the films this year, received mixed reviews but I'm glad to hear that Noe isn't taking the criticism severely as I still want to see it.
Then there's the films that did get good buzz like Denis Villeneuve's Sicario, Matteo Garrone's Tale of Tales, Paolo Sorrentino's Youth, Justin Kurzel's adaptation of Macbeth and Joachim Trier's Louder than Bombs that has me excited while I still want to see Hirokazu Koreeda's Our Little Sister despite the mixed reception it received. Then there's the winners as I'm happy that Yorgos Lanthimos' The Lobster won the third place Jury Prize while I'm ecstatic that Todd Haynes' Carol got some major buzz plus a surprising Best Actress prize for Rooney Mara which she would share with Emmanuelle Bercot for Maiwenn's new film Mon roi.
Other winners include Vincent Lindon for Best Actor for Stephane Brize's The Measure of a Man, Michel Franco for Best Screenplay for his film Chronic, and a Best Director prize to Hou Hsiao-Hsien who has returned after a long period with his wuxia film The Assassin that got excellent reviews. One of the films that I'm intrigued about that had been getting a lot of buzz is Son of Saul by Laszlo Nemes which won the 2nd place Grand Jury Prize as it's from someone new as I have no idea what it's about. Finally, there's the Palme d'Or winner in Jacques Audiard's Dheepan which I have heard about but wasn't sure if it was coming out this year. I'm happy that Audiard won as he is one of the finest filmmakers working today as this film once again plays into the struggles of outsiders.
Now that the festival and the prizes have been given out. The marathon has come to an end as I would say this year's marathon was a major improvement over last year as there were more diverse films this year as well as those that really stood out. Though I was originally going to include one of my Blind Spots for the marathon, last-minute changes forced me to whittle the marathon down to 14 films as I'm pretty tired at this point. It did start off well with Festen and ended appropriately with CQ with another re-watch in Gimme Shelter being a highlight of the marathon. Now it's time to announce the winners of the fictional prizes in my marathon.
The Palme d'Or goes to..... Mommy
After seeing this during the late moments of the marathon, there was no question that any other film in the marathon wasn't going to beat this one. I've become a recent convert of the cult of Xavier Dolan as I know now why he is so fucking awesome. It is truly an enthralling and powerful film that isn't afraid of making anyone uncomfortable nor was it afraid to present something in an odd film format. Xavier Dolan isn't even in his mid-20s yet is making the kind of films that lives up to the works of the masters. The performances of Anne Dorval, Suzanne Clement, and Antoine-Olivier Pilon are just astonishing as if I was the jury at the festival. I would give the Palme d'Or to all 3 actors and to Xavier Dolan. Plus, because of that film. I'll never get Oasis' Wonderwall out of my head.
The 2nd Place Grand Jury Prize goes to.... The Headless Woman
This was definitely one of the more entrancing and provocative films of the marathon as it is clear that Lucrecia Martel is among the group of female filmmakers who is definitely trying to change the game. It's a film that didn't need to very much but Martel manages to find a story about a woman unraveling emotionally and mentally because of a hit-and-run accident she might've caused. It's a film that plays into the social divide in Argentina into how a woman's family is trying to shield her from what she did as the incident took place near the canals of where the poor lived. It's a very intriguing film as Lucrecia Martel is someone that needs more exposure.
The 3rd Place Jury Prize goes to.... Force Majeure
This was definitely a film that didn't let go from the beginning and Ruben Ostlund's story of a family vacation goes horribly wrong due to a near-death experience is certainly compelling from start to finish. Especially as it plays into the reaction of human nature and what people should do in light of these situations. Armed with a great cast and inspired usage of the French Alps location, it's a film that manages to be so much more as it is as well as being a family drama that confronts the idea of what parents should do in these horrendous situations.
The Best Director Prize Goes to... Victor Erice for El Sur
Arguably the Spanish cinema equivalent to Terrence Malick in terms of making films infrequently and with such beauty, Victor Erice's work in El Sure is just astonishing. It's the work of a man that clearly knows how to frame an image and capture something that is very naturalistic and entrancing. Erice is definitely a master in the art of filmmaking as his sophomore feature really shows why he is needed so often and why it's frustrating he doesn't work very often.
The Best Actor Prize Goes to... Philippe Nahon for I Stand Alone
Nahon's performance in Gaspar Noe's film is definitely unforgettable. It's also one that isn't afraid to make anyone uncomfortable. While it's largely based on internal monologues, it's a performance that is frightening yet very uncompromising of a man that is just being cast aside from society in his attempt to find redemption.
The Best Actress Prize Goes to... Maria Onetto for The Headless Woman
Onetto's performance is key to the success of Lucrecia Martel's film as it is also surprisingly restrained and low-key. Even as it's a performance that is just very haunting in the way Onetto portrays a middle-aged dentist from a mid-upper class family who is trying to make sense of what is happening. There is this sense of internal anguish into the role as is just mesmerizing to watch.
Best Screenplay Prize Goes to... Garry Michael White for Scarecrow
Garry Michael White's screenplay was a major standout in Jerry Schatzberg's film as it was this very unconventional road movie. Notably as it paired two men who couldn't be very different from anyone else. Yet, it's a script that is full of wit and character study as it would allow these two men to rely on each other and grow with each other in their dream to find something that would give them a future.
The Technical Jury Prize Goes to.... Jose Luis Alcaine for El Sur
Alcaine's cinematography for the film is definitely gorgeous as it's usage of naturalistic and available light. It plays into what is expected in Victor Erice's work as it presents a world from the perspective of a young girl and her relationship with her father. It is some of the best photography that is seen to a film that isn't shown very often.
The Special Jury Prize Goes to.... Jacques Tati for Parade
Tati is definitely a master performer as his final feature film is definitely a celebration into the world of performance and mime. It's a film that is unquestionably entertaining where it's Tati at the center of it not just as a performer but also as the ringmaster in creating something that feels very lively while letting the spectators be part of the show.
And now, the ranking for the eight remaining films of the marathon:
4. El Sur
While it may not have been the whole film that Victor Erice had intended to tell, it is still one of the most gorgeous and touching films about a relationship between a father and his daughter. Even as it is presented with a sensitivity and a naturalistic tone that is just exotic and evocative.
Jerry Schatzberg's 1973 Palme d'Or-award winning film is a very unlikely yet witty buddy-road comedy that plays into two very different men with the same dream to make something of themselves. Featuring top-notch performances from Al Pacino and Gene Hackman, it's one of the more underrated films of the 1970s as it is filled with unique character study and some hilarious moments.
6. I Stand Alone
Gaspar Noe's feature-film debut might not be as intense as the work he would do later on but it is still quite extreme in terms of its exploration of alienation and prejudice. Especially as Noe's film has a nihilistic edge into what Philippe Nahon's character would endure to get back on those that wronged him.
Jacques Tati's final feature film is definitely full-on entertainment. It's not just a film where the audience is part of the show but it's a film that is more about the celebration of performance no matter how silly it is. Even as a man getting chased by a mule manages to bring in some of the big laughs.
8. Sweet Charity
Bob Fosse's directorial debut in the world of film is a stylish yet lavish remake of Federico Fellini's Nights of Cabiria as it is a hell of a debut film. Especially with Shirley MacLaine in the leading role as she manages to put a lot of charm and vulnerability into her performance.
9. Miss Julie
Alf Sjoberg's adaptation of August Strindberg's play is an intriguing study of repressed love and desires as well as social and class divides. Especially as it's a film that manages to be a provocative story about people who have these expectations of who they are and what they're supposed to do as it plays into the conflict of their desires.
Orson Welles' take on William Shakespeare's play is a mesmerizing yet stylish take on the tragedy with Welles playing the lead role. Yet, it is Michael McLiammoir's performance as Iago that is really what makes the film so interesting in the way he deceives and plots his way to destroy the titular character.
Nuri Bilge Ceylan's study of a relationship disintegrating in the course of three seasons is definitely the most challenging film of the marathon. Largely due to its minimalist plot and unwillingness to play by the rules as it is not an easy film to watch but certainly an engrossing one.
Well, that is it for the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and its marathon. It was definitely fun though tiring as I've updated my Palme d'Or list of what I've seen so far. Definitely will change again maybe later this year or in next year's marathon. Until then, Au Revoir.
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