⭐️⭐️⭐️ These are my final reviews from this year’s festival. Enjoy.
1001 Grams. A sweet film about love and grief. Attractive main character who works in Norway’s centre for managing weights and measures. At home she drinks alone in a cold, modern house (shades of IKEA) that is silently being stripped of furnishing by her recently divorced husband. Another loss means she has to take the precious 1000 gram weight to the annual international weigh in. Lots of quirky scenes involving airport security, the behavior of international conference delegates etc. You know a chance encounter will be life changing for our heroine. Which, after a few twists and turns, it is.
Land and Shade. A weather beaten man walks along a dusty road between cane fields, carrying a battered suitcase. Covered in dust by the truck passing by. He’s greeted in the old house by an embittered wife, dying son and curious grandson. From there it’s beautifully portrayed but predictable. Even signing up to be exploited cutting cane for the corporation can’t save the home and small holding the wife and son have managed to hold on to after he gave up and left. All very minimalist and touchingly observed domestic life. Fine performances.
The Assassin. Absolutely exquisite to look at – saturated colours, lush costumes, attention to details – hair, faces, jewelry, furniture – symmetry in the settings, fantastic choreography of the action scenes and overall beauty of both interior and external shots. So quite absorbing. But the story was completely opaque which was a bit frustrating. You got the general gist – all about betrayal – both familial and political. And tension builds as you watch the characters through gauzy curtains smudging expressions until the fabric parts and all is clear. Are we seeing through the titular assassin’s eyes? Or not. It’s just too obtuse – seemingly deliberately so.
James White. Great performance from the central character who is conflicted – trying to deal, not very well, with the fact that his mother is dying of cancer. At the same time he is trying to manage to make the transition from college to paid work. He’s certainly living on the edge. Fury barely controlled. He has a close mate and manages to acquire a young girlfriend (unclear what she sees in him) during the few months we watch him. Too grim for me to really enjoy. But a really memorable performance.
Our Little Sister. This was the opposite of grim. A sweet story of sisters. Three have been living with each other in the family home since their parents separated. You get the sense the mother has avoided her responsibilities a bit – she returns briefly to attend a memorial. Father has remarried, after the woman for whom he left his family and with whom he had a daughter died. At his funeral the three meet the titular ‘little sister’ and invite her to join them. It’s all very nice. The girls are all different – responsible older one, flighty middle one, quirky third one and now much younger littlest one. They all get on but with various squabbles and conflicts as they navigate their life choices. All very pleasant, but not very involving.
Charlie’s Country. Confronting to watch, especially the prison days. Having seen David Gulipil’s documentary Another Country it all seemed very familiar. He is a charismatic presence. Grim tale. But hopeful at the end.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I was really looking forward to this, having seen some rave reviews. While I quite enjoyed the experience watching it, ultimately I felt it was superficial and trite. And a moment’s consideration revealed lots of holes in the story!
Chronic. Another compelling performance but oh, such a grim tale. And a shock ending. You see a palliative care nurse caring for his patients – washing them, comforting them, catering for their needs. The ambivalent nature of his relationship with the families of those he cares for is drawn early on. As is the the affect of their deaths on him. Gradually we learn of his back story. A mercy killing. Past and present collide. Memorable. (Maybe should have given this four or even five stars – it’s stayed with me).
Iris. This very well regarded film of an extraordinary character made me feel sad. I’m not sure why. Iris is terrific. Very direct, self knowing. In her nineties, managing her life. I think the acquisition of stuff – conspicuous consumption – which continues even though she has houses and whare-houses full of it and is giving a lot away to museums and galleries, got me down. And I didn’t like her being all done up in over the top costumes and lead around by fashionistas – although I see it was on her own terms. She was (is) a great character.
Horse Money. Amazing images. Extraordinary faces. Beautifully photographed- full of depth and longing. I saw a description of this as more a photo essay than film. And maybe so. All non- professional actors. Grim settings – an asylum of some sort. A tale of migrant oppression. Memorable.
Go Get Some Rosemary. A feckless father. Distressing to watch. But great performances from everyone – especially the father who whilst loathsome in his fecklessness was sort of mesmerizing. You wonder how he’s going to stuff up next. Apparently autobiographical. Amazing the kids survived. Nice to see New York.
Dope. Nice to see a film about African American teenagers that has them on the path to Ivy League universities. But I agree with a review that said, after setting things up quite nicely, the film wimps out of the natural conclusion. Everything is wrapped up neatly. Which is what you want but is unlikely!
My Life Nicholas Winding Refn. I like films about film directors that give you insights into their craft. This one was more like a home movie. Filmed by his wife while he was on location directing Only God Forgiveswith Ryan Gosling (whose appearance was a bonus). The film making process comes through elliptically interspersed with domestic scenes. The pressure to live up to expectations after the hit Drive). The frustration with the finished product compared to what he’d envisioned at the start. Taking the actors through their scenes. The pressure of filming a multifaceted action shot; “How much do these windows cost?”. Nerves at Cannes. Tough gig really.
Tea Time. Enjoyable film that follows school friends who have met regularly for afternoon tea for years. In Chile. You meet them in late middle age, through a number of years when one or two die. It’s a bit hard to keep track of them. New women join the originals. They talk of husbands and children, not so much about what’s happening in public life or even socially. A bit heavy handed on close ups of jowly and wrinkled, and heavily made up faces and food preparation. But enjoyable.
Seymour An Introduction. A beautiful character, former concert pianist who has taught others to play since giving up performing relatively early in his career. He was compelling. But the documentary had some clunky bits in it. A discussion with Ethan Hawke who is responsible for the film, about the nature of artistic endeavor didn’t work. And a performance for the film is just thrown in, with no lead up and therefore lacking any sense of climax. But Seymour in his own words is wonderful.
The Treasure. This is the only film I had no memory of – perhaps this should be relegated to two stars as a result. But I enjoyed it. About two Rumanians in search of treasure that one is convinced has been buried by an ancestor. Some finely observed domestic moments – between husband and wife, husband and son (who is being bullied at school), between work colleagues and between neighbors. You get a sense of contemporary Rumanian life. The treasure when it’s found is in an unexpected form. And what our main man does with it is even more surprising.
Head. A silly thing. Produced by Jack Nicholson. But of historical interest only. I loved The Monkees who star – if that’s the right word – rather they meander through increasingly silly and obtuse situations – but that wasn’t sufficient to maintain interest. After all, it was all a long time ago!
Feherlofia. Animation of a universal fairy story – a Siegfried like innocent who by saving three enslaved sisters from evil husbands saves the world. Beautiful drawings in paisley like shapes – all merging and shape shifting from image to image. All the colours of the rainbow. Psychedelic. Very seventies.
Ryuzo And His Seven Henchmen. Elderly gangsters come out of retirement to take on the new breed of stand over merchants. True to life they don’t do very well! A silly romp.
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