Sunday 28 May 2023

Cannes 2023 - Awards and comments


A jury lead by Ruben Östlund, twice Palme d'Or winner and a controversial figure among some was bound to deliver some surprises and perhaps some upsets. Yet the surprise is that the jury has largely delivered their awards to the expecting films even not quite in the order we all expected. Compared to some infuriating awards in some past years (the 2016 edition!), it is a really pleasing list of awards

Saturday 27 May 2023

Cannes 2023 - Last Summer by Catherine Breillat

After a ten years absence, controversial French filmmaker Catherine Breillat is back with the remake of a recent Danish film, Queen of Heart by May el-Toukhy and whose premise proves that she has not lost her willingness to provoke! One has to wonder what pushed her to adapt a film that is just about four years old if it was not to add her own unique touch push the boundaries even further so it is safe to say Last Summer was received with a certain trepidation in Cannes.

Cannes 2023 - Strangers by Night by Alex Lutz

Alex Lutz is not well known outside France but he has built a varied and interesting career after making a known for himself on TV on a well known comedic show called Le Petit Journal. Taking on mainly some comedic roles in films, he also won the French Film Award for best actor for the more dramatic Guy in 2018. He is in Cannes to present Strangers by Night that is the Un Certain Regard closing ceremony.

Friday 26 May 2023

Cannes 2023 - Awards predictions

What a spectacular, exciting and eventful edition this year has been at the Cannes Film Festival! Fully back to normal (even more than 2022 that saw a returning attendance but not quite at previous levels), with union leaders threatening to switch off the power and disrupt the festival, with the endless rain of the first week adding a certain level of stressful trepidation and some oversubscribed screenings like in the pre-COVID years, not to mention the very high level of the competition, this surely is a year to remember!

Cannes 2023 - Perfect Days by Wim Wenders


Wim Wenders had such a fantastic start to his career, going from strength to strength and culminating with his Palme d'Or winning Paris, Texas in 1984, closely followed by that other masterpiece of his Wings of Desire in 1987, winner of the best directing prize. So it is fair to say what followed from the '90s onwards has been a bit of a disappointment. There were the flawed but compelling Until The End of the World and Faraway, So Close! but his work later in the decade and in the '00s betrayed a serious lack of inspiration. He is back in competition this year with Perfect Days, while his documentary Anselm was shown a few days ago out of competition.

Thursday 25 May 2023

Cannes 2023 - The Pot au Feu by Anh Hung Tran

It is fair to say that we all assumed the inclusion of The Pot-Au-Feu in the official selection and in competition this year was purely down to the star power of its lead and to inject a bit of glamour to the festival, just like with Firebrand a few days earlier. The premise made it sound like these "quality" made for TV dull period dramas yet could not have been further from the truth.

Set at the end of the 19th century, The Pot-Au-Feu relates the romance between Eugénie (Juliette Binoche) and Rodin (Benoît Magîmel) whose passion for food was only equalled by the passion for each other. It opens with a thirty minutes scene that instantly set the tone for the rest of the film: in it, Eugénie and Dodin meticulously prepare and serve a feast and it is serene and luminous, so far away from the usual stereotypes of feverish artistic creation and shouty cooking. There is a pervading gentleness to it that carries through the whole running time.

Wednesday 24 May 2023

Cannes 2023 - Club Zero by Jessica Hausner

You never quite know where Austrian director Jessica Hausner will take you next. With an impressive filmography already, with each film she tackles some new themes with some very different stories and even style, from the austere period drama of Amour Fou to the understated science-fiction of Little Joe (Cannes 2019). She is back in Cannes with Club Zero.

Cannes 2023 - Asteroid City by Wes Anderson

Popular culture has embraced Wes Anderson's world for all the wrong reasons, treating him merely as a meme generator including the Franklin embarrassing one with which all sorts of people on social media including politician were posting some pictures meant to vaguely represent his aesthetic. Yet there is so much more to his art under this colourful and carefully designed facade. After The French Dispatch and its wonderful exuberance, he is back on the Croisette with Asteroid City.

Tuesday 23 May 2023

Cannes 2023 - Fallen Leaves by Aki Kaurismaki

Aki Kaurismaki is a regular in Cannes and while he has never quite won the top prize and one could argue his films are not seen as "serious" enough which is a shame as he has a knack of dealing with some profound issues but under a light-hearted and typically Finnish and stern accepting way rather than having some big emotional outburst. His output has been rarer over the last decade but he is finally back with Fallen Leaves.

Cannes 2023 - Acide by Just Philippot

Just Philippot made himself noticed with his first film, psychological bug horror The Swarm, a film whose impact was sadly dimmed because of its release in the middle of the pandemic when cinemas was closed which meant it went straight on streamers. It did get selected for the online edition of Gerardmer in 2021 and being acquired by Netflix meant it was not completely ignored. The French director is back with another genre film and this time with a starrier cast and under the spotlight of the Cannes official selection as one of the midnight screenings. 

Monday 22 May 2023

Cannes 2023 - Anantomy of a Fall by Justine Triet

Justine Triet has had an interesting and promising career so far that has been part of the Cannes Film Festival since her first film Age of Panic was selected in the fringe sidebar ACID back in 2013. Her next, In Bed with Victoria, was in Directors' Fortnight in 2016 then she graduated to the official selection with Sybil in 2019 and she is back this year with Anatomy of a Fall.

Sunday 21 May 2023

Cannes 2023 - May December by Todd Haynes

A regular in Cannes over the last three decades, Todd Haynes has never won any award in Cannes, all the way back to Velvet Goldmine, a wonderful, soulful film which did not turn out to the the Trainspotting everyone was expecting then given Ewan McGregor's presence in it (don't ask, these were strange times) and more recently with Carol when a particular and questionable jury member campaigned against it if rumours are to be believed and recently with the beautiful and misunderstood Wonderstruck. The American director is back in Cannes with May December.

Saturday 20 May 2023

Cannes 2023 - Eureka by Lisandro Alonso

Over the course of twenty years, the Argentinian Lisandro Alonso has carved up his own unique niche quite unlike anyone else and distinct from his Argentinian director counterparts, only loosely associated with the New Argentine Cinema movement. His trademark slow cinema has earned him a place in the hearts of arthouse connoisseurs and he has remained faithful to his artistic style and themes. 

Cannes 2023 - The Zone of Interest by Jonathan Glazer


Jonathan Glazer has built one of the most interesting recent careers in so few films over the last decades, one that is has impressive as it is varied an unexpected. Indeed you never quite know where he will turn his focus next, starting off with Sexy Beast in 2000 and its story of British gangsters in Spain to the metaphysical musings of Birth in 2004 and the chilling science-fiction vérité of Under The Skin in 2013. He is in Cannes for the first time with the adaptation of The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis that had the potential to be very controversial given the subject.

Friday 19 May 2023

Cannes 2023 - Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny by James Mangold

After the dreadful and misguided Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, it is reassuring that this new and last sequel (at least with Harrison Ford), The Dial of Destiny, feels like an Indiana Jones film again, especially in this more successful and thrilling first half. The exciting, extended prologue set in the dying days of the nazis, has Indy yet again trying to get his hands on some artefacts they stole. While the de-ageing process is still not quite there yet, Harrison Ford looking nearly like his younger self (except for some weirdly digital looking eyes). Set in a nazi stronghold in a German castle then on a speeding train at night, this opening bring back some echoes of the Last Crusade's middle section with its similar setting and vibes. it is one of many action set pieces that very nearly bring the spirit of the original trilogy back, despite some now inevitable and surprisingly obvious CGI backgrounds, a complaint that carries through the running time.

Cannes 2023 - The Animal Kingdom by Thomas Cailley

Thomas Cailley made a big impact in Cannes with his first film, Love at First Fight (what a terrible English title!), which was presented at Directors' Fortnight in 2014 before meeting a commercial success and giving Adèle Haenel her first French film award for best newcomer. Despite the acclaim it took the French director another eight years before making his new film, The Animal Kingdom, which opened the Un Certain Regard selection earlier this week with an intriguing premise.

Wednesday 17 May 2023

Cannes 2023 - Jeanne du Barry by Maïwenn

The Cannes Film Festival picked what some perceived as a controversial film for its opening this year. Jeanne du Barry stars Johnny Depp whose recent court case attracted plenty of attention and then shortly before the festival opened, the journalist Edwy Plenel made some allegations about an assault he was the victim of by director Maïwenn. However, while cinema does not exist in a vacuum (and more on that later), what is the film actually worth?