Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Cannes Film Festival 2014 Round Up

Well my time at Cannes is finally over (and this post is a little late) but it has been an incredible experience. I’ve watched 23 films over 8 days from Wednesday 14th May to Wednesday 21st May and many of them I have already reviewed (with plenty more reviews to come). I’m absolutely knackered and have been for almost the entire festival. It’s been hard to stay awake in some of the films which I’m afraid to say has factored into how I have ranked them but I’ve also seen some absolute corkers.

Out of the 18 in competition, I watched 10:

Mr Turner

Maps to the Stars
Deux Jours, Une Nuit (Two Days, One Night)
The Search
Adieu au Langage (Goodbye to Language)

All of which means I missed out on Winter Sleep, Saint Laurent, Le Meraviglie (The Wonders) and Futatsume No Mado (Still the Water) while I was there and Mommy, Jimmy’s Hall, Sils Maria and Leviathan after I left.

In the Un Certain Regard category, I only managed to catch 6 out of the 20 titles:
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
Feher Isten (White God)
Lost River

Of those that were playing out of competition, I saw :

The Rover
Gui Lai (Coming Home)
The Owners
Caricaturistes - Fantassins de la Democratie (Cartoonists - Foot Soldiers of Democracy)

I only actually went into a single press conference and that was for Mr Turner. I was often in screenings while the press conferences were on but managed to take some quick snaps of a few stars as they left the building. I was also there for a How to Train Your Dragon 2 photo call thing when some of the stars took to the street but unfortunately missed the stars of The Expendables doing what they do best and riding into town on the back of a tank like they freaking own the place.
I regret not seeing a film on the beach (The Warriors was on at the same time as Lost River and Pulp Fiction was screened after I left) and wish I’d got the chance to do some interviewing but all in all I have had a brilliant time. Thanks to Tastic Film for paying the air fare and accommodation and for giving me this opportunity. I hope I might be invited back next year.

Here’s my rough ranking of the films at the festival followed by my personal top 10:

My least favourite: Goodbye to Language (somebody who liked this will have to explain it to me sometime). I also wasn’t particularly a fan of The Blue Room, Xenia and The Owners. All a bit too slow paced and lacking in tension for my liking. Slightly better were Beautiful Youth and Cartoonists but both of these failed to completely hold my attention.

Both Mr Turner and Coming Home were admirable period pieces but neither kept me from wanting to drop off... bear in mind I was bloody tired due to surviving on roughly 5 hours of sleep a night.

Two Days, One Night was good but repetitive while The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby had great performances and very well written characters but neither were anything wildly original.

Lost River dared to be different and is a fascinating debut from Ryan Gosling even if it is highly derivative of the likes of Refn, Malick and Lynch. Got to admire Gosling for aiming high!

Captive and The Salvation both narrowly miss out on the top 10 for being gripping but fairly conventional in many ways.

My top 10 are:

'Life Itself is a wonderfully complete story of the life and death of Roger Ebert, a film the man himself would hopefully have given a big two thumbs up to.'

9. The Search (not reviewed yet)

8. Maps to the Stars (not reviewed yet)

 'Abderrahmane Sissako has created a thought provoking piece of cinema that may not make audiences into emotional wrecks but will certainly remain in the memory for some time.'

6. Foxcatcher

 'For those who do not know the real story behind the film, try to avoid spoilers as the ending will likely be a huge shock. For everyone else, the real surprise here is Carrell whose performance as a man a million miles from normal will likely be a strong contender come award season. Catch it.'

'With an excellent score and some gorgeous cinematography, The Homesman is a beautifully told feminist tragedy with a welcoming touch of humour.'

4. The Rover

'There are plenty of quick and shocking bursts of violence in The Rover and though the pace slows almost to a halt on occasion, it builds to an unexpectedly emotional resolution. The distorted, dirty score from Anthony Partos perfectly complements the gritty visuals and moral mystery of Pearce's anti-hero. Even with some lulls in the mid-section, The Rover opens and closes so strongly that it is a ride well worth taking.'

'Genuinely affecting, completely absorbing and surprisingly funny, Polsky deserves to conquer the Cannes Film Festival, and the rest of the world with the help of the Red Army.'

2. White God

'Furiously entertaining with a perfect ending, White God is like 280 Dogs Later; an underdog story with some serious bite.'

'Wild Tales may not be the kind of film that will win too many awards but it certainly deserves to pick up a wide audience. If there were awards for Best Fight or for Best Wedding, then this film would cream the competition. Szifrón has made the most surprising film of the festival so far, dazzling with his direction and audacious storytelling. Wild Tales is one hell of a ride and a hilarious must-see.'

It’s made me realise how important story, style and pace are to me personally. Some of these films had beautifully written characters and were utterly convincing but if they didn’t move along and have a really strong story or some interesting stylistic techniques, then I can’t help but feel I’ve seen it all before. I also clearly love violence, threat, tension and danger in the movies. It seems I can’t get enough of conflict!

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