A veritable feast of films on show over the last two days with some real stand-out contenders for the coveted Palme d’Or !
First up is Michael Haneke’s Happy End – perhaps, for me, the film I have been looking to hear about the most as he is one of my favourite directors. Returning to the festival where he won the Palme d’Or five years ago for Amour, his new film also stars Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant as daughter and father in a tale about a wealthy family who’s construction business is now on the rocks. It seems the critics universally loved the film with The Guardian giving it the maximum five stars and with Indiewire claiming this is “a movie about joyless people, but as a scathing look at the vanity of the bourgeois, it’s riveting to watch and wonder who will crack first.”
Another film I am personally looking forward to is Noah Baumbach’s Netflix owned competition entry, The Meyerowitz Stories which premiered at the festival on Day 5. The film stars Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson and Adam Sandler. The film received in the main very good reviews with Variety saying “as the best Netflix Original film to date, perhaps this is a sign that the company is finally taking a more discerning interest in the content of their “content.” and The Telegraph giving it four stars and commenting that “it’s been a long time coming but Adam Sandler is finally in a good film.”
And so to a bit of a “stinker” at Cannes and How to Talk to Girls at Parties starring Elle Fanning and Nicole Kidman. Fanning is in two films at Cannes (the hotly tipped Sofia Coppola remake The Beguiled) and Kidman is in a total of four films at the festival, surely some sort of record? A two star review in The Guardian which referred to it as a “messy sci-fi caper” and The Hollywood Reporter saying that the film “takes what was at heart a relatively simple story by Neil Gaiman, which channeled bold sci-fi imagination into relatable adolescent experience, and overcomplicates it beyond repair.”
Next up is a new documentary from a legend, Claude Lanzmann (Shoah), and his new film Napalm set in North Korea and telling the tale of a romantic encounter he had there back in 1958. The film received rather mixed reviews from the critics with Screen Daily saying “feels like a missed opportunity to get much deeper under the skin of a nation that Lanzmann clearly knows better than most observers.” and with The Guardian giving it a four star review and commenting “Napalm is indulgent, certainly. It doesn’t stop it being a gripping story.”
Finally for Day 5 a film by a director who’s work I have admired since his debut, La vie de Jesus, back in 1997. However, I was hugely disappointed by his last film, Ma Loute, and so am in two minds what I shall think about his latest, a heavy-metal musical about the early life of Joan of Arc entitled Jeanette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc. It seems the critics also were not impressed by Dumont’s latest with The Guardian only giving it two stars and saying its a “baffling, deliberately disconcerting musical that won’t have your toes tapping.” and Indiewire labelling the film “ridiculous!”.
So following Day 5 would be Day 6, as is the norm.
Another hugely anticipated film this year is Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, The Lobster) competition entry, The Killing of a Sacred Deer. The film stars Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman as husband and wife – Farrell is a heart-surgeon who strikes up an unusual friendship with a 16 year old boy. The film received mostly rave reviews from the critics, The Guardian giving the film four stars and saying “Lanthimos is brilliant at summoning up a whole created world and immersing us in it.” while The Telegraph gave it the maximum five stars citing it as “a wildly uncomfortable, venomously funny Greek tragedy.”
Eugene Jacrecki (The House I Live In) is at Cannes with a documentary, Promised Land, about a road trip across American in a 1963 silver Rolls Royce that once belonged to Elvis Presley. The Hollywood Reporter says it “may be his most broadly appealing film so far” while Indiewire report it as “a fascinatingly overstuffed portrait of America in decline.”
When Sean Baker’s 2015 film Tangerine was released, all anybody seemed to be able to talk about was the fact that the film had been made shot on an iPhone 5S. This year he is at the festival with his latest film, The Florida Project, starring Willem Defoe and about a six year old girl living in a Florida motel. The film received pretty much universal praise from the critics with The Guardian giving it the maximum five stars and Screen Daily claiming it “A remarkable study of poverty, family and personal responsibility.”
Last up today is the latest from festival regular, and highly prolific director, Hong Sang-soo and the second of two (the other being Claire’s Camera) films that he has at Cannes this year, The Day After. This black and white Korean set comedy divided the critics with Variety calling it “a minor, monochrome comedy of confusion that sticks agreeably to its comfort zone.” and Hollywood Reporter saying that it’s “a little too familiar and wispy to be counted among Hong’s best work, this should nonetheless please fans of the prolific director.”
So, we’re at the half-way point and here’s what the critics screen jury grid so far on the competition films: