20 May 2016.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 2016 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL
So here are the incredible numbers: the Festival has 40,000 accredited professionals working for, and running around its tightly guarded halls, its tented beaches and between the hotels, restaurants and fabled parties. Of that, some 4,500-plus are journalists, with 11,500 industry badges in the Marche du Film. And it all runs quite smoothly thanks to its director, the intrepid cinephile, Thierry Frémaux and his hugely competent team.
With 21 films in the main Competition vying for the Palme d’Or, 20 in the Certain Regard section, and other sidebars such as the Semaine de la Critique and the Director’s Fortnight, plus countless special screenings, this year has been a fine cru, though there were also the duds that make you wonder how they ever got picked.
This is no doubt the biggest, richest, glitziest film festival anywhere, with countless stars showing up daily for their films and the famed mounting of the red carpet ceremony. Photographers and fans go crazy with each new arrival of celebrities such as Susan Sarandon, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, or French stars such as Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard or Vanessa Paradis. And the parade of models in amazing gowns to wow the crowds.
It’s a yearly circus in homage to the importance of cinema, the seventh art, as the French call it.
As one can’t possibly cover all the sections, here are a few Competition highlights :
I, DANIEL BLAKE, England – Ken Loach ****
Here’s a wonderfully relevant, touching human and social drama, as the great Loach has so often offered us. This one, concerning an English widower who has recently had a heart attack and is looking for financial relief from the government, tells his tale with superb acting, feeling and conviction. And does it in mercifully concise time. Deserves an award!
TONI ERDMANN, Germany – Maren Ade ****
This surprising and innovative story from Germany, of a curious father/daughter relationship, has till now been the biggest hit of the festival. After years of exclusion from Cannes (except for the occasional Wim Wenders work), this German film shows there is tremendous talent, humor and deep emotions from that country. May walk away with the Palme d’Or, if there is any justice.
MADEMOISELLE (The Handmaiden), Korea – Park Chan-Wook ***
A richly aesthetic period piece from Korea, this erotic, flamboyant thriller follows the trials and tribulations of a lowly handmaiden who becomes closely involved with her princess mistress. Could one call this a feminist cry from the Far East? This intriguing tale of confounding betrayals could be another award-winner.
PATERSON, US – Jim Jarmusch ****
This minimal, poetic Jarmusch jewel (almost a Haiku) concerns a loving couple in a drab town in New Jersey. Adam Driver and the exquisite Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani shine in this moody, evocative tale of mutual acceptance and a sudden loss. It’s also a fine tribute to the poet William Carlos William. Don’t miss it, especially if you’re a Jarmusch fan.
AMERICAN HONEY, US – Andrea Arnold ***
Here’s a film about the wrong side of America as it tells of poor, dysfunctional families in Texas and beyond and young people who come together to make money by hustling magazine subscriptions in this raw, erotic road movie. Shia LeBoeuf and new-comer Sasha Lane light up this fascinating film about the craziness of youth and improbable love in the rubbles. Glowingly filmed, it is unfortunately too long, and should be cut by at least half-an-hour.
HELL OR HIGH WATER, US – David Mackenzie **** (in the Certain Regard section)
This modern cowboy thriller should have been in the main competition. How often do you root for both sides of a chase, and feel for them too? Chris Pine and Ben Foster are outlaw brothers with a mission, while the always great Jeff Bridges is the soon-retiring Texas Marshall chasing them. This lazy, down-to-earth yarn is the perfect movie – scenario, acting, pacing and its intensity of emotions. Simply brilliant!
JULIETA, Spain – Pedro Almodovar ***1/2
“Your absence fills my whole life and destroys it” is a crucial statement in this rich family drama from the Spanish master, Almodovar. How many delightfully colorful and intense films has he made about women, whom he loves and so well understands? Look them up – you will be astounded. Lovely females of all sizes, looks and ages – no matter, he comprehends them…and tells wonderfully complicated tales about them. This one, about a mother and daughter relationship, does not disappoint, with two exquisite actresses who portray the two different ages of the mother. Will the master win an award this year?
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.