Cannes 1995: Day 2: May 18
Sharaku, Japan, dir. Masahiro Shinoda
The Main Competition offerings today were determinedly more esoteric than the opening-night film. Souleymane Cissé's Waati was the only one of 24 Palme contenders that eluded me entirely, MIA even from this box-set of that renowned Malian director's work. I did locate the day's other Main Competition title via the website SamuraiDVD, even though it isn't a samurai film. (Technicalities.) Still, even once it's in your hand, Sharaku is such a tough nut to crack that U.S. distribution never happened. That doesn't mean I was unseduced...
Updated: For even richer thoughts on many of the films listed below, head over to the first Jury Roundtable, where we all go into more detail about our reactions.
(Main Competition: Japan, dir. Masahiro Shinoda)
Ivan Albertson's Review: "... A leisurely tour of the 18th-century kabuki art world, less concerned with being a speculative biopic than depicting the context in which the portrait painter emerged ..." Rating: ★★½
Tim Brayton's Review: "... It's heady, clever stuff, which does somewhat disappointingly turn towards conventional artist biopic beats—the triumphant creation of the biggest hits, the angry admiration of the rival ..." Rating: 8/10
Amir Soltani's Review: "Immaculately designed like the tender portraits of Sharaku himself, and curiously funny like the grandiose Kabuki performances, Shinoda's film has the ideal execution, but at the service of a story that is limited in appeal ..." Grade: B–
And, more briefly...
Sharaku (95, B): Tenaciously rooted in Japanese culture but even as outsider I savored its curious pleasures. Like Imamura doing Mr. Turner.— Nick Davis (@NicksFlickPicks) May 18, 2015
SHARAKU (Shinoda, 95): Expertly and lovingly made, but so entrenched in era and culture, it's hard to fully grasp without prior familiarity.— Amir Soltani (@Amiresque) May 18, 2015
Totally worth checking out just for the impeccable recreation of architecture and Kabuki performances, though.— Amir Soltani (@Amiresque) May 18, 2015
(Un Certain Regard: USA, dir. Ulu Grosbard)
My 'Favorites' Tribute: "Georgia might be my favorite example of a movie that compels you toward binaristic assumptions but keeps outwitting them, not through fussy sleights of hand by the writer or the director, but by the entire film's thoughtful immersion in the palpable, sonic, psychological, atmospheric world that it inhabits and constructs ..." Grade: A–
Ivan Albertson's Review: "... Barbara Turner’s script should be the model of how to handle a damaged character: begin in the middle, don’t look back, and offer no catharsis. Humor permeates even the darkest passages ..." Rating: ★★★★½
Tim Brayton's Review: "... The film doesn't slot into easy codes of sibling rivalry or reconciliation; it's a prickly and at times unforgiving depiction of how families are supportive, antagonistic, and undermining ..." Rating: 8/10
And, more briefly...
Georgia (95, A–): Everything works: incisive script, Washington milieu, musical performances. But four lead actors really carry it to glory.— Nick Davis (@NicksFlickPicks) May 18, 2015
(Directors' Fortnight: Canada, dir. Robert Lepage)
Le Confessionnal (95, B): You'd call it Egoyanesque even if it weren't Canadian: heightened framing, arch tone, perverse and intricate plot.— Nick Davis (@NicksFlickPicks) May 18, 2015
(Critics' Week: Canada, dir. Stephen Williams)
My Full Review: "Set among the Afro-Canadian population of Toronto, and principally its Jamaican community, the film's cultural milieu is its obvious badge of distinction, but this, too, entails some tricky balancing. You can see how Soul Survivor wants to foreground this unique aspect without commoditizing it into a form of Difference or inviting a touristic gaze ..." Grade: C
And, more briefly...
Soul Survivor (95, C): Jamaican-Canadian drama exhibits more conviction than craft, not always choosing most interesting relations to probe.— Nick Davis (@NicksFlickPicks) May 18, 2015
Coming tomorrow: Patricia Arquette in Beyond Rangoon, Mark Rylance in Angels and Insects, and sidebar titles from the USA, India, and Iran...