Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cannes 1995: Day 4: May 20

Jefferson in Paris, USA, dir. James Ivory

The Main Competition continued to languish on the festival's fourth day; none of this section's first seven titles earned any bouquets from the jury by the end of the fortnight. Happily, things were still percolating in the other selections, where Nicole Kidman and Gus Van Sant turned their very different careers around on the same project. Other faces lighting up screens were as fresh as Liv Tyler's and as familiar as Alec Guinness's...

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.

Jefferson in Paris
(Main Competition: USA, dir. James Ivory)

My Response: "Aims for historical density but feels drily diffuse. Can't find tone or vantage on long-postponed Hemings plot ..." Grade: C–

Amir Soltani's Review: "The design of this film is reliably elaborate and ostentatious, but the less spoken of the film itself, the better ..." Grade: D

Ivan Albertson's Review: "... While too scattered to be boring, the film resembles nothing more than a (slightly) glorified Encarta entry, except perhaps community theater. Nobody fares well, but Thandie Newton's slave affectations are especially embarrassing ..." Rating:

Tim Brayton's Review: "This was Merchant Ivory near its peak ability to recreate long-gone European culture as a living thing without needlessly modernizing it, and the period trappings are totally absorbing ... It is, however, at its worst when it's at its most socially conscious, which feels exactly wrong." Rating: 5/10

3 Steps to Heaven
(Directors' Fortnight: UK, dir. Constantine Giannaris)

My Response: "Fiasco resulting from idiosyncratic experimental and short-form director forcing his style into addled narrative ..." Grade: D

Tim Brayton's Review: "All the tackiness you'd expect from this mix of ingredients, though the filmmakers put some discernible effort into blasting the scenario apart through an application of erratic, curiously effective style ..." Rating: 5/10

(Directors' Fortnight: USA, dir. James Mangold)

My Response: "More convincing local color than indies in this vein often conjure. Tender but not soft. So well-played, especially by Vince ..." Grade: B

Lisbon Story
(Un Certain Regard: Portugal/Germany, dir. Wim Wenders)

My Response: "A favor to Lisbon's tourism bureau. A tender elegy to Wenders' pal Federico. Also a movie, but that's third priority ..." Grade: B–

Tim Brayton's Review: "Lisbon Story is something of a misnomer; a giddy valentine to Lisbon’s architecture, street layout, and music scene it certainly is, but a “story”, not quite as much ... It's not always successful, but it's boundlessly ambitious." Rating: 9/10

Mute Witness
(Critics' Week: UK/Germany/Russia, dir. Anthony Waller)

My Response: "Sort of Siberian Sound Studio: a lurid thriller with wit, craft, and a clever conceit. Even functional passages click ..." Grade: B

To Die For
(Out of Competition: USA, dir. Gus Van Sant)

My Response: "Claws-out verve, albeit prone to hokiness and overstatement. Same true of Kidman. Folland, Phoenix, costumes are peaks ..." Grade: B–

Tim Brayton's Review: "It's still nice to see a black comedy that pulls so few punches, and the saucy, heavily ironic structure, with its reiteration of the primacy of television news as a sacred totem even for the people most actively damaged by it, adds a layer of smart cruelty." Rating: 7/10

Coming tomorrow: A rare multiple prizewinner, another self-conscious reflection on cinema, and four films by directors I'd never encountered before ...

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Blogger James T said...

I have only seen then film you guys have not yet talked about (To Die For), which last time I saw it I only kinda liked, but I have to say: Awwww Encarta! I think it was the first PC program I ever bought. I *loved* Encarta. I even like saying "encarta". "Wikipedia" is just not on the same level. [/high-class film criticism]

11:56 AM, May 20, 2015  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@James T: With you on all counts, re: To Die For and Encarta.

1:34 PM, May 20, 2015  

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