Cannes 1995: Day 5: May 21
Carrington, UK, dir. Christopher Hampton
What's going on? It would be a significant overstatement to say Cannes 1995 wasn't giving us anything to enjoy or admire in its first 100 hours. Sharaku and Angels and Insects have real lingering power, The City of Lost Children at least offers grand spectacle, and the programming in Directors' Fortnight and Un Certain Regard picked up some of the Main Competition's slack. Carrington might be the high-water mark of the Competition thus far. One week later, the jury certainly held that view; give or take Sharaku, I'm inclined to agree with them. But as much as I've always liked Hampton's movie, it's a surprising apex, one-third of the way into the world's most auspicious film festival. Plenty of worthy rental choices below, but also a couple of indifferent doodles and must-avoids.
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: UK, dir. Christopher Hampton)
My Response: "Not every dot in script connects; Hampton maybe not a natural cineaste. But sex and starch converge in interesting ways ..." Grade: B
Amir Soltani's Review: "... On three separate occasions I tried to finish this film but something just didn't click ..." Grade: N/A
Ivan Albertson's Review: "... There’s no hint of the tragic in their sexual incompatibility, nor is there any shame in their fidelity to each other above all. Free love is the status quo, and others can either roll with it or leave. How many films are about how to love while maintaining independence?" Rating: ★★★½
Tim Brayton's Review: "... This is rich and human without being showy, infinitely fresher and freer and truer than a pre-WWII 20th Century biopic has any reason to be ... " Rating: 8/10
And more briefly...
CARRINGTON: Emma Thompson and Jonathan Pryce are terrific in this otherwise bland story of an unconventional lifelong friendship. #Cannes95— Alex H. (@bwestcineaste) May 22, 2015
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
(Main Competition: Belgium, dir. Marion Hänsel)
My Response: "Gentle, seaborne communion between adult and kid commits neither to realism nor sentiment ..." Grade: C–
Amir Soltani's Review: "Mind-numbingly monotonous and despairing; any moment with the potential to make an emotional impact comes across as amateurishly forced ..." Grade: C–
Ivan Albertson's Review: "... Set aboard a ship where no one seems to do anything besides smoke and play cards, the film is extremely short on everything but Rea’s uninflected despair ..." Rating: ★½
Tim Brayton's Review: "... This is pretty far from sophisticated filmmaking. Hänsel makes no points delicately when they can be hammered home ... When people talk shit about Very Serious Art Films, this is exactly why." Rating: 5/10
(Un Certain Regard: France, dir. Anne Fontaine)
My Response: " Short for a feature, long for an SNL audition. You sort of want more of this stuttering thespian, but you sort of don't ..." Grade: C+
(Un Certain Regard: France, dir. Karim Dridi)
My Response: "Tension in the French metropole, evoked with more flash and greater tactility than in La Haine. Solid exercise. Abrupt end ..." Grade: B
Denise Calls Up
(Critics' Week: USA, dir. Hal Salwen)
My Response: "Maladroit, instantly dated...comedy? About how, like, we're all growing disconnected? Purgatory of talky closeups ..." Grade: D
Someone Else's America
(Directors' Fortnight: Serbia/Germany/Greece/UK/France, dir. Goran Paskaljević)
My Response: "Starts as woefully ersatz US-Spanish-Serbian melting-pot comedy (sic). Gets more serious, but still ersatz ..." Grade: D+
The Tale of the Three Jewels
(Directors' Fortnight: Palestine/Belgium, dir. Michel Khleifi)
My Response: "Overtly propagandistic beats but gradually effects a rare, curious mix of the dogmatic and the dreamy ..." Grade: B
Coming tomorrow: Ken Loach takes British cinema in a totally different direction from Carrington. And Hou Hsiao-hsien takes political history in a totally different screen direction from Ken Loach. And Larry Clark sticks it to us.