Friday, May 22, 2015

Cannes 1995: Day 6: May 22

Land and Freedom, UK, dir. Ken Loach

And now we're finally talking. Ken Loach and Hou Hsiao-hsien serve up the meatiest, chewiest Palme contenders so far, and without pushing too far outside their stylistic comfort zones, they make some of the most forceful work in either of their filmographies. Regrettable, maybe, that Kids stole a lot of the media attention, but in the context of Cannes, it proved something less of a sensation than its makers and distributors might have hoped. Meanwhile, Chris Newby premiered some British cinema as dissimilar as you could imagine to Land and Freedom, except perhaps in its ethic of unanticipated affinities and identifications across difference, and Iranian master Mohsen Makhmalbaf furnished one of the most austere but committed of several films overtly commemorating the 100th anniversary of the medium...

Land and Freedom
(Main Competition: UK, dir. Ken Loach)

My Response: "Some Loach tropes overplayed, but potent. Mid-film debate over collectivizing land as galvanizing as a car chase ..." Grade: B

Ivan Albertson's Review: "[David]'s not a bold leader, just a man with ideals that have yet to be compromised ... This is Loach at his least didactic, detailing the ways causes become appropriated and individuals disillusioned." Rating: ★★★½

Tim Brayton's Review: "Clearly a subject close to Loach and screenwriter Jim Allen's hearts, presented with clarity and sophistication, though the attempts to mix political history and personal drama are inconclusive: the character-driven elements have a tendency to feel sticky and artificial ... " Rating: 8/10

Amir Soltani's Review: "Individual moments of brilliance—such as the execution of the priest in the first half of the film, and certain moments of debating and strategizing amongst the activists—are highlights in the film, but the whole is much less than the sum of its parts ..." Grade: C+

And, more briefly:

Good Men, Good Women
(Main Competition: Taiwan/Japan, dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien)

My Response: "Solemn grandeur of Angelopoulos meets tricksy structure of Egoyan, though tempo, theme are inimitably Hou's ..." Grade: B+

Ivan Albertson's Review: "Despite jumping between time periods and adding a film within the film, this is just as inert as Hou ever is ... His champions speak of his moving tableaus revealing the emotional undercurrents of characters, which I simply don’t see." Rating: ★★½

Tim Brayton's Review: "... The director's heavily formal minimalism is somewhat impenetrable for a non-fan, and stonily refuses to tell you what to think about it; but for what it's worth, this was one of the movies that made me a Hou fan to begin with." Rating: 9/10

Amir Soltani's Review: "... Hou's precise, atmospheric direction—he really doesn't let a single frame go to waste—means that any moment resonates in isolation, even if the entire picture requires repeat visits to fully reveal its thematic facets ..." Grade: A–/B+

Reader, she tried...

(Main Competition: USA, dir. Larry Clark)

My Response: "One hesitates to say it's as prurient as it possibly could be, which just baits Larry Clark. Nearly as dull as possible, too ..." Grade: C

Ivan Albertson's Review: "... It’s sensational to be sure, but how could it not be with these ingredients? Would it be more respectable if Telly’s seductions were elided, or if nobody was shown having fun? ..." Rating: ★½

Tim Brayton's Review: "Empty-headed provocation that lingers pruriently over the naughty behavior of its teenage cast while acting shocked at their sordidness and mourning the broken-down world that encourages their excess ..." Rating: 3/10

Amir Soltani's Review: "... The biggest question this film poses is whether the title refers to the insufferable protagonists within the story or Larry Clark and Harmony Korine themselves." Grade: F

And, more briefly...

Hello, Cinema
(Un Certain Regard: Iran, dir. Mohsen Makhmalbaf)

My Response: "Memorable if relentless exercise of Makhmalbaf's abiding curiosity about images, personas, ontology. Wowzer opening ..." Grade: B+

Ivan Albertson's Review: "A playful riff on the nature of performance, notable for the heady questions it raises with such unassuming elegance ..." Rating: ★★

Tim Brayton's Review: "A tribute to individuals deprived a loud voice in the broad artistic and cultural discourse seeing (or not seeing) stories like their own onscreen, and absorbing (or not absorbing) more dominant strains of pop culture." Rating: 9/10

Amir Soltani's Full Review: "An innovative tribute to the possibilities of the cinematic medium and an astute evisceration of both the history and status quo of Iranian cinema ... This was a filmmaker transitioning from being an ideologue with a creative spirit to a provocative auteur." Grade: B+

Madagascar Skin
(Critics' Week: UK, dir. Chris Newby)

My Response: "Defiantly odd scenario and aesthetic; think Jane Campion's Sweetie remade as gay Working Title dramedy. Appealing ..." Grade: B

Coming tomorrow: The best film to play at any point in the fortnight, and a gem I didn't see coming in the Main Competition. Also, David Caruso.

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