Sunday, May 03, 2015

Cannes 1995: Meet the Jury

My friends and I review the titles in high, brassy style.

The 48th Cannes Film Festival opened on May 17, 1995, with the gala premiere of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro's The City of Lost Children.  My own 20th-anniversary return to that year's lineups will also begin on May 17, which is two weeks from tonight.  No time like the present, then, to introduce you to the game, rambunctious, movie-mad colleagues who will be jumping with me into the time machine and leveling judgments at films I either half-remember or never saw at all.  Though we're unquestionably as chic as last year's congress, we've humbly elected to let our work speak for itself rather than rely on our collective beauty to entice you into this imminent, unfolding feature.

Ivan Albertson is well-known to any Chicago filmgoer: if he isn't tearing your ticket, he's probably sitting with you in the audience, or may even have programmed the especially delicious and hard-to-find titles you're about to enjoy. Ivan sees more movies than anyone I know, maintaining both a high bar and a wide-ranging taste; he is intimidating both in his expectations and his generosity, and it's never clear in advance when or how fully we'll agree. You can keep up with his thoughts during or after Cannes on Letterboxd. He also called the Siskel staff behind my back and had them do this as a kicky surprise before the screening we recently attended of Good Men, Good Women, so I worship him even more than before.

Tim Brayton of Antagony and Ecstasy is, as many of you know, a confoundingly prolific and engaging writer of long-form movie reviews. His work arcs across current releases, pet genres and traditions (from Disney fables to slasher films), and month-by-month obsessions (from Tarkovksy to Tyler Perry). He is a recent festival juror, a Film Experience regular, and ...Tim, can I spoil your other big news? Tim agrees not to judge me for buying a DVD of The Descendants, which I loathed, just because it got Oscar nominations, and I agree not to perform an intervention when he goes to see, e.g., Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 because he think it's snobby when critics disdain to see what folks are out there paying to watch. He's also amidst a fundraising drive you should consider donating to.

Alex Heeney (Twitter) is two of my favorite types of cinephile: the kind based in Toronto, and the kind who does something totally different during the day. She's a Stanford Ph.D. candidate in Industrial Engineering, with an emphasis on confronting structural quandaries related to food waste and climate change. Raise your hand if you're doing that much to better the world...  Hmmm?  Nobody?  Alongside all this, Alex manages to review film, theater, and music at her website The Seventh Row, which, like Tim's, leaves me agog at both the scale and caliber of commentary. She'll also be in actual Cannes while slumming around our faux one. Citizen of the world, that one.

Amir Soltani (Twitter) co-hosts and co-edits the podcast Hello Cinema with Tina Hassannia, which you should really start listening to if you already know a lot about Iranian film, or if you know a little but wish you knew more, or if you don't know anything and recognize that this is a failing on your part. (Sorry: tough love. And for real, why are you denying yourself?) Amir, like Alex, is based in Toronto and is paid to do something completely different than reviewing movies, and I hope he's really good at that other thing, because he's great at reviewing movies. A regular presence at The Film Experience, he organizes all our internal polls, which is more like herding cats than you'd guess.

Ed.: The fabulous foursome above turned out to be my accomplices. As the personal king of biting off more than I can usually chew, I expected some attrition.  Even though they had to bow out of the time machine just before we closed the hatch, you should still be following these folks if you don't already! —

Guy Lodge (Twitter) wears nattier cardigans, cooks more titillating tarts, and maintains finer facial-hair grooming than any other film critic on the net, in addition to soliciting more revealing and genial conversation from Andie MacDowell than you have, or I have.  He writes mostly for Variety now with a side-gig at The Guardian and a distinguished past we all recall with deep yearning at HitFix, née In Contention. Though I tend to require a tighter CV than that for contributors to this site, I've decided on this one occasion to let it pass. (No picking on Guy if his packed spring itinerary of real-world reviewing means he has to bow out.)

Angelo Muredda (Twitter) is another dapper Torontonian, or perhaps I should say another chic Torontoist. I first started reading his work at Film Freak Central, where the hits just don't stop coming. Those guys just know the game. Every game. You're reading them all, right? Angelo's movie writing shows up lots of other places, and he has a better batting average of funny tweets than almost anyone in this racket. He's also getting ever-closer to that Ph.D. in Canadian literature, and is thus a man after my own heart, proving that academics aren't all immured in library stacks (which, by the way, there's nothing wrong with), speaking only to each other (which, I'd wager, there is).

Tim Robey (Twitter) remains the film critic I'd want to be if I had a) stuck with a long-ago aspiration to write movie reviews for a major daily paper, b) actually gotten such a gig, and c) proved to be sublimely good at it, week after week. He makes shrewder points than I do in sentences shorter than I can manage. I don't know why I keep evoking myself. I think I enjoy being in sentences with him.  He's my annual roommate at TIFF, where he sometimes asks me to vet his drafts, even though all I ever do is cut very severe bangs and say, "You've done it, Robey. You've cracked it wide open." Like Alex and Guy, Tim will be offering real-time dispatches from this year's Croisette, so any energy he expends here I extra-appreciate.

Sarah Turner has survived what nobody else on this list has even attempted, i.e., taking one of my classes. She was consistently brilliant talking and writing in academic registers about gender, sexual, and racial politics in contemporary sci-fi features and is just as consistently brilliant writing to a mass audience about everything the Pop Insomniacs can throw at her, including pieces I especially liked about Dear White People and Mr. Turner (no relation), and all the weekly reviews of Mad Men I can't read yet because I've only ever seen 1.5 episodes. Those are all rich, chewy texts, but when you can whip up interesting thoughts about Mike Epps' AOL series, you've arguably shown your chops even more. I don't know who's out there trying to hire young, interesting, eclectic writers, but I didn't plead for her to participate and offer her this platform for my health, okay? Managing editors? Talent scouts?

I hope you're all as excited as I am for what this crew has to say about the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, from the best and brightest to Beyond Rangoon. (Honestly, is that even a spoiler?)  Keep checking back.

Oh, and what's that?  I have a whole other jury assembled of research specialists and published film writers with targeted insights to drop about specific titles along the way?  I've offered you Iron Man, Thor, the Black Widow, Hawkeye, Captain America, and all the others above (you can work out who's who...), and that's only half the tally of Cannes Avengers I've got working on the case?  What??? [/Teaser]

He seriously set this whole thing up and I didn't even know.

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Anonymous Laika said...

Super excited for this - what a line up, both of films and writers. I'll be watching along where I can, filling in a few embarrassing holes in my viewing. You can always salve that 'Rangoon' rewatch by trying to imagine what John Waters said to Jeanne Moreau about it during jury deliberations.

1:01 AM, May 04, 2015  
Anonymous BVR said...

Can't wait!

1:46 PM, May 05, 2015  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

you're going to have to give me hints on how to corral that many people for projects this big. GODSPEED THROUGH THE MOVIES EVERYONE.

10:32 AM, May 09, 2015  

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