Well peeps, I wasn’t to able to cross the ocean to France for the 2016 Cannes Film Festival once again. However, Variety, Peter Debruge and Owen Gleiberman keep me in the know and if I am in the loop – then so do you…
Here is what Variety says are the Top Ten to look for…
I, Daniel Blake
It’s not just another Ken Loach movie. The Palme d’Or-winning drama about a Newcastle carpenter (Dave John) with heart disease who discovers that he’s being dropped from the welfare rolls has a raw, elemental outrage. It’s really about how the social safety net has been fraying around the world, and it asks: Are we going to repair it — or let it fray more?
Paul Verhoeven (whose “Basic Instinct” and “Hollow Man” were stunted-teen sex fantasies) is literally the last filmmaker on earth I’d trust to handle the hyper-sensitive issue of rape with any level of psychological depth. As it turns out, there’s no one better, especially when paired with the great Isabelle Huppert, who gives her most fearless performance since “The Piano Teacher.” — Peter Debruge
3. American Honey
In Andrea Arnold’s extraordinary handheld youthquake of a road movie, Star (Sasha Lane), fleeing an abusive home, joins a roving cult of pierced and tattooed hip-hop wastrels who survive by using their hustle and beauty to sell magazine subscriptions. Shia LaBeouf, as the group’s recruiter, is like a rat-tailed nihilist James Dean, and the whole movie — think “Spring Breakers” as shot by the Dardenne brothers — is a dance between exhilaration and despair.
In cinema, as in poetry, there are epic tales of conflict and heroism that take hours to relate, and then there are tiny, observational doodles that uncannily manage to cut to the essence of life via a handful of short, repetitive stanzas. In the context of Cannes, Jim Jarmusch’s “Paterson” may not seem ambitious enough, but it zeroes in on what is true and relatable in a New Jersey bus driver’s weekly routine, so that we might better understand ourselves.
Much as Andrea Arnold did with “American Honey,” German director Maren Ade shot enough footage to make a film twice as long as her nearly-three-hour competition entry. After a year spent in editing, she emerged with this wince-inducingly authentic look at a strained father-daughter relationship, which builds to a series of astonishing quasi-comedic set pieces, including the best use of a Whitney Houston ballad since “The Bodyguard.
Hell or High Water
Chris Pine and Ben Foster are gripping as West Texas brothers who go on a spree of petty bank robberies — but not because they’re simple crooks. They’re very complicated crooks (well, one of them is), and we survey their actions with a mesmerizing mixture of sympathy and dismay. Jeff Bridges, as the Texas Ranger who wants to hunt them down, does a great piece of character acting. Directed by David Mackenzie, the movie is funny and explosive but surprisingly rich.
Much as Andrea Arnold did with “American Honey,” German director Maren Ade shot enough footage to make a film twice as long as her nearly-three-hour competition entry. After a year spent in editing, she emerged with this wince-inducingly authentic look at a strained father-daughter relationship, which builds to a series of astonishing quasi-comedic set pieces, including the best use of a Whitney Houston ballad since “The Bodyguard.”
In “A Separation” director Asghar Farhadi’s searing drama, a couple in Tehran (Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidootsi) find their lives upended by a random intruder. The movie builds in Farhadi’s slow-boil way, but once the perpetrator is revealed, it becomes a suspenseful meditation not just on the ethics of revenge, but on the psychological sources of it.
9. The Neon Demon
Disney might take issue, but the brothers Grimm would surely approve of Nicolas Winding Refn’s twisted fairy tale, a hyper-stylized plunge into Los Angeles’ cult of beauty, wherein a not-entirely-innocent blonde ingénue (Elle Fanning) cracks the city’s ultra-competitive modeling scene. As allegories go, Refn’s cynical take can seem facile at times, but like “Suspiria” or “The Black Swan,” surrealist horror is absolutely the right genre to capture said phenomenon.
10. Endless Poetry
Well into his 80s, the violent cult surrealist Alejandro Jodorowky (“El Topo”) has reinvented himself as a maker of shaggy-dog Felliniesque memoir, and this one is far more disciplined and moving than his first, “The Dance of Reality” (2013). It’s about how Jodorowsky joined the bohemian demimonde of Santiago as a young poet. In his baroque way, the former midnight sensationalist has become a true storyteller who turns every scene into an adventure.
8. After Love
One of these days, Belgian director Joachim Lafosse will find his way into competition at Cannes. In the meantime, his piercing studies of relationship dynamics (which include “Our Children” and “Private Property”) stand out as the best of their respective sidebars. Bérénice Bejo has never been better than she is as a working mom who can no longer stand to live with the father of her children, but can’t bring herself to kick him out.
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