For some unknown, inexplicable reason, my invitation and press pass to the current Cannes Film Festival never arrived. (THANKS, OBAMA!) Thus, I’ve had to cover the prestigious annual event in the French Riviera from the comfort of my desk in suburban Maryland.
So here’s a look at a number of much-talked-about films in this year’s festival that have received the most noteworthy press (though now mostly tweets) from attendees — some good, some delightfully bad:
“Grace of Monaco”
Cannes opened with this out-of-competition entry, a controversial biopic of actress Grace Kelly that premiered to RAVE pans. Man, people did not like this film — a critic for “The Guardian” even said it’s “a film so awe-inspiringly wooden that it is basically a fire-risk,” which is so delightfully sassy, I love it. What I really want to talk about with this film, though, has more to do with lead actress Nicole Kidman’s appearance at Cannes, because ….
Nicole … DAT FACE. I feel like it hurts her to blink.
Seriously, it looks like she got a “Buy 1, Get Everything Else Free” Groupon for the plastic surgeon’s office and Went. To. Town. We’re getting dangerously close to Katherine Helmond in “Brazil” territory here:
Also premiering early on in the festival was another biopic, this one much more well received: director Mike Leigh’s drama on famed British artist J.M.W. Turner. Many critics loved it, tipping star Timothy Spall (seen in the picture above) as an early favorite for the Best Actor prize for his performance as the titular painter, who communicates mainly through guttural grunts. Leigh previously won Cannes’ top honor, the Palme d’Or, in 1996 for “Secrets & Lies” and could be one of the few directors to scoop up the prize twice.
Originally slated to be released late last year, Bennett Miller’s true crime drama grew some bad buzz a few months ago when it was delayed, with the excuse being that it needed more work (which is usually “Hollywood talk” for “it’s not very good”). But in this case, giving Miller more time to work on the film paid off, because reviews have been very strong, with lots of talk of Oscar glory next year. Most of the awards buzz, surprisingly, has been directed toward lead actor Steve Carell, who is said to give a “transformative” performance (aka, he wears a fake nose). There’s also strong Oscar buzz bubbling up for co-stars Mark Ruffalo and … Channing Tatum!? No. No, I’m sorry. We already have “Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey,” I can’t handle The Human Thumb getting an Oscar.
This three-and-a-half-hour Turkish drama, from Cannes favorite Nuri Bilge Ceylan, has received lots of huzzahs from critics since premiering earlier in the week, with many predicting it has a good chance of taking home the Palme d’Or (and only at Cannes can “three-and-a-half-hour Turkish drama” translate to “awards darling”). Just look how happy the director and cast are at the film’s warm reception:
They’re smiling on the inside.
Playing in the Un Certain Regard section, a separate competition at the festival, was Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut, and it appears that its only real fan was “Grace of Monaco,” which was happy when critics left it alone and used “Lost River” as its new punching bag. To say the reviews for “River” were bad … well, I’ll let this tweet speak for itself: “If a $200 haircut and $900 shades were given lots of money to defecate on Detroit, the result would be Ryan Gosling’s directing debut.”
If the directing and acting thing doesn’t work out for Gosling, at least he can always rely on his sweet, sweet dancin’.
“Two Days, One Night”
The strongest reviews I’ve read so far have been for the latest naturalistic drama from brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, an esteemed Belgian directing duo. With star Marion Cotillard also getting the highest of praise for her performance, I’d be shocked if “Two Days” didn’t win something (and if the Dardenne’s won, it’d be their third Palme d’Or — a Cannes record).
And the rest …
Films that have received divisive responses include David Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars,” starring Julianne Moore (seen above), which will probably gain a cult following, as all Cronenberg films generally do, once it’s released.
Reviews for Tommy Lee Jones’ western “The Homesman” have been a bit all over the place, but there’s been strong notices for Hilary Swank’s performance and Jones’ directing. And “The Search,” Michel Hazanavicius’ follow up to the Oscar-winning “The Artist,” will most likely not be sharing that film’s worldwide acclaim — it received a number of boos from critics after its screening.
Canadian director Atom Egoyan’s latest, “The Captive,” has gotten the harshest reviews of any film in the main competition, while “Mommy,” from fellow Canuck Xavier Dolan, has scored lavish praise from some (who are even saying it’s a dark horse for the Palme) and more “meh” reviews from others (the main talk has been the film’s aspect ratio, 1:1, which is akin to shooting a film in Instagram, which is ridiculous).
And playing waaaaay outside the main competition, in the “International Critics Week” section, is “It Follows,” an indie horror flick that scored an impressive amount of kudos. I’ve heard a lot of talk that this is a title to keep an eye on.
Photos from the Associated Press.