Cannes 2012 has highlighted a host of excellent new films.
rukkle contributor Charlene Lydon attended this years festival, and below are her top picks for the year ahead.
Moonrise Kingdom â€“ Wes Anderson
Opening film Moonrise Kingdom is the new film from American indie filmmaker, Wes Anderson, whose last live-action film was in 2007. In between he made the wonderful stop-motion film Fantastic Mr. Fox which included his most star-studded cast to date, even if they were only providing voices.
Moonrise Kingdom is a tale of young love as two young teenagers fall in love and run away together, causing havoc in the lives of their respective parents and their befuddled summer camp leader.
A gentle comedy with a whimsical soul, if youâ€™re a fan of Wes Anderson youâ€™ll surely enjoy this.
Moonrise Kingdom is full of the dry humour, vivid colour palette and sweetly intimate moments that one would expect to find in a Wes Anderson film.
Lawless â€“ John Hillcoat
The last time director John Hillcoat and writer Nick Cave put their heads together they made the cracking Australian western The Proposition, which makes us particularly excited to see them reunited on prohibition-era bootlegging drama Lawless, based on the novel The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant.
For those of you who like their violence ugly and their heroes grimy and unwashed, this oneâ€™s for you.
The Bondurant brothers are simple folk who run a store and moonlight as moonshiners. Theyâ€™ve made deals with the town sheriffs that allows them to run out of the spotlight of the law. That is until the evil Chicago lawman (Guy Pearce) comes into town and takes a particular dislike the the way these boys live. Needless to say, flowery language and blood-letting ensues.
While the script can drag at times, the characters are superb, the performances are top-notch and the world it is set in is beautifully wild (not unlike The Proposition), I think this one is another winner from the Australian tag team.
Cosmopolis â€“ David Cronenberg
David Cronenbergâ€™s recent output has divided critics and audiences. Constantly evolving, Cronenbergâ€™s style has gone from the visceral to the cerebral over the years and his most recent film, an adaptation of Don De Lilloâ€™s meandering Cosmopolis is sure to divide even further.
Sharp, slick and abstract, Cronenberg and his star Robert Pattinson have their work cut out for them with this ambitious project.
Pattinson plays Eric Packer, a twenty-something billionaire who is travelling through New York City in his limo to get a haircut. Thatâ€™s the short version of the synopsis. The long version includes sex, clubbing, protestors, rats, prostate exams, murder and much talk of the end of the world. Yes, itâ€™s weird.
Killing Them Softly â€“ Andrew Dominik
This slick, brainy thriller seemed to divide people but for me it did exactly what a film in competition at Cannes should do, it creates something distinctly unique with enough social context and moral complexity to keep the audience thinking.
One of the main criticisms of the film is its heavy-handed use of political â€śsubtextâ€ť in the form of repeated television appearance of Obama preaching about hope, etc. But let me remind the critics that it is them that choose the word â€śsubtextâ€ť, not Dominik.
The race between McCain and Obama is in the background of the film throughout as almost a plot strand in itself but as Brad Pitt utters the final line of the film, it serves as almost a punchline (no spoilers here).
Though not a perfect film, this is yet another tantalising, intelligent and ambitious film from the utterly brilliant Andrew Dominik.
Chopper was good, The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford was properly brilliant and I think Killing Tham Softly cements Dominik as an auteur of the highest order.
Love â€“ Michael Haneke
The film (which won the Palme d-Or) is as simple as the title would suggest. Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emanuelle Riva (in two of the most elegant performances you’ll ever see) play a beautiful elderly couple who live in a gorgeous home in Paris and are living out their golden years with a mix of tolerance and playfulness that most of us dream of.
When his wife falls ill, George must look after her as she begins a long, slow decline towards an undignified and slow death. What ensues is about the most unpleasant situation one can imagine outside of a torture chamber. For him itâ€™s watching his beloved wife lose herself to ill-health and lapse into dementia. For her, its feeling herself, a proud and noble woman, drift away into oblivion, no matter how much she fights it.
Hanekeâ€™s film feels slow and irritatingly episodic most of the time.
There were glorious moments of beauty and poignancy and in those moments I saw what the rest of the critics in the world see, a beautiful filmmaker with heart and soul, but outside of those moments, I saw what I usually see when I watch his films – a pretentious filmmaker who cannot give his characters the attention they deserve because he wants it for himself.
Holy Motors â€“ Leos Carax
Oh Leos Carax, you crazy, crazy man! Same to you Denis Lavant. Between you youâ€™ve created one of the most bonkers, entertaining, witty and skilful films Iâ€™ve seen all festival.
After witnessing the almighty cheers the film received at the end of the screening I realised that it was exactly the right film for this audience who have been sitting in the dark watching films about the horrors of war and death and the evil that men do, night after night for a week and they wanted, nay, needed an injection of fun! Well they got that in spades with Holy Motors.
Denis Lavant, who is just absolutely remarkable in this film, plays a man who rides around Paris in a limo all day going to different appointments (Thatâ€™s where the similarity to Cosmopolis ends). For each appointment he dons an elaborate costume and goes off to play a role for a while and then gets back in his limo to prepare for the next â€śappointmentâ€ť.
When we first see him he appears to be a businessman, looking through files. When he is briefed on his first assignment he dresses as an ancient, craggy, beggar lady and goes out onto a Paris bridge and begs for a while before going on to his next assignment, as a motion capture artist in which he performs physically gruelling movements and makes crazy CG love to a contortionist. The sequence is a visually stunning and completely engaging.
Carax is fearless and it is clear that he and Lavant care little for what people want to see.
They are doing what they want to do and doing it with such energy and flair that it is difficult not to smile as Lavant goes from costume to costume. Oh and did I mention Kylie is in it?!
On The Road â€“ Walter Salles
Anticipation was bound to be high for this because On The Road meant the world to EVERYONE when they were 17 and needed something to make them feel like their isolation from society was the norm and it gave many a teenager that boost they needed to get out of their rooms and out the door to whatever it was they wanted to do with themselves.
Thirst for life, good banter and of course sex and drugs are celebrated with such enthusiasm by Kerouac that he inspired more self-reflective thesaurus-munching than Dawson Leery!
At the helm of this adaptation is Walter Salles. He seems an appropriate choice as he made the remarkable The Motorcycle Diaries, another breathless story of great young people setting out on a road trip of self-discovery.
Enough about the whoâ€™s and whatâ€™s, is it any good? I think so, yes. It got a bit of a critical beating (I think Cannes critics are very grumpy in general though). The cast are terrific and the film is beautiful to look at. From what they all said at their press conference, it seems like everyone involved did a massive amount of research and the film depicts the eraâ€™s style and mentality beautifully.
It does lag in places as unfortunately the structure of the book doesnâ€™t lend itself well to film adaptation but the more it progressed, the more I found myself interested in the characters and their relationships.
On the Road is a meandering tale about fighting to find your way in a time where the world was truly in upheaval. One of the young cast at the press conference pointed out that it was a time when people who were being told not to do things were starting to ask, â€śwhy not?â€ť and thatâ€™s what On The Road is really about.
The kids are cool, the music is a blast and the drugs are glamorous; it may be a bit long and uneven but itâ€™s worthy of your attention and itâ€™s definitely a film for the big screen.
Sightseers â€“ Ben Wheatley
Last year Ben Wheatley had us all vomiting in the aisles with his horrific gangster-horror, Kill List. Who knew heâ€™d have us rolling in the aisles laughing this year!
Sightseers is about a rather drab couple, Chris and Tina, from Grimsville, England. You know this place, Paddy Considine, Shane Meadows, Mike Leigh and Ken Loach live there. Well, these are a lucky two who have found love and decided to get the hell out of there and go caravanning around England for a week.
Soon, people who annoy Chris start to wind up dead. For a long time it seems like they might be accidents but Tina soon figures out heâ€™s been murdering them. Yes, Chris has been murdering people for littering, for being patronising and for being rude. When Tina figures it out, she not only takes it in her stride but is empowered by it. This shy victim-like girl finally comes out of her shell in the most grotesque way imaginable. She starts to kill on a whim, like Chris.
As funny and sweet as this film is, the Ben Wheatley of Kill List is not gone, heâ€™s still very much present as the killings, although quite humorous, are extremely gory. Fun gory though, not Kill List gory.
This film got the most enthusiastic reception of any of the films I saw at Cannes. Audience members were whopping and hollering and laughing and gasping.
Paired with a truly shocking ending, this film shows vision and flair unlike anything Iâ€™ve seen come out of the UK in some time. See This Film!
The Paperboy â€“ Lee Daniels
Lee Danielsâ€™ highly anticipated follow up to his universally adored film Precious stars Matthew McConaughy, Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron (yes folks, so far thatâ€™s Robert Pattinson AND Zac Efron making appearances in this list).
The Paperboy is about as far away from Precious as you could imagine. Set in the sweaty, dangerous swampland of 1960s Florida, McConaughey plays Ward, a respected journalist who leaves the big city to go back to his home town to clear the name of a man on death row (John Cusack). The prisoners girlfriend (Kidman), a naiive, promiscuous and very attractive lady hits it off with Wardâ€™s young brother Jack (Efron) who instantly falls madly in love with her.
The film sizzles with sex, scandal, murder and all the colourful campness of the 1960s. If you could mix the popcorn films of Troy Donahue and Tab Hunter with the dark tales of Tennessee Williams youâ€™d get something like The Paperboy.
The film wasnâ€™t loved by everyone. Some found its high-camp a bit vulgar for the festival. But by golly did I lap it up for the two hour running time! Kidman hasnâ€™t been this good in years and I must say I did enjoy the shocked chorus of gasps from the audience during the already infamous â€śgolden showerâ€ť scene!
Rust & Bone â€“ Jacques Audiard
The French filmmaker Jacques Audiard is best known for his incredibly powerful prison drama A Prophet but here he is in completely different territory. Marion Cotillard stars as a whale trainer who loses her legs in an accident and falls in love with a bareknuckle boxer. OK, the synopsis didnâ€™t do it for me either.
But you can rest assured that this is a film that transcends its story and brings us a love story that is not only moving but also psychologically fascinating as we watch her get the fire back in her eyes by watching his physicality at work in the most brutal way.
Audiard is a brave filmmaker for tackling a subject like this and the results are sublime. If this isnâ€™t the French contender for the Oscars next year Iâ€™ll eat my hat!
Cotillard is stunning as always, beautiful, vulnerable but with a feisty spark that ensures that she wonâ€™t remain a victim for long.
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