Post Sarkozy Cannes 3

RUST & BONE (Jacques Audiard)

By Robert Koehler

A straight, flat and blunt object, Jacques Audiard’s new movie sits there, like a dumb thing. It is literally what it is, and no more; that is, everything Audiard presents on screen is the sum total, with no subtext, no metaphor, no underbelly. Here it is: Bullhead star Matthias Schoenaerts plays Ali, an occasional petty thief and former boxer and kickfighter, who takes his little boy to the Cote d’Azur to live with his sister Louise (Celine Sallette), a grocery store checkout clerk. Finally landing a job as a club bouncer, Ali …

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Post Sarkozy Cannes 2

AFTER THE BATTLE (Yousry Nasrallah)

By Robert Koehler

It didn’t take long to find the first work in the competition that doesn’t belong there. Nasrallah is a veteran Egyptian director who makes socially minded films with blunt directness. Subtlety isn’t where he ventures, and After the Battle hammers its messages home. Since those messages are about Egypt’s semi-revolution after Tahrir Square, they could be welcome and interesting. But he chooses to couch them in a poorly conceived tale with flatly drawn characters meant to represent their classes. Reem (Mena Shalaby) is a middle-class activist and environmentalist—the closest thing in Egypt …

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Post Sarkozy Cannes 1

MOONRISE KINGDOM (Wes Anderson)

By Robert Koehler

“Why,” asked a skeptical-sounding Chinese TV journalist with an assertive microphone of those exiting the Wednesday afternoon press screening of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, “is Moonrise Kingdom the opening film of Cannes?” To which one could only respond, “Why not?” I thought back on my impassioned support for the decision to program Anderson’s previous and best film, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, as opening night film of AFI Fest in 2009, and realized, as the microphone inched closer to my face, that Anderson’s cinema contains a peculiar mix that makes it an …

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53 at Locarno 64

By Robert Koehler

While writing about various aspects of the 64th edition of the Locarno film festival for MUBI, I also didn’t want to leave aside a bonus for readers of Film Journey. So, in an impulsive act that strikes in the small hours of the night when a visit to as large a festival as Locarno triggers a slightly feverish state (not literally, but the fever of watching up to as many as seven films a day), a simple, mad gesture: A list, in order of preference, of the films seen from August 3 to 13, through three …

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A New Direction for Directors Fortnight

By Robert Koehler

Barely a month after the Society of French Directors (SRF), which runs Cannes’ Directors Fortnight (aka Quinzaine des Réalisateurs), unceremoniously dropped Frederic Boyer as artistic director, film critic and festival director Edoard Waintrop has been named to replace Boyer. A fixture in the French cinema culture as longtime critic for Liberation (and currently blogging on Libe’s website with his column, “Le cinoque”), Waintrop had just departed Fribourg after a successful four-year run as artistic director, and had been named in March to run the Grutli cinemas in Geneva, which formerly housed the Voltaire Center of …

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What Matters at the Los Angeles Film Festival


Drive and The Tiniest Place

By Robert Koehler

A running conversation at film festivals in the US and abroad (mostly abroad): The urgency of film criticism to advocate for certain cinema, and ignore the other cinemas. The best reason? Life is too short to deal very much or very long with crap, and is much better spent considering the good work, and why it is good. Most American criticism is not founded on this principle; rather, it tends to be dominated by a consumerist mentality that says that all films which can be seen commercially should be written about, and …

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