Cannes Awards

Blue is the Warmest Color

By Patrick Z. McGavin

Cannes is as much of an endurance test as a film festival. The organizers have their own peculiar way of how to slot the 20 competition titles. After a less than audacious start and a permeating sense of disappoint, Cannes accelerated to another gear down the stretch, the propulsive finishing kick providing a jolt of excitement.

More so than any of the other 18 previous festivals I’ve covered, this year’s edition was marked by the absence of a consensus.

I left Cannes on Sunday morning and I was traveling when the …

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Post Sarkozy Cannes 7

AMOUR (Michael Haneke)

By Robert Koehler

Having just turned 70, Michael Haneke appears to be turning a new leaf in his abrasive view of humanity as being, for all its attempts at civilization, barely out of the jungle. This view might in the end be correct, but Haneke’s particularly insistence on it and his habit for mechanistic and even sadistic methods for dramatizing it can sometimes be the work of an artist who’s effectively pinning down his characters like a butterfly collector secures his possessions to a board. In his displays of complete technical and dramatic control of his materials, …

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Post Sarkozy Cannes 6

THE HUNT (Thomas Vinterberg)

By Robert Koehler

The strange case of Thomas Vinterberg is a model of a director not to follow, lest you fall into the chasm known as Submarino (2010). The case, though, has made a new and unexpected turn. News flash (sort of): The Hunt is a solidly made, consistently coherent and steadily intensifying drama that extols the great Scandanavian theatrical tradition of the idea of a single conscience against the world. In one sense, The Hunt is Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, re-set for our era of fears (real and imagined) of pedophilia. But …

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Post Sarkozy Cannes 5

PARADISE: LOVE (Ulrich Seidl)

By Robert Koehler

As the first part of a trilogy with the umbrella title of Paradise about three middle-aged sisters on some kind of vacation, Paradise: Love is Ulrich Seidl at his most unexpectedly emotional. A study of one of the sisters, Anna Maria (Maria Hofstatter), being seduced by the idea and then the reality of sexual tourism while on holiday in Kenya, Seidl’s movie attacks less an enchanting paradise than a fascinating paradox: Feminist Colonialism, or, if you wish, Colonialist Feminism. Beginning her getaway as the innocent abroad soaking up the rays, sights and sounds …

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Post Sarkozy Cannes 4

MEKONG HOTEL (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

By Robert Koehler

A sketch for the larger “Mekong Project,” which will include at least one other film, Apichatpong’s work dances between time zones, physical spaces, bodies and finally, the Mekong itself, a wide swathe of drifting water whose flow forms a steady, epochal background for several, lightly handled dialogues. Some of these involve chats between a woman named Phon and a guy named Tong, whose dog is eaten by a ghost called a “Pob ghost,” a unique Thai apparition that can infect its human hosts with the desire to gobble flesh. Ghosts are real in …

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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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