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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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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Reemergence

After a lengthy hiatus, Film Journey is gearing up for new activity, so make sure your RSS feeds are well-oiled and in good working order. As Paul Brunick wrote in Film Comment some 18 months ago, the site has always been “updated on a schedule that’s leisurely but sustained,” and that will continue.

Last year, I became the web editor at UCLA Film & Television Archive (where I continue to work), and in my spare time published articles in the LA Weekly, hosted a monthly screening/discussion group at Echo Park Film Center, and helped with AFI Fest programming, …

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