Cannes Web Wrap Day 3-6 – ‘Habemus Papam’, ‘Footnote’, ‘The Artist’

Since the much hailed release of We Need to Talk About Kevin there have been several films to open that could be equally competitive for the Palme d’Or. There have also been an equal number of films that seem to not have a shot in hell. Here are some of the web highlights from the past several days at the Cannes Film Festival.

Reviews

Habemus Papum (We Have a Pope) – Directed by Nanni Moretti

  • “Piccoli and Moretti both make their characters tolerable, but the screenplay lacks a means of pulling them together. The story fails to arrive at a specific takeaway for its irreverent premise and instead continually dwells on the Pope’s unwillingness to face the task forced on him.” — Eric Kohn, indieWIRE
  • “Moretti’s premise is enticing, almost brilliant. One pope dies, and the conclave to elect his successor settles on Cardinal Melville, played with perfect mournful sensitivity by 85-year-old Michel Piccoli. (Could the character name be a sly reference to the French director of Le Doulos, in which Piccoli appeared almost half a century ago?)” — Andrew Pulver, The Guardian
  • “The original-language title, referring to the words spoken to announce a new pontiff, reps the sole irony in this uneven tale of a cardinal (played with consummate brilliance as usual by Michel Piccoli) who fears the papal tiara. There are only so many yuks Moretti can milk from the sight of old men in clerical robes, and the film’s toothlessness makes it unlikely for arthouse crowds to anoint a work that shouldn’t offend Opus Dei.” — Jay Weissman, Variety

Grade Estimate: C

Footnote – Directed by Joseph Cedar

  • “In Cedar’s dark comic fable, bookish eccentrics pit their egos against each other on a shrewdly composed battlefield where the only potential casualty is self-esteem.” — Eric Kohn, indieWIRE
  • “In his fourth feature, New York-born-and-trained Israeli writer-director Joseph Cedar arrestingly tackles what feels like deeply felt personal material, a simmering intellectual and emotional feud between a comparably brilliant father and son, but makes several crucial miscalculations, beginning with the use of one of the most intrusive and overbearing musical scores in memory.” — Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
  • “Cedar weaves through the conflict with cinematic ease and lowkey humor. He quick cuts between father and son when outlining their careers. And the face of the father reflects simultaneously his stubborn nature — and his complete confidence in his academic pursuits.” — Charles Ealy, Austin Movie Blog

Grade Estimate: B+

The Kid With the Bike – Directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes

  • “Among movie moralists, the Dardenne brothers certainly rank near the top of any list of directors preoccupied with matters of personal responsibility and conscience. As such, there’s something a bit disappointing about how straightforward “Kid” is regarding the choices Cyril should be making, especially when compared with the more difficult decisions underlying “The Son” and “L’enfant.” “Kid” is undeniably mellower stuff, a softening further enhanced by Alain Marcoen’s lensing, brighter and less brutally handheld than in their past collaborations.” — Peter Debruge, Variety
  • “This one is a bit too much like a fairy tale, not that you don’t want to believe it. Samantha is so good, patient, understanding, and forgiving, she’s the mom nobody in this world ever had. I think of the cautious relationship between the carpenter and the boy in “The Son,” and it seems so much more grounded in the realities of human interaction.” — Barbara Sharres, The Chicago Sun-Times
  • “The Dardennes haven’t changed up the formula too much with “The Kid With The Bike,” though their natural style here features in a film that is much brighter than usual—it was the first time they’ve shot a film during the summer. There is also a recurring musical cue that breaks up the film into very loose chapters. But for the most part it’s another strong character study, and yes, it’s at times absolutely wrenching.” — Kevin Jagernauth, The Playlist

Grade Estimate: B-

The Artist – Directed by Michel Hazavanicius

  • “Filmed on studio stages as well as on old Hollywood streets, Artist evinces unlimited love for the look and ethos of the 1920s as well for the style of the movies. The filmmakers clearly did their homework and took great pleasure in doing so, an enjoyment that is passed along in ample doses to any viewer game for their nifty little conceit.” — Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
  • “Without dialogue, in fact, you have to watch and study the faces. These actors don’t overdo it the way silent movie actors did, which today feels alienating, given our intimate relationship with actors on the big screen now. But here we’re given just enough, with the right expressions and actors who are also dancers and therefore used to conveying intention and emotion through movement, The director and the performers are in complete control from beginning to end.” — Sasha Stone, Awards Daily
  • “While the film might be silent, the emotions surging through “The Artist” are loud and clear. With shades of “Sunset Boulevard,” George perhaps isn’t as theatrical as Norma Desmond, but their pain is similar. That feeling of being forgotten sears his heart and his pride.” — Kevin Jagernauth, The Playlist

Grade Estimate: A-

L’Appollonide (House of Tolerance)Directed by Bertrand Bonello

  • “But late in the film, Bonello takes a serious misstep, breaking faith with the audience by including a moment of graphic horror and violence that’s wholly unnecessary. He compounds that mistake by making an even worse one, offering us a final image (followed by a coda) that trades in dumb, heavy-handed metaphors.” — Stephanie Zacharek, Movieline
  • “With plenty of skin, blood and suffering, Bonello tries to make his point by shocking viewers into the belief that a better, more equal environment must be created. And it’s a valid point. But what Bonello seems to forget is that these women also need to be respected and by treating his characters the way he does, the director is frankly no better than the mouth slicer in the film.” — Kevin Jagernauth, The Playlist
  • “Both an elegiac salute to the demise of Paris’s fin-de-siècle brothels and a poetic critique of the white slave trade, Bertrand Bonello’s House of Tolerance fascinates with its exquisite period atmosphere and repulses in its cruel spectacle of young women trapped in a life from which there is practically no exit. Despite plentiful nudity, there is very little a contemporary viewer will find sexy here, though the title alone should elicit strong initial commerce from art house regulars and beyond.” — Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter

Grade Estimate: D+

Acquisitions and News

  • Cannes judge Olivier Assayas has had his next film Something in the Air picked up by IFC even though it’s not playing at the festival. [indieWIRE]
  • Meryl Streep’s biopic about Margaret Thatcher has been picked up for U.S. distribution by The Weinstein Company. Might as well start the Oscar buzz now. [Entertainment Weekly]
  • Sony Pictures Classics will be distributing Joseph Cedar’s Footnote in the U.S. The film has no planned release date. [The Hollywood Reporter]
  • Sundance Selects has snagged the rights to Julia Leigh’s Sleeping Beauty. [indieWIRE]

Features and Interviews

  • Unlawful Killing, the pseudo-documentary about the death of Princess Diana has caused a huge stir on the Croissette. [Hollywood Elsewhere]
  • Women have been a huge source of attention at this year’s festival. [The Independent]

Pictures and Video

  • 6 new photos from Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In. [The Playlist]
  • A look back at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival. [Awards Daily]
  • Trailer for Cannes entry Michael. [Awards Daily]
  • Teaser trailer for Cannes crowd-pleaser Le Havre. [Awards Daily]

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  • I heard The Wettest County in The World was shown in Cannes and Weinstein picked it up for this year’s release. This movie has quite a cast.

  • I could see the Jury Prize going to ‘The Artist.’

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