Cannes Web Wrap-Up Day 7-9: ‘Le Havre’, ‘Melancholia’, ‘Drive’

The Cannes Film Festival is wrapping up as it heads into its final weekend and it appears that there are a few strong contenders for the Palme d’Or. The really exciting thing is that several of the Festival’s more popular films have been picked up for U.S. distribution. It looks like we have an exciting early 2012 to look forward to.

Reviews

Le Havre – Directed by Aki Kaurismaki

  • “‘Le Havre’ is unlike any film about immigration or really, any comedy you’re likely to see. Easily one of Kaurismaki’s best films to date, he has created a political crowdpleaser, a film that’s broadly appealing with an undercurrent of seriousness. But Kaurismaki succeeds because he hits the heart first. Kaurismaki quietly argues that the fate of Idrissa, and the proper treatment of refugees in general, has broader implications on the soul of a nation.” — Kevin Jagernauth, The Playlist
  • “This is not a film that takes sides or offers solutions to the refugee problems facing the world. All the writer-director presents is a tender, warm embrace to those who find themselves rootless. Le Havre offers them and moviegoers an enchanted port in the storm, a cinematic refuge from real life where good intentions are enough.” — Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter
  • “It’s an intimate movie made on a small scale but very nearly an instant classic, fueled by a passion for vintage French cinema and the neighborly, communal French society of years gone by, and employing Kaurismäki’s bone-dry comedy to break through the wall of audience cynicism.” — Andrew O’Hehir, Salon

Grade Estimate: A

Melancholia – Directed by Lars Von Trier

  • “Unfortunately, I found the storyline in Melancholia to be without much meaning, whereas in the 48 hours since seeing Tree of Life, I’ve already been thinking about how every moment plays into the bigger concept and visuals in that film. It’s just not the same here and while the journey we’re taken on with von Trier is by no means boring, it doesn’t seem like it has that much to say about our death, or the apocalypse.” — Alex Billington, First Showing
  • “Revisiting the bleak tones of his last feature, “Antichrist” – which began with a similarly hyper-stylized prologue – Von Trier has constructed a mesmerizing elaboration on his favorite motifs, masterfully elevating them to an epic scale.” — Eric Kohn, indieWIRE
  • “And yet I believe it’s the best…make that the gloomiest, most ambitious and craziest film Kirsten Dunst has ever starred in. Way bolder than Spotless Mind. It’s kind of La Notte-esque, now that I think about it. Dunst pretty much scowls all through Melancholia and does three nude scenes. What I really mean, I suppose, is that she’s never operated in such a dark, fleshy and grandiose realm.” — Jeff Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere

Grade Estimate: B

Pater – Directed by Alain Cavalier

  • “The epitome of an in-joke, best appreciated by director Alain Cavalier and his slender cast, “Pater” is a confounding slog for most anyone else. Curiously tapped for a Cannes competition slot, this sloppily improvised film about filmmaking doesn’t bother to make clear whether and how it’s a mock-docu account of the shooting of a French prime minister biopic, as Cavalier cavalierly squanders the chance to represent his meta-narrative in stylistically coherent terms.” — Rob Nelson, Variety
  • Pater is no doubt littered with French political in-jokes, but there could hardly be a more parochial exercise in insider filmmaking. So why put it in the Competition?” — Nick James, Sight & Sound
  • “The politics are so tongue-in-cheek and the protags so articulate and funny that the film works – at least for the cognoscenti of France, a small niche that can expand to include film societies and upscale festivals. Everyone else is likely to feel excluded from their private party.” — Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter

Grade Estimate: C

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai – Directed by Takashi Miike

  • “Primarily, he aims for emotional engagement, desperately trying to humanize his characters. “Even a warrior has blood flowing through his veins,” someone says. In “Hara-Kiri,” however, it runs cold.” — Eric Kohn, indieWIRE
  • “Takashi Miike’s new adaptation of Yasuhiko Takiguchi’s novel, is an absolute snoozer. Somehow he has managed to make a film six minutes shorter than Masaki Kobayashi’s far superior 1962 classic and make it feel as if it is one hour longer. Miike’s telling is incredibly similar to that of Kobayashi’s, the difference being Miike’s inability to break free of his lethargic pace.” — Brad Brevet, Rope of Silicon
  • “Sadly, the pacing is well off during the middle sequence, and while we are encouraged to engage with the characters on a human level, so that Motome and Miho’s tragedies land heavier punches as they are revealed, Miike takes it to too much of an extreme here, and it becomes a little difficult to hold your attention at the screen.” — Simon Gallagher, Film School Rejects

Grade Estimate: C-

The Skin I Live In – Directed by Pedro Almodovar

  • “Of all the great modern European filmmakers, Almodóvar has recently felt like the one in most peril of turning his groove—sumptuous surfaces, a tone between the operatic and the soap-operatic, each frame glossy with the delight of cinema like a lipstick smear from an ardent lover—into a rut. With “The Skin I Live In,” he’s clearly jolted and wrested himself out of any potential rut; the concern is now, rather, what to make of the new territory he, and we, are in.” — Oliver Lyttleton, The Playlist
  • “Reuniting with his pre-Penelope Cruz muse Antonio Banderas for the first time since Time Me Up, Time Me Down two decades ago – The Skin That I Live In, as weird as it is, is definitely the most accessible of their collaborations – a kind of strange modern day Frankenstein parable meets Saw revenge tale that both creeps you out and has you laughing along in hysterics at the absurdity of it all.” — Matt Holmes, Obsessed With Film
  • “For those who would like Almodóvar to do something radical – and this was rather how this movie had been misleadingly billed here in Cannes – then The Skin I Live In might try the patience. But I can only say that it kept me gripped from first to last. The sheer muscular confidence of Almodóvar’s film-making language gives it force, and co-exists with a dancer’s elegance and grace.” — Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Grade Estimate: B-

Drive – Directed by Nicholas Winding Refn

  • “I won’t lie to you: I pretty much want to have sex with this movie. Hot, clipped, nasty, beautiful. Best thing in Competition.” — Guy Lodge, In Contention
  • “It’s Bullitt in the clothes of a curiously motivated stunt-car driver (a very stoic and charismatic Ryan Gosling) who moonlights as a freelance getaway guy. And yes, it has that stripped-down ’70s atmosphere in spades. And it delivers three killer performances from Gosling, Carey Mulligan and — big jolt — a darkly cynical and altogether splendid Albert Books (!), and a very fine one from Ron Perlman.” — Jeff Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere
  • “But as violent and intense as this film can be, it has its share of honest laughs and silent moments, making for the best film I saw at this year’s festival. As far as who deserves the credit — sit back — there are a lot of kudos to be handed out.” — Brad Brevet, Rope of Silicon

Grade Estimate: A-

Acquisitions and News

  • Magnolia Pictures and Madman have pre-bought the Lars Von Trier and Martin Scorcese’s collaboration. [indieWIRE]
  • Lars Von Trier announces he sympathizes with Hitler, then he apologizes, but not before the Cannes committee bans him and labels him “persona non gratis.” [Hollywood Elsewhere]
  • Sundance Selects picks up the Dardennes Brothers’ The Kid With the Bike. [Variety]
  • The first big prize of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival goes to Take Shelter, which won the Critics Week jury prize. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Features and Interviews

  • Question and Answer session with Drive director Nicholas Winding Refn. [The Hollywood Reporter]
  • Does the Palme d’Or ever translate to success at the Box Office? [indieWIRE]
  • Five possible contenders for the Palme d’Or. [indieWIRE]
  • Questionnaire with Gerardo Naranjo, director of Un Certain Regard selection Miss Bala. [The Daily Notebook]

Pictures and Video

  • Three new clips from Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In. [The Playlist]
  • Watch Lars Von Trier’s Nazi rant. [Deadline]

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  • Wow, with reviews like that, ‘Drive’ could easily be in for some awards attention on Sunday. I’ve got a feeling DeNiro will go for it as well. Although ‘La Havre’ looks like the Palme d’Or currently.

  • The awards love could go well beyond Sunday. I think we might have a legitimate Oscar contender on our hands.

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