Cannes 2015 Wrap Up

23 May, 2015 Posted in: Awards, Cannes, Cannes, Festivals, Opinion

I’ve just come out of the press screening of the festival’s Closing Night film – the ecological documentary The Ice and the Sky – and, for me, Cannes is finished for another year. A few great films and a handful of good-to-very good ones doesn’t feel like a terrific return but I missed a lot of what went on in the Directors Fortnight section this year – including the universally well-liked Turkish film Mustang – where the overall quality was reportedly very high (though I couldn’t say that about the Fortnight’s Closing Film, Dope). So, still plenty of Cannes titles to catch up on over the course of the year, and of course some films that I didn’t really enjoy or understand on first viewing here may very well improve on second viewing, in calmer surroundings (as happened with last year’s Palme d’Or winner Winter Sleep).

For now though, I’ll sign off with my personal Cannes top 10 (a clear top 3 and then the rest, all in alphabetical order), and a no-doubt poor attempt at some prize predictions:

Cannes Top 3:

THE ASSASSIN (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, in Competition)

CAROL (Todd Haynes, in Competition)

MY GOLDEN DAYS (Arnaud Desplechin, in Directors Fortnight)

The Rest:

CEMETERY OF SPLENDOUR (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, in Competition)

HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT (Kent Jones/Serge Toucabia, in Cannes Classics)

THE MEASURE OF A MAN (Stephane Brize, in Competition)

MEDITERRANEA (Jonas Carpignano, in Critics Week)

MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART (Jia Zhang-ke, in Competition)

SON OF SAUL (Laszlo Nemes, in Competition)

THE TREASURE (Corneliu Porumboiu, in Un Certain Regard)

As for predictions, I’d go for Carol to win the Palme d’Or, Hou Hsiao-Hsien to win the Director prize, Zhao Tao to win Best Actress for Mountains May Depart and a toss-up between British actors Michael Caine and Tim Roth for Actor, in Youth and Chronic repsectively. Son of Saul should win the Camera d’Or for Best First Film, but that film – and its director Laszlo Nemes and lead actor Geza Rohrig – could easily win the top prize in any of the above eligible categories.



Top pop moments from Cannes 2015

21 May, 2015 Posted in: Cannes, Cannes, Festivals

Cannes is always a great place to see and hear brilliant pop music, often divorced from its usual context, and 2015 has been no different. Here’s my personal playlist of top pop moments from the Competition and sidebars.

Click here to listen to the following playlist on Spotify

1. ‘Say You, Say Me’
Miguel Gomes’ epic 6hr+ tapestry of tales, Arabian Nights, playing in Directors’ Fortnight, offers  bounty of musical highlights to choose from, but top of the heap has to be the tragicomedy of Lionel Richie’s ‘Say You, Say Me’ on vinyl at a dinner party in the final part of Arabian Nights: Volume 2, The Desolate One.


2. ‘Sound Of Da Police’
Emmanuelle Bercot’s Opening Night film Standing Tall drew its fair share of complaints that it was a little flat and uncinematic. They’re perhaps not unjustified, but an early scene where juvenile delinquent Malony (Rod Paradot) goes joy-riding is one of the most kinetic in the film and is appropriately soundtracked by KRS-One’s ‘Sound Of Da Police’.

3. ‘You Got The Love’
Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth in the main Competition may have divided critics on the Croisette, but surely no-one could disagree with the joy of the opening scene, where a hotel covers band plays a swooping, swooning version of Candi Stanton’s disco classic ‘You Got The Love’.

4. ‘Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart’
And speaking of hotel covers, Britain’s own Olivia Colman scores a spot in the list courtesy of a hilariously straight-faced version of ‘Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart’, in Yorgos Lanthimos’ dark Competition comedy The Lobster. Performed in the hotel her character runs to help single people find love, it’s possibly the best deadpan karaoke moment in film since Bill Murray’s ‘More Than This’ in Lost In Translation. It’s also one of two songs with a Nick Cave connection to make an appearance in The Lobster – there’s also room for Cave’s crossover hit ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’, while ‘Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart’ was of course also covered by Cave & co on Kicking Against The Pricks.


5. ’212′
In Alice Winocour’s Un Certain Regard entry Maryland, sound design is used to help indicate an Afghanistan vet’s post-traumatic stress disorder. It never seems quite so unsettling as when he wanders in a daze through a wealthy mansion party of arms dealers, aristocrats, politicians and other dodgy sorts, all going nuts on the dance floor to Azealia Bank’s breakout hit ’212′.

6. ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’
The political undercurrent of this section of the playlist takes a turn from thriller to horror in Jeremy Saulnier’s brutal, blood-pumping siege nightmare Green Room (Directors’ Fortnight), as punk band the Ain’t Rights go from covering the Dead Kennedys’ minute-long howl of anger to fighting for their lives against far-right white supremacists.

7. ‘Love Is A Losing Game’
From genre horror to the horrors of reality, with a track from Amy Winehouse, whose too-brief life and career is the subject of Asif Kapadia’s hard-to-watch doc. Of the many musical moments in the film, it’s ‘Love Is A Losing Game’ which perhaps even more than the more obviously illuminating ‘Rehab’ gets to the heart of the issue.

8. ‘Love Is A Song’
To end on an uplifting note, closing out Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s meditative Un Certain Regard entry Cemetery Of Splendour is this superbly game and earwormy little pop number that I haven’t been able to get out of my head all week. It’s not on Spotify, so here’s the YouTube embed:


Critics’ Week: Day Seven – Krisha

20 May, 2015 Posted in: Cannes, Cannes, Festivals, Review

Catherine Bray adds to a growing chorus of acclaim for Trey Edward Shults’ Krisha, a feature film backed on Kickstarter to the tune of  $14,260, which went on to win the Grand Jury Award at SXSW…

Krisha (Krisha Fairchild)

Krisha (Krisha Fairchild)

Some films are important because they clearly signal in some way the arrival of an important new talent, without necessarily being a film that works independently of its function as a calling card. Krisha is both calling card and a legitimately accomplished film in its own right.

Multi-talented multi-hyphenate Trey Edward Shults writes, directs and edits his own feature debut, as well as playing a small but key role in the film, and it’s worth learning his name now: he’s scored a two-pic deal with A24 off the back of Krisha’s success and is still only in his mid-twenties. We’ll be hearing from him again.

Director Trey Edward Shults

Director Trey Edward Shults

More importantly, the film itself is a gem. Actually, I say “gem” because it fits neatly with elements of what we understand by the word “gem” (a film reviewer’s word if ever I saw one), in that it’s small but perfectly formed, shot in just nine days on a single location, it’s an indie, it premiered at SXSW, and so on (there is no such thing as an “epic gem”). But actually, “gem” may not be the right word, implying as it sometimes can, a certain kind of twinkling warmth or whimsy, perhaps even twee qualities (Garden State was the prototypical indie gem, back when people still liked that film).

The plot synopsis – estranged aunt Krisha attempts to reconnect at Thanksgiving dinner – does nothing to allay impressions of possible hugging and learning outcomes, Oscar bait style, but the film’s major gambit places it in rather different territory. Following in the footsteps of the likes of Lost Weekend, Krisha locates horror tropes in the nightmare of trying to function in society as an alcoholic. The tension, suspicion, compulsions and treachery that underlie most psychological horror are all present and correct, but transposed cleverly onto a warm and banal family ensemble, and Shults plays on these aspects like a pro. If you’ve ever dealt with any of the issues presented here, be warned it’s a tough watch.

Nor is this a cold technical exercise – there is real feeling here, perhaps partly as a result of the film’s other big gimmick, which is the casting of Shults’ family in fictionalised versions of themselves. This could have been a disaster, but Shults marshals his actors/family effectively and captures dozens of moments where it’s impossible to tell where fiction ends and documentary begins. This is one of my must-sees from Cannes.


Krisha (Krisha Fairchild)

Krisha (Krisha Fairchild)





Crowdfunding at Cannes

20 May, 2015 Posted in: Cannes, Cannes, Festivals

Independent crowdfunding is an increasingly large part of even major festivals like Cannes, with Critics’ Week hit Krisha funded on Kickstarter and around 10% of films at Sundance part-funded via a mixture of different crowd-funded platforms. We asked Miranda Fleming, UK Film & Creative for Indiegogo, formerly head of production at Screen South, about her Cannes experience.

Miranda Fleming

Miranda Fleming

Can you describe a typical day at Cannes for us?

Nights are long in Cannes so meetings tend to start at 10am. It’s sunny this year so a lounge meeting in the terrace is a nice way to start – I often start my day meeting an international producer with a specific film in mind to crowdfund – I help them take a look at the project and start developing a strategy for the campaign.

Then it’s off to the International village – meeting with international festivals to discuss workshops and panels for future events. The UK is my main market, so I pop into a UK specific event like Film London. I’m also interested in European filmmaker networks in the main Cannes festival and join a documentary brunch on one of the Plages restaurants – today it was the Documentary brunch with selected documentary makers from across the world.

The afternoon is full of more meetings with mix of filmmakers/international film festivals and funds. I also attend the Croisette front offices to see a couple of Sales Agents who are internationally selling a film which is crowdfunding or might be launching a campaign for one of their films which they are financing.

The evening is a dinner with US filmmakers from partnerships such as IFC in New York and a great way to introduce and network them to some similar minded UK filmmakers.

What are Indiegogo’s general aims at a festival like Cannes and how do they relate to Indiegogo’s general objectives?

Our objective is to speak with all international filmmakers – UK, US, but particularly from countries where we don’t have offices (yet) like India, Japan and Europe. The latter is key at Cannes as Europe is a fantastic central focus here. European funds are crucial to our work here, as they have direct access to filmmaker networks. I also meet with the European Association of European Regional funds, Cine Regio, whose members accounted for 30% of the films playing at Cannes.

It’s important for us to measure the trends via these networks – they know more than anyone what their film industry is discussing – it’s imperative we join that conversation as crowdfunding takes a hold internationally.

And what do you most enjoy about Cannes?

Filmmaker networks, particularly meeting filmmakers from all corners of the world – having just one fantastic spontaneous introduction each day – be it through a scheduled meeting, an encounter in a queue waiting for a film or taxi, is what makes Cannes such a special festival. The sunshine helps put a spring in everyone’s step – there’s an optimistic feeling of good things to come.

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Youth: first reviews at Cannes

20 May, 2015 Posted in: Cannes, Cannes, Festivals

Early signs indicate that Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth, starring Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz and Paul Dano, which premiered in Competition at Cannes this morning is polarizing critics: some love it, some certainly aren’t on board. We are, of course, proud to cherish what we think is a very special film, and we’re honoured to have had a hand in bringing it to the big screen here at Cannes. With that in mind, read on for our pick of the very best independent critics’ reviews so far…


Lee Marshall for Screen International

“The wry, flamboyant cinematic opera of Paolo Sorrentino reaches new heights of showy, utterly tasteful magnificence in Youth, a meditation on ageing, creativity and the staging of spectacles set almost entirely in a Swiss spa hotel. It opens up the pores with ravishing images and rubs in soothing musical ointments, occasionally varying the treatment with a bracing splash of cold drama, served by immaculately groomed actor-assistants.”

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David Sexton for the Evening Standard

“Throughout there are bitter, funny aphorisms about life, love and ageing exchanged by the two old friends, in between updates on their prostate troubles. And as ever with Sorrentino, there are intense visions of both sagging, bloated flesh and the transient bloom of ravishing sexuality — while the exquisite camerawork is itself always a reminder of how much beauty there is in the world and that it passes. Nobody else is making such operatic films half so well as Sorrentino: Youth makes nearly all the other contenders for the Palme d’Or this year seem to lack conviction.”

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Sasha Stone for Awards Daily

“Every shot is a thing of beauty. I spend most of my time here in Cannes finding beautiful/ugly/interesting things to take pictures of.  For most of this film I had the impulse to hoist my camera and take a snapshot of it. It is just one dizzying image after another.  Films like this hardly get made anymore. Probably American directors couldn’t get a movie like this made, not on anyone’s big name.  Actors certainly don’t get chances like this to deliver fully realized performances. [...] Both Caine and Keitel give career-best performances.”

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Jay Weissberg for Variety

“Everything the director’s fans expect is here: stunning compositions (with Luca Bigazzi again behind the lensing), a second-to-none understanding of music’s emotional range, delightfully unexpected interludes, and a towering performance, this time divided in two (or two-and-a-half, since Jane Fonda’s brief turn is indelible). In addition, there’s a stronger female presence than has been seen since This Must Be the Place. [...] There are the grand themes, including aging, memory, love and thirst for further fulfillment, and the minor entr’actes, ranging from spectatorship to the visual pleasure of contrasts, to a near-mystic sense of wonder at beauty in all its forms.”

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Jamie Graham for Games Radar

“Paolo Sorrentino’s new feature, Youth, is a companion piece to his last feature, The Great Beauty, albeit in a more minor key. It is an introspective work of tenderness, melancholy, joy, humour and considerable compassion, with the Italian director’s signature visual flair ensuring that any and all contemplation comes with a blast of brio. [...] Sorrentino has always been something of a visual chameleon – compare the poise of The Consequences Of Love to the camera chaos of Il Divo – and it’s the themes that remain: ageing, memory, creativity, love, loss, and forgiveness. Youth is Sorrentino’s aria, and is one for the ages.”

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