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Tales of a Tale of Tales: Gomes’s Three-Part Epic Is A Monument To The Plight Of Portugal’s Working Class
There may be more traditionally successful films released in 2015, but there won’t be any as monolithic, impassioned, euphoric, mad, or aesthetically and socially important as Arabian Nights. A three-volume, 383-minute ode to the people struggling through Portugal’s current economic crisis, Miguel Gomes appropriates the mythological and formal conceits of the centuries-old collection of Arabic folk tales of the same name, in which Scheherazade spends a thousand and one nights distracting her new husband, the Persian king Shahryar, with alluring stories so that he will not kill her. Rather than using any of the actual tales included in the collection, Gomes spent a year (Summer 2013 to Summer 2014) making up eight of his own, each with its own distinct tone, visual style, characters, degree of collaboration with locals, and reliance on improvisation. »
- Blake Williams
Below you will find our favorite films of the Festival de Cannes, as well as an index of our coverage, with more entries, including interviews, to come. We also have an index of the festival's awards.Daniel Kasmantop Picksi. Cemetery of Splendour, The AssassinII. Visit or Memoirs and Confessions, In the Shadow of Women, The Exquisite Corpus, The Lobster, Mad Max: Fury Road, The TreasureIII. Arabian Nights, Journey to the Shore, Mountains May Depart***COVERAGEDay 1: Our Little Sister (Hirokazu Kore-eda), Tale of Tales (Matteo Garrone)Day 2: In the Shadow of Women (Philippe Garrel), One Floor Below (Radu Muntean), Son of Saul (Lazlo Nemes)Day 3: The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos), My Golden Days (Arnaud Desplechin)Day 4: Arabian Nights Volume 1: The Restless One, Carol (Todd Haynes)Day 5: Journey to the Shore (Kiyoshi Kurosawa), Louder Than Bombs (Joachim Trier)Day 6: Arabian Nights Volume Two: The Desolate One »
Who knew that watching films can be this exhausting? The first thing any press person at Cannes will tell you is probably how tiring festival grind is – press screenings from 8.30 am till midnight, endless queueing sessions (variously put to use for writing up or sun-tanning), the adrenaline rush of the literal rush to the next screening.
What few filmmakers premiering their work at Cannes seem to realise – based on the average two-hour run of the majority of films this year – is that at a film viewing marathon such as Cannes, critics’ attention is yours during the first hour and twenty minutes and then you’d better start getting ready for a wow of an ending. The editor is your friend and if you want the press to be a friend too, it’s good to shed extraneous long-windedness and not irk the critics – unless you are Miguel Gomes, then you can go on forever… »
- Zornitsa Staneva
Before moving on to news of other festivals, we need to wrap Cannes. An aggregated poll of critics' polls places Miguel Gomes's Arabian Nights in the #1 slot. But Manoel de Oliveira's Visit, or Memories and Confessions tops a favorite poll of ours, so we've collected a couple of reviews. Meantime, Seattle's marathon festival rolls on. Edinburgh's announced its lineup. The New York Asian Film Festival will present its 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award to Ringo Lam. Munich will honor Alexander Payne and, in October, Tokyo will screen retrospectives of work by Orson Welles and Shuji Terayama. » - David Hudson »
Peter Debruge: Well, I didn’t see that coming. In what feels like a twist ending — one that leaves me feeling a bit like Tim Roth at the end of “Chronic” — the Cannes jury has awarded the Palme d’Or to “Dheepan,” a movie that lags among my least favorites in the competition, and the weakest in Jacques Audiard’s filmography.
People have been throwing the word “weak” around a lot this week, grousing that the official selection doesn’t measure up to that of previous years. I defer to you, Scott and Justin, since you’ve each been attending Cannes for longer than I have (this is only my fifth time on the Croisette), but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time here, it’s that Cannes critics always like to complain that the present year’s crop feels meager by comparison to past editions, »
- Peter Debruge, Scott Foundas and Justin Chang
Today the festival turns for me, beginning as it did with Volume 2 of Miguel Gomes's Arabian Nights trilogy, told in tantalizing serial progression every other day at the Directors' Fortnight. What could be more fitting than eagerly awaiting more stories from this project inspired by Scheherazade's 1001 tales? Indeed, I wonder if film is actually the best format for Gomes's ambitious project, which I could easily see sprawling into television or web episodes, an all consuming process of ingesting a never ending series of idiosyncratic, telling events of Portugal's contemporary history. Volume 2: The Desolate One suggests as much after a singular opening episode—this part begins without Volume 1's wild, meta-prologue—of a rural murderer told as a traveling pastoral through the countryside. It is a single story of crime and Rural freedom telescoped into a sunny, roving short film that imagines not the man's horrible deed but »
- Daniel Kasman
Variety critics Scott Foundas, Justin Chang, Peter Debruge, Guy Lodge, Jay Weissberg and Maggie Lee weighed in with their choices for the 21 best films at this year’s Cannes Film Festival (listed in alphabetical order):
1. “Amy.” British director Asif Kapadia followed up his 2010 “Senna” with this even more daring and revealing portrait of the brilliant but tragic jazz diva Amy Winehouse. Drawing on a wealth of professional and user-generated video, Kapadia again eschews the usual talking-heads interview format to keep WInehouse front and center for two harrowing hours, during which we come to understand how thoroughly the troubled singer lived her life under the camera’s relentless and unforgiving gaze. The result is an unforgettable portrait of the cult of celebrity in the iPhone era. (Scott Foundas)
- Variety Staff
How nice it's been to anticipate another set of tales from modern Portugal in the form of Miguel Gomes's Arabian Nights! The film's three parts have been shown every other day here in Cannes, and I've finally caught the last and I must say I already miss the idea that Gomes and his Scheherazade will unspool even more for me two days hence. If she told the stories to her king to stave off her death, I feel Gomes is telling me stories, among many others reasons, in order to stave off the powerful aura of respectable averageness prevalent at Cannes 2015.Arabian Nights Volume 3: The Enchanted One had me smiling for a good forty-five minutes in a row. After a brief glimpse of Gomes's modern version of Scheherazade in Volume 1, we finally get to spend some time with her in "Baghdad," wandering the landscape encountering lovers and bandits, »
- Daniel Kasman
Other prizes go to My Mother, Masaan and Paulina.
Hungarian Holocaust drama Son of Saul has been named the best film in the main Competition section of the 68th Cannes Film Festival by Fipresci, the International Federation of Film Critics.
Review: Son of Saul
Laszlo Nemes directorial debut - the only debut in this year’s Competition line-up - is about a Hungarian prisoner assigned to work in one of the crematoria of Auschwitz who, finding a body he believes is his son, sets out to find a rabbi to bury him.
It ranked joint second on Screen’s Cannes Jury Grid, with no prizes as yet for joint leaders Carol and The Assassin.
Nemes previously worked as assistant director to Bela Tarr on The Man From London (2007).
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Rosser)
Hungarian Holocaust drama Son of Saul was amongst the award winners at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
Laszlo Nemes' movie was named best film by Fipresci, the International Federation of Film Critics, The Wrap reports.
Icelandic drama Rams was named the best film of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival's Un Certain Regard section.
Other winners in the section included Zvizdan - which won the jury prize, Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Kishibe No Tabi - which won the award for directing, Corneliu Porumboiu's Comoara - which won the Un Certain Talent Prize, and Neeraj Ghaywan's Masaan »
Cannes — “The Embrace of the Serpent,” Colombian director Ciro Guerra’s visually rich, black-and-white adventure saga about the ravages of colonialism in the Amazon, won the top Art Cinema Award at the 47th Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes on Friday.
A follow-up to Guerra’s 2009 Un Certain Regard entry, “The Wind Journeys,” “Embrace of the Serpent” (which is being sold by Films Boutique) follows the parallel journeys of two different ethnologists, both searching for a rare flower deemed sacred by Colombia’s indigenous population. Along with Thursday’s honors for the Critics’ Week entries “Paulina” (from Argentina’s Santiago Mitre) and “Land and Shade” (from Colombia’s Cesar Acevedo), the victory for Guerra’s film suggests it’s been a particularly strong festival for Latin American cinema, despite initial concerns that the region might be underrepresented, at least in the official selection.
The Fortnight’s Sacd Prize, presented every year to »
- Justin Chang
Miguel Gomes's Arabian Nights "is not a literal adaptation of The Arabian Nights, it merely adopts its structure, its disposition, and—eventually—its sublime perspicacity," writes Little White Lies editor David Jenkins. "It comes across as a cross-processing of Buñuel's Phantom of Liberty, Pasolini's The Gospel According to St. Matthew and the films of inspirational Portuguese filmmakers, Antonio Reis and Margaret Cordeiro. But even that doesn't quite cover it." We've got the trailer and we're collecting reviews of all three volumes. » - David Hudson »
Read More: 2015 Indiewire Cannes Bible The latest film from acclaimed Portuguese auteur Miguel Gomes ("Our Beloved Month of August," "Tabu") is his most ambitious work by far. Divided into three feature-length "volumes" — "The Restless One," "The Desolate One," and The Enchanted One" — "Arabian Nights" is a six-hour epic consisting of interwoven stories. Taking its namesake from the famous ancient collection of folktales, the film makes it clear early on that this is not an adaptation despite being inspired by the book's structure, in which the beautiful Scheherazade (played here by Crista Alfaiate) tells a fantastical tale every evening for 1001 nights to distract the tyrannical king from killing her. If the movie's cumbersome running time appears intimidating, its episodic nature makes it easily digestible, and here at the Cannes Film Festival it has been presented on three separate days — a fine way to experience »
- Adam Cook
The biggest and most ambitious movie at Cannes this year isn’t an expensive blockbuster ("Mad Max: Fury Road") or a conceptually demanding animated film ("Inside Out"). It’s “Arabian Nights,” a six-hour, three-part project, variously described as a trilogy and as just one movie, shot entirely on film and inspired very, very loosely by the classic collection of fairy tales (also known as “1001 Nights.") The film is the latest from Portuguese helmer Miguel Gomes, who came to the attention of cinephiles with docudrama hybrid “Our Beloved Month Of August,” and then more prominently with “Tabu,” the widely acclaimed, wildly original black-and-white Murnau homage released in 2012. I loved the latter, and have been dying to see what Gomes would get up to next, and the answer doesn’t disappoint: it’s as successful as it is ambitious, and it's one of the most remarkable, distinctive, and magical films of the festival so. »
- Oliver Lyttelton
For the Hollywood Reporter's Jordan Mintzer, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's "leisurely paced" Cemetery of Splendour "features some of the Thai auteur’s trademark surreal beauty, though doesn’t necessarily pack the same punch as movies like Syndromes and a Century or Palme d’Or winner Uncle Boonmee Who May Recall Past Lives." But others are won over. Notes Adam Cook at Movie Mezzanine: "Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, his regular DoP, was hired to work on Miguel Gomes’s Arabian Nights, so Weerasethakul teams up instead with rising talent Diego Garcia. His crisp, clear cinematography gives the film a sharp sense of the vibrant, textured surroundings." We've got the trailer, a clip, and we're gathering more reviews. » - David Hudson »
Arabian Nights Volume 2: The Desolate One
Directed by Miguel Gomes
Portugal / France / Germany / Switzerland, 2015
Miguel Gomes showed up the Director’s Fortnight screening of the second part of Arabian Nights wearing a t-shirt and Benfica football scarf and started off by rambling about his favourite team’s newly won championship title. Something about Gomes is disarmingly charismatic and sincere – you could tell the rugged look was not an act but rather Gomes was just being himself. And amazingly, despite the thick layers of surrealist imagery and narrative convolution, there is a quality in his Arabian Nights enterprise that comes across as totally sincere.
Volume two runs at just over two hours and, on paper, sounds like a load of pretentious claptrap – there is no unified plot but rather the structure is built around three disconnected episodes with various degrees of narrative development. »
If “The Restless One” seemed the perfect title for the first part of Miguel Gomes’s opulently undisciplined opus “Arabian Nights” — signaling its tangled, distracted nesting of stories within stories — “desolate” is hardly the adjective for its fertile, often uproarious middle section. It does, however, aptly indicate a certain narrative calming: Only three tales are told here by the project’s wily mythical narrator Scheherazade, though one in particular sprawls and subdivides itself in such alluringly vine-like fashion that viewers will hardly notice 133 minutes ticking by. The crushing social impact of Portugal’s recent austerity policies remains the running theme here, though Volume 2 features less stinging rhetoric than its predecessor, as whimsical satire gradually segues into observational tragicomedy. It remains to be seen on what note Gomes chooses to end his mammoth undertaking, but it’s already among the most stirring, stimulating works at this year’s Cannes fest.
- Guy Lodge
- Ryan Adams
I keep waiting for a truly great film here in Cannes, an expectation and a hope for something really striking that is undoubtably a terrible attitude to take towards this festival and film in general. (Then again, a friend and Cannes regular, when I despondently shared these thoughts, told me that it is this hope that keeps her coming back, and that without it, indeed, why even go to the movies?) With this forlorn need haunting me by the fourth day, I was rightly chastised by the first of three films by the Portuguese director of Tabu, Miguel Gomes, in the Directors' Fortnight, a trilogy titled Arabian Nights. It is not a great film, but, abashed, I think it was the kind of film I needed, a lesson not to expect masterpieces, or perfection, but proof yet again that cinema is permeable, its beauties and faults can and should leak. »
- Daniel Kasman
A few minutes into Colombian director Ciro Guerra's "Embrace of the Serpent" we have met three of its four main characters, and they have encountered each other. In black and white, with period images of the Amazonian jungle reminiscent of Miguel Gomes' "Tabu," a canoe carrying a gravely ill white man, Theo ("Borgman" star Jan Bijvoet), is punted onto the bank by the loyal native tribesman who serves as his traveling companion. And on the bank stands a lone tribal shaman, Karamakate (Nilbio Torres), whose painted face, loin cloth, feathered armbands, phallic-looking necklace and erect, impassive stance seem an unspoken rebuke to the western-clothed native who has come to plead with Karamakate to save his white friend's life. That rebuke is soon spoken, however, in no uncertain terms: Karamakate has nothing but loathing for the white man who wiped out his tribe, and nothing but contempt for a »
- Jessica Kiang
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