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Cannes 2017. Two Hongs Make It Right: Hong Sang-soo's "Claire's Camera" and "The Day After"

11 hours ago

There's a running joke—at least, I think it's a joke—that if you shoot part of your film in the French city of Cannes, you will automatically be selected by its film festival. Sneaky Hong Sang-soo, then, who quietly and quickly shot the short feature Claire’s Camera last year with Kim Min-hee, who was at the festival for The Handmaiden, and Isabelle Huppert, who was there with Elle. And now, this year in Cannes, here is the film. A nimble and thrifty filmmaker often directly inspired by the places he goes and the people he meets, Hong's wry and plaintive short story satirizes the film industry—raging unseen and unheard offscreen—while ennobling the magic of happenstance meetings and chance’s circuitous ironies.The film begins in a space possibly never seen in cinema: a temporary office in Cannes rented by a sales company to promote the film's they represent. »

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"Twin Peaks," Episodes 1 & 2 Recap: Do Not Drop Up

18 hours ago

Twin Peaks Recap is a weekly column by Keith Uhlich covering David Lynch and Mark Frost's limited, 18-episode continuation of the Twin Peaks television series.The world's gone mad. Fortunately for FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), he's been able to sit out most of the real-life insanity of the last 25 years. Unfortunately—as surely known by those viewers familiar with Mark Frost and David Lynch's singular television series Twin Peaks, which returned Sunday, May 21st for a limited, 18-episode run on Showtime—that's because he's been trapped in the unearthly purgatory known as the Black Lodge, all while his devilish doppelgänger, a mortal manifestation of the murderous spirit known as Killer Bob, runs amok among mankind.Already it feels like I'm speaking in tongues. But if Twin Peaks and Lynch (who directed, co-wrote, co-edited, and designed the sound for all of these new episodes) have taught us anything, »

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Cannes 2017. Michael Haneke's "Happy End"

23 hours ago

What do you do when you near the end of your life and you have nothing left to live for? That's a question practically tailor-made for Michael Haneke, whose chilly austerity and bleak fatalism has and continues to be something of a trademark. This follow-up to Amour (which won the Palme d’Or in 2012) is imperfect and strange, and finds the Austrian director in an (unusually?) introspective mode, consciously working through images and fragments of his past films. The subject of Haneke’s attention, here, is the wealthy, bourgeois Laurent family, headed by aging patriarch Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant). His daughter Anne (Isabelle Huppert) runs the thriving family business with the help of her somewhat incapable son, Pierre (Franz Rogowski), while Georges' son Thomas (Mathieu Kassovitz) is a doctor who recently had a child with Anaïs (Laura Verlinden), his second wife. For a while, the film looks to be the equal »

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Cannes 2017. A Parisian Triangle—Philippe Garrel's "Lover for a Day"

22 May 2017 5:48 AM, PDT

French director Philippe Garrel has always only needed the barest means to make movie magic: a beautiful, tragic face, a sad wall to put behind it, a mournful, pensive walk alone on the street. He is back in Cannes at the Directors’ Fortnight, having first come in 1969 with Le lit de la vierge, and once again proves he is nearly alone is continuing the French New Wave’s revolution of creating celluloid myths from mere bedrooms and cafes. Lover for a Day, his newest, one of his most simple, is a lithe, splendid picture, dazzling in its clarity, direct emotional resonance and condensed storytelling. The set-up, co-written with Garrel’s partner Caroline Deruas-Garrel and his usual writer Arlette Langmann, along with Jean-Claude Carrière, is inspired: A young woman, Jeanne (Garrel’s daughter, Esther) breaks up with her boyfriend and must stay at the flat of his father, Gilles (Éric Caravaca), who, »

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Cannes 2017. Misfits in Space and Time: Todd Haynes' "Wonderstruck"

22 May 2017 5:48 AM, PDT

"A curator chooses what goes in the museum,"reads the introduction to a book in Wonderstruck. The same could be said for many filmmakers, and certainly for Wonderstruck’s director, Todd Haynes, who like a loving and dutiful academic fills his films with a bounty of references, objects, textures, music, symbols, and artwork in the aim to coordinate an elaborate constellation of inferences and resonances. And emotions too, certainly, for in this sweet and willing film. As in many others, Haynes is reconfiguring older forms of melodrama with a most acute sense of social history. Wonderstruck, which Brian Selznick adapts from his own book, at its best at once lifts the heart and tickles the mind with his clever conception.The bifurcated story alternates between following two deaf children, Ben (Oakes Fegley), in 1977, who after losing his mother goes to New York in search of his unknown father, and Rose »

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Cannes 2017. Just Business—Bong Joon-Ho's "Okja"

22 May 2017 5:48 AM, PDT

The worst of the Cannes slate is often characterized by self-importance mixed with complete wrong-headedness. That’s certainly true of Andrei Zvyagintsev’s Loveless and reportedly even truer of Kornél Mundruczó’s Jupiter’s Moon, both of which are competing for the Palme d’Or this year. But that goes a long way to explaining why unpretentious genre fare can be such a refreshing prospect amidst the arthouse torpor. That’s a slot that, in the competition slate at least, Bong Joon-ho’s Okja should have filled—and for a while, it looks like it may fulfill that promise. Opening ca. 2007 New York with a garish infomercial for the Miranda Corporation, headed by CEO Lucy Mirando (a blonde-wigged Tilda Swinton with bright silver braces), the sequence is a fluid mix of exposition and sprightly satire. World hunger is the problem and Lucy Miranda has the solution: a 10-year competition where »

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Cannes 2017. Europe's New Frontier—Valeska Grisebach's "Western"

22 May 2017 5:48 AM, PDT

Meinhard Neumann and Syuleyman Alilov Letifov.For those with a sudden interest in new German cinema thanks to last year’s Toni Erdmann, the Cannes Film Festival has again selected another powerful, deeply human and intricately political drama in Valeska Grisebach’s terrific Western. Like Maren Ade, with whom she has collaborated, Grisebach has made two films—the lovely graduation short feature Be My Star (2001) and Longing (2006), a small town tale of a fireman’s love life—with long pauses in between. Western comes more than a decade after her first proper feature, and it confirms the director as talented as ever.The setting is a German worker camp in the modern day Bulgarian countryside, and, as as the title daringly states, this is indeed a "western." The isolated Germans are the encroaching (economic) colonizers—“we come here to work,” they say, flush with money and a reputation dating from »

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Cannes 2017. Ecstatic Abandon—Robin Campillo's "120 Beats Per Minute"

22 May 2017 5:48 AM, PDT

Making his first appearance in competition as a director (after having previously written Laurent Cantet's Palme d’Or-winning The Class), Robin Campillo already has a triumph on his hands with 120 Beats Per Minute, which centers on the efforts of the activist group Act Up in Paris, patterned after the New York group of the same name formed in 1989. Enriched by Campillo's own experiences with AIDS activism in the 1990s, the film—which runs close to two-and-a-half hours, one of the longer titles in competition—has a canvas both intimate and expansive, brimming with both specificity and bracing sincerity. It's the rare film that documents both a personal story and a larger movement with verve and grace, creating a compelling, often moving experience.The opening alone, which sees four new members integrated into Act Up’s weekly meetings, is impressive, laying out not just the group’s organization and rules (e. »

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Cannes 2017. Thinking Outside the Box—Ruben Östlund's “The Square”

22 May 2017 5:48 AM, PDT

Art about art is often tricky to engage with, much less write about. Part of it is an awareness that arises at each moment, which then gets reflected in an endless hall of mirrors. There's a multivalence that can either be invigorating or tiresome, the boundaries of intention and response endlessly intertwined. That certainly describes Ruben Östlund’s The Square, which from its title alone suggests an empty space to be filled in with whatever the viewer desires. The title actually refers to a piece of art, commissioned by the film's main subject, Christian (Claes Bang), the chief curator of Sweden's X-Royal Museum. It's a literal 4x4 square that per the artist's manifesto is: “a sanctuary of trust and caring. Within it, we all share equal rights and obligations.” For a while, however, it's unclear precisely how the Golden Rule-esque sentiment will factor into what starts to look like an acerbic character study of Christian, »

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Cannes 2017. Forever Killing—Takashi Miike's "Blade of the Immortal"

22 May 2017 5:48 AM, PDT

“What are you, a monster?” asks a man with a completely red-scarred skull who carries two human heads withered and shrouded on his shoulders. He asks this of Manji, a ronin who absorbs a mortal blow but rises from what should be certain death to then strike down his attacker. Takashi Miike, who in adapting Hiroaki Samura’s manga into Blade of the Immortal, knows this kind of material and this genre from front to back, blindfolded and, no doubt, even if one hand were cut off—but doesn't prevent him from having great fun making it.Manji (Japanese star Takuya Kimura) is cursed to immortality after allowing a woman (Hana Sugisaka) he had driven mad—by killing her husband—to be struck down before him. His curse turns into a gift when another wronged young woman, Rin (also Sugisaka), seeks him to avenge the destruction of her family and her dojo. »

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