What a strange festival. From the very beginning of Cannes 2015 things have felt slightly out of whack. The press lounge was stripped of some key seating, making it even more difficult to overtake the swaths of paparazzi that defend key sections of terrain like warlords. Queues are ballooning with Bleu badges earlier and earlier. Strolling down the Croisette is like trying to maneuver a sea of drunken walkers; more than a few espressos have been felled thanks to errant elbows. It’s survival of the swiftest.
Somewhat fittingly, as extreme exhaustion sets in desperation has become a key theme in the last throes of Cannes’ festival slate. On polar opposite sides of the quality spectrum live the singularly fractured and sublime narrative of Hou Hsian-hsien’s quiet masterpiece The Assassin and two laughably self-important social critiques: Jacques Audiard’s loud misfire Dheepan and Michel Franco’s absurd and antiseptic euthanasia drama, Chronic.
Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario resides somewhere in between.
The 68th annual Cannes Film Festival runs through Sunday. Read Glenn’s first dispatch here, and check back this weekend for his closing thoughts.
Attending the Cannes Film Festival ensures you’ll receive a master’s degree in the art of transition. One must think on one’s feet while rapidly navigating various schedules, commitments, films, and social outings, not to mention finding time to jot down whatever hazy memories remain from the day’s films. Ironically, all of this seems super-serious until you wake up the next day and decide to do it all over again, promptly forgetting whatever disappointment or inconvenience has popped up before. Silly Cannes.
Many of the festival’s most interesting films thus far deal with larger, life-changing moments of transition for stubborn characters. In the Un Certain Regard sidebar, Radu Muntean’s stewing One Floor Below uses a single wordless exchange to set up a narrative founded on momentary shifts in tension. Evoking Hitchcock in its gripping sense of stretched temporality and simmering menace, the film contemplates how small escalations in aggression lead to life-long patterns of indecision.
The 68th annual Cannes Film Festival began May 13, and runs through May 24. This is Glenn Heath’s first dispatch from the South of France, with more to follow.
Sweat has been a prominent byproduct of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. Shiny brows are in full effect, multiple critics are sporting deck shorts, and nobody can seem to find enough water. Hell, the first screening in The Grand Theatre Lumiere was George Miller’s supercharged bat-out-of-hell action film Mad Max: Fury Road, a desert symphony of sand and blood that drew rowdy applause from the normally subdued Cannes audience.
The incessant sunshine, mugginess, and heat have made the already bustling festival scramble a little more slippery. Hay fever sneezes have vastly outnumbered any rowdy boos (Gus Van Sant’s Sea of Trees aside). Leagues of festivalgoers are already sporting farmer’s tans and slight cases of delirium. No bones about it, people are trippin’ (quite literally in the case of this dear writer).
After four days of competition screenings a clear-cut favorite has yet to emerge. But multiple entries have exhibited an intense volatility and visceral rigor that matches the intense and blinding weather outside the balmy theater interiors. Maybe Festival Director Thierry Frémaux can see into the future, taste be damned.