May 182015


The Festival de Cannes has been running for 5 days, with films receiving reactions from “magnificently realized” to, “fantastically annoying and dishonest”.

After the jump, check out the four films we are the most excited to see from the first 5 days of the fest.


Carol (Todd Haynes) – In Competition

We’re excited: Cate Blanchett is a screen queen and cannot put a foot wrong; so of course we can’t wait to see her in all her 50s glam. Todd Haynes makes interesting film/TV and is one of the better modern American filmmakers at depicting female characters with real depth (see 2011’s Mildred Pierce).

Synopsis: “Based on Patricia Highsmith’s novella The Price of Salt about the burgeoning relationship between two very different women in 1950s New York. One, a girl in her 20s working in a department store who dreams of a more fulfilling life, and the other, a wife trapped in a loveless, moneyed marriage desperate to break free”.

Aus release: Boxing Day 2015 via Transmission Films.

What the critics are saying:

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian: “This is such an outstandingly intelligent movie, which takes us within the narcotic clouds of depression and self-control with which Carol has managed her life: hers is a prototypical version of Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique, announced a decade after this. “

David Jenkins, Little White Lies“Perhaps the greatest compliment you could pay Carol is that it contains – to this writer – one of the most perfectly executed and poignant utterances of the words “I love you” in screen history. See it and weep.”

Jessica Kiang, The Playlist: “Made of crystal and suppressed tears, shot eternally through windows and mirrors and half-closed doors, Todd Haynes’ “Carol” is a love story that starts at a trickle, swells gradually to a torrent, and finally bursts the banks of your heart.”



Amy (Asif Kapadia) – Midnight Projections (Out of Competition)

We’re excited:  Asif Kapadia directed Senna, one of the best documentaries ever made. I have never seen so many grown men and women openly sobbing, as I did at a festival screening of Senna.

Synopsis“…while her music made her a star, her chaotic personal life stole headlines. With rare interviews and never-before-seen archival footage, Amy takes us behind the sensationalised headlines to reveal a prodigiously talented young woman whose life ended far too soon. With this film, the world will fall in love with the real Amy Winehouse and her music all over again. “

Aus release: Plays Sydney Film Festival in June ahead of a July 2nd release via eOne Films.

What the critics are saying:

Gregory Ellwood, Hitflix: “”Amy” also turns the camera back on the viewer who saw, mocked and ignored Winehouse’s descent as it transpired across the media landscape. How could the world collectively denigrate a woman whose addiction was destroying her?”

Fionnuala Halligan, Screen InternationalAmy is a cautionary tale – she was the Janis Joplin of our age, and as it’s the media age, we get to see the full price of fame this time as a fragile talent self-combusts. It’s not a pretty picture.”

Stephanie Zacharek, The Village Voice: “Kapadia takes care not to lose sight of the human being behind the mythology. In the beginning, she was just a Jewish girl from North London, with a bawdy sense of humor and a voice that carried hints, like subtle notes of perfume, of the singers who’d come before her. In the end, she was both ravaged and radiant..”



The Sea of Trees (Gus Van Sant) – In competition

We’re excited: Isn’t it amusing that the world’s “premiere” film festival regularly boos films? I’ve found that boos from Cannes are an indicator that a film is interesting and challenging. It might not be “good”, but it’s usually worth seeing. For example: Tree of Life, Lost River, Only God Forgives.

Synopsis: It’s love and loss that lead Arthur Brennan, across the world to Japan’s Aokigahara, a mysterious dense forest known as The Sea of Trees lapping the foothills of Japan’s Mount Fuji – a place where people go to contemplate life and death. Arthur enters the depths of the forest and loses himself beyond the guiding ribbons threaded through the trees by many before him…” 

Aus release: No information as yet, but the film does have a US distributor.

What the critics are saying:

Guy Lodge, Variety: “Almost impressive in the way it shifts from dreary two-hander to so-so survival thriller to terminal-illness weepie to M. Night Shyamalan/Nicholas Sparks-level spiritual hokum..”

Adam Woodward, Little White Lies: “The Sea of Trees touts a variety of lazy stereotypes in the hope of saying something vaguely profound about how the processes of grief and guilt differ in other cultures. (Spoiler: it doesn’t.)”

Tim Grierson, Paste Magazine: “Alas, the two sides of Van Sant’s creative personality don’t mesh well in this honorable, manipulative misfire. There’s nothing wrong with sappiness, just so long as it’s done a little more smartly than this.”



Arabian Nights: Volume One, The Restless One (Miguel Gomes)  Director’s Fortnight

We’re excited: Volume One is the first in a three-part volume from Portuguese director Miguel Gomes (Tabu), which together clock in with a runtime over 6 hours. It’s playing on the big screen at the upcoming Sydney Film Festival and we’re really looking forward to being immersed in a different world. ( Note: Volume Two and Three are yet to screen in the Director’s Fortnight.)

Synopsis“In which Scheherazade tells of the restlessness that befell the country: “It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that in a sad country where people dream of mermaids and whales, unemployment spreads. Forests burn into the night despite the falling rain ; men and women long to set out to sea in the middle of Winter….”

Aus release: All three volumes are screening at the upcoming Sydney Film Festival.

What the critics are saying:

Jay Weissberg, Variety: “Widescreen lensing on 16mm gives the satisfying tactility of much of Gomes’ previous work, allowing for a richer palette in some of the tales yet maintaining a sobriety in keeping with the quasi-documentary elements. Music is a sweeping, powerfully used melange, moving from Rimsky-Korsakov to Arvo Par”

Boyd van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter: “this first part is jam-packed with ideas as it crosses back and forth between fiction and documentary, fables and real life, voice-overs and illustrative material. If anything, Nights feels like a testament to the power of stories to entertain and make one forget one’s worries as much as crystallize these worries and bring them to a bigger audience..”


Check back in at the end of the festival for our picks from the films screening in the festival’s second half.

  2 Responses to “Cannes Buzz – 4 Films to look out for”

  1. Really excited for Carol and Amy, but wow did The Sea of Trees get slammed. That really surprises me… I was looking forward to it!