May 262015


The Festival de Cannes has finished for another year, with films the second half of the festival receiving reactions from “An intensely compelling work” to, “sharp and heavy-handed”.

We haven’t included it in the list, but obviously the Palme d’Or winner Dheepan is a film to seek out. If a jury led by the Coens gave it the top prize, it’s probably special. Aus film fans will be pleased to know that Transmission Films have already picked it up for Aus distribution.

After the jump, check out the five films we are the most excited to see from the second half of the fest.

Macbeth (Justin Kurzel)

We’re excited: Cotillard. Fasssbender. Shakespeare. Kurzel. What in the heck is there not to be excited about?

SynopsisThe story of a fearless warrior and inspiring leader brought low by ambition and desire. A thrilling interpretation of the dramatic realities of the times and a truthful reimagining of what wartime must have really been like for one of Shakespeare’s most famous and compelling characters, a story of all-consuming passion and ambition set in war-torn 11th Century Scotland.

Aus Release: Date TBC – Transmission Films have this for distribution in Aus.

What the critics are saying:

Guy Lodge, Variety: “Fearsomely visceral and impeccably performed, it’s a brisk, bracing update, even as it remains exquisitely in period. Though the Bard’s words are handled with care by an ideal ensemble, fronted by Michael Fassbender and a boldly cast Marion Cotillard”

Screen Daily: “an overpowering visual aesthetic which pays fulsome tribute to both Kurosawa’s Ran and Nicholas Winding Refn’s Valhalla Rising”

Robbie Collins, The Telegraph: “The tragedy of Macbeth feels as vital and visceral here as it did in the hands of Roman Polanski and Akira Kurosawa, whose previous retellings are as good as Shakespeare on film gets. Kurzel’s version stands respectably beside them…”


Nahid (Ida Panahandeh)

We’re excited: Iranian female artists are few and far between on the world stage, so when once makes a film worth of the ‘Promising Future Prize’ in the Un Certain Regard section, it’s something to get very excited about.

Synopsis: “A young divorcee living with her son in a small northern city of Iran, wants to marry the man she has fallen in love with. According to the current rules, the father has the custody of children; however, her ex-husband has granted her that right on the condition that she doesn’t remarry. Struggling to keep both of her beloved ones, she has to think about the third option: Temporary Marriage (Sighe).”

Aus Release:  Nothing at this stage

What the critics are saying:

Jordan Minzter, The Hollywood Reporter: “The marginal characters and seaside setting are far from the middle-class Tehran of A Separation, and while Nahid does not build toward the same devastating conclusion, it offers a glimpse into a place that’s equally ridden with angst and forlornness.”

Nina Hudson, The Upcoming: “the viewer is drawn by Bayat’s captivating performance and quickly becomes invested in her character’s pursuit of a better life, coming to admire her resourcefulness and perseverance.”


Sicario (Denis Villeneuve)

We’re excited: Uh, have you seen any other Villeneuve films? With Sicario Villeneuve re-teams with cinematographer extraordinaire Roger Deakins, the pair who brought us the hauntingly beautiful Prisoners. That’s enough reason to be excited, but then Villeneuve throws Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin,  Benicio Del Toro and composer Jóhann Jóhannson in the mix. Get in my eyeballs now!

SynopsisIn Mexico, SICARIO means hitman. In the lawless border area stretching between the U.S. and Mexico, an idealistic FBI agent [Emily Blunt] is enlisted by an elite government task force official [Josh Brolin] to aid in the escalating war against drugs. Led by an enigmatic consultant with a questionable past [Benicio Del Toro], the team sets out on a clandestine journey forcing Kate to question everything that she believes in order to survive.

Aus release: Roadshow have this for a September 17 release.

What the critics are saying:

Wendy Ide, The Times“Emily Blunt stars as a tough-as-nails FBI operative in a film that plays out like a French Connection for the drone generation. Blunt is impressive as Kate, the moral compass of a story about people who long ago lost sight of right and wrong in the quest for results.”

James Latimer, Slant Magazine: “The one saving grace of Sicario is the considerable talent of cinematographer Roger Deakins, who continually finds new, striking images to couch all the action in.”

Jordan Hoffman, Mashable: “This Emily Blunt-led US-Mexico manhunt picture, coming on the heels of his twin Gyllenhaal projects Prisoners and Enemy, is something of a stylistic blend of those two works. At its root, it is a straightforward white hat/black hat film. But the tone is what makes it new — icy and strange, creating a tension that most tracker movies never achieve.”  

The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien)

We’re excited:  Hou Hsiao-hsien makes beautiful films. Films that you could break down to single frames and not find a dowdy looking shot among them. His films are calculated, meticulous and powerful.

Synopsis“9th century China. 10-year-old general’s daughter Nie Yinniang is abducted by a nun who initiates her into the martial arts, transforming her into an exceptional assassin charged with eliminating cruel and corrupt local governors.  After 13 years of exile, the young woman must confront her parents, her memories and her long-repressed feelings..”

Aus release: Date TBC. Vendetta Films have this one for Aus/NZ.

What the critics are saying:

Jessica Kiang, The Playlist: “There are miracles in these shots, things that looks like the most serendipitous happenstance, but even over the course of five years of on-and-off shooting, no one gets that lucky that often. So, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, did you direct the clouds?”

Tim Grierson, Paste Magazine: “a martial arts movie that willfully withholds and subverts the primary pleasures of the genre to get at something more beautiful, mysterious and timeless. One doesn’t watch The Assassin so much as fall under its sway.”

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian: “there is no doubt that The Assassin – Hou’s first feature for eight years – is a movie of great intelligence and aesthetic refinement; there is majesty and mystery in this film, particularly in the visually remarkable final minutes..”


Journey to the Shore (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)

We’re excited: We like the director’s previous films and he picked up best director in the Un Certain Regard section for this one. It also seems like a much gentler film than his usual work. However, it did receive very mixed reviews at the fest.

SynopsisMizuki’s husband (Yusuke) drowned at sea three years ago. When he suddenly comes back home, she is not that surprised. Instead, Mizuki is wondering what took him so long. She agrees to let Yusuke take her on a journey.

Aus release: Nothing as yet

What the critics are saying:

 Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The AV Club: “Kurosawa goes for creepy and jagged, slipping in bits of gentle humor, and getting a lot of mileage out of the old trick of panning back to reveal a character who wasn’t there before.”

Derek Elley, Film Business Asia“The strength and emotional power of Journey derives from its simplicity, and the film is at its best when performances and technical contributions underline that.”

Maggie Lee, Variety “Fans of Kurosawa’s earlier psycho-thrillers may desire more eeriness and visual panache, but those who’ve accepted the helmer’s conscious change of tune and pace should be gently touched.”:

  2 Responses to “Cannes Buzz Part 2 – 5 Films to look out for”

  1. So excited for all of these. Can’t wait for Macbeth!

    • Macbeth as a distributor in Aus and has a local director, so I’m crossing my fingers that it will be a late edition to our film fest, which starts next week.

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