The Noteworthy: Cannes 2014 #1

Edited by Adam Cook

Every few days, we'll be rounding up some of the latest buzz and reviews coming from the Croisette—our favorite takes from trusted sources on the latest films to make their debut at the 67th Festival de Cannes.

"In perhaps the greatest of all movies about the lives of painters, Maurice Pialat’s Van Gogh, not a single Van Gogh painting was ever shown. Leigh doesn’t go quite as far in Mr. Turner, but his sensibility is largely the same, striving to capture the temperament of the man and his times rather than reducing them to a series of iconic images and eureka moments. Scenes of Turner scribbling in his sketchbook and slathering paint on canvas are used sparingly, and never without a clear purpose. Shooting in widescreen, the director and his regular d.p. Dick Pope strive less to re-create Turner’s canvases cinematically than to capture something of the land and light as it might have inspired him: a steam locomotive cloaking the horizon in its exhaust; boats at sea wreathed in a magic-hour glow. Whereas Leigh’s much-vaunted work with actors has often dominated the discussion around his films, Mr. Turner should leave no lingering doubts that he is every bit as masterful a visual storyteller."

  • Manohla Dargis of The New York Times has published a Critics Notebook entry on the festival's first couple days, and while Jean-Luc Godard's Adieu au langage has yet to debut, Dargis has an observation on JLG's selfie from the catalog (pictured above, via our Tumblr):

"Sure to shake up the festival is another returnee, Jean-Luc Godard, who, at 83, has two selections here, Goodbye to Language, a competition selection in 3-D, and a short that’s part of the anthology The Bridges of Sarajevo. Both films are still a mystery, but the photo of Mr. Godard in the festival’s catalog may hold some clues. It’s inscribed with the words “évite, et vite, les souvenirs brisés” (“avoid, and quickly, the broken memories”), which may be a reference to Elsa, je t’aime, a poem by the Surrealist writer and Resistance member Louis Aragon. Mr. Godard has quoted from the poem before in, among other films, Breathless, his revolutionary first feature. In that 1960 world shaker, he reads the poem’s refrain as Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg kiss while (not) watching a Budd Boetticher western:

Beveled by every kiss

The years wear down too fast

Beware, beware of this

Sad breakage of the past"

  • Abderrahmane Sissako's Timbuktu seems to be the unanimous critics' favorite so far, and Time Out New York's Keith Uhlich can be counted among those singing its praise.
  • Jordan Mintzer of The Hollywood Reporter calls Mathieu Amalric's The Blue Room "an impressive and impressionistic romantic thriller", and observes that it "takes a cue from both classic Hollywood noir and the time-shuffling narratives of the late Alain Resnais, telling a familiar story in ways that can feel compellingly new."
  • Aside from the disastrous opening film which will go unmentioned here, Atom Egoyan's The Captive is the latest film to take a severe beating. Writing for The Film Stage, Peter Labuza joins in on the takedown:

"Aggressively stupid when it’s not downright illogical, it is hard to imagine a film less deserving for a competition slot at this year’s Cannes Film Festival than Atom Egoyan’s The Captive, a subpar Law & Order episode at best. It’s not that Egoyan shows little flair for the film’s ominous locales in snowy Canada; it’s that it takes its thematic heft — addressing issues of pedophilia, vigilantism, victimization, and the Age of the Internet — as profoundly unique when they’re actually blurry ideas within a muddled plot. Egoyan has some cleverness going on — mostly when it’s not exactly clear what’s going on for a while — but it resolves itself to be resolutely generic and silly."

  • Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Winter Sleep is the first truly divisive film of the fest. Some are bowing down to the latest slow-burning work from the acclaimed director, but Guy Lodge is not among them.
  • Lastly, The Playlist's Jessica Kiang writes that Celine Sciamma's Girlhood is "a fascinatingly layered, textured film that manages to be both a lament for sweetness lost and a celebration of wisdom and identity gained, often at the very same moment. "

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