Thursday, May 30, 2013

Final Thoughts on Cannes 2013

This is coming several days too late - most of us have moved on from Cannes after it came to a close on Sunday, announcing the awards. This year, there was, of course, the major Palme d'Or surprise, but having not personally been there, here's just a few concluding thoughts on the awards and other news that came out of the French Riviera this year.

- Let's talk about Palme d'Or first. I'm impressed that French/Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche's nearly-three-hour-long romantic drama Blue is the Warmest Colour, about a young girl's sexual awakening with the help of an older woman, managed to pick up the prize. Yes, it was the most-talked-about (in a good way) film outside of (considerably more divisive) Inside Llweyn Davis, but based on what I had read from the festival I had Paolo Sorrentino's La Grande Bellezza winning the prize: it seemed likely to appeal to competition jury president Steven Spielberg, who hasn't been shy about his influence by Italian neorealism. What's more stunning, though, is the decision to give the festival's top prize to not only Kechiche, but also to the film's two stars, Adele Exarchopolous and Lea Seydoux, rather than bestowing the Actress prize to them. I think it speaks to how essential they are to the film's success, and I'm personally looking forward to seeing it.

- Well, if we get to see it here in America. I do wonder, given how much has been made about the lengthy and explicit sex scenes in the film, what Blue is the Warmest Colour will look like if/when it makes its way into American theaters. I suspect it will need to be cut down to meet the prudish standards of the MPAA, or it'll run as an NC-17 or unrated film that will only make it into a few theaters. Either way, I'll most likely have to wait for Criterion to release it on DVD/Blu-Ray before I get a chance to see it here in North Carolina.

- One last note on Blue is the Warmest Colour: don't expect it to show up at the Oscars this year. For one, I highly doubt it's domestic release will occur in the calendar year. Also, France is much more likely to submit any number of films for Oscar contention before this one - my bet's on Asghar Farhadi's The Past. It has nothing to do with the quality of the film, but more with the controversial subject matter that'll likely turn off Oscar voters. So don't expect it to continue the two-year trend of Palme d'Or winners becoming Best Picture nominees.

- Mexico's having a good run at Cannes lately: Amat Escalante (Heli) took home the directing prize, following fellow countryman Carlos Reygadas' (Post Tenebras Lux) win in the category last year. The film itself, though, received mostly decent, if not spectacular, reviews.

- The most surprising non-Palme d'Or win, to me, was Bruce Dern's Best Actor win for Nebraska. Of all the winners, his seems to be the most likely to translate to Oscar success, so it'll be interesting to see how it works out (fun fact: three of the last five winners of this prize went on to receive Oscar nominations, with two - Christoph Waltz and Jean Dujardin - adding Oscars to their Cannes prizes).

- Let's talk about Only God Forgives being booed. I never take reports of booing at a film festival as an indicator of a film's quality. For one, it's rude, and often the result of crowd mentality taking over for critical insight. But also because a festival audience - especially at a festival as internationally diverse as Cannes - is not the same as a domestic audience for any given nation; there's no way to tell how a film will be received by general audiences (and critics who couldn't attend the festival) until it plays before said audiences. So I wouldn't start decrying the fall from grace of director Nicolas Winding Refn; having not seen it, I can't judge it, and avoiding the festival-heightened hysterics would be wise.

- For the first time, I've seen a Cannes film around the time of the festival! Of course, it's only because Behind the Candelabra was - according to director Steven Soderbergh - "too gay" to be released in theaters, and therefore debuted on HBO, but hey, I felt like I was a part of the action for once.

Okay, so it was mostly thoughts on a single film that I haven't seen. But I'm curious: what were your thoughts on this year's festival?

1 comment:

Antonio Cuesta said...

Great job. My most anticipated movie of the festival is A TOUCH OF SIN.