Cert: TBC Runtime: 114 mins Director: Arnaud Desplechin Cast: Mathieu Amalric, Marion Cotillard, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Louis Garrel and Alba Rohrwacher
The opening film for the 70th Cannes Film Festival had to be French. Along with two colossal French actors hopes were high for Ismael’s Ghost. What is it about? Ismaël Vuillard (Mathieu Amalric) makes films. He is in the middle of one about Ivan (Louis Garrel), an atypical diplomat inspired by his brother. Along with Bloom, his master and father-in-law, Ismaël still mourns the death of Carlotta (Marion Cotillard), twenty years earlier. Yet he has started his life over again with Sylvia (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Sylvia is his light. Then Carlotta returns from the dead. Sylvia runs away. Ismaël rejects Carlotta. Driven mad by these ordeals, he abandons the shoot for his family home in Roubaix. There, he lives as a recluse, besieged by his ghosts.
The screenplay for Ismael’s Ghost is very choppy. What seems to be an intelligent multi-layered story highlighting the many aspects in the life of a film maker, is basically subplots going nowhere. It’s a well-acted drama, exploring the way the husband, his girlfriend and his long lost wife cope with this new situation. The viewer is offered a myriad of increasingly complicated side-stories, flash backs and dream-like sequences, culminating in a laughable scene of the tormented film maker shooting his own executive producer by accident. I have no doubt this film tries to make a point, but I’m afraid only the director knows which one. But it has stuck in my head and that makes me happy.
Cert: TBC Runtime: 107 mins Director: Thierry de Peretti Cast: Jean Michelangeli, Jean-Etienne Brat, Dominique Colombani and Paul Garatte
During the festival the premise of A Violent Life grabbbed my attention. The riots in Corsica had never crossed my path before. It seemed like a good film to watch while I was at the festival. What is it all about then? Despite the death threat hanging over his head, Stephen (Cederic Appietto) decides to return to Corsica to attend the funeral of his friend who was murdered. Stephen reminisces about the event that led him from being a student to small crime and a radical in an underground movement. See it sounds interesting right? Well it wasn’t! We were told that the film had only been completed a few days before the screening. In all honesty it did seem like it had a lot of pacing issues and it didn’t flow as well as you wanted it too. With a few genres in the film it couldn’t really decide what it was. Some times it was a crime story, then a political story then a drama it was all over the shop. The other issues laid in the casting of Jean Michelangeli, he just wasn’t a leading man at all. He didn’t have the drive nor flare to carry this film. It did require a strong lead and it wasn’t him. The characters didn’t have much of a connection either. The story had a ground but the layers above it weren’t strong enough. It was a shame, maybe if it were re-cut it could work better.
Cert: TBC Runtime: 115 mins Director: Bruno Dumont
DAB DAB DAB
Bruno Dumont a Cannes regular returned this year with yet another bizarre project. A full blown musical about the childhood of Joan of Arc. Dumont returns to his avant-garde territory. Featuring a cast of non-professional actors. So what is it all about? France 1485, midst of the 100 Years War. Jeanette looks after sheep in her village. She can’t bear to hear about the pain the English are causing. Jeanette becomes inspired and is ready to take arms for the freedom of France. By the way it’s a musical! We all know I love musicals! But Jeantte can be a bit of a bore fest at some moments. It has very entertaining moments and flows well. It could have easily been a 90 minute film, but I doubt Dumont would ever cut this film. The setting in Northern France, as per a Dumont film is stunning. The natural light really adds a charm to the film. The cast of unknowns work to some elements but as we are spectating a musical it would have been nice to had some good singer. The lyrics were utterly crazy and the heavy-metal score really ups the insaness of the film. As refreshing of a watch it was at Cannes it wasn’t for me.
Cert: 12A Runtime: 141 mins Director: Patty Jenkins Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Ewan Bremner, Said Taghmaoui, Danny Huston, Elena Anya, Lucy Davis and David Thewlis
It is our sacred duty to defend the world. And it is what I am going to do.
Wonder Woman the comic book movie we are waiting for. The original trailer made it look like a stinker, and in all honesty I had no interest. But as a lover of female lead films I was game for it. The press have adored Wonder Woman, this is rather scary since most critics hate DC Movies. Gal Gadot received a lot of hate when she was cast originally and it seems as she won people over during Batman vs Superman. She converted me in all honesty, so what is Wonder Woman about? Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana (Gal Gadot), princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers…and her true destiny.
First of all I want to applaud DC for taking a gamble with Wonder Woman. Marvel didn’t have the balls to put out a stand alone female superhero movie first. Before anyone comments I’m aware Marvel have Captain Marvel coming up, but still with so many great heroines under their belt why not do it first? This gamble works on so many levels for the DCU! Gal Gadot flourishes as Diana Prince physically, emotionally and emphatically she really takes this role by the horns! She is a very humble hero and this is what the superhero genre needs right now! The story isn’t just about her rise to the peak of her powers. It’s about the welfare of the people around her too. Patty Jenkins ensures we see the world around Diana, this really is the key element in making Wonder Woman a success. I do hope this will inspire anyone to do good and for our younger generation to have a fictitious heroine to admire.
Chris Pine works well with Gal Gadot, he isn’t the weak male I expected. Although Diana is superior to him he does show why he is necessary to the tale. Without any spoilers the BIG BAD was terrible, but this is standard in any superhero movie. The 2 hour 2o miunte run-time is crucial to the whole piece the build-up and development really does bring Diana to life. Don’t get me wrong the pacing at some segments is utterly slow, it doesn’t mean I did’t enjoy it. But scenes could have been cut, but generally these were the scenes that actually had a punch line. Once scene that grabbed me the most was when Diana takes on the German’s in No Man’s Land. For me this is when I realised that this was a special comic book movie. You’ll also realise this is a colourful DCU movie, from grey and grainy to a plethora of colour. Wonder Woman is the film that faintly made me enjoy these superhero movies again. I am glad she has a stand alone film and it’s a shame she is in the Justice League. For now I’ll just enjoy Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot’s tremendous work.
Cert: 15 Runtime: 87 mins Director: David Lowery Cast: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, Will Oldham, Sonia Acevedo, Rob Zabrecky and Liz Franke
A writer writes a novel, a songwriter writes a song, we do what we can to endure
God bless Pete’s Dragon if it wasn’t for you David Lowery wouldn’t have made A Ghost Story! Probably one of my most anticipated films for this year I have been lucky enough to watch it early. Widely loved at Sundance this year it was bound to fall into my lap. David Lowery has teamed up with Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (which I liked). A Ghost Story seemed like a natural progression from this. So what is A Ghost Story about? Recently deceased, a white-sheeted ghost (Casey Affleck) returns to his suburban home to console his bereft wife (Rooney Mara), only to find that in his spectral state, he has become unstuck in time, forced to watch passively as the life he knew and the woman he loves slowly slip away. Increasingly unmoored, the ghost embarks on a cosmic journey through memory and history, confronting life’s ineffable questions and the enormity of existence.
All hail that Pie scene, could of watched it all day. This film is everything I wanted it to be and more! Thematically it’s on point, we go through emotions and feelings that general life hits us. It shows how love and time intertwine, and how we do leave a legacy even after we are gone on our loved ones.It gripped me from beginning to end. It felt like a Victorian tale but with a darker modern twist. Lowery’s use of light is just magical, the natural aesthetic of A Ghost Story makes it even more beautiful. It’s a very basic tale but it has so much blood flowing through it’s veins. Lowery really has created something so unique and different it has re-established my faith in film-making. As for Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara they pair up well together again and give a good performance. It had a hint of Malick to it, but this is truly a David Lowery film. I really have nothing else I can say about it! It’s heartwarming and unforgettable.
Cert: TBC Runtime: 115 mins Director: Sean Baker Cast: Willem Dafoe, Brooklynn Prince, Valeria Cotto, Bria Vianaite, Christopher Rivera, Caleb Landry Jones and Maicon Blair
Welcome to a magical kingdom
Sean Baker caught the attention of the cinematic community with Tangerine , he was known as the i-Phone movie guy! But now he’s just Sean Baker. Truly if you have watched it you knew there was something special about his style and the stories he wants to tell. The Florida Project was part of the Directors Fortnight at Cannes Film Festival 2017. So what is the premise for The Florida Project? A precocious six year old and her ragtag group of friends who’s summer break is filled with childhood wonder, possibility and adventure. While the adults around them struggle with hard times. The Florida Project is probably one of the real jewels at Cannes this year. It has received nothing rave reviews and praise from anyone that has seen it. It’s a shame it wasn’t in the main competition! But the word of mouth this film has had, has given it the attention it deserves. Baker really has up’d his game here he seems to have hit his stride and I hope he can continue moving into future projects.
Florida Project is a bittersweet fairy-tale that hits home the issues of poverty. It made me aware of the issues in Orlando, Baker brings real suburban domestic American issues to the front. Considering the magic of Disney the surroundings of these Motels will make it a depressing journey. As a child you find happiness regardless of the world around you. Your sense of wonder and dreams cloud the actual issues. This is what Baker does here, we truly follow Moonee’s life and we see very little of the dark side. We as an audience interpret most of the time, we do see the real side sometimes and it’s depressing. His choice of vivid colours, shooting style and general artistry drive The Florida Project. Baker is well known for casting novices and unknowns in his films. Brooklynn Prince and Bria Vianatie are revelations here as mother and daughter. Brooklynn Prince’s character is a sweet young girl, irritating but sweet! She has great comedic timing but her dramatic side is truly electrifying.
Bria Vianatie was found on Instagram by Baker, as much as you should hate her you sympathise with her. She is a dead-beat but the lengths she goes to keep her daughter happy is humbling. As for Willem Dafe he really was the spine of the film. Probably one of his best roles in many years. He was harsh but his actions truly showed how much he cared for the community around him. His scene with Charlie Coachman was utterly eerie but it really cements the film as a powerful one. The Florida Project is made with love and it’s message and voice is so strong. From pacing, screenplay, acting, directing and cinematography….The Florida Project is one of the best films of the year. Sean Baker and his team deserved the standing ovation it received at Cannes.
Cert: TBC Runtime: 84 mins Director: Amos Giati
As part of the Director’s Fortnight West of the Jordan River is Amos Giati’s return to the occupied territories since 1992. Wadi 1981-1991 was his first piece, now we get a retrospective of if there is change in 25 years. Amos Giati is showing how regular citizens are trying to build bridges between the Israelis and Palestinians. Along with the people of the territories Giati tackles politicians, the military and activists. West of the Jordan River was an interesting retrospect, as I have not seen Wadi 1981-1991 I can’t really comment on any comparisons. One essential aspect of the film is that you will need some kind of knowledge of the issues in the territories. Giati’s interview techniques are very concise, stern and authoritative. Truly he doesn’t stick to conventional journalistic methods, he gets the answers you are wanting with no B.S. He has a very haunting look in his eyes when he interviews, it can be quite sinister. Probably this is how he gets such rigorous responses.
What is humbling about West of The Jordan River is sense of community between some Israelis and Palestinians. Some people are trying to reach out to their fellow man and live harmoniously. Surely if the people are ready for this, why can’t both sides compromise? If it was that simple I guess. It seems like the stalemate between both sides is in an eternal limbo, and bloodshed is still causing a lot of hurt between both side. Giati is really trying to show us that if the people can unify, these communities can provide a platform to peace. As positive as I sound, West of the Jordan River wasn’t for me. It grabbed my attention but it isn’t my style of documentary. What irritated most was the music, during every chapter was the same melody. It was unbearable at sometimes! West of the Jordan River was a shade to long if you ask me, a 60 minute documentary would of sufficed. But it’s message was very potent!