By Patrick Z. McGavin
My Cannes started this year with the cooly suggestive image of a beautiful young woman under surveillance, as captured in the viewfinder of a pair of binoculars, in French director Francois Ozon’s Young & Beautiful, and ended with probably the most famous fall in the history of cinema, that one that concludes Alfred Hitchcock’s magisterial Vertigo.
The Ozon was part of the official competition selection, the Hitchcock, preceded by a terrific introduction from Kim Novak, the concluding work of the Cannes Classics program. All told, I saw 37 films: 20 in the official competition, two in official selection, out of competition, seven in the Un Certain Regard sidebar, three in the Directors’ Fortnight and five in the Cannes Classics.
Every festival is an object lesson in frustration and thwarted ambition. I especially regret not being able to see more of the Un Certain Regard program, because I was largely impressed by what I did sample. I also heard or read about especially encouraging reports of Lav Diaz’s reportedly extraordinary 250-minute long Norte, the End of History, Rithy Panh’s prize-winner The Missing Picture, Hany Abu-Assad’s Omar, Mohammad Rasoulof’s Manuscripts Don’t Burn, Diego Quemada-Diez’s La Jaula de Oro and Hiner Saleem’s My Sweet Pepper Land.
The competition is what excites and infuriates the critics, writers and assembled press. These are the also titles most likely to dominate the art-house release schedule and also turn up at other festivals, like Telluride, Toronto and New York, in the fall. Many of the key works have already been acquired for American distribution, and new deals are still being announced.
What follows are my own rankings, if you will, with corresponding grades, of the films of this year’s competition. Let the arguments begin.
Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color (A)
Jia Zhang-ke’s A Touch of Sin (A-)
Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive (A-)
James Gray’s The Immigrant (A-)
Arnaud Desplechin’s Jimmy P. (Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian) [A-]
The Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis (A-)
Roman Polanski’s Venus in Fur (B+)
Asghar Farhadi’s The Past (B+)
Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra (B)
Alexander Payne’s Nebraska (B)
Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty (B)
Valeria Bruni Tedeschi’s A Castle in Italy (B-)
Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s Grigris (B-)
Kore-Eda Hirokazu’s Like Father, Like Son (B-)
Francois Ozon’s Young & Beautiful (C+)
Alex van Warmerdam’s Borgman (C+)
Arnaud des Pallieres’ Michael Kolhaas (C)
Amat Escalante’s Heli (C)
Takashi Miike’s Shield of Straw (C)
Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives (D)