Three “Movies to Watch” from Cannes Film Festival 2013

By at May 25, 2013 | 7:23 am | Print

Any worthy movie critic could spend days writing about the myriad of cinema offerings at the Cannes Film Festival. And many do. But with the 2013 edition of Festival de Cannes coming to a close, and having followed the industry hubbbub for nearly a fortnight, I have chosen just three films that have piqued our interest and landed on my 2013 must-see list.

:: The Congress
No, it’s not a documentary about the ding-a-lings in Washington, D.C. This is Israeli Ari Folman’s follow-up to the powerful animated spectacle, Waltz with Bashir, my personal pick for the best film of 2008. It’s being called “a fascinating muddle” and possibly the “most anti-Hollywood movie ever made.”

Folman offers another overwhelmingly strong animated presence, mixed this time with a live-action introduction. The story, Folman’s take on the Stanislaw Lem novel, The Futurological Congress, focuses on an actress willing to relinquish her career — and her self — to a digital version of her own being. Folman has assembled a fantastic cast, with Robin Wright as the actress, Harvey Keitel, Paul Giamatti, Jon Hamm and Danny Huston (as head of the movie studio, bet his dad would have loved that.)

Here’s a great example of Folman’s ability to meld illustration styles in his anti-establishment epic, offering the real and the imagined. Off the top of my head, feels a little like the complexity of Richard Williams, whose animation we’ve seen in the documentary Persistence of Vision, and reminiscent of Richard Linklater’s approach to A Scanner Darkly. Can’t wait.

Scene from Ari Folman's The Congress

Scene from Ari Folman's The Congress

Robin Wright in a scene from The Congress

:: A Story of Children and Film
Think of this as a continuing chapter from writer and documentarian Mark Cousins’ mammoth musings on the history of film, as currently illustrated in his 15-part series / lesson, The Story of Film. Here, the teacher reviews his take on the existence of kids in film. Who do you wanna see, Shirley Temple, Judy Garland, Drew Barrymore? They’re here, and plenty more. As expected, Cousins covers a lot of ground, traversing the decades, the genres, the actors.

A very positive review in The Guardian questions Cousins’ naivete in presenting youth actors who appear to be in perilous situations on screen, but digs no deeper to discuss the effects of such “reality” on children. This happens to be a sticking point of mine in practically every conversation about kids on film (such as Quvenzhane Wallis’ understanding of emotion when making Beasts of the Southern Wild), so I’m curious to see not only Cousins’ potentially hands-off approach to this topic, but his entire feature.

:: The Immigrant
Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix in The ImmigrantDirector James Gray has always been intrigued with the idea of the outcast in city life (Queens, New York, to be exact) from Mark Wahlberg’s ex-con coming home in The Yards to the emotionally unstable character played by Joaquin Phoenix in Two Lovers. The Immigrant is Gray’s historical epic about the classic American outcast, the hopeful immigrant just off the boat (literally) in the early 20th century. Word is that Marion Cotillard as Ewa, the troubled, titular young woman is spectacular, with Phoenix as the heavy and Jeremy Renner as the charmer who could be Ewa’s salvation. I’ve seen reviews mention the film being flawed — personally, I think the beauty of James Gray’s movies is that they’re all flawed, they have skips and stutters and grandiose emotion just like their characters, that when his films stumble it’s because he’s taking risks and reaching for something deeper.

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