The best reviewed, discussed and seem-to-be-great great movies of this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Prepare your watchlist to be expanded.
“Parasite” will give the creeps. Korean-style. And with Palme d’Or.
Do you remember “Snowpiercer”? One of the most criminally underrated movies of the 21st century? One that made even Chris Evans act? Or some other Korean classics – “Mystery of a Murder”? “Okja”?
Well, it was all Joon-ho Bong’s doing, and the Korean director’s back this year with “Parasite”. The film follows a middle-class family that struggles with unemployment. According to the official, rather enigmatic description, they all get creepily interested in another, but much wealthier family until an unexpected event changes the situation dramatically.
Following the success of “Burning”, directed by Chang-dong Lee, “Parasite” has started its journey by winning Palme d’Or. Some critics praised the film for its seamless transitions between dark humor and vicious, to-the-point drama narrative. It’s less flashy and eccentric than most of Bong’s previous works, but “Parasite” delivers a full-bodied taste of the Korean society’s bitterness.
“The Lighthouse” by Robert Eggers is gorgeously wicked
I am super hyped for this film and I honestly believe this might be one of the most wicked and weirdest films this year (sorry Ari Aster, you’re not alone in this field).
To freshen up your memory, Eggers is the guy who stunned everyone back in 2015 by “The Witch” – a dark tale about possession in the Middle Ages.
After a few years of silence, he came back with “The Ligthhouse”. The movie stars Willem Defoe and Robert Pattinson as two men living in the titular lighthouse, far from civilization. As Eric Kohn wrote in his review of the film, it’s a hypnotizing psychodrama, which boldly draws from Herman Melville, Stanley Kubrick and Andrei Tarkovsky. Other critics mentioned the film’s two stars, whose absolutely stunning performances beg for award season’s attention. Cannes appreciated “The Lighthouse” by awarding the film the Critics’ Award, so there’s a fair chance at continuing the ride.
“Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” is a bonafide masterpiece – according to critics
Quentin Tarantino’s story of a stuntman in Hollywood, painted on the background that featured Charles Manson’s murders and Sharon Tate, was the hottest Cannes premiere this year.
As almost every reviewer out there claimed, this is Tarantino in his best shape.
The film feels more grounded than Tarantino’s previous works and it’s clear that he’s in love with the 60s and 70s aesthetics, which he gorgeously brought to live in “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”. The two main stars – Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio – both gave stellar performances too.
Is it going to be the main Oscar frontrunner this year? It surely sounds like one of the first 2019 participants in that race.
Almodovar’s “Pain and Glory” faces death in a poignant way
Pedro Almodovar has been a darling of the Cannes audiences for years.
His newest film (which frankly had already premiered in Spain), shows a more mature and less twisted-and-cheerful side of the Spanish director.
The film’s premise is facing death in many ways – understanding the beauty of life, but also the inevitable passing of day.
Many reviews hinted to the film’s sensuous vibe, explaining that “Pain and Glory” feels very personal as if Almodovar, through art and tenderness, tries to come to terms with his own passing some day. And in the centre of that self-conscious drama stars Antonio Banderas in one of his career peaks.
There is a lot of Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty” in what I’ve read (at least that’s the feeling I get), but considering how good that film was, I rest assured that “Pain and Glory” will not be a disappointment.
Terrence Malick’s back and in form in “A Hidden Life”
A gifted storyteller. A philosopher, who loves the contemplation of nature. A man fascinated by passing, aging and transcendental meaning of life.
But also a director often called preposterously shallow, pretentious and simply boring.
Terrence Malick might be one of the most divisive director of our times, but it seems like his newest “A Hidden Life” will bring more of those in favor.
Malick travels back in time, all the way to the World War II to observe an Austrian man, who lived in a small village, was a farmer, had children and.. didn’t happen to become a legend that lived. He was just as plain as one can imagine.
As pointed in one of the reviews I’ve read, the most striking part of Malick’s “A Hidden Life” is when the director begins to question whether that simple individual’s life ever matters. In comparison with other films by the American filmmaker, this resonates with the most philosophical echo (watch out, haters of “Tree of Life” and “Thin Red Line”). It sounds like a beautiful study of life in its spiritual form.
Haitian voodoo in Cannes – “Zombi Child”
Much discussions surrounded Jim Jarmusch’ “The Dead Don’t Die”, but the film’s pre-Cannes campaign has clashed with most of the reviews creating a similar opinion – it’s far from Jarmusch’s best.
In the shadown of the grand premiere came a much smaller film where voodoo and zombies came to life too. Well, not literally, but in some way. The plot jumps between two timelines – modern France and Haiti in the 60s. The link between those two is the concept of freedom and how it is understood in these two separate worlds.
There is also the praiseworthy cinematography that’s to look forward to. The French director Bertrand Bonello blends Haitian ceremonies and high-end, posh France together, bringing a rich and praised canvas.
An Icelandic mystery shocks in “A White, White Day”
Hlynur Palmason, the director of “Winter Brothers” (a movie I truly disliked), comes back with “A White, White Day”. Why on Earth would I find this film appealing after trashing Palmason’s debut a few years back?
Well, for a few reasons. It’s a dark, brooding drama, which follows an ex-cop trying to figure out an affair of his deceased wife. As he dwells on the past, more and more facts are revealed that point to a man from a local town.
Some reviews pointed out to the quality with which Palmason paints his film by incorporating the rich Icelandic landscape. Other than that, it’s a hypnotizing study of a man, who copes with grief. It might just be the film that will provide me with warmer feelings toward Palmason.
The Oscars’ dark horse from Brazil – “Bacurau”
“Bacurau”, a western set in Brazil and directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho
has garnered some pretty great reviews too.
The film follows a group of Americans, who play a real manhunt game in the outskirts close to a small Brazilian village. The film’s a strong criticism of the political situation in Brazil, bringing multiple topics to the table. As wittingly written in this Variety review, the film would have actually been better if it allowed itself to be a bit dumber.
Nonetheless, there is a lot to look forward to. From the gorgeous shots of the Brazilian plains to the story’s in-depth political meaning. It also feels like a solid Oscar contender.
Which Cannes’ titles are you most excited to see? Leave a comment!