The films have all premiered, the awards have been handed out, and the yachts are headed back home: the Cannes Film Festival has officially come to an end, which means even those of us lucky enough to spend two weeks on the French Riviera must now head for less-idyllic shores. But just because the festival has wrapped up, that doesn't mean there aren't a few films left to catch up on, and so we've rounded up the last of Cannes' biggest and buzziest films, including the winner of the Palme d'Or, a gang movie told entirely in Ukranian sign language and Kristen Stewart's best-reviewed film role yet.
Winter Sleep This year's Palme d'Or winner was also the longest film in competition, with a runtime of just over three hours. However, its epic length didn't deter judges from heaping praise on the film, which follows retired actor and hotel owner Mr. Aydin (Haluk Biginer) as he deals with the dissolution of his marriage to Nihal (Melisa Sozen). As the slow winter season arrives, the relationship between Aydin and Nihal becomes more and more fractured as she attempts to get him to face up to the issues that have made so many people turn against him. Winter Sleep is director Nuri Bilge Ceylan's fourth win at Cannes — he has won the second place award twice, in 2002 and 2011, and took home a directing award in 2008.
"Given that the title virtually encourages viewers to nap during the proceedings, Winter Sleep is no chore to sit through. Most of its characters are complex and compelling, and the actors’ faces, craggy or lustrous, reward fascinated study. The movie indulges one frustrating narrative trope in too many Cannes contenders: the unexplained disappearance of a major figure more than halfway through the story [...]. But as austere soap opera or probing character study, Winter Sleep validates the viewer’s attention, if not its nearly 200-min. running time — make that ambling time." - Richard Corliss, TIME
"That said, the performances are strong (bar a scene between Aydin and Nihal in which Bilginer suddenly plays Aydin as so one-note patronizing and condescending toward his young wife that we just wanted to punch him) and Ceylan’s and DP Gokhan Tiryaki's way with composition and cinematography is in evidence even in the interior scenes (which are most of them), lighting faces warmly and designing shots richly, which needs to happen when almost everything takes place in shot-reverse-shot, he-says-then-she-says format. But the unpleasantness of being constantly trapped in the middle of conversations of increasing resentment and bitterness starts to take its toll less than halfway through this marathon-length film as we start to realize that just as the characters all seem defined by the overweening desire to have the last word in every discussion [...], it’s a foible of Ceylan’s too." - Jessica Kiang, The Playlist
Mommy Helmed by 25-year-old Xavier Dolan, Mommy is set in the distant future, where parents are forced to either care for their unstable children or send them to detention centers. Diane (Anne Dorval), is a single mother who is struggling to raise her violent son, Steve (Antoine Olivier Pilon) on her own. Diane eventually begins to receive help from their mysterious new neighbor, Kyla (Suzanne Clement), and together, the three of them form their own dysfunctional family. Dolan was awarded the jury prize at the festival, an award that he (the youngest director in competition) shared with Jean-Luc Godard (the oldest), for his film Goodbye to Language 3D.
"Dorval gives a force-of-nature performance as Diane “Die” Despres, a glamorously trashy middle-aged widow whose teenage son Steve suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, bouncing off the walls as he struggles to contain his explosively violent temper. Pilon is great casting for Steve, charismatic and manipulative, volatile but vulnerable. [...] Diane and Steve are both flawed characters, neither victims nor villains. Their conversations are combative and prickly, full of salty slang and occasional physical contact, with teasing hints of incestuous intimacy that the script never fully explores. Unlike Dolan's typical protagonists, these are not bourgeois bohemian hipsters but damaged blue-collar outsiders, struggling yet ever hopeful, bursting with a vitality and vulgarity that give the film its raw humor." - Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter
"It's a needlessly complicated introduction that makes the film to come sound somewhat like science fiction; Die and Steve's household, however, is believably exceptional enough to render the mitigating circumstances unnecessary. Their sparring is engrossingly abrasive, but the film risks wearing itself (not to mention its audience) out within a mere quarter-hour. Dorval and Pilon, both remarkable, are cranked up to 11 from the get-go, while Dolan's chosen aspect ratio forces cinematographer Andre Turpin into a claustrophobically repetitive routine of alternating, invasive close-ups. It's bravura filmmaking, all right, but the center cannot hold." - Guy Lodge, HitFix
The Clouds of Sils MariaOliver Assayas' bilingual Hollywood drama stars Juliette Binoche as Maria Enders, an actress entering the twilight of her career, who has signed on to star in a revival of the play that made her famous about an ambitious young girl who drives an older woman to suicide. As she spends more and more time with the Hollywood starlet (Chloe Grace Moretz) taking over her old role, Maria's life begins to crumble, and she comes to rely on her loyal assistant and only friend Valentine (Kristen Stewart). The role forces Maria to confront the person she is and used to be and reconcile with her past and the impending pressures of time.
"Maria and Val love each other and live together, but their friendship has never been on an equal footing. Passing a cigarette back and forth, they proceed to rehearse the old play to the point where it highlights and defines the running tensions between them. Val, we come to realise, is the real Sigrid in this movie. Assayas is a supple, playful and confident director whose eclectic body of work has embraced mercurial satire (Irma Vep), period drama (Sentimental Destinies) and terrorist thrills (Carlos). [...] It's a study of the artistic elite from a fully paid-up member, a story that proves a little too tolerant of the preening peacocks at the summit and too glibly dismissive of the bottom-feeders (hacks, paps and internet trolls) down below." - Xan Brooks, The Guardian
"Assayas’ screenplay deftly celebrates the act of creation and neatly demonstrates that works of art, like people, can be viewed from different angles, their true meaning unknowable. The French filmmaker also neatly dovetails the relationship of Sigrid and Helena with that of Maria and Valentine: the pair are close, at times bordering on getting too close, and their power dynamic squirms and coils as the film develops - a Maloja Snake of its own." - Matt Risley, Total Film
Leviathan A modern re-telling of the Book of Job, Leviathan tackles the corruption of Vladimir Putin's government, and deals with "some of the most important social issues of contemporary Russia." The film centers on a family who is currently locked in a bitter dispute with its corrupt mayor over the waterfront property on which its house is built. But when the patriarch of the family calls in an old friend — who is now a big-shot lawyer — to help him, he may end up making things even more difficult for himself. Written and directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev, Leviathan received rave reviews and took home the festival's prize for Best Screenplay.
"In “Leviathan,” which director Andrey Zvyagintsev has described as a loose retelling of the Book of Job, an ordinary man must wrestle with his faith not in God but in the Russian state — an epic struggle against a monster with many faces possessed of the capacity to bend the law to suit its own appetites. Resistance is futile, as they say, and yet this stunning satire’s embattled patriarch valiantly perseveres for the sake of his family, even as it crumbles around him. Debuting in competition at Cannes, this engrossing, arthouse-bound opus spans a meaty 142 minutes and unfolds with the heft of a 1,000-page novel." - Peter Debruge, Variety
"The film is really about contemporary Russia, the corruption of the current regime, exemplified by Vadim, who has a portrait of Putin on his wall [...] and of the increasingly insidious influence of the Russian Orthodox Church on the nation's leaders. Given Putin's feelings on dissent, and the partial-funding of the movie by a state body, it's a brave move, and an incredibly vital one, giving the movie a savage, fiery quality to it that continues to sear long after it's finished. And yet, it's not just political point-scoring either. There's a rich lyricism and poetry to the picture that promises more and more to unpack with every viewing." - Oliver Lyttelton, IndieWire
The Tribe Featuring a cast of deaf-mute actors, The Tribe is a teen-gang film told entirely in Ukranian sign language. The film doesn't feature any subtitles or translations, relying entirely on sign language and imagery in order to tell the story of a group of teenagers at a boarding school for the deaf who are average students by day and gangsters and prostitutes by night. Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy's ambitious project took home the top Critic's Prize awarded at the festival, as well as the France 4 Visionary Award.
"There have been countless films over the years about teenage gangs, their rites, rituals and violent codes of ethics, but Ukrainian-made and set The Tribe must surely be the first one featuring a cast entirely composed of deaf sign-language users. [...] However, the use of sign language, deafness and silence itself adds several heady new ingredients to the base material, alchemically creating something rich, strange and very original. Add in Valentyn Vasyanovych's silky smooth steadicam cinematography, sexually explicit imagery, strong critical support, and winning the top prize and two more besides in Cannes' Critics' Week sidebar (including one to assist distribution in France), and you've got a reasonably exportable item for the specialist market that doesn't even need subtitles." - Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter
In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.
Seaside celebrity enclave Malibu Colony in California has been ravaged by a fast-paced wildfire, which broke out early on Sunday morning.
The blaze has already claimed an animal hospital and landmark buildings Hodge Castle, which was reportedly once owned by Bob Dylan, and Malibu Presbyterian Church.
Locals are mourning the loss of socialite Lilly Lawrence's castle home--because it included a private museum featuring letters from Grace Kelly, Princess Diana and six U.S. presidents.
More than 500 firefighters are battling the blaze as WENN goes to press, but Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Sam Padilla admits the fire is far from under control.
Residents of Malibu Colony were evacuated to nearby Zuma Beach as the wildfire threatened their homes.
Built in the 1930s, the cluster of luxury homes that is Malibu Colony has been a favorite of celebrities over the years.
Linda Ronstadt, Larry Hagman, Jeff Bridges, Mel Brooks, Sting and Bill Murray are among the stars who reportedly own and rent homes in Malibu Colony.
In January, a smaller fire hit near the Colony area, and claimed the oceanfront home of actress Suzanne Somers.
Malibu fires in November 1993 destroyed Sean Penn and Ali MacGraw's homes and came close to claiming estates owned by Mel Gibson and Richard Gere.
Students at nearby Pepperdine University have also been evacuated from their rooms to a campus cafeteria.
The wildfire is expected to blaze throughout Sunday and Monday as hot weather and heavy Santa Ana winds marked the height of traditional wildfire season after one of the driest rain years in Southern California on record.
Arson experts have already started to investigate the cause of the fire.
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