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
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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More than 100 artists including Garth Brooks, Dierks Bentley, Kid Rock, Megadeth and Brad Paisley took to the stage in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday night (22Nov13) to honour late country legend George Jones. The date at the city's Bridgestone Arena had originally been booked by Jones to host his final show before retirement, but the gig was transformed into a memorial concert following his death in April (13) at the age of 81.
The cream of country music turned out to honour Jones at the event, billed as Playin' Possum: The Final No Show, which was opened by Big & Rich, who sang 1965 hit Love Bug while riding lawn mowers on stage. The duo's act was a reference to the late singer's infamous drunken ride to a liquor store on a lawn mower after his wife took away his car keys.
The sold-out show featured 112 artists over four hours, including George Strait, Martina McBride, Eric Church, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Atkins, Montgomery Gentry, Thompson Square, Vince Gill and duets by married stars Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, and Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.
Jamey Johnson also paired with heavy metal band Megadeth to play 1998 single Wild Irish Rose, with Dave Mustaine saying of the band's inclusion in the line-up, "Heavy metal is all about rebellion, and George was definitely a rebel."
The show was closed by Alan Jackson, who performed Jones' hit He Stopped Loving Her Today and branded him "the greatest country singer that ever was".
Country veteran Reba McEntire had been due to take part in the event, but had to withdraw due to illness, and she posted an apology to Jones' widow, Nancy, on her Twitter.com page, writing, "Lost my voice tonight at the George Jones tribute. So sorry Nancy. Sure wanted to be a part of country music history."
Country star Toby Keith has narrated a new documentary which chronicles the players and coaches of the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team as they help citizens of his hometown deal with the aftermath of a devastating tornado. The American Soldier hitmaker has added his voice to OKC Thunder: Heart of the City, which will air on TV in America on Friday night (22Nov13).
Keith's hometown of Moore, Oklahoma was ravaged by the storm earlier this year (May13), and he helped raise $2 million (£1.3 million) for the victims during a charity concert in July (13), which featured performances by Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Willie Nelson, Ronnie Dunn and Sammy Hagar.
In the new TV movie, basketball superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook visit the town to help with relief efforts and staged a training camp practice at a local high school.
Country music superstar Toby Keith had to reject 20 stars' offers to take part in his summer (13) tornado relief concert in his native Oklahoma, after becoming inundated with requests from so many big-name volunteers eager to do their part for charity. The singer/songwriter's celebrity-studded July benefit, which featured Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Willie Nelson, Ronnie Dunn and Sammy Hagar, helped raise $2 million (£1.3 million) for Oklahoma tornado victims.
And the big gig at Memorial Stadium on the campus of the University of Oklahoma was such a hit, he's convinced he could have sold it out if he staged it in Africa.
But he felt awful having to turn celebrities keen to take part away.
He tells WENN, "So many big stars came in for that, that I had to cut people off. The last 20 people who called and said they wanted to show up for it, we had to say, 'We're done'."
Country star Garth Brooks is mourning the loss of his sister, who died in Oklahoma on Saturday (02Nov13). Betsy Smittle played bass in her little brother's band and released a solo album, titled Rough Around the Edges, in 1994.
A gay rights advocate, Smittle was 60 when she passed away.
Singer Taylor Swift will already be a winner when she arrives at the Country Music Association Awards on Wednesday (06Nov13) - she has been named the recipient of the 2013 Pinnacle Award. The Love Story hitmaker becomes only the second artist to ever be presented with the honour, which recognises musicians who have made a significant impact on the industry - Garth Brooks picked up the inaugural prize in 2005.
The Nashville, Tennessee ceremony is already shaping up to be a big night for the 23 year old - she is nominated in six categories for the show, including Entertainer of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year for RED, while she will also perform at the event, alongside the likes of Vince Gill, Alison Krauss and Sam Bush.
Sir Paul McCartney's cell phone was hacked into "for years" by a private detective working on behalf of disgraced British tabloid the News of the World, a court heard on Friday (01Nov13). The Beatles legend was first targeted in 2002, as his relationship with Heather Mills progressed towards marriage, and the surveillance continued until at least 2004, a jury at London's Old Bailey was told.
Prosecution lawyer Andrew Edis QC told the court, "Paul McCartney and Heather Mills were the subject of phone hacking for years. I refer you back to the wedding ring story in 2002. (The newspaper was) still hacking (in 2004)."
The sensational allegation has come in the first week of the high-profile 'phone hacking' trial arising out of the scandal that closed the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid in 2011.
It is alleged some senior staff at the newspaper commissioned a private investigator to access cell phones of the rich and famous to listen to their voicemail messages.
Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson, and six other former Murdoch staff are on trial over the scandal.
They deny all charges. The trial continues.
Country music star Garth Brooks will bow out of his Las Vegas residency next month (Nov13) by performing for millions of fans across the U.S. in a live concert special. The singer has been playing sold-out shows at the Wynn Las Vegas resort for the past three years, but he is determined to go out with a bang and has signed a deal with bosses at America's CBS network to beam his final gig into devotees' homes on the night after Thanksgiving (29Nov13).
Brooks will pay tribute to his biggest inspirations during the two-hour event, performing classic covers of songs by George Jones, Merle Haggard, George Strait and Simon & Garfunkel, among others, and he'll be sharing the influence their music has had on his own greatest hits.
A statement released by Brooks reads: "This is the soundtrack of my life. Growing up the last of six kids, music was the life blood of our family. And as you can imagine, Mom, Dad and each kid had his or her own favorite stuff, and it all funneled down to me."
Veteran singers Kenny Rogers, Bobby Bare and the late Cowboy Jack Clement were the toast of Nashville, Tennessee on Sunday (27Oct13) as they were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Barry Gibb, Kris Kristofferson and Emmylou Harris were among the stars who gathered at the venue to salute the three honourees, with Alison Krauss, Garth Brooks and Darius Rucker joining forces to celebrate Rogers' career.
Speaking during the ceremony, Brooks hailed The Gambler hitmaker as a master, saying, "If there was an entertainer university, when it comes to Entertainer 101, I can vouch firsthand that Kenny Rogers would be the professor of that class."
The event also featured a special tribute to Clement, who learned of his Hall of Fame induction five months before he succumbed to liver cancer in August (13), aged 82. He was remembered by two trumpeters, who performed the horn intro to his classic hit Ring of Fire, which he produced for Johnny Cash.