Darkest Hour stands apart from more routine historical dramas.
20 years after it debuted at Cannes, a 4K restoration of the director's cut of "La Reine Margot" finally makes its way to the United States.
Power is rarely discussed at Cannes, and it’s ostensibly all about art, although careers can hang on critics’ approval, and whether films are sold here, and to how many regions of the world. The annual jury press conference on the opening day is the first and foremost love-fest in which the concept of competition is downplayed and jurors find novel ways to sidestep the question of comparing one film to another in order to award the Palme d’Or in ten days.
Last week Slate ran a story about the "Hollywood Career-o-Matic," which claimed to use data from Rotten Tomatoes to chart the trajectories of Hollywood careers. Interactive feature: Just enter the name of an actor or director and it will instantly generate a graph showing that person's critical ups and downs.
For example, here's one for M. Night Shyamalan, with each dot representing the Tomatometer score for the features he has directed:
Slate concludes that, according to Rotten Tomatoes data, the Best Actor in movies is Daniel Auteuil, with John Ratzenberger the best American actor, since he's voiced a character in every Pixar movie. Best Actress: Arsinée Khanjian. Worst Actress: Jennifer Love Hewitt. Best Director: Mike Leigh. Worst Director: Dennis Dugan (veteran of Adam Sandler movies such as "Happy Gilmore," "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry," "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" and "Grown Ups").
Yes, this is all so silly that the mind boggles, but let's start with the premise itself: What is the correlation between reviews and careers in Hollywood? Adam Sandler and Michael Bay wouldn't look much more impressive than Shyamalan if you looked only at reviews. And the Slate piece is riddled with misconceptions about the Tomatometer:
"It's important to always try to tell a story in a way where there are several credible possible explanations. Explanations that can be totally contradictory!"-- Michael Haneke
(This is a follow-up to a previous post: What is hidden in Caché?)
Andrew O'Hehir at Salon.com asks Michael Haneke about the surface mysteries -- the MacGuffins, as I like to think of them -- in "Caché" and "The White Ribbon":
AO: You spoke earlier about using the black-and-white photography and the narration as a distancing mechanism, a way to remind the viewer that the film is an artifact. There's another sense in which you are challenging the audience. As you did in "Caché," you lead us part of the way toward a solution of the central mystery: Who is committing these violent acts, and why? And then you seem to suggest that solving the mystery is not actually important.
MH: Those are the least important questions. In my previous film, "Caché," the question of who sent the videotapes isn't important at all. What's important is the sense of guilt felt by the character played by Daniel Auteuil in the film. But these superficial questions are the glue that holds the spectator in place, and they allow me to raise underlying questions that they have to grapple with. It's relatively unimportant who sent the tapes, but by engaging with that the viewer must engage questions that are far less banal.
What if there's not an answer? What if Michael Haneke's "Cache" is a puzzle with only flawed solutions? What if life is like that? What if that makes it a better film? I imagine many viewers will be asking such questions in a few years, now that Martin Scorsese has optioned it for an American version. We can ask them now.
There's only one way to discuss such matters, and that's by going into detail about the film itself. I hesitate to employ the hackneyed word "spoiler" here, because no one in his right mind should read this without experiencing the film. I won't even bother with a plot synopsis. You've seen it.
The mystery, of course, involves the identity of the person or persons sending the videos which disrupt the bourgeois routine of a Parisian family. The interim solution by many viewers seems to be that Pierrot, the evasive and distant son, is their source. This despite the fact that the movie also places suspicion on Majid, the childhood victim of Georges, and on Majid's own son.
MSN's Dave McCoy writes:
Saying that we've come up with the 12 best films of the decade is pretty hilarious when you get right down to it. You can't take the thousands of films released in the past 10 years and say, "Yes, these by far represent the greatest cinema had to offer!" Hell, if you quizzed the 12 of us right now, we'd probably give you completely different lists than the ones we delivered in early December 2009. But, you can't say it isn't fun, right?
This reminds me: How the hell did I manage to omit Laurent Cantet's 2001 "Time Out"? You can find the aggregate ballot results here, individual contributors' lists here.
After the jump: The composite list, my list, and my capsule appreciation of "Caché":
CANNES, France — Tommy Lee Jones walked away from the 58th Cannes Film Festival here Saturday night as a double winner, after his film “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” won him the award as best actor, and the screenplay by Guillermo Arriaga also was honored. The movie stars Jones as a Texas cowboy who kidnaps the border patrolman (Barry Pepper) who has murdered his Mexican friend and forces him on a long journey to rebury the corpse in the man's hometown.
CANNES, France -- Regulars are beginning to murmur cautiously that this may be one of the best Cannes Film Festivals in recent years. Even Lars von Trier's sequel to "Dogville" is a success. One strong film has followed another, and every day the buzz about possible festival winners gets revised.
The Festival International du Film, held annually in Cannes, France, has become the world's most prestigious film festival—the spot on the beach where the newest films from the world's top directors compete for both publicity and awards.
Ebert's Best Film Lists 1967 - present
She sits on the balcony outside a hotel suite at the Cannes Film Festival and smokes a cigarette and looks very serious. I have met a lot of French actresses, and two things they are very good at is smoking cigarettes and looking serious. Not many of them look this good while they are doing it.