Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives – Nostalgia for the Light – Carlos – A Screaming Man – Poetry – Biutiful – Aurora

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Jurors: Tim Burton (president), Alberto Barbera, Kate Beckinsale, Emmanuele Carrère, Benicio Del Toro, Alexandre Desplat, Victor Erice, Shekhar Kapur, Giovanna Mezzogiorno
 

 
Palme d'Or:Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Thailand, dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Grand Jury Prize:Of Gods and Men, France, dir. Xavier Beauvois
Jury Prize:A Screaming Man, Chad, dir. Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
Best Director:On Tour (Tournée), Mathieu Amalric
Best Actress:Certified Copy, Juliette Binoche
Best Actor:Biutiful, Javier Bardem
La nostra vita, Elio Germano
Best Screenplay:Poetry, Lee Chang-dong
Technical Grand Prize:Biutiful, Jon Taylor and Bob Beemer, sound mixers
FIPRESCI/International
    Critics Prize:
On Tour (Tournée), France, dir. Mathieu Amalric
Prize of the Ecumenical Jury:Of Gods and Men, France, dir. Xavier Beauvois
Caméra d'Or (first feature): Leap Year, Mexico, dir. Michael Rowe



Competition Films I Have Seen:
Ranked in order of preference
 
My Palme d'Or
My Joy (Ukraine/Germany, dir. Sergei Loznitsa) - Like Russian Ark dreamscape restaged as Wages of Fear-style suspenser, in mordant, purgatorial key of Romanian New Wave

Certified Copy (France/Italy/Belgium, dir. Abbas Kiarostami) - Disarmingly lived-in, even warm for a study of romantic skepticism and ambivalence; concepty, yes, but rings with truth

On Tour (Tournée) (France, dir. Mathieu Amalric) - Lifts Blowzy Troupe and Seedy Manager out of flat cliché. Vibrant, gangly, bristles with visual and sonic life.

Biutiful (Mexico/Spain, dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu) - It's a battering ram, sure, but cinematography, sound design, acting, and murky rewrite of social class are very potent

Poetry (South Korea, dir. Lee Chang-dong) - Despite precious, diffuse, and familiar passages, overall effect is poignant and eerily unnerving. Yun amazes. Bracing end.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Thailand, dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul) - Offhand return of dead sister-wife a great moment, anchors swell first half, but film grows desultory, even hollow

Another Year (UK, dir. Mike Leigh) - Dotted with contrivances and over-emphases, but pivots fascinatingly on a woman's inability to reciprocate generosity.

Fair Game (USA, dir. Doug Liman) - Gets patchy and Joe-centric at end, as I'd heard, but quite engrossing for first hour. Most solid at work-life portrait.

A Screaming Man (Chad/France/Belgium, dir. Mahamat-Saleh Haroun) - A bit blunt and lethargic, especially at outset, but gradually makes case for this approach; end has real impact

Outside the Law (France/Algeria/Belgium, dir. Rachid Bouchareb) - Probes some nervy territory and yields tense set-pieces. Stifled, though, by scripted and story-boarded conceits.

Of Gods and Men (France, dir. Xavier Beauvois) - Did you catch the part where the monks were unsure what to do yet beatifically sure? Moving tale; flat, safe film.

The Housemaid (South Korea, dir. Im Sang-soo) - Some pulpy energy and occasional smarts, but woozily over-directed, with nothing new to say. Jeon adds what she can. (full review)



Sidebar Selections I Have Seen:
Ranked in order of preference
 
Blue Valentine (Un Certain Regard: USA, dir. Derek Cianfrance) - Two-ply structure finessed for endless, vital nuances in invigoratingly acted, edited, and lensed marital autopsy.

Love Like Poison (Directors' Fortnight: France, dir. Katell Quillévéré) - Subtle, unsettling coming-of-age drama, graced by wholly plausible sense of place. One of Chicago Film Festival's best!

Nostalgia for the Light (Out of Competition: Chile, dir. Patricio Guzmán) - Even when forcing analogies a bit, a humbling blend of awe, empiricism, history, reverie, and mourning

Inside Job (Out of Competition: USA, dir. Charles Ferguson) - The feel-despondent movie of the year, detailed and lucid despite palpable fury, though a bit self-indulgently edited.

Carlos (Out of Competition: France, dir. Olivier Assayas) - Peaks and valleys in all three parts. Ramírez a trouper, Assayas still an ace stylist, but political contexts too opaque.

Le Quattro Volte (Directors' Fortnight: Italy, dir. Michelangelo Frammartino) - Great at texture and tempo, maybe a bit self-satisfied, but a sly keeper. Like the Tavianis doing Roy Andersson.

Tuesday, After Christmas (Un Certain Regard: Romania, dir. Radu Muntean) - Rare infidelity drama to afford rounded viewpoints to husband, wife, and mistress. Delectably long takes.

Leap Year (Directors' Fortnight: Mexico, dir. Michael Rowe) - This year's Caméra d'or winner elevates lurid premise, vague plot hinge with well-calibrated framing, tone, color (full review)

Heartbeats (Un Certain Regard: Canada, dir. Xavier Dolan) - Admittedly fine line between playful and hollow pastiche, but I found moods, colors, and sounds more engaging than not

The Tree (Out of Competition: Australia, dir. Julie Bertuccelli) - Survives looming, 600-ton metaphor via color, energy of frames, acute observations. Key: resist reading end as "happy."

Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (Out of Competition: UK, dir. Craig McCall) - A charming, truly legendary subject compensates for ho-hum style, softball questions.

The Myth of the American Sleepover (Critics' Week: USA, dir. David Robert Mitchell) - Melancholic understatement is film's distinguishing virtue and its key, anesthetic shortcoming.

Kaboom! (Out of Competition: USA, dir. Gregg Araki) - Same puerile nihilism, sans pulse. Wan humor and pulp-derelict production values. CK One goes Darko goes mushroom cloud.



Competition Films I'm Curious to See:
Ranked in order of interest; more on this year's lineup here (opens in a new window)
 
The Princess of Montpensier, France, dir. Bertrand Tavernier
Tender Son: The Frankenstein Project, Hungary, dir. Kornél Mundruczó

Also in Competition: Burnt by the Sun 2, Russia, dir. Nikita Mikhalkov
Chongqing Blues, China, dir. Wang Xiaoshuai
La nostra vita, Italy, dir. Daniele Luchetti
Outrage, Japan, dir. Takeshi Kitano
Route Irish, UK, dir. Ken Loach


Sidebar Films I'm Curious to See:
Listed alphabetically; more on this year's lineup here (opens in a new window)
 
Un Certain Regard: Aurora, Romania, dir. Cristi Puiu
Carancho, Argentina, dir. Pablo Trapero
Film Socialisme, Switzerland, dir. Jean-Luc Godard
Hahaha, South Korea, dir. Hong Sang-soo
I Wish I Knew, China, dir. Jia Zhangke
Life, Above All, South Africa, dir. Oliver Schmitz
October, Peru, dirs. Daniel & Diego Vega
Rebecca H. (Return to the Dogs), USA, dir. Lodge Kerrigan
The Strange Case of Angelica, Portugal, dir. Manoel de Oliveira
Udaan, India, dir. Vikramaditya Motwane
Directors' Fortnight: All Good Children, Ireland, dir. Alicia Duffy
Boxing Gym, USA, dir. Frederick Wiseman
The Invisible Eye, Argentina, dir. Diego Lerman
Shit Year, USA, dir. Cam Archer
The Silent House, Uruguay, dir. Gustavo Hernández
Two Gates of Sleep, USA, dir. Alistair Banks Griffin
We Are What We Are, Mexico, dir. Jorge Michel Grau
You All Are Captains, Spain, dir. Oliver Laxe
Critics' Week: Armadillo, Denmark, dir. Janus Metz
Copacabana, France/Belgium, dir. Marc Fitoussi
The Myth of the American Sleepover, USA, dir. David Robert Mitchell
Rubber, France, dir. Quentin Dupieux
Out of Competition: The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania, dir. Andrei Ujica
Chantrapas, Georgia/France, dir. Otar Iosseliani
Gilles Jacob: Citizen Cannes, France, dir. Serge Le Péron
Over Your Cities, Grass Will Grow, UK, dir. Sophie Fiennes

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