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)
My Jury Votes:
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.
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
Sidebar Films I'm Curious to See:
Listed alphabetically; more on this year's lineup here (opens in a new window)