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CANNES 2013: Images, Part 1

Festivals
by Glenn Heath Jr.
May 18, 2013 7:39 PM
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Thick grey clouds paint the coastal horizon, and rain keeps falling. Massive yachts bob up and down in the choppy water while scattering festival attendees take cover under umbrella canopies. Usually a sun-dipped wide shot of blue skies and vibrant colors, Cannes in 2013 has instead been dominated by a blurry and blustery Tarr-esque vision of enraged weather. Throw in an endless supply of cinema, and naturally, it’s hard not to have images on the mind. Here are a few of my favorite snapshots from films screening early in the festival, with added analysis.

Heli (dir. Amat Escalante): A tale of Mexican manhood broken, singed, and reborn through violence. In the middle of act two, the titular character, now embroiled in a terrifying drug deal gone bad, stands stoically poised for battle against a massive black military truck mounted with a machine gun. The vehicle’s hood practically touches Heli’s chin, as if war machine and man were debating between dance, embrace, or death.  

The Past (dir. Asghar Farhadi): Nobody does emotional collision better than Farhadi. Script, performance, and mise-en-scene work in perfect harmony despite one too many narrative wrinkles. Glass boundaries sprout up during moments where communication is essential. The opening sequence finds Marie (Berenice Bejo) trying to get the attention of her estranged husband, Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) as he departs the airport security check. Separated by a thick windowpane, the two speak even though they cannot hear each other, momentarily pausing before joining together on the other side.

Like Father, Like Son (dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda): Tender, patient, and sincere, traits best represented in a single shot of a two hands (father and son) playing the piano together. This lovely melodrama about parental wisdom and arrogance proves that time shared will always be thicker than blood. 

The Bling Ring (dir. Sofia Coppola): Celebrities are no longer physically necessary. All we need to get high on glam is to touch and possess their stuff. The best thing about Coppola’s ultimately tiresome pop culture social study is one amazing shot of the young burglars spryly romping across the frame atop a dark hill flanked by the Los Angeles skyline in the background. This is where the vapid wild things are and forever will be.

Jimmy P (dir. Arnaud Desplechin): Middling and flaccid, with very few aesthetic flourishes. But there is a drop-dead gorgeous dreamy pastoral of Benicio del Toro’s Jimmy P standing in a bed of tall flowers looking up at the blinding sun. For a moment, this mostly talky tale of friendships, traumas, and goodbyes expresses itself in a beautifully visual way.

The Selfish Giant (dir. Clio Barnard): British miserablism, the pre-teen years. If you’ve seen Loach’s Sweet Sixteen, Ramsay’s Ratcatcher, or any Shane Meadows joint, this thing feels stale and reductive by comparison. None of the aesthetic flair Barnard showed in her great debut, The Arbor, is on display, replaced by a dour monochromatic haze. Still, the final act provides a harrowing image of two hands holding, one white and fresh with life and the other one charred to a crisp black.

More images to come...


Glenn Heath Jr. is a film critic for Slant Magazine, Not Coming to a Theater Near You, The L Magazine, and The House Next Door. Glenn is also a full-time Lecturer of Film Studies at Platt College and National University in San Diego, CA.

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