The Playlist

Cannes Review: Bruno Dumont's 'Hors Satan' Is Devilishly Dull

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 16, 2011 6:25 AM
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  • 11 Comments
Two-time Cannes Jury Prize winner Bruno Dumont ("Flanders," "L'humanité") returned to Cannes today with his latest head scratcher, "Hors Satan." If Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" was a bold exploration into human nature and the search in the universe for God, "Hors Satan" is the dumb, clumsy cousin to that film. Of course, interpretation is everything, but reading between the long static shots, minimal dialogue and brief bursts of "action," Dumont seems to posit that sometimes evil/violence is a necessary corrective in a world where good and evil unfold at will, without anyone holding the scales that keep them balanced.

Cannes Review: 'L'Apollonide' A Preposterous, Misguided, Sensationalist Bore About Prostitution

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 16, 2011 2:02 AM
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  • 6 Comments
They say prostitution is the world's oldest profession and if that's true, then the discussion about legalizing it has been around just as long. Certainly the argument for doing so is not a bad one, and if done properly, it would create a safer environment for the women in the trade and their clients alike. For director Bertrand Bonello, "L'Apollonide" serves as his thesis on why prostitution needs to be legal but in championing the women he presumably made the movie for in such a woefully misguided, preposterous and exploitative piece of filmmaking, he undermines any point he's trying to make. Add to that a director who substitutes style for substance and you have one of the most tedious experiences so far on the Croisette this week.

Cannes Review: 'The Snow Of Kilimanjaro' Flirts With Big Ideas, But Lands On Easy Answers

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 15, 2011 10:03 AM
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  • 0 Comments
In Robert Guédiguian's "The Snows Of Kilimanjaro" shot in the beautiful town of Esthaqe deeper problems are roiling underneath the sunkissed sky. After thirty years, Michel (Jean-Pierre Daroussin), along with a number of other workers, has lost his job on the docks where he was one of the toppers. Essentially forced into early retirement, Michel mostly keeps a strong front, spending more time with his grandchildren and tackling projects he's always said he was going to do but never did. But he's also got his lovely wife Marie-Claire (Ariane Ascardie) at his side, and as it turns out, they've got an anniversary coming up. Gathering all their friends together -- including some of Michel's former coworkers, some of whom were also laid off -- they celebrate and are surprised with a gift of money and tickets from everyone for an African Safari. Despite the brief bump in the road, life seems very, very good.

Cannes Review: 'The Artist' A Joyous, Big Hearted Tribute To Old School Moviemaking

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 15, 2011 8:23 AM
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  • 2 Comments
When The Weinstein Company announced last week just before the kick off the Cannes Film Festival that they had picked up Michel Hazanavicius' "The Artist" it was certainly a surprise. Harvey and Bob laid down big bucks for a film that, in this age of CGI and 3D blockbuster pictures, seems like box office poison. A silent film, in black and white, led by two French stars that are virtually unknown in the United States, it doesn't seem like the kind of movie that, outside of arthouse buffs, would catch on with a broader audience. But, the Weinstein instincts were right on as screening this morning for critics, not only did "The Artist" play like gangbusters to critics who applauded the film at various points during the film but more importantly, Hazanavicius' film is a pure joy. Wildly entertaining, with a big generous heart, "The Artist" is not just an exercise in old school filmmaking, it's a beautifully told story that is classic and timeless in feel.

Review: ‘Priest’ Is A Spot-the-Cliché Mishmash of Well-Worn Sci-fi Staples

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • May 15, 2011 5:55 AM
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  • 4 Comments
In the stark, humorless world of “Priest,” directed by former visual effects dude Scott Stewart and based on a popular Korean comic book by Min-Woo Hyung, violent fights break out almost all the time. Stewart, who also helmed last year’s tedious “Terminator” rip-off “Legion,” films these fights with sub-“Matrix” flourishes of extreme slow-motion or exaggerated physical performances by the actors (chief among them Paul Bettany). But the most violent clash in “Priest” is probably the way in which a long litany of science fiction and horror clichés rattle and clang against one another; it’s not a movie, it’s a checklist.

Cannes Review: 'The Kid With The Bike' Rides Into Trouble, Crashes Into A Savior

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 14, 2011 8:04 AM
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  • 1 Comment
All the books on parenting notwithstanding, it's always been pretty simple: kids not only want love, they need it. And in the latest from Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne that need is amplified into a mellifluous tone of desperation encapsulated in little Cyril (Thomas Doret) the titular 'kid with a bike.' When the film opens Cyril literally can't believe what he's hearing: left by his father in a children's home (it's hinted that his mother is dead), he calls the number he has for his Dad, only to hear that the line is no longer in service. He's told that his father has moved without leaving a forwarding address and, unconvinced, he leaves school one morning to go there himself where he not only finds an empty apartment but learns that his bike is gone as well. With the school counselors on his tail he ducks into a doctor's office and literally crashes into Samantha (Cecile de France, most recently seen by American audiences in Clint Eastwood's "Hereafter") and hangs on to her. Surprised, but not fazed, the first words she says to him are, "You can hold me, but not too tight."

Cannes Review: 'Wu Xia' Mostly A Period Melodrama Punched Up By A Few Fights

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 14, 2011 5:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The Weinstein Company has been on an acquisitions tear at the Cannes Film Festival this year and one of their pick ups, the Midnight Movie selection "Wu Xia," certainly reflects the kind of film that interested Harvey and Bob even back in their Miramax days. A genre film with an impressive pedigreed talent and sold on Donnie Yen kicking ass, "Wu Xia" seems ready made to be a niche hit. But with only three fights -- at the beginning, in the middle and at the end -- the film stretches into a far-too-long two-hour running time to tell an ultimately tired story about a man looking to reform himself and has to reckon with his past first.

Cannes Review: 'Miss Bala' A Visceral, Layered Look At The Mexican War On Drugs

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 14, 2011 3:23 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Cinema, television and even the music world have always had a somewhat romantic notion of the drug trade. Guys like Scarface and Omar from "The Wire" are seen as badasses making their way, while hip-hop has a whole sub-genre dedicated to raps about slinging crack. And while in our homes and on our iPods it may seem far away or even harmless, in Mexico, they are in the midst of a very real war. The statistics are staggering -- 36,000 dead from 2006-2011 including women and children -- and the economics moreso. $25-40 billion is generated by drugs alone; the crime lords definitely have a vested (and violent) interest in keeping their business going. But unlike movies, music and TV, in the real world, no one just decides one day they are going to get in the game -- sometimes you just end up there. And as we learn from "Miss Bala," once you're in, getting out is nearly impossible.

Review: 'Pirates of the Caribbean 4' Is a Soggy Sea Chanty That Seems Awfully Familiar

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • May 13, 2011 11:48 AM
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  • 19 Comments
Executive producers of television series talk about needing to do a "bottle episode," usually about a third of the way through the season when they've unnecessarily overspent on the earlier episodes and need to save up so that the finale can go out with a bang. In a lot of ways "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (yes, that's the actual title) feels like a "bottle episode" in the franchise, one in which the scale is cut back tremendously, extraneous mythology shaved away, with the lavish direction of the original trilogy (by Gore Verbinski, who helmed one of this year's very best movies, "Rango") replaced with someone whose vision is, if not entirely lacking, somewhat more made-for-TV.

Cannes Review: Gus Van Sant's 'Restless' Is An Endless Number Of Quirks Searching For A Movie

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 13, 2011 11:00 AM
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  • 6 Comments
Easily the first hard flop of the Cannes Film Festival, the warning signs were there but perhaps we didn't pay them much mind. If everything had gone according to the original plan, "Restless" would have already come and gone in theaters and never hit the Croisette. And that probably would have been the better for everyone involved. Instead, a rightfully nervous Sony scuttled a planned January release and shuffled the film over to their indie division Sony Pictures Classics to handle. Kudos for them for getting the film into the opening slot of the Un Certain Regard section of the festival, because after seeing it, that must have been nothing short of a coup.

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