The six best films seen at the Cannes Film Festival

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(Photo by Carole Béthuel)

There has never been (and probably never will be) a Cannes Film Festival like the one that just ended. Being the first major festival to host an in-person festival since the pandemic hiatus in 2020 meant all eyes were on the French Rivera red carpet; the Venice Film Festival had a scaled-down affair at the end of 2020, but it pales in comparison to what we’ve seen on the Croisette. From the restrictions of the COVID-19 protocol – and those same restrictions being ignored – to the record low attendance, it all combined to give us the most stress-free year in recent memory. Those lucky enough to make it to Cannes found tickets readily available and screenings half full. Most galas – which were previously so crowded that even people with tickets were refused – there were often not enough participants to open the balcony of the Grand Lumière theater.

Yet despite all the changes, the 74th Cannes Film Festival was as it always has been, filled with exceptional characters, jaw-dropping camera work, amazing debuts, equally amazing disappointments, a bit of controversy and, above all, of the most impressive and avant-garde films in world cinema.

Trying to pull a theme from this year’s festival would be a tough business, given the varied selection. Still, we could easily discern that the festival’s programmers crafted a program suited to an audience that was trapped at home in economic uncertainty and grappling with the mental and physical injuries of 18 months battling COVID-19. This year we had narrative stories that reflected what we saw in our home communities: broken people looking for belonging, stories of isolation and regret, stories that express longing for family. and a desire for love – or, more precisely, lust. Nostalgic needle drops and narcissistic men may be the only things that rival the amount of sex we’ve seen on screen in recent days.

To put it plainly, this could have been the most exciting lineup to ever grace the French festival. Red Rocket, Bergman Island, A Tale of Love and Desire and Mothering Sunday all centered on gendered love stories. At the same time, films like Annette, Benedetta, and Palme d’Or Titanium All of the featured sex scenes will have audiences talking throughout Awards Season. But among those amorous offerings there were a handful of entries that will be big players in the ’21 -’22 awards season. Who knows? Julia Ducournau made history by becoming the second director to win the first prize at Cannes; maybe she could also grab audiences like Bong Joon-ho’s Palme d’Or and Best Picture winner Parasite done in 2019. We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, read our pick of the six best films we saw at the Cannes Film Festival.


Julia Ducournau made a strong impression with her first film Gross; the cannibalistic coming-of-age story literally left viewers swooning when it first screened. Despite these monumental debuts, the French director still managed to reach new heights with her follow-up, Titanium., a horror thriller about a sociopathic go-go dancer who masquerades as a missing child while fleeing some pretty infamous crimes. Spike Lee is probably still upset that he accidentally announced her as the Palme d’Or winner at the start of the closing ceremony, but forgive him. In truth, we felt such awe and joy seeing the movie that we eagerly await the rest of the world to experience it. We don’t want to say too much – the brilliance of Ducournau’s storytelling lies in its ability to destabilize the viewer by holding back every beat – t turn of events – but rest assured, it’s worth watching. . Consider yourself warned: it’s a dark comedy that weighs heavily on the dark. Breathtaking sex scene with a car, an orgy turned killer, and a mind-blowing opening that will leave you speechless are just a few of the things you’ll experience if you take a look at this one.


Sean Baker in Cannes

(Photo by Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images)

Before Sean Baker discovers Brooklynn Prince, the adorable star of his film The Florida project, he had already made a name for himself as an intrepid director who researched and directed individuals living on the fringes of society. While her filmography of various subjects often involved sex work, for her latest film, Red rocket, Baker chose to spotlight a male role for the first time. The decision to cast Simon Rex, the former MTV VJ and star of films like Horror Movie V and Superhero movie, might seem like a puzzle, but when you watch Rex perfectly play a pornstar turned pimp, you instantly understand what Baker saw in him. Escaping his latest disgrace on a greyhound bus, our leader returns to his hometown of Texas City, seeking to reconnect with his ex-wife and hurry enough to return to Los Angeles and its former glory. Red rocket is a compelling character study of a charismatic narcissist who continually fails to the top, and we wouldn’t be surprised if Rex’s or Baker’s storyline were popular choices during awards season.


There have been a lot of ‘train travel’ movies that have loaded the plot and the action (Murder on the Orient Express, Train to Busan, Snowpiercer), but we haven’t seen one that uses the railroad as a privacy conduit seen from Wes Anderson Unlimited Darjeeling. In Compartment n ° 6, two unlikely strangers share a train cabin on a trip to the Arctic Circle and, after initially rejecting each other’s company, discover peace and kinship. The trope “journey to find oneself” is widespread in the cinema, but Compartment n ° 6 stands out for the unlikely pairing and brilliant performances of its two protagonists, a low-level rude criminal named Vadim and Laura, a Finnish expatriate studying in Russia who has an increasingly distant partner. Variety’s Jessica Kiang wrote that it “evokes a powerful longing for a type of loneliness we don’t really have anymore, and for the type of love that was its remedy.”


Of all the movies we’ve seen The worst person in the world is maybe the under the radar pick with enough market appeal to be this year’s pick Parasite. Hilarious squeaky comedy recounting the misadventures of a morally dubious 30-year-old woman, the film is held together by an outstanding performance and all the awkward laughter of a Calm your enthusiasm episode. A legitimate threat to the best screenplay, the best foreign language, the best actress, The worst person might even land a Best Picture nomination, now that the Oscars have ruled that there will always be 10 picks in that category, and it’s still 100% fresh on the tomato meter. Todd McCarthy from Deadline wrote: “A sharp and poignant look at how the so called best years go by so fast you barely realize it, The worst person in the world is loaded with freshly observed intimate moments that make up the things of life.


The velvet metro

(Photo by © Association Française du Festival International du Film)

Whether or not you have an intimate knowledge and appreciation of the seminal 1960s rock band The velvet metro, director Todd Haynes’ documentary about them was one of the first insights into the festival’s relatively mixed first week, and you’ll likely find it fascinating. The original lineup of The Velvet Underground consisted of the singer / guitarist Lou Reed, John Cale, guitarist Sterling Morrison, and drummer Angus MacLise, who together provided the soundtrack for the 1960s counter-culture movement. The film, which traces the group’s influences and how it shaped a generation, “features in-depth interviews with key figures of the era, unreleased performances, a range of recordings, Andy Warhol films and much more to create an experience that is both instantly sensory and richly enlightening ”, according to Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV.


Wes Anderson’s latest film exploits his style and synthesizes this formula in his most powerful cinematic cocktail. The overriding sentiment of those who saw it was “The most Wes Anderson movie Wes Anderson has ever made.” With key actors from his filmography (Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody) and newcomers (Benicio Del Toro and Timothée Chalamet), The French dispatch almost immediately won most critics. A sincere love letter to these ink-stained journalists everywhere, the vignettes that make up the film engulf the audience in a world in which you can’t help but want to get lost. the high level of detail – mobile, static, graphic and typographic – that adorns the screen will relax your jaw, ”Jessica Kiang wrote for The playlist.


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