Waltz with Bashir – Gomorrah – Johnny Mad Dog – The Headless Woman – 24 City – Che – Hunger

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Jurors: Sean Penn (president), Jeanne Balibar, Rachid Bouchareb, Sergio Castellitto, Alfonso Cuarón, Alexandra Maria Lara, Natalie Portman, Marjane Satrapi, Apichatpong Weerasethakul
 

 
Palme d'Or:The Class (Entre les murs), France, dir. Laurent Cantet
Grand Jury Prize:Gomorrah, Italy, dir. Matteo Garrone
Jury Prize:Il Divo, Italy, dir. Paolo Sorrentino
Best Director:Three Monkeys, Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Best Actress:Linha de Passe, Sandra Corveloni
Best Actor:Che, Benicio Del Toro
Best Screenplay:Lorna's Silence, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
61st Cannes Festival Prizes
    for Body of Work:
Catherine Deneuve (A Christmas Tale)
Clint Eastwood (Changeling)
Technical Grand Prize:Il Divo, Luca Bigazzi, cinematographer
Il Divo, Angelo Raguseo, sound mixer
FIPRESCI/International
    Critics Prize:
Delta, Hungary, dir. Kornél Mundruczó
Prize of the Ecumenical Jury:Adoration, Canada, dir. Atom Egoyan
Camera d'Or (first feature): Hunger, UK, dir. Steve McQueen



Competition Films I Have Seen:
Ranked in order of preference
 
My Palme d'Or:
Synecdoche, New York (USA, dir. Charlie Kaufman) - Should feel relentless, a moraine of phlegmatic despondency; sometimes it does, but wit, ambition, density, sincerity render it sublime (full review)

Lorna's Silence (Belgium, dirs. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne) - Have awaited a Dardennes film that grew allegory out of organic story, rather than vice versa; here it is, a beauty! Iffy ending, though

The Class (Entre les murs) (France, dir. Laurent Cantet) - Last act too busily plotted, yet still feels empty; you only notice because first 80% astonishes with detail, insight, vivid ambivalence

A Christmas Tale (France, dir. Arnaud Desplechin) - For about first hour, I was rapt, thinking no one blends the filmic and the novelistic like this; it plateaued, but I still savored it

Gomorrah (Italy, dir. Matteo Garrone) - Takes a while to fire up, and Garrone is hardly a born image-maker, but quite a bit lingers, especially broad sense of malignant congestion

The Headless Woman (Argentina, dir. Lucrecia Martel) - Martel's framing and ellipticism are as nervy as ever, though she seems too much to be "doing Martel"; film still merits its stalwart champs

Waltz with Bashir (Israel, dir. Ari Folman) - Film amasses real impact, though final move wasn't to my taste; less opaque, thick-lined animation might have made sense, but it still lands (full review)

Che (USA, dir. Steven Soderbergh) - I appreciated slantwise approach to Che's ascendancy and oddly mundane collapse, but clearly too long, with so-so lensing, uncertain insight

Serbis (Philippines, dir. Brillante Mendoza) - Evocative, subtly dramedic snapshot of humid family jealousies, enmities, desires, and inertias. Low-key but well-assembled.

Three Monkeys (Turkey, dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan) - We've seen slate-gray skies and sweaty brows before, and eerie ghost thread just dangles, but huzzah to Ceylan's newfound sense of humor (full review)

Il Divo (Italy, dir. Paolo Sorrentino) - Memorable for its visual and aural flamboyance but the splashy accents, however wittingly, undercut any pretense of depth.

Adoration (Canada, dir. Atom Egoyan) - Only Khanjian and Egoyan could devise this morosely insane drama teacher, a ripe if dubious conceit against which rest of film pales (capsule review)

Blindness (Brazil/USA, dir. Fernando Meirelles) - Doesn't wrong the book so much as seems wholly superfluous; vague sense of local idiom but story still works; Moore quietly strong

Delta (Hungary, dir. Kornél Mundruczó) - Artfully lensed, with some creeping power, but too many moves swiped from Festival Handbook of Slow-Build Morbidity (full review)

Two Lovers (USA, dir. James Gray) - Opening scene is most formally arresting and most poignant; film is okay, but Nice Brunette/Crazy Shiksa setup seems awfully ...old (capsule review)

Changeling (USA, dir. Clint Eastwood) - Harshest detractors undersell its better moments, but much worse when Eastwood devotees give pass to uneven acting, design, and story (full review)



Sidebar Selections I Have Seen:
Ranked in order of preference
 
Hunger (Un Certain Regard: UK, dir. Steve McQueen) - Should more visual artists try narrative cinema? Do they all see this compellingly? Wobbly end, show-offy pas-de-deux, but rest all thrills

Johnny Mad Dog (Un Certain Regard: France/Belgium/Liberia, dir. Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire) - Yes, it risks sensation, but only a fraction as much as City of God did, and this one's scarier, weirder, and more tautly assembled

Wendy and Lucy (Un Certain Regard: USA, dir. Kelly Reichardt) - There's artful minimalism, and there's flannel copy of same; ratio here about two to one, though my uneasiness with Williams persists

Of Time and the City (Special Screening: UK, dir. Terence Davies) - Some of the footage entrances, but match of image to narration often slim; why bother with modern day if it makes him so flatly cranky?

Tyson (Un Certain Regard: USA, dir. James Toback) - Say this for Mike: he's lived a lot and is capable of saying surprising things, but that's no reason to leave his POV totally unchecked

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Out of Competition: USA/Spain, dir. Woody Allen) - Allen's jokey high-school book report on Unbearable Lightness of Being, based largely on fast-forwards to favorite scenes from the film (full review)

Tokyo! (Un Certain Regard: Japan/France/South Korea, dirs. Michel Gondry, Leos Carax, and Bong Joon-ho) - Gondry bit seems thin but improves; Bong's seems dopey and gets worse; Carax's is shit-stained grenade launched from subterranean alien civ

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Out of Competition: USA, dir. Steven Spielberg) - One could lament creaky Ford, or can't-let-go fans who demanded this, but it's Spielberg you worry about: he thinks this is good enough?



Competition Films I'm Curious to See:
Ranked in order of interest; more on this year's lineup here (opens in a new window)
 
Frontier of Dawn, France, dir. Philippe Garrel
24 City, China, dir. Jia Zhangke
Linha de Passe, Brazil, dirs. Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas
Lion's Den/Leonera, Argentina, dir. Pablo Trapero

Also in Competition: My Magic, Singapore, dir. Eric Khoo
Palermo Shooting, Germany, dir. Wim Wenders


Sidebar Films I'm Curious to See:
Listed alphabetically; more on this year's lineup here (opens in a new window)
 
Un Certain Regard: Afterschool, USA, dir. Antonio Campos
Cloud 9, Germany, dir. Andreas Dresen
The Dead Girl's Feast, Brazil, dir. Matheus Nachtergaele
Modern Life, France, dir. Raymond Depardon
Salt of This Sea, Palestine, dir. Annemarie Jacir
Tokyo Sonata, Japan, dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Tulpan, Russia/Germany/Kazakhstan, dir. Sergey Dvortsevoy
Directors' Fortnight: Artemis' Knee, France, dir. Jean-Marie Straub
Boogie, Romania, dir. Radu Muntean
Eldorado, Belgium/France, dir. Bouli Lanners
Four Nights with Anna, Poland, dir. Jerzy Skolimowski
Liverpool, Argentina, dir. Lisandro Alonso
On War, France, dir. Bertrand Bonello
Tony Manero, Chile, dir. Pablo Larrain
Out of Competition: Ashes of Time Redux, Hong Kong, dir. Wong Kar-wai
The Chaser, South Korea, dir. Na Hong-jin
The Good, the Bad, and the Weird, South Korea, dir. Kim Jee-woon
Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, USA, dir. Marina Zenovich

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