Behind the Candelabra

It’s rather difficult to assess the overall quality of the films playing at the Cannes Film Festival and compare it with previous years. With films playing In Competition, Out of Competition, in Un Certain Regard, as part of the Director’s Fortnight, Critic’s Week and also in the Market there are hundreds of films playing at the festival and up for discussion. Looking at the relatively limited number that I was able to see (29 films in total) and from speaking to many other critics at the festival it did seem as if 2013 was a stand-out year though, with a number of excellent films making their début at the festival.

In addition to my coverage of the festival at HeyUGuys, which you can find here and linked to below, I was also Tweeting throughout the festival @cskinner and I graded and reviewed each film I saw in a Tweet after the screening. Below you can find all of these ‘Tweet Reviews’ and grades and hopefully they will give you a good sense of what a good year it was at Cannes and how many high quality films there are to look forward to over the coming months.

MICHAEL KOHLHAAS (C-) Mikkelsen/Lavant both great but they have little to do in this plodding, windswept period piece.

ZULU (D) CSI: CAPE TOWN. Dull & predictable ‘thriller’. Socio-politics sometimes interesting, often problematic. Bloom hilariously bad.

VENUS IN FUR (B-) Trashy good fun. Lots of amusing fact/fiction director/director parallels. Dialogue superb, everything else merely solid.

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (B) An entertaining art rock vampire film from Jarmusch. Meandering but never aimless. Funny too.

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR (A) Extraordinary, intimate journey of a girl’s 1st relationship & everything about it & before & after. Wow. [Read my full review here]

THE IMMIGRANT (B) Wonderful period detailing, superb classical filmmaking & a strong central perf from Cotillard. A little sterile though. [Read my full review here]

MAX ROSE (F) Corny, clunky dialogue & lifeless direction make this a real chore. Stunt casting distracts. Just awful. [Read my full review here]

Nebraska - Alexander Payne

NEBRASKA (B+) It’s gentleness may make it seem slight but a lot of its smart writing reveals the depth of the story in a subtle manner. [Read my full review here]

MUHAMMAD ALI’S GREATEST FIGHT (C-) Flat, stuffy & dull. Story told would fit on a postage stamp. Great perfs from the older cast though.

LA GRANDE BELLEZZA (C) Journey to the End of the Party. Another beautiful but hollow Sorrentino joint.

ALL IS LOST (B+) Astonishing, expertly crafted story of one man alone, trying to survive. A very emotional journey worth taking. [Read my full review here]

Only God Forgives

ONLY GOD FORGIVES (D) Feculent and fun in places but it doesn’t matter how smartly dressed it is, it’s pretty vacuous nonsense. [Read my full review here]

GRIGRIS (D) A thoroughly ordinary film with an extraordinary physical performer in the lead role. Dopey deus ex machina ending.

BEHIND THE CANDELABRA (A) A rather traditional biopic in most respects but such an exquisitely well made one, with superb performances. [Read my full review here]

BLIND DETECTIVE (B-) A romantic comedy through & through but with violence, slapstick & detective plot. Anarchic fun but too freewheeling.

WARA NO TATE (B) Highly entertaining thriller. Adds some minor depth in its treatment of justice.Often also rather silly though. [Read my full review here]

SEDUCED AND ABANDONED (B-) A very fun doc if you’re interested in the subject but formally infuriating. Tons of superb anecdotes.


BORGMAN (C) Often amusing but nowhere near as allegorically interesting or satisfying as it needs to given everything set up.

MONSOON SHOOTOUT (D-) 3 versions of the same story, except it’s not as the filmmakers abandon the logic of the conceit. Morally dubious too. [Read my full review here]

JODOROWSKY’S DUNE (B) A well told tale of what could be the greatest film never made. Excellent contributions & mixed devices. [Read my interview with director Frank Pavich here]

DANZA DE LA REALIDAD (A-) A heightened autobiography told with wit, imagination & passion.A complex bricolage & a marvel. Jodorowsky’s back! [Read my full review here]

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON (A) The tragedy, humour & beauty that Koreeda finds in scrutinising the most simple of things is extraordinary. Sublime. [Read my full review here]

THE PAST (B+) Complex relationships, misunderstandings & just the right amount of melodrama makes for a very absorbing story. Bejo astounds.

The Bling Ring

THE BLING RING (D+) Good satire doesn’t need character’s explaining it in talking heads. Fun nonetheless but pretty thin & stylistically flat. [Read my full review here]

JEUNE & JOLIET (C) Ozon gives a character who’d be at home in SITCOM but the filmmaking is more IN THE HOUSE. Lightweight but compelling. [Read my full review here]

HELI (B+) Raw & intense. A horrible but powerful experience. A bleak opening hanging sets the tone but it just gets worse. And worse. [Read my full review here]

THE GREAT GATSBY (C-) The party is fun. Until it stops. Dazzling cinematography but it all tires as characters explain the themes & the plot