Two friends, Alec Baldwin and director James Toback, elected to go to the Cannes Festival with a film crew. Their plan was to make a movie about themselves running around Cannes attempting to raise money for a project. The result is a more candid portrait of Cannes than the distinguished films that will play at the Palais.
This is a review of Julia Loktev’s The Loneliest Planet, and the calendar pretext is that the movie will play at the San Francisco Film Festival on April 24 and 27. Not all of you will be able to get to the Bay Area, but, since last August, The Loneliest Planet has already played at the festivals of Locarno, Toronto, New York, London and the AFI. Still, it has not “opened” yet. That is promised for this August, albeit on a limited basis. What does limited mean? Well, Loktev and the rest of us might bear in mind what happened with her previous film, her first, Day Night Day Night.
The Kid with a Bike Michael A mistake. A few weeks ago, reviewing the distinguished film Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, I said it had won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Festival last year. In fact, it shared the prize with another film, The Kid with a Bike, which is of equal distinction. What an occasion. The second film is by the Dardenne brothers, Jean-Pierre and Luc, who in 1996, after some twenty years of making documentaries in their native Belgium and in France, ventured into fiction.
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia House of Pleasures Nuri Bilge Ceylan, of Turkey, is an exceptional writer-director, deeply serious and with the gifts to be so. The two earlier films of his that I have seen, Distant and Climates, though immediately engaging in their characters and stories, soon showed that Ceylan was using them as a means of depicting the society in which they took place—modern Turkey. Essentially he wanted us to breathe the air his people breathed. Ceylan is also a talented actor: he played the leading role in Climates with distinction. But he does not appear in his new film.
At the G20 Summit last week in Cannes, Nicolas Sarkozy held only four private meetings. One was with Barack Obama and a second was with Manmohan Singh, prime minister of India.
We live in a world in which the contagion of anti-Semitism is spreading once again. Indeed, the profusion of hostility to Israel is the proof that hatred of Jews is now quite alright, thank you. But, whatever individual and isolated wrongs Israel commits, there are comparisons to be drawn. And the comparisons are to the Arab states and to Palestinian Arab society, in which oppression has flourished since the early years of the last century.
Stanley Kauffmann is on temporary leave. This review was written by David Thomson. The Tree of LifeFox Searchlight The Greatest virtue of Terrence Malick’s new film may be the controversy attending it. Whatever we think of The Tree of Life as a show or a work of art, there are going to be defenders and doubters driven to join a fierce debate that turns on these questions: “Very well, in 2011, with the movies on life support, what should an ambitious American motion picture look and feel like? What should it do to us? And what do we require of this strange medium?
[Guest post by Ruth Franklin:] In Cannes the other day Lars von Trier proved, grossly and witlessly, that no amount of irony can catch up with an expression of sympathy for Hitler and the Nazis. Now a similarly pathetic attempt at cute Holocaust humor has appeared in The Daily Beast. The online publication posted a screed by Dale Peck about the death of the book business in which he complained about the industry’s stagnancy. Peck’s pugnacious style is well known, and was honed in the pages of this magazine.
Hadewijch IFC Films When We Leave Olive Films If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle Film Movement The films of the French director Bruno Dumont have earned him, besides two Cannes Festival prizes, a reputation for brutality. He has often used his manifest talent to burrow into moral darkness. But the new work that he has written and directed, Hadewijch, is a spiritual odyssey—the travails of Céline, a twenty-year-old theology student, in her search for further envelopment in God.