5 posts categorized "Cannes Film Festival"

June 13, 2016


Mal-de-PierresCannes, France —After bombing at Cannes in 2015 with Justin Kurzel’s abominable adaptation of “Macbeth,” Marion Cotillard plays an impossible protagonist for an audience to empathize with.

The pattern seems to suggest that Marion Cotillard deserves better script choices. Cotillard’s carefully crafted portrayal of Gabrielle, a bi-polar woman living in post World War II Southern France, is squandered in a story that sentimentalizes mental illness.

Gabrielle’s romantic fantasy, involving a fellow patient at a Swiss retreat hospital in the Alps, doesn’t hold as much narrative weight as the filmmaker imagines. We see a woman who treats her hard-working peasant husband like dirt, while rubbing his nose in it by writing an endless stream of love letters to her absent lover. Gabrielle isn’t just cruel, she is castrating.


Nicole Garcia’s formal approach to compositions and dramatic climaxes gives the movie a feeling of being trapped beneath gauze. Garcia clearly knows how to tell stories on film, but gets mired in the nature of the film’s source novel (by Milena Agus). I don’t know if anyone could make an entertaining film from Agus’s book, based on what I see of it in this unpleasant picture.

Not Rated. 120 mins. (C-) (Two Stars — out of five / no halves)

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October 11, 2011


Sleeping_BeautyA bold feminist exploitation think-piece about the perceived and disguised societal demands placed on women, "Sleeping Beauty" is a hauntingly erotic film that languishes in the recesses of your subconscious. What more could you ask for?

With the producing endorsement of famed director Jane Campion ("The Piano"), Australian novelist-turned-filmmaker Julia Leigh explores what she terms "Wonder Cinema" by way of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, upon which she embellishes and extrapolates. Yasunari Kawabata's "The House of Sleeping Beauties" and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "Memories of My Melancholy Whores" are meaningful tomes of reference.

Devour Me. If You Think That You Can Stomach Me. | Sleeping beauty movie, Sleeping  beauty, Beauty

Waifish Emily Browning ("The Uninvited") is Lucy, an Australian college student working various jobs to make ends meet. She gives her esophagus and stomach up to paid medical testing, works in a restaurant, and collates copies for a tyrannical female boss. In her spare time the free-spirited lass likes to indulge in spontaneous meat-market pick-ups with random men and women. Casual drug use is also on her menu. Ideals of shame or restraint are not in Lucy's vocabulary. She's a poker-faced extreme urban explorer.

Sleeping Beauty (2011) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

Emily takes on a high-paid position as a nude banquet server for private dinner parties in the private mansion of an elegant Madame named Clara (Rachael Blake). After serving her first dinner party, Lucy burns a hundred dollar note from her ample pay. Capitalism, you see, isn't her motivation in life. The fearless femme de provocation is promoted to the position of a sleeper.

febbraio – 2013 – I PRIGIONIERI DELLO SCHERMO - Pagina 5 | Emily browning,  Emily browning sleeping beauty, Sleeping beauty movie

Mistress Clara administers a sleeping potion that ensures Lucy's unconscious state for a male client to do with as he pleases in bed--short of marking or penetrating Lucy's ridiculously nubile body.

Sleeping Beauty - Emily Browning

The idea of semi-impotent older men paying to lie next to an unconscious woman connects to the obvious choice one such man might make to end his life during the experience. The three episodes we witness reflect on damaged male psyches grappling desperately for a self-identifying, albeit clinical and economic, conquest. Each episode is prefigured by a host/client chat which allows for some character explanation on the part of the ostensibly misogynistic men.


In her private time Lucy likes to spend time with her best friend, an alcoholic bachelor edging closer to committing suicide. The two communicate in a shorthand of polite repartee that disguises their deeper emotional issues. The subplot is the most forced in the film, but contributes a layer of altruism to Lucy's transparent identity.


This deeply sensual character exists at the polar opposite of American cinema's Mumblecore movement of dumbed-down slackerdom. Lucy takes action with gusto even if it means giving herself wholly over to an experience with which she cannot consciously interact. "Sleeping Beauty" is an artistic exploitation film meant to rankle bourgeoisie attitudes of propriety. It’s a dirty job, and Julia Leigh has done it with panache.

FanForce | Sleeping Beauty

Not Rated. 104 mins.

4 Stars
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April 12, 2011


Colesmithey.comMadame de La Fayette's 1662 short novel of romantic rivalry amid France's ruling classes makes rich cinematic fodder for master filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier. Mélanie Thierry plays Marie de Mézières, a 16th century French heiress in love with childhood crush Henri de Guise (Gaspard Ulliel).

De Guise is frequently referred to as "Scarface" for the battle scars he wears with pride. Marie's romantic aspirations are dashed when her father instead compels her to marry Philippe, the Prince of Montpensier (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet), a man she has never met. The Wars of Religion, between Protestant and Catholic factions, draw Philippe into the bloody fray to help defeat the Protestant army just after his marriage to Marie is consummated under royal supervision.

The Princess of Montpensier film review | Dog and Wolf

Philippe takes care to protect his delicate wife by sending her to live in the relative safety of a remote castle in Champigny under the tutelage of his former mentor the Compte de Chabannes (Lambert Wilson). Chabannes is indebted to Philippe for saving his life from a couple of outlaws. The elder man's charge is to prepare the princess for her impending introduction at the Royal Court in Paris.

Mélanie Thierry & Gaspard Ulliel in 'The Princess of Montpensier/La  Princesse de Montpensier' (2010… | 16th century fashion, Historical  dresses, Renaissance fashion

Latin is on the menu. But there's a turbid side to Marie's charms that makes every man who lays eyes upon her fall hopelessly in love. Even the next heir to the throne, the Duke of Anjou (Raphaël Personnaz), feels obligated to throw his hat in the ring for a married woman who could easily cost him his life. Such is the minefield of misdirected desire that proves just as dangerous as any battlefield.

The Princess of Montpensier review | GamesRadar+

"The Princess of Montpensier" is a lavish, French period drama full of dynamic sword fights and ill-concealed emotions. It is a rare cinematic treat.

Not Rated. 139 mins.

5 Stars

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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