11 posts categorized "Cannes Film Festival"

August 27, 2015



CANNES, FRANCE —Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth” features Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel as a couple of old friends facing down the last days of their lives while vacationing at a luxurious hotel spa in the foothills of the Alps. If watching this dream pairing of actors doesn’t sound like the best thing since the invention of ice cream, then this film is not for you. Don’t bother; you’re not worthy of it to begin with. If, on the other hand, you have a penchant for vibrant international cinema that goes out on an intricately composed limb to discover veiled truths about friendship, love, loyalty, and the creation of art, then settle in for a refined cinematic treat.

Madalina Ghenea Nude Full Frontal In Youth - Photo 4 - /Nude

Substantial emotional proportions extend out over the physical and metaphorical horizons that Sorrentino puts crisply into view.

Youth, film review: Michael Caine gives an aloof performance | The  Independent | The Independent

Fred Ballinger (Caine) and Mick Boyle (Keitel) are lifelong pals who have come together once again to relax and reflect on their lives in a familiar idyllic location. Fred is a highly esteemed composer and orchestra conductor still recovering from the loss of his much beloved wife.

Youth Movie Review - StageBuddy.com

Michael Caine’s deceptively effortless embodiment of his musically gifted character echoes with an openness of spirit that fills the viewer with a simmering sense of passion. A painfully obsequious emissary from Buckingham Palace doggedly revisits Fred at the spa to beg that he conduct his cherished “Simple Songs” cycle for the Queen, for which Fred will receive a knighthood. Fred wants nothing to do with it, but won’t give a reason for his staunch refusal. It’s too personal. Fred’s justification contributes to the film’s elegiac climax with a delicate grace note.

Youth review

Writing his latest screenplay, entitled “Life’s Last Day,” with the help of a group of young collaborators, keeps Mick busy between dips in the sauna. He wants the film to be a “testament” but can’t articulate the object of his praise. He really just wants to celebrate himself. Mick has a casting ace up his sleeve in the guise of Hollywood diva Brenda Morel, played with caustic aplomb in a scene-stealing cameo by Jane Fonda. In just three short scenes, Fonda gooses the story with the juice it needs.

Youth” movie review: Paolo Sorrentino draws on trademark lush visuals – The  Denver Post

Aside from at least one woman they both dated in their youth, Fred and Mick share an in-law brotherhood. Fred’s daughter Lena (Rachel Weisz) is married to Mick’s playboy son Julian (Ed Stoppard). Lena is left heartbroken after Julian tells her he is leaving her for another woman, Paloma Faith (playing a version of herself), an annoying pop singer celebrity with a reptilian brand of sex appeal. Mick is none to pleased with his son’s shenanigans. However, the breakup has a positive effect of bringing Fred closer to his daughter.


Sorrentino draws connecting meanings from unifying supporting characters such as Paul Dano’s quietly observant actor-character Jimmy Tree, who has been pigeonholed by a role he played as a robot in something called “Mister Q.” Jimmy’s preparations for his next role involve a public-space rehearsal performance of Hitler that is amusing as it is spot-on.

“Youth” is a perfectly tuned chamber piece that resonates in waves of humor, regret, lust, and thoughtful expression. Like Sorrentino’s last film “The Great Beauty,” it is a lushly composed film worthy of repeated viewings.


Not Rated. 118 mins. 

5 Stars


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July 10, 2015


Amy The must-see-documentary at this year’s Cannes Film Festival was Asif Kapadia’s ambitious biography of Amy Winehouse. It’s a devastating look at how some of the people closest to the singer/songwriter contributed to her untimely demise. By sticking with his voiceover-only narration (rather than taking the standard talking-head approach) Kapadia stays out of the way of his fascinating subject. The method is so much the better for rapt audiences to absorb Winehouse’s raw talent and sophisticated mastery of melody, songcraft, and delivery. Early videotape clips of Amy singing and playing guitar exhibit her natural musical gifts when she was barely a teenager. A teenaged Amy singing “Happy Birthday” for her longtime friend Lauren Gilbert is as entrancing as Marilyn Monroe’s famous rendition of the song for President Kennedy.

The filmmaker’s tireless interview of more than 80 of Amy Winehouse’s friends, family members, associates, and fellow musicians provides a wealth of details about who Amy Winehouse was, and her reasons for living life as she did. Kapadia provides private glimpses into Amy’s songwriting process that contributes to the film’s many memorable facets.

Amy-WinehouseMost captivating are studio-recording sessions in which Winehouse delivers her unique voice and phrasing with a stark honesty that charms all. Watching her record her famous song “Back to Black” is nothing short of stunning. A duet recording session with her hero Tony Bennett reveals much about Winehouse’s craftsmanship as a singer and about the high standards to which she held herself. The instant rapport that she shares with a glowing Tony Bennett is a dreamlike moment of musical delight.

“Amy” is an essential document toward understanding the social climate and personal relations that snuffed out a troubled but gifted woman whose success proved too much to endure without drugs, booze, and dysfunctional relationships. Amy’s bulimia comes up as a contributing factor to her depleted physical state before her death at the age of 27. That neither of her parents saw fit to address the issue although they knew about it speaks to the kind of people they are.


Rated R. 127 mins. 

5 Stars


Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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Cole Smithey on Patreon

May 22, 2011



Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This ad-free 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. Thanks a lot pal! Your generosity keeps the reviews coming!

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Event Horizon
Terrence Malick Believes

ColeSmithey.com"The Tree of Life" is a bold but flailing attempt to create an epic transgressive experimental cinema of cosmic proportions. Terrence Malick introduces his lush but unsatisfying odyssey of '50s Americana with a biblical quote from God in the Book of Job. The hyperbolic text sets the abstract narrative that follows in thematic quicksand. 

"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?When the morning stars sang together,And all the sons of God shouted for joy?"

Oh boy. Give me a gumball at the soda stand while I order up a chocolate milkshake and watch Cindy Lou fix the ribbon in her hair at the shop window. 

Screen Shot 2022-04-21 at 11.07.45 PM

At one point a mother points up toward a beautiful sky and announces to her sons, "God lives up there." Such corniness is commonplace in lines of voice-over narration that sound as though they're being read from the back of a Baptist pamphlet. A character dies early on in the story. Another person is compelled to comment "He's in God's hands now." Someone replies, "He was in God's hands the whole time."



For long stretches the film fawns over Hubble-inspired images from the vast reaches of outer space. Mammoth colorful nebula groove in iridescent delight. Billions of stars twinkle. The Earth's Sun erupts with gargantuan volcanic ferocity in extreme close-ups that put the viewer smack in the middle of boiling scalding lava. Perhaps Malick is making an oblique case for intelligent design. If so, he plays his narrative cards too close to the vest to tell. Think of the wallpaper movie as cinematic Xanex. No amount of coffee will keep your eyes from wanting to shut. As for the inevitable comparisons critics will be tempted to make with Stanley Kubrick's  "2001: A Space Odyssey," beware. No such comparison is appropriate. Inevitable, but not appropriate.


Malick is clearly making a statement about the impermanent spec of astral dust that humanity represents against the infinite and expanding continuum of the cosmos. His meta-meta-micro vision does achieve the desired effect of making the audience feel small. It also makes us feel like we're being preached to by a filmmaker with not much more to express than how insignificant humanity is. If this sounds like a revelation, as it must have to Malick, you've come to the right place.

The Tree of Life Picture 19

A pre-historic flashback involving CGI dinosaurs helps the film stay in its chosen vantage point of a wistful preteen boy in the '50s. A dinosaur lets another one die in a rollicking stream rather than crushing the wounded creature's head beneath his powerful foot. The scene looks cool but doesn't resonate in the grand scheme of the film. 


The film's somewhat more coherent aspect involves the flashback storyline of Sean Penn's rarely seen modern day character Jack. In '50s era Waco, Texas a family of three young boys--of whom Jack is one--and their blank-slate mother are overseen by Brad Pitt as their temperamental patriarch Mr. O'Brien. Pitt's father figure is one mean son-of-a-bitch.


The actor employs a lower-lip pout as an outward physical symptom of a company-man patent creator who likes to lash out at his wife and sons when isn't flying to foreign countries on work assignments. From Malick's perspective, men in the '50s carried around pretty big chips on their shoulders. Young Jack (Hunter McCracken) comes to loathe his father. He wishes his dad would die. Inexplicable delinquent behavior ensues. 

The Tree of Life' and Its Exploration of Authority - The New York Times

"The Tree of Life" is an event movie that should be seen by anyone who loves cinema, if only to arrive at their own estimation of Terrance Malick's overwrought filmic poem. Sean Penn's Jack represents an everyman of Western culture. He is ostensibly Malick's alter ego, whose questions of existence threaten to eclipse the pretentious life he leads in an icy world of steel and glass. 

The_tree_of _life

From a visual standpoint, the film is astounding. Thematically, it tries to do too much with too little. Terrence Malick obviously set out to make a "thought-provoking," "mind-blowing," "meditation" on the meaning of life. As could be predicted by such vague, overblown aspirations he ended up with a constipated and remote movie.


"The Tree of Life" is a divine fiasco because it doesn't just want to stare at its navel, it seeks to suck up its own umbilical cord and slingshot beyond all that is knowable. Although it screened to resounding boos at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, it won the Palme d'or. It might come as a surprise to Malick to imagine that if you know you're creating when you're creating then you're not creating. But don't take my word for it, see "The Tree of Life" by all means. Doing so comes with bragging rights.

Rated PG-13. 109 mins.

3 Stars

Cozy Cole

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