Cannes is busying as the city prepares itself for the long weekend ahead. Monday is a bank holiday here in France, and many holidaymakers and professionals are arriving tomorrow. The already lively streets will become near-impossible to navigate, and restaurants and cafés, so far lightly busy, will be packed. Everyone has their fingers crossed for great weather.
Noted on the Croisette today: an elegant, elderly lady carrying a live chicken in her handbag.
Last night, John Boyega and Bel Powley were handed the Chopard Trophy, an annual award for emerging talent.
With regards to celebrities, today was rather quiet. The evening schedule was shared between Slack Bay, by French director Bruno Dumont, starring Fabrice Luchini (a French household name) and Juliette Binoche. I, Daniel Blake followed later in the evening. While Ken Loach is, of course, a festival regular and a celebrated director, his cast is relatively unknown – hence the 10pm slot.
Slack Bay received mixed reviews. Some have celebrated its riotous wackiness. The story, set in 1910 is about a family of cannibal oyster farmers (the family, not the oysters, are the cannibals). However, Juliette Binoche’s performance was criticised for being over-exaggerated, and the plot’s mad twists and turns (as well as the length of it running time) haven’t seduced everyone.
I, Daniel Blake earned Ken Loach a ten-minute standing ovation at the end of its official screening. The film received praise nearly everywhere, being described as both moving and timely. Several journalists, disliked the repetition of Ken Loach’s favoured themes.
Tomorrow will see the much-anticipated screening of Stephen Spielberg’s The BFG, based on Roald Dahl’s beloved book, and starring Mark Rylance. Park Chan-Wook’s Handmaiden, an adaptation of the novel Fingersmith, by British author Sarah Waters, and Toni Erdmann will be the two films in competition showing.
Slack Bay, directed by Bruno Dumont (in competition)
Festival summary: Summer 1910. Several tourists have vanished on the beaches of the Channel Coast. Infamous inspectors Machin and Malfoy soon gather that these mysterious disappearances take place in Slack Bay. There lives a community of fishermen. Among them evolves a curious family, the Brufort, lead by the father “The Eternal”, who rules as best as he can on his prankster bunch of sons, especially the impetuous Ma Loute. Towering high above the bay stands the Van Peteghems’ mansion. Every summer, this degenerate bourgeois family stagnates in the villa, not without mingling during their leisure hours with the local people. As starts a peculiar love story between Ma Loute and the young and mischievous Billie Van Peteghem, confusion and mystification will descend on both families, shaking their foundations.
I, Daniel Blake, directed by Ken Loach (in competition)
Festival summary: Daniel Blake, 59, has worked as a joiner most of his life in Newcastle. Now, after a heart attack and nearly falling from a scaffold, he needs help from the State for the first time in his life. He crosses paths with a single mother Katie and her two young children, Daisy and Dylan. Katie’s only chance to escape a one-roomed homeless hostel in London has been to accept a flat in a city she doesn’t know some 300 miles away.
Daniel and Katie find themselves in no-man’s land caught on the barbed wire of welfare bureaucracy as played out against the rhetoric of ‘striver and skiver’ in modern day Britain.
Rating: 10/10. Our review is available here.
Train to Busan, directed by Yeon Sang-Ho (not in competition)
Festival summary: A mysterious viral outbreak pushes Korea into a state of emergency! As an unidentified virus sweeps the country, Korean government declares martial law. Those on an express train to Busan, a city that has successfully fended off the viral outbreak, must fight for their own survival…
453 km from Seoul to Busan.
The struggle to survive by those who have others to protect!
Get on board to stay alive!
Handmaiden, directed by Park Chan-Wook (in competition)
Festival Summary: 1930s Korea, in the period of Japanese occupation, a new girl (Sookee) is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress (Hideko) who lives a secluded life on a large countryside estate with her domineering Uncle (Kouzuki). But the maid has a secret. She is a pickpocket recruited by a swindler posing as a Japanese Count to help him seduce the Lady to elope with him, rob her of her fortune, and lock her up in a madhouse. The plan seems to proceed according to plan until Sookee and Hideko discover some unexpected emotions.
Toni Erdmann, directed by Maren Ade (in competition)
Festival Summary: Practical joker Winfried disguises himself as flashy “Toni Erdmann” to get busy Ines’ attention and change her corporate lifestyle. The father-daughter challenge reaches absurd proportions until Ines begins to see that her eccentric father deserves a place in her life…
Rating: 9/10. TDF review coming soon.
The BFG, directed by Steven Spielberg (not in competition)
Festival Summary: The talents of three of the world’s greatest storytellers, Roald Dahl, Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg, unite to bring Dahl’s classic to life. Directed by Spielberg, “The BFG” tells the imaginative story of a young girl and the giant who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant Country. The BFG, while a giant himself, is a Big Friendly Giant and nothing like the other inhabitants of Giant Country, standing 24-ft-tall with enormous ears and a keen sense of smell, he is the smallest of the giants and a vegetarian. Upon her arrival in Giant Country, Sophie is initially frightened, but realizes the BFG is quite charming. He teaches Sophie all about the magic of dreams. Having both been on their own in the world up until now, their affection for one another quickly grows.
Marion Koob is The Digital Fix’s Cinema Editor. She will be tweeting throughout the festival @marionkoob.
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