Let the busiest days of the festival commence! Queues to everything – screenings, restaurants, walking near the Palais des Festivals – have appeared or extended. The atmosphere is all the livelier for it. Today the Croisette was buzzing in anticipation for Steven Spielberg’s The BFG, whose official screening took place tonight. The film is the first Spielberg/Disney collaboration, and stars Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Rebecca Hall, Jemaine Clement and Penelope Wilton. All, in addition to Spielberg himself, of course, walked the red carpet.
The BFG was generally described as charming, imaginative and moving, with many critics comparing the film to E.T. Some however noted problems with its pacing, were disappointed with its effects, or accused the director of revisiting old themes.
Competition-side, Korea director Park Chan-Wook presented The Handmaiden, at the festival’s late evening slot. Opinions here were also divided – some enjoyed the plot’s surprising twists as well as its sumptuous photography and set design. Others termed it over-dramatic, and compared it negatively to Fifty Shades of Grey.
Last but far from least, Toni Erdmann by German director Maren Ade received overwhelmingly positive reviews. The 162 minute-film was universally praised as hilarious, touching and humane. Several journalists have mentioned it as a solid Palme D’Or contender. This is the third film by Maren Ade – a director who is otherwise little known outside of the festival circuit.
From the Land of the Moon, directed by Nicole Garcia, headlines tomorrow evening. An adaptation of a novel by Milena Agus, a Sardinian author, the film is in competition and stars Marion Cotillard. Andrea Arnold’s American Honey will also screen in competition. Fans will also be hoping to catch a glimpse of Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe who lead in the-not in-competition film The Nice Guys.
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. Our review is available here.
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.
Rating: 5/10. Review coming soon on TDF.
From the Land of the Moon, directed by Nicole Garcia (in competition)
Festival Summary: Gabrielle comes from a small village in the South of France, at a time when her dream of true love is considered scandalous, and even a sign of insanity. Her parents marry her to José, an honest and loving Spanish farm worker who they think will make a respectable woman of her. Despite José’s devotion to her, Gabrielle vows that she will never love José and lives like a prisoner bound by the constraints of conventional post-World War II society until the day she is sent away to a cure in the Alps to heal her kidney stones. There she meets André Sauvage, a dashing injured veteran of the Indochinese War, who rekindles the passion buried inside her. She promises they will run away together, and André seems to share her desire. Will anyone dare rob her of her right to follow her dreams?
American Honey, directed by Andrea Arnold (in competition)
Festival Summary: Star (Sasha Lane), a teenage girl from a troubled home, runs away with a traveling sales crew who drive across the American Midwest selling magazine subscriptions door to door. Finding her feet in this gang of teenagers, one of whom is Jake (Shia LaBeouf), she soon gets into the group’s lifestyle of hard-partying nights, law-bending days, and young love.
Rating: 6/10. Review coming soon on TDF.
The Nice Guys, directed by Shane Black (not in competition)
Festival Summary: THE NICE GUYS takes place in 1970s Los Angeles, when down-on-his-luck private eye Holland March (Gosling) and hired leg-breaker Jackson Healy (Crowe) must work together to solve the case of a missing girl and the seemingly unrelated death of a porn star. During their investigation, they uncover a shocking conspiracy that reaches up to the highest circles of power.
Marion Koob is The Digital Fix’s Cinema Editor. She will be tweeting throughout the festival @marionkoob.
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