By Indiewire | Indiewire May 21, 2012 at 12:05PM
We've hit the halfway point of this year's Cannes Film Festival. Indiewire senior editor and film critic Eric Kohn has caught all of the biggest films from directors like Alain Resnais, Michael Haneke, Cristian Mungiu. To help you keep track, we've compile a list of all of our first dozen reviews from the south of France.
You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet
The most prominent member of the French New Wave's Left Bank filmmakers, the 90-year-old Alain Resnais has never really slowed down, but "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet!" is hardly the poetic crowdpleaser of his last outing, 2009's "Wild Grass."
Marred by excessive sentiment, "The Sapphires" has a buoyancy and a hook that makes it stand out -- but they're elements that would help it kill on Broadway (as it already has on the Australian stage) a lot better than it does onscreen.
"Amour" is an incredibly focused and emotionally charged look at an elderly woman's gradual demise and her husband's attempts to cope with it. Although not exactly heartwarming, "Amour" has a more contained vision of human relationships than Michael Haneke's previous films without sacrificing its bleak foundation.
Beyond the Hills
Romanian director Cristian Mungiu seemingly came out of nowhere in 2007 to snatch the Palme d'Or for his last feature, the tightly constructed abortion drama "4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days," a distinctly powerful work. While technically impressive and occasionally quite provocative, Mungiu's latest feature-length effort, "Beyond the Hills," is at once more ambitious and flawed -- in other words, only 50 percent post-Palme slump.
The younger Cronenberg has made a derivative exercise in body horror that plays as little more than low rent Cronenberg pastiche.
John Hillcoat's "Lawless" lacks the same darkly energizing spirit that made "The Proposition" such a revelation: It has plenty of gunplay, scowling showdowns and dust-caked setpieces, but little in the way of dynamic filmmaking to imbue those elements with life.
For his third and most accomplished work, "No," Pablo Larraín has traded the allegorical track for the real thing, delivering a lively, mesmerizing drama about a national call to action during the 1988 referendum on Pinochet's presidency. With a full-bodied turn by Gael Garcia Bernal as its anchor, "No" broadens Larraín's range by replicating historical events in engrossing detail.
"Reality" makes the case that society renders everyone impossibly small. The first and last shots of Matteo Garrone's drama take place from extreme heights that make their focal point blend with their surroundings. Everything in frame takes on the dimensions of a dollhouse, as if the Italian filmmaker has assumed a godlike awareness. The compositions suggest that people are inherently trapped by their surroundings and never fully capable of realizing it.
Apichatpong Weerasethakul's new hourlong experimental feature "Mekong Hotel," cobbled together from ideas for another unrealized project, reaffirms the filmmaker's appeal by simply arranging the same core elements into a distinctly odd collage.
Satisfying for what it is, the movie merely confirms Jacques Audiard's skill with engaging actors in the potent theme of retribution.
After the Battle
Now that a number of documentaries have dealt with the 2011 Egyptian uprising at Cairo's Tahrir Square, it comes as no surprise that the events have been applied to a fictional scenario, and by no less than a prominent Egyptian filmmaker, Yousry Nasrallah ("Gate of Sun"). Ably using the turmoil at Tahrir as his backdrop, Nasrallah's "After the Battle" follows a burgeoning, ill-fated romance between two characters uniquely impacted by social upheaval.
There are diehard Wes Anderson fans and then there's everyone else. "Moonrise Kingdom," the idiosyncratic auteur's seventh feature, eagerly pitches itself toward that first group of audiences and ignores the rest. But if those open to Anderson quirks will find a rewarding experience littered with warmth and playful humor.