The final day of the 60th Cannes Film Festival is coming to a close. There’s a closing night party, but unless you’re Vincent Cassel or Diane Kruger, a ticket’s pretty hard to come by. I spent the day in a back-to-back movie marathon, catching up on a few titles I missed before tonight’s award ceremony (see the complete list of winners on indieWIRE). The awards were a well-rounded event, offering prizes to films both hyped and ignored. Though, I must confess a real shock that the Coen Brothers’ No Country For Old Men coming up empty-handed. The winner of the coveted Palme d’Or, was Christian Mungiu’s acclaimed Romanian abortion drama, 4 luni, 3 saptamini so 2 zile. IFC First Take picked up distribution rights for the U.S., which is a good thing, because I missed the film altogether throughout the busy week. Being on panels, having meetings, and tackling a mammoth market/festival schedule, means it is hard to catch everything.
Some of the good things I have seen the last few days, include Gus Van Sant’s Special 60th Anniversary Cannes prize-winner, Paranoid Park. The reaction I heard from most was rather mixed, but I have to say that I adore the film. The quiet and meditative story of a teenager grappling with his part in an accidental homicide, the film makes good on the disappointing promise that was Gerry and Last Days. Those two films, along with previous Cannes winner Elephant, served as an experimental trilogy that is not too far from Paranoid Park‘s hushed tones and minimalist expression. But, Paranoid Park is a much more narrative endeavor. The film’s success shines through because Van Sant is an accomplished artist making a very small film. In other words, each scene of the film is pregnant with tension and suspense. This is only compounded by the execution’s somber and abstract qualities. I was riveted for all 90 minutes.
The other slam-dunk experience I caught recently, was Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s Persepolis, a hugely enriching animated feature based on Satrapi’s graphic novel. The film, an autobiographical tale about Satrapi’s coming-of-age in early 1980s Iran and France, is easily one of the best animated features I’ve seen in years. I can’t wait for this film to open in theaters later this year (Sony Pictures Classics has U.S. rights), because I really believe it could be a sleeper hit. It went on to win the Prix du Jury (in a tie with Stellet Licht) on Sunday.
And, Julian Schnabel won Best Director for Le Scaphandre et Le Papillon, which is still probably my favorite of the films I’ve seen this year. While I didn’t see as many films as die-hards like Dusty Smith and Michael Lerman, I will offer up the ranking of the films I liked from the 15-20 that I saw:
1. Le Scaphandre et Le Papillon by Julian Schnabel
2. Paranoid Park by Gus Van Sant
3. No Country For Old Men by Joel and Ethan Coen
4. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
5. Control by Anton Corbijn
6. Sicko by Michael Moore
7. Mister Lonely by Harmony Korine
8. Alexandra by Alexander Sokurov
9. El Orfanato by Juan Antonio Bayona
Honorable Mentions for: Hitoshi Matsumoto’s Dai Nipponjin (looked really great and promising, but can’t fairly judge it because the print I saw had no English subtitles. Huh?) and Larry Charles’ Untitled Bill Maher Documentary (only saw the 10-minute promo reel, but it was intentionally funnier than most of the stuff at Cannes). Still dying to see Secret Sunshine, 4 luni, Go Go Tales, The Edge of Heaven, and Munyurangabo.