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Big Screen | Cannes Comes To America With “Eric” and “Daddy”

Big Screen | Cannes Comes To America With "Eric" and "Daddy"

While the 2010 Cannes Film Festival kicks off in the south of France Wednesday night, two highlights of last year’s edition of the fest are finding their way to this side of the pond this weekend: Ken Loach’s “Looking For Eric” and Benny and Josh Safdie’s “Daddy Longlegs.” IFC Films, which has a vast Cannes ’09 crop including previously released films like “Antichrist,” “Fish Tank” and “Vincere,” will be releasing both films, with “Eric” additionally heading to video on demand (where “Daddy” has been available since January).

Both films have generally received quite strong responses from critics.

“Eric” – which screened in official competition in Cannes – is a comedy about a depressed Mancunian postman, obsessed with football (of the European variety), whose life is descending in to crisis, until he receives some life coaching from the famously philosophical football legend Eric Cantona (who plays himself). It’s one of three Loach films that made it into the Cannes competition in the past six years (“The Wind That Shakes The Barley” won the Palme d’Or back in 2006, while “Route Irish” was a surprise addition this year), and was considered a nice change of pace from typical Cannes fare.

“‘Looking for Eric’ belongs less to the tradition of hard-hitting British dramas that frequent Cannes and increasingly more along the lines of the sort of slight crowd-pleasing fare that does well in U.S. art-houses,” wrote Anthony Kaufman in his indieWIRE review of the film back in Cannes. Kaufman also called the film a “refreshing shift from the sometimes overt class-conscious sermonizing found in previous Loach outings.”

Most critics have found the film easy to like. The TimesJames Christopher said that “Ken Loach couldn’t have painted a more perfect, bitter-sweet picture for Cannes” and the Hollywood Reporter’s Ray Bennett wrote that “it looks set to be Loach’s biggest mainstream hit.”

Though the film is obviously a bit of a crowd-pleaser, Time Out‘s Dave Calhoun pointed out that “this being a Loach film, neither the comedy nor the fantasy comes at the expense of passionate realism,” while The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw offered somewhat more guarded praise, regretting that “the film takes a weird, and not entirely convincing lurch into darker territory” at one point but that overall it’s “a lovably good-natured if erratic comedy.”

Meanwhile, “Daddy Longlegs,” or as it was known back in Cannes, “Go Get Me Some Rosemary,” comes from Benny and Josh Safdie, two American brothers much more new to the Cannes scene than Mr. Loach. In a piece on indieWIRE earlier this week entitled “Freedom From the System: Putting the Safdies In Focus,” indieWIRE‘s Eric Kohn discussed the young directors’ work.

“Twenty years ago, the Safdies would have fit the perfect mold of breakout indie filmmakers, ideally positioned in an era of low budget movies defined by the search for the next Steven Soderbergh (although they really harken back to early Jim Jarmusch),” Kohn noted. “Back then, however, Josh was six and Benny was four. Now firmly within the realm of young adulthood, the Safdies have already produced a flurry of shorts and two features with their Tribeca-based collective, Red Bucket Films. IFC released their first effort (which Benny co-edited and Josh directed), a near-experimental study in minimalism called ‘The Pleasure of Being Robbed.’ The indie distributor also put ‘Daddy Longlegs’ on its cable VOD platform way back in January (pegged to its Sundance Film Festival screenings), even though the movie hits theaters this week. The latest opening will not make them rich or overnight celebrities, but it provides enough of an outlet to validate their productivity.”

“Daddy” also is being validated by many critics. A quasi-autobiographical story of a divorced father and his two young sons, the film was praised by The Village Voice‘s J. Hoberman, who called it “funny, fantastic, and genuinely alarming.”

The Hollywood Reporter‘s Natasha Senjanovic agreed, calling the film “an effective portrait of a reckless father struggling to hold onto his two young sons,” while Karina Longworth, then writing for Spout, admired: “Fueled by a go-for-broke lead performance by Frownland filmmaker Ronnie Bronstein, the Safdies’ follow-up should win over at least a few skeptics who failed to see the charm in their debut.” Continuing Longworth added, “Though the filmmakers still have a ways to go in terms of equaling their energy, enthusiasm and imagination with technical consistency…, ‘Rosemary’ is a step up from ‘Pleasure’ both visually and narratively…”

Variety‘s Rob Nelson wasn’t quite as impressed.

“Even more than ‘The Pleasure of Being Robbed,’ their previous work of indie pranksterism, Josh and Benny Safdie’s comedic drama [‘Daddy Longlegs’] tests the viewer’s tolerance for a protagonist whose flighty irresponsibility borders on unforgivable — and arguably extends to the filmmakers,” Nelson wrote. “Cassavetes-esque tale of a man-child’s attempt to juggle work and family while remaining immune to adulthood will likely delight the sibling auteurs’ marginal fanbase without much expanding it.”

Check out links to each film’s indieWIRE page as well as other films opening this weekend, as well as recent theatrical releases below. They include synopses, trailers and a variety of criticWIRE grades and links to reviews.

iW Film Calendar & criticWIRE:
criticWIRE | Opening this week | Opening this month | All Films A – Z

criticWIRE: Films Opening This Week

Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

Looking For Eric (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Daddy Longlegs (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Best Worst Movie (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Perrier’s Bounty (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C+

Princess Kaiulani (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: not yet rated

criticWIRE: Films Currently In Theaters

Exit Through The Gift Shop (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

The Oath (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

Women Without Men (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

Please Give (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

The Good, The Bad, The Weird (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

CASINO JACK and the United States of Money (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

The Secret In Their Eyes (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Mother and Child (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Harry Brown (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Babies (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

The Human Centipede (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

The City of Your Final Destination (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

Trash Humpers (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C+

The Good Heart (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C+

Peter Knegt is indieWIRE’s Associate Editor. Follow him on Twitter and on his blog.

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