We’ve just past the midpoint of the 59th Cannes Film Festival, and it’s either so good there are no clear Competition frontrunners…or so inconsistent there are no clear Competition frontrunners, or maybe just so unexceptional. Kirk Honeycutt and Ray Bennett at Hollywood Reporter:
The 59th edition of the Festival de Cannes is shaping up as the best Competition since the much-celebrated 2002 vintage. ("The Pianist" won, you’ll recall.) Which does not mean that one can easily spot the winners. There are some obvious front-runners though, as well as some obvious disappointments. And certainly this jury, weighed so heavily with actors, has any number of superb performances to judge.
Todd McCarthy at Variety:
In the first five days of the Cannes Film Festival — as choppy as the rough seas currently besetting the Mediterranean — there have been two or three fairly strong films thus far in the competition. But few people can agree on which films those are.
To be sure, no one’s been caught running around whispering "Palme d’Or" about any of the entries.
Those who’ve traveled from distant points and will spend up to 12 days watching films here hope, as always, that at least one or two brilliant titles will reward the investment. If they exist this year, they have yet to be seen.
Richard Corliss at Time:
"Adequate" sums up the Festival’s offerings so far. No films yet have reaped unanimous critical acclaim. A few name directors are thought to have been coasting (Pedro AlmodÃ³var‘s "Volver") or tailspinning (Richard Linklater‘s "Fast Food Nation") with their latest works. Some directors of promise, like the Turk auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan with his Climates, have brought works earning mild applause. We see and we shrug.
David Hudson at Greencine Daily‘s been doing such an awe-inspiringly thorough job of rounding up Cannes coverage that we feel unmotivated to do much more than sit back and take it all in ourselves. Nevertheless, a few thoughts:
"Southland Tales": Richard Kelly‘s undeniably ambitious "Donnie Darko" follow-up seemed doomed merely from the great weight of expectations. Still, we’re heard/read things ranging from "potential career-killer" and "profoundly incoherent" to "a sprawling, periodically dazzling, often funny pop-and-politics mash-up" and "a visionary film about the end of times" from heavies Manohla Dargis and J. Hoberman, respectively. We’re rather dying to see it now, train-wreck or not, though the film has no distributor yet, and, as Hoberman points out, "[a]t two hours and 40 minutes…[it] flirts with the ineffable and also the unreleasable."
"The Host": The most generous acclaim coming out of the festival seems to be for, of all things, this Directors’ Fortnight Korean horror film. "[T]he best film I’ve seen to date at this year’s festival," says Dargis, while Mike D’Angelo concludes "I can only hope to see a Competition entry this impressive," while also pointing out that "it’s a fair question whether Hollywood will come calling, because no major studio would ever countenance popcorn fare this determinedly bleak and despairing — ‘The Host’ makes comparatively grown-up summer flicks like ‘War of the Worlds’ and ‘Batman Begins’ look downright sunny by comparison."
Hazy generalizations: "Babel" response is mixed-to-good; "Shortbus" is also mixed-to-good, if never that enthused; "Red Road" also mixed-to-good, but not good enough, we’d guess, to secure a US distributor; "Fast Food Nation" is mixed-to-bad; "Paris, Je T’aime" is generally good (good enough to spawn a New York version?); "Volver" good-ish, with the caveat that no one seems predisposed to be fonder of AlmodÃ³var than Cannes audiences/critics.