Another Cannes Film Festival is drawing to a close (things wrap up on May 26), which always makes us sad – but the good news is that this year’s fest has given us a slew of new titles to look forward to seeing for the rest of 2013. From a biopic about Liberace from the soon-to-retire Steven Soderbergh to the latest from beloved filmmakers like the Coen brothers, Sofia Coppola and Nicolas Winding Refn – this year’s Cannes certainly hasn’t lacked what we like to call “event pictures.” If this is indicative of what the rest of the year has in store for movie lovers, we think we’re all in for a treat.
Not all of us made it to France this year for the festival, but we’ve been here at home keeping an eye on things from afar. As such, we’ve put together this piece highlighting four of the films generating a lot of buzz at this year’s event. These are the titles you’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for when they hit American theaters (or in Soderbergh's case, HBO). So, with all that said, let’s take a look at four of the most buzzworthy titles to emerge from Cannes 2013.
Behind the Candelabra
What it’s about: Michael Douglas dons lots of flashy polyester, while Matt Damon grows a feathered lion’s mane in this biopic about the late Liberace and an affair he conducted quietly for five years starting back in 1977.
What the critics are saying: If this is indeed Steven Soderbergh’s last film, it appears as though the filmmaker has gone out with a bang (no pun intended). Critic Anne Thompson goes as far as to say “If Behind the Candelabra is [Soderbergh's] final film, it's a winner, easily among the best of his 26 features.”
Craig Skinner, at Hey U Guys, echoes that sentiment – stating that if this is the director’s final film, he’s going out on a high note.
Many other critics have focused on how Soderbergh has mixed the campy melodrama of Liberace’s life with a genuinely touching love story filled with real emotions and heartrending moments.
We were dying to see this one before the buzz – the subject matter and the fact that it’s probably the end of the line for Soderbergh’s career made it a must-see – but now we’re really excited.
Watch Behind the Candelabra on HBO on May 26.
The Bling Ring
What it’s about: A group of fame-hungry teens use the Internet to track the location of Hollywood celebrities and then break into their homes while they’re away in this crime drama based on a real-life story. The real Bling Ring’s group of victims included Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Orlando Bloom, among others. Featuring a talented young ensemble cast (which includes Emma Watson and Kirsten Dunst), this one has everyone talking.
What the critics are saying: Critics who’ve had a chance to see The Bling Ring seem pretty divided over Sofia Coppola’s latest. Some, like Emanuel Levy, enjoyed it quite a bit. Levy made the following observation:
“Very much a zeitgeist film, The Bling Ring is a moral fable and cautionary tale. In its good moments, which are plentiful, the movie suggests what it means to be young, ruthless, technically alert, an [sic] most important of all, obsessed with fast achievement of fame and celebrity, even if it calls for using illegitimate means.”
Others weren’t quite so smitten with Coppola’s latest – which has been something of a recurring trend with the filmmaker’s work. Craig Skinner enjoyed the performances from the cast, but found the story of the film hard to connect with.
“Without some far more biting satire than Coppola gets anywhere near to here, or anything at all more interesting to say about this world than it’s pretty ridiculous and empty, it’s hard to understand who this film will really connect with. If you hate the celebrity obsessions that seem to so often dominate popular culture you will probably raise a wry smile occasionally in The Bling Ring but mostly just find it to be filled with obvious observations and little insight.”
Based on critical reception so far, we’re still very interested in seeing The Bling Ring, but it does seem fairly divisive. Guess we’ll have to wait and decide for ourselves.
Watch The Bling Ring in theaters on June 14.
Inside Llewyn Davis
What it’s about: Oscar Isaac stars in this period piece from the always-dependable Coen brothers. The title character is a singer-songwriter navigating his way through the American folk music scene during the 1960s – with humorous and dramatic results. The film was loosely inspired by Dave Van Ronk’s memoir The Mayor of MacDougal Street.
What the critics are saying: Critics are gushing over Llewyn Davis, making it a serious contender for top honors at this year’s fest.
Twitch’s Ryland Aldritch sold us on the film with this single line from his review: “The Coens’ Inside Llewyn Davis is light on plot but immensely enjoyable due to Oscar Isaac's talent for playing a likable asshole.”
Isaac has captured critics’ attention with his portrayal of the tormented musician – with pretty much every major review singling out his performance as one of the high points of the experience.
Now we just have to wait until December for Inside Llewyn Davis’ American release.
Watch Inside Llewyn Davis in theaters on December 6.
Only God Forgives
What it’s about: Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling try to recapture the magic of Drive in his new crime thriller. Gosling plays a man running a boxing club in Thailand that’s really a front for the family drug smuggling business. When his brother is killed, Gosling’s character’s mother sends him out on a mission of vengeance.
What critics are saying: Early buzz for the duo’s latest is mixed, with pretty much everyone lauding the visual style of the film (with a few noting it’s become almost cliché at this point), while deriding a less than thrilling narrative.
The Independent offers these thoughts for your consideration:
“Visually, this is stunning fare. Almost every frame shot by cinematographer (and former Stanley Kubrick collaborator) Larry Smith could be taken out of the film and used on its own as an illustration in a coffee table book. As in his previous feature Drive, Refn is working with Ryan Gosling. The brilliant American actor again gives a moody, minimalist performance in the Steve McQueen vein. He is given barely any dialogue but registers as strongly as ever. The problem is a very clunky plot that would barely pass muster in the lowest grade B movie and some tin-eared sub-Tarantino dialogue.”
Meanwhile, Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian offered up the following great line:
“It is ultraviolent, creepy and scary, an enriched-uranium cake of pulp, with a neon sheen. The first scenes made me think that Wong Kar-wai had made a new film called In the Mood for Fear or In the Mood for Hate.”
Not gonna lie – that makes us want to see it more.
Watch Only God Forgives in theaters on July 19.
Of course, these aren’t the only films playing Cannes this year – or the only ones worthy of your time and consideration. Our friends at IndieWire have put together a handy list of all the titles at the fest this year – complete with a curated selection of reviews. Do check them out, if for no other reason than to see what the rest of this year has in store for movie lovers.