★★☆☆☆Set during one particularly hot and steamy summer, in Stranger by the Lake (L'inconnu du lac, 2013) French men visit a secluded spot on the shore of the lake to cruise for sex. One individual seems to be there just for conversation, whilst another conceals far more sinister motives. Gay cinema auteur Alain Guiraudie's Un Certain Regard offering slowly reveals itself as part-sex exposé, part-murder mystery. Franck (Pierre de Ladonchamps) is a young man out for stimulation who's immediately attracted to Christophe Paou's Michel. However, Michel appears to already have a boyfriend, so Franck amuses himself with a casual hook-up or two.
- We give five stars to 'Inside Llewyn Davis', the new film from directing duo the Coen brothers
- Here's our review of Baz Luhrmann Cannes-opener 'The Great Gatsby', in cinemas this week
- Russian director Aleksei Balabanov finally reaches UK cinemas with our FotW 'The Stoker'
- Justin Lin returns to the franchise he helped save with vehicular crash 'em up 'Fast & Furious 6'
- Music journalist Jay Bulger goes in search of a reclusive rock legend in 'Beware of Mr. Baker'
- Owen Wilson plays Woody Allen's latest cipher in the inventive 'Midnight in Paris'
13 Assassins (2010) slashed through Venice a couple of years ago. Sadly, Shield of Straw (Wara no tate, 2013) is a stone-cold dud which really has no place on the Croisette. When a little girl is raped and murdered, her super-rich grandfather offers a huge reward to anyone who kills the suspected killer, Kunihide Kiyomaru (a maniacal Tatsuya Fujiwara).
Motel Hell (1980) is perhaps best remembered for providing two of horror cinema's catchiest tag-lines - "Meat's meat, and a man's gotta eat" and "It takes all kinda critters to make Farmer Vincent's fritters". However these expressions uttered by the film's protagonist and his homicidal sister also sum-up the essence of a film which is as unsettling today as it was when first released over thirty years ago. Vincent Smith (Rory Calhoun) and his sister Ida (Nancy Parsons) run 'Motel Hello', one of the most hospitable roadside hostels in America's Deep South.
Vehicle 19 (2013). Alongside an international cast including Naima McLean and Gys De Villiers, Walker plays Michael Woods, a reckless ex-con determined to change his life for the better in an attempt to save his relationship with an estranged girlfriend. Unfortunately, a mix-up at a Johannesburg car rental company leaves Michael stuck with the wrong car and distressed hostage Rachel (McLean) in the boot.
The Sessions (2012) follows the heart-felt journey of Mark (John Hawkes), a man trapped in an iron lung after being stricken with polo as a child, and his quest to ultimately lose his virginity. Played with incredible conviction by journeyman Hawkes, Mark is a man who - despite being paralysed from the neck down - relishes all that life has to offer. Being trapped inside his head for the best part of his life, Mark writes poetry in an attempt to make more sense of the world around him. Frustrated with having never had sex, Mark turns to a councillor who suggests a sex surrogate.
Django Unchained (2012) serves as a brilliantly entertaining, although not altogether unexpected piece of pastiche, caricature cinema. Set to the backdrop of America's pre-Civil War plantations, it is in equal parts a revenge thriller and a buddy movie, led by a stellar cast with Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz on sublime form as its leading men. The story begins with Django (Foxx) being transported as a slave through the backwoods of Texas. On the journey, he and his captors happen upon what turns out to be fateful encounter with Waltz's Dr. King Schultz.
Jimmy P. (Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian) (formerly Jimmy Picard) looked like a strong potential contender for the Palme d'Or. However, though the film certainly has its moments, its handsomeness can't hide an oddly undramatic core in which nothing is really at stake. Jimmy Picard (Del Toro) is the 'Indian' of the cumbersome title, a Second World War veteran who suffers from headaches, visual disturbances and bad dreams.
Borgman (2013) is the darkest of dark horses: an obsidian black comedy with a surreal and genuinely vicious 'eat the rich' ethic that might just pinch a prize. The film opens with a beautifully ludicrous scene as three characters - including a Roman Catholic priest - get tooled up and attempt to capture and possibly kill what seems like a group of homeless people who are living in a Stig of the Dump-style underground hideaway. Their bearded leader Borgman (Jan Bijovet) makes good his escape and searches for sanctuary.
Cannes has always been good to the Coens, the festival's heady blend of arthouse and popularity suiting them down to the ground. In 1991, Barton Fink won the Palme d'Or as well as acting and directing awards. Fargo and The Man Who Wasn't There both won directing gongs and they've had seven films in competition. Their latest work, Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) - a picaresque odyssey in the life of an also-ran folk songster - must be a firm favourite for a prize in this edition as well. It's the early sixties, well before Dylan, Phil Ochs and Peter, Paul and Mary, and folk singer Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is waiting for his big break.
Grand Central (2013). The protagonists of her latest film are young, unskilled French workers who, at the end of their tether, gladly jump at the chance to work in the dangerously radioactive areas of France's fifty-nine nuclear power stations. Following a brief training period, Gary (Tahar Rahim, in his second film of Cannes 2013) takes to the work with a sense of glamour and adventure. At first it's simply an easy way to make money, with the paternal Gilles continually watching out for him.
Rain Man - makes her directorial debut in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes with Miele (2013). Irene (Jasmine Trinca) lives a double life. To her father and her boyfriend she 's a university student, endlessly working on her thesis with a professor in Padua. However, she also has another mobile phone and another name - Miele or 'honey'. She flies to the United States and then enters Mexico by bus. With her short punkish haircut she looks like Anne Parillaud from Luc Besson's Nikita. Could she be a hitwoman?
Like Father, Like Son (Soshite chichi ni naru, 2013), a closely-observed family drama which delves into contemporary Japanese life; and, in the process, becomes an examination of social values and class. Ryota (Masaharu Fukuyama) is a winner - a successful work-obsessed architect in Tokyo who provides his family with a plush apartment and mod-cons, but has little time to actually spend with them. His wife, Midori (Machiko Ono), makes do as they provide for Keita, their adorable six-year-old son.
A startling return to form for cult director Quentin Tarantino, action-packed spaghetti western Django Unchained (2012) was nominated for five Academy Awards earlier this year, taking home the Oscars for Best Original Screenplay (Tarantino) and Best Supporting Actor (Christoph Waltz). To celebrate the Blu-ray and DVD release of Tarantino's blood-soaked revenge story, we're delighted to be able to offer THREE Blu-ray copies of Django out to our devoted readers, courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. This is an exclusive competition for our Facebook and Twitter fans, so if you haven't already, 'Like' us at facebook.com/CineVueUK or follow us @CineVue before answering the question below.
He may not be at this year's Cannes Film Festival, but Danish enfant terrible Lars von Trier will be taking over London's BFI Southbank this month (up until 30 May) for a special film season commemorating his work in cinema - from the acclaimed to the downright controversial (who's excited for his next project?). To celebrate this unmissable LvT retrospective taking place in our capital, we've kindly been provided with THREE pairs of tickets to see a von Trier film of you choice (from 24-30 May), courtesy of the British Film Institute. This is an exclusive competition for our Facebook and Twitter fans, so if you haven't already, 'Like' us at facebook.com/CineVueUK or follow us @CineVue before answering the question below.
Trouble with the Curve (2012) offers a poignant look at a father and daughter coming together again after years of bitterness, with Hollywood veteran Clint Eastwood starring as ageing baseball scout Gus Lobel. To celebrate the home entertainment release of Trouble with the Curve, which also stars Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake, we've kindly been provided with THREE DVD copies of the film to give away to our readership, courtesy of distributors Warner Home Video. This is an exclusive competition for our Facebook and Twitter fans, so if you haven't already, 'Like' us at facebook.com/CineVueUK or follow us @CineVue before answering the question below.
A Separation, the most recent of several astute Iranian dramas. Farhadi returns this year with Palme d'Or nominee The Past (Le passé, 2013), a film equally as riveting as those that came before. This nuanced, complex France-set story unwinds and reveals itself at a measured pace, yet its intensity never lags. Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) arrives in France to finalise his divorce with soon-to-be ex-wife Marie (The Artist's Bérénice Bejo). However, in his absence Marie has found a new lover in the guise of Samir (Our Children's Tahar Rahim).
★★★☆☆Jia Zhangke returns to Cannes this year with A Touch of Sin (Tian zhu ding, 2013), a powerful portrait of contemporary China told through the stories of four different provincial characters. Dahai (Jiang Wu) is a disappointed village, exasperated by the corruption around him and specifically the sale of a local mine to private interests. He grouses about it to anyone who will hear him until his exasperation boils over into fury. Zhousan (Wang Baoqiang) is an itinerant worker who returns to his wife and home for a short break. The stern-faced type, he sends his wife money but his only true enjoyment comes from firearms.
Fruitvale Station (2013) is an uncompromising, original and movingly humane piece of American political cinema. Michael B. Jordan plays Oscar, who, on New Year's Eve, has already committed himself to fulfilling his annual resolutions a day in advance. Oscar is going to quit dealing drugs, be more faithful to girlfriend and mother of his child Sophina (Melonie Diaz), be a better father to his daughter, be a kinder son to his doting mother, Wanda (Octavia Spencer), and is going to take his girl out to see the Bay Area fireworks.
The Bling Ring (2013), a teen crime movie/wannabe satire based on the true story of a gang of over-privileged kids (with serious entitlement issues) who burgled a succession of Hollywood celebrity abodes several years back. Marc (Israel Broussard) is the new kid at school befriended by über-popular Rebecca (Katie Chang), who has a distinct taste for taking stuff that doesn't belong to her. The pair graduate from boosting the odd misplaced handbag to stealing cars and cleaning out the homes of A-listers when they're off partying.
Jeune et Jolie (Young & Beautiful, 2013), a stylish, well-crafted and intelligent character study of a young woman coming of age through the space of four seasons and to the soundtrack of four significant songs. Marine Vacth plays Isabelle, a 17-year-old of stunning beauty, enjoying a summer beach holiday with her family and family's friends. A romance with a young German boy leads to her first sexual experience, but she is almost immediately detached from any emotional reaction to what has happened.
★★★★☆Heli (Armando Espitia), the protagonist of Amat Escalante's 2013 Palme d'Or contender of the same name, is a young Mexican who lives with his father, his son, his young wife (Linda Gonzalez) and 12-year-old sister, Estella (Andrea Vergara). He's prone to bad luck, keen on his naps and, when a census taker comes to the house, hesitates about how many people live there with him. However, when 17-year-old army cadet Beto (Juan Eduardo Palacios) falls in love with Estella and makes plans for the two of them to run away together, Heli's cataclysmic knee-jerk reaction will plunge the family into pitiless and brutal violence.
Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge and Australia - means bucket-loads of excess, indulgence and, once upon a time, fun. The collective breath was duly drawn when his plans to tackle F. Scott Fitzgerald's tight novel of disappointment and decadence, The Great Gatsby, was first announced - and the results are predictably underwhelming. There's a lot of noise, music, colour and syncopation as Luhrmann transforms the Jazz Age into the kind of theme party that would get Rhu Paul asking discretely that the music be turned down.
Fast Five (2011), director Justin Lin - with a little help from Dwayne Johnson's likeable Agent Hobbs - managed to reinvigorate the then-ailing Fast & Furious franchise. Racing to $626 million at the global box office, it's no surprise that everyone is back for another round of vehicular warfare. Offering more of the high-octane action that the series is famous for, Lin's Fast & Furious 6 (2013) is easily the most ridiculous blockbuster of 2013 thus far; and also one of the most watchable. This time round, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his team are enjoying themselves after their $100 million windfall from their last job.
★★★★☆A wildly entertaining and well-drawn portrait of one of music's most tempestuous figures, first-time director Jay Bulger's vivid rockumentary Beware of Mr. Baker (2012) drops off the festival circuit and into UK cinemas this week thanks to Curzon Film World. Whilst it may struggle to appeal to the same crossover audiences that fell for Malik Bendjelloul's Oscar-winning Searching for Sugarman last year, for anyone even remotely interested in the enigmatic man, his various short-lived musical collaborations or the British jazz-rock scene of the 1950s-70s, Bulger's even-handed exposé floats like a butterfly and stings like a Baker.
The Liability (2012) straddles a number of interesting sub-genres (road trip, gangster yarn, the world-weary hitman). It's a shame these outwardly intriguing elements have to do battle with a predictable and pretty contrived story. Even an impressive visual canvas eventually plumps for style over substance as the script begins to drag and the pace slackens. A teen tearaway (Jack O'Connell) trashes her criminal stepfather's prized automobile. As a means of paying off his debt, he's given the job of driving a professional killer (Tim Roth) to a grizzly job up in the North East.
The Stoker (Kochegar, 2010) is released after three years in distribution limbo. Best known domestically for Brother (1997) and Brother 2 (2000), Balabanov is an eccentric and unpredictable director whose work, up until now, has seldom managed to escape the festival circuit. Set in 1995 in post-Soviet Saint Petersburg, The Stoker's eponymous, elderly boiler worker (the late Mikhail Skryabin) spends his days locked away in a cramped recess of an apartment block shovelling coal to keep its three furnaces burning.
When the Boys Return (2012). Taking as its focus a group of teenagers that are repeatedly imprisoned by Israeli forces for crimes such as 'throwing stones', the doc aims to explore the effect that this incarceration has on them and their families. The startling opening shot features guerilla footage of a community under fire, with boys forcibly taken from their homes whilst their mothers wail for clemency. This intensity dissipates in the ensuing hour, and is never quite as stirring as it might have been.
Fast & Furious franchise is back once again with its latest offering, Fast & Furious 6 (hitting UK cinemas on 17 May). In this new franchise entry, Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) summons Dom (Vin Diesel) and his crew to London in order to take on a team of mercenary drivers who have caused havoc across a dozen countries. Realising that Dom knows the only men and women in the world with the skills to get the job done, Agent Hobbs offers them all full pardons. High octane high-jinks consequently ensure. To celebrate the release of Fast & Furious 6, we've narrowed down our favourite action women in contemporary film.
Strictly Ballroom (1992), updated Bill Shakespeare's most famous love story in Romeo + Juliet (1996), illuminated turn-of-the-century Paris for Moulin Rouge! (2001) and readdressed the legacy of white colonialism Down Under with Australia (2008), Aussie director Baz Luhrmann now turns his hand to a 3D adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel The Great Gatsby. Luhrmann's hotly-awaited latest spectacle premières at the Cannes Film Festival this week before going on general release in UK cinemas this Thursday (16 May), with early snippets coming across from critics in the States mixed to say the very least (review to come tomorrow).
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