Cannes films dare to ask big questions
After a midfest conversation about artistic considerations (Cannes Show Daily, May 18), Variety’s senior film critics compare notes on a festival at which films of extreme violence and bitter parent-child conflict were plentiful. A film fest is considered a success if it unveils just a few films that get people talking.
By that standard, this year’s Cannes was a resounding success.
PETER DEBRUGE: This year’s Cannes lineup has been an unusually strong one, and one image captures the spirit of the competition for me: It’s the shot that immediately precedes the title card in Lars von Trier’s surprisingly tame “Melancholia” (surprising in light of the controversy his press conference caused, of course), in which we see Earth colliding with a big blue planet, resulting in their mutual, foundation-rattling destruction.
That visual is a nice metaphor for the polar-opposite approaches Terrence Malick (a Believer with big questions for God) and von Trier (offering the atheist counterargument) took to projects that dare to examine man’s place in the universe.
JUSTIN CHANG: It has indeed been a very strong Cannes. Unfortunately, von Trier made his idiotic “I’m a Nazi” comments and the festival reacted by turning an awkward situation into full-blown Larsgate — all of which has accomplished nothing except to draw attention away from “Melancholia,” a mature and accomplished film from a director whose talent often gets less ink than his impish showmanship.