2018 Cannes, Cannes

2018 Cannes Palme d’Or

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Upon announcing the competition lineup, Frémaux noted that his team purposely picked lesser-known films rather than went with the big names. The final lineup reflects that sentiment with only a handful of Hollywood films – only 2 compared to say, 2012, where 7 films produced by the States premiered In Competition and a list with many new faces.

The main narrative during the event revolves around the ongoing dispute between Cannes and Netflix.  As Frémaux mentions, Cannes established a rule this year saying films must receive French theatrical distribution if they want to be eligible to premiere in the Competition lineup. The rule prevents Cuarón’s Netflix-backed Roma from premiering in competition and as a result, Netflix pulled out all their films, most notably Roma and Orson Welles’s The Other Side of the Wind. The Mexican film would later claim the Golden Lion at Venice and become a major player at that year’s Oscar.

The war-of-hate from Harvey Weinstein that sparked the #MeToo movement also casts a shadow to the festival. It tied to the event where 82 film industry women paraded the red carpet to protest gender inequality. For its 71 years history only 82 films directed by women have been in Cannes’ Official Competition. It also happened on the day when this very blog came into existence. It’s fitting that the Festival follows this with the screening of The Girls of the Sun – a feminist film about women’s struggle and empowerment. 

About the Palme D’or shortlist, it’s another strong year. There are some install classics – you can read below to find out. But more importantly, all these 21 films are very close in terms of quality, making it an exciting year where I can argue that every film has its merits to be included in the lineup. If I have one minor objection, it’d be that the French selection isn’t strong, as you can see below where they placed at bottom of my list.

It’s interesting to note that at the time of the event, there were 2 directors In Competition list placed under house arrest for making films their governments despise (Jafar Panahi and Kirill Serebrennikov). I feel it makes sense then that this programme has 3 road movies on the list (3 Faces, Yomeddine, Carpenaum). It is, after all, a reach for freedom and a rebellion against conservative social norms (all 3 films touch that issue). Realism is back in fashion in this 2018 edition, utilized by nearly half of this list, with documentary-like realism (Carpenaum, 3 Faces, At War), neo-realism (Ayka, Dogman, Yomeddine) and even magical-realism (Happy as Lazzaro). As a result, this list introduces us to many lesser-known and non-professional cast, most notably the acting winners Samal Yeslyamova (Ayka), Marcello Fonte (Dogman), the child actor Zain Al Rafeea in Capernaum and the disabled actor Rady Gamal in Yomeddine.

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2015 Cannes, Cannes

2015 Cannes Palme d’Or

2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

2015 marks the very first year that I attended Cannes and the phrase “you have to be there to know the feeling” certainly applies here. It’s just one-of-the-kind experience, so much so that I’m glad to overlook the fact that the 2015 lineup is pretty weak, in fact the lowest point out of the whole decade. Dheepan’s win is amongst the least plausible winner pick in recent years, and I could point to the last-minutes choice for where Cannes makes a head-scratching decision: they picked the underwhelmed Valley of Love and Chronic instead of Weerasethakul’s mesmerizing Cemetery of Splendor, even more puzzling with the fact that Cemetery is right after him winning Cannes for Uncle Boonmee and if Cemetery were in, it could comfortably sit in the top 3. To be fair though, the rest of The Coens’ jury choices are fine with me, but truly that one major pick stings.

This edition is notable for having international directors fleshing their muscles and working in English productions, with varying degrees of success. While The Lobster and Youth make a swift transition to Anglo-saxon market, Tale of Tales, Louder than Bombs and Chronic make little impact. If I have to sum up the general themes of films competing this year, this line-up has a strong flavor of costumed pieces (Macbeth, Marguerite & Julien, Tale of Tales and to a larger extent The Assassin and Carol as well). Personal and familial drama are featured frequently in the Main Competition, and “grief” becomes one of the main themes for many films this year (The Sea of Trees, Louder than Bombs, Mia Madre, Valley of Love you can also argue that Son of Saul is in here too).

It’s the first time in a while where there are 3 Italian directors competing for Palme D’or (you can see their pic together below). Asian films are in good shape with all 3 films making it to my first half. It’s just the general field lacks depth as I could only regard the first 7 films as solid. Finally, 2 French women directors are in the line-up but the Marguerite & Julien slot is just plain bad – while Cannes always assert that they pick films based on the quality and not who’s behind the project, it’s films like this that make me think they fill this slot to meet the quota. Pretty uninspiring choice.

Should have been on the list:Cemetery of Splendor (Apichatpong Weerasethakul) – Un Certain Regard

Arabian Nights (Miguel Gomes) – Directors’ Fortnight

Love (Gaspar Noe) – Midnight Screening

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Anime Yearly Summaries

2016 Anime Summary

 

Personally, I hold 2016 year dear to my heart, given it was the year that I started blogging anime. So, from watching 3-4 shows per season in previous years I would watch around 14-15 shows (now, I retain a healthy meal course of around 10 shows per season) and probably watched more trash shows than necessary for the blog but you know what, I love every minute of it. Compared to my original top 10 list back in 2016, you can see that while the shows remain unchanged (just the #10 was replaced), the order has been shuffled around, futher reflect how ranking and criticism are not… you know… exact science. Anime films are absolute beasts in 2016, with the release of these following: Your Name, A Silent Voice, In this Corner of the World, Kizumonogatari and Doukyuusei. The success of Your Name and Yuri on Ice in particular are welcoming signs as they are passionate projects from one of the most talented anime directors working in the field right now.

Most Popular Show of 2016: Re:Zero

Re:Zero is now seen as one of the crowning example of isekai subgenre and I can see why. Although it follows the tropes of the genre with a main character who “happens” to have special abilities in another world, it goes beyond that and showing the real curse of having the ability. There’s a lot of suffering for Subaru as he dies and dies again and repeats the circle. And while it’s true that he can advance to the next stage once he clears the hurdles, the psychological effects of these horrible events clearly affect him. Hence, Re:Zero is at its best when it doesn’t offer an easy way out for Subaru. He’s in a bind and we can clearly feel his struggle. The show suffers, then, when sometimes he clears the stage a bit too convenient, and when it relies on tropes and anime humor. It’s still entertaining enough for me that I m looking for the second season nonetheless

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Site Updates

New Update

It’s rather ironic but I just received words from Armitage yesterday that her uni just announced the exam timeline and sadly that means our joint project Cannes 2000 will have to postpone for 1 month. Since we haven’t even started, I take it as good news because we won’t have to worry about it tailgating us anymore. So in the meantime, I figure it’s best for me to finish 2010s Anime Summary and 2010s Oscar Animated Features and still continuing watch animated films, as well as catching up with anime shows of the decade that I have missed. In a perfect world I would be at Cannes right now, and it still feels pretty weird to go through a year without a Cannes event, but that’s the way it is and the best I can do now is stay ready for a return to normal.

And I like to wrap this short post up by sharing my current favorite song. Sometimes, a screenshot of a movie can perfectly capture the essence of the film, and sometimes, a title alone can resonate powerfully with me. Such is this song title: About The Courage To Become Someone’s Past by Say Sue Me. The band Say Sue Me is an indie Korean band, although they sing mostly in English and their style is influenced by Western’s bands. In 2016, their drummer fall into semi-coma during a tragic accident, and this wordless song reflects the band’s feeling about him.

I’m afraid of making new memories without you“, she sings in another song – and I feel the same. When you regard someone as your special, to go on without them in your life is just rough.  Enjoy the piece

2000 Cannes, Cannes

Cannes 2000 Preview

As we’re approaching the starting line of our 2000 Cannes project, it’s time for a little warm up. Here in this Preview both Armitage and myself will give you a rundown of our initial impression and expectation towards the 2000 Cannes lineup and Cannes itself.

Mario: My prime reasons for picking the year 2000 as our first edition are due to the fact that it was the first year of the whole new century and what a year to kick-start a new millennium with style. It was the year where Asian cinema took the world by storm with the massive cultural impact of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon to the Western world and many other works like Platform, Suzhou River, Battle Royale that didn’t make this official list but proudly stand the test of time. Iranian cinema had a good showing as well with The Circle,The Day I Became a Woman and a young talented voice in this Official list. 

As for the lineup, I have only seen 7 films out of the Main Competition so far, which is to say that there’s a lot more to unravel, and I’m more than happy to revisit films that I am always fond of. It’s worthy to note that 2000 was one of the last years where Gilles Jacob was the president – the current-director Thierry Frémaux would later replace him as artistic director in Cannes 2004 after a general negative reaction over the quality of the Official Selection in 2003. It remains to be seen on which side this programme will befall, but if I have some minor complaint as of now it would be the decision to place Luc Besson as a Jury President. I don’t mean to disrespect one of the best action auteur working today, but his works have never been in Cannes In Competition, making the decision feels more because of his star-power status. The rest of the jury was in great shape, in contrast, with a 50/50 ratio between the ladies and the gentlemen.

My most anticipated titles: Sight-unseen: Eureka 

                                            Already-seen: In the Mood for Love

Armitage: Hello, dearest readers of the blog, how are all of you doing these days? I know you must be unfamiliar with who the new girl on the block is, but in the coming days, I hope to be better acquainted with you all. 

I shall be joining Mario (as the voice of reason) as we watch movies together over the coming weeks. We are going to undertake the ‘Cannes: Year in Review’ project this time around but there are many more such projects to come in the near future. The reason we picked this project is because Cannes film festival has always held a special place in the hearts of both of us. I have never personally been to see a movie there but some of my all-time favorites have been part of past Cannes line-ups and I have discovered many hidden gems which I would have never gotten around to watching if not for the recognition they received there. 

As for what these favorites might be, all I can say is some people like movies to lift up their mood while some people like it when they are able to shed a tear or two while watching one. Out of these two, I fall more in the later category. My favorite genre of media has always been understated character dramas. Though, I can always appreciate if a movie has real ambition behind its story-telling no matter how flawed it may be. I particularly enjoy the works of Andrey Tarkovsky, Richard Linklater, Michael Haneke and Lars Von Trier. The latter two being perennially beloved at Cannes. 

And over the coming weeks, I hope to discover many new favorites as we delve into the short-listed movies at Cannes from the year 2000. There is no great metaphor at play in why we decided to start with this year apart from the fact that well, what better way to start a new series than with the start of this century!

With that, I conclude my introductory monologue. As for you all, come join me and Mario as we watch some great movies over the coming month. It’s gonna be real fun!!

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Site Updates

New Project Announcement – Cannes 2000

Hello readers, I’m here to announce the new project. As this year’s edition of Cannes has been postponed, and as of this writing, no new date has been confirmed and every news has been quiet, me and my friend/ fellow anime blogger ARMITAGE decided to cover the Cannes Main Competition of 2000, which will start on May 15th, exactly 2 weeks from now. She’s even more passionate about cinema and Women cinema (oh yes, that will come too) than I am, so it’s an honor to collaborate with her on this project.

Apart from being exactly 20 years old – and In the Mood for Love would have receive its 20-year anniversary special screening at Cannes (under normal circumstance), we both have personal connection to that year to the point it was the first year that comes to our mind when we think about doing a retrospective year. Our plan for now is to watch and review one film in Competition a day, after which we will grant our own awards. There are 23 films in the Main selection, so it should take up around 3 weeks – a month. Depending on how we feel then, we might tackle some other films in parallel selections. It also means the temporary halt of my current 2010s Animated Movies, but it’s my full intention to return and finish it by the end of the year.

Personally I’m super excited for this project. Since my breakup it’s the first time where I feel genuinely looking forward to something. Here’s hoping you enjoy our first joint effort of this “Cannes at home” edition.

Anime Yearly Summaries

2017 Anime Summary

 

Overall, I consider 2017 an okay year in anime, it isn’t as solid as 2016, but the top 4 are absolute modern classics (well, 2 of them are sequels). 2017 is the year where we see the Hollywood embraces the medium by having 2 live-action remakes to classic anime Ghost in the Shell staring Scarlet Johansson and Death Note TV series to a devastating result. Fantasy-adventure anime had a typically strong year with the crowd-pleasing Little Witch Academia, Attack on Titan Second season, Made in Abyss, Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul and Kino’s Journey remake (which is considered more as Kino Journey‘s greatest hits). Romance has a pretty good showing as well, with the likes of tsuki ga kirei, Tsurezure Children, Just Because, Net-juu no Susume, Gamers and most notably the anti-romance Scums’ WishOn the flip side we see the brief comeback of imouto subgenre (Eromanga sensei and A Sister is All You Need), which for me is absolute cancer. Kemono Friends, an adaptation of the then-dysfunction mobile game, becomes a breakthrough hit and that was something that I can’t comprehend even to this day. 2017 is also the first year of the Crunchyroll Anime Awards where they championed Made in Abyss.

Most Popular Show of 2017: My Hero Academia 2

The first season of My Hero Academia might air a year before in 2016 with modest success, but it’s this season that the show really explodes in anime fandom and becomes one of the most popular franchises of this decade. It embraces the shounen tropes with the right amount of heart and incredible animation, resulting in a predictable but always entertaining watch. This second season is an apt example of its success, and of why I never truly embrace the series. It poses some interesting questions about the grey moral of becoming a hero and points out flaws within the current hero’s system, but then it falls back on these in many occasions for a more light-hearted and straight forward action set piece. The result is a ton of sakuga sequences that is impressive in its own right, but it sacrifices all the thematic complexity in the process.

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2010s Animated Movies, Animated Movies, Animation - Anime

Animated Movies of 2010s – #13: The Book of Life, Giovanni’s Island & Boxcar Children

2014 is the year of focus this week, and I watched a bunch of 2014 releases that I missed out. 2014 falls amongst the lowest in number of animated films I wanna check out for this project (just a mere 21 films – and I had to stretch already with including a miniseries Over the Garden Wall). It doesn’t help that some that I watched aren’t that good to begin with. There are some pleasant surprises, though, with 2 out of these three exceeding my expectations. For 2014 edition we have a film about the Day of the Dead (in a decade where Day of the Dead is frequent, with Coco, the short Dia de Los Muertos (2013) and La Leyenda de la Nahuala deal with the same subject matters), a WWII anime film and American indie Boxcar Children. Let’s get down to it:

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Animation - Anime, Anime

Ranking All Monogatari arcs

With the end of the decade is drawing near, it’s time for me to revisit one of my favorite franchises of this last decade – and my all times as well – Monogatari series. Monogatari series is one rare show that despite its extreme visual style and convoluted storytelling, it still draws a delicate fan-following and becomes one of the most popular and enduring franchises the last ten years have to offer. With an “Off-season” is around the corner (of which there is no official announcement for anime adaptation as of yet but hey, do you seriously think that Shaft will get pass this golden egg? – and of which I’m mixed about: it’s time to move on), the 10-year era from 2009-2019 follows the completion of Monogatari’s main arc, spawning 15 plus mini-arcs and an entire cast larger than a football field. Monogatari has its ups and downs for sure, and we will get to that in this ranking of all the Monogatari arcs, from worst to best.

Of course, as per any ranked list, there’s some rules that needed to mention here. Some arcs that consists of several mini stories – will be included as one (like the Sodaichi arc). This gets tricky, though, when you scroll back to the Bakemonogatari season, which contains 5 mini-arcs of the same theme, and the Japanese novels and English publishions differ in the way they arranging (split into 2 in the former and into 3 in the latter). I will go with NisiOisin’s original intention – 2 small arcs. ONA’s Koyomi Vamp and trilogy-movie Kizu are included as well, that make it a total of 18 arcs. Without further ado, let’s chase them down:

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