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Cannes 2016: ‘The Nice Guys’, ‘I, Daniel Blake’, ‘Julieta’

Cannes 2016: ‘The Nice Guys’, ‘I, Daniel Blake’, ‘Julieta’

June 5 2016

Reviews of the main films from (the main section) Cannes 2016…

The Nice Guys (Out of competition)
theniceguysadjSHARP, funny and a little wise, Shane Black’s step up from screenwriter (“Lethal Weapon“) to director looks as natural as boy becoming a man (- it’s his third film at the helm after “Iron Man 3” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang“).
A period drama set in 1970s, this a lot of fun, but don’t dig too deep or wonder whether the detail is absolutely spot on. You’ll be laughing and twittering too much to care, anyways.
Black is undoubtedly helped by a neat bit of casting – both Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are excellent and Angourie Rice as Gosling’s young daughter is as sweet and endearing as they come.
Crowe and Gosling play two private detectives, one mean and effective, the other hapless and a bit useless (most of the time), respectively, together, however, with Holly as the lynchpin, they work and well.
Kim Basinger plays a mysterious lawyer who is on their side when she enlists them to find her daughter who has strayed into making dodgy films (wink, wink).
What’s good is that not all is as it seems here, and there are some great set pieces and the whole film is a hoot, slick and well-executed with a dash of old Hollywood.
If you’re a sucker for this type of caper, patronise it and no doubt more of this will come our way…
Acv rating**** (out of five)

I, Daniel Blake (Palme D’Or winner)
i daniel blakeadjSINCERE and earnest, this could be Ken Loach’s most powerful film for a good old while.
The top prize in Cannes – the Palme D’Or – recognised its innate humanity, its deep compassion and its anger at people being treated like numbers on paper.
Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) is a Geordie carpenter (there were English subtitles in places, if memory is faithful), whose recent heart attack has precipitated a quite understandable break from work on medical advice.
The welfare state was created for such instances and few would begrudge anyone financial support in such a situation.
What Loach shows is that the Conservative government in choosing to bear down on the costs of welfare have turned honest men and women into ‘scroungers’ and ‘skivers’ as the right-wing press dubs them all, regardless of circumstances.
Widower Blake’s situation is very relatable and his befriending of single mum Katie (Hayley Squires) is both natural and awkward.
Loach does not get too deeply into this but his sympathies are with Blake and not Hayley, who cherishes his friendship and support but does not want it to deepen. Loach perhaps makes her own choices too stark and terrible but no doubt there is some truth in the fact that any woman under 40 and at her wits end financially, might seek the same way out as Katie.
You could say this is too much of a rant against the welfare minister, until recently – Iain Duncan Smith whose early (now abandoned) reforms cause Blake such suffering.
Painful to watch, Loach’s film possesses his trademark authenticity and passion. For some, it might all be very predictable and heavy handed but the Cannes audience on its first unveiling, responded to it enthusiastically and naturally and that may have set the tone for its eventual prize-winning.
ACV rating:*** ½

Julieta (Competition)
julietaadjTHERE is little doubt Pedro Almodóvar is one of the world’s great auteur filmmakers and fans of the Spanish director will find much to admire and enjoy here.
It’s a little melodramatic but “Julieta” is the tale of two people, a mother (Emma Suarez/Adriana Ugarte) and daughter, Antia, and how some events lead them to split apart.
Engrossing and beautifully played, it’s well constructed and all quite believable.
But somehow it feels a little underwhelming in the end; perhaps Alomodovar was trying to avoid a heavy or obvious pathos.
In not even trying, the film loses what such films must have, to go beyond the sum of their parts – a stab in our hearts.
It’s by no means a bad film, but Almodóvar has earned the right to be considered an auteur and a master, and this is not quite enough and which may go some way to explaining why it did not collect any gongs at Cannes, even though it’s a decent film in so many ways.
Acv rating: ***

(Sailesh Ram)

More Cannes 2016 reviews and pictures from premieres: Un Certain Regard

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