“Cannes” you dig it? We’ve got a fever, and the only cure is more foreign films…
Spring is in the air, and so is a Cannes Film Festival frenzy! Now through May 22, world cinema is front and center on the international stage. While we can’t be there for all of the films and the flashbulbs, we’re feeling the spirit (and feeling thankful for subtitles) with our Spotlight on Cannes Favorites and our Alternative Guide to World Cinema. Cannes audiences have been known for two things, historically: glamorous red carpet appearances and vocally expressing their criticism. Here are some films that thrilled, chilled and killed when they debuted on screen at Cannes, and are now verified Fandor favorites:
Trouble Every Day
(2001) dir. Claire Denis
“The first full-blown scandal of the Cannes film festival erupted last night over the lurid French film…in which the Gallic sex symbol Beatrice Dalle has sex with, murders and cannibalises four men.” So quotes the Guardian‘s Fiachra Gibbons and Stuart Jeffries in this piece we dug up from their archives of criticism! Ever a maverick auteur, Denis pushed the envelope even further with this beautiful, bloody masterpiece of a monster movie, and her most divisive and controversial work is one of Planet Fandor’s favorites. It stars Vincent Gallo, who would go on to be booed for The Brown Bunny at the 2003 festival. Fun fact: The words most used to describe Trouble Every Day by our Fandor reviewers are all variations on either “disturbing” or “gorgeous”.
Every Man for Himself and
God Against All
(1974) dir. Werner Herzog
“Werner Herzog is a young German director with a rapidly growing reputation in Europe and, as yet, not much of a name here. ‘Every Man for Himself,’ which won this year’s Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, should change that.” Yes, there was a time when Werner Herzog was still an unfamiliar name on this side of the world, and this 1974 quote by Richard Eder in The New York Times proves it! Also called The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser and considered one of Herzog’s most accessible early works, this film has many of what would later become Herzog-ian hallmarks: It is based on real events, features a main character who is isolated from humanity and stars an actor just as complex and troubled as his role demands (Bruno S., who would go on to star in Herzog’s Stroszek as well). Planet Fandor is a hotbed of Herzog fans and we have plenty of ways to please them, but Every Man for Himself and God Against All is a clear favorite.
Memories of Murder
(2003) dir. Bong Joon-ho
Between 1986 – 1991, ten women were murdered in what is now known as the Hwaseong serial murders. The story of the first recorded serial killer in South Korean history, which is the subject of this film (Bong’s follow-up to the wildly acclaimed Barking Dogs Never Bite), remains an unsolved mystery. Do you have the chills yet? In a review from the year of Memories of Murder‘s release (when it played at Cannes and won awards and many more festivals), Derek Elley of Variety.com writes, “With the ending always in clear view, Bong has focused on the investigators rather than the crimes, and on the effect of the crimes rather than their inherent thrills. The tension thus comes not from any traditional, last-reel solution but from the solution always being teasingly just out of reach.” Apologies to our Canadian members: This film is currently only streaming in the U.S.
(1989) dir. Alejandro Jodorowsky
What can be said about any film that hasn’t already been said better by Roger Ebert? Back in 1989, he wrote of this transgressive triumph, “I am reminded by Alejandro Jodorowsky that true psychic horror is possible on the screen —horror, poetry, surrealism, psychological pain and wicked humor, all at once.” Jodowrosky’s latest, Endless Poetry, premiered at this year’s Cannes as part of the Directors’ Fortnight, so we thought it fitting to end this list with one of his earlier films, which also played at the festival. For more on Santa Sangre over on Keyframe, don’t miss Kevin B. Lee’s stunning (and NSFW or children) video essay on how the psychedelic cult classic plays out on the bodies of the characters. There’s also an article by Dennis Harvey on how the film represented a mid-career comeback, of sorts, for the iconoclast behind The Holy Mountain and El Topo.
We’ll be back next week with more of our favorite Fandor films to share. Until then, We hope you’ve got more than enough options for getting your foreign film fix. Happy watching!