Posts tagged ‘The Arbor’

June 27, 2013

DIY Cannes 2013: The Palme D’Ork Awards

Since I mainly think about awards, if I have a film festival, it needs to have awards. I decided that for finishing the 20 movie marathon I planned, I would give it out awards just like they do on the Croisette, including following the rule that no movie can win 2 awards.

And without further ado,  the winners are:

Best Actress:

Annette Bening in The Grifters

Annette Bening – The Grifters
What can I say? It was love at first sight. Annette’s smokin’ portrayal of a super psychotic con woman is so electrifying that it carries this film. I also can not believe how sexy she is in this. She deserved her Oscar nomination and she deserves it here.

Best Actor:

Barton Fink

John Turturro – Barton Fink

As it goes with the rules, some movie has to win Best Actor. There were many choices of great performances in under directed movies. But none of those leading men were really giving award winning performances. I decided to go with a performance that is great that is only great because of the direction of this film. John Turturro is brilliant as Barton. His small quiet rage was so specific, he brought it to life. This performance is only possible though, with the specificty of the Coen Bros. writing and directing. They created a fantastic atmosphere for this unique performance, and that deserves to be noted. That being said. This is John Turturro’s award, and he deserves the hell out of it.

Best Screenplay:

The Virgin Suicides

The Virgin Suicides – Sofia Coppola

Sofia Coppola deserves so many points for clearly adapting a novel in to a fantastic unique film that stands on its own. The sense of a greater world is there. Every decision made in this movie was informed on the world of these characters. The specific world of this was brought in both representing Jeffrey Eugenides world, but also the unique world view of auteur Sofia Coppola. Her razor sharp wit and incredible sentimentality completely push it over the edge.

Best Director:


Takashi Miike – Audition
Horror movies get so often over looked, but they are mainly a director driven field. As much as any arthouse world. And Takashi Miike is the Woody Allen of horror movies. He makes a ton, but only a couple of them are good. And they’re great. Audition is one of the greats and it is only great through the incredible tension built in this movie. I’m getting nervous just thinking about it. Well done.

Palme Dog:


Chloe – Tell No One

The movie had a lot of problems, but is completely worth remembering exists. Why? Because of the incredible canine performance given by Chloe as Nina the dog. This dog is a champion. She is super brave and often gets caught in the fray of her crazy owner’s life. She handles it like a pro and still manages to be an awesome dog. I want one when I’m 50. Also Chloe is the real life original book’s author Harlan Coben’s dog. What?!? This is just a real life dog who is super badass? Where can I meet her?

Jury Prize:

Citizen Ruth Quote

Citizen Ruth – dir. Alexander Payne

Often known as the third place prize at Cannes, the Jury Prize is just a place to honor a super excellent film. So I decided to make a top 3 of the festival, and no matter how deserving they were of other categories, who cares? This is way better. And Alexander Payne proved my expectations way wrong and made something so fun and pointed that I couldn’t resist. I also love a movie where the moral of the story is “everyone’s a nut job.” They just don’t happen anymore. Citizen Ruth deserves a permanent place in the new Cult Canon.

The Grand Prix:

The Arbor

The Arbor – dir. Clio Barnard

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m making a concerted effort to see more documentaries, but I’ve been finding that, for me, the staying power of a documentary is never too long. The Arbor completely bucks that trend and floored me with its combination of gender, class, and racial politics all topped with a high concept narrative style and a compelling emotional family story. The whole ensemble pulls off the lip-synced method with tremendous ease and it makes for one of the most unique documentary experiences out there.

The Palme D’Ork:


Rosemary’s Baby – dir. Roman Polanski

I’ve mentioned before that this might be unfair, but this is known as one of the greatest films of all time and deserves every mention it gets. It’s the kind of film that goes beyond perfect into something totally new and defining. Film would not be the same without Rosemary’s Baby and all of its paranoid glory.

Thanks for sticking with me during this little project. I certainly had a lot of fun and discovered tons of great directors along the way. Some of the movies I watched were stinkers, others were masterpieces, most fell in between. But the idea of discovery that maybe THIS will be my new favorite movie is so exciting to me, that I don’t regret anything. Even Valhalla Rising. I definitely want to continue this tradition next year. Since the internet is a dark deep vortex, there are already predictions for what the 2014 Cannes Film Festival might bring. For me, that would mean catching up with P.T. Anderson, Wes Anderson, Olivier Assayas, David Cronenberg, Jean-Luc Godard, Werner Herzog, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Joachim Trier, and Thomas Vinterberg. I already can’t wait.

May 15, 2013

DIY Cannes 2013: The Arbor

the-arbor01-LST079362To stave off the depression of not being at Cannes while everyone I follow on Twitter gabs about their new favorite discoveries, I’ve decided to take the opportunity and hold my own film festival. Every night, I’m going to watch a movie I haven’t seen by one of the director’s debuting on the Croisette. Thanks to the power of Netflix, so many foreign movies and older auteur classics are available for Instant Streaming. Who knows what discoveries I might find along the way?

Movie #4: The Arbor (2010)

Director: Clio Barnard

Her Cannes 2013 Movie: The Selfish Giant

Since this whole DIY festival is to increase my own awareness of world cinema, I need to confess another blind spot: documentaries. For the past couple of months I’ve been trying to watch at least one documentary every week. Netflix Instant has an amazing repository of many of the most famous documentaries of all time – Grizzly Man, Man on Wire, Hoop Dreams, The Thin Blue Line – and that’s just off the top of my head. In order to sneak a couple of documentaries into this festival however, I needed to look outside of Netflix for this one.

And I am glad I did. This odd little curio is a depiction of the life of Andrea Dunbar, a famous playwright of whom I had never heard. Well, to be more accurate, it looks at how her life affected her daughters Lorraine and Lisa. The catch, which I’m sure you’ve heard about by now, is that the audio track for the movie consists of original recordings of Andrea, her daughters, and a performance of her play. The catch is that the people you see on screen are actors lip-synching to the audio track. Whether this is still a documentary or not is someone else’s problem. What it does for the film is mine.

And I think it only enhances the film. We are able to get these incredibly haunting reenactments that don’t feel at all like reenactments. A couple of times you even forget that the voices don’t match up with the people. It all heightens the mood, makes everything feel risky and fantastic, yet it’s all grounded in a poor British neighborhood.

The scenes of where Dunbar’s play the Arbor is produced are set outside, on the lawn, with all of their neighbors watching. At first I thought, “Oh it’s a documentary and the neighbors came to watch.” But did they? Were they part of the scene too? The audience? What are we watching?

As the movie repeatedly asks these questions in a thousand different ways, the story unfolding is entirely compelling on its own. Andrea’s struggle with alcohol and racism, Lorraine’s struggle with an abusive mother, Lisa’s struggle with a wayward sister, all set against this dreamy atmosphere.

I have an easy time liking a documentary and a hard time loving one. So many I just see as a collection of talking heads, and maybe they have huge real world resonance, I rarely feel the need to see them again. I plan on re-watching The Arbor almost as soon as this competition is over.