CANNES: Short Reviews of "Red Road," "Lights in the Dusk," "Summer Palace," "Princess"

by | May 22, 2006 | Comments

Here are some short reviews of films screening at the Cannes film Festival:

Early in "Red Road," Jackie (Kate Dickie), who works in surveillance for the police, notices the ghostly image of a man on her screen. We know instantly he means something to her, and we get the idea he’s done bad things. Jackie starts poking around his neighborhood, in a rough section of Glasgow, getting ever closer to the man. What heightens the suspense of Andrea Arnold‘s film is that it keeps its secrets until very late in the game; when these characters run into each other, it’s nearly impossible to predict what they’ll say. "Red Road" (screening in competition at Cannes) is a tense, fascinating film, Hitchcockian in the best sense, and filled with convincing characters and an aching poignancy at the center of its mystery.


Scene from "Red Road"

Koistinen, the hero of Aki Kaurismaki‘s "Laitakaupungin Valot (Lights in the Dusk)," has the sad-sack, put-upon expression of a silent comedian. He also says about as much ("I can tell you have rock ‘n’ roll in your bones," a date sardonically tells him). Unlucky, unhappy Koistinen (Janne Hyytiainen) works as a security guard, and he is ignored or taunted by his co-workers (and by those he’s supposed to be securing places from). One night he meets a beautiful woman, who seems to kinda like him, but it becomes quickly apparent she’s playing him too. "Dusk" (screening in competition) is a comedy, but a very, very dry, slow-moving one; if you can take the deliberate pacing and the desperate scenario, you will have a small comic gem on your hands.


Scene from "Summer Palace"

Ye Lou’s "Summer Palace," (in competition) tells the story of a group of Beijing college students during the heady days before the Tienemen Square massacre. Yu Hong (a haunted-looking Lei Hao) leaves behind her small town for college, and begins a passionate, combustible relationship with Zhou Wei (Xiaodong Guo). For the first half, the film is a sharp take on college life with all its insecurities and idealism; it’s also pretty erotically explicit. (The pop songs on the soundtrack, which include Toni Basil’s "Mickey" and Paul Evans’ "Seven Little Girls," create a hypnotic mood). Once our protagonists graduate, however, the film shifts gears, focusing primarily on Yu Hong’s increasingly bleak love life and her endless pining for Zhou Wei, with diminishing results. While it contains visual riches, the second act of "Summer Palace" is far too slow to maintain the interest the first half of the film achieves almost effortlessly. Still, there is much to admire in "Summer Palace," even if the operative word is "much."


A scene from "Lights in the Dusk"

The easiest way to describe "Princess" might be that it’s like a cross between "V for Vendetta" and the works of graphic novelist Phoebe Gloeckner. This half-animated, half-live action film about a wise-but-damaged five-year-old and the uncle who vows to protect her, has moments of real beauty — as well as scenes that are unutterably painful to witness. (It’s screening in the Director’s Fortnight category). August becomes the guardian of Mia, who lives in a brothel after her mother, a porn star, has died. After watching home movies of life with his sister (which includes footage of their parents’ fatal car crash), August declares war on the distributor of her films. Those grainy, live-action home movies bespeak of a fragile, tumultuous familial bond, and the relationship between August and Mia (presented in an Anime-influenced style) is touching — even as they become partners-in-revenge. "Princess" is not a fun film (and I’m not sure the vigilante angle ultimately works), but it has an agonizing power.

Tag Cloud

movie spanish language SXSW TCA Winter 2020 Comedy Central BBC America Disney Plus Marvel Television discovery zombies OWN Lucasfilm See It Skip It Netflix Classic Film Nickelodeon historical drama Tomatazos cancelled Extras SundanceTV Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Disney X-Men Hulu Walt Disney Pictures A24 The Witch witnail cats MSNBC Funimation comics Action cops a nightmare on elm street stand-up comedy south america Countdown WGN Pop christmas movies Bravo TCA game show cancelled television blaxploitation adventure Mudbound cars dark Sci-Fi Sundance Rom-Com cartoon mutant space versus New York Comic Con Podcast Endgame Pixar FX Paramount Binge Guide joker talk show stoner Mystery IFC Films romantic comedy Trivia hispanic Schedule Esquire Pride Month Heroines serial killer unscripted TLC name the review Brie Larson DC streaming service docudrama YouTube Premium Women's History Month book Amazon Prime Photos TIFF directors FXX justice league Drama Western game of thrones supernatural Polls and Games Dark Horse Comics Mindy Kaling E! YA YouTube Red HBO political drama PBS DC Universe Crunchyroll National Geographic hist Set visit natural history ABC Family aliens Acorn TV kids BBC Showtime San Diego Comic-Con composers 2017 Lionsgate Superheroe Sundance TV YouTube Sony Pictures adaptation canceled LGBTQ Biopics TruTV romance slashers NYCC scary movies Film ABC Toys Cartoon Network war spain dramedy Calendar dogs thriller AMC transformers Marvel Musical Comic Book universal monsters Syfy Video Games screenings vampires Country Amazon Studios children's TV Disney+ Disney Plus Writers Guild of America binge Ovation Black History Month Fox News TV renewals Awards Tour CW Seed concert Horror Ghostbusters Star Wars SDCC CBS Turner Classic Movies VICE Reality Competition criterion Disney Channel Logo Avengers boxoffice harry potter biography OneApp The Arrangement 2018 Shudder foreign asian-american APB Disney streaming service crime thriller dragons Hallmark miniseries El Rey Sneak Peek Television Academy Winter TV revenge Premiere Dates Arrowverse Travel Channel Summer Tarantino Academy Awards 71st Emmy Awards psycho Adult Swim RT History robots blockbuster parents Britbox ghosts Shondaland golden globes documentary Oscars Universal Paramount Network spy thriller comiccon Nominations sitcom Character Guide History USA Rock Election ratings anthology strong female leads Baby Yoda finale tv talk Interview The Walking Dead anime Year in Review Freeform Comedy science fiction Lifetime CBS All Access Teen Anna Paquin mission: impossible animated A&E TNT halloween cooking elevated horror child's play Thanksgiving Netflix Christmas movies 21st Century Fox RT21 2015 period drama cancelled TV shows casting nature Marvel Studios Elton John MTV 20th Century Fox Ellie Kemper BET Comics on TV Song of Ice and Fire The Purge based on movie award winner Pet Sematary Watching Series MCU Tumblr TV Land Rocketman First Reviews Family American Society of Cinematographers Reality Amazon Pop TV Pirates what to watch Spectrum Originals facebook Christmas ESPN Fantasy mockumentary travel Chernobyl Apple TV Plus Opinion Tubi Superheroes Sundance Now IFC sequel Apple TV+ Masterpiece breaking bad Stephen King canceled TV shows Infographic technology true crime Music indie Super Bowl ITV Cosplay Quiz Food Network renewed TV shows movies Lifetime Christmas movies comic Animation rotten movies we love GIFs Epix richard e. Grant werewolf E3 video GLAAD Warner Bros. latino Mary Tyler Moore independent LGBT green book DirecTV VH1 batman GoT zero dark thirty singing competition NBC Holiday die hard Black Mirror doctor who Musicals screen actors guild Mary poppins 007 Red Carpet free movies Hear Us Out quibi dceu cults jamie lee curtis Discovery Channel zombie Emmy Nominations medical drama Emmys Peacock Valentine's Day Holidays First Look toy story FX on Hulu social media Spring TV Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Hallmark Christmas movies sports Winners Box Office Columbia Pictures reboot 24 frames CMT President USA Network Marathons Grammys 2019 police drama 2020 45 diversity franchise The CW crime Star Trek psychological thriller DC Comics festivals Creative Arts Emmys Nat Geo Vudu Spike reviews Awards Mary Poppins Returns Starz Kids & Family 2016 Rocky Crackle Trophy Talk spinoff FOX series politics teaser 4/20 Turner WarnerMedia television disaster TCM Cannes HBO Max Film Festival streaming Amazon Prime Video best CNN TV PaleyFest theme song chucky crossover TCA 2017 cancelled TV series crime drama TBS cinemax Best and Worst dc DGA spider-man Trailer sag awards comedies Martial Arts Captain marvel Certified Fresh Fall TV Apple