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5 highs (and 1 low) from Cannes

As usual, the stars swanned through town for the glamorous film festival. And the movies? Here’s our critic’s take on the first half of the fest

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Michael Haneke’s brilliant and haunting movie takes a tender, almost voyeuristically intimate look at a French couple in their 80s as one of them begins to slip away. Most of it is set in a comfortably bourgeois, slightly decrepit Paris apartment, where Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) tries to care for Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) as her mind and body give out. Haneke infuses everyday dread with a touch of the uncanny, and Trintignant and Riva are magnificent. They show us what love really looks like.


Italian director Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah) skewers reality TV through a contempo-Fellini lens. Aniello Arena plays a Naples fish seller who auditions for the Italian version of Big Brother. Garrone’s catchy conceit is that his hero doesn’t want to join Big Brother for just wealth or fame. He wants to cross over to the Other Side, to a place more real than reality.

Like Someone in Love

Director Abbas Kiarostami (Certified Copy) continues his transformation from solemn Iranian minimalist to spinner of chatty international fables. This intriguing one takes place in Tokyo: A retired professor (Tadashi Okuno) hires a college-student prostitute (Rin Takanashi) and then out of loneliness makes the mistake of trying to forge a human connection with her.


Tom Hardy is forceful as the leader of the Bondurant brothers, a trio of down-home backwoods siblings (the others are Shia LaBeouf and Jason Clarke) who became prominent bootleggers in the 1930s. The movie is about how they fought the underworld establishment, but director John Hillcoat (The Road) mostly makes clichés pretentious.

Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir

Interviewed in the Swiss chalet where he lived for eight months under house arrest, the infamous director looks back on his life and career. At almost every turn he’s playing a role: Roman the Victim. Yet as a testament to Polanski the performer of his own life, A Film Memoir exerts a creepy fascination.

Room 237

This documentary about Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is an amazing experience. It features superfans of the movie analyzing its secret themes, hidden clues, and resonant eccentricities — a Kubrickian da Vinci code of underlying networks of meaning. Some of the theories are nutty; some are savvy and audacious enough to lure you into seeing The Shining as a kind of feature-length, studio-made Zapruder film.