The summer's here; better bring a bag of 'Cannes'

Niall McCann


Niall McCann

The summer's here; better bring a bag of 'Cannes'

So somehow summer is almost upon us or it is upon us or perhaps even it has passed and those few days of visible sun last week will be the last we see of it.

Somewhere the sun seems to always shine however is at the Cannes Film Festival, that most famous of famous film festivals Europe has to offer, this week we will take a look back at some of the films which screened there this year that will be worth checking out over the next few months no matter what the weather outside is like.

As usual, this year's line up for the festival combined the best and worst of the medium, with some exciting films, some surprises and some absolute stinkers on show.

My write up here will focus on three triumphs which represent three very different films but all showcase the better side of the moving image.

The opening ceremony this year brought the festivals only bit of real controversy, the French stand up compering made some joke about Woody Allen still making films in Europe even though he wasn't wanted for rape back in the United States. This was mistakenly misconstrued as some reference to Allen's past but was in fact clearly a joke about Roman Polanski, that didn't stop the press having a field day and missing the point completely.

In the darkness of the cinema many of the filmmakers offerings hit the spot however and the coming year has a few obvious gems on the way, in no particular order here are some of the standouts we should be all waiting on:

I, Daniel Blake: Director Ken Loach.

Loach came back from retirement to direct this drama that deals with austerity politics and food bank Britain and has been rewarded with this years Palme D'or award from the festival. This is the second time Loach has won this award, the last time was for his 2006 film, The Wind That Shakes the Barely, about two Irish brothers who join the IRA in the 1920's.

His new film is a timely rage against the continuing attack on working people and those on benefits during the current age of Neo Liberal austerity politics. It may be a blunt piece of work but it is moving and rightly furious and reminds us once more that Loach is the most human and humanitarian of filmmakers.

Isabelle Huppert delivers a standout performance as a woman turning the tables on her attacker in the controversial director Paul Verhoeven's ultra provocative comeback film Elle.

This years closing film caused some outrage with its audacious mix of subject matter and black comedy.

Verhoeven has previous in being one of the chief provocateurs of world cinema, and this new film will be added to the list of his triumphs, along with Total Recall, Starship Troopers and Black Book rather than Basic Instinct and Showgirls.

Mel Gibson is back in his first film since the unfortunately titled Beaver in 2011, that failed comeback resulted in another few years off our screens but like him or like many loathe him, he turns in a truly wonderful performance in director Jean-François Richet's (Assault on Precinct 13, the Mesrine films) pulpy B-movie Blood Father.

Here Gibson, surely channelling much of his own demons into the role of an alcoholic father who enacts a bloody and violent revenge on Mexican druglords who want his daughter dead. Gibson plays the role of John Link like this could be the last film he ever gets to star in and it's a complete home run. Check it out when it arrives here later in the year, everyone deserves another chance, even Mel.

Rest of the festivals awards went to:

The grand prix awarded to French Canadian 27 year old Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World.

The jury prize awarded to Andrea Arnold’s American Honey.

Cristian Mungui’s Graduation and Olivier Assayas’s Personal Shopper shared the director’s prize.

Next week I will be back on home shores with more reviews of superhero films no doubt. Until then, I'll order one more glass of champers. (one can dream.)