Cannes Film Festival 2013: 19th May Reactions Part 1 (‘Borgman’, ‘Monsoon Shoutout’, ‘The Missing Picture’, ‘Seduced and Abandoned’)

Claude Lanzmann

Claude Lanzmann

Today’s press screenings are absolutely jam-packed, though Alex van Warmerdam’s Borgman is the only film showing in competition today. The day is elsewhere filled with a good number of Special Screenings, including the gargantuan The Last of the Unjust, directed by Claude Lanzmann. Because of the sheer number of films, I’m separating the posts again and keeping the reactions mainly to the key press screenings. I kept some slots open yesterday for Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week screenings, but didn’t hear much reaction for those from the main press (ahem, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints). So, with the exception of Serge Bozon’s Tip Top, films in those categories will have to momentarily sit tight – should the reviews/tweets swarm in, I’ll stack them up.


John Bleasdale, Cine-Vue

“There are scenes when Borgman risks tipping into whimsy, but overall this is a brilliantly-imagined fantasy of desperation, a revenge against knuckleheaded entitlement and the fabulously wealthy.”

Dave Calhoun, Time Out London

“But beyond the shocks and games, there’s not a great deal to take away in the form of meaty ideas or lingering themes, and its catchy premise doesn’t really deliver in the end.”

Alex Griffith, Next Projection

“Textually rich if ponderously slow in the last thirty minutes, Borgman entertains you to the fullest while giving you much to chew on. The first half approaches Lynchian zen, shaking you with absurdist laughter, but gets too academic for its own good; too concerned with the higher calling of didactic satire.”

Allan Hunter, Screen Daily

“Borgman remains an elegantly teasing puzzle even as you begin to suspect there could be slightly less here than meets the eye.”

David Jenkins, Little White Lies

“It’s fine to be able to make a film whose narrative remains ambiguous throughout, but it’s a much tougher trick to do the same thing with theme. Borgman may be about everything, but it’s more likely that it’s about nothing.”

Jessica Kiang, The Playlist

“It’s not a film that despises its audience or wants you to ask particularly deep questions of yourself, instead it’s a fable, a good-looking parable about the mysterious ways in which evil can work.”

Guy Lodge, Variety

“A sly, insidious and intermittently hilarious domestic thriller that is likely to remain one of the most daring selections of this year’s Cannes competish.”

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

“A quirky study of the unrelenting grip of evil, the film is beautifully made, though stronger in its intriguing setup than its muddy resolution. Still, this is an engrossing and original work that should find an international niche.”

Catherine Shoard, The Guardian

“Aesthetically there’s much to enjoy here; a Fassbinder-esque mise-en-scene that mixes minimalism and kinky fuss to good effect, and the whole affair is served with a sheen you can almost touch. But there’s the frustrating sense of ideas bubbling too low beneath the surface, of mordant jokes serving as an end rather than a means.”


Ryland Aldrich, Twitch Film

Just got BORGMANed and it was a devil of a fun time. Director Alex van Warmerdam has wit in spades. Jan Bijvoet quite sympathetic.

Raffi Asdourian, The Film Stage

Kill List, Wicker Man, Funny Games. These are all movies that come to mind when trying to describe the devilishly creepy Borgman

Geoff Andrew, Sight & Sound

Alex van Warmerdam’s BORGMAN an intriguing but slightly frustrating Dutch, darkly comic variation on THEOREM. Elegantly crafted

John Bleasdale, Cine-Vue

Borgman: 4 stars an obsidian black comedy, of satanic domestic mirth

Catherine Bray, Film4

REALLY enjoyed Borgman. Kind of Dogtoothy, 3-Iron-ish, Kill List-esque absurdist menace. Pinter’s weasel under the cocktail cabinet bites.

Adam Cook, Cinemezzo

Alex van Warmerdam’s BORGMAN is slight but entertaining. Wears out its welcome in the 3rd act.

Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph

Alex van Warmerdam’s Borgman is a macabre Dutch home invasion comedy; a bit like Funny Games, but actually funny

Mike D’Angelo, The A.V. Club

Borgman (Van Warmerdam): 52. Basic anti-bourgeois surrealism, with little real-world resonance that I can detect. Forgettably intriguing.

Comparisons to DOGTOOTH I’m seeing are misplaced. That film didn’t have a baseline of normalcy that was invaded, TEOREMA-style.

Scott Foundas, Variety

BORGMAN: Ridding the world of the petit bourgeoisie, one family at a time since May 2013.

BORGMAN: Like DOWN AND OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS if Nick Nolte and the dog were actually the same being.

Kenji Fujishima, In Review Online

BORGMAN (2013, van Warmerdam): Another narrative, after Flora Lau’s BENDS, of bourgeois folk shaken out of complacency.

This one, though, is pitched as perverse, near-blasphemous black comedy. Resonance is thin, but I had a good time.

William Goss, MSN Movies

Borgman: what is this i don’t even

Glenn Heath Jr., Press Play

BORGMAN (B-): Pure cinema opening promises greatness, then sputters into routine of deadpan allegory & narrative inevitability.

Aaron Hillis, Movie Maker Magazine

BORGMAN: The DOGTOOTH/FUNNY GAMES super mashup I never knew I needed. Devilishly funny, totally bonkers. My fave comp film yet.

Jordan Hoffman, Film.com

BORGMAN is terrific. KILL LIST done Mies van der Rohe style.

Jake Howell, Movie City News

All of the comparisons between DOGTOOTH and van Warmerdam’s BORGMAN are 100% appropriate. Weird and wild.

Peter Howell, Toronto Star

BORGMAN: Lynch meets Haneke in Dutch absurdist chiller that maintains a state of dread without fully tipping its hand. A gem.

Nick James, Sight & Sound

BORGMAN is a sharp and devious home invasion satire that only loses momentum towards the end

David Jenkins, Little White Lies

BORGMAN (Warmerdam) Dennis Potter-y home invasion SATIRE (!!!), too cynical and divorced from reality to ever hit home.

Jessica Kiang, The Playlist

Ooh, Borgman’s great – a Dogtoothy reimagining of a whole bunch of bogeyman myths.

Eric Kohn, Indiewire


Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail

Dutch home invasion satire Borgman not 2 subtle but a natural double bill for Can-cult flick Manborg.

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

Borgman – 4/5. Demented, hilarious absurdist thriller dramedy tantalises, though oblique nature may irk some

David Neary, Next Projection

Borgman: Increasingly demented, darkly comic home invasion thriller that is pleasantly unpredictable throughout. Superb central performance.

Matt Patches, Hollywood.com

Borgman!!! That’s a positive reaction.

Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily

First competition UFO today: BORGMAN. Lovely poker-faced black comedy.

I’m thinking FUNNY GAMES, THEOREM and a dash of THE MASTER AND MARGARITA. Have to dig out some Alex van Warmerdam back catalogue now…

Craig Skinner, Hey U Guys

BORGMAN (C) Often amusing but nowhere near as allegorically interesting or satisfying as it needs to given everything set up.

Adam Woodward, Little White Lies

BORGMAN is bonkers in the best possible way. Entertaining and eerie Dutch gem. Think Dogtooth on mescaline

Neil Young, Jigsaw Lounge

BORGMAN (Van Warmerdam ’13) 7/10. Boldly sinister-droll punishment-of-luxury zwart-comedie is a Comp wildcard delight.


Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“It’s an entertaining popcorn-movie with a twist, for which commercial success is on the cards. There should be space for pictures like it in Cannes.”

Maggie Lee, Variety

“Alternate endings and open-ended plots are nothing new, but Kumar’s writing and helming smarts are apparent in the way he plays around with variables and constants, maintaining a continual element of surprise while elaborating on the seamy underbelly of Mumbai society that serves as his canvas.”

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

“What really sinks the film, though, is the offputtingly sterile treatment of the material on the whole; shot coverage is hit-and-miss, while editing only sometimes fuses these shots together coherently, often resulting in complete spatial senselessness.”

Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter

“Though the idea of Dirty Harry meeting Sliding Doors may sound abstract, writer-director Amit Kumar pulls it off gracefully, without losing the sense of heightened drama that earned the film a Midnight Movie slot in Cannes.”


Ryland Aldrich, Twitch Film

MONSOON SHOOTOUT is the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ of crime actioners. I’m not completely convinced, but I do respect the ambition.

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

Monsoon Shootout – 2/5. Slumdog Millionaire meets Run Lola Run (Run Slumdog Run?) in fecklessly bloodless gimmick thriller

Matt Patches, Hollywood.com

Amit Kumar’s Monsoon Shootout is a thriller riff on Rashoman w/o reasoning behind the storytelling style. Grating, sadly.

Craig Skinner, Hey U Guys

MONSOON SHOOTOUT (D-) 3 versions of the same story, except it’s not as the filmmakers abandon the logic of the conceit. Morally dubious too

Fred Topel, Crave

MONSOON SHOOTOUT is the Indian RUN LOLA RUN if RUN LOLA RUN were a predictable cop drama.


Rowena Santos Aquina, Next Projection

“The Missing Picture is steadfast in its confrontation of the genocide and immensely creative in the way it confronts memories and deaths that persist in the present.”

Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter

“A deliberately distanced but often harrowing vision of a living hell, this painful memoir based on Panh’s own book The Elimination will find plentiful festival and television exposure after its high-profile Cannes debut…”


Adam Cook, Cinemezzo

Rithy Panh’s THE MISSING PICTURE is a compelling cine-meditation on a tumultuous part of Cambodia’s history

Kenji Fujishima, In Review Online

THE MISSING PICTURE (2013, Panh): not just a look at life under the Khmer Rouge, but a dialogue between different forms…

…of representation in trying to access truth. Grim but fascinating—maybe my favorite at so far.

Jordan Hoffman, Film.com

Lengthy standing o for THE MISSING PICTURE, an amazing mixed-media memoir of a Khmer Rouge reeducation camp.

I really hope THE MISSING PICTURE gets the attention it deserves. An incredibly innovative documentary.

Nick James, Sight & Sound

I’m allergic to carved figurines but Rithy Panh’s personal recall of Pol Pot’s genocide THE MISSING PICTURE uses them tellingly

Blake Williams, Indiewire

THE MISSING PICTURE (4.3): Concerns an artifact of Cambodian history so esoteric that all I could hope for were some striking images or…

…an innovative narratology. Got none of either.


Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“Fascinatingly, Toback asks people ranging from Diane Kruger to Jeff Katzenberg what they think about death and if they are prepared for it. The question is good-naturedly laughed off, but the respondents look astonished to be even asked. It could well be the first time they have seriously thought about it in their lives.”

Brad Brevet, Rope of Silicon

“In essence, Seduced and Abandoned has gathered all the pieces necessary to explore the world of filmmaking today, the names you’d need in your Rolodex to help get a film off the ground. And with all of this comes the frustration mixed with hope, disappointment and a realization as to just how hard it is to get the money you need and maintain your original vision.”

Leslie Felperin, Variety

“Editorial sleight of hand, credited to Aaron Yanes, just about manages to hold all these highly disparate musings together and help the ideas resonate against each other as Toback and Baldwin keep trying to swim upstream, only to encounter rejection after rejection.”

Kevin Jagernauth, The Playlist

“And there is something slightly uncomfortable about successful people, with solid careers in the industry, being concerned at just how many millions they can get to make a movie. Most young directors or actors would kill to bend the ear of some of people Baldwin and Toback get access to in the movie, and this is an issue that is arguably more important to up and coming moviemakers.”

Eric Kohn, Indiewire

“While scattershot production values (including distracting split screens and a meandering structure) may not elevate “Seduced and Abandoned” into the realm of the great cinema that its producers hope to create (HBO purchased broadcast rights ahead of the festival), their journey offers a cogent analysis of the battle between artistry and business that defines their craft.”

Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter

“Such a reality is probably not news for anyone involved in the business, but Toback does a great job introducing the non-initiated to the sticky job of getting a film funded outside the studio system, which in today’s world means through foreign presales and independent financiers, who all seem to have the same thing in mind: profit.”


Ryland Aldrich, Twitch Film

SEDUCED & ABANDONED is so inside baseball they should hand out Cracker Jacks. Insufferable split screen editing no Alec B can save.

With all the luminaries of film in SEDUCED & ABANDONED, it’s surprising (& awesome) that Ryan Gosling is perhaps the most poignant.

Geoff Andrew, Sight & Sound

James Toback’s SEDUCED AND ABANDONED a typically fun, eloquent – and death-shadowed – doc on the difficulty of financing a movie

Alex Billington, First Showing

Seduced & Abandoned – A fun sorta-doc about the sad state of film funding today, and Cannes Film Fest. Lacks any depth but amusing.

Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph

James Toback’s Seduced and Abandoned is a rambly, funny, nichey doc about the film financing circus. Alec Baldwin v amusing host

Jordan Cronk, Slant

BORGMAN (A. Van Warmerdam): Another droll satire with a conceptual bent unique for even VW. Loses impact a bit via repetition. B

Mike D’Angelo, The A.V. Club

Seduced and Abandoned (Toback): 52. Totally incoherent—is it about Cannes, financing, “the magic of the movies,” death, what? But fun.

Logan Hill, New York Times

Seduced & Abandoned = brash banter of Alec Baldwin’s radio show + gonzo nuttiness of Toback. A movielover romp as ridic as film biz itself.

Nick James, Sight & Sound

According to the publicist for SEDUCED AND ABANDONED James Toback was threatening to spank me if I wasn’t in the screening

Alec Baldwin and James Toback make a great act raising finance in SEDUCED AND ABANDONED but would you give these guys money?

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

Seduced and Abandoned – 4/5. Riveting meditation on love of cinema is life-affirming/rib-splittingly funny. 2nd best film so far

Michal Oleszczyk, RogerEbert.com

SEDUCED AND ABANDONED mourns the era of visionary producers, but leaves out a chunk of the story (STAR WARS? Spielberg? Who they?)

Matt Patches, Hollywood.com

Seduced & Abandoned is a sloppy, masturbatory doc about film financing @ Cannes. Feels like Toback & Baldwin cut it in iMovie.

Craig Skinner, Hey U Guys

SEDUCED AND ABANDONED (B-) A very fun doc if you’re interested in the subject but formally infuriating. Tons of superb anecdotes


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