Cannes Film Festival 2013: 20th May Reactions Part 1 (‘Shield of Straw’, ‘Omar’, ‘Blind Detective’)

Johnnie To

Johnnie To

Yesterday had just one competition screening, so naturally today we have three in Takashi Miike’s Shield of Straw, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi’s A Castle in Italy and Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty. There’s also a replay of Guillame Canet’s Blood Ties, screened yesterday to a somewhat tepid critical response. We await whatever James Franco’s interpretation of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying transpires to be, and no doubt savour yet another riotous Johnnie To feature: Blind Detective, which enjoyed a special midnight premiere last night. Don’t forget to check previous entries for updated reviews and tweets as they come in.


Raffi Asdourian, The Film Stage

“Even a Miike apologist such as myself has a hard time defending Shield of Straw, despite what could have been an opportunity to reestablish himself as one of the most important filmmakers out there, rather than the one who makes the most films.”

John Bleasdale, Cine-Vue

“The performances from Fujiwara, Osawa and Matsushima are all uniformly decent, but Miike’s disastrous Shield of Straw never recovers impetus after a shaky opening and incessantly repeats the same tired conservations, just in several different settings with numbing regularity.”

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“Well, after two long hours, the crude and absurd movie finally expires. Thrillers, however far-fetched, need some plausibility. This has none.”

Catherine Bray, Time Out London

“Set pieces include a kamikaze truck full of nitroglycerin, which certainly lights up the screen, but there is not as much ingenuity or inventiveness in the action sequences as you’d hope.”

Brad Brevet, Rope of Silicon

“The dialogue is stiff and poorly written. Characters are paper thin, even when Miike does his best to try and give them some kind of a back-story.”

Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph

“Perhaps the most interesting thing about Shield of Straw is not its Palme d’Or-winning potential (which is zero), but whether it will catch the eye of any Hollywood executives at Cannes who are in the market to remake something foreign.”

Jordan Cronk, Slant

“This is essentially Miike giving his fans exactly what they crave on the biggest canvas possible.”

Peter Debruge, Variety

“Stylistically speaking, the film looks slick and professional, boasting studio-level production values and a bassy cello score (clearly pinched from the Christopher Nolan school of subwoofer-driven ambiance). That said, even the hackiest of Hollywood writers would have known how to fix its considerable script problems.”

Tim Grierson, Screen Daily

“At first, the story’s creeping paranoia makes for fun moments — the team members aren’t even sure they can trust each other — but eventually that pleasure gives way to vague disappointment when it becomes clear that Miike hasn’t kept a close eye on the small details of his story.”

Alex Griffith, Next Projection

“Miike’s latest would not pass the test for decent police drama, let alone credible Competition entry.”

Kevin Jagernauth, The Playlist

“In fact, the entire movie feels misshapen, almost as if Miike shot the script, cut it together and didn’t bother actually watching it. The pacing in particular is patience-testing, with Miike establishing, re-establishing and re-re-establishing thin character motivations almost to the point of parody.”

Craig Kennedy, Living in Cinema

“Miike is having too much fun with the suspense aspects to let Shield of Straw ever get too bogged down. It’s a perfect balance of entertainment and message. The rabbit punch of an ending will leave you smiling grimly as you walk out of the theater.”

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

“On the whole, this is an absurd yet entertaining thriller that dispenses with the preciousness of the Cannes Film Festival’s In Competition banner.”

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

“A diverting but generic dose of psychologically thin B-movie suspense from the normally more outré Takashi Miike.”

Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York

“Miike tries to manufacture suspense by casting suspicion on the motives of every member of the task force, especially our heroes Mekari and Shiraiwa. Yet the film is too slickly formless and dully shapeless for any tension to take hold.”


Ryland Aldrich, Twitch Film

The fun-filled action blockbuster that is Miike’s SHIELD OF STRAW hits an unfortunate roadblock halfway thru & limps to the finish.

Geoff Andrew, Sight & Sound

Miike Takashi’s cop actioner SHIELD OF STRAW risibly overacted, overemphatic nonsense that constantly states the obvious cliche

Raffi Asdourian, The Film Stage

Despite being a Miike apologist, it’s hard to defend ‘Straw Shield’. Solid premise that fizzles after 20mins into cop melodrama

John Bleasdale, Cine-Vue

Shield of Straw: Dull Miike film which really had no place in competition. Still enjoyed the booing.

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

The plot-hole in Straw Shield (dir. Takashi Miike) is so huge there is no solid ground around the outside. It’s just a void

Dave Calhoun, Time Out London

CANNES: Takashi Miike’s Shield of Straw. If Tony Scott was alive, he’d remake it with Denzel, Sandra Bullock and Michael Gambon as grandpa.

Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph

Takashi Miike’s Shield of Straw is a pulp cop thriller with Christopher Nolan overtones. Not a Palme contender but lots of fun

Adam Cook, MUBI

Miike’s STRAW SHIELD is, by far, the best film of so far. Now: To time.

Jordan Cronk, Slant

SHIELD OF STRAW (T. Miike): B, for kick to the balls.

Mike D’Angelo, The A.V. Club

Shield of Straw (Miike): 64. Sure, this is schlock, but for a good while it’s pretty terrific schlock. Why it’s 2 hours plus is a mystery.

Peter Debruge, Variety

SHIELD OF STRAW (Takashi Miike, 2013), – 4/10

Enticing blockbuster concept gets a lackluster execution that even the hackiest of Hollywood screenwriters could easily repair for a remake.

Scott Foundas, Variety

An absolute master class in action and suspense: Takashi Miike’s STRAW SHIELD, an exhilarating mash-up of M, NARROW MARGIN and SIERRA MADRE

STRAW SHIELD makes a fine double bill with Jia’s TOUCH OF SIN–sly commentaries on the clash of traditional values and mercenary capitalism.

Kenji Fujishima, In Review Online

SHIELD OF STRAW (2013, Miike): a morally inflected thriller where dialogue scenes are just as tense as the explosive action.

Glenn Heath Jr., Press Play

SHIELD OF STRAW (B): To protect or serve your moral demons? That is Miike’s question, & it’s often a thrilling one to consider.

Jake Howell, Movie City News

Takashi Miike’s SHIELD OF STRAW: why? A genuine waste of time and a Competition slot. Frustrating.

Peter Howell, Toronto Star

SHIELD OF STRAW: Make that 125 million assassins. T. Miike’s cop/vigilante pulper risibly pushes honor stakes. Cable, not Palme.

Nick James, Sight & Sound

Miike Takashi’s cop mission drama SHIELD OF STRAW is the first real stinker of the festival

More details on Shield of Straw: 2 cops have to get a child rapist across Japan against all odds. The film is never plausible

David Jenkins, Little White Lies

SHIELD OF STRAW (Miike) Imagine if Charles Grodin in Midnight Run was a child rapist… Glossy, lapel-shaking bilge.

Craig Kennedy, Living in Cinema

Shield of Straw: Takashi Miike helps shake off some mid-fest langueur with a compact genre flick with something on its mind.

Guy Lodge, Hit Fix

There’s a nifty 90-minute inside Takashi Miike’s typically bloated, silly SHIELD OF STRAW. That movie also has less of the horrific score.

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

Shield of Straw – 3.5/5. Entertainingly absurd action thriller is energetic meditation on revenge. Awful J-pop credits music

Matt Patches, Hollywood.com

Takashi Miike’s Shield of Straw is basically a Mark Wahlberg thriller (that’s a genre) with moral complexity. A good time.

Daivd Poland, Movie City News

The Miike (Shield of Straw) starts as a Michael Bay movie, evolves into an Eastwood movie, then closes – in last 20 min – as pure Kitano

Craig Skinner, Hey U Guys

WARA NO TATE (B) Highly entertaining thriller. Adds some minor depth in its treatment of justice.Often also rather silly though

Sasha Stone, Awards Daily

Takashi Miike’s study on blood lust is the only film I’ve seen so far get booed here at Cannes. I totally dug the movie, on every level.

Fred Topel, Crave Online

WARA NO TATE is the movie I wanted the SWAT remake to be. A ’90s style high concept cop movie from Takashi Miike.

Adam Woodward, Little White Lies

SHIELD OF STRAW: Cops and psycho morality tale whizzes by at the speed of a bullet (train). Not vintage Miike

Blake Williams, Indiewire

SHIELD OF STRAW (5.1): Thought early on that we had a mobility thriller on par with SPEED, then comes convolution; trajectory predictable.


Jay Weissberg, Variety

“As he did with “Paradise Now,” Abu-Assad refuses to demonize characters for their poor choices. Only too aware of the crushing toll of the Occupation on Palestinians, he shows men (the film is male-centric) making tragic, often self-destructive decisions as a result of an inescapable environment of degradation and violence.”

Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter

“The fact that Abu-Assad keeps his distance and doesn’t put forward a clear-cut POV on his characters and their actions will limit its appeal for many viewers. But considering the film’s quality and topicality, good footwork on Match Factory’s part should slip it into the niches.”  


Ryland Aldrich, Twitch Film

Paradise Now’s Hany Abu Assad’s OMAR is a heartwrenching tale of Palestine’s occupation tools thru love and betrayal. A real talent.

David Poland, Movie City News

Omar is probably my favorite so far. Hany Abu-Assad is a great filmmaker who deals w/ heavy politics w/ humanity and not polemics


Justin Chang, Variety

“Even devotees of Hong Kong genre master Johnnie To and his frequent collaborator, producer/co-writer Wai Ka-fai, may not be entirely sure what to make of this unusually demented romp, a madcap mystery-romance that sustains a light, bouncy tone and a decent hit-to-miss laff ratio even in scenes involving strangulation, dismemberment and cannibalism.”

Adam Cook, MUBI

“The irony is that I think Blind Detective may be the most texturally rich and structurally complex film I’ve seen here. It has the most going on, not just in terms of story, but in the details of its execution, and yet it’s received on a lesser scale than some fairly dull, obvious, and ultimately, easier films, that have played here.”

Jordan Cronk, Slant

“The filmmaker appears to be cramming an entire career’s worth of ideas into 130 minutes, flailing from slapstick comedy to doomed romance to police procedural from scene to scene.”

Daniel Kasman, MUBI

“Part of watching a To film, like for example watching a Steven Soderbergh film (to approach this from a very different angle), is in watching and admiring how To actually makes the film. They always seem like problems that need to be solved by cinema.”

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

“It is a daring if totally misguided hybrid of two very different films that may suffice for the director’s fans, though will likely be remembered as a sloppy curio farce above all else.”

Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter

“Tiresomely frenetic crime-comedy-romance has strong commercial prospects at home in Hong Kong but will elsewhere induce more groans than guffaws.”


Raffi Asdourian, The Film Stage

Blind Detective attempts to mix every type of genre possible. It’s like eating at a buffet and not knowing when to stop eating.

Justin Chang, Variety

Johnnie To’s BLIND DETECTIVE, a movie about dismemberment and cannibalism that nonetheless leaves you hungry

Adam Cook, MUBI

Johnnie To’s BLIND DETECTIVE, surely the wackiest film @ : an over-the-top, off-the-wall comedy feat. a madly brilliant Andy Lau.

Who would’ve thought the Johnnie To would out-silly the Takashi Miike?

Jordan Cronk, Slant

BLIND DETECTIVE: (J. To) Slapstick of the 1st half difficult to reconcile w/ the seriousness of 2nd. Atonal but never boring. B-

Mike D’Angelo, The A.V. Club

Blind Detective (To): 49. Responses will vary widely based on one’s tolerance for super-broad HK comedy. I came around a little by the end.

Kenji Fujishima, In Review Online

BLIND DETECTIVE (2013, To): an endlessly inventive, broadly comic procedural that also doubles as a kind of allegory for acting.

Glenn Heath Jr., Press Play

BLIND DETECTIVE (B+): High octane comedy/romance within a loony & surreal procedural. Nuttiest, messiest love story in years.

David Jenkins, Little White Lies

BLIND DETECTIVE (To) There were moments here where I seriously thought, “could it get any better than this?”. The man is a genius.

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

Blind Detective – 1.5/5. Noisy, irritating and suffers from a skittish tone. Lots of walkouts, about 40 mins too long

Craig Skinner, Hey U Guys

BLIND DETECTIVE (B-) A romantic comedy through & through but with violence, slapstick & detective plot. Anarchic fun but too freewheeling.

Blake Williams, Indiewire

BLIND DETECTIVE (5.3): Light, yet turgid; eponymous dick’s handicap feels instantly iconic, yet the conceit not fully utilized.


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