Festivals

Cannes Film Festival 2013: 22nd May Reactions Part 1 (‘Only God Forgives’, ‘Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight’, ‘All I Lost’, ‘La Jaula De Oro’)

Nicolas Winding Refn

Nicolas Winding Refn

The end is nigh. Rumours of Denis’ Bastards containing some fairly harsh content turned out to be well founded, so I now eagerly await just what exactly they do with that corn on the cob when the film is eventually released in about a million months’ time. There’s plenty of rumours surrounding some of today’s films too, particularly a certain 3 hour competition screening later on this evening which may or may not contain a 20-minute scene depicting… well, I won’t spoil it (especially if it’s untrue). This morning, critics finally get to see the much-hyped Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives; the hot rumour for this one is that it’s ‘unwatchable’. We shall see.

ONLY GOD FORGIVES (REFN) REVIEWS

Mark Adams, Screen Daily

“For many, it will be hard to look beyond the explicit violence and rather thinly drawn plot and characters, but there is much to enjoy and appreciate in the sheer cinematic verve, intelligence and elegance that makes Only God Forgives an immersive and brutally intriguing film.”

Ryland Aldrich, Twitch Film

“Critics are bound to balk anytime a filmmaker chooses style over substance. But when a director is able to execute this kind of style to such perfection, it can only be considered a home run.”

Raffi Asdourian, The Film Stage

“The sudden outburst of rage, the slowed down movement of characters and the longing stares do feel at home for the director, by now, but is that enough to keep you interested?”

John Bleasdale, Cine-Vue

“Refn’s latest is likely to be massively divisive and such controversy will undoubtedly be welcomed, but unfortunately it all feels too mannered, too purposefully provocative – like being shouted at by someone who has nothing themselves to contribute.”

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“It is very violent, but Winding Refn’s bizarre infernal creation, an entire created world of fear, really is gripping. Every scene, every frame, is executed with pure formal brilliance.”

Dave Calhoun, Time Out London

“Very little happens beyond these explosions of violence, which leaves us to wade through a great deal of slo-mo and characters forever staring into the middle distance. We learn barely anything about them, and it’s Gosling who comes out the worst.”

Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph

“Winding Refn’s latest film, which screened in Cannes to enthusiastic boos on Wednesday morning, is a sickening pornography of violence, and I mean that as a sincere compliment.”

Adam Cook, MUBI

“The film’s trashy setting and even trashier attitude is, I suppose, an attempt at digging into something gritty and dark and exploiting it for effect. Instead, Refn’s pretension to transcend this trashiness is an exposing failure.”

Jordan Cronk, Slant

“Refn certainly retains his eye for composition and his innate sense for creating a hypnotic environment. But without a second, let alone third, dimension to this story, there’s little left to thematically consider and deconstruct.”

Peter Debruge, Variety

“Watching Gosling withhold, one can practically hear the director behind the camera, demanding take after take, as he shouts, ‘”Let’s try it again, only this time, more impassive!'”

Tim Grierson, Paste

“The beauty of every frame of Only God Forgives—the striking compositions, the vivid colors—is so exceptional that it mostly offsets the questionable creative decisions that go on within that frame.”

Alex Griffith, Next Projection

“Only God Forgives continually sports head-on collisions of arthouse and trash, pitting extended dream sequences against katana- uzi-weilding cops. The resulting sparks are hard to interpret; it requires a second viewing to determine if Refn is all style and no substance or if there is a worthwhile reading in Refn’s sadistic set pieces.”

Glenn Heath Jr., Press Play

“If anything, Only God Forgives proves that Refn is out to create something akin to a kind of red-light-district cinema. Compositions are excessively balanced and held for long amounts of time. These images are meant to be watched and desired, lusted after simply because they evoke a form of evocative skin-deep arousal.”

Jordan Hoffman, Film.com

“There’s no way to overstate the gorgeous look of this film, but the mannered dialogue and deliberateness of pace becomes less of an homage to Asian revenge films than a parody.”

Jake Howell, Movie City News

“Sure, people in this film bleed and bleed—Refn drops a bomb on the cast—but it’s not because it’s a movie that we know the violence isn’t real. It’s not real because we aren’t given anything other than lifeless characters in an immobile stage play—a juvenile reading of Greek tragedy—for the damage to be dealt effectively.”

Craig Kennedy, Living in Cinema

“There’s a scene in Refn’s Bronson where a character smears his own shit all over himself and all over the walls of his cell. I kept thinking of that as Only God Forgives did the same thing to the movie screen and the audience at the Grand Theatre Lumiere here at Cannes.”

Jessica Kiang, The Playlist

“On paper, “Only God Forgives” is exactly the movie we might have wanted — a re-visitation to the dark world of “Drive” with added local color and acid dialogue. And onscreen it’s that too: just that and no more. It makes us realize how we much we had come to subconsciously expect Refn to somehow change it up again and how silly of us that was.”

Guy Lodge, Hit Fix

“Even amid my appreciation for its woozy, sculpted grossness, however, I can’t help wishing “Only God Forgives” was doing a little more, and I mean purely on the level of nuts-and-bolts storytelling, not grander emotional or thematic resonance.”

David Neary, Next Projection

“What’s truly lacking here is any sense of Thailand. There is no cultural context, no feel for the city, its history or society, and the film feels  like the work of someone who’s only understanding of Bangkok was a viewing of Ong Bak and a Lonely Planet guidebook.”

Matt Patches, Hollywood.com

“The movie has tunnel vision, and while it occasionally breaks — there’s a cheeky, recurring gag of the cop singing karaoke — that sense of humor and personality never rounds out Only God Forgives.”

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

“…while Only God Forgives could be accused of shallowness and lack of psychological complexity, for the target audience, it will be wicked cool entertainment.”

Craig Skinner, Hey U Guys

“All this swimming in a cesspool of violence and debauchery could at least hold some visceral pleasures but Only God Forgives is actually a pretty drudging affair and even at just ninety minutes it really drags.”

Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York

“He clearly thinks he’s saying something profound with this laboriously overproduced dross, and I’m content to let him go on thinking.”

Adam Woodward, Little White Lies

“Whether gliding ominously down long, lavishly decorated corridors or fixed between door frames looking into perfectly symmetrical rooms, Refn’s voyeuristic lens gives the film a hypnotic, haunting feel.”

Stephanie Zacharek, Village Voice

“Only God Forgives is so un-exhilarating that it’s practically a narcotic. The violence may cause a bit of squishy discomfort as you’re watching it, but the memory of it doesn’t linger much past the last frame.”

ONLY GOD FORGIVES (REFN) TWEETS

Ryland Aldrich, Twitch Film

A hyper-violent feast for the senses, Refn’s ONLY GOD FORGIVES is an immaculately constructed crime film that’s more art than drama.

Raffi Asdourian, The Film Stage

The dedication to Jodorowsky at end of OGF is an indicator that Refn is more interested in crafting surreal imagery than story.

Geoff Andrew, Sight & Sound

Nicolas Winding Refn’s film rouge ONLY GOD FORGIVES ludicrous macho posturing, all silly style, no substance. Pretentious too

Raffi Asdourian, The Film Stage

Style over substance seems to be Refn’s modus operandi…Only God Forgives fetishizes Asian revenge films and does little else

Alex Billington, First Showing

Only God Forgives – Bloody, nasty Thai revenge served cold. God of underworld vs God of living. Fucked up. Cinema Refn reigns.

John Bleasdale, Cine-Vue

Only God Forgives. An exercise in extremism ultimately without much to say

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

I have just watched Only God Forgives (dir. Nicolas Winding Refn)… I… It… I… *eyeballs rolls back into head, falls over*

Catherine Bray, Film4

Only God Forgives feels like the film Nicolas Winding Refn could have made *before* Drive, you know?

Only God Forgives looks lovely. Was expecting more adrenalin. Some great lines, precision mise en scene, but narrative feels etoliated.

Dave Calhoun, Time Out London

CANNES: ‘Only God Forgives’. You can bathe a corpse in neon and dress it in smart suits, but the smell will still persist. Insulting.

Justin Chang, Variety

ONLY GOD FORGIVES. And even that’s being generous, really. Worthless.

Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph

Only God Forgives is a beautiful disaster. Really doesn’t work in the slightest, but very happy it exists.

And it is NOTHING like Drive.

If you thought Ryan Gosling’s character in Drive was a man of few words, Julian in Only God Forgives makes him look like Quentin Crisp

Also, to be absolutely clear: ‘doesn’t work’ does not equal ‘bad film’. I’d take one Only God Forgives over 700 British wedding comedies.

Adam Cook, MUBI

The worst film of ? Refn’s ONLY GOD FORGIVES. Hollow cinema.

Mark Cosgrove, Watershed

Refn does Greek tragedy in contemporary Bangkok in Only God Forgives – violent, brooding n bruising

Jordan Cronk, Slant

ONLY GOD FORGIVES (N. REFN): Refn’s wonderful eye and sense of atmosphere put more than ever to clichés and blunt nonsense. C

Couldn’t really tell if Kristin Scott Thomas knew she was in a bad movie or not?

Mike D’Angelo, The A.V. Club

Holy fucking shit that was awful. But at least we finally got something bold enough to be worth despising.

Only God Forgives (Winding Refn): 17. Gratuitous sadism smothered in the same noxiously garish notion of “style” he used for FEAR X.

Peter Debruge, Variety

ONLY GOD FORGIVES (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2013), – 3/10

The wallpaper emotes more than Ryan Gosling does, while Kristin Scott Thomas steals the show in Bangkok reunion b/w DRIVE’s director & star.

Kenji Fujishima, In Review Online

ONLY GOD FORGIVES (2013, Refn): Well…I found this round of macho posturing mildly more interesting than DRIVE, if nothing else.

William Goss, MSN Movies

Only God Forgives: despite a stoic Gosling, closer to what Refn’s done besides Drive/Pusher – slow, surreal, occasionally violent.

Tim Grierson, Paste

Mixed on ONLY GOD FORGIVES on the whole, but the Cliff Martinez score is fantastic.

Glenn Heath Jr., Press Play

ONLY GOD FORGIVES (C/C+): Cryogenic characters, red light guilt, & slashing punishment. The vengeful gong of God is loud.

Eugene Hernandez, Filmlinc

Cheers. Boos. Whistles. Groans. More cheers. More whistles. Something for everyone in press reaction to ONLY GOD FORGIVES now.

Aaron Hillis, Movie Maker Magazine

ONLY GOD FORGIVES: If characters walked, talked or did anything interesting in real time, VALHALLA DRIVING would still be stoooopid.

Jordan Hoffman, Film.com

ONLY GOD FORGIVES is stylized to the point of parody. But it isn’t a parody. Not for me.

I am officially announcing that ONLY GOD FORGIVES gets better the more you think about it.

Jake Howell, Movie City News

ONLY GOD FORGIVES: Refn, this isn’t ‘Nam. This is Bangkok. There are rules.

Peter Howell, Toronto Star

ONLY GOD FORGIVES: Pulp inaction. Latest Gosling/NWR pairing high on style and gore, low on drive and empathy.

Everybody moves so slowly in ONLY GOD FORGIVES, you could show it at double speed and hardly notice.

Nick James, Sight & Sound

Exquisitely art directed, empty, pretentious, nihilistic, ripoff of all Asian cinema, a slo-mo zombie movie: ONLY GOD FORGIVES

Ryan Gosling does his usual thing of saying nothing and looking cool – even beaten up with panda-eyes from bruises

David Jenkins, Little White Lies

ONLY GOD FORGIVES (Refn) Hahahahahahahahaha. That was a silly movie.

Ben Kenigsberg, RogerEbert.com

ONLY GOD FORGIVES: Come back Hossein Amini, come back. Bafflingly, comprehensively terrible. We wanted a sequel to DRIVE, got one to FEAR X.

Craig Kennedy, Living in Cinema

ONLY GOD FORGIVES, a garish wallow for the runts of the litter never good enough for their pigs of mothers. Dull and unpleasant

Eric Kohn, Indiewire

ONLY GOD FORGIVES: basically the wacky B-movie DRIVE riffed on, elevated by Gosling out-Goslinging himself & hilariously psycho K.S. Thomas.

Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail

Only God Forgives competition entry first outright howler. Ryan Gosling, shooting in Detroit, not in attendance.

Guy Lodge, Hit Fix

If Kristin Scott Thomas isn’t winning at least 78 trophies between now and next March, I want no part in the upcoming awards season.

ONLY GOD FORGIVES (C+) Sort of transfixing as lacquered blood ballet; as storytelling, it never shows up. Crushing on KST et Cliff Martinez.

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

Only God Forgives was um, not good

Only God Forgives – madenningly self indulgent, drains away its short runtime mostly wordlessly and in slow mo. What a letdown

Visuals, score and Kristin Scott Thomas are only good aspects

David Neary, Next Projection

Only God Forgives: Attractive red-dipped thriller undermined by a dearth of character, preposterous gore and rampant Oedipal clusterfuckery.

Michal Oleszczyk, RogerEbert.com

Nicholas Winding Refn better prays it’s God who gets to review his new movie.

Matt Patches, Hollywood.com

Ryan Gosling only has 17 lines in Only God Forgives.

Only God Forgives is another mood piece from Refn. Wish I was down with the mood. Though Kristen Scott Thomas is a hoot.

Best part of Only God Forgives is Cliff Martinez’s score. Vangelis-esque w/ blossoming reverb. Maybe score came before film?

Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily

Refn’s ONLY GOD FORGIVES: egregious Orientalist fantasy set in an area of Bangkok dedicated as a shrine to Gaspar Noe.

Once again, the phrase ‘style over substance’ proves woefully inadequate – though the images are so beautiful they’re virtually lacquered.

Let’s get this phrase out of the way now as you’ll be reading it a lot: ‘Kristin Scott Thomas as you’ve never seen her before.’

And Ryan Gosling as you’ve seen him too much: tremblingly inert.

Had a weird touch of Robbe-Grillet (jn his trashier mode) about it, somehow.

Craig Skinner, Hey U Guys

ONLY GOD FORGIVES (D) Feculent and fun in places but it doesn’t matter how smartly dressed it is, it’s pretty vacuous nonsense.

How many shots of people looking pensively into middle distance are you able to stomach? ONLY GOD FORGIVES has *a lot*

Nigel M. Smith, Indiewire

‘Only God Forgives’ looks gorgeous, quelle surprise. Bleaker, less character driven and thrilling than ‘Drive.’

‘Only God Forgives’: Wanted more of Kristin Scott Thomas’ psycho mom and less of Gosling’s affectless act.

Jason Solomons, The Observer

boos for Nic Winding Refn’s and Ryan Gosling’s Only God Forgives at . Violent Bangkok genre piece, swords, karaoke, blood, style

Sasha Stone, Awards Daily

Imagine the bloody shoot out in Django turned into a two hour Malick movie=Only God Forgives. This crowd loved it. I hated it.

Damon Wise, Empire

Only God Forgives one of NWR’s best; in the vein of Fear X and Valhalla Rising. Larry Smith: genius. Ditto Cliff Martinez

Adam Woodward, Little White Lies

ONLY GOD FORGIVES: Haunting, hyper-real Bangkok fever dream. Scene-stealing Kristen Scott-Thomas. Refn’s most complete film

Neil Young, Jigsaw Lounge

ONLY GOD FORGIVES (Refn ’13) 4/10. Priapically engorged pork sword cuts blunt.

OGF: Refn back in the Lynch-worshippin’ mode of FEAR X, sad to say. Gosling: automaton. Kristin ST: fun, beam’d in from John Waters universe

Blighty’s Tom Burke (“his face is full of sex cruelty” as Mark E Smith might put it) acts Ryan Gosling off the screen in ONLY GOD FORGIVES.

… which could be construed as a backhanded compliment, as “The Goz” does so little in OGF one suspects he’s actually taking the piss.

MUHAMMAD ALI’S GREATEST FIGHT (FREARS) REVIEWS

Xan Brooks, The Guardian

“Stephen Frears’s lightweight account of Ali’s stand over Vietnam does scant justice to its charismatic central protagonist.”

Leslie Felperin, Variety

“Result is a worthy but faintly dull civics/history lesson that’s well suited to broadcast by producer HBO, but doesn’t have the muscle mass for theatrical distribution.”

MUHAMMAD ALI’S GREATEST FIGHT (FREARS) TWEETS

Geoff Andrew, Sight & Sound

MUHAMMAD ALI’S GREATEST FIGHT by Stephen Frears a masterclass in acting, with Christopher Plummer particularly fine.

John Bleasdale, Cine-Vue

Mohammed Ali’s Greatest Fight: Stephen Frears made for TV, well intentioned but stuffy legal drama

Craig Skinner, Hey U Guys

MUHAMMAD ALI’S GREATEST FIGHT (C-) Flat, stuffy & dull. Story told would fit on a postage stamp. Great perfs from the older cast though.

Jason Solomons, The Observer

think i screwed up seeing Frears’ so-so HBO film about Mohammed Ali’s legal battle (Lincoln, with gloves) instead of Redford in All Is Lost

ALL IS LOST (CHANDOR) REVIEWS

John Bleasdale, Cine-Vue

“Chandor’s latest is a film about stoic heroism, and yet Redford is never given the ‘hero’ mantle. Everything he does is utterly credible. He moves slowly, with an old man’s deliberation, his energy is easily exhausted and he can’t perform the energetic, youth-dependent feats of his Sundance Kid heyday.”

Justin Chang, Variety

“‘All Is Lost,’ then, is that mainstream-movie rarity: a virtually wordless film that speaks with grave eloquence and simplicity about the human condition.”

Gregory Ellwood, Hit Fix

“What’s disappointing, however, is that Chandor puts forth all this effort only to have us feel ambivalent over the sailor’s fate at the end. Shouldn’t we care  just a little?”

Tim Grierson, Screen Daily

“Admittedly, some of the mediocre effects shots betray All Is Lost’s relatively small budget, a greater disappointment because of the realism that’s achieved elsewhere. But even if the film’s trajectory ultimately doesn’t differ that much from other survival stories’, Chandor’s commitment to his approach helps make it stand out among its peers.”

Ben Kenigsberg, RogerEbert.com

“The movie trusts viewers to be engrossed by the details of rudimentary navigation or such tidbits as how to evaporate salt out of seawater. The existential drama is also potent. How long would you last before you decided hopelessness was easier?”

Eric Kohn, Indiewire

“Getting close to the actor and watching him work, Redford delivers something we’ve never seen him do before by boiling down the essence of his career into a cavalcade of frantic looks.”

Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

“Robert Redford keeps the film afloat, even as his character has no such luck with his boat, in All Is Lost, a rugged, virtually dialogue-free survival-at-sea story that sustains attention against considerable odds.”

Geoffrey McNab, The Independent

“Two years ago, the  silent film The Artist proved an Oscar-winning sensation. It wouldn’t be a surprise if All Is Lost, another film in which almost no words are spoken, achieves something similar.”

Andrew Pulver, The Guardian

“JC Chandor’s drama of survival at sea features an impressive – and largely non-speaking – performance from Robert Redford, but is a little too pared-down for its own good.”

ALL IS LOST (CHANDOR) TWEETS

Ryland Aldrich, Twitch Film

Chandor’s Margin Call follow-up ALL IS LOST answers the question “Do we rly need another lost at sea film?” With “Meh, not really.”

Raffi Asdourian, The Film Stage

All is Lost is a tour de force, perfectly encapsulates struggle to survive against all odds. Riveting performance from Redford

Alex Billington, First Showing

All is Lost – A stunning work of art. Grueling, thrilling, meticulous, moving. Redford is extraordinary, filmmaking is remarkable.

John Bleasdale, Cine-Vue

All is Lost brilliant. Utterly briliant

Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph

All Is Lost, JC Chandor’s follow-up to Margin Call, adds up beautifully: Robert Redford+sinking yacht=elemental survival drama

Mike D’Angelo, The A.V. Club

All Is Lost (Chandor): 74. Just what I’d hoped for: A survival tale pared to its purely visual essence. Ambiguous ending’s a tad cute.

Scott Foundas, Variety

ALL IS LOST has 2 lines of dialogue, 1 passage of voiceover, a couple curses, and one remarkable Robert Redford performance.

Kenji Fujishima, In Review Online

ALL IS LOST (2013, Chandor): a one-man survival-at-sea tale. Maybe elemental to a fault, but Robert Redford is tremendous.

William Goss, MSN Movies

All is Lost: in which Robert Redford works on both his tan and a likely, well-deserved Oscar nomination. Pitbull soundtrack a plus.

Aaron Hillis, Movie Maker Magazine

ALL IS LOST: A knockout. Visceral, classy, elemental action-procedural with Oscar-worthy Redford makes CAST AWAY’s Hanks look hammy.

Jordan Hoffman, Film.com

ALL IS LOST is terrific! I would completely understand if Redford wanted to go out on this one & retire.

There’s no denying star power. While the filmmaking is splendid, Redford makes ALL IS LOST. This ranks among his career highlights

Jake Howell, Movie City News

Joining the choir for ALL IS LOST. Robert Redford joins Oscar Isaac in the coming Best Actor race a few months from now.

Dustin Jansick, Way Too Indie

ALL WAS LOST: the ending completely degraded the rest of the film. Hint, the rest of the film was not great either.

Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail

All Is Lost, from Margin Call director J.C. Chandor an impressive feat: Robert Redford, a boat and no dialogue. The Old Mime and the Sea?

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

All Is Lost features Robert Redford’s best performance in probably a few decades

Matt Patches, Hollywood.com

All Is Lost really is a muted Robert Redford from start to finish. Compelling dramatization of a lost at sea scenario.

All Is Lost transcends its man vs. nature action thanks to Redford, a character with a life behind him. Story is in the details.

Alex Ebert of Magnetic Zeroes provided the tremendous score to All Is Lost. Was like a musical elegy, both epic & soft.

Craig Skinner, Hey U Guys

ALL IS LOST (B+) Astonishing, expertly crafted story of one man alone, trying to survive. A very emotional journey worth taking.

Nigel M. Smith, Indiewire

Loved ALL IS LOST, this coming from a guy who’s not a big fan of CASTAWAY. Redford gives the role his all. Mighty impressive.

Sasha Stone, Awards Daily

Robert Redford is wonderful in JC Chandor’s All is Lost. Heartbreaking,, beautiful film.

LA JAULA DE ORO (QUEMADA-DIEZ) REVIEWS

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“…La Jaula de Oro has nothing to offer but grim reality. It is a very substantial movie, with great compassion and urgency”.

Peter Debruge, Variety

“Though it takes some work to engage with the characters at first, the journey makes a powerful impact, encouraging audiences — especially American ones — to re-evaluate the way they look upon undocumented immigrants, simply by revealing the harrowing trails this foursome faces en route to opportunity.”

Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter

“One of the more underwhelming directorial debuts unveiled at this year’s Cannes, Mexican migrant-picaresque The Golden Cage (La Jaula de oro) is a lukewarm examination of a hot-potato political issue.”

LA JAULA DE ORO (QUEMADA-DIEZ) TWEETS

Ryland Aldrich, Twitch Film

THE GOLDEN CAGE (La Jaula de Oro) is a slightly slow, very pretty story of immigration across Mexico. A less sensational Sin Nombre.

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

La Jaura De Oro (dir. Diego Quemada-Diez) is tough, suspenseful, compassionate – surely in line for a UCR prize

Glenn Heath Jr., Press Play

LA JAULO DE ORO (C+/B-): For a while, this is a superb anti-thesis to SIN NOMBRE. Then it keeps going, and going, and going.

Guy Lodge, Hit Fix

V. impressed by Mexican UCR entry LA JAULA DE ORO, which I went into totally blind. A rare shot of crisp traditional storytelling at Cannes.

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