Ten favorites from the 2021 Cannes Film Festival

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It would be handy if all the films shown at the 74th Cannes Film Festival July 6-17 could nestle in a tidy box titled “The New Post-COVID Cinema,” but the generalization won’t hold up. On the one hand, many of the feature films shown here (The French dispatch, Benedetta) were completed before the start of the pandemic and sat on the ice with distributors for a year. Others (including many short films, such as those by The year of the eternal storm) were slaughtered under quarantine conditions, and include its realities. But the festival as a whole, having been postponed to 2020, took place under the strong sign of rebirth, and not as a praise of wasted time. The film’s opening remarks by ubiquitous festival president Thierry Frémaux rarely touched on the struggles or uncertainties of the past year, and he hasn’t speculated much publicly about what the future of cinema might look like. . His speeches, in a mixture of French and English, were celebrations of the present. The festival’s goal, he told Variety in May, would be “to host a big Cannes – without assuming the pandemic is over.” The pandemic is far from over, but in the meantime, here are ten of the films that made it a big Cannes.

Annette
Rock opera is not dead. Ron and Russel Mael of Sparks mark Leos Carax’s last extravagant show. A bizarre celebrity couple – the almost standing comic Henry McHenry, played by Adam Driver, and Marion Cotillard as the great opera diva Ann – grapple with this age-old parenting challenge: raising a demon child while you are incredibly famous and that you need to sing along to. The pretty patches of the Driver range played better Marriage story (2019), but Carax is courting the same caliber of extremely physical total performance that the director achieved with Denis Lavant in Sacred Motors (2012).

Benedetta
It is astonishing that Paul Verhoeven, the only person to lead at the same time Starship Troopers (1997) and write a scholarly monograph on the historical Jesus, may succeed in being a holy eros theologian and blatant nun fetishist in the same film. It would be impossible to say which of the two impulses predominates in this 16th century tale by novice Benedetta Carlini (Virginie Efira), her visions and her miracles inside a convent in the time of the plague, and the transmission of her sacred desires on the flesh of his fellows. novice Bartolomea (Daphne Patakia). Charlotte Rampling, acting in French, gives a strong turn as the skeptical abbess.


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