Cannes Outdoes Itself

Best of the best: Our picks from the strongest festival in years

9. Shown as part of the International Critics' Week, Pablo Giorgelli’s Las Acasias is a quiet tour de force. Like more than a few young Argentine films, this minimalist road movie is shot situation-documentary-style. The camera rides with a taciturn truck driver as he hauls a load of timber—and a woman with her infant child—from Paraguay to Buenos Aires. It’s part pilgrimage, part love story (or the idea of one) and the deserved winner of the festival’s Caméra d’Or for best first film.

10. Bruno Dumont ran off the rails so long ago that I thought this theologically minded Bressonian brutalist would never return to the bizarre vérité mysticism of The Life of Jesus (1997) or L’Humanité(1999). Thus Hors Satan (imperfectly translated as “Outside Satan”), shown in UCR, was a mild revelation. Two non-actors with a matching absence of affect and complementary hairstyles—his slicked back, hers spiked up—tramp silently around the beautifully photographed dunes and marshes of northwest Normandy, engaging in strange rituals and precipitating peculiar outbreaks (including one of Dumont’s trademark sex acts). It’s a Stone Age tale, ascetic, enigmatic, and intermittently violent.

Also noted with pleasure: Markus Schleizner’s audience mind-fuck Michael, Michel Hazanavicius’s silent-movie pastiche The Artist, Nicolas Winding Refn’s spaghetti-HK-‘80s mash-up Drive, Hong Sang-soo’s The Day He Arrives (not just the same movie he always makes, but a movie about making that same movie), Takashi Miike’s well-conceptualized but poorly realized (or projected) 3-D samurai flick Ichimei, and Sean Durkin’s spooky Manson family gloss Martha Marcy May Marlene. Like I said, it was an excellent festival.

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