The 2019 Cannes Film Festival

Since its original conception in 1939 and its second ‘first’ opening in 1946, The Cannes Film Festival has grown to be one of the most exclusive and prestigious film events in the world. Over the years the festival has grown in popularity and has featured the biggest stars of the time, such as filmmakers Michael Scorsese and Michael Moore, or Hollywood stars Javier Bardem and Will Smith, to name a few. The famous film event, located in the French Riviera hosts the biggest names in filmmaking and acting each year, with celebrities attending to receive the top prizes in film such as the Palme d’Or and Best Actor.. With its iconic gold olive branch, the festival has been praised for promoting less well known and smaller budget films to its line up.

The festival showing in 2020 was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak and its 2021 plan is currently very uncertain. Thus, we look back at the festival before the current global crisis.

Parasite

Bong Joon-ho’s exceptional film Parasite was without a doubt the best film shown at the Cannes Film Festival. The film is presented so confidently and is assertive in its tone that Parasite will stay in viewers minds for many years to come. Following similar themes to Snowpiercer, Parasite makes the issue of class a central theme of its story. When two families, one rich and one poor, begin to interact due to work, their relationships become increasingly complicated and entangled with shocking results. Parasite’s originality and brilliant pacing made it the years winner and went on to make Oscar history with 4 awards, becoming the first non-English film to win Best Picture.

Rocketman

Rocketman is the documentary film of legendary musician Elton John. At the time of its release, it was compared at the time with another biopic film released a year earlier, Bohemian Rhapsody. Although both films depict gay British glam rockers who hit the heights in the 70s and 80s, the similarities don’t end there; the director for Rocketman, Dexter Fletcher, was also recruited to complete Bohemian Rhapsody after the former director left the project. The clear winner between both films is Rocketman – the film is funnier, more imaginative and upfront about its protagonist’s sexuality. The films clear vision is evident from start to finish and is presented with an added dose of flair.

Once upon a time in Hollywood

As a star duo, Brad Pitt and DiCaprio provide a brilliant introduction into the world of TV and film of the late 1960s. Both deliver outstanding performances, with DiCaprio in full performance as an insecure drunk actor whose best days are long gone, and Pitt as his trusty former stunt double, a handyman who can handle himself in a brawl. With a series of flashbacks and a narrative voiceover to help the story progress, the story builds to a final crescendo and chaos ensues in the last part of the film.

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood retains many of the key themes found in a Tarantino movie – the action, the gossip, the violence, and with continuous movie references – they are all very present. However, underneath all the stylistic choices, viewers will find another very well made and challenging movie.

Pain & Glory

Pain & Glory is a masterpiece by another celebrity filmmaker, Pedro Almodovar. The film follows a director, Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas), who has not made a film in years. His health is the main focus for the protagonist, and he spends most of his free time closed off from the outside world brooding about his past. His stupor is interrupted when a popular cinema begins showing a retrospective of his work.

Moved by the showing, Salvador reaches out to Alberto, an actor he used to work with but hasn’t spoken to in years due to his heroin use on set. Both characters form a bond over a heroin addiction, which Salvador seemingly develops out of incessant boredom and subsequently struggles to control. The film switches from the present to flashbacks of the past, giving the audience insight into Salvador’s childhood, with his mother played by Penelope Cruz. Salvador and the audience are left to wonder what went wrong in the time between late adulthood and the early years. The film was critically acclaimed, and won Antonio Banderas the Best Actor prize.

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