Cannes, as we all know, is essentially a scandal-making machine. More than any other film festival, Cannes has had controversy baked into its DNA from the very beginning of its now 70-year history, and it sometimes seems as if every year’s edition of the festival requires its quota of notorious incidents to produce the word-of-mouth gossip and sensationalist media coverage that is the oil ensuring the continued smooth running of the engine of Cannes. At the 2017 edition of the festival, at least, the requisite scandal centered on core issues of the cinema – a refreshing contrast to earlier years, when Cannes went into meltdown over Brigitte Bardot’s bikini, heel-gate or some inauspicious comments about Hitler made by Lars von Trier. Instead, this year festival attendees were treated to a publicly viewable battle royale between the different sectors of the entertainment world. In one corner were the defending champions of the cinema – namely, French movie-theatre owners and the generous exclusivity windows that prop them up. In the other corner, US-owned subscription services, whose corporate masters are chafing against the mandated three-year wait until theatrical releases are legally able to be shown on their video-on-demand platforms. This year, the simmering discord between these two wings of the film industry burst out into open conflict. The Cannes organisers – and most publicly of all, the festival’s indefatigable délégué général Thierry Frémaux – were thus thrust into the unwelcome position of arbiters in this contretemps, engaging in a delicate dance between the twin economic titans. Last year, Amazon had announced its arrival on the scene, funding a slate of films made by some of the most highly-regarded auteurs working in cinema today, and received widespread applause from critical circles for doing so. Even then, I couldn’t help but think that the ulterior motive behind such apparent largesse would eventually surface, and indeed, it did not but take twelve months to emerge.

This year, it was Netflix that was the gorilla in the room, flexing its brawny muscles with its backing for two films in the competition, Bong Joon-ho’s Okja and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected). No sooner were the titles announced as part of the official selection’s line-up than it dawned that the streaming giant had an utterly unexpected revelation for us all. Contrary to the nearly ironclad custom that sees competition entries filtering through to French cinema screens in the months following the festival (with each one, no matter how lukewarm its critical reception may have been, invariably touted by its promotional campaign as “la sensation de Cannes”), Netflix supremo Ted Sarandos brazenly declared his company’s impatience with the requisite three years for his productions to make their plodding way from theatrical distribution, to DVD, premium cable and even free-to-air television before being allowed to air on the platform that had funded them in the first place. Instead, Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) would simply skip theatrical release entirely, and premiere on Netflix itself. In a gesture of generous equanimity/shameless insolence (circle the option which applies), Netflix proposed a “compromise” solution whereby the normal release windows would be waived in exchange for a limited run in theatres. Standing firmly by their legally protected right to a monopoly on new releases (which they consider essential to their economic sustainability), French exhibitors rejected the proposal, much as they had done two years earlier, when Abel Ferrara’s Dominique Strauss-Kahn biopic Welcome to New York was shunted to an unofficial market berth by dint of its straight-to-VOD distribution model.

What placed the festival organisers in hot water, then, was the fact that Cannes, the universally recognised Olympus Mons of cinematic art, had now selected two works for consideration in its competition which would never actually screen in a commercial cinema – at least not in France (other countries, it transpires, have more relaxed rules about these things). Having already given Bong and Baumbach the imprimatur of a competition berth, Frémaux and company could not belatedly withdraw the offer, but they nonetheless made a significant backtrack in the face of the adverse reaction to the selection. Mere days before opening night, Frémaux announced that, as of next year, submissions to the competition would be required to allow a French theatrical release.

This was hardly enough, however, to calm the feverish mood prevailing at the festival. Jury chair Pedro Almodóvar did not help matters when he reportedly declared at a press conference that the two Netflix entries could be ruled out of contention for the Palme d’or, although he later ascribed this extraordinary proclamation to an unfortunate translation error. If this wasn’t enough, on the opening day of festival the press screening of Okja – whose tale of a giant pig genetically engineered to feed the world’s population could well be seen as an elaborate metaphor for Netflix’s position within audiovisual culture – was hailed with a shower of boos prompted by the appearance of Netflix’s corporate logo at the beginning of the film, which only continued in vociferousness as the film was projected in the wrong aspect ratio, cropping the tops and bottoms of the screen. After ten minutes of unwittingly decapitated actors, the glitch was eventually fixed, and the screening resumed. But conspiracy theories proliferated. Projectionists, after all, have the most to lose if the social practice of viewing a film in a movie-theatre is supplanted by watching streamed content at home on a high-definition TV set. Had they deliberately sabotaged the screening as a protest against Netflix’s heavy-handed corporate tactics, a warning signal to anyone else who thinks of trying to circumvent the rules keeping their trade alive? Of course this was immediately denied. Officially, the bungle was a pure accident, the result of human error rather than malice. But who really knows what went on in the projection booth of the Grand Théâtre Lumière?

Cannes 2017

Okja

In any case, the kerfuffle on the Croisette has, despite all the hyperbolic windbagging it caused, served to highlight questions that strike at the very being of the cinema in the contemporary era. What is the cinema? What is a film? In earlier times the answer was self-evident. A film was a film was a film. Now, things are not so simple – and not only because the digital transition means that precious few films are actually made on celluloid now. Some say that a film is what is screened in a cinema – full stop. Others, that it is the experience of a film that counts, regardless of the conditions in which it is viewed. Is The Meyerowitz Stories a film? Does its Cannes premiere give it this status, even if, after the festival ends, it will only ever screen on Netflix? Of course, regardless of its screening format, it conforms entirely to the traditions of the feature film – in terms of its duration, its narrative structure, the logistics of its production – and was helmed by someone who is recognisably a film director. Surely this counts for more than the peripheral reality of its planned distribution strategy?

The waters were further muddied by the fact that, out of competition, two works that undeniably belong to the category of the television series (and not film) were also screened at the festival: Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake: China Girl, and the long-awaited revival of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Indeed, Twin Peaks was one of the most viscerally intense viewing experiences at Cannes this year, and will probably go down as the first truly avant-garde work of the putative “golden age” of US television we are presently living through. On a visual level, both series lost nothing by being transposed to the big screen. And yet there was a palpable sense that they were not cinema – not least because, for the press at least, the festival only afforded the possibility of seeing the first two episodes of each series, their more expansive durations sitting uneasily within the rigorous confines of the festival schedule.

So what, then, in 2017, divides television from cinema? I can hazard at least a tentative response. We may well watch films at home, on television or other devices, much as we have done for decades. And now we even have opportunities to watch television in the cinema, a phenomenon that will only, I imagine, become more prevalent in years to come. But it is cinema if the imaginary, ideal conditions of viewing the work are in a cinema, with its darkened room, mass audience, big-screen image and linear, uninterrupted mode of vision – that is, if the filmmaking team specifically envisions this format for their creation to be seen in, and if the spectator, no matter the context in which they view a work, mentally projects it (the word is not innocent) as a film. And it is television if the imaginary, ideal conditions of viewing the work are on a television set, at home, in the living room, with a domestic audience (either alone or with family and friends), and the sense of temporal and narrative flux that this entails. A television program may be shown in a cinema, but we do not judge it on this basis. To truly gauge the merits of Top of the Lake: China Girl or Twin Peaks, then, requires of the dutiful critic a televisual viewing experience, to which the nature of film-going at Cannes is – still – fundamentally antithetical.

The rest of this missive from festivalworld, then, concerns works that are, unambiguously, unequivocally and proudly, cinematic in nature. Away from the burbling brouhaha over streaming sites, release windows and the like, it is the artistic well-being of the cinema that is what is really at stake at Cannes. Year in, year out, the festival is undoubtedly the best gauge we have for measuring the medium’s well-being. The overall report-card from 2017 was, from most quarters, that this year was an average, merely passable edition, with the competition films mostly straddling a mezzanine level of aesthetic prowess. Precious few works reached up to a creative zenith. By the same token, however, the festival was largely free of the basement-level flops that have surfaced in prior editions of the competition.

Cannes 2017

A Gentle Creature

Among the highlights of the festival, Russian films featured prominently. Indeed, on the basis of the evidence at Cannes, if there is any nation that is still capable of producing resolutely cinematic works, it is the land that, one hundred years ago, was consumed in a revolutionary storm the effects of which we can still feel today. The Russian representatives in 2017 all, in their various ways, harked back to the great tradition of Russian art, in all its splendour and despair. Foremost among these was Sergei Loznitsa, whose Krotkaya (A Gentle Creature) was said to take its inspiration from Dostoyevsky. In reality, the film had only a very loose connection with the Russian author’s novella (which had already, famously, been brought to the screen by Robert Bresson in 1969), and resembles it chiefly on the level of its prevailing mood and mentality. The gentle creature of the title (Valentina Makovtseva), never given a name, visits a remote post-Soviet town, whose citizenry succumbs to moral atrophy, just as its built environment is visibly decaying. After a care package she had dispatched to her imprisoned husband (the details of his crime are never explained) is returned to sender, the heroine attempts to deliver the parcel directly to the prison, but is only met with an obstructive wall of bureaucracy. Staying the night in the town, she is persistently menaced by the local townsfolk, a mix of drunken degenerates and scheming predators, and despite her stoic determination, makes no headway in her efforts to reach her husband – even a visit to the local branch of a harried human rights NGO (subject to interminable harassment from the authorities) does little to advance her cause. The unfolding of the plot (or lack of it) is redolent, then, of the endless circularity of Kafka’s The Castle, but in the final twenty minutes of the film, A Gentle Creature embarks on a complete tonal and stylistic shift: after the heroine falls asleep in a railway station waiting room, the placid pace and rusted realism of the earlier sequences gives way to an oneiric, fantastical world that recalls Federico Fellini, Luis Buñuel or even Guy Maddin. Loznitsa was born in the Belarussian SSR, and is now based in Germany and the Ukraine. His stance on the current political tensions in the countries of the former USSR means that Russian funding for his films is all but impossible. And yet he persistently treats fundamentally Russian subject matters, and inscribes his work in that nation’s artistic legacy, whether it is in the absurdist despair of Gogol and Bulgakov, or the sober, spiritualistic long-takes of Tarkovsky and Sokurov. He is, perhaps, best considered as the great non-Russian Russian filmmaker of the contemporary era.

Cannes 2017

Loveless

Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Nelyubov (Loveless) forms a fascinating duplet with A Gentle Creature, both for the similarities and the differences between the two filmmakers. As opposed to Loznitsa’s deliberate positioning as an heir to the dissidents-in-exile of the Soviet era, issuing a strident, lacerating assault on the power system in place under Putin, Zvyagintsev has adopted a nimbler relationship with the Russian state, critical on a broader level, but not pointed enough to jeopardise his own position within the nation’s film industry (and, by extension, financing from its production companies). In saying this, I don’t wish to tar him with the label of opportunism. Indeed, the broad brush strokes of Zvyagintsev’s universalism can be just as effective as a more honed political critique. Here, as with his earlier Elena, the target is the crass consumerism and emotionless emptiness of Russia’s new middle-classes, those social layers who have managed to evade penury by riding on the coat-tails of the post-Soviet kleptocrats. Boris and Zhenya, both in their thirties, live in any icily modern Moscow apartment, but are going through the tail end of a divorce – both have already found alternative partners and are happy to move on from a gapingly loveless marriage. There remains the small matter of their 12 year-old son, Alyosha. The selfishness of the pair is evinced in a kitchen conversation in which neither shows any desire for custody of their only child. In one of the festival’s most devastating shots, the camera tracks away from the couple to reveal Alyosha, listening in on the exchange, wrenched in silent agony as tears gush from his face. But that is the last we see of the boy, who disappears without a trace. Did he run away? Was he kidnapped? The divorcing couple go through the motions of searching for Alyosha, enlisting a lacklustre police force and a rather more energetic volunteer service in their half-hearted mission. But even the loss of a child – felt as an inconvenience rather than a tragedy – arouses little more than a muted murmur in the sentimental chasm of the two main characters.

Cannes 2017

Closeness

That Russia is capable of nurturing a new generation of filmmakers with the potential to carry the baton from the likes of Zvyagintsev and Loznitsa (both already in their fifties), was on show in Un certain regard, one of the highlights of which was Tesnota (Closeness), a moving tale set in a Jewish enclave in the mostly Islamic North Caucasus, directed by the 25 year-old Kantemir Balagov, a protégé of Sokurov who probably ranks as the most important discovery of this year’s festival. When David and his young bride are kidnapped for a ransom, his family, including the effervescent tomboy Ilana, are faced with deep ethical choices about the lengths to which they will go in order to drum up the money. But the film itself, by including some brutally real footage of atrocities committed in the region during the 1990s, presents its own ethical dilemmas, and met with a divided critical response. Whatever the attitude we may take to this incursion of reality into the fictional world of Closeness, the assuredness of the performances and the brooding mobility of the camerawork signal Balagov as a filmmaker with significant promise.

Cannes 2017

Happy End

The competition, of course, was primarily the preserve of established auteurs whose reputations are beyond dispute. Indeed, they don’t come much more established than Michael Haneke, perhaps the paragon of art cinema today (and particularly its bracing, ascetic subset), whose position in the competition line-up is virtually guaranteed with every film he completes. Given that Haneke had picked up the Palme d’or for his previous two films, Das weiße Band (The White Ribbon, 2009) and Amour (2012), it would have been a brave festival-goer who bet against him attaining a trifecta with his latest effort, Happy End, essentially a sequel to Amour. The title is not, in fact, quite as ironic as we might have expected, but the film is nonetheless just as cruelly misanthropic and categorically bleak as we have come to expect from Haneke. Jean-Louis Trintignant and Isabelle Huppert return from the earlier film, but the action is moved from Paris to Calais, one of the flashpoints of Europe’s ongoing migration saga (a topic that formed the focal point for a good number of the continent’s festival entries). Now it is Trintignant’s character, Georges, who desires the release of euthanasia, and coaxes his 12 year-old granddaughter Ève, who evidently has sadistic tendencies, to help him in the endeavour. But the punch packed by the film is far less impactful than that which Haneke has achieved in prior works, and a common lament at the festival was that Happy End came off as something of a mixtape of Haneke’s existing œuvre. The opening sequence, for instance, reprises its cognate in Benny’s Video for the Snapchat era, complete with running text commentary, while one of Haneke’s favourite formal devices, the creation of a distancing effect by using an excessively remote, static camera to capture moments of extreme violence, was here used with such regularity that it brushed with becoming a formulaic tic. Even the intended pièce de résistance of the film, involving an unwelcome intrusion into a large birthday banquet, concluded in a far more tepid fashion than devotees of Haneke have come to expect. By any other standards, Happy End would undoubtedly be a commanding film, but given how loftily Haneke had placed the bar for himself with his preceding body of work, it comes across merely as middling fare, and elicited barely a ripple of excitement on the Croisette (not to mention going empty-handed in the prize ceremony).

Cannes 2017

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Greek filmmaker-turned-international globetrotter Yorgos Lanthimos is now just as ensconced in the competition as his Austrian elder. After filming The Lobster in Ireland, he took off to Cincinnati for The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Teaming up with Colin Farrell (again) and Nicole Kidman (a first), Lanthimos sculpts a disturbing tale of a highly respected cardiologist who nurtures a strange relationship with a young boy, whose father died on his operating table. His seemingly boundless generosity can do nothing, however, to stave the boy’s desire for retribution: blaming Farrell’s character for the loss of his father, he gives the doctor a choice: either he kills one of his own family members, or, one by one, they will become paralysed and die. With echoes of Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis, the film’s central dilemma is resolved with a flourish of Lanthimos’ characteristic dark humour, but the rest of the film is largely bereft of the quizzical touches that served to leaven the mordancy in his earlier films. Indeed, it is almost as if Lanthimos has deliberately made The Killing of a Sacred Deer as painful to watch as possible: the jarring, atonal compositions on the soundtrack greatly exacerbate the spectatorial unease spawned by the on-screen events.

Cannes 2017

The Beguiled

Farrell and Kidman also featured prominently in Sofia Coppola’s competition entry – Kidman, in fact, seemed to be everywhere this year (she had roles in no less than four films at Cannes). In Beguiled, a remake of the 1971 Don Siegel film, she plays Miss Martha, the head of a small boarding school in Confederate Virginia during the Civil War, whose peace and isolation is interrupted by the discovery of a wounded Yankee. Despite his enemy status, the all-female household takes in the soldier to assist in his recuperation, and their hospitality sees attraction flare in multiple directions. The dynamic changes when Farrell, caught by Kirsten Dunst when in flagrante delicto with Elle Fanning, falls down the stairs and has his leg amputated by Kidman, ushering in a third act which ramps up the silliness considerably. Beguiled kindled the favour of many at the festival – Coppola does, it seems, have a loyal legion of fans. I am not one of them, but the least that could be said of her latest outing was that it had none of the overtly objectionable elements of her earlier work (leaving aside The Virgin Suicides [1999], with which the new film has a sizable number of parallels), and for the most part the director accurately gauges just how far the film’s tongue should be lodged in its cheek.

The same could not be said of two of France’s ever ample contingent of Cannes titles. With L’Amant double (The Double Lover) and D’après une histoire vraie (Based on a True Story) respectively, François Ozon and Roman Polanski both deployed their abundant reserves of camp histrionics, and both filmmakers seemed to be surfing the wave created by Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, one of the hits of last year’s festival – Polanski even appears to overtly nod to the film with the name of one his characters (although in reality the film is based on a novel predating Elle’s premiere). Both Based on a True Story and The Double Lover play with the literary tropes of the doppelgänger and the alter ego, and the anxieties they opens up in the lives of Parisian intellectual elites. But neither film is truly satisfying, with the venerable directors content mostly to go through the motions of the kind of narrative twists the genre of the camp thriller impels, and which they themselves have amply mined in the past, rather than truly dazzle with the unexpected. Fatih Akin’s Aus dem Nichts (In the Fade) was similarly disappointing – an ending expressly designed to shock the viewer ends up deflated by the plodding predictability that preceded it. Diane Kruger marries a Turkish criminal-cum-community-oriented businessman, but both he and their young son are killed by a bomb detonating in his office. The police initially ascribe the attack to the deceased husband’s old drug dealing network, but Kruger’s instinct tells her that neo-Nazis were really behind the bombing. A court case of two far-right extremists ensues, but they are (somewhat implausibly) exonerated by the judges, and Kruger thus has to take justice into her own hands.

If Akin’s entry was insipid, then the competition was capable of serving up even more unpalatable fare. Michel Hazanavicius has parlayed his Oscar for The Artist (2011) into making a series of execrable films, the latest of which is Redoutable, a biopic of Jean-Luc Godard’s turn to Marxism-Leninism in the last 1960s, based on Anne Wiazemsky’s memoir-novels, with Louis Garrel as Godard (complete with over-egged Swiss-accented lisp) and Stacy Martin as his wife, strangely made to look more like Chantal Goya than the real-life Wiazemsky. Between the filmmaker directing Redoutable and the filmmaker who is its subject, the incompatibility is absolute. Hazanavicius, of course, had a choice when taking on such a project: either he could make a Hazanavicius film about Godard, or he could (try to) make a Godard film about Godard. In the end he does both, and thus does neither, as he incoherently alternates between superficially Godardian touches and his own far more conventional approach to filmmaking, concluding with an attempted suicide whose ramped-up melodrama is the polar opposite of Godard’s cinema. In short, the film is a travesty (in both senses of the word). Jacques Doillon is a far more distinguished, and far more interesting, filmmaker than his compatriot, but with Rodin, which similar turned its gaze on the love-life of an uncompromisingly radical artist, he shared Hazanavicius’ fate, with the film universally deprecated by the press corps. For me, the staid timidity of Rodin, at odds with the rest of Doillon’s œuvre, elicited sadness more than opprobrium, sadness, that is, that one of France’s great directors has been reduced to turning out commissioned pieces that garner financing for eminently non-cinematic reasons (2017 is the centenary of Rodin’s death, it turns out), rather than being given the opportunity to develop his own idiosyncratic œuvre.

Cannes 2017

Good Time

More energising material was nonetheless on offer elsewhere. The Safdie brothers continue the exploration of the social underbelly of New York initiated in films such as Heaven Knows What (aka Mad Love in New York) and Daddy Longlegs (aka Go Get Some Rosemary, aka Lenny and the Kids), with their latest film Good Time (disappointingly bereft of an alternative title). As with Heaven Knows What, Good Time is replete with drugs, crime and White Castle, and is propelled by both Sean Price Williams’ jolting cinematography and a pulsating score, this time furnished by electronic musician Oneohtrix Point Never. Here, Robert Pattinson plays Connie, a shiftless malefactor from Queens who ropes his intellectually disabled brother Nick (played convincingly by Benny Safdie) into a botched bank robbery that ends with Nick’s arrest. With his brother in hospital (but under guard), Connie tries to bust him out, but his hapless efforts begin a night of frenzied meandering through the New York night, taking him through brightly lit hospital wards, a West Indian family’s home, a dilapidated amusement park and a drug dealer’s garish apartment. Played at a hyperactive pitch that is sustained throughout the proceedings, Good Time invigorates the viewer with its stylistic pyrotechnics, but also brings us deep into Connie’s tangled psyche, such that, no matter how many dubious ethical decisions he makes in the film, we can not help but empathise with the character.

Cannes 2017

You Were Never Really Here

With You Were Never Really Here, British director Lynne Ramsay was no doubt aiming for a similar effect, but the success of her venture was far more mitigated. As was also evident with Good Time, the influence of 1970s New Hollywood directors was palpable in Ramsay’s film, which comes across as an extended remake of the final scene of Taxi Driver. Joaquin Phoenix takes the Travis Bickle role (here he is called Joe), with a mission to free underage prostitutes from the clutches of the politically-connected Manhattan brothels that keep them captive. Taciturn, bushy-bearded, dishevelled, Phoenix turns in a reliably potent performance, but overall the film is messily incoherent – partly, it was evident, because Ramsay was rushing to complete the editing up to the final hours before its premiere, and there is every probability that the release version will be substantially revamped from its Cannes cut. More seriously still, the gossamer thin narrative of You Were Never Really Here is barely able to sustain the unrelenting gore that perennially threatens to drown the film. Perhaps, I admit, Ramsay handicapped herself by making her bow on the last Friday of the festival, as Cannes drew to a close. After so much on-screen cruelty in the preceding week and a half, the film’s glut of callous savagery was too much for this surfeited critic.

More salutary offerings could be found outside the competition, particularly in the documentaries programmed in the Official Selection’s séances spéciales. Visages villages (Faces, Places), the octogenarian Agnès Varda’s collaboration with the young artist J.R., continues the humanistic ramble through la France profonde which we had earlier seen in Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse (The Gleaners and I, 2001), this time printing up giant posters of local residents and prominently pasting them in public spaces. Barbet Schroeder, a fellow veteran of the Sturm-und-Drang of post-war Parisian cinephilia, had a far more disturbing case study in The Venerable W., filling out his “trilogy of evil” (after General Idi Amin Dada: A Self-Portrait [1974] and Terror’s Advocate [2007]) with a portrait of violent Islamophobia from an unlikely source: Aung San Suu Kyi-aligned Buddhist priests in Burma. In 12 jours (12 Days), meanwhile, seasoned documentarian Raymond Dépardon took his observational eye to the judicial hearings that a recent French law has required take place for psychiatric patients interned against their will, with results that were in turns comic and emotionally shattering.

But what, you may ask of the Palme d’or? Why have I so far refrained from any mention of what is normally the first point of business in any self-respecting festival report. It is not, be assured, through any antipathy to the winner, Ruben Östlund’s The Square. I was mightily impressed with his earlier films Play (2011) and Force majeure (2014), and the premise of his latest film, a biting satire on the political contradictions of the contemporary art world, sounded eminently propitious. But alas, dear reader, this was the first time in my seven years of covering the festival that I missed out on watching the Palme d’or winner. So my thoughts on The Square will have to wait till another time. This was not, I must confess, the full extent of my journalistic indolence. The 2017 Director’s Fortnight featured new titles from Philippe Garrel (L’Amant d’un jour [Lover for a Day]), Claire Denis (Un beau soleil intérieur [Let the Sunshine In]), Bruno Dumont (Jeannette, l’enfance de Jean d’Arc [Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc]) and Abel Ferra (Alive in France), garnering plaudits, as well as buzz surrounding Sean Baker’s The Florida Project and Chloé Zhao’s The Rider. By all accounts, therefore, Edouard Waintrop’s section had one of its best harvests in memory. By all accounts, that is, but not by mine, as circumstances lamentably intervened to prevent me from catching any of these works. But I can only hope that what I have lacked in diligence, I have made up for in evaluative acuity and, dare I say it, literary eloquence. As the act of transposing images, sounds, feelings into words, sentences, ideas, film criticism is, I would venture, the best school of writing there is – not just critical writing, but writing tout court. Covering a festival of Cannes’ intensity is essentially a literary boot camp. And if the existence of an art form can be determined by the art criticism to which it gives rise, then the best gauge of the cinema’s health, today, is the quality of film writing. Fellow critics, we bear great responsibility on our shoulders!

Cannes Film Festival
17-28 May 2017
Festival website: http://www.festival-cannes.com/en/

About The Author

Daniel Fairfax is a doctoral candidate in Film Studies and Comparative Literature at Yale University and book reviews editor at Senses of Cinema