This weekend should be the conclusion of the 73rd Cannes Film Festival and the crowing of the new Palme d’Or, but it was not to be. A highly communicable virus had other plans, so we soldier on without one. Thankfully, there’s a deep backlog of past Palme winners to watch, none more powerful than 2011’s winner, The Tree of Life.
Written and directed by Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life — streaming on HBO Now and DirecTV — is a watershed moment in contemporary cinema. Pairing the impressionistic poetry of cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, the abstract visual effects of Douglas Trumbull, the concrete reality of production designer Jack Fisk and elliptical storytelling, The Tree of Life is simultaneously micro and macro, the story of everything told in a single blade of grass. Or a simple American family of five, the O’Briens, living in suburban Texas circa 1956.Boulder Weekly Vol. 27, No. 4, “Every lead, every ray of light.”
Not classic enough for you? How about the first Palme recipient, Marty? A Greek tragedy drenched in Carnival? A musical starring Björk? How about one of the most moving love stories captured on celluloid:
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg: Director Jacques Demy sought to make a movie that would make audiences cry. He succeeded in spades. It helps that Michelle Legrande provided one of the most indelible film scores of all time, and cinematographer Jean Rabier found the sourness in candy-coated Eastmancolor. Catherine Deneuve is radiant as the 16-year-old Geneviève, who falls for Guy (Nino Castelnuovo), a mechanic with humble aspirations. Geneviève sells umbrellas at her mother’s shop, and everything looks like an old Hollywood movie. And no one talks, they sing. They sing every single line in the film no matter how banal. It’s ecstatic and frivolous, but war intervenes, and beauty that was once taken for granted is now sorely missed. Exaltation turns to elegy, and life goes on. It has one of the best endings in all of cinema — if it doesn’t break your heart, nothing will. Streaming on The Criterion Channel and Kanopy.Home viewing: Palme d’Or winners