A Magic Mirror to Synecdoche, New York

Collapsing in sodden self-reflexivity after a promising 40 minutes, Kaufman's arch, interminable phantasmagoria — with Philip Seymour Hoffman as a Job-like theater director — retroactively improved all but the most miserablist movies I saw at Cannes (and especially Philippe Garrel's equally lugubrious Cannes debut Frontier of Dawn, a typically distended and glumly romantic analog to Two Lovers). For the secondary gain of rendering the festival's minor aggravations pleasures by comparison: Merci.

And finally, as this year's festival passes in history, a Golden Madeleine to Wong Kar-Wai's Ashes of Time Redux

Benicio Del Toro stars as Che Guevara in Steven Soderbergh's Che.
Benicio Del Toro stars as Che Guevara in Steven Soderbergh's Che.
Angelina Jolie stars in Clint Eastwood's Changeling
Angelina Jolie stars in Clint Eastwood's Changeling

The master of Chinese chinoiserie managed to return to Cannes for the fourth consecutive festival with a restored, rescored, and digitally recolored version of his 1994 exercise in action sword-play and wuxhia nostalgia. Insanely gorgeous, filled with poses and ecstasies, and always trembling on the brink of self-parody, this tale of medieval warriors and the women who can't forget (or remember) them evokes the most extreme mannerism of the '60s — Last Year at Marienbad, Flaming Creatures, Once Upon a Time in the West. Had it been selected by Cannes in 1994, could Ashes of Time have beaten another delirious, time-tripping genre film —Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction? It's highly unlikely (a poll published during the festival named Pulp Fiction the most popular Palme d'Oreate of all time), but it's beautiful to think so. Memories should be made of this.

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