Cannes Critics: Taking Woodstock, Air Doll

With this year’s Cannes Film Festival well underway, reviews have started flooding out from the Croisette about the various features screened during the first few days of competition. Here’s a quick analysis of the reactions so far:

Taking Woodstock
Ang Lee’s all-star take on the 60’s concert that changed the world was one of the most anticipated premieres at Cannes. Reviews however are tending towards mixed or negative, complaints of it being an overly self-conscious comedy filled with self-indulgent performances and ultimately a minor work on Lee’s resume:

“Gentle, genial and about as memorable as a mild reefer high” says Variety who complains that it’s “too raggedy and laid-back for its own good.”

The AV Club calls it “Harmless enough, but I expect a lot more from Lee and Schamus, even after Hulk”. Lead Demetri Martin “makes little impression” while the other cast members “indulge stale ’60s stereotypes”.

A “rather flat comedy…this messy historical fiction plays like a two hour “Saturday Night Live” sketch, and not a very good one either” says indieWire. The events portrayed are a “frustratingly simplistic depiction” thanks to an “overly referential script” and the “pervasive superficiality” of the performances.

The Hollywood Reporter was more forgiving, saying its an “entertaining light comedy…a thoughtful, playful, often amusing film”. However it is “possibly too tranquil a movie for the cataclysmic occurrence it seeks to dramatize.”

Screen Daily calls it a “sweet, meandering salute” but a “slender anecdote” compared with his other recent work. The “smaller human stories are disappointingly banal” and Lee pads out the runtime with “impressionistic, split screen crowd scenes”.

Air Doll
Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest film involves an inflatable doll that comes to life but keeps its mind out of the gutter. The reaction overall seems good, but all cite runtime issues.

Screen Daily says Kore-eda’s aim is “too ambitious” and his approach “too diffuse”, the film nevertheless “does offer food for thought, poetical imagination galore, a touching performance by Korean actress Bae Doo-na.”

“An achingly beautiful meditation on loneliness and longing” says The Hollywood Reporter, though overall it is “structurally a little frail and stylistically fey.”

Variety says the film “never overextends the idea” and “doesn’t even flirt with the sexual or social subtexts”, while star Bae Du-na “holds the screen in a tour de force of ingenuous wonderment”. At over two hours however, the “jam is simply spread too thin”

The Boston Globe says that “as a comic disquisition on man’s backhanded use for woman, the movie entertains”, however the overall picture “feels slight”.

Finally The AV Club calls it a “goofy but ambitious” film however its ultimately “a little too cute and scattershot to achieve real profundity.”