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Cannes Review: "The Tree."

Reviewed at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. During Julie Bertuccelli's "The Tree," closing this year's Cannes Film Festival out of competition, I started mentally tracing back the chain of decisions that landed the film on-screen before me -- in no small part because that process was far more engaging and diverting than anything playing out on-screen in Bertuccelli's maudlin, mawkish pagan-pastoral grief-and-growth melodrama. Who thought it was a good idea to have "The Tree"...

Cannes Review: "Fair Game."

Reviewed at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. As has been said of robbery, so it is for espionage: You can do a lot more with a fountain pen than with a gun. "Fair Game" tells the story of Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) and Joe Wilson (Sean Penn), a Washington couple like any other -- kids, money woes, marital strife -- and unlike any other, with his past as an ambassador and diplomat and her covert work as a CIA operative working in nuclear non-proliferation. In the lead-up to the Iraq war,...

Cannes Review: "Tamara Drewe"

Reviewed at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. Sassy, slick, slight and speedy, Stephen Frears' "Tamara Drewe" explores the same territory as Woody Allen's similarly out-of-competition "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" -- the heart is capricious, and fate is cruel -- while skewering both urban pretentions and rural rumor-mongering. Frears' adaptation of Posy Simmonds' highbrow graphic novel kicks off when a writer's retreat in Dorset is disrupted by the return...

Cannes Review: "Biutiful"

Reviewed at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. Beneath all the swift camerawork and rapid editing, Alejandro González Iñárritu remains a sentimentalist. In his latest, "Bituiful," a stylized paean to a devoted father in the slums of Barcelona, the Mexican director once again plays up the melodramatics -- with mixed results. Dedicated to his own father, and working for the first time without screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga, Iñárritu abandons the interlocking narrative trickery of "Amores...

Cannes Review: "Kaboom"

Reviewed at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. "It's nuttier than squirrel ***," says college student Stella (Haley Bennett) at one point in Gregg Araki's latest film, "Kaboom," a back-to-his-roots, candy-colored cult thriller that is best described, in a similar vein, as "totally f**ked up." Araki's 1994 movie of that same name as well as the following years' installments in his "Teen Apocalypse Trilogy" - "The Doom Generation" and "Nowhere"...

Cannes Review: "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger"

Reviewed at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. Woody Allen has preempted criticism of his latest breezy exercise in romantic neurosis by opening and closing his film by evoking Shakespeare's famous line: "It is a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." While that claim may be facetious - Allen returns here to familiar territory that is potentially meaty, concerning fate, sex, love, death and consequences - "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" is a light, forgettable...

Cannes Review: "Another Year"

Reviewed at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. "On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you?" asks a counselor, Gerri (Ruth Sheen), to an older woman who has been having trouble sleeping. "One," the aggrieved woman (Imelda Staunton) answers with muted fury. The scene works as a prologue of sorts to British director Mike Leigh's latest intimate, funny and finely crafted multi-character portrait "Another Year." While Staunton's memorably irritable and intensely troubled...

Cannes Review: "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps"

Reviewed at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. For at least its first half, Oliver Stone's "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" - the sequel to his 1987 original - may be the cinema's best dramatization of the 2008 financial meltdown. With its rapidly cut split-screens and downward spiraling electronic numbers reflecting on the panicked face of its protagonist Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf), the film captures the fast, frenzied terror of computer-driven economic freefall like nothing else on...