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(A&F links to I'm Not There (2007), Carol (2015), and thread on Selznick's book.) Alissa Wilkinson: “Because kids grow up to be adults, giving them smart and artful cinema seems just as important to their development as giving them smart and artful books — to give them, essentially, a training ground for learning to approach the world with serious, sustained attention. But kids’ movies that treat their young audience as if they’re smart and capable of appreciating lush visual storytelling are rare. I’ve been mulling this idea for the past week, as I had one of the worst moviegoing experiences of my life last weekend, when I screened Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul. Unsuitable for both adults and children — few of whom likely enjoy feeling like a movie is instructing them to laugh at designated points — it might have been a bearable 20-minute episode of TV. As a feature film, it was unforgivable. But Todd Haynes’s Wonderstruck, which premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday, is Wimpy Kid’s polar opposite. Gorgeous, moving, and innovatively told, it may even be too smart for some adults. Kids will get it just fine, though ... Wonderstruck feels like a magical fairytale, though nothing about it is supernatural. Told partly in color and partly in black and white, the film contains long stretches that are virtually silent, with musical accompaniment (composed by Carter Burwell) that sometimes adds atmosphere, and sometimes punctuates what’s happening on screen, similar to how musical accompaniment worked during the silent-movie era.” Katherine McLaughlin: “Adapted by Brian Selznick from his illustrated children's novel, with Carol's Todd Haynes directing, this is a delicately crafted film that continually references the process of turning the written word into elegant visuals and vice versa. Yet it is this ambitious detail that detracts from the telling of the tender coming-of-age stories, with huge portions unfolding via people scribbling on pads or reading aloud to keep the audience up to speed. Rose's narrative takes the form of a silent film with Julianne Moore as a screen siren and Carter Burwell's score providing playful accompaniment. Haynes' 1970s New York echoes Martin Scorsese's crumbling inner-city grit as seen in Taxi Driver, though the overall tone is much sweeter, like Hugo. Wonderstruck shines brightest when its characters interact with the setting or the incredible panoramic model of the city. As the children roam the halls of the American Museum of Natural History their curiosity is realised with a spirited vigour. Haynes' camera whooshes between the different time periods and cinematic stylings, with his film painting the progression of the city over 50 years. It's part heartfelt love letter to New York's history and part ode to the ever-changing visage and vibrations of cinema.”
Carol is another movie getting major buzz from Cannes. It's adapted from the Patricia Highsmith novel The Price of Salt and stars Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler, and is directed by Todd Haynes. The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw: "Todd Haynes’s Carol is an amour fou which plays out with sanity and generosity: it is a superbly realised companion piece to his 50s Sirkian drama Far From Heaven and an overt homage to Lean’s Brief Encounter. The film is based on Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel The Price of Salt, about the love affair between a virginal shopgirl and the beautiful older married woman that she serves in the pre-Christmas rush in a Manhattan department-store: they are played here by Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett. Just occasionally, along with the classic echoes, Carol has the obsessive frisson of Nic Roeg’s Bad Timing and – with the flourishing of a revolver – Haynes conjures a fraught kind of Nabokovian despair and futile melodrama." Justin Chang: "An exquisitely drawn, deeply felt love story that teases out every shadow and nuance of its characters' inner lives with supreme intelligence, breathtaking poise and filmmaking craft of the most sophisticated yet accessible order." Todd McCarthy: "Blanchett makes an indelible impression as a woman who, through breeding, intense personal cultivation and social expectations, has brilliantly mastered the skill of navigating through life, but to ultimately disastrous effect on her husband, child and her own satisfaction. It has all, of course, been a charade, and what is impressive is that Carol has the strength to even try to change course after so many years. The roughly half-as-old Therese is unformed clay, which makes her largely a reactive character most of the way. But Mara really comes into her own in the story’s latter stages as, without overt melodrama, Therese realizes what she wants. Thanks largely to how Mara shapes her characterization in the home stretch, the final, dialogue-free scene is a knockout.