Streaming Spolight: Cannes Class of 23

Hits from last year's festival you can now stream at home

by Amber Wilkinson

Clockwise from top left: The Taste Of Things, Asteroid City, Fallen Leaves and Four Daughters
Clockwise from top left: The Taste Of Things, Asteroid City, Fallen Leaves and Four Daughters
With much of the Cannes programme now announced for 2024, including heavy hitters Francis Ford Coppola, Andrea Arnold and David Cronenberg, we're taking a look back at last year's Class of Cannes 2023 for our Streaming Spotlight last week - which ended up being a bumper year in terms of dominating the following awards season. This year's Cannes runs from May 14 to 25 and you can read all our coverage as it comes in here.

Anatomy Of A Fall, free to stream with Amazon Prime

Justine Triet's slowburn courtroom drama - written with her partner - Arthur Harari won the top prize Palme d'Or before heading on a statuette-winning spree around the awards circuit, culminating in an Oscar for Best Screenplay. Sandra Hüller could also easily have won for her performance as writer Sandra Voyter, who stands accused of the murder of her husband Samuel (Samuel Theis) at their remote mountain chalet. Their partially-sighted son Daniel (Milo Graner) finds his dad's body and the scene is set for an exploration of whether it was death by misadventure or planning which remains ambiguous to the last. Among several films last year to scrutinise the way that someone presents themselves can be put on trial as much as what their actual deeds, Triet leaves it up to us - and those around Sandra - to arrive at a verdict.

Asteroid City, Apple TV+, Sky Go and other platforms

Wes Anderson brings a heightened sense of reality and style to a small desert town in his latest star-studded confection. It isn't an animated outing - though there are nods to Chuck Jones and Looney Tunes and the situation has a sense of heightened reality even before you arrive at the plot. Wrapped in a framing device that celebrates the story's constructed nature, the bulk of this colourful tale concerns strange events at Junior Stargazer convention that sees the tiny outpost where it is being held put into lockdown by the government. Some of Anderson's usual themes are here, including family tensions courtesy of Jason Schwartzman's widowed dad and his irascible father-in-law (Tom Hanks), laced with potential romance (Scarlett Johansson on wonderful form as a Marilyn Monroe-type) and plenty of humour but this is as much about the act of storytelling as it is the specific story - woven together, as you would expect from Anderson, with attention to the tiniest detail.

Fallen Leaves, MUBI

Last year was a year for lengthy running times, evidenced by most of the films on this list but if you are looking for something to brighten your day without taking up half of it then Aki Kaurismäki’s comedy romance is just the ticket. Like Wes Anderson, Kaurismäki is a master of world creation but somehow the distinctive places he transports us to still feel fully embedded within our own. The eyes of recently sacked Ansa (Alma Pöysti) meet those of the soon to be employment-challenged Holappa (Jussi Vatanen) at a karaoke night and from then on, the Finnish director spins a gently absurdist will/they romance that though packed with deadpan humour and less than glowing observations about the modern world, is simultaneously shot through with longing and the promise of better things to come for those who are prepared to wait.

Killers Of The Flower Moon, Apple TV+

Lily Gladstone was another star who could easily have taking home the Best Oscar statuette this year for her soulful and measured performance in Martin Scorsese's intricate crime drama, which screened out of competition at Cannes last year - a decision Scorsese said was taken because it was "time for others" to shine. Adapted from David Grann's factual best-seller about the Osage murders in Twenties Oklahoma, the veteran filmmaker uses his tale of small town killings to reflect wider US attitudes towards Indigenous Americans. Gladstone plays Mollie Burkhart, an Osage "pureblood" who after falling for Leonardo DiCaprio's Ernest Hale, finds herself and her family squeezed within the settlers' heart of darkness thanks to the oil rights she has. Scorsese has always been adept at presenting evil in its complexity, so we see how greed and stupidity become a deadly blend in Ernest, even as we can also see he is also a victim of sorts, although he deserves no sympathy. More venal still is his uncle, played by Robert De Niro with an affable self-assured dread. An intense drama that morphs into a procedural, of sorts, beyond the impressive storytelling this is an elegant piece of filmmaking, making use of light, shade and just the right amount of movement to hook us in from first to last, including a final bookend that invites us to consider how America chooses to tell its stories. Read what Scorsese said about the film in Cannes.

Four Daughters, available to rent from BFI Player

Jennie Kermode writes: Olfa has four daughters, the title tells us. We meet only two. The story of what happened to the others unfolds slowly over the course of Kaouther Ben Hania's experimental documentary, in which real people work alongside actors who stand in for them in emotionally overwhelming scenes, play the people who are missing, and become confidantes. One man plays all the male roles because ultimately all the men they let into their lives behaved in pretty much the same way. This is a difficult story about radicalisation and guilt, about different ways of responding to various forms of oppression and about the fractures that developed in family relationships under the influence of toxic ideology. Ben Hania doesn't judge but lets viewers decide for themselves in a film which recognises how messy life can be, which doesn't offer solutions but does, perhaps, mark the beginnings of a much needed honest conversation.

The Zone Of Interest, available to rent from Amazon, Apple TV+ and other digital platforms

Jonathan Glazer’s haunting and powerful adaptation of Martin Amis’ novel of the same name might lose some of the power it garners through collective watching on the small screen but it's still essential viewing. A throbbing, threatening aural prologue from Mica Levi sets the unsettling tone for this tale of the “idyllic” life unfolding for Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel), wife Hedwig (Sandra Hüller) and their family immediately outside the walls of the Auschwitz Death Camp where he is commandant. Hedwig strolls in the garden with a babe in arms pointing out the flowers, seemingly without a care in the world, even as we see the sky lit like a hellmouth as the chimneys of the camp belch out fire and smoke at night. The shocking level of denial and wilful dismissal of the lives of others is brought home more strongly with almost every passing minute, whether it’s in Hedwig’s cultivation of plants that will cover up the walls of the camp or the arrival of an assignment of clothes euphemistically said to have come “from Canada”, their real origin betrayed by a partially used lipstick found in a pocket and instantly appropriated. Children, one of whose night-time forays is the only shred of humanity here, may be scrubbed clean of the physical traces of their father’s poisonous and murderous actions but the blackening of the soul is unmistakable.

The Taste Of Things, available to rent from Amazon, Rakuten TV and other digital platforms

We're ending our selection with a dose of old fashioned romance that also features some of the best food photography we've seen committed to film for a while. Trân Anh Hùng takes his time to explore the love, for each other and for cooking, shared by Eugénie (Juliette Binoche) and Dodin Bouffant (Benoît Magimel), a late 19th century gourmand and his cook. The pair of them pay exquisite attention to detail as they serve up incredible dish after dish at elaborate soirees, while Dodin also bids to persuade Eugénie to marry him. Taking his lead from the characters Hùng delights in the details, not just of the central pairing but of the food they prepare, even as the light of their love gives way to some shadow. Speaking about being reunited onscreen with her former real-life partner Magimel, Binoche told us: “There were shared emotions, and we found again the happiness of just being together.” And speaking about the film's authenticity, Hùng told us: "Usually in films fake food is used and it is ‘relooked’ as required but here everything was real." Make sure you've got plenty of snacks to hand because otherwise that reality is likely to make your stomach grumble throughout.

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