The Ten Best Films At Cannes 2004

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The Independent Culture

1. TEMPORADA DE PATOS
Fernando Eimbcke, 2004

A low-budget, black-and-white yarn about two adolescent boys killing timein Mexico City. Mum has gone out for the day, leaving her 14-year-old son Flama (Daniel Miranda) and his best friend Moko (Diego Catano) to their own devices. There's little music and hardly any dialogue. Nonetheless, in its own slow-burning but funny way, the film deals perceptively with such subjects as lust, and male friendship.

2. THE BIG RED ONE
Samuel Fuller, 1980

This story of a sergeant (Lee Marvin) and his platoon trying to survive the Second World War has been restored for Cannes, with 50 extra minutes of footage. The result is a blistering and bloody anti-war film, full of gallows humour.

3. THE EDUKATORS
Hans Weingartner, 2004

A painfully earnest but energetically shot tale of youthful idealism, in which three young Germans break into wealthy bankers' houses, wreaking havoc without stealing anything and leaving notes telling the capitalists that their days of plenty are numbered.

4. THE HOLY GIRL
Lucrecia Martel, 2004

Shot almost exclusively in claustrophobic close-up, this second feature by the Argentine auteur is a Lolita-like yarn about a doctor obsessed with a 14-year-old girl. The heavy use of wailing theremin music adds to the mood of estrangement. Narratively opaque but atmospheric.

5. THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES
Walter Salles, 2004

Part road movie, part coming-of-age yarn, part political polemic, Walter Salles's film about twentysomethings Ernesto "Che" Guevara (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Alberto Granado (Rodrigo De La Serna) roaring round Latin America on a rickety old motorbike is a revelation: a crowd-pleaser with heart and intelligence.

6 NOTRE MUSIQUE
Jean-Luc Godard, 2004

A filmic essay, divided into three sections: hell (an eight-minute montage of images of war culled from newsreels and Hollywood movies alike), purgatory (a dramatic interlude largely set in Sarajevo) and heaven (a playful coda set in a river resort guarded by US marines). Provocative, lyrical and pretentious.

7. THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS
Asia Argento, 2004

Subtle it isn't, but in its own strident and uninhibited way, Asia Argento's adaptation of JT LeRoy's autobiographical novel about the son of a truck-stop prostitute in America's Deep South is strangely effective. Imagine Oliver Twist re-made as a horror pic and you'll come close to its essence.

8. BAD EDUCATION
Pedro Almodovar, 2004

This isn't vintage Pedro Almodovar, but it's by far the best opening film in Cannes in recent years. It's only a pity that this stylishly shot and well acted tale of a transvestite would-be movie star (Gael Garcia Bernal) didn't carry more of an emotional punch.

9. MONDOVINO
Jonathan Nossiter, 2004

A rambling but intriguing look at skullduggery and rampant snobbery in the wine world. Though occasionally you wish Jonathan Nossiter would put a cork in it, the film ultimately justifies its length by showing just how bland wine is becoming under the feet of the Napa Valley imperialists.

10. DEAR FRANKIE
Shona Auerbach, 2004

The story of a mother (who is superbly played by Emily Mortimer) who goes to extraordinary lengths to reassure her deaf son that his absent father still cares for him. Early on, the film treats potentially mawkish material in an admirably clear-eyed fashion, but descends into bathos and sentimentality. Still, a promising debut.

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