Michael Haneke's latest movie, Amour, won the Austrian director his second top prize from Cannes in three years, following his triumph in 2009 with The White Ribbon. The film is the tenderest in a career defined by unflinching brutality, as well as arguably the least cinematic: a two-hander set in a Paris flat. Haneke joined just five others to have won the Palme d'Or twice, including Francis Ford Coppola and Emir Kusturica.
Amour, which stars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva as an elderly couple struggling to cope after one of them suffers a series of strokes, won universal praise on its premiere at the 65th annual festival last week, and its win was widely thought to be something of a certainty. But elsewhere there were shocks galore from Nanni Moretti's jury, whose members include Ewan MacGregor, Andrea Arnold and Alexander Payne.
The Grand Prix (widely perceived as the runners-up award) went to Reality, Matteo Garrone's satire on reality TV, which met with a far more muted reception from critics than Gomorrah, his mafia hit from 2008.
But there was much applause for Ken Loach, another surprise victor, this year of the Jury Prize (which ranks just below the Palme d'Or and the Grand Prix). Loach, whose The Wind that Shakes the Barley won the Palme in 2006, used his speech to send out a message of solidarity to those adversely affected by austerity and privatisation.
His film, The Angels' Share, a larky whisky heist, was screened with English as well as French subtitles at the festival, lest the Glaswegian accents prove a barrier for non-Scots.
I liked The White Ribbon and Caché, so I'm looking forward to seeing Amour. Always nice to see "best socialist director ever" Ken Loach pull in another award (if only socialism itself was as decorated as his films). I loved Gommorah, but I'm not sure I want to see Garrone's take on reality television.
As for the literary offerings--On the Road and Cronenberg's Cosmopolis (by Don Delillo), I imagine I'll see both of them--even if I find Kerouac's book a bit boring and suffering a bit of an unfashionable spell these days.
I can't imagine why I'd see The Paperboy. Zac Efron? Really?