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The Hollywood Reporter critics' faves at the midway point of the Cannes Film Festival include Jeff Nichols' historical drama about interracial marriage, a German crowdpleaser (featuring fart jokes), a sapphic thriller from Korea, and films about cannibalism, fundamentalism and Pablo Neruda.
Maren Ade's third film, which revolves around a prankster father (Peter Simonischek) and his uptight career woman daughter (Sandra Huller), has the distinction of being the first laugh-out-loud, 162-minute German comedy of embarrassment. Featuring whoopee cushions, semen-covered petit fours and a character dressed up as a yeti, the film ultimately is as moving as it is implausibly funny. — Leslie Felperin
Everyone but vegetarians will feast their eyes on this impressively made, incredibly gory French thriller about a young woman's awakening to the pleasures of the flesh, in all senses of the term. Picture The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as an emotional coming-of-age movie set within a veterinarian college and you’ll get an idea of what Julia Ducournau's feature debut is like. — Jordan Mintzer
Jeff Nichols' strong new film takes an appealingly low-key approach to an important American story, with Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga beautifully portraying an interracial couple who fall afoul of Virginia’s miscegenistic Racial Integrity Act when they marry in 1958. It’s a big subject treated in an unfailingly and refreshingly intimate manner. — Todd McCarthy
Park Chan-wook’s giddy, exquisitely filmed blend of historical romance and auteur eroticism — a kind of meta-reading of Sarah Waters’ 2002 novel Fingersmith — is about an ill-intentioned 1930s Korean girl who infiltrates the household of a young Japanese heiress. With shifting perspectives and confident pacing, the film is a kinky thriller and love story that brims with delicious surprises. — Deborah Young
Russian writer-director Kirill Serebrennikov's film is a dark and gripping parable about religious fundamentalism, centered on a high schooler (Petr Skvortsov, well cast with a crazed believer’s shining eyes) who becomes obsessed with the Holy Scriptures. The narrative starts out in the realm of realism and grows richer and more surreal. — L.F.
Set in 2013, two years after the Egyptian revolution, Mohamed Diab’s drama is a powerfully frightening vision of the chaos into which the country has descended. The action takes place within a police van, where revolutionaries, fundamentalists and various other protesters are thrown together. Rising above politics, the director offers a sweeping condemnation of prejudice and inhumanity. — D.Y.
Gael Garcia Bernal reteams with No director Pablo Larrain to play a detective on the trail of Chilean poet-politician Pablo Neruda, forced into exile in 1948. The result is a playful, handsomely crafted contemplation of a great artist, bolstering Larrain's reputation as one of the most distinctive Latin American directors to emerge in the past decade. — David Rooney
'I, Daniel Blake'
Veteran leftie director Ken Loach's latest, about two honest people caught up in an uncaring British welfare system, features a familiar framework and perspective, but exerts a powerful emotional grip. Anchored by incisive performances (lead Dave Johns is terrific) and an urgent, surprisingly potent simplicity, this is Loach's best film in years. — D.R.
The members of an extended family butt heads, laugh and cry over a memorial meal, shot in a cramped apartment and shown practically in real time in the latest top-drawer work from Romanian New Waver Cristi Puiu. Though almost three hours long, the film offers enough fascinating insights, and enough black humor, to richly satisfy committed art house fans. — Boyd van Hoeij
'Hell or High Water'
Brit filmmaker David Mackenzie dives into archetypal Americana in this modern Western about bank-robbing Texan brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) that combines unsettling violence and textural grit with compassionate insight. Observing the behavioral codes of damaged men, the movie boasts sweaty performances, tight direction and evocative visuals. — D.R.
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