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Andrew Dominik's latest feature pins a yarn about reluctant mobsters to the GFC, asserting that the difference between the two is nominal, America is not a community but a business where everyone is on their own (despite the background drone of a Presidential hopeful). He may have a point. Robust performance from Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini and Ben Mendehlson are matched by Dominik's commanding visual style. The result is effortlessly watchable, occasionally sublime and sure to polarise audiences.

British auteur Ken Loach turns to the unlikely (for him) arena of realist comedy with some success. Audiences will be familiar with the Loach milieu of grimy Glasgow, but not the antique whisky crime caper in which his thuggish chavs find themselves embroiled. A story of two halves, it is bound by the director's determination to find goodness, wherever it lurks, in his characters. His deft comic touch pays dividends, supported by welcome English subtitles).

Bernado Bertolucci's ultra-stylised coming of age drama sees fourteen year old Lorenzo hide in the cellar for a week (his mother thinks he's gone on a school ski-trip). The boy needs space, but fails to get it when his junkie half-sister invades the basement to dry out. The pair squabble, make up and ultimately teach one another how to step back into the real world. A fragile concept quickly drowns in a sea of frankly unbelievable behaviour by the half-siblings. The stagey nature of Bertolucci's production turns claustrophobic pressure-cooker, which would work if he gave us a reason to like his self-indulgent characters more.

Back in cold, hard if impenetrable form is David Cronenberg's assault on capitalism. Based on Don DeLillo's persuasive novel, Cosmopolis follows a billionaire golden boy through New York in search of a haircut. While the old order collapses around him in a reflection of a city-wide Occupy protest, his obsession puts him in front of his empty life, and that life in danger. A series of vignettes shot from the sealed coffin of his hi-tech limo, Packer (Robert Pattinson) talks at length with his wife (Sarah Gadon), advisor (Samantha Morton), prostitute (Juliette Binoche), body guard (Kevin Durand) and others in search of answers. His intended killer (Paul Giamatti) has many of his own. There's a heightened reality and an equally heightened sense of self-importance that dances too closely with self-indulgence for most tastes. Similarly, Cronenberg's decision to deinvest in character, favouring mouthy ciphers (and this is one mouthy film) to espouse assorted philosophical, existential and quasi-religious themes is trying viewing. Packer's quest leads the film to some interesting conclusions, particularly about the self-consumption of capitalism, but not ones that necessarily make for a great film.

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Lee Daniel's (Precious) gives his entire cast roles of their respective lives in this adaptation of Pete Dexter's book. Ward (Matthew McConaughey) and Jack (Zac Efron) are sons of a regional newspaper man; the former a reporter based in Miami, the latter a budding writer. Investigating a bungled murder, Ward's probing return to home unleashes a string of horrific events that are as provocative as they are compelling under Daniel's scorching direction. Notable is Jack's infatuation with a white trash local (Nicole Kidman in superior form), herself infatuated with the killer Ward is writing about. Magnificent in all regards, The Paperboy is one to watch.

Closing this year's festival, Renoir is a study of Auguste the painter and his son Jean the filmmaker Renoir, and the woman who served as muse for both. Pic opens in 1915 when Andrée is employed as model following the death of Auguste's wife. His son Jean returns from war shortly after and what promises to be a triangle of wit, lust and father-son emotion soon dissolves into a demure tale of feminine inspiration. Lovingly shot, the film suffers mostly from a narrative haze that emulates Renoir's impressionist style. Youngest son Claude looks to be the film's wild card but disappears into the background along with a number of lesser characters. A pleasant diversion for fans of the artist, but the director's languid pace will not win much favour from audiences demanding a more aggressive treatment of artistic temper.
Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries) tackles Jack Kerouac's pivotal novel about the emergence of modern America in the late 1940's. Sam Riley is the iconic Sal who traverses the country in the company of the wayward Dean (Garrett Hedlund), his wife (Kirsten Dunst) and mistress (Kristen Stewart). Their mission: discover the essence of the country which seems to be 'move and keep moving'. A firm if overlong picture that makes the spirt of Kerouac easily digestible. Hedlund is enigmatic and a good foil to Riley's observational Sal.

An effervescent and highly stylised existential comedy drama (perhaps) that may (or may not) reveal higher purpose in re-imagining the stations of the cross through the work of an actor in Paris. He leaves for work, the first of nine appointments in which he becomes one half of a vignette for his clients (he plays a hitman, then the dying uncle of a young woman, and so on). Yet perhaps those he performs for are also actors? After all, all the world's a stage. Highlights include becoming a sewer-dwelling monster who kidnaps a model and dresses her in couture burka; plus a musical number with suicidal air hostess Kylie Minogue. It's all in a days work, the purpose of which is explained by talking cars back at Holy Motors in the film's most hilarious scene. A funny, frank and utterly baffling story lapped up by an enthusiastic audience.

Not is Europe's oldest punk with a dog, who lives in a shopping mall where his disinterested parents run a restaurant, and his brother has just been fired from his job as a mattress salesman. These middle aged siblings embark on a journey to grasp their inner-punk with mixed results. A light Franco-comedy that hits some good notes but lags more often than it should in pursuit of self-discovery and brotherhood.

With wavering results, Benecio Del Toro and six other directors reflect life in Havana through seven loosely connected short stories. Music, colour and sex feature heavily though surprisingly, politics in a country where politics inform every aspect of the social fabric, is left to dwell in the background. Pic begins well with Del Toro's introduction through the excited eyes a young actor fresh off the plane from America. Segments with Emir Kustarica and Elia Suleiman are equally vivid. It comes undone with particularly soap-laden segments concerning a singer bound for Spain. Voodoo-exorcism of a young girl's lesbianism is the most provocative.

Whilst stunningly beautiful, this soporific epic by Sergei Loznitsa fails to catch alight in drawing down the Belorussian resistance to explore the hand of fate. Sushenya is set free as bait after a failed attempt on German occupying troops during WW2. When fellow partisans come knocking, he's put in an impossible position with tragic consequences. It asks an equally impossible question: what would you do? The answer is repellant. Loznitsa's film makes its points early then concentrates on a series of visually stunning set pieces yet fails to energise the necessary emotional response to sustain two-plus hours looking at his, admittedly stunning, pictures.