TIME Music

From Brazil to Iceland to Korea: Go Around the World In 11 Bands

Boo George/Atlantic Records

Ready your visas for a global music expedition

Memorial Day marks the official start of summer — and as the weather warms up, cubicle-glazed minds may start turning towards the idea of vacation. But between the price of airline tickets and the fact that most Americans don’t even bother taking half of their vacation time, perhaps it’s time to take a different sort of around-the-world adventure.

Travel the world with these 11 bands, no passport (or money) required:

Who: September Girls

Where: Ireland

As a recent addition to Dublin’s rich musical history, September Girls draw inspiration from ‘60s girl groups, ‘70s punk riotousness and ‘80s pop. It’s a sound fitting for a band whose name was inspired by the Bangles’ cover of Big Star’s “September Gurls.” Their goth-pop vibe and gauzy guitar riffs paired with energetic beats make for an accessible sound that would be right at home on a playlist next to Dum Dum Girls and Chvrches.

Listen: “Heartbeats”

Who: Petite Meller

From: France

Petite Meller is a sometime-Vogue and L’Oreal model and full-time postgraduate student studying for her masters in philosophy who crafts irresistible pop tracks in her spare time. Her tunes are inspired by the work of Dizzy Gillespie and The Isley Brothers, which is why she calls her songs “Nuvo Jazzy Pop.” The jaunty style pairs well with her sweetly breathy voice and lyrics that touch on the works of Jacques Lacan and French philosophers Deleuze and Guattari. It’s an incongruous mix that makes for a winning combination.

Listen: “Backpack (Marlin Remix)”

Who: Glen Check

Where: South Korea

Seoul’s Glen Check bring an edgy ‘80s energy to their genre-spanning synth-tastic songs. The dynamic duo of singer and guitar player June-One Kim and bass and synthesizer player Hyuk-Jun Kang infuse their tracks with the recklessness of youth set to infectious electro beats and plucky guitar licks for a style that’s nearly impossible not to dance to.

Listen: “Young Generation”

Who: Gossling

Where: Australia

Helen Croome, who performs under the name Gossling, has a voice that sounds simultaneously girlish and age-worn, with an ability to make lyrics twist and shine in her gem-like pop songs. The singer-songwriter is a musical chameleon, who can churn out hook-filled songs that sound like Lana del Rey spent a lot of time listening to Coldplay, or tracks that would fit in with Robyn and Royskopp; sometimes, it’s piano ballads with haunting melodies that will stick in your head for days.

Listen: “Harvest of Gold”

Who: Samaris

Where: Iceland

While electronic music has become almost synonymous with Skrillex, Samaris builds ethereally gorgeous electronic soundscapes that reflect their glacial surroundings. The three-piece band blends bold beats, haunting vocals and lyrics taken from nineteenth century Icelandic poetry to craft sparse and delicate electronica that’s stunningly beautiful. The three-piece band’s new album Silkidrangar (which translates as “silk cliffs”) is out now, perfect for adding atmosphere to Sunday brunch or late night drives.

Listen: “Ég Vildi Fegin Verda”

Who: Elliphant

Where: Sweden

When you’re a newcomer to the music scene and Katy Perry tweets a shout-out to you, the pressure is on. Luckily, Elliphant, a.k.a. Elinor Olovosdotter, seems up for the challenge. Her dirty pop music is infectious and fun, like the music Madonna was putting out in the ‘80s, but with an M.I.A.-style toughness that has earned comparisons to Rihanna. If anyone’s up to living up to that, it’s Elliphant.

Listen: “Down On Life”

Who: Bflecha

Where: Spain

While Bflecha has been releasing music for years, the Spanish producer’s debut full-length album, βeta, came out last year, filled with massive synth hooks and huge vocals that showcased her under-the-radar talent. The album’s percussion vacillates easily between’80s-inspired beats and modern hip-hop, which shows Bflecha’s incredible ability to genre hop from blue-eyed soul sounds to synthwave to R&B, while never straying far from new wave roots.

Listen: “Mundo Bizarro feat. Arufe”

Who: Awesome City Club

Where: Japan

While J-Pop may dominate Japan’s pop charts, Awesome City Club make pop songs that have more in common with Britpop than anything on mainstream radio in Japan. The band sounds like they’ve spent a lot of time with My Bloody Valentine, Donna Summer and Chic to great effect: find beautiful arrangements, catchy melodies and well-crafted hooks.

Listen: “Lesson”

Karol Conka

Where: Brazil

Rap is one of the United States’ biggest musical exports and on her debut album, Batuk Freak, Karol Conka shows how the genre thrives under Brazilian influence. Her songs are fierce, with Conka spitting out a flow that rivals all comers, but with a Brazilian inflection and samba stylings. The video for “Boa Noite” is Brazilian b-boy with images of breakdancers interspersed with pictures of religious icons and, naturally, a soccer player.

Listen: “Boa Noite”

Who: Birdy

Where: England

Birdy is a 17-year old singer-songwriter who’s making waves on both sides of the Atlantic on the strength of her self-titled debut. That album was made when Birdy was just 15 and was comprised of covers of bands like Fleet Foxes and Phoenix — but it was her cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” that became an international hit and put her on the global radar. With a six-song EP, Breathe and its lead single, “Wings” under her belt and a sophomore album (her first as a songwriter), Fire Within, set to arrive June 3rd, it’s clear the future is bright for Birdy.

Listen: “Wings”

Who: Ana Tijoux

Where: Chile

Ana Tijoux has been working hard for years, but the buzz is finally building around this wildly talented rapper with her unerring ear for rhythm and tremendous flow. She has Breaking Bad (her track “1977” was used in an episode) and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke (he claimed “1977” as one of his favorite tracks of 2013) to thank for helping the world take notice of her serious skills on the microphone. She seems to thrive under all the attention, though: her new album Vengo finds the Chilean MC flying as fast and furious as ever.

Listen: “Somos Todos Erroristas” (“We Are All Errorists”)

MORE: 14 Music Festivals to Check Out In 2014
MORE: SXSW 2014: 17 Bands To Watch, Even if You Don’t Go to the Music Festival

TIME celebrities

Emma Watson Graduates From Brown University

Emma Watson
Actress Emma Watson, center right, attends commencement services on the campus of Brown University in Providence, R.I., on May 25, 2014 Steven Senne—AP

It wasn’t a Hogwarts-style ceremony, but a degree from a top Ivy League university is just as good, right?

Emma Watson walked across the stage at Brown University on Sunday in Providence, R.I., where she graduated with a degree in English literature.

The renowned actress, who is most well known for her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter franchise, has been enrolled at the institution since 2009.

Since beginning her studies at the highly venerated university, the 24-year-old Brit has also starred in five major Hollywood films.


TIME celebrity

Rapper Wiz Khalifa Arrested for Pot Possession in Texas

Wiz Khalifa-Arrest
This booking photo provided by the El Paso Police Department shows Cameron Thomaz, better known as, Wiz Khalifa in El Paso, Texas, Sunday May 25, 2014. El Paso Police Department—AP

Rapper had his "rolling papers" but not his identification papers when he was searched by TSA agents in El Paso, Tex.

“So what I keep ‘em rolled up?” rapper Wiz Khalifa asked on his 2011 song “Young, Wild & Free.”

The response from Texas police: Because it’s against the law, that’s what.

The rapper was arrested for marijuana possession after he was stopped at a checkpoint in El Paso’s airport, the Associated Press reports. Because Khalifa traveled without identification, Transportation Security Administration agents performed a search and discovered a container full of marijuana. TSA personnel then contacted the police, who arrested him.

Khalifa, who was born Cameron Thomaz and was in town for a music festival, was charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana. He was released after posting $300 bail.

Khalifa’s representation did not return the AP’s request for comment.


TIME movies

X-Men: Days of Future Past Overpowers Godzilla at Box Office

20th Century Fox

The mutants staged a $91 million takeover of the domestic box office this weekend, as Disney's Frozen became the fifth highest-grossing movie in world history

Monsters and mutants rule the box office once again.

X-Men: Days of Future Past claimed the No. 1 spot with a $91 million debut this weekend, the Associated Press reports. The movie beat out Godzilla, which dropped to second place with $31.4 million after squashing industry estimates a week ago.

The X-Men film is expected to earn approximately $110 million with the long weekend, potentially making it the fifth highest Memorial Day debut after Fast & Furious 6 grossed $117 million this time last year. In 2007, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End became the holiday weekend’s biggest debut with $140 million.

A recent sexual-assault lawsuit against X-Men director Bryan Singer, who denied allegations and backed out of doing press tour to avoid diverting attention from the film, did not stop moviegoers from filling seats.

Meanwhile, Disney’s Frozen became the fifth highest-grossing film in world history as its global gross hit $1.219 billion, Deadline.com reports. Frozen takes that title from the studio’s own Iron Man 3, which has grossed $1.215 billion.


TIME celebrities

What Beyoncé’s Instagram Message to Kim and Kanye Really Means

Are the singer's half-hearted congratulatory pictures a way of saying, "Kanye, Imma let you finish, but me and Jay had the best celebrity wedding of all time"?

Beyoncé is usually so secretive about her personal life that fans often have to study her Instagram account like Zapruder footage to find out what’s going on in her world. And after the Solange-Jay Z elevator fight, it’s clear Beyoncé’s not above using the photo app to send not-so-secret P.R. messages of her own.

The TIME 100 cover star’s message to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West about their recent wedding is the latest social media post ripe for examination — to the tune of 15,136 comments. “Wishing you a lifetime of unconditional love,” Beyoncé wrote in a caption for a picture from the couple’s Vogue shoot. “God bless your beautiful family.”

The message was sandwiched between two photos reportedly taken in the Hamptons, where Beyoncé and Jay Z are said to be spending the weekend instead of attending the Kardashian-West extravaganza in Europe.

The message is certainly pleasant, and the singer and her husband probably have their own reasons for not flying across the Atlantic to witness the nuptials in person. But the Instagram message seems like the bare minimum considering what Beyoncé has done in the past when congratulating celebrities. When Frank Ocean opened up about his sexuality in 2012, Beyoncé wrote him a supportive poem. When Beyoncé wanted to show her support for Michelle Obama, she posted a hand-written letter she wrote and recorded a video about why she wrote it.

Kimye have received decidedly half-hearted Beyoncé blessings before. Last June, when West and Kardashian welcomed baby girl North West, fans thought it was a little suspicious that Beyoncé only opted for a simple Photoshop creation. The latest congratulatory picture may fuel even more speculation about just how close the two couples really are.


Pulp Fiction at 20: When Cannes Was Cool

He probably didn’t mean to, but Quentin Tarantino upstaged the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or ceremony on Saturday just by showing up.

One of the world’s most famous directors appeared last night with Uma Thurman, his star in Pulp Fiction and the Kill Bill films, to present Cannes’ top award to Nuri Bilge Ceylan, a Turkish auteur esteemed by cinephiles around the world but next to unknown in America. QT is known here, there and everywhere. Pinwheeling ideas and opinions, and wearing his charisma like a raffish musk, he has a star quality that few of the “stars” at the 67th edition of the world’s biggest movie convention could match.

He arrived here on Friday, gave a 45-min. press conference / master class in film, then joined Thurman and John Travolta at a showing of one of his most beloved movies on a giant screen on the beach, the Riviera resort version of a drive-in theater. “I’ve seen Pulp Fiction under every circumstance a person can see it except this one,” he said, encouraging the gleeful crowd to “rip out a joint and light it up.”

(READ: Corliss on Pulp Fiction in 1994)

Twenty years ago this weekend, Tarantino was just a movie geek, hitting the Cannes competition with his second feature. He was 31, the Festival 47. But so much was different back then, before the Internet crush that makes Cannes a frantic routine of writing reviews and trend pieces each day. In the ’90s, critics probably saw more films over the 12-day span than they do now — I’d guess 50 or so — but the pace was almost leisurely for those of us on weekly deadlines. We digested all the movies, totted up the prize winners and then wrote wrap-ups for our papers and magazines.

Another difference: film was still film — giant reels of 35mm stock with sprocket holes, just like what D.W. Griffith had used 80 years before to shoot The Birth of a Nation. At his Friday press conference, Tarantino lamented that Pulp Fiction was the only picture at the 2014 festival shown on film, not digitally. “Digital projection is the death of cinema as I know it,” he said. “The fact that most films are not presented in 35mm means that the war is lost. Digital projection — that’s just television in public. … But what I knew as cinema is dead.” In 1994, Pulp Fiction was screened — at first for a few critics in the Olympia Theatre two blocks behind he Cannes Palais — on mighty 35mm. Those of us in that select crowd, including Roger Ebert and Todd McCarthy, knew we were seeing something special. It became the most influential movie of its decade.

(FIND: Pulp Fiction among the all-time Top 10 Cannes Palme d’Or Winners)

In the ’90s, Hollywood studios that brought films to Cannes also spent more money wooing the critics: they threw parties at the local beach restaurants and occasionally at the Hotel du Cap’s fabulously fancy Eden Roc, down the coast in Antibes. That was where Harvey Weinstein of Miramax Films hosted a luncheon for Pulp Fiction. A couple dozen of us sat outdoors at tables with Tarantino, Travolta, Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. An autodidact with a deeper knowledge of genre films than any of us possessed, Tarantino seemed to enjoy filling us with anecdotes and lore. A gorgeous day on the Côte d’Azur, sumptuous food, and good company talking about a terrific film: in 1994, that’s what movie critics called work.

In the competition for the Palme d’Or, the smart money that year was on Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Red, the climax to the estimable Polish auteur’s Blue/White/Red trilogy. Most critics had gone rhapsodic over the Kieslowski films, but it’s likely that none of the Jury members had seen the first two installments. Pulp Fiction was its own trilogy, three interlaced segments, in one two-and-a-half-hour explosion. On closing night, Jury President Clint Eastwood — a man who likes to take his time — drew out the tension, saying, “The Palme d’Or … goes to… Pulp Fiction.”

(READ: Tarantino’s Master Class at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival)

Pandemonium and protest, as Tarantino, Travolta, Jackson, Willis, co-star Maria de Medeiros and producer Lawrence Bender mounted the stage. Many cheers, some derisive whistles. Before the director spoke, a woman in the audience shouted, “It’s a scandal!” Tarantino smiled and said he never expects to win prizes from a jury, “because I don’t make the kind of movies that kinda bring people together. I kinda make movies that kinda split people apart.” With mistress of ceremonies Jeanne Moreau translating into French, he thanked his cast — “They made a pretty damn good script an obsolete document” — and “the brothers Weinstein, for backing me 100% and letting me make the movie I wanted to make.”

Twenty years later Tarantino is still working with the Weinsteins (now at The Weinstein Company, rather than Miramax), still trying to please his toughest audience: himself. “I make them for me,” he said at Friday’s press conference, “and everybody else is invited.” The director had not invited anyone to read the first draft of his script for the Western The Hateful Eight when it was leaked online in January, and he cried betrayal and issued law suits.

“I have calmed down a bit,” he said here. “The knife-in-the-back wound is starting to scab.” Last month he directed a public reading of the script with some of its prospective stars, including Jackson, and was encouraged to keep rewriting. He said he might produce the finished work as a play.

(READ: What’s inside The Hateful Eight?)

Asked about director’s cuts — reworked and extended versions of his old films — he said, “My director’s cut in America plays in 3,000 theaters, not on some ghettoized DVD as an afterthought.” Yet he did assemble a longer amalgam of the two Kill Bill movies, called Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair. And at Cannes he said he was considering weaving 90 minutes of outtakes from Django Unchained into the two-and-a-half-hour theatrical cut to create a four-hour miniseries shown on pay cable. “You present somebody with a four-hour movie and they roll their eyes — ‘I don’t wanna watch that.’ But then you actually show them a four-part miniseries that they like, and they’re dying to watch all four episodes in one go.”

Last night, after he handed Ceylan the Palme d’Or, Tarantino was on stage again to introduce a 50th-anniversary screening of Sergio Leone’s Fistful of Dollars. At his press conference, he had said that Fistful “means not just the birth of the Spaghetti Western, which is undoubtable, but it’s the birth of genre action cinema as it’s come to be known.” One unique pop-film artist paid tribute to another, and stirred memories of his own early prime on the Riviera — back in ’94, when Cannes was cool.


The Cannes Palme d’Or: Who Won and Who Was Robbed

"Winter Sleep" wins Palme d'Or
Nuri Bilge Ceylan wins the Palme d'Or at the 67th Cannes Film Festival on May 24, 2014. Mustafa Yalcin—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The 3hr.16min. Turkish drama 'Winter Sleep' took the top prize in a festival short on masterpieces and pizazz

No startling surprises, no unarguable triumphs. The 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival offered the predictable pleasure of worthy work rewarded tonight, as Jury President Jane Campion announced that Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep had won Cannes’ highest prize, the Palme d’Or.

Over its 3 hour, 16 minute duration, Winter Sleep probes the psychology of a Turkish landowner confronting crises from his young wife, his sister and his aggrieved tenants. Playing on the second full day of the 11-day Festival, the movie was immediately touted as a Palme front-runner. Winter Sleep fulfilled its promise when presenters Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman, in town for the 20th anniversary of the Palme d’Or champ Pulp Fiction, presented Ceylan with tonight’s biggest award.

(READ: Corliss’s review of the Cannes winner Winter Sleep)

Best Actor went to Timothy Spall for his portrayal of the painter J.M.W. Turner in the Mike Leigh bio-pic Mr. Turner. In a minor upset, Julianne Moore took Best Actress for her fearless comic turn as an aging actress in David Cronenberg’s hate letter to Hollywood, Maps to the Stars. Bennett Miller was named Best Director for Foxcatcher, the true-crime tale of two Olympic wrestlers (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo) and their troubled patron (Steve Carell in a chilling turn as zillionaire John du Pont).

The Grand Jury Prize — second place — was awarded to the Italian Alice Rohrwacher for The Wonders, the tender tale of a beekeeeper and his four precocious children. The portentous, politically prickly Russian drama Leviathan reeved the Screenplay award. The silver-medal Jury Prize was shared by baby-faced Xavier Dolan, 25, for his convulsive, compelling family portrait Mommy, and perpetual enfant terrible Jean-Luc Godard, 83, whose Adieu au langage addressed the concerns of a man, a woman and a god — in 3-D. Godard was not present at the ceremony.

The full list of the Campion Jury winners:

Palme d’Or: Winter Sleep, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Grand Prize: Le Meraviglie (The Wonders), Alice Rohrwacher

Best Director: Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher

Jury Prize: Mommy, Xavier Dolan, and Adieu au langage, Jean-Luc Godard

Best Screenplay: Andrey Zvyagintsev, Oleg Negin, Leviathan

Best Actress: Julianne Moore, Maps To The Stars

Best Actor: Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner

Ceylan’s stately accession to the Golden Palm began 11 years ago with a Grand Jury Prize for Uzak (Distant), followed by the Critics’ Prize for Climates in 2006, Best Director for Three Monkeys in 2008 and another Grand Jury Prize in 2011 for his police non-thriller Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. At 55, the presumptive heir is now le roi de Cannes.

In his acceptance speech, Ceylan noted that “This year is the 100th year of Turkish cinema, and it’s a good coincidence I think. I want to dedicate the prize to the young people of Turkey,” and added, in an allusion to the 11 deaths in antigovernment protests that began in May 2013, “especially those who lost their lives during the last year.”

Campion, the Australian filmmaker whose The Piano shared the Palme d’Or with Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine in 1993, read out the winners. Looking like Meryl Streep’s more severe sister, and managing to mispronounce the names of most of the jurors with whom she had spent that past 11 days, Campion received an affectionate kiss from Festival President Gilles Jacob, retiring at 83 after 38 years at the Festival. Jacob told her, “Jane you know what you mean to me.”

It was a night for big emotions. Dolan, the French-Canadian wonder boy who wrote, directed and starred in his first film, I Killed My Mother, at 19, paid tearful tribute to Campion, saying, “Few films changed my life in the way that your Piano did,” and speaking to “people of my generation: There are no limits to our ambitions excerpt the ones we build for ourselves.” More tears.

(READ: Mary Corliss’s review of Xavier Dolan’s Mommy)

Spall gave the longest, most passionate and entertaining speech. Pulling out his cellphone to read a speech he had written on the flight back to Cannes, he began reading his thanks but was interrupted by a beep: “Oh, I got voicemail.” He spoke of his leukemia treatment at the same time Leigh was winning the 1996 Palme d’Or for Secrets & Lies. Briefly, overcome, he said, “Oh, sorry, I’m crying. Sentimental old fool.” When the audience applauded, he murmured, “Thank you. The irony of your applause is not lost on me.” Spall spilled out his gratitude to his director, the cast and crew, ending, “Most of all I just thank God that I’m still here and alive.”

(READ: Richard Corliss’s review of Mr. Turner)

In a year with eight winning films chosen among only 18 contenders in the official competition, not many worthy works got slighted. Two we’re sorry for: the Argentine comedy Wild Tales, which brought satiric intelligence and fun of the highest order to this mostly mopey fortnight; and Two Days, One Night from directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, two-time winners of the Palme d’Or. Their thoughtful drama featuring a spectacularly solid performance by Marion Cotillard — who still has not won any official award at the Festival she so frequently graces. They wuz robbed.

(READ: Mary Corliss’s reviews of Wild Tales and Two Days, One Night)

In prizes awarded by other juries, the first-film Caméra d’Or award went to Party Girl (directed by Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis), the rambling account of a former dancer in blowsy middle age. Leidi, directed by Simón Mesa Soto, took the Short Film Palme, with special mention to Clément Trehin-Lalanne’s Aïssa and Hallvar Witzo’s Ja Vi Elsker. May we be citing these filmmakers’ feature films in Cannes coverage in future years.

So we bid adieu, or rather au revoir, to our 41st visit to this Riviera festival. As we say each year, with fingers crossed, à l’année prochaine! See you next Cannes.

TIME celebrities

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West Are Officially Married

You can all go home now: The #worldsmosttalkedaboutwedding is complete


Kim Kardashian, 33, and Kanye West, 36, got married at Fort di Belvedere in Florence, Italy, on Saturday after almost a week-long celebration in Paris, PEOPLE reports.

Rich Wilkerson Jr., a pastor from North Miami, performed at the wedding, which counted many of the Kardashian family members and their celebrity friends as guests.

According to one guest PEOPLE spoke to, West “was the typical nervous groom, swigging obsessively from a bottle of water and shifting his weight from one foot to the other.”

“It was funny how nervous he was,” the source said. “He clearly knew the gravity of what he was about to do. This morning he was all smiles, but as it got closer, you could see that the nerves were kicking in.”

As rumors suggested, pop siren Lana Del Rey performed three songs at the lavish pre-wedding festivities in Paris, E! reports. But the couple chose to have the special ceremony take place in Florence because their daughter, North West, was conceived there.


TIME celebrity

Miley Cyrus Gets Restraining Order Against Fan

A 24-year-old who believes Cyrus is communicating with him through her music vows he won't stop trying to meet her until he's dead

Great pop songs often feel like they speak directly to us, although not quite like this. Miley Cyrus was granted a temporary restraining order on Friday against a man who believes the pop singer was communicating with him through her music.

24-year-old Devon Meek was arrested in Sierra Vista, Ariz., earlier this month outside of a property he believed Cyrus owned. Court documents do not elaborate on the location, the Associated Press reports.

Meek, who is currently in a psychiatric hospital, told officers to shoot him in the head if he was unable to meet Cyrus. According to a sworn statement from detective Rosibel Smith, Meek “will not stop seeking Ms. Cyrus” until she “accepts him or he dies.”

A hearing scheduled will for June 16 will determine whether to extend the order for three more years.


TIME movies

Winter Sleep: Can a Three-Hour-Plus Prize-Winner Be Just Pretty Good?

Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Turkish film 'Winter Sleep' has earned raves and denunciations. The true evaluation lies somewhere in between.

The second day of the 67th Cannes Film Festival, a three hour, sixteen-minute Turkish film was the hot ticket — so hot that, despite begging, jostling and running a quarter-mile obstacle course to get past the guards, neither Mary Corliss nor I could gain admittance to Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep.

By the time we finally caught up with it at a closing-day screening today, the Anatolian talkathon had garnered a sheaf of raves (“a cat’s whisker away from being a masterpiece” —Nikola Grozdanovic, Way Too Indie) and a few derisive dismissals (“Yak yak yak yak yak” —Gavin Smith, Film Comment). This afternoon it snagged the FIPRESCI Critics Prize for best film in the Cannes competition, and no one at tonight’s closing ceremony would be astonished if it took one of the top awards, possibly the Palme d’Or, which last year went to the three-hour La vie d’Adèle, aka Blue Is the Warmest Color.

(READ: When Cannes Got the Hots for Blue Is the Warmest Color)

So, after all that urgent chatter, how is Winter Sleep? Pretty good. It’s true that an extra-long movie can spur passionate cinephiles to extremes: they fall in love with it or furiously denounce it. Forty years ago, when Jacques Rivette set up a nonstop screening of his 13-hour Out One for a group of critics and friends, the attendees emerged to smother the French director in compliments. Rivette’s dry explanation for all the raves: “La durée.” Which translates as “They’re congratulating themselves for having sat through it.”

Still, any film of any length can be approached and appreciated in moderation. Given that the title virtually encourages viewers to nap during the proceedings, Winter Sleep is no chore to sit through. Most of its characters are complex and compelling, and the actors’ faces, craggy or lustrous, reward fascinated study. The movie indulges one frustrating narrative trope in too many Cannes contenders: the unexplained disappearance of a major figure more than halfway through the story, as with the Kristen Stewart character in Clouds of Sils Maria and the lawyer friend in Leviathan. But as austere soap opera or probing character study, Winter Sleep validates the viewer’s attention, if not its nearly 200-min. running time — make that ambling time.

(READ: The Corlisses’ reviews of Clouds of Sils Maria and Leviathan)

Nestled high in picturesque Cappadocia, the Turkish alpine region where homes are built into volcanic peaks, the Hotel Othello is open all year for tourists. Its owner-manager, Aydin (Haluk Bilginer), also has properties around the village, and his employees have recently manhandled the surly tenant Ismail (Nejat Isler) who is long overdue in his rent. One winter morning Ismail’s young son Ilyas (Emirhan Doruktutan) throws a rock at the window of a truck carrying Aydin, and a simmering dispute erupts with Ismail. Aydin returns to the hotel, which he runs with the help of his lovely young wife Nihal (Melisa Sözen) and divorced sister Necla (Demet Akbag). The restless Nihal has busied herself with a school charity involving the local teacher Levent (Nadir Sarabacak), and this stirs Aydin’s ire, though not quite of the Othello variety.

Shakespeare does get quoted (Hamlet’s “Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all”), but the apter literary touchstone here is Chekhov — the shifting vectors of love and animosity in a land locked in the past — and the cinematic reference is Ingmar Bergman’s oeuvre of troubled souls spitting out their anxieties. Even Bergman in Winter Light or Scenes from a Marriage didn’t produce dialogues as intricate and exhausting as the ones between Aydin and his sister or Aydin and his wife. These conversations may last for 15 or 20 mins.; they build, brick by resentful brick, as the each woman spills out her guts while hardly raising her voice. When Nihal calls Aydin “an unbearable man,” she is delivering not an operatic aria but a coroner’s report.

(READ: Corliss on Why Ingmar Bergman Mattered)

And Aydin, a former actor who hopes to write a history of Turkish theater, doesn’t give her the satisfaction of a ferocious footlights retort. It’s as if he doesn’t take her arguments seriously enough to be wounded by them. Nor does Ceylan take evident sides in these wrangles. “The awful thing about life,” says Jean Renoir in his 1939 masterpiece The Rules of the Game, “is that everyone has his reasons.” Winter Sleep portrays all its characters in their full complexity, complacency or contempt.

The rock that shatters the truck window is the movie’s only obvious act of violence. And there’s a moment toward the end — a man with a gun in a shooting party attended by his perceived rival — that blessedly does not conform to melodrama. But other late scenes do dip into cliché. You will not be disappointed if you suspect that, when Nahil and Ismail are in a small room with a pile of Turkish liras and a fireplace, the money will find the flames. And the final moments contain the film’s only voiceover narration, which makes numbingly explicit what the eloquent faces of the actors reveal on the screen. That’s the last 15 minutes: an empty gesture followed by too explicit emotion.

So this critic would say of Winter Sleep: It’s good, just not that good. Not Palme d’Or good.

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