Monday, May 28, 2012

Cannes Day 12 Finale




Another shot at French model and actress, and soon-to-be-Bond-Girl, Berenice Marlohe







Christa Theret at Cannes for Jeff Nichols new film, Mud




Reese Witherspoon, pregnant, and looking more radiant than ever, at Cannes for Mud







and the Cannes awards, in photos:

photos from The London Telegraph:

A repeat of the Final Awards, in reverse order of presentation:













Palme D'Or (1st)
Michael Haneke, Amour

Grand Prix (2nd)
Matteo Garrone, Reality

Best Actress
Cosmina Straten and Cristina Flutur, for Cristian Mungiu, Beyond the Hills

Best Actor
Mads Mikkelsen, for Thomas Vinterberg's Jagten (The Hunt)

Best Director
Carlos Reygadas, Post Tenebras Lux

Best Screenplay
Cristian Mungiu, Beyond the Hills

Jury Prize (3rd)
Ken Loach, The Angel's Share

Camera D’Or (First Time Directors)
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Short Film
L Rezan Yesilbas, Sessiz-Be Deng


Some big surprises, especially the nearly forgotten Loach, which supposedly had the jurors in stitches, and the critically despised (except for George) Carlos Reygadas film which wins Best Direction. 

Matteo Garrone's Reality is a stunner - - certainly an unpopular choice, and one that raises questions about Moretti's credibility as Jury President, as had he not been in that position, this film would likely never have seen an award. 
 
While I'm happy for the Haneke film, as it was praised from the moment it was shown and appears the be a throwback to a kind of art film rarely made anymore, using premiere actors that haven't really been seen in ages, as who writes for the octogenarian set? I'm a bit disappointed they didn't win anything, as sight unseen, I'm absolutely positive they are superb in this film. 

I'm astounded at Carax going home emptyhanded, and find this a real blow.  Carax won the Cannes Youth Award in 1984 with Boy Meets Girl, then made the spectacular Mauvais Sang (1986) before going bankrupt several times making the over adventurous The Lovers on the Bridge (1991), which was another spectacular risk, where Holy Motors may be his biggest crap shoot of all.  It would have been nice to see that rewarded.  I hope he doesn't go home and shoot himself from depression, as he obviously laid it on the line with this film and came away with nothing.  That's a stunner, as from all the films  at Cannes, his is the one I'm most interested in.  Let's hope others feel much the same way. 

And while I was worried that it would be an all French finale - - not a single French film or actor won an award, though Austrian filmmaker Haneke shot his film in French with French actors, so he is beloved in France. 

Gong Li presented the best actor award, where thrilled screams (from the Danish contingent?) ran out at the name Mads Mikkelsen.  That had to have been a moment. 

Sort of polite applause for all the other choices. No real enthusiasm or emotion displayed, according to the Guardian blog, which I was attuned to. 

All in all, it sounds like films were all over the place this year, where critics were obviously divided, but I'd have to say I'm looking forward to seeing most all of the films presented, as it's been something of a provocative year, where filmmakers took a few chances. 

Even Jeff Nichols Mud may not be as good as earlier efforts, but it sounds tremendous, where there was a return to Southern subjects in American films, which I find interesting, but these filmmakers are from the South.   

And yes, I have to admit being happy at the Sundance choice Beasts of the Southern Wild, where I've only seen the trailer in theaters, but it just bleeds early David Gordon Green, which I can't get enough of, especially if it's well done.  That film should find theaters very shortly, while the rest we'll have to wait for. 

Todd McCarthy's take in the award winners from The Hollywood Reporter:

Cannes jury got it pretty right with Palm d'Or winner "Amour," from Michael Haneke.

Eschewing the extreme for the humanistic, the Cannes Film Festival jury headed by Nanni Moretti got it pretty right this year, distributing awards around to several of the deserving films and, by general consent, making the spot-on choice for the Palme d’Or with Michael Haneke’s Amour.

In fact, it’s been a while since the ovation for the final award of the evening in the Grand Theatre Lumiere has seemed quite so intense and prolonged. Partly this was due to the general feeling on behalf of a film that so lucidly and penetratingly examines the final stages of life, but also because the award was seen to be shared by the Austrian director’s two superb leading players, Jean-Louis Trintingnant and Emmanuelle Riva, who had startlingly been denied acting prizes some minutes before but then took the stage with Haneke and spoke to the crowd after he did.

This makes for two Palmes for Haneke within a relatively short period of time and also places the film, which co-stars Isabelle Huppert, at the front of the pack of European films heading into the fall season.

The other big winner was Cristian Mungiu’s equally serious, more demanding and somewhat less fulfilling Beyond the Hills honored for screenplay and its two young actresses, Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur. For what it’s worth, this and the Haneke film led the critics’ polls in Cannes, while the winner of the Grand Prix, Matteo Garrone’s Reality from Italy, ranked near the bottom.

Mads Mikkelsen’s victory as best actor for Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt was momentarily shocking, as everyone assumed Trintignant in this category was the biggest shoe-in of the evening. But after all was said and done, the Danish actor’s triumph was viewed as a way to honor a film that seems to have been better received by Europeans than by American critics.

The most audience friendly title in the competition, Ken Loach’s The Angels' Share, happily won the Prix du Jury, while it was thrilling to see Benh Zeitlin, director of the superb Sundance discovery Beasts of the Southern Wild, take the stage to accept the Camera d’Or for best first film in any Cannes section. French critics are often reluctant to embrace films they don’t discover themselves, so the Cannes reaction to this film has been encouraging.

The most out-there winner was Carlos Reygadas’s initially staggering, ultimately perplexing Post Tenebras Lux. Embraced to varying degrees by critics, it’s a film of extraordinary images and ideas, even if its meanings remain elusive and arguable. But it’s far from a bad thing for the jury to have taken note of this ever-more adventurous Mexican auteur.

The big loser, if there is one, was Leos Carax’s Holy Motors, the provocation of the festival and the film that divided partisans and naysayers more sharply than any other film; this is not a work to inspire compromise among critics or jurors. It undoubtedly provided the festival with a much-needed jolt and created more debate than any other film here, but a major prize for it would have created a small furor.

Also going home empty handed were Alain Resnais, Jacques Audiard and the makers of the much-touted North American entries, On the Road, Cosmopolis, Lawless, Mud, The Paperboy and Killing Them Softly. None set the town on fire and clearly can’t count upon widespread critical support down the line. The feeling of letdown about these films running from vague to severe created the feeling of a mixed-bag festival, but it was still a lively Cannes, with plenty of spirited debate, no nasty Lars von Trier-type controversy and an upbeat feeling at the end that the right film won.

Andrew Pulver offers a few comments on the Awards from The Guardian:

The 65th Cannes film festival drew to a close with the director Michael Haneke being awarded the Palme d'Or for Amour.

His victory was greeted with acclaim but an understandable lack of surprise: Amour had been hotly tipped ever since it unspooled on the fifth day of the festival.

The jury, presided over by former Palme d'Or winner Nanni Moretti, gave the chief award to Haneke, saying the jury was not unanimous on any of the awards, but that many of the contending films were "more in love with their style than their characters"; this, presumably, was where Haneke differed.

Amour, which stars French veterans Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva as well as Isabelle Huppert, describes the relationship between an elderly married couple when one of them is incapacitated by a stroke.

The Palme d'Or is Haneke's second; his last was only three years ago for The White Ribbon. In this he joins a select company, including Emir Kusturica and the Dardenne brothers.

The Austrian director accepted the award in his characteristically low-key way, saying: "It's a harsh thing to have to contend with. It's something I had to contend with in my own family, and that's why I started to make this film."

Haneke also mentioned his own wife: "This film is an illustration of the promise we made to each other, if either one of us finds ourselves in the situation that is described in the film."

The Grand Jury prize, Cannes' second most prestigious award, was given to Matteo Garrone, the Italian director whose film Reality explored the effect of reality TV. Garrone's award was genuinely unexpected, perhaps reflecting the common cultural ground between him and the jury president.

British cinema scored a pleasant surprise as the bronze-medal Jury Prize went to Ken Loach's The Angels' Share, a whisky heist comedy set in Scotland. Loach, who is held in high esteem on the European festival circuit, took the opportunity to affirm his opposition to Europe-wide austerity economic policies when accepting his award; he elaborated on the issue afterwards in the winners' press conference.

"The characters in the film have no work, and the world tells them they have no worth," Loach said. "We are reminded of the situation in Europe where people are told they have to stay out of work, and stay of no value. So we are in solidarity with those against austerity – another world is possible."

A rare moment of levity was provided by Mexican director Carlos Reygadas, whose best director award was probably the biggest surprise of the night, after a string of negative reviews for his film Post Tenebras Lux. Reygadas bounced into the winners' press conference, punching the air, and stood balancing his award certificate on his head. British jury member Andrea Arnold had earlier defended his film to the hilt, saying it had "dared to fail".

Probably the most disappointed director on the night was Leos Carax, whose Holy Motors looked likely to scoop at least one award. Moretti said: "Opinions were divided within the jury over several films; some won awards, some did not."

But one popular winner was the young American, Benh Zeitlin, whose surreal coming of age film Beasts of the Southern Wild won the Camera d'Or for best first film. Zeitlin, the only American to win a major prize, explained that nearly all his cast and crew were first-timers too: "We were a lot of inexperienced people running fast into the unknown."

Former Bond villain Mads Mikkelsen also drew loud cheers when his best actor award was announced for the child-abuse-accusation drama The Hunt. Jury member Ewan McGregor said: "The wonder was in the subtlety."

A few observations from Jason Solomons for The Observer:

Michael Haneke is too good. Whenever the Austrian director shows one of his films in Cannes, I always come out thinking the others might as well just pack up and go home because they'll never reach his awesome heights of control and precision. It's like the days when Beethoven was around and everyone else gave up composing. Haneke's Amour, about an elderly man looking after his frail wife (Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, both utterly captivating) when a stroke confines her to their Paris apartment, was by some stretch the finest film at Cannes. It was the only piece to be exquisitely acted, composed, paced and pitched, as well as addressing vital human themes and drawing a swell of emotion from its viewers. Nothing else came close to ticking all those boxes.

But cinema needs different voices and styles on which to feed, and Cannes 2012 welcomed them all in. This year's Palme d'Or selection – much criticised for not including any films made by women – still managed a startling breadth of subject, quality and genre, and the jury often rewards artistic risk rather than polish.

Best comeback news Jean-Luc Godard isn't à bout de souffle yet. He's begun a new film, called Goodbye to Language, and is shooting in 3D.

Best credit Sax consultant, On the Road; dresseur de pigeon, Amour.

Best dressed Actress and jury member Diane Kruger in Balmain; actress Paz Vega hot latina on red carpet for Madagascar 3, though that's really not important.

Best music Rust and Bone; The Paperboy.

Best actress Marion Cotillard, for Rust and Bone.

Best couple Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva in Amour, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian aboard a yacht.

Best actor Denis Lavant, Holy Motors.

Best actor in captivity Ariello Arena, star of Reality, currently serving a life sentence.

Best opening sequence Moonrise Kingdom.

Best shot Family day out scene at waterpark in Reality.

Best rediscovery Jazz documentary A Great Day in Harlem (1994) by Jean Bach.

Silliest outfit Jeremy Irons donning fedora, silk scarf, boots and pantaloons to wander round rubbish dumps in Trashed.

Best non-film celeb spot Didier Drogba, swaggering like a winner into lunch on the Nikki Beach rooftop, coolest dude in town.

Best celeb snub Killing Them Softly is Andrew Dominik's second film directing Brad Pitt. So, he must be round Brangelina Mansions for dinner all the time? "Er, no, never been," he told me, clearly just realising the snub. "We've been out to dinner together, me and Brad. Does that count? Actually, I'm not even sure where Brad lives these days."

-    -    -    -    -

how about Best Passing Quote:
“You have to know that each adaptation will be different. What you’ve done before will not help you on the next one. I’ve said before you have to betray the book in order to be faithful to the book. You have to recognize that literature is not cinema: they both do different things well, and there are certain things they cannot do that they other one can. I’m pretty ruthless about discarding things from a book that will not work cinematically. One the first things Don and I talked about–he had just read my script and he said, “I was wondering how you would handle Benno’s journal.” Don said, “The way you handled it was you left it out.” Which he did not mean as a criticism. It was totally noncinematic, and to me it would be an admission of failure to do a voiceover with somebody reading the book. What I do give you in place of Benno’s journal is Paul Giammati [who plays the character in the film], his face, his eyes, he way he moves, that’s my swap.”  ~ David Cronenberg On Adapting Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis

George mentioned the Master Class with Normon Lloyd, an actor, producer, and director who worked with  Charlie Chaplin, Bertolt Brecht, Orson Welles, Jean Renoir, Elia Kazan— and at a vital 97, may have given the best show at Cannes 2012, coverage by Richard Corliss from Time magazine: 

Jason Solomons interviews actress Isabelle Huppert for The Observer:

By the way, interested in going to film school?  Here's a ranking of the Top 25 schools around the world. 

And, of course, a huge debt of thanks must be given to George the Cyclist, back at Cannes for something like the 9th year in a row, without which our take on the whole experience would be decidedly less interesting:    http://georgethecyclist.blogspot.com

Though Carlos Reygadas didn't win the Palme d'Or, he won the next best thing, the best director award, an award that often goes to the best film from a divided jury.  This jury wasn't brave enough to go that far and went with the very safe choice of Haneke's "Amour" a very average film that any film-maker could have made. Reygadas could have been given the best director award here for his second film "Battle in Heaven" seven years ago, but he was too young and unknown for that jury to make such a choice.  But this nine-person jersey, spearheaded by three most accomplished directors, Nanni Moretti, Alexander Payne and Andrea Arnold, clearly recognized the brilliance of  "Post Tenebras Lux," the most distinguished directing of any of the films here.

Both Ralph and I watched it for a second time earlier in the day and appreciated it even more.  It is a film that isn't so easy to piece together on the first viewing, though one can't help but be impressed by its great cinematic flair.  There is much more of a narrative to the film than we had at first detected.  And we will both be happy to see it again, hopefully at Telluride over Labor Day weekend.

It seems as if no jury at Cannes can get all seven of the awards it doles out right.  There is always at least one big surprise.  At first it looked as if it was going to be giving Ken Loach's "The Angels Share" the Jury Prize for the third best film, the first award given out.  Although it was a fine film, it was basically just entertainment.  That is a very arbitrary choice.  There were a handful of other equally entertaining films that could please multiplex audiences as well as those of the art house--"Rust and Bones," "Mud," and "Killing Them Softly," none of which were given awards.  The biggest surprise of those three was "Rust and Bones" being overlooked, especially with Emmanuelle Devos on the jury, who had starred in two of "Rust and Bones" director Jacques Audiard's films. "Rust and Bones" could have been given any of several awards--best actor, best actress, best screenplay or any of the three best films.

One can not deny jury favoritism.  That explains the Italian feature "Reality" being given the Grand Prix award for the second best film, a real shocker, from his fellow Italian jury president Moretti.  It certainly wasn't.  Its director Matteo Garrone was the beneficiary of similar national favoritism with his last film at Cannes, "Gomorrah," which also won the Grand Prix.  There was a very strong-willed Italian director on that jury who saw to it that the two Italian films in Competition that year won awards, that and Sorrentino's "Il Divo."  In the press conference after the award ceremony Payne was asked how he could overlook the seven films in Competition that had a North America influence, none of which won an award.  Payne shook his head in despair at the question, not wishing to accept the insinuation that he had a responsibility to award a film from his country.  National favoritism also is obvious in the reviews from Screen magazine's panel of ten international journalists.  The Brazilian was the only one to give fellow countryman Walter Salles's "On the Road" a four star review, with just about everyone else giving it two stars or less.  Lars Von Trier was similarly blessed with a four star review from the Danish representative a few years ago for the much reviled "Antichrist," everyone else hating it.

Five of the seven award winners had all won previously at Cannes.  Only the best actor and actresses were first time winners, as is usually the case.   It was most thrilling to see the two young Romanian actresses from "Beyond the Hills" being awarded.  The jury really had to like that film to violate the taboo of giving a film two awards, as its director Cristian Mungiu was given the award for best screenplay as well.  It was the second award of the evening given out.  Mungiu was clearly disappointed in having to accept it, as he was hoping he had been invited back for the awards ceremony for another "Palme d'Or" to go along with his for "Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days."  Pedro Almodovar had a similar reaction with "Volver," another film that won for its cast of actresses as well as screenplay.  That year "Volver" had the highest rating from the critics.  Rarely does the film with the highest rating win the Palme d'Or.  This year is an exception, though "Amour" was tied with "Beyond the Hills" with 3.3 out of 4.

The biggest relief of the evening was that the jury did not give "Holy Motors" an award or pull a real surprise and give "On the Road" or Kiarostami's film something.  But I had faith in Payne to get things right and Moretti too.  Moretti had previously served on the jury in 1996.  Gilles Jacob, the festival's long-time director, wrote in his memoirs published a year ago, "Citizen Cannes," that Moretti stood up for a film that year that deserved the Palme d'Or against the initial wishes of the rest of the jury.  Jacob, who admitted he sits in on the jury deliberations, though tries to keep his mouth shut, was very grateful for Moretti's strength and good sense.

When it came down to the last two awards to be given for the two best pictures we knew that Haneke was going to get one of them as he was most evident sitting in the audience. Since "Rust and Bones" had yet to receive an award, there was the possibility that this jury might right the wrong of several years ago when Haneke's "White Ribbon" was given the Palme d'Or over Audiard's "A Prophet."  But that was not to be.

When "Reality" won it meant I would have to skip the closing night film "Therese Desqueyroux" by Claude Miller starring Audrey Tatou, as "Reality was coincidentally screening an hour later and I had yet to see it, just one of the two Competition films I had missed.  The other was the Opening Night film "Moonrise Kingdom."  I came within two minutes of seeing it earlier in the day.  People were still trickling into the Bazin Theater for its 4:30 pm screening when I arrived 15 minutes earlier.  I quickly ducked into the bathroom next door.  When I came out the "Complet" sign had been posted.  I wasn't overly upset as it meant I could go upstairs to the Bunuel Theater and see the Reygadas film again.  Intuitively I knew that is what I should have wanted to do anyway.  As always, I do not get upset when I am turned away from a film, rather accepting it as an opportunity to see something else.

Though I saw 73 films this year, including 21 of the 22  Competition films and 10 of the 20 in Un Certain Regard, there were a few I regretted missing.  One was "7 Days in Havana" a compilation film by seven directors including Gaspar Noe.  Ralph saw it, as he is an ardent Noe fan as well, but he couldn't recognize which of the seven segments was Noe's, so it didn't seem as if I missed anything of significance.  He said the only segment he could identify who had directed it was the one by Emir Kusturica, as he starred in his.  He played himself attending the Havana film festival and not wishing to fully participate in it. 

I was also sorry to miss an animated feature with Werner Herzog as the voiceover and also a documentary on the foremost editor of film trailers narrated by Jeff Bridges.  But one can't see everything, though I certainly give it a good effort.  I had more seven film days this year than any year before, largely thanks to a more conveniently located internet outlet for my daily postings. If I didn't have that obligation I would have watched "Amour" for a second time today giving it another chance to impress me.  As it was, it was only a four film day, the only day of less than six. 

"Amour" was one of four films scheduled to play in the 1,068 seat Debussy Theater on repeat Sunday, the largest of the four theaters for the repeats.  The others have seating of 400; 350 and 300.  The top-seeded films were "The Angel's Share," "Holy Motors," "Amour" and "The Hunt."  Keller attended "The Hunt" screening.  He said there was a riot among those waiting to get in and horse-mounted police were called in and people were arrested. 

The lowest seeded films, the films the festival directors thought had the least  interest, playing in the 300 seat Bunuel were "On the Road," "Like Someone to Love," "Mud," "Post Tenebras Lux," and "In the Fog."

I began the day with "Beyond the Hills," one of the three films I was most looking forward to seeing when the festival schedule had been announced a month ago along the Reygadas film and Dolan's film.  This true story of a young girl who comes to a small monastery to visit a friend of hers and take her away was not as powerful as the director's Palme d'Or winner, a near impossibility, but it was still a most impressive film. 

It was only fifteen minutes between the end of this film and Kiarostami's "Like Someone in Love."  If I didn't get in I had no back-up film.  I would go fulfill my internet duties and then see Haneke's film.  But there were barely 100 people who cared to see it.  This story of a Japanese student who moonlights as a hooker was very slight and dull.  It has an element of mistaken identity similar to "Certified Copy," but is a pale imitation.

I had been turned away from "Reality" three times early in the festival.  It was the third of the Competition films to be screened after "Rust and Bones" and the Egyptian film "After the Battle" and was given very mediocre reviews.  I didn't think I had missed much. It was actually more enjoyable than I thought it would be, though still not worthy of the Grand Prix. It was my second film of the day of someone who goes slightly mad.  One of the girls in "Beyond the Hills," frustrated at not being able to pry her friend from the monastery, goes into such fits that she is hospitalized. In "Reality" a guy with great personality who sells fish from a stand in a town square and is the father of two girls has high hopes of being selected for a reality television that will make him rich and famous.  He has an hour-long audition that goes very well.  He's so confident of being selected he convinces his wife that he should sell his fish stand.  When he isn't selected he suffers a great downward spiral.   It is an entertaining comedy-drama, but not as fine a film as "Rust and Bones" and a few others.  That is a subjective opinion, though appears to be the prevailing sentiment.

Once again Cannes was a great twelve days of cinema.  Even Keller came to agree that it was a privilege to be here.  This year did not have the greatness of last year, but still it was a reassuring testimony to the state of cinema.  There were a remarkable number of very fine films.  I'll be back and so will Ralph.  Not so sure about Keller though.

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