Friday, May 18, 2012

Cannes Day 2

a wayward tramp

Chinese actors Qi Xi and Hao Lei from director Lou Ye’s new film Mystery

Jacques Audiard, Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts, the director and stars of Rust and Bone

Cannes photos from The Guardian:

More photos from The Hollywood Reporter:

still more from Movieline:

Fashion looks from The Telegraph:

A look at Cannes before the multitude arrives:

An indieWIRE interview with Xavier Dolan, whose nearly 3-hour film "Laurence Anyways" premieres in Un Certain Regard:

How about an article handicapping the Palme D'or winner, by Robert Koehler from Film Comment?

There’s a reason why people love the Viennale, that cinema feast in Vienna in the fall: No competition, no awards, just films, filmmakers and their audiences. Its natural, necessary opposite is undeniably Cannes: All about the competition, with the side parlor game of predicting what film will win, what will surprise, what will tank. If Viennale is an exposition, Cannes isn’t unlike the Monaco Grand Prix just a few bends of the coastline away—a race, with laurels to the victor.

So, submitting to the Cannes game, what film could win this year? Let’s work by process of elimination, taking into account the past sixteen years, an ample time period to parse trends and which also happens to include films by some directors in this year’s competition.

First, the history of the Palme d’Or has few repeat winners: Only Shohei Imamura (for The Eel in 1997) and the Dardenne brothers (for The Son in 2005) have had repeaters during our period, and even if one were to calculate an eight-year gap in a cycle, 2012 would still be likely too soon for another repeater. So odds are seriously stacked against the following films and filmmakers in the competition: Michael Haneke and Love; Abbas Kiarostami and Like Someone in Love; Ken Loach and The Angels’ Share; and Cristian Mungiu and Beyond the Hills.

Second, Palme winners are rarely first-timers, though not as infrequently as repeaters: from 1999 to 2008, there were three competition rookies, suggesting that contemporary juries tend to be open to the possibility of picking younger over older, established directors. Thus, the Dardenne brothers (again!) won in ’99 for Rosetta, while Laurent Cantet (The Class) and Mungiu (Four Months, Three Weeks, Two Days) won successively in 2007 and 2008. So while there’s a slightly better chance for the following to grab the Palme this year, they will all be longshot bets in Vegas: Wes Anderson and opening film Moonrise Kingdom; Lee Daniels and The Paperboy; Andrew Dominik and Killing Them Softly; John Hillcoat and Lawless; Yousry Nasrallah and After the Battle; Jeff Nichols and Mud.

This leaves twelve films with a better than decent shot. A closer look though, again based on historic trends, suggests an even slimmer contest. The overwhelming pattern among recent Palme d’Or victors is to have been in the competition at least twice, and to have won one or more runner-up awards. This has applied, for instance, in this year’s field to Kiarostami, Loach and Haneke. Merely being in the running once before may not be enough, which drops Im Sang-soo and Taste of Money; Leos Carax and Holy Motors; Sergei Loznitsa and In the Fog; and Ulrich Seidl and Paradies: Liebe down a few notches on the tote board.

OK, eight left. Again, following our trend line, we can reduce the chances for directors who have been in the competition more than once, but who have been winless on awards night. This would include Walter Salles and On the Road and possibly Hong Sang-soo for In Another Country, although Hong’s Un Certain Regard win in 2010 for Hahaha hoists him a bit more prominently.

Of the remaining six, Matteo Garrone impresses for having won the Grand Jury Prize in 2008 for his sole competition film, Gomorrah, while Thomas Vinterberg might be seen as a darker horse given that his Jury Prize for 1999’s The Celebration came over a decade ago.

This leaves four possibilities involving filmmakers who have staked out a strong record either as past sub-Palme prizewinners or steady competition regulars who can easily be perceived that their time has come. Jacques Audiard (Rust and Bone) has a solid track record: Winning the Grand Jury nod for A Prophet in 2009 and best screenplay in his only previous competition entry, 1996’s A Self-Made Hero. The formidable Carlos Reygadas has spent his entire feature career at Cannes, starting with a Camera d’Or for Japon in 2002, followed by Battle in Heaven and then Silent Light, the Jury Prize winner in 2007. David Cronenberg has been up for the Palme three times (including for A History of Violence and Spider), and won the Jury Special Prize for Crash in 1996. Finally, the grand old man himself, Alain Resnais (Nope! Never won!) tops Cronenberg with four Palme nominations, starting with Hiroshima, Mon Amour in 1959, followed by Stavisky (1974), a Grand Jury Prize for Mon Oncle d’Amerique in 1980 and an honorary special prize for Wild Grass in 2009.

Will a jury led by Nanni Moretti pull for history and lean toward Resnais, whose Wild Grass indicated a filmmaker still full of terrific imaginative energy? Or perhaps Audiard, seemingly inching closer and closer to the winner’s circle after the widely embraced A Prophet?

Hold on. Guess what? The dirty little fact of France’s grandest annual cinema event is that the Palme rarely goes to a French director, which was why Cantet’s win for The Class ranks as an extreme outlier victory.

This leaves it to a possible contest between Cronenberg, adapting Don DeLillo’s wild Manhattan novel and Reygadas, who has reportedly produced a highly personal work that oozes rumor, risk and curiosity. Given Cannes juries’ recent embrace of unconventional films such as Apitchatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, a certain momentum may go toward the likelier less conventional Reygadas film. English-language films, however, have fared extremely well over the past sixteen years (nearly 30% of the winners in that period), so perhaps Cronenberg. Here’s the tiebreaker: Given the historic neglect of Latin American cinema in the competition (the last Latin American winner, Anselmo Duarte’s The Payer of Promises, was 40 years ago, the definition of “overdue”), Reygadas is likeliest for the Palme.

Which could mean a lot of writers and editors checking their spelling of Post Tenebras Lux.
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Neil Young from Jigsaw Lounge with the latest odds:

2-1 : LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE  - Kiarostami
5-1 : YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET - Resnais
6-1 : COSMOPOLIS - Cronenberg
8-1 : POST TENEBRAS LUX - Reygadas
10-1 : IN THE FOG - Loznitsa
11-1 : ON THE ROAD - Salles
11-1 : RUST AND BONE - Audiard
14-1 : BEYOND THE HILLS - Mungiu
20-1 : THE HUNT – Vinterberg
22-1 : KILLING THEM SOFTLY - Dominik
22-1 : AMOUR (aka LOVE) - Haneke
22-1 : MOONRISE KINGDOM – Anderson
25-1 : LAWLESS – Hillcoat
28-1 : HOLY MOTORS - Carax
33-1 : PARADISE : LOVE – Seidl
35-1 : MUD - Nichols
50-1 : THE PAPERBOY – Daniels
80-1 : THE ANGELS’ SHARE - Loach
100-1 : REALITY - Garrone
100-1 : AFTER THE BATTLE - Nasrallah

Screendaily has a different format this year, where a click on the various competitions here will lead you to a paywall:
but if you click on the reviews, or this page, they are open to the public: 

Variety at Cannes:

David Hudson (formerly of Mubi) does all the links for each review at Fandor:

Robert Koehler from Filmjourney:

Daniel Kasman at Mubi : (regular review coverage from Daniel Kasman)

The House Next Door at Cannes:

Matt Zoller Seitz and Kevin B. Lee at Press Play from indieWIRE

the indieWIRE Playlist:

indieWIRE reviews, with grades listed:

Mike D'Angelo at The Onion AV Club:

Drew McSweeny and Guy Lodge from HitFix:

Richard Corliss from Time Magazine:

Movieline Cannes Coverage:

Michael Oleszczyk from Hammer to Nail: 

Melissa Anderson at ArtForum:

Julie Miller at Vanity Fair:

Sukhdev Sandhu from The Daily Telegraph:

Alex Billington from First Showing:

Michael Phillips at Cannes from the Chicago Tribune:

The Film Center's Barbara Scharres from the Roger Ebert blog:

The Huffington Post:

Emanuel Levy:
Eric Lavallee Ion Cinema:

Brad Bevet from Ropes of Silicon:

Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa:

Charles Ealy at the Austin Movie Blog:

Matt Bochenski from Little White Lies:

And, of course, George is back at Cannes this year, where he finds off the beaten track film fare, whose comments will be posted each day:

Among the classic films playing at the outdoor theater on the beach each night is "Jaws."  Its not the only film at the festival with predatory fish.  There were two such films today,   Jacques Audiard's Competition entry "Rust and Bones" and a last minute market entry "Una Noche."

"Rust and Bones" was the first offical Competition entry after last night's "Moonrise Kingdom," a rare Opening Night film that is also part of the twenty film field in Competition. With no tuxedo and no invitation I wasn't able to see "Moonrise" and also passed on its second screening today not wishing to squander an hour's time waiting in line putting it off until the end of the festival despite my eagerness to see any film with Bill Murray and Tilda Swinton and Edward Norton.  I can say the same thing about an Audiard film.  He doesn't make bad films.  "Rust and Bones" is no exception.  It is another highly pleasing film with all sorts of distinct originality. 

The predatory fish in "Rust" are killer whales.  One of the whales bites off the legs of a whale-tamer during a performance at a large French acquatic center.  The woman was world-weary to begin with and is near suicidal after this, a nurse having to grab a knife from her while she is still in hospital recovering.

Even more hardened and world-weary is a bouncer from a night club she met just before this happened.  He is a pugilist with a strong animalistic nature, but has a considerate soul.   She gives him a call several months after she loses her legs and they become a couple in a most unconventional relationship.  It is a while before they become lovers, but he revives her will to live.

The predatory fish in "Una Noche" are sharks that circle around three young Cubans trying to cross from Cuba to Miami on a make shift raft of two car tires and wood and a motor that one of the Cubans traded his bicycle for.  This was another exceptional film portraying the life of desperation that most live in contemporary Cuba with many resorting to the sex trade to survive.  I lucked into this film after being turned away from "Phantom," a film starring Ed Harris as a Russian submarine captain.  I knew nothing about "Una Noche." It was actually my fifth choice at the noon time slot, but it was proof that one must take chances on what one sees at film festivals.

My two o'clock film was another film by an accomplished French director, Benoit Jacquot, "Farewell My Queen" playing in the market.  The queen is Marie Antoinette.  The person bidding her farewell is her young servant who reads books to her.  The movie opens on the day of the storming of the Bastille, July 14, 1789 and follows the activities at Versailles over the next week while the King and Queen and everyone else are deciding whether to flee or not.  Marie stays but sends her reader off with her lesbian lover, a duchess who Marie has her reader impersonate as the duchess is on the list of 286 people that the revolutionaries wish to behead.  It was a nice little history lesson.

The movie I was most looking forward to seeing this day was the first of the two bicycle movies here,"One Mile Above."  The single line blurb in the program implied it was the documentary of a Taiwanese bicycing 2000 miles across China to Tibet.  It was actually a feature film recreating such an adventure.  The bicyclist was inspired to make the trip as it was something his older brother intended to do but died prematurely.  He has minimal bicycling experience but undertakes the trip despite warnings from friends and people along the way that he will die.  He almost does in this highly stylized feature that turns the trip into a horror movie with perilous crashes and attacks by ferocious wild dogs and an enraged truck driver and pushing his bike through snow.  The scenery is spectacular but the story is a lot of hocum. The film-makers were so proud of their large scale effort that the credits included shots of their filming the movie in the treacherous terrain.

Ralph and I were turned away from a documentary on Roman Polanski.  That allowed us to see a 1954 Indonesian film "After the Curfew" recently restored by  Martin Scorcese's organization.  In on the restoration was New York critic Kent Jones who was there to introduce it along with Pierre Rissient and Thierry Fremaux.  This was a big enough event to attract jury member and arch cinephile Alexander Payne, who was introduced by Fremaux and given kudos for being there.  I was only able to see the start of the film as it overlapped with "One Mile Above."  I was sorry to have to walk out on it in front of such a dignified audience.

I finished off the day with two "Un Certain Regard" films, "Mystery" from China and "Student" from Kazakhstan.  "Mystery" was a brilliant portrayal of the emerging middle class in China.  Such a strata of society did not exist even two years ago.  It is a story of adultury with some police corruption thrown in.  It was a standard story, but I kept marveling at all the stuff the young family had and how well everyone dressed and how well-fed everyone was in contrast to Chinese movies in the recent past.  It took place in Wuhan, a city I lingered in for a few days awaiting a cycling partner a couple of year ago, who ended up having an epileptic seizure there, stranding us an extra day.

"Student" portrayed life in a country not so well off.  It was inspired by "Crime and Punishment" and was told in a droll Kaurasmaki style that would not appeal to everyone.  I saw Charles for the first time just before the 10:30 pm screening.  He had seen it earlier in the day and wasn't so enamored by it.  I was plenty happy to have a final ninety minutes of cinema to watch on the huge screen in the thousand seat Debussy theater, finshing off another Great Day of Cinema.

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