Monday, May 21, 2012

Cannes Day 5

Jean-Louis Trintignant and Isabelle Huppert in Michael Haneke's film Amour (Love)

Isabelle Huppert in Hang Sang-soo's film In Another Country

NATO protester in Chicago

Chicago police battle NATO protesters

2 more were arrested in Chicago on suspicion of making Molotov cocktails for the Nato Summit, though defense attorneys claim it was the undercover agents themselves who brought into the home all the bombmaking materials that were eventually used as evidence against those arrested, leading many to suspect these young 20-year olds were set up - - Chicago police tactics, the old-fashioned way, though these are the first suspects ever arrested using the new State of Illinois terrorism laws. 

The AP reports the arrests were made Wednesday in a nighttime raid after police discovered a plot to attack a number of targets, including the aforementioned campaign headquarters and the Mayor’s home. They report further that the defense is planning on arguing that the plot was actually a creation of undercover police officers, and not the men arrested:

Defense attorneys alleged that the arrests were an effort to scare the thousands of people expected to protest at the meeting of world leaders. They told a judge that undercover police were the ones who brought the Molotov cocktails.

“This is just propaganda to create a climate of fear,” defense attorney Michael Duetsch said.

Later, outside the courtroom, Duetsch said two undercover police officers or informants who called themselves “Mo” and “Gloves” were also arrested during the Wednesday raid, and defense attorneys said they later lost track of the two.

“We believe this is all a setup and entrapment to the highest degree,” Duetsch said.

Cannes Day 5 photos from The Guardian: 

and here:

Cannes photos from The Hollywood Reporter:

photos from The London Telegraph:

Michael Haneke's screening of Amour (Love) quickly rose to the position of Festival favorite, starring The Conformist’s Jean-Louis Trintignant and Hiroshima Mon Amour’s Emmanuelle Riva, with several reviews already calling it a masterpiece, and Emmanuelle Riva a lock for the festival’s Best Actress award. Andre Soares has translated a sampling of collected European reviews at Alt Film Guide:

Michael Haneke took home the Palme d’Or for The White Ribbon three years ago. This year, Haneke may be taking home a second Palme d’Or for Amour, which has received enthusiastic praise following its screening earlier today at the Cannes Film Festival. Starring veterans Jean-Louis Trintignant (The Conformist, Red) and Emmanuelle Riva (Hiroshima Mon Amour; Leon Morin, Priest) as an elderly couple facing illness and death as the biggest challenges to their love, Amour has been described as Haneke’s masterpiece. Or, in some cases, his latest masterpiece.

Written by Haneke himself, Amour also features The Piano Teacher‘s Isabelle Huppert, Certified Copy‘s William Shimell, and Alexandre Tharaud. Amour opens in France in October. It’ll surely be released some time this year in the US for awards-season consideration; Sony Pictures Classics has acquired the North American distribution rights. [Check out the French-language Amour trailer.]

"Michael Haneke’s Amour is the last possible melodrama, the finale for every love story that doesn’t reach a conclusion, the truth circumvented in such films as The Notebook, and partly touched upon in Sarah Polley’s Away from Her. … Flawless and extremely sad, of a perfection and a sadness that one can’t pretend not to be affected by it, Amour is a movie that can’t be recommended lightly, for, as [Italian poet Carlo Emilio] Gadda would say, [watching it is] to become acquainted with grief [title of Gadda's novel, La Cognizione del dolore, translated into English as Acquainted with Grief]." Giorgio Viaro, who calls Amour the Cannes Film Festival’s masterpiece, in Best Movie.

"Austrian director Michael Haneke gives us the first real masterpiece of the 65th Cannes Film Festival with French language effort Amour (Love, 2012), a surprisingly warm meditation on old age and death and undoubtedly a strong contender for the coveted Palme d’Or. His most personal film to date, Amour revolves around a married couple, Anne and Georges (names Haneke uses repeatedly throughout his work), played with intensity and courage by veteran actors Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant." John Bleasdale in Cine Vue.

"Haneke, whom we have sometimes reproached for his penchant for sterile provocations and for his preachiness, opts for a soberness and a tenderness of which we wouldn’t have thought him capable. For that reason, it’s difficult not to be deeply moved by this tale of a love that is both simple and cruel." AlloCiné.

"Nobody had ever shown the horrors of dependence with as much cruelty, acuity and truthfulness as Michael Haneke. Grounded on strong performances by Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant, [Haneke] delivers a romantic drama with incredible intensity, skirting voyeurism while depicting the end of two lives joined together for better or for worse. Amour is, to date, his best film." Caroline Vié at

But of course, there's someone else out there, Alex Billington from First Showing, who "can't stand it":

I have found my least favorite film of the Cannes Film Festival so far. And it's the film many critics are calling the best of the festival. But I can't stand it. I sat through all two hours of this boring, tasteless, bland film and still got nothing out of it. I was absolutely baffled hearing weeping all around me as it started to reach the end. People actually liked this? How? Maybe I'm just young, too young, to appreciate a film about growing old and dying (when I'm just starting the bigger part of my life). Maybe it's just Haneke expressing his inner concern for his nearing end (he's 70 years old). Whatever it was, I hated it. Impressive? No way.

Jonathan Romney from Screendaily:

More than in any of his other films, Haneke’s theatrical background is visible in the measured, controlled staging - in that, rather than dramatise the couple’s experience, he shows it to us, for this is a hyper-lucid demonstration of his theme. But this is also a magnificently directed actors’ film in which the two leads are challenged to confront their own mortality and follow its implications to the very limit. Riva in particular exposes herself fearlessly, recreating Anne’s increasing lack of physical control; while Trintignant hints at the inner stresses that wrack George. The two actors create a marvellous sense of complicity and intimacy.

There is no trace of overstatement or sentiment. Huppert, as the couple’s daughter Eva, lends typically strong support, and the film is shot with superbly understated spatial precision by Darius Khondji. This is a film of delicacy and immense force, and while it may well move you to tears, it is a hugely intelligent drama that tells it like it is about a subject most of us cannot bear to think about, especially on screen. It takes a director like Haneke to make us grateful we did.

Offering thoughts about the film and the programming, Karina Longworth at LA Weekly:

That's not a pejorative. Haneke is the first Competition film director at Cannes this year to both succeed totally on the terms he sets out for himself, and truly challenge the audience to bear witness to something they've never seen on screen before: a realistically slow death, and all the unpleasantness it entails, depicted without sentimentality, to the point where when Huppert's character breaks down in tears, Haneke films her with her back to the camera. I've heard other audience members report that the movie made them cry; It didn't work on me that way. Even as the film's depicted events became increasingly sad, it seemed to me that Haneke aimed to withhold opportunities for that kind of catharsis. I emerged from the film chilled to the bone, anxious to talk to my boyfriend and get a bowl of warm soup in my system. Which is its own kind of visceral emotional response.

In their infinite wisdom, the Cannes programmers offered a de facto Isabelle Huppert double feature by scheduling a screening of Hong Sang-Soo's In Another Country, in which Huppert plays three different women in a film-within-the-film, for shortly after the Amour premiere.

Melissa Anderson was at the press conference afterwards for ArtForum:

At the press conference for Amour, a surprisingly tender movie from a filmmaker usually associated with sadism, Huppert seemed content to defer to Trintignant and Riva, two titans of French cinema, even while contradicting them. Entering in a black leather jacket (surely donned to ward off the rainy chill during her earlier photo call?), Huppert sat on the far right of the panel. She smiled slightly as Trintignant genially—but quite convincingly—said of Haneke, who was seated to his immediate left, “I’ve never met such a demanding director. [Working with him] is a very difficult task.” Queried later, Huppert demurred: “Well, I don’t think it’s all that difficult. […] I like to watch myself in Michael Haneke’s films.” But in response to a Chilean reporter’s question whether all actors in Haneke’s films suffer, her response was swift and unequivocal: “No, it’s the spectators who suffer.”

Huppert may find pleasure in watching herself onscreen, but the townspeople of Mohang, South Korea, seem really knocked out by her beauty in Hong Sang-soo’s In Another Country, the prolific director’s thirteenth film in sixteen years—and his first to be made with a non-Korean lead. Many of Hong’s signature touches are found in his latest—intricate narrative tissue links one droll episode to the next, surrogates stand in for the director himself, copious bottles of soju are consumed—yet In Another Country forgoes much of the mortification that defines his earlier works, focusing instead on the playfulness of the stories’ architecture. Huppert plays three different women named Anne, all of whom stay at the same tiny beachside hotel and meet the same lifeguard character. “I’m on my way to the unknown path,” the third Anne—a flighty recent divorcée—says in a text message to a friend who had introduced her to a revered monk. Huppert, playing the lead in triplicate, follows suit.

Barbara Scharres offers the first glimpse of the Kiarostami screening:

"Like Someone in Love" is a hall of mirrors with an ending of sorts but an open-ended conclusion. Judging by the reaction in the Palais, it did not find the kind of favor with the tonight's damp crowd that is more usually accorded Kiarostami's films. The boos were loud and hearty, and the applause was weak, although reaction in the press screening is not always an indication of which way the reviews will go when the trade papers come out tomorrow. I'd say the jury's still out on this one as far as the majority reaction by international critics.

There is an online Criterion Forum discussion on the films at Cannes:

 Les étoiles de la critique is a scorecard of French critics, through Monday's edition, reflecting Audiard's Rust and Bone and Haneke's Amour as the best reviewed films so far:

Haneke moves up, but Kiarostami, despite the weak critical reception, remains the overall favorite at Neil Young with the current odds at Jigsaw Lounge:

5-2 : LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE  - Kiarostami
4-1 : AMOUR (aka LOVE) - Haneke
6-1 : POST TENEBRAS LUX - Reygadas
6-1 : BEYOND THE HILLS - Mungiu
15-2 : YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET! - Resnais
10-1 : RUST AND BONE - Audiard
10-1 : IN THE FOG - Loznitsa
10-1 : COSMOPOLIS - Cronenberg
14-1 : ON THE ROAD - Salles
20-1 : KILLING THEM SOFTLY - Dominik
22-1 : MOONRISE KINGDOM – Anderson
 28-1 : HOLY MOTORS - Carax
35-1 : THE HUNT – Vinterberg
40-1 : PARADISE : LOVE – Seidl
50-1 : MUD - Nichols
50-1 : THE PAPERBOY – Daniels
66-1 : LAWLESS – Hillcoat
80-1 : THE ANGELS’ SHARE - Loach
80-1 : REALITY - Garrone
100-1 : AFTER THE BATTLE - Nasrallah

Screendaily still has paywalls, but if you click on the reviews, they are open to the public: 

The Hollywood Reporter at Cannes:

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

Variety at Cannes:

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

the indieWIRE Playlist:

indieWIRE reviews, with grades listed:

Robert Koehler from Filmjourney:

Daniel Kasman at Mubi:

The House Next Door at Cannes:

Drew McSweeny and Guy Lodge from HitFix:

Mike D'Angelo at The Onion AV Club:

Richard Corliss from Time Magazine:

Karina Longworth at LA Weekly:

Cannes Fest at Time Out London:

Cannes Diary from Film Comment:

The Guardian Cannes commentary:

Movieline Cannes Coverage:

Various writers at Twitch:

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 Envelope, the Cannes Blog from The LA Times:

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:

Making up for my early dearth of docs, my Day Five was a day of  five consecutive documentaries sandwiched between two conventional features on very common topics--dying and falling in love.

I hadn't intended to go doc crazy, it was just the way things fell into place.  The weather gets some of the blame, as an early afternoon shower that continued up through my midnight bike ride back to the campground, caused the dubious cancellation of "Beyond the Hills"  at the 60th Anniversary theater as its staff didn't wish to stand in the rain or keep those in line in the rain.  This Romanian Competition film by Palme d'Or winner Cristian Mungiu was one of the three films of the festival, other than the two bicycling films, that I was most looking forward to seeing and even more so after it received the highest score from Screen magazine's panel of ten international critics of the seven films that had played so far in Competition.  It received five four star reviews.  The only other film to receive any was "Rust and Bones" with two.

The rain definitely caused havoc.  It was the most significant rain I've experienced in the nine Cannes I've attended.  Luckily I wore my Goretex jacket on my ride in with the threat of rain, even though it caused me to work up quite a sweat biking into a fierce wind, as I was riding hard anyway  in a rush to make sure I got in line before eight am for Haneke's "Love," one of the more anticipated films of the festival.  That didn't stop me though from detouring to the Grey Hotel for the daily editions of Screen, Variety and Hollywood Reporter.  For the second time of the festival Milos was there as well for his daily pick-up.  He confirmed that  "Beyond the Hills" was quite good.  After locking my bike I also crossed paths with Charles.  He too was in a beeline, but is always happy to stop for a quick chat.  He reported he missed Dolan's film as he had a meeting to attend and had to leave tomorrow so would miss any chance to see it.

Keller was already in line but Julie, also of Telluride, hadn't arrived yet.  She was a few minutes late as she had been out late the night before at a party.  We had to sweat it out a bit as the overflow of press from the Palais came charging over at 8:30.  Keller with his ever pessimistic attitude thought we were doomed. He's a man with no good luck.  When he lost the coin flip with Ralph for the room with a view of the Mediterranean, he said he had never won a coin flip in his life. He was prepared to return to the apartment he is sharing with Ralph a mile away and load up his motorcycle and be gone if he didn't get in to this.  He was saved.  When we were given entry the theater wasn't even half full, though every seat was taken by screening time.

I kept waiting for something to happen in this meticulous but rather tedious depiction of the wife of an older well-to-do couple dying. Not even the occasional visit of their daughter played by Isabelle Huppert much perked it up.  About the only evidence of this being a Haneke film was the firing of a nurse.  She's not happy and says, "Fuck you, you old prick."  He tells her he hopes someone treats her as badly as she has treated his wife when she's in her condition.  I've lived the experience of this film twice looking after a grandmother the final month of her life and spending the final week of long-time girl friend Crissy's life at her hospital bedside.  I could certainly relate to what was going on, but I wasn't touched emotionally or brought to tears like some leaving the theater.

I had 45 minutes for my blog report and then began the docs with "The Convict Patient" about Mexico's John Hinckley, a man who tried to assassinate Mexico's president in 1970 upset with his handling of the student demonstrations in 1968 that prevented him from getting his diploma.   He was placed in a mental institution for 23 years where he was tortured and placed in solitary confinement.  He is now homeless wandering the streets of Mexico City.  Mexico does have homeless shelters; but he prefers his freedom.

I almost forgot about "Moon Rider" and was going to make an attempt on "Beyond the Hills" at the Star theater.  But I will have a chance to see that the final couple days of the festival when all the Competition films are rescreened.  This bicycle documentary could not be missed.  I thought I was going to have a private screening of the Danish film, but two others slipped into the small Gray theater just before the lights went out.  Rasmus Quaade is a 19 year old Danish cyclist who has tested higher than any other Dane for lung capacity and wattage power before producing lactic acid.  He is one of the best time trialists in the world.  A camera crew followed him for better than a year preceding the World Championships in Australia two years ago and  then Denmark the following year as they knew he had a good chance of winning.  He crashed in Australia, though he would have had a tough time beating American Taylor Phinney who was competing in the Espoirs category for those under 23 for the last time.  There is plenty of footage of him training and racing and commenting on the extent that he pushes himself, almost to the point of death.  He is shown collapsing several times at the end of races utterly spent.  This was very authentic.

My docs included a pair on American entertainers who came into their prime in the '50s and '60s--Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis.  "Method to the Madnesss of Jerry Lewis" was an official selection.  It was artfully and entertaining put together.  "Tony Curtis: Driven to Stardom" was a by-the-numbers chronological story that could have been edited by any film student with a ponderous voice over.  A shot of the Statue of Liberty is shown to establish is birthplace in New York.  The Hollywood sign is shown when he goes to Hollywood.  If he had spent time in Paris there would have been an Eiffel Tower, but there was one anyway in the movie poster of "This Is Paris."  If nothing else this movie distinguished itself as a rare movie that included the three great landmark icons--the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower and the Hollywood sign.

Curtis did have a noteworthy career.  The film claims he was the first male cinema sex symbol, preceding Brando, Dean and Elvis.  It argues that if he had died young like Dean or Marilyn Monroe, who he had an affair with, he would be a great icon himself;  It took awhile though before he had a significant cinema role with the "Defiant Ones" unlike the others.  The film is interspersed with a prolonged interview Curtis gave the film makers before his death in 2010.

The Lewis documentary though is flashly edited and has numerous interviews with Lewis along with great accolades from Seinfeld, Crystal, Harrelson and others.  Spielberg is among them.  He took a class from Lewis at USC on editing.  The lectures from that class were put together in a book that Lewis says Scorcese always has on the set with him.  Before Lewis became a movie star he and Dean Martin had a ten year career as comics until 1956.  They were as popular as the Beatles, he says.  They had a run of performances in New York where they gave their show eights times a day and were given 90 per cent of the receipts.  There is footage of thousands of people mobbing the streets around the theater as if they truly were the Beatles.

Doc five for the day, “Une Journée Particulière,” was by the 80 year old director of Cannes Gilles Jacob of footage he shot at the 60th Cannes anniversary five years ago when 35 directors each contributed a three minute homage to cinema.  Many of those directors were on hand for this tribute to Jacob.  They were introduced individually and filled the stage--Loach, Kiarostami, Crononberg, Moretti, the Dardennes, Polanski Assayas, Lelouch.  It was a spectacular array of talent, all part of the Cannes family, but all male.  Their has been a bit of a ruckus this year that there isn't a woman director in Competition, especially after there were four last year.  Only one woman has won the Palme d'Or, Jane Campion.  At least she was part of the movie.  Clips from most of those 35 shorts were included in the movie.  I remember them well from 2007 and was glad to see them again.

The long rainy day ended at "Confession of a Child of the Century" a French film in English starring Charlotte Gainsbourg as the object of the attentions of a slightly younger man in the early 1800s.  She initially resists him, but then gives in.  This was a typical stylish Un Certain Regard entry short of being anything special.

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