Sunday, May 26, 2013

Cannes 2013 Day 11






Filmmaker Jia Zhang-ke

















Actress Elodie Yung poses on the red carpet


















Actress Milla Jovovich in a barely there outfit that must be worn very carefully

















Indian model and actress Sherlyn Chopra on the red carpet














Actress Kylie Minogue




















Actress and Jury member Nicole Kidman





















French Actress Marion Cotillard poses on the red carpet













A French site that lists daily galleries of red carpet photos, by date, offering regular or giant sized photos: 
http://festival-de-cannes.cineday.orange.fr/diaporamas 




Eugene Hernandez interviews Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhang-ke from Film Comment: 
http://www.filmlinc.com/blog/cannes-entry/cannes-daily-buzz-podcast-jia-zhang-ke-a-touch-of-sin
 





Rithy Panh's The Missing Picture












Léa Seydoux’s legs








Un Certain Regard Awards

“Clay figures, extreme beauty, violence, homosexual blow jobs, systematic humiliation of the human kind, Léa Seydoux’s legs, great Brando imitations are just some of the unique images that will follow us for a while.”

The winners. 


“Dear Thierry, dear Gilles Jacob, dear Cannes Film Festival,” writes Thomas Vinterberg, addressing artistic director Thierry Frémaux and the festival’s president, “Thank you for giving us the responsibility of choosing and celebrating films from a very powerful Certain Regard selection 2013…. Clay figures, extreme beauty, violence, homosexual blow jobs, systematic humiliation of the human kind, Léa Seydoux’s legs, great Brando imitations are just some of the unique images that will follow us for a while.”

Jury president Vinterberg and his other jury members—Zhang Ziyi, Ludivine Sagnier, Ilda Santiago, and Enrique Gonzalez Macho—have presented the Prize of Un Certain Regard to Rithy Panh’s The Missing Picture

The Jury Prize goes to Hany Abu-Assad’s Omar

The Directing Prize: Alain Guiraudie for Stranger by the Lake.

A Certain Talent Prize goes to the ensemble cast of Diego Quemada-Diez’s La Juala de Oro (The Golden Cage). 

And the Avenir Prize goes to Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station.

We’ve already made note of what the critics have been saying about The Missing Picture and Stranger by the Lake (click the titles to see the roundups), so now we turn first to Omar. In a dispatch to Grantland, Wesley Morris writes: “What Abu-Assad does here is muss the tidiness and contrivances of his Paradise Now. The new film focuses on the fallout after three friends murder an Israeli solder, and one, Omar (Adam Bakri) is tortured, then conscripted by a Mossad agent (Waleed Zuaiter) to rat on his two friends. What follows a rather basic first act is a series of well-done betrayals in which the three friends and the sister of one are mired in distrust. What you miss in most depictions of the Palestinian situation is the sense that the conflict frays Palestinians. The separation wall, which is a pivotal device here, segregates them from each other. Abu-Assad makes clear the psychic oppression of occupied life while suggesting that, strategically, there’s an effective Israeli plan to turn the men it captures into rats.”

“Films set against the background of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict more often have plots that can be seen in simple black and white terms, with the Israelis as the villains,” writes Barbara Scharres at RogerEbert.com. “The occupiers are indeed the villains in Omar, but the story goes deeper in creating a chain of wrongs and perpetrators that grow out of twisted circumstances of the occupation and the impossible demands placed on what were once clear-cut bonds of family and friendship.”

“Deliberately ambiguous in how it approaches the inexorable nexus of violence, Omar will trouble those looking for condemnation rather than the messiness of humanity,” agrees Jay Weissberg in Variety.

“There will be those who find the film’s punch-in-the-stomach ending a disturbing apology for violence,” writes Deborah Young in the Hollywood Reporter, “and others who will read it as another tragic outcome of events in the Middle East.”

The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw on The Golden Cage: “Even when Ken Loach doesn’t have a film in competition in Cannes, his influence is still keenly felt. Spanish director Diego Quemada-Diez was a camera assistant on Loach’s Carla’s Song, Land and Freedom, and Bread and Roses, and there is something very Loachian in this tough, absorbing, suspenseful drama… about three Guatemalan kids trying illegally to cross the Mexican border into the US. He has avowedly stuck to Loach’s realist directing style: shooting in narrative sequence and using a semi-improvisatory approach on location. It is interesting that while British directors such as Andrea Arnold and Clio Barnard have hyper-evolved the Loach idiom into beautifully realized and photographed dramas of naturalism, Quemada-Diez is arguably closer to the gritty, grainy original.”

“It’s not always clear what’s happening in any given scene, particularly early on,” writes Variety‘s Peter Debruge, “but the disorientation appears to be deliberate, as the director immerses auds in an odyssey far tougher than the participants could ever imagine: attempting to climb aboard a train and ride it nearly 1,200 miles to the US, an undertaking full of twists and setbacks…. Although Quemada-Diez also allows for some essential bonding en route (nothing as archetypal as Sin nombre’s wrong-side-of-the-tracks romance), the helmer takes a largely unsentimental approach. His strategy is to keep audiences guessing, something he does by never ensuring the characters’ safety. In retrospect, the pic’s final tragic steps seem inevitable, and yet the outcome is virtually impossible to predict, even as it explains the surreal falling-snow motif subtly interwoven throughout—a sight completely alien in Guatemala and now imbued with unforgettable significance.”

“Making much use of available light, which pays off particularly in some redolent twilight shots, [Quemada-Diez] has also (successfully) cast non-actors from Guatemala in the film’s three leads,” notes Screen‘s Fionnuala Halligan.

For Neil Young, writing in the Hollywood Reporter, The Golden Cage is one of “the more underwhelming directorial debuts unveiled at this year’s Cannes,” a “lukewarm examination of a hot-potato political issue.”


Fipresci Prizes Awarded


Winners include Blue Is The Warmest Colour, Manuscripts Don’t Burn and Blue Ruin.

International critics association Fipresci has given its Cannes Competition honor for 2013 to Abdellatif Kechiche’s teenage lesbian drama Blue is the Warmest Colour (La Vie D’Adele - Chapitre 1 & 2). The film is now seen as the frontrunner heading into the Palme d’Or ceremony. Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux star. Wild Bunch handles sales and deals already signed include to Sundance Selects for the US.

In Un Certain Regard, the Fipresci prize went to Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof’s Manuscripts Don’t Burn. Elle Driver handles sales.

Jeremy Saulnier’s US thriller Blue Ruin won the Fipresci prize for the parallel sections in Cannes.

The film, which screened in Directors’ Fortnight, is sold by Memento and was already a hot seller with a slew of deals including to the TWC-Radius for the US and Picturehouse for the UK. It has also gone to the Middle East (Falcon), Turkey (BIR), Portugal (Vendetta), India (Picture Works), Scandinavia and Iceland (Non-Stop), Latin America (CDI), Korea (Jinjin), Spain (Festival Film) and Australia (Madman).

Blue Ruin centres on a man who receives unwelcome news and sets off for his childhood home on a revenge mission. Devin Ratray, Eve Plumb and Amy Hargreaves star.

Separately, the Ecumenical jury prize in Cannes went to Asghar Farhadi’s The Past (Le Passe).














Roman Polanski's Venus in Fur
 















Keith Uhlich from Roman Polanski's Venus in Fur, from Time Out New York:  
http://www.timeout.com/newyork/film/cannes-2013-venus-in-fur-only-lovers-left-alive-blue-is-the-warmest-color

Another day, another play. Roman Polanski follows up his Beckett-lite burlesque Carnage with another single-set farce—the initially subdued, soon gloriously unhinged Venus in Fur. The fact that this is an American play adapted into French, as Carnage was a French play adapted into English, is just the beginning of the hall-of-mirrors deviance.

As always with Polanski, the narrative's eccentricities are cloaked in an expert veneer of classicism. There are few directors as adept at shot-reverse shot conversation scenes (love the one here where costar Mathieu Amalric is framed over the blurry top portion of a script) or at sinuous Steadicam tracks that create the subtlest sense of unease. One such beauty opens Venus, a Renais-worthy one-er moving from a rainy Parisian boulevard to the inside of a theater. It's here that Amalric's harried playwright, Thomas, meets with air-headed actor Vanda (Mrs. Polanski, Emmanuelle Seigner) for a role in his production of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's ode to S&M, Venus in Furs. But there's much more to this dog-collar-wearing goth ditz than she's letting on, as there is to Polanski stand-in Thomas, whose tastes, it will be proven, run toward the perverse.

Polanski has great fun exploring and exploding the work's carnal themes: A phallic cactus sits center stage, a remnant from the theater's recently closed musical production of Stagecoach. (Queering John Wayne—very clever.) The two performers stalk around each other, slipping in and out of their varying roles (from the play to the play-within-the-play and back again) with elegant ease. Like Carnage, it's all a bit of a minor lark until the movie goes full-on Polanski in a deliciously grotesque finale that shows there is still plenty of life left in the gender-bending kinkiness the director has obsessively, uncomfortably scrutinized in works like Cul-de-sac (1966) and The Tenant (1976). At that point, I could do nothing but submit.




Ever had the feeling, when the credits roll and the lights go up, that you’ve been watching a completely different film to everyone else? Welcome to our morning, which was spent at a screening of the last Cannes 2013 competition film, Roman Polanski’s adaptation of the David Ives broadway play “Venus in Fur.” Sure, there were laughs to be had, for which the delightful surprise of leading lady (and Polanski’s wife) Emmanuelle Seigner’s performance was largely to thank, and the witty inventiveness of the first act or so had us quite on board. But the overwrought twists and on-the-nose inversions of the second half, all the bigger for taking place in one contained space, along with the sneaking suspicion that the film thought it was being terribly transgressive and daring when it actually felt facile and not a little skeezy, cooled us considerably. So much so that when the three French guys next to us leapt to their feet applauding and shouting bravo, we did fleetingly wonder if we hadn’t blacked out and regained consciousness at the end of a subsequent screening, of something much, much better. But no, the love in the room was for “Venus in Fur” an apparently faithful adaptation of a play that, based on this evidence, we have to hazard we wouldn’t much like either.

That’s always a pitfall of talking about a film based on a play so let’s say up front that we’re not familiar with it in its theatrical form, and so many of the criticisms we have of the film may very well be inherent to the play. But there’s still a reason Polanski chose this work to adapt, this story to tell, so we’ll leave the disclaimer at that and refer to him as the author of the film, and its story, for simplicity’s sake.

Tom (Mathieu Amalric) is a theater director in the harried process of trying to cast the leading lady for his new play, an adaptation of an 18th century erotic tale of sexual domination/submission. Turning up late for the auditions is Vanda (Seigner) who coincidentally shares a name with the lead character, but as a gum-chewing, vulgar, trashy parvenu without an ounce of finesse, she’s the polar opposite of what Tom is looking for. Nonetheless he is persuaded to audition her, and is duly floored by her skillful transformation into the very embodiment of the Vanda of the play. Transported by her performance, they read on and on through the play, their fictional counterparts conflating with their ‘real’ selves, until every duality established at the outset (director/actor, dominant/submissive, vulgar/elegant, creator/created etc) has been reversed, often more than once, and Tom experiences a kind of ecstatic revelation as regards his attitude to sex, gender and desire.

Polanski has prior experience directing films based on modern plays, after “Death and the Maiden” and 2011’s “Carnage.” Despite the recent rehabilitation of the former in certain circles, we have to say we haven’t been a fan of these previous efforts and the issues we found with them also relate to ‘Venus.’ With the whole film taking place between just two players, inside a theater (aside from a really gorgeous opening shot that, set to Alexandre Desplat’s immense music promised a grandeur never otherwise delivered), as time wears on that stagebound interiority really starts to drain the oxygen from the air. Furthermore, dramatic moments meant to communicate themes across a live room full of people, some of them far away in the cheap seats, feel grotesquely enormous in a tight two-shot. And with the themes of this play not exactly subtle or delicate, particularly at the climax, it all becomes a bit grating -- inescapable in its heavy-handedness. We’re just never wholly sure what the point of filming a play is unless you reinterpret the material to be more cinematic, and despite some nimble camerawork at times, ‘Venus’ feels content to retell (through a lot of very talky talk), rather than reinvent.

But though we have a problem with the format, perhaps we’d have been able to move beyond it had the story worked better. Again initially, there’s a breeziness to the proceedings that perked us up -- Seigner is really superbly adept in a role that’s a gift for an actress wanting to showcase her lightning-quick versatility, and her various characterizations are spot-on to the point that, as the author intends, it becomes difficult to work out when the actress is acting, and when, if ever, she’s not. But the story is really of the director character, Tom and his journey, through the play-within-the-film, to a kind of personal sexual epiphany, and the inversion of many of his assumptions about sexual power politics. Which is all very well, but the BDSM themes don’t so much suggest these inversions as tie you up and whip you with them. And while we get the feeling we’re supposed to see Tom’s journey of self-discovery as terribly transgressive and daring actually it feels kind of schoolboyish and quaint. He wears heels! He gets tied up! He discovers he’s being manipulated and likes it, the kinky little monkey!

It’s also, of course, all about Tom. While Vanda is the dervish, the shapeshifter, the provocateuse, and by far the more interesting character (or set of characters), her purpose in the film is to act on Tom to change his life in the best Manic Pixie Dream Girl tradition, albeit with added kink. Not to get all “phallocentrism” and “male gaze” on you, but as terrifically fun as Vanda is, it’s feels like kind of a waste that this not her story. In fact she’s not really a person at all but a muse, a goddess whose sole intricate purpose is to act as an agent of change for a middle-aged man’s perception of eroticism. The tacit assumption that this purpose is entirely worth it, and entirely worth our attention, and everyone’s going to chuckle along with the joke just seemed, how can we say it, skeezy. To say nothing of discomfort we felt at the guffaws that sounded out when the Polanski proxy Amalric goes off on a rant about the culture of oversensitivity to issues like “child abuse” (cue a thousand journalist pencils scribbling in the dark on a thousand journalist pads). Perhaps the line between pointedly meta and flat-out tasteless is finer than we’d imagined but that moment felt well, kind of gross in its overt self-justification.

Seigner is terrifically good and deserves all the great notices coming her way. And there’s definitely wit and verbal dexterity on display, and a fun kind of dismantling/rebuilding of our preconceptions throughout. But beneath a brittle veneer of verbal dash and cleverness, this stagebound adaptation has little insight to give us into anything except the sexual hubris of an aging man, and frankly, we’re not sure we give a damn. [C]



While Barbara Scharres offers her own Palme de Whiskers Award for the Best Felines Cannes performance, from the Ebertblog: 
 http://www.rogerebert.com/cannes/palme-de-whiskers-cannes-report-may-25

The festival will soon be over, and the news of this year's Palme d'Or will be celebrated around the world. In the meantime, it's time for fun, with the awarding of the prestigious Palme de Whiskers, my own personal prize for the Cannes festival's Best Feline Performance. Let's go now to the imaginary Palais des Kittycats, the only certified dog-free zone along the Croisette.

The nominees are:

*The white cat with orange blotches and a bobbed tail, in a walk-on performance in Hirzaku Kore-da's "Like Father, Like Son." He doesn't have a name in the film, so I'll call him Scooter.

*The adorable fluffy white kitten that I'll call Oma, who, as the title character's pet, gets a whirling action scene with a piece of string in the Palestinian film "Omar" by Hany Abu-Assad.

*The hunky ginger tabby Ulysses, who steals the show in "Inside Llewyn Davis" by the Coen brothers.

The feline elite of the world has been assembled here for the ceremony. Sleek coats are gleaming, and ostentatious rhinestone collars sparkle on some of the preening lady cats, who head for the choicest of the velvet cushions. Tails are quivering with suspense.

Tabitha, last year's young winner from "Moonrise Kingdom," will be the presenter. She may have been a kitten in a wicker fishing creel last year, but she's all grown up now, and quite the flirty ingenue. The 2011 winner Kimbo is here too, from Korea. By the look of his tattered ears, this tomcat has been in a fight or two since he last took the stage at the Palais des Kittycats.

And the winner is... Ulysses. What a performance! From the moment he bravely flaunted his fluffy butt while trotting down the hallway of a Greenwich Village apartment, this orange-striped thespian proved to be a scene-stealer, putting Oscar Isaac, the nominal star of "Inside Llewyn Davis," in the shadows. The subway scene was incomparable, the window-escape a masterpiece of subtlety, and the purring scene a stroke of genius.

Ulysses proudly pads up to the stage to receive the whiskery golden palm sheaf and a congratulatory lick on the ear from Tabitha. He thanks the innovative Coen brothers for creating the role and thereby recognizing the vast, under-recognized pool of talent in the feline species. Finally, he thanks his five orange-striped body doubles who gave their all anonymously to enhance his performance.

The satisfied purrs of the audience are heard all over Cannes, before they proceed to the banquet hall for a buffet of freshly caught mouse.




Jason Solomons Cannes picks from The Guardian:  

They're still toying with an alternative English title for François Ozon's movie Jeune et Jolie – currently Young and Beautiful, it may change to Just Seventeen, which I think is very good.

Trash Cannes d'Or: my gongs go to…
Best film La Grande Bellezza
Best actress Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue Is the Warmest Colour
Best actor Toni Servillo, La Grande Bellezza
Best screenplay Asghar Farhadi, The Past
Best director Abdellatif Kechiche, Blue Is the Warmest Colour
Best music Bach's Goldberg variations in Hirokazu Koreeda's Like Father, Like Son
Best ending Omar, by Hany Abu-Assad
Best soundtrack The Bling Ring
Best technical achievement The wallpaper in Only God Forgives
Loveliest on-screen moment The compressor-stealing scene, Nebraska
Loveliest off-screen moment Standing ovation for Clio Barnard and her overwhelmed young actors, Shaun Thomas and Conner Chapman, after The Selfish Giant
Best promotional gift Inside Llewyn Davis vinyl album
Best canapés Spicy crab and guacamole cocktail at Weinstein party
Best lunch Spaghetti vongole on Isle of Man yacht
Best dressed Emma Watson, Baz Luhrmann, Ludivine Sagnier
Best drinks Lashings of 18-year-old Chivas whisky at the Premier PR party on Chivas beach




Mike D'Angelo makes his usual predictions from The Onion A.V. Club:  

PALME D’OR

Will win: Lots of possible contenders this year, and most people seem to be predicting that it’ll go to either Blue Is The Warmest Color (which has the highest ratings in the two big trade polls since I began attending in 2002) or Inside Llewyn Davis. But I feel Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty may have an irresistible pull for jury president Steven Spielberg, who grew up during the age when its unmistakable influences—Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and Roma—represented the pinnacle of cinema as art. It’s also arguably this year’s most visually sumptuous film, and almost certainly its most ambitious.

Should win: The Past was the only truly great film I saw here this year. Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s followup to his masterful A Separation isn’t quite as devastating, due to familiarity plus narrative gears that can occasionally be heard grinding, but he has an understanding of both human nature and dramatic structure that’s virtually unmatched in the modern era. And he pulls off the festival’s most unexpected and deeply moving finale, which is all the more powerful for arriving out of nowhere.

GRAND PRIX (basically second place)

Will win: If memory serves, while Cannes juries are strongly encouraged to share the wealth among as many different films as possible, they don’t need a dispensation to give two awards to a single picture so long as one of them goes to an actor. (When the ’03 jury gave Elephant both the Palme d’Or and Best Director, by contrast, permission had to be granted.) With that in mind, I’ll go ahead and predict that Blue Is The Warmest Color will take the silver, even though I have another prize in mind for it as well. Given its rapturous reception from all corners, for it not to win either one of the two biggies seems unthinkable.

Should win: For nearly an hour, Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive looked as if it was shaping up to be not merely the best film of Cannes 2013, but one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen. Granted, I’m not sure how Jarmusch could have sustained what he was doing much longer, as the initial movement is essentially Woody Allen’s list of reasons why life is worth living (as enumerated by his alter ego in Manhattan) disguised as a vampire movie. Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton, both ravishingly bedraggled, play a pair of amorous bloodsuckers (living in Detroit and Tangier, respectively, when the film begins) whose undead state has seemingly only whetted their appetite for beauty in all its forms; the movie functions for an amazingly long time as a catalogue of their passions, which include everything from vintage guitars to scientific nomenclature to seeing the house where Jack White grew up. I realize that may sound in bald description like the worst kind of hipster bullshit (which was more or less my reaction to much of The Limits of Control), but Jarmusch, Hiddleston, and Swinton pour so much uninhibited ardor into each and every moment that the movie constantly feels as if it’s about to burst from an excess of feeling. There’s zero irony here. What’s more, the vampire conceit, while superficially silly (the film is more or less a comedy, albeit an unusually heartfelt one), has the salutary effect of throwing human mortality into stark relief, creating a carpe diem sensation without actually saying anything so banal. Eventually, Jarmusch feels obligated to toss in some vague plot elements—Mia Wasikowska shows up as Swinton’s troublemaking sister—and while the rest of Only Lovers Left Alive is plenty of fun, it also, paradoxically, starts to seem frivolous, just a series of mildly amusing riffs. That’s exactly how many critics, even those who quite liked the film, seem to perceive it. But it clearly aspires to something more, at least for a while, and comes tantalizingly close to achieving it. 

JURY PRIZE (basically honorable mention)

Will win: I’m guessing Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Like Father, Like Son, which many seem to find deeply moving, will get something, and this seems the most likely slot by process of elimination. However, this is always the most unpredictable category, often awarded to films that were ignored or even despised by most critics e.g. The Angels’ Share last year and Polisse the year before that. So you never really know. They may well hand it to A Castle In Italy specifically to spite me.

Should win: Nebraska. Opinion seems sharply divided on Alexander Payne’s latest, with many of the folks who loved The Descendants finding this follow-up extremely slight by comparison. For my money, it’s his best “serious” film to date, perhaps precisely because it’s not anchored/shanghaied by a showy star performance from the likes of Nicholson, Giamatti, or Clooney. Which is not to say that Will Forte and Bruce Dern don’t do fine work, just that they better blend into their movie’s unemphatic milieu, allowing the pathos to sneak up on you gradually rather than clobbering you between big yuks.

BEST ACTOR

Will win: Michael Douglas, Beyond The Candelabra. It’s just too dramatic a transformation (and too strong a performance—not usually the case when celebs play other celebs) to be overlooked, and the knowledge that it’s ineligible for an Oscar will surely influence the American jurors. A joint award to Douglas and Damon is also possible, but I’d give that about a 4 percent chance of actually happening.

Should win: Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis. For a musician with limited acting experience (he’s probably best known for playing Carey Mulligan’s husband in Drive), the lead role in a Coen Brothers movie must have been unbelievably daunting.But you’d never guess it from Isaac’s relaxed anti-charisma as this film’s titular fuckup. He’s in practically every shot, but his commitment to the character’s genial self-justification never wavers; it’s one of those star-is-born performances that seem to rejuvenate the medium’s tired blood. And he sings like a hungry hobo.

BEST ACTRESS

Will win: Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue Is The Warmest Color. Though there’s a fair amount of competition this year, including Young & Beautiful’s Marine Vacth, The Past’s Bérénice Bejo, The Immigrant’s Marion Cotillard, and—to my considerable surprise—Venus In Fur’s Emmanuelle Seigner. Like Carnage, Roman Polanski’s new film, which screened this morning, it was adapted from a single-set play, in this case by David Ives; Seigner plays an uncouth actress who shows up late for an audition, yet persuades the director (Mathieu Amalric) to read her for the part anyway. The play-within-the-play (-within-the-film) is adapted from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s novella of the nearly same title, involving a great deal of frank debate about the nature of dominance and submission; those with more interest in that subject than myself (here we go again!) will get a bigger kick out of the way that Ives playfully merges the actor-director relationship with their text, culminating in a lurid, proudly feminist upheaval. (It’s certainly a much better play than Carnage.) But what’s most impressive is the speed and dexterity with which Seigner, who stank up Polanski’s Frantic a quarter-century ago, moves back and forth between the multiple personae this role provides/demands. If you stay married to a world-class director long enough, and keep being cast in his films, I guess you eventually learn how to act. 

Should win: Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue Is The Warmest Color. Another star is born. There’s a danger that too much will be made of her willingness to go all-out in the film’s prolonged, graphic sex scenes, and not enough credit given to her unforced naturalism in an extremely demanding role that runs the gamut from passive observation to crazed histrionics. I was strongly reminded of the very young Juliette Binoche, back in the ‘80s—Exarchopoulos has a similar blend of strength and fragility, and the same emotional fearlessness. (And to back up to “will win,” hijacked by my Polanski review, there’s again a chance for a joint award that includes her co-star, Léa Seydoux. I’d consider that likely if not for the fact that Best Actress was awarded jointly just last year to the stars of Beyond The Hills, which also features an implied lesbian relationship. Do juries pay much attention to previous juries? Do they even remember what won last year? Do they look it up? I honestly don’t know.)

BEST DIRECTOR

Will win: Asghar Farhadi, The Past. Even though this film is more script-driven than formally daring, I don’t think it’s likely to be “relegated” to Best Screenplay, which is somehow seen as a lesser award. And it’s entirely possible that The Past will win the Palme d’Or and Sorrentino will get Director. That makes more sense, really. But my gut feeling (which, again, is usually wrong) is that it’ll be the other way around.

Should win: Jia Zhang-Ke, A Touch Of Sin. I often find Jia’s direction more impressive than his films as a whole, since their didacticism lies elsewhere (script, concept). And he demonstrates a wider range here than he has since his early comedy Xiao Wu, punctuating his usual static tableaux with staccato bursts of extreme violence. Let me also note, by way of finding somewhere to include it, that I was more impressed than most by Arnaud des Pallières’ work in the historical drama Michael Kohlhaas, starring Mads Mikkelsen as a 16th-century trader whose rigid principles lead to a guerrilla war when a Baron mistreats him and the law won’t support his case. It’s a staid, overly sedate film that every so often erupts with controlled intensity (most notably in a lengthy scene featuring the great Denis Lavant as an argumentative cleric), and one could argue that the highs wouldn’t be nearly as effective were they not offset by corresponding lows. I think the Pixies wrote that brief. 

BEST SCREENPLAY

Will win: Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis. This seems like a slam-dunk, unless the jury gives it something bigger instead. I still think the screenplay gets lazily random at a certain point, but the only person I’ve found who agrees with me is Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman. Certainly there’s no film in Competition this year that’s remotely as quotable—stay tuned for memes featuring the Impact-fonted question, "WHERE IS HIS SCROTUM?!?"

Should win: In a vacuum, The Past, but I’m playing the game in which no film gets more than one major (non-acting) prize. That doesn’t leave me with much, actually, since most of my other choices have also already been accounted for above. Guess I’ll pretend hand it to François Ozon for Young & Beautiful, which is extremely well written thanks to everything he deliberately leaves out.

BEST THING IN THE HISTORY OF THINGS

Will win: Nobody. This is not a category. I made it up.

Should win: Adam Driver, as the Jewish cowboy musician “singing” backup on Inside Llewyn Davis’ novelty number “Please, Mr. Kennedy.” Trust me, you’ll see. UH-oh! Outer SPACE!


Justin Chang makes a relevant point about recent rule changes from Variety:  

Passionately adored despite its hefty three-hour running time (the longest of any competition entry this year), and heatedly discussed on the basis of its intensely graphic sex scenes, the film would seem to pose its own greatest threat to itself, awards-wise: The very real possibility of star Adele Exarchopoulos winning the actress prize would throw the movie out of Palme contention, based on recently amended rules limiting the number of major awards any single picture can win.

Incidentally, a victory for “Blue” would make it the first out-and-out gay love story to win Cannes’ highest honor, which would would seem especially relevant in light of the fact that France legalized gay marriage just last week. (Another potential candidate that would achieve the same precedent: Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace drama “Behind the Candelabra.”) If they’re looking to make a bold political/artistic statement, “Blue” is the film to pick, although it’s a fair question whether a Steven Spielberg-led jury will go for something this raw, edgy and overtly sexual.

PREDICTIONS
Palme d’Or: “Blue Is the Warmest Color”
Grand Prix: “The Great Beauty”
Jury Prize: “Like Father, Like Son”
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen, “Inside Llewyn Davis” 
Screenplay: Asghar Farhadi, “The Past”
Actor: Michael Douglas, “Behind the Candelabra”
Actress: Marion Cotillard, “The Immigrant”

The Cannes Criterion Forum is up and running: 

While Les Etoiles de la critiques is up and running as well, where Blue Is the Warmest Color has surpassed The Past (Le Passé) as the highest rated film, followed by the Coens, followed by A Touch of Sin. In Un Certain Regard, it's a tie between Stranger By the Lake and Grand Central.  Without a numerical rating, my quick criteria is counting how many films get 3 or more stars:  

With the grid complete, at Ioncinema's Critics' Panel 2013, Blue Is the Warmest Color has risen above all others with a 4.3 rating, followed by a tie between The Past and the Coens averaging 3.7, Jarmusch's late entry Only Love left Alive is rated 3.5, followed by A Touch of Sin at 3.3, and now four films tied at 3.1: http://www.ioncinema.com/news/film-festivals/2013-cannes-critics-panel-day-11-jarmuschs-only-lovers-left-alive

Screendaily also has their Jury Grid, actual page 16 (Digital page 18) of the Screen Edition for Day 9 dated May 23, 2013, not updatedin two days now, but check back later in the day. Start on the link provided, click on the bottom right of the image, and there are two sets of multiple photos displayed on the bottom, where what you want is the first group, almost all the way to the right, where page 18 does the trick, click on that page until you display the largest viewable image. However, a new leader alters the standings, where Blue Is the Warmest Color now has the highest rating at 3.6.  Currently only one other film rates above a 3 rating, as the Coen brothers averages 3.3, The Past and Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty are at 2.8, while Like Father, Like Son and Behind the Candelabria are at 2.5:  

Screendaily announces a new leader on the Jury Grid: 

While Neil Young from Jigsaw Lounge maintains the odds for winners:  
PREDICTIONS (Sat 25 May, 5.40pm)
Palme : Mr Farhadi – The Past
Grand Prix : Mr Sorrentino – The Great Beauty
Jury : Mr Haroun – Grigris
Director : Mr Gray – The Immigrant
Screenplay : Mr Kore-eda – Like Father, Like Son
Actress : Ms Exarchopoulos – Blue is the Warmest Colour
Actor : Mr Isaac – Inside Llewyn Davis
to win the 2013 Palme d’Or
- – - – -
5/2  Farhadi, Asghar – The Past
11/4  Kechiche, Abdellatif -- Blue is the Warmest Colour
- -
6/1 Gray, James – The Immigrant
9/1  Kore-eda, Hirokazu – Like Father, Like Son
10/1  Coen & Coen – Inside Llewyn Davis
12/1  Sorrentino, Paolo Inside Llewyn Davis The Great Beauty
12/1  Haroun, Mahamat-Saleh -- Grigris
- – - – - -
16/1  Jia, Zhangke – A Touch of Sin
20/1  Soderbergh, Steven – Behind the Candelabra
25/1  Payne, Alexander – Nebraska
28/1  Desplechin, Arnaud – Jimmy P.: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian
- – - – -
50/1  Ozon, Francois – Young and Beautiful
50/1  Van Warmerdam, Alex – Borgman
50/1  Escalante, Amat – Heli
50/1  Winding Refn, Nicolas – Only God Forgives
66/1  Jarmusch, Jim – Only Lovers Left Alive
100/1  des Pallières, Arnaud -- Michael Kohlhaas
100/1  Polanski, Roman — Venus In Fur
100/1  Bruni-Tedeschi, Valeria – A Castle in Italy
175/1  Miike, Takashi – Shield of Straw

Best Actor
7-2 Inside Llewyn Davis: Oscar Isaac
9-2 The Great Beauty: Toni Servillo
9-2 Behind the Candelabra: Michael Douglas
….. (solo, or with Matt Damon)
5-1 Grigris: Souleymane Deme
8-1 The Immigrant: Joaquin Phoenix
- – - -
11-1 Like Father, Like Son: Masaharu Fukuyama
11-1 Nebraska: Bruce Dern
….. (solo, or with Will Forte)
12-1 The Past: Ali Mosaffa and/or Tahar Rahim
14-1 Borgman: Jan Bijvoet
- – - – -
25-1 Mathieu Amalric and/or Benicio Del Toro
35-1 A Touch of Sin: male ensemble
50-1 Only Lovers Left Alive: Tom Hiddleston
50-1 Michael Kohlhaas: Mads Mikkelsen
50-1 Only God Forgives: Ryan Gosling and/or Vithaya Pansringarm
50-1 Heli: Armando Espitia
50-1 Shield of Straw: Takao Osawa and/or Tatsuya Fujiwara
—–
* any combination of Amalric and/or Del Toro in Jimmy P. and/or Amalric in Venus In Fur

Best Actress
—-
6-4 Blue is the Warmest Colour: Adèle Exarchopoulos
2-1 The Past: Bérénice Bejo
9-2 The Immigrant: Marion Cotillard
- – -
10-1 Borgman: Hadewych Minis
- – -
25-1 Only Lovers Left Alive: Tilda Swinton
28-1 Only God Forgives: Kristin Scott Thomas
33-1 Young and Beautiful: Marina Vacth
33-1 Venus In Fur: Emmanuelle Seigner
66-1 Heli: Andrea Vergara
66-1 A Castle in Italy:  Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi
80-1 Grigris: Anaïs Monory
80-1 Nebraska: June Squibb
100-1 A Touch of Sin: female ensemble

We've got Robbie on the ground at Cannes this year, a student from Long Island taking film classes at Columbia College, where he's sent some photos that I may post on the final day. 

Here are Robbie's predictions: 
Personal choices for the awards (having seen all competition films)

Palme d'Or: Blue is the Warmest Color, Abdellatif Kechiche
Grand Prix: The Great Beauty, Paolo Sorrentino
Jury Prize: Young and Beautiful, Francois Ozon
Director: Borgman, Alex van Warmerdam and Behind the Candelabra, Steven Soderbergh
Screenplay: Venus in Furs, Roman Polanski
Actor: Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, Behind the Candelabra 
Actress: Adèle Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux, Blue is the Warmest Color

Robbie was informed that a film cannot win the Palme in conjunction with any other prize, including an acting prize, as it was changed after Van Sant won the Palme and Director in 2003, where according to his inspection of the rules:

The prize list must not contain more than one joint award. The Palme d'Or can never be awarded jointly. No film can receive more than one award. However, the award for the Best Screenplay and the Jury Prize can be combined with a Best Performance award, on special dispensation of the Festival's President.

So given that, here are his updated predictions:
Palme d'Or: Blue is the Warmest Color
Grand Prix: The Past
Jury Prize: The Great Beauty
Director: The Immigrant
Screenplay: Venus in Furs
Actor: Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, Behind the Candelabra 
Actress:  Marina Vacth, Young and Beautiful


My own predictions of what should win:
Palme : Abdellatif Kechiche — Blue is the Warmest Colour 
Grand Prix :   Jia Zhangke — A Touch of Sin   
Jury :  Coens — Inside Llewyn Davis 
Director : Paolo Sorrentino — The Great Beauty 
Screenplay :  Asghar Farhadi — The Past 
Actress : Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Colour), and if a film may only win a single major award, Emmanuelle Seigner (Venus in Fur)
Actor : Michael Douglas and Matt Damon (Behind the Candelabra)

My own predictions of what will win, taking into account rules and Spielberg as the Jury President::
Palme : Asghar Farhadi — The Past 
Grand Prix : Abdellatif Kechiche — Blue is the Warmest Colour 
Jury :  Jia Zhangke — A Touch of Sin
Director : Paolo Sorrentino — The Great Beauty 
Screenplay : Coens — Inside Llewyn Davis 
Actress :  Marion Cotillard (The Immigrant)
Actor : Michael Douglas and Matt Damon (Behind the Candelabra)

The round-up of various links covering Cannes:

Screendaily still has paywalls, but if you click on the reviews, they are open to the public:
The Hollywood Reporter at Cannes: 
David Hudson does all the links for each review at Fandor: 
The Film Center's Barbara Scharres and Michał Oleszczyk from the Roger Ebert blog: 
Cannes Diary from Film Comment: 
Kevin Jagernauth and Jessica Kiang the indieWIRE Playlist: 
Drew McSweeny and Guy Lodge & others from HitFix: 
a round-up of indieWIRE reviews: 

Andrew O'Hehir from Salon:

Richard Porton and others from The Daily Beast:

Daniel Kasman, Adam Cook, and likely others at Mubi: 
The House Next Door at Cannes: 
Mike D'Angelo at The Onion AV Club: 
Keith Uhlich offering rival reviews from Time Out New York (Mike D'Angelo's former employer): 
Cannes Fest at Time Out London: 
The Guardian collection of reviews:

The Guardian Cannes commentary:  

David Jenkins from Little White Lies: 
Eric Lavallee and Nicholas Bell from Ion Cinema: 
Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa: 
Richard Corliss from Time Magazine: 
Various writers at Twitch: 

Sukhdev Sandhu and Robbie Collins from The Daily Telegraph: 

Julie Miller at Vanity Fair: 
And, of course, George is back at Cannes this year, where he finds off the beaten track film fare: 

The word spreads fast here at Cannes on whether a movie is something exceptional and ought to be seen or just ho-hum. Yesterday's two Competition unveilings were in the ho-hum category, so there was no problem getting into their repeat screenings today with neither "The Immigrant" nor "Michael Kohlhaas" filling up. That could not be said of "Blue Is the Warmest Color" which debuted two days ago. Both of its repeat screenings yesterday were packed with the news that this lesbian love story with sizzling sex is the new favorite for the Palme d'Or. I talked to someone who was turned away from both of them.

 
He and I will have a final chance to see it on Day Twelve when all twenty Competition films receive one last screening. They are spread out in four theaters ranging in size from 300 seats to 1068. Where they are shown is similar to a seeding process. There is only time for three screenings in the large Debussy, with a seating capacity of the three other theaters being used combined, as that is where the Awards Ceremony will be projected for those of us without Invitations and formal attire to watch it in person in the Palais. The three films slated to be shown in the Debussy, earning the top three seedings are "Blue," the Coen brothers' movie and a bit of a surprise, the Japanese film "Like Father, Like Son." The lowest seeds, seven screenings in the smallest Bunuel Theater, films with the least interest in being seen are Borgman, Heli, Candlelabra, A Chateau in Italy, Nebraska, Only God Forgives and Shield of Straw.
 
I have four films to see tomorrow, but will only be able to see three of them as two are playing at the same time. One of the time slots has only movies I have seen. If Sorrentino's film were playing in that time slot, I'd gladly give it another look, but unfortunately it is playing later up against the Closing Night film "Zulu," starring Forest Whitaker, who was on stage this evening accepting an award for the Un Certain Regard film "Fruitville Station," as one of its producers. Instead I will strongly be tempted to see Roman Polanski's "Venus in Fur" again, even after just seeing it today.
 
Polanski had me on the edge of my seat almost from the start wondering what was going to happen next in this depiction of the most incredible theater audition ever. Matthieu Amalric is seen in an empty theater on the phone talking to his girl friend ready to go home after a most frustrating day of auditions for a play he has written and will be directing, when one last woman unexpectedly shows up, Emmanuelle Seigner. She is somewhat ditzy and not so professional. Amalric can immediately see she is not right for the part and tries to send her away. She pleads her case too no avail until she breaks into tears and reveals she spent thirty euros on a period dress from the 1800s for the audition. Amalric relents.

The woman proceeds to blow him away, not only with her acting but with her suggestions on how he could improve the play. She shocks him time after time, initially being in possession of the entire script and then having her part in the two-person play down solid. She even knows how to operate the lights in the theater to get the proper effext and brought along a dinner jacket from then1870’s that perfectly fits Amalric for him to wear as he reads the other part of the play. He asks her more than once, "Who are you?," just as anyone watching will be. She is fully channeling her role as a dominatrix. Seigner becomes a strong contender for best actress and the movie for best screen play. It was dazzling from start to finish.
 
Marion Cotillard might have been considered for the a award for her performance as a woman forced into prostitution in James Gray's "The Immigrant," if it weren't for the magnitude of Seigneur's performance. Joaquin Phoenix is fine too as a scoundrel who connives to force her into prostitution when she arrives at Ellis Island in 1920 from Poland. Cotillard is swallowed up into a world of corruption beyond her imagining but remains strong and steadfast trying to earn the money to gain the release of her sister who is being detained for having a potentially contagious disease.
 
Mads Mikkelsen, last year's best actor winner, is charismatic and also has an air of nobility as a horse merchant in16th France in "Michael Kohlhaas." He stands up for an injustice. Despite the beautiful mountain scenery, my minimal sleep caught up with me during this movie and I kept nodding off.
 
I remained fully tuned in to "Nothing Bad Can Happen," a German movie based on true events of a German family who take in a Jesus Freak, a young man trying to live by the ideals of Jesus, turning his cheek to violence and remaining celibate and helping others without concern for money. The family is at first very nice, but then turns more ugly than one can imagine.
 
My final film was preceded by a prolonged standing ovation for French icon Alain Delon, on stage to introduce "Plein Soleil," a film from 1959 that he played a wealthy playboy. After initially seducing women left and right, first in Rome, then a seaside resort, it turns into a crime caper. It is clear that the crime will be solved. How it is solved is one of the reasons that this film by Rene Clement is considered a classic.
 
A couple hours earlier that same Debussy staged was graced by the Un Certain Regard jury, headed by Thomas Vinterberg, giving out its awards. Five of its seventeen films won awards, but not the films by Sofia Coppola or Claire Denis. Top prize went to "The Missing Picture," the innovative documentary by Rithy Panh on his survival of the Khmer Rouge revolution in Cambodia. Runner-up was the superb Palestinian film "Omar." Its best director prize went to Stranger by the Lake, cast award to La Jaula de Oro and a special award to Frutiville Station.
 
That jury got it right. If Spielberg's does the same it's seven awards will be split among "The Past," "The Great Beauty," "Like Father, Like Son," "A Touch of Sin," " Venus in Fur" and probably "Blue is the Warmest Color," though I haven't seen it yet. Michael Douglas could well get a best actor award as well. The lead in "The Past" is more deserving but he may be disqualified if the movie receives a higher award. I'm hoping juror Christian Mungo, director of gritty, dark realism, has a passionate will, and might champion the Mexican film "Heli." It is a jury of many strong voices, so no one is likely to dominate it.

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