Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cannes 2013 Day 6

Audrey Tautou (Amélie), hostess of ceremonies at Cannes

Nicole Kidman embraces her husband (with a hand on her butt), country singer Keith Urban, on the red carpet

Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) is seen on the red carpet

another look at the Jury 

red carpet photos from The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/gallery/2013/may/20/cannes-2013-james-franco-keanu-reeves 

more from The Guardian: 

Blood Ties cast on the red carpet, from The Hollywood Reporter:  

Vanity Fair is back 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 

Another large gallery of photos: 

More Gatsby photos from The Business Insider in Australia: 

People magazine hits the Cannes red carpet: 

Léa Seydoux and Tahar Rahim from Grand Central at Cannes 

Actress Ziyi Zhang arrives for the opening ceremony

Vanessa Thorpe from The Observer: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2013/may/18/cannes-living-on-past-glories

Cannes taps into the power of nostalgia to fight TV and rival festivals.

For decades its conspicuous excess dazzled the world, but film-makers are increasingly turning to television to show off their wares.

When Carey Mulligan ditches the Tiffany spangles and Prada sequins of The Great Gatsby, in favour of a baggy jumper and the dingy folk music venues she favours in her role in the new Coen brothers film, Inside Llewyn Davis, it could be seen as a comment on this year's Cannes film festival.

Playing the unfussy singer Jean Berkey straight after her bejewelled portrayal of Daisy Buchanan, the actress appeared to have deliberately cast off the baubles and artifice that hang around the annual 12-day cinematic bonanza on the Côte D'Azur. And this year, the festival's 66th outing on Boulevard de la Croisette, the glittery trappings have strained more than ever to deliver the glamour the waiting world expects.

Conspicuous excess is de rigueur at Cannes and visiting stars fail to dazzle at their peril. Not only are they draped with itemised haute couture and exorbitant trinkets, their fans are also later informed what de luxe food they were served at the gala dinners that follow a big premiere. (In the case of Mulligan and her Gatsby co-star Leonardo DiCaprio, it was pea and caviar with a white onion foam, followed by sea bream and an apple, cinnamon and green aniseed bouillon.)

So when news broke this weekend that thieves had made off with a large haul of Chopard gems from a Cannes hotel room, it was hard to avoid the conclusion that someone had decided enough was enough. It is, after all, Chopard that makes the crystal-encrusted Palme D'Or prize which is given to the winning film.

The burglary seemed to be an impromptu reprise of the theme of Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring, a subversive response to the consumerism on show. Starring Emma Watson, Coppola's film tells of a gang of no-hope wannabes who break into Paris Hilton's Hollywood home to grab her designer shoes and bags. The festival's obsession with fame will also be nicely undermined by a short French comedy, Merci Beaucoup Bradley Cooper, about an aspiring actress who uses a Cooper lookalike as an escort to fake her way into the VIP realm at Cannes.

Rather more serious challenges to Cannes are being mounted by rival international film festivals, such as Venice, Berlin and particularly Toronto. The French festival's conventional weapons are its unabashed displays of high living coupled with potent doses of nostalgia. In an age of global austerity, in which France dipped back gently into recession last week, this nostalgia is being more readily deployed.

On the opening day of the festival, the mayor of Cannes struggled in the drizzle to unveil a vast poster on the side of a building in the old harbour. The white cover sheet, clingy with rainwater, refused to pull away until an official jumped up and down on a rope like a bell ringer. Then the face of Uma Thurman, a Cannes jury member two years ago, was finally revealed in beguiling monochrome.

Every May, the streets of this slightly shabby conference town are festooned with images of screen idols of the past: Marilyn, Sophia, Bridget, Faye and now Uma. Harking back to bygone eras is an essential part of the culture.

Critics frequently say that Cannes is not what it was; the films are too violent, the pavements too crowded, the partying that once started at 10am on the beach has disappeared. Some of this is certainly true. Since big sponsors such as Fuji and Kodak, the film stock companies, left town, promotional entertaining on a grand scale has gone and the yachts owned by post-production houses have largely weighed anchor, too. These days, it is hard for a tourist to get really excited by the sight of a red carpet since they lie in the doorways of most of the town's gift shops, muddy and pocked with cigarette burns. Cannes has devalued its own currency and now only the past looks chic.

The greatest threat of all comes from television. TV has gained both power and critical kudos and is jeopardising cinema's status as the pre-eminent way to tell popular stories. Lars Blomgren, the producer behind the triumphant Scandinavian crime series The Bridge, told an incredulous festival throng on Friday that he prefers television. "I have always worked in both and I think it is film that will have to change. A lot of creativity has moved over to TV."

Blomgren, who has sold The Bridge to 60 countries, fearlessly added that he prefers Mipcom, the "impressive" annual TV festival in Cannes: "It is more focused and there is less b/s."

Yet those who come in search of real glitz and style may not be disappointed. Helicopters still lift above the big yachts in the bay, bringing in the rich and famous. There may be a McDonald's on the quay now, but there are still authentic old men playing boules in front of it.

For the thousands of tourists who arrive to check whether the stars they see on screen really exist, there is a chance of spotting Watson, Mulligan and her co-star Justin Timberlake, or even Nicole Kidman, who sits on Steven Spielberg's jury panel and was paraded yesterday by producer Harvey Weinstein as the star of his film about the late Queen of the Riviera, Grace of Monaco.

There are intriguing oddities, too. Tomorrow, Keanu Reeves flies in to promote his new martial arts film Man of Tai Chi.

The charm of the festival resides in these strange contrasts. Even at the heart of the competition, Michael Douglas's Liberace biopic will line up against a film from Chad about a disabled dancer, while on the jury alongside the stately Kidman sits the maverick British talent Lynne Ramsay.

Cannes also continues to offer a peerless platform for new projects of all sizes. On Friday, Weinstein swooped to buy up Stephen Frears new film Philomena for $6m. Starring Judi Dench as an Irishwoman looking for the son she was long ago forced to give up for adoption, it is based on a book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith. It also stars Steve Coogan, who co-wrote the screenplay.

Cannes has also worked well for British director Clio Barnard who has won both plaudits and a distribution deal for The Selfish Giant, a retelling of Oscar Wilde's fairy tale to be released this autumn. And yesterday, the festival's critics' week screened one of the few British films to make it to the Croisette – For Those in Peril, by the Scottish first-time feature director Paul Wright. The 31-year old from Lower Largo in Fife is in no doubt about the value of Cannes. "I have had other short films shown at festivals, but your family have all heard of Cannes and are vastly excited," he said.

Wright attended the premiere with his film's star, George Mackay, and is grateful for the opportunity to draw international attention to his small-scale but haunting story about what happens in a fishing village when the fishing stops. "I was brought up on the coast, so stories from the ocean, both real and unreal, were part of my life," he said.

As long as individual film-makers such as Wright have the chance to join the Hollywood machine at the festival, it will have more than just nostalgic worth. And if things start to look a little bit tacky and insubstantial when you get close up, well, that's just showbusiness for you.

The Coen brothers, Ethan (left) and Joel in the spotlight at Cannes, bringing their new film Inside Llewyn Davis

Oscar Isaac as Llewyn Davis, loosely based on the memoir of Dave Van Ronk, a 60's Greenwich Village folk musician

photo gallery of the Coen brothers film, Inside Llewyn Davis, from The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/reviews/cannes-film-festival-2013-review-inside-llewyn-davies-starring-carey-mulligan-and-justin-timberlake-8622949.html?action=gallery 

Cannes Film Festival 2013 review: Inside Llewyn Davies starring Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake, by Geoffrey Macnab from The Independent: 

The Coen brothers are in vintage form in their new feature Inside Llewyn Davies. What is most impressive about the film (a premiere in the Cannes competition at the weekend) is the sure-footed way the Coens combine comedy, music and brooding film noir elements. This is ostensibly a film about the Greenwich Village folk music scene in the early 1960s, just before the coming of Bob Dylan, but it is far richer than such a description might suggest.

Llewyn Davis (brilliantly played by Oscar Isaac) is an ambitious but hapless folk singer with a very chaotic private life. He has seemingly made fellow folk singer Jean Berkey (an enjoyably spiky Carey Mulligan, moving on from her role as Daisy in The Great Gatsby) pregnant. She is in a relationship with a friend of his (played in solemn fashion by Justin Timberlake) and is furious at the predicament he has put her in.

The structure of the film seems partially inspired by James Joyce’s Ulysses. The story is set in the dead of winter over only a few days but still has an epic quality. Like Leopold Bloom in Joyce’s novel, Davis ricochets around the city, having misadventures. He loses a friend’s cat. He has nowhere to stay. Needing a gig, he eventually heads off to Chicago on a road trip with a thoroughly obnoxious jazz musician (John Goodman) and his Dean Moriarty-like sidekick (Garrett Hedlund.)

We’re never quite sure how talented Davis actually is. The opening of the film shows him singing a beautiful and haunting solo but no sooner has he finished his performance than he is beaten up in the back yard.

There are echoes here of Barton Fink. Like John Turturro’s tormented screenwriter, Davis endures increasingly strange and phantasmagoric experiences as he pursues success.

In the early scenes, the tone is comical. The Coens don’t skimp on the satire at the expense of the earnest, hipster folk crowd. At the same time, the music is often glorious.

Sometimes, the shifts in tone are jarring. We think we’re watching a comedy but when Davis embarks on his epic road trip to Chicago, the storytelling takes on an altogether darker hue. Goodman’s character, who has a cane and is made up to look like Dr John, is thoroughly grotesque. Davis becomes increasingly desperate. You might expect that his misadventures will give him the experience on which to base new songs. However, The Coens refuse to adhere to the rags-to-riches stories.

The film is open-ended and deliberately confounds our expectations at every turn. It’s as mercurial as its own lead character, who can seem like a self-pitying, aggressive bore one moment and sing like an angel the next. 

Todd McCarthy on James Franco's version of Faulkner's novel, As I Lay Dying, from The Hollywood Reporter:  

James Franco has pulled off a devilishly difficult literary adaptation with this faithful yet cinematically vibrant version of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. Like the multiple English master's degree holder he is, Franco, with co-scripter Matt Rager, has wrestled to the ground the author’s fragmented, multi-voiced tale of the ordeal an impoverished Mississippi family endures to bury its matriarch and emerged with something many have tried but few have delivered, a worthy screen adaptation of Faulkner. A rarified art film all the way, one that will divide even brainy students and specialized cinema types, this is by a long way the best of the eight features the mind-bogglingly prolific actor-director-writer has made and is, as such, a big surprise.

For the average citizen, the 1930 novel is no easy read, and it often takes college students at least a couple of passes to make sense of everything, so parsimoniously does Faulkner dole out key information about identities, relationships, crucial events past and present. In addition, the narrative is presented through the perspectives of 15 different characters, from those of a little kid to the dead woman herself, assuring at least a degree of confusion and the need to page back and double-check details from time to time.

Just as formidable is the bare narrative itself, which concerns an effort of almost Biblical severity and suffering endured by the dirt-poor Bundren clan as it fashions a homemade wooden coffin for Addie, the mother of four sons and one daughter, and takes it by wagon down dirt roads and across a high river to a distant town. No one makes it to the destination in quite the same condition in which they left.

So extreme is the hardship endured, and so stultifying the dull repetitions of physical labor, that one might have thought the only film directors capable of reimagining the story for the screen would have been Bela Tarr or the Dardennes brothers. But Franco, employing diverse cinematic techniques from split screen (mostly early on) to direct-to-camera address, makes the Bundrens’ time of trial more immediately coherent than it is on the page without disrespecting Faulkner’s oblique style.

Before Addie is even dead, strong-bodied son Cash (Jim Parrack) is sawing away outside their ramshackle rural cabin to prepare for what is clearly imminent. A rainstorm rolls and he still keeps at it, while wild, perpetually angry son Jewel (Logan Marshall-Green) ropes and tames a horse and son Darl drives the wagon off on a questionable errand that upsets his ineffectual, gape-mouthed pa Anse (Tim Blake Nelson). Teen daughter Dewey Dell (Ahna O’Reilly) tends to her mother, while cherubic young son Vardaman (Brady Permenter) struggles to carry a huge catfish he’s somehow come by.

The images and impressions are doled out quickly, sometimes in duplicate or opposition to one another but not, happily, in an academic way; it all flows nicely while gently dispensing morsels about family secrets (some of the kids have different fathers, and Dewey Dell may have a condition to deal with).

Once Addie passes away, she’s quickly placed in the neatly made coffin for the trip to Jefferson, which Anse insists upon and might not have been so difficult if the bridge across the river hadn’t been wiped out by the rising currents from the recent rains. Bad judgment and general bungling lead to disaster all around, especially for Cash, who has to endure two days of travel in a springless wagon riding atop his mother’s coffin in the sun with his shattered lower leg in a concrete-covered splint. No big issue, he confidently says.

After fleeing a dreadful barn fire while staying overnight at a farm, they finally arrive in town, although the stench from the coffin makes them very unwelcome by the locals. Still, they stay long enough to tend to some diverse essential business, mostly of a dubious nature.

It’s a strange and loaded tale, to be sure, one that never had the makings of a popular film for a wide public but which, for connoisseurs of literary adaptations and cinematic challenges, poses significant interest. Franco’s storytelling is confident and sure-handed, both with the camera, which, in the capable hands of Christina Voros, roams around to capture privileged moments, and the actors, who all seem to have seized their characters with their entire beings.

Lending eerie ambiance is an electronic score by Kim O’Keefe that ranges from the atonal to the purely atmospheric.

And the first reviews are in for Paolo Sorrentino's The Great Beauty, by Lee Marshall from Screendaily: http://www.screendaily.com/reviews/the-latest/the-great-beauty/5056538.article?blocktitle=IN-COMPETITION&contentID=40428 

Paolo Sorrentino’s follow-up to This Must Be The Place is an alternately elegiac and world-weary cinematic fresco of contemporary Rome that references both the melancholy hedonism of La Dolce Vita or Fellini’s Roma and the decadence of the latter days of the Roman empire. It’s a virtuoso piece of filmmaking featuring a magnificently jaded Toni Servillo as a journalist who, like Mastroiainni in Fellini’s masterpiece, drifts listlessly from party to party and interview to interview, wallowing in the waste of his writing talent as in a warm bath.

With its venal clerics, failed authors, aristocrats for rent, washed-up TV stars and shabby nightlife entrepreneurs, The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza) is, at times, a profound film about superficiality, loss of innocence, missed chances and imitations of life; but at others it recycles a vision of Rome, and a fashionable ennui, that Fellini nailed once and for all more than 50 years ago.

The first fifteen minutes of the almost three-hour film, as the camera pans and swoops through a Sorrentino-skewed view of tourist Rome before homing in on a wild rooftop party, make for exhilarating viewing. What follows is part character study, part mood piece. The obvious comparison is Il Divo: but that impressionistic operetta was grounded in historical fact. The Great Beauty, on the other hand, drifts rootlessly like its hero through a series of interconnected vignettes. Paradoxically, this is a film that may fare better outside of Italy. On home turf, Sorrentino’s vision of Roman soirees and pseudo-literary life will come across as a little dated.

The film’s tone is set by an opening on-screen quotation from French writer Celine’s bitterly misanthropic 1930s novel Journey to the End of the Night. But it might just have easily have led with a bon mot Gore Vidal comes up with in Fellini’s Roma: “Rome is a wonderful place from which to observe the end of the world”.

Our guide through this beautiful, decadent place is Jep Gambardella (Servillo), an ageing serial seducer and party animal who published a well-received novel years ago but now works as a society and arts journalist for a national newspaper. Impeccably turned out, Jep drifts and drawls from dance party to dinner party, most of which take place on Roman rooftops or terraces – like Jep’s own, which overlooks the Colosseum on one side and a convent garden on the other.

We’re gradually introduced to Jep’s circle of friends: struggling playwright Romano (locally iconic Italian comedy actor-director Carlo Verdone), who is the closest Jep comes to a best friend, and a cast of others that include his editor Dadina and a left-wing writer Stefania, whose pretensions to be ‘writing committed books that make a difference’ are destroyed by Jep in one memorable sequence. So great is Jep’s ennui that he can hardly even be bothered to go through the Casanova motions anymore.

But though he can be hugely cruel and cynical, there’s a sensitivity and even romanticism buried in their somewhere – which comes out both in his surprisingly tender relationship with Ramona (Ferilli), the down-to-earth stripper daughter of an old friend, and in the appearance of the husband of a recently dead woman who, it transpires, inspired Jep’s only novel, and never stopped loving him in 35 years of marriage to another man. Death is a constant presence in a film whose very best scene is set at a funeral.

Potshots are taken at the church (priests and nuns order champagne in chic restaurants; a pure young nun turns up at a high-class botox clinic), at the wackier end of performance theatre, at the contemporary art world – though this also supplies a scene of great lyricism. Luca Bigazzi’s ravishing camerawork, a seductive score that alternates sacred choral music and pounding house, seamless editing and the graceful fugue-like narrative structure make for a film that is always a pleasure to watch. This said, there’s something a little corny about the flashbacks to Jep’s teen romance, and two quasi-fantasy sequences involving a magician’s giraffe and a flock of flamingos look like desperate attempts to weld some circus magic onto a film that is essentially about physical and moral exhaustion.

Sure, The Great Beauty’s mixture of social and religious satire and existential melancholy, its reaching out for poetry even as poetry is ridiculed, has been done before, by The Great Federico. But although Sorrentino’s Fellini mash-up adds little of substance to what il maestro showed and said all those years ago, it’s still a remarkable cinematic experience.

One of the most outrageous films In Competition, the questions asked at Cannes 2013: Is 'Borgman' this year's 'Holy Motors'? by Steven Zeitchik from The LA Times:  http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/moviesnow/la-et-mn-cannes-film-festival-borgman-holland-holy-motors-20130520,0,4440770.story 

CANNES, France — The Cannes Film Festival can reliably be counted on to offer at least one envelope-pushing genre-tinged exercise, the kind that makes festgoers marvel and shake their head in equal measure. Last year it was “Holy Motors,” Leos Carax's Surrealist collection of stories about a Paris shape-shifter. In 2009, the Greek family-torture movie “Dogtooth” fit the bill.

This year brings another contender for the boldness prize: a Dutch film called “Borgman” about — wait for it — devils and murder conspiracies and child care and class disparity. Since it screened Sunday in the high-profile competition section, the Alex van Warmerdam picture has prompted discussion among filmgoers who say that the first half is great, then it goes off the rails; the first half is shaky then it stabilizes; the whole thing is great and should be lauded; the whole thing is tedious and makes no sense.

The joys of Cannes.

A similar discussion attended “Motors,” which played the fantasy card more heavily but nonetheless got a spirited debate going.

Very quickly: “Borgman” is about an apparent vagrant (Jan Bijovet) who, on the run from his forest lair, shows up at the door of an upper-middle-class family, prompting the husband (Jeroen Perceval) to throw him out and the wife (Hadewych Minis) to secretly take pity on him. Before long the vagrant, Camiel, has found ways to insinuate himself into the family (to say how would ruin the fun) and even bring some friends along. And then the sinister, supernatural stuff starts.

The tone never veers from cool and levelheaded (no bludgeoning or closet-jumping here), and even the supernatural elements exist at the margins — it’s not actually clear anyone is using tools beyond the psychological. Yet it’s hardly a stretch to call this a horror movie, with “The Exorcist,” “Funny Games” and even “Arsenic and Old Lace” all in the air (on that last one:  if you’re eating or drinking during the movie, you'll likely stop).

When it starts to become clear what is going on in this serene house (three young children and a nanny are involved too), Van Warmerdam ups the ante, leaving audiences either thrilled or fist-waving (see under: earlier discussion).
Given the wealthy targets, the film offers a kind of working-class revenge: an exorcism, if you will, which, like all interesting genre movies, means it’s about something else other than demons.

Like many flashpoint fest films, there’s also a bit of an unknown element behind the camera too, though 61 and with more than a half-dozen features under his belt, Van Warmerdam is little known outside his native Holland.

The film is looking for a distribution deal in the U.S., and this kind of of buzz, needless to say, can help land it one.

Festival chief Thierry Fremaux has developed a reputation for the audacious competition title (Nicolas Winding Refn's “Only God Forgives,”  the much-anticipated revenge tale, will offer the splatter come Wednesday). Haters gonna hate, but debaters will go right on with the debate.

The Cannes Criterion Forum is up and running:  

While Les Etoiles de la critiques is up and running as well:

also Ioncinema's Critics' Panel 2013:

While Neil Young from Jigsaw Lounge maintains the odds for winners: 

to win the 2013 Palme d’Or
which have been shown to press in Cannes are in bold 

9/2  Kore-eda, Hirokazu – Like Father, Like Son
5/1  Farhadi, Asghar – The Past
13/2  Coen & Coen – Inside Llewyn Davis

13/2  Sorrentino, Paolo – The Great Beauty
8/1  Gray, James – The Immigrant
9/1  Haroun, Mahamat Saleh -- Grigris
10/1  Payne, Alexander – Nebraska
- – -
12/1  Jia, Zhangke – A Touch of Sin
12/1  Soderbergh, Steven – Behind the Candelabra
16/1  Kechiche, Abdellatif – Blue is the Warmest Colour
- – -
20/1  Ozon, Francois – Young and Beautiful
20/1  Winding Refn, Nicolas – Only God Forgives
25/1  des Pallières, Arnaud – Michael Kohlhaas
25/1  Van Warmerdam, Alex – Borgman
25/1  Desplechin, Arnaud – Jimmy P.: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian
33/1  Escalante, Amat – Heli
40/1  Polanski, Roman — Venus In Fur
50/1  Jarmusch, Jim – Only Lovers Left Alive
66/1  Bruni-Tedeschi, Valeria – A Castle in Italy
100/1  Miike, Takashi – Shield of Straw

Best Actor
4-1 Behind the Candelabra: Michael Douglas
….. (solo, or with Matt Damon)
5-1 The Great Beauty: Toni Servillo
5-1 Inside Llewyn Davis: Oscar Isaac
7-1 Nebraska: Bruce Dern
….. (solo, or with Will Forte and/or Stacy Keach)
- – -
10-1 Grigris: Souleymane Démé
10-1 Like Father, Like Son: Masaharu Fukuyama  
12-1 Borgman: Jan Bijvoet  
12-1 The Past: Ali Mosaffa and/or Tahar Rahim
12-1 The Immigrant: Joaquin Phoenix (solo, or with Jeremy Renner)
14-1 Mathieu Amalric and/or Benicio Del Toro*
- – -
22-1 Michael Kohlhaas: Mads Mikkelsen
28-1 Only God Forgives: Ryan Gosling and/or Vithaya Pansringarm
35-1 A Touch of Sin: male ensemble
40-1 Only Lovers Left Alive: Tom Hiddleston
50-1 Heli: Armando Espitia
50-1 Blue is the Warmest Colour:
….. Jérémie Lahuerte and/or Aurélien Recoing
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
2-1 The Past: Bérénice Bejo

9-2 The Immigrant: Marion Cotillard
5-1 Only God Forgives: Kristin Scott Thomas
- – -
10-1 Young and Beautiful: Marina Vacth 
11-1 Venus In Fur: Emmanuelle Seigner
14-1 Blue is the Warmest Colour:
….. Adèle Exarchopoulos and/or Léa Seydoux
16-1 Borgman: Hadewych Minis
18-1 Only Lovers Left Alive: Tilda Swinton and/or Mia Wasikowska
25-1 A Touch of Sin: female ensemble
33-1 Heli: Andrea Vergara
33-1 A Castle in Italy:  Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi
33-1 Grigris: Anaïs Monory
40-1 Like Father, Like Son: Machiko Ono (and/or others) 

The round-up of various links covering Cannes, several more have been dropped, while one has been added:

Andrew O'Hehir from Salon:

Screendaily still has paywalls, but if you click on the reviews, they are open to the public:
http://www.screendaily.com/, also http://www.screendaily.com/festivals/cannes/reviews 

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: 

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 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: 

Julie Miller at Vanity Fair: 

Sukhdev Sandhu and Robbie Collins from The Daily Telegraph: 

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

This was a day of second choices. Three times I heard the word "complet" before I had my pass scanned by the usher at a theater's entry. Every time it was for a film by a name director--the Coen brothers, James Toback and James Franco. I'll have ample opportunity to see the Coen brothers' film, the the highest rated of the ten Competition films screened so far. The other two are no necessity. I had back-ups for all three films, so kept to my average of seven a day.

Its a rare year with no Hanake or Von Trier film in Competition. The Dutch film "Borgman" partially fills the void with elements from each--a family of affluence terrorized by a team of wackos and a quick-tempered husband and wife off and on at each other's throats. A long-haired homeless guy knocks at the door of the wealthy family asking if he can have a bath. The husband answers and categorically says no. The homeless guy says he knows his wife. A moment later she approaches the door herself. She denies knowing him. He says she once tended to him as a nurse in the hospital. She says she has never worked as a nurse.

The husband shoves the the guy out, knocks him down with a couple of punches and then repeatedly kicks him. His wife is appalled by his uncharacteristic response and later goes out to tend to the homeless guy. She gives him refuge in their small guest house and smuggles him into the house for a bath. The next day she says he ought to leave, but he refuses. She relents. The homeless guy eventually brings in several comrades leading to a diluted form of Haneke terror. Despite interesting characters all round, including a Dutch nanny and her military boy friend, the director Alex van Warmerdam had seemed to fully digest his material and lacked the firm and precise vision that could have made this more than a small curiosity.

At least there was a shred of veracity to this film, a quality notably lacking in my other Competion film for the day, Takeshi Miike's "Shield of Straw." A squadron of 350 vehicles are escorting a young man who has committed a couple of heinous rapes and murders of young women that has enraged all of Japan. A businessman whose grand daughter was one of his victims has offered a billion yen to whoever kills him before he is brought to trial. No one is above suspicion wanting the bounty including the cops escorting him. Even this huge convoy is not enough to protect him as a semi-trailer full of nitroglycerin bashes through them, the first of countless absurdities. But Miike doesn't care about reality. His movies are simply exercises in highly stylized violence that are invariably cinematic enough to be selected for Competition. One has to choke though on the heaps of baloney he serves up.

Ritzy Panh's "The Missing Picture" was nothing but the essential truth, an essay-narrative in the spirit of Chris Marker about the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot's takeover of Cambodia in 1975. Panh was a thirteen-year old at the time. He reconstructs the years of their complete overhaul of the country with archival footage and clay dolls. This was captivating and insightful cinema most worthy of its Un Certain Regard selection.

The Ecuadorian film "Path to the Moon" also won my full attention with its adept portrayal of a father and son on a 600-mile road trip through Costa Rica and Panama to a bowling tournament that the son is competing in. The father and son haven't seen each other in a while and are somewhat reconciling their relationship helped by a young woman hitch-hiker they have picked up. I particularly related to the film as I biked the exact route they took back in 1989.

I was also drawn to the documentary "Out of Africa: Quest for the Northern Lights," as it was described as a drive around Iceland, a route I have also biked. Iceland was simply a hook to draw people to this movie as it was largely an exercise in propaganda about how the West has plundered Africa over the years, first by its colonizers and then by multi-national corporations and the World Bank. Although there are short snippets of Iceland interspersed in the movie, often with a commercial for the hotel the film-makers stayed in, the film largely showed footage of Africa from over the years and all the troubles it has suffered, not only from whites, but black dictators as well.

An even bigger dud of a movie, as at least the Africa movie was well-financed and competently directed, was the American film "The Activist." This was a bad, inept movie in every respect and I knew it the moment it started. It had a worthwhile subject, the Wounded Knee confrontation in 1973, but the script did it no justice whatsoever. Two activists, one a Native American, are locked up in a small town cell for the duration of the movie. They are beaten by one of their jailers and receive a couple visits from a representative of President Nixon, accompanied by a pair of ditzy female assistants. There is no future whatsoever for this film. I regretted not having gone to see a documentary on climbing in Patagonia instead of this. Of the 42 films I've seen so far, this was easily the worst, but there's always at least one like that.

Being turned away from James Franco's directorial debut in Un Certain Regard of Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying" allowed me to see the documentary "Jodorowsky's Dune" screening in the Director's Fortnight. The 84-year old Jodorowsky provided a most energetic commentary on his attempt to make "Dune". He'd lined up Salvador Dali and Orson Welles for two significant roles and had a team of artists and technicians working in Paris on all the special effects. Hollywood pulled the money on the project just as he was set to begin building sets in Algeria. All the preparatory work he put into it is argued to have been put to use in "Alien" and "Star Wars" and other seminal films. His "Dune" is considered the greatest movie never made.

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