Sunday, May 25, 2014

Cannes 2014 Day 11

Uma Thurman

Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman

Thai actress Araya A. Hargate

Chinese actress Li Yuchun

Dominican model Arlenis Sosa

British model Jourdan Dunn

Russian model Irina Shayk

Hungarian model Barbara Palvin

Chloë Grace Moretz, Olivier Assayas, Juliette Binoche, and Kristen Stewart

Chloë Grace Moretz

A collection of pieces from The Hollywood Reporter:

A French site that lists daily galleries of red carpet photos: 

Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó receives the Un Certain Regard top prize for White God from Jury president Pablo Trapero

Xavier Dolan receives the Jury Prize

American Bennett Miller receives a Best Direction award

Palme d’Or winner Nuri Bilge Ceylan, flanked by Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman

'Winter Sleep' wins Palme d'Or at Cannes, Julianne Moore and Timothy Spall ...  Guy Lodge on the award winners, voted on a Saturday, a day early due to upcoming elections in France, at Hit Fix, May 24, 204

CANNES — Sometimes, the pre-festival buzz has it right. Nuri Bilge Ceylan's 196-minute conversational epic "Winter Sleep" entered the 2014 Cannes Film Festival as the sight-unseen frontrunner for the Palme d'Or, thanks to its heftiness of form and the Turkish auteur's perceived overdue status — any director with two Grand Prix wins and a Best Director prize behind him is bound to win the Palme at some point.

The wave of strong critical reactions to "Winter Sleep," after it screened in the festival's opened days, suggested that this could be the year — though the late-breaking chatter about Andrei Zvyagintsev's muscular satirical tragedy "Leviathan" in the last two days had many Cannes attendees (this one included) thinking the Russian film could pull it off.

It wasn't to be: Jane Campion's jury went with Ceylan for the top prize, rewarding Zvyagintsev's film — newly picked up by Sony Pictures Classics — with the comparatively minor Best Screenplay award instead.

The Palme d'Or win gives a handy boost to "Winter Sleep," a somewhat audience-averse film that represents a distinct distribution challenge, with its minimal narrative driven by circuitous political and intellectual debates. Turkey will likely select it as their foreign-language Oscar entry, but don't expect the Academy — which has rejected more accessible work by Ceylan in the past — to jump to attention.

A greater threat for the Palme, it seems, was a film that figured in few people's prediction lists: Italian-German director Alice Rohrwacher's sophomore feature "The Wonders" took the Grand Prix du Jury, a surprise that seemed to be warmly received in the room. I have yet to catch up with the film, which a friend described as having "'Dogtooth' vibes with added beekeeping and Catholic overtones," but was an admirer of Rohrwacher's debut "Corpo Celeste."

Nice, too, to see one of the Competition's two female directors honored by Campion -- still the only female filmmaker ever to win the Palme d'Or. Advance chatter that "Still the Water" director Naomi Kawase had been invited back for the awards ceremony proved untrue. (Away from the Competition awards, two women were among the three directors sharing the Camera d'Or for best debut film at the festival: I didn't see "Party Girl" myself, but Drew McWeeny was very high on it.)

In contrast to somewhat esoteric choices in the top categories, big-name English-language cinema was also well represented in the winners list. Cannes juries often overlook strong US mainstream cinema that looks otherwise awards-bound, so Bennett Miller's riveting true-crime drama "Foxcatcher"  — widely touted as the likeliest Oscar player in Cannes this year -- wasn't expected to win big tonight. Instead, the jury surprised by handing Bennett Miller a well-deserved Best Director award for his third feature and first festival entry. It's as good a start to the film's Oscar campaign as they could have asked for.

Sony Pictures Classics must be smiling, given that their robust Cannes slate includes not only the Best Director and Best Screenplay winners, but the Best Actor champ too: as was widely predicted, veteran British character actor Timothy Spall took the prize for playing British Romantic painter J.M.W. Turner in hale, hearty fashion in Mike Leigh's gorgeously mounted biopic "Mr. Turner." It's the kind of large, expressive biographical performance (in the kind of handsome, moving heritage film) that Academy voters respect; expect a busy campaign for him at the year's end.

Far less anticipated was Julianne Moore's Best Actress award for her daring, hilarious performance as a vindictive, insecure Hollywood has-been in David Cronenberg's divisive satire "Maps to the Stars" — it's a brilliant comic turn that was my own personal pick for the award, but most expected Marion Cotillard or Anne Dorval to duke it out. (Spare a thought for Cotillard, thwarted for the third consecutive year.)

Moore now joins Juliette Binoche, Sean Penn and Jack Lemmon in the record books as the only actors to have triumphed at the Big Three European festivals — Cannes, Venice and Berlin. She's also the only one of the four without an Oscar: superb as she is, I don't expect "Maps to the Stars" to rectify that situation.

For the Jury Prize, Campion's jury settled on a rather witty tie, splitting the award between the youngest and oldest directors in Competition — 25-year-old Xavier Dolan for "Mommy," and 83-year-old Jean-Luc Godard for his 3D experimental feature "Goodbye to Language." It's a sweet compromise, given how Godard is among the influences that Dolan's filmmaking wears so unapologetically on its sleeve -- while this is the first award, unbelievably, that the New Wave master has ever won at Cannes.

Cannes 2014: Winter Sleep takes Palme d'Or in ceremony of upsets  Catherine Shoard from the Guardian, May 24, 2014

Nuri Bilge Ceylan's three-and-a-quarter hour Turkish drama Winter Sleep had been bookies' favourite going into the 67th Cannes film festival competition, and remained one of the frontrunners right into the final straight. Many were sceptical that the film - a Chekhovian drama about an isolated actor dealing with marital breakdown in the mountains - would make it past a number of other strong contenders to finally claim the top prize. Yet on Saturday evening it won the top award - making it the second year in a row that the longest film in contention has won (following Blue is the Warmest Colour's victory in 2013).

Awarded the gong by Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman, Ceylan also expressed surprise at the decision, but said he was very pleased to win, especially in the year which marks the 100th anniversary of Turkish cinema. He thanked the jury and dedicated the award "to the young people of Turkey, those who lost their lives during the last year."

The decision meant that the Dardennes brothers left Cannes empty-handed, after many had speculated that they would make history by becoming the first directors to win three Palme d'Ors for their much-acclaimed social-realist drama Two Days, One Night. But in the end that film did not even pick up the best actress award for the hotly-tipped Marion Cotillard, who lost out to Julianne Moore for her part as an unravelling star in David Cronenberg's acid Hollywood satire Maps to the Stars.

One anticipated call was the naming of Timothy Spall as best actor in Mike Leigh's biopic of the artist JMW Turner. In a speech peppered by Spall hunting for his glasses and mobile phone, which he'd left on, causing much audio feedback, Spall thanked a great number of the film's cast and crew, as well as "my darling wife, my brothers, my mother in hospital in south Kent, my darling children".

His mother used to live in the same location where Turner rented a room in a boarding houe. The film charts this time in his life, and his eventual love affair with his landlady, Mrs Booth.

He recalled watching the ceremony from his hospital bed 18 years before, when he was suffering from leukemia, and when one of his and Leigh's previous collaborations, Secrets and Lies, won the Palme d'Or. He had been the bridesmaid many times, he said "but this is the first time I've ever been the bride".

Spall's performance has been much celebrated for its emotional depth, despite Turner's vocabulary in the film often consisting of grunts, snorts and spitting saliva onto the canvas. Speaking to the Guardian last week, he revealed that Leigh had put him through an intensive painting course in the two years prior to shooting. However, Spall, 57, has been painting for a decade, mostly canvases of anguished angels. An exhibition of his work will run above the cake shop Maison Bertaux in London's Soho later this year.

Spall's chief competition for the prize came from Steve Carell for his portrayal of an eccentric philanthropist and wrestling nut in macho potboiler Foxcatcher. In fact that film won a surprise prize for its director, Bennett Miller, whose previous movies include Moneyball and Capote. Miller thanked Carell, plus co-stars Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, in his speech.

A late spurt of momentum for Andrey Zvyagintsev's Leviathan was only enough, in the end, to secure it the best screenplay award. Based on the Book of Job, Leviathan tells the story of a man battling endemic corruption across the church and state and modern-day Russia. This, despite being part-funded by the Ministry of Culture.

The Wonders, one of the two films in competition directed by a woman - Alice Rohrwacher, 33 - won the Grand Prix (or, runner's up award). The jury prize for third place was a tie between the legendary French director Jean-Luc Godard, 83, for Goodbye to Language, a 3D film starring his own dog and the youngest director in competition, Xavier Dolan, 25, for his film Mommy, about the relationship between a teenage with ADHD and his mother.

Dolan made an emotional speech thanking his family and the jury president, Jane Campion, whose film The Piano was one of the first he saw. "She made me want to write roles for women, beautiful women with souls and will," said Dolan.

This year's jury was headed up by Campion and also included the directors Sofia Coppola and Nicolas Winding Refn, as well as the actors Willem Dafoe and Gael Garcia Bernal.

Eighteen features battled it out in the competition strand of the 67th Cannes film festival. The winners in the sidebars were announced yesterday, with canine horror White God taking the top prize in the Un Certain Regard section, while Annie Silverstein's Skunk took top honours in the Cinefoundation. The Tribe triumphed in Critics' Week, while Love at First Fight won the top gong at the Directors' Fortnight.

Many of the highest profile films screened outside the main battleground. Ryan Gosling's directorial debut, Lost River, played in Un Certain Regard, to generally disappointed reviews, while Abel Ferrara's Welcome to New York was not even officially part of the competition. The lion's share of column inches were taken by those, as well as by Grace of Monaco, the appalling-reviewed opening film, which screened out of competition.

Variety Critics Weigh in on a Strong 67th Cannes Film Festival  The festival standouts, as usual, proved to be far richer than the negative early buzz suggested, by Justin Chang, Scott Foundas, and Peter Debruge, from Variety, May 24, 2014

JUSTIN CHANG: Shortly after the Cannes Film Festival lineup was unveiled more than a month ago, I cautioned festival-goers against jumping to the conclusion that this year’s slate would be dull, disappointing, a waste of time, etc. I’m happy, if hardly surprised, to report that my optimism was well founded: No festival that gives us movies as rich and varied as “Foxcatcher,” “Leviathan,” “Two Days, One Night,” “Winter Sleep,” “Mr. Turner” and “Timbuktu” — and those are just the competition highlights — could possibly be deemed a wash. And what I’m struck by yet again, as I am year after year, is the mysterious, intuitive (sometimes counterintuitive) way that films from different filmmakers, different countries and different sections of the festival wind up in dialogue with one another (such as the great “Tree of Life”-”Melancholia” smackdown of 2011). To wit: Were the festival programmers aware that two English-language pictures in the competition, David Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars” and Olivier Assayas’ “Clouds of Sils Maria,” would both touch specifically on the tricky subject of actresses grappling with the challenge of growing older, played by two brilliant performers (Julianne Moore and Juliette Binoche, respectively) in their early 50s?

For that matter, were they cognizant of the pointed gender critiques going on in two pictures in the official selection that, on the face of it, could not be more different in tone, style, setting and overall approach? Tommy Lee Jones’ Western “The Homesman” is an often clunky but ultimately resonant tribute to the frontier women who endured the unendurable, as well as a picture in which virtually every male character, save Jones’ homesman himself, is depicted as almost entirely lacking in courage, character and basic decency. Even better is Ruben Ostlund’s “Force majeure,” a razor-sharp dissection of contemporary male cowardice, wringing deliciously confrontational entertainment from our collective self-delusion, our ego and, yes, our tendency to remain glued to smartphones and emails while on family vacations. (That one really hit home.)​

SCOTT FOUNDAS: Cannes itself has been blessed with warm temperatures and sunshine this year (after last year’s monsoon-like downpours), but two of the festival’s best films seem to take place in an endless, bleak midwinter. One is “Winter Sleep,” which seems to me another career peak for the Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, who made his international breakthrough here in Cannes in 2003 with his third feature, “Distant,” and who won the Grand Prix in 2011 for the masterful “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia.” But Ceylan’s latest has more in common with his first two films, “The Small Town” and “Clouds of May,” both of which were riffs on Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard.” In much the same way, “Winter Sleep” feels like a partial reconfiguration of “Uncle Vanya,” by way of Shakespeare, Ibsen, Dostoevsky and Voltaire.

The setting is a small hotel tucked into a mountainside in the Cappadocia region of Turkey, where an aging, Lear-like theater actor tends to a loveless marriage, a fractured relationship with his sister, and impoverished tenants who seem on the verge of a class revolt. It’s a rapturously involving five- (or maybe seven-) course meal of a movie, in which even the smallest characters are given vivid, three-dimensional personalities, conflicts and inner lives. It’s tempting to liken the film to a great evening of theater, or being immersed in a sprawling 19th-century novel, except that Ceylan is also one of the most richly cinematic stylists at work today, whether he’s turning his camera upon a muddied, craggy landscape stretching endlessly toward the horizon, or the equally majestic, expressive faces of his marvelous actors.

The other magnificently chilly competition entry is “Foxcatcher,” Bennett Miller’s lauded retelling of the strange and sordid events leading up to the 1996 murder of Olympic wrestling champion Dave Schultz by the eccentric millionaire John du Pont. Watching the film, I wondered if it would be nearly so compelling if we didn’t know going in the tragedy lurking at the film’s end, and the answer is yes, it would be, because Miller’s film is less a true-crime tale than it is an exploration of the abuses of power by the elite one percent, deeply ingrained notions of success and winning in the American psyche, and the fragile nature of the male ego. On top of which, it’s a brilliantly acted film (by Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and especially Steve Carell), and a brilliantly structured one too, holding its three main characters in almost perfect balance and making its titular metaphor felt without ever overstating its case. There are great American movies, and then there are great movies that take America as their very subject, from “Greed” and “Citizen Kane” to “There Will Be Blood” and “The Social Network.” “Foxcatcher” has that same, soaring ambition, and that kind of power.

PETER DEBRUGE: Let’s not get carried away. The way I see it, “Foxcatcher” is Bennett Miller’s stab at making his own “In Cold Blood,” a logical goal for someone who admires that book enough to have made the film “Capote.” Like Truman Capote’s book, “Foxcatcher” provides a window into the American condition through the retelling of a true crime. As such, it challenges the United States perception of itself as a democracy: That old fantasy of a low-class kid rising through the ranks to attain success if offset by an extremely troubling portrait of American oligarchy, where the power rests with a very small group of wealthy, well-connected individuals (like the du Pont dynasty Steve Carell and Vanessa Redgrave represent in the film).

However, like so many of the films I’ve seen this year at Cannes, “Foxcatcher” drew me in on the promise that all the energy I’d invested in it would pay off in the end, only to wind down with a whimper, depicting the crime and capture. (By contrast, “In Cold Blood” plunges deeper as the case develops.) I’ve been similarly disappointed with Bertrand Bonello’s overlong “Saint Laurent,” a safe-sexy re-creation of the fashion designer’s glory days that fell apart for me in its suddenly nonlinear last reel, and David Cronenberg’s DOA satire of misplaced Hollywood ambition, “Maps to the Stars.” Instead of going for broke, it seems broken from the word go, its pulse never rising above a standstill.

By this point in the festival, people have long since moved on from “Grace of Monaco,” and though there’s not a lot to defend about the opening-night film, at least in sheer storytelling terms, director Olivier Dahan delivers. The same goes for “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” a thrilling follow-up to DreamWorks Animation’s 2010 coming-of-age fantasy, which preserves the integrity of the original and has unexpectedly proven the experience to beat here. If only the competition offerings were as satisfying!

CHANG: Oh, dear. If “How to Train Your Dragon 2″ delivers the way Olivier Dahan delivers, then that’s one animated blockbuster I’ll plan on skipping. We obviously all have different notions of what constitutes a satisfying cinematic experience, and so I’ll just note that I found “Winter Sleep” every bit as scrumptious a seven-course feast as Scott did, even as I knew that Ceylan’s film would strike the vast majority of moviegoers as completely indigestible — which, to me, is an instructive reminder that some of the very best movies are acquired tastes. Along similar lines, Peter, I think it’s one thing to suggest that “How to Train Your Dragon 2″ deserved a place in the competition (which may well be true), and quite another to suggest that every competition entry should be pitched at the level of “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” The very reason a festival like Cannes exists is to provide the viewer with as varied, challenging and adventurous a diet of international cinema imaginable, and to provide a welcome respite from the kinds of movies we’re typically spoon-fed on a year-round basis.

And so, while I’d concede that “Foxcatcher” could have gone down any number of productive avenues following its grisly denouement, I’d suggest the chief satisfaction of Bennett Miller’s movie — and what distinguishes it from so many lesser American movies torn from the headlines — lies in its sheer volume of subtext, the subtle accumulation of thematic layers in the material. I was particularly struck by how incisively Miller examines the role of athletic achievement as a source of national pride, the way that du Pont continually extols the mission of his wrestling team using terms such as “honor” and “patriotism,” as if winning Olympic gold were a matter of personal integrity. It’s a theme that “Foxcatcher” shares, incidentally, with another official-selection highlight, Gabe Polsky’s excellent documentary “Red Army,” which offers a sharp and moving inquiry into the enormous burdens borne by Russia’s national hockey team. Here were men revered for their toughness and skill, who were repeatedly barked at and battered into shape by Viktor Tikhonov (no less dictatorial a coach than du Pont), and who ultimately paid a very dear price for their well-earned celebrity.

FOUNDAS: We’ve reached the point in the festival now where I always find myself amused by two recurring Cannes phenomena: the stooped, head-hung-low critics and journalists complaining that this wasn’t a vintage year, and the rampant speculation that this or that film is a shoo-in for the Palme d’Or based on how it played at the official press screening. To the first accusation, I can only say that, however things seem in the moment, when you look back on any given Cannes six, nine or 12 months down the road, it generally holds that anywhere from a half-dozen to a dozen of the movies that premiered there have gone on to remain prominent in the discussion of the year’s most significant cinematic achievements. And when I say “premiered at Cannes,” I mean premiered in any of the festival’s various sections, no matter the many journalists who seem to slavishly follow the main competition at the expense of Critics’ Week, Directors’ Fortnight, and even the truly independent ACID section.

Last year was something of an anomaly in that Cannes featured an unusually large number of competition films by noted U.S. directors (the Coen brothers, James Gray, Jim Jarmusch, Alexander Payne, Steven Soderbergh) that pacified those for whom American movies — and, especially, potential Oscar contenders — are the only things worth getting truly excited about. Fortunately, the organizers of Cannes fail to see things the same way, and any year on the Croisette that includes top-drawer work from such indisputable masters as Ceylan, Lisandro Alonso, the Dardenne brothers, Jean-Luc Godard, Mike Leigh. Sergei Loznitsa and Andrey Zyagintsev feels like a banner one to me.

As to the incessant handicapping of the awards race, it’s amusing up to a point, but most of it is indeed based on the reactions of journalists and critics who don’t take into account that the actors and directors who comprise the jury don’t always see movies the same way as them. For starters, there’s the fact that the people on the jury make movies for a living rather than writing about them, and while there may be passionate film buffs among them (especially in this year’s crop), it’s still rather unreasonable to assume they’ve seen every previous film made by every director in competition. So, what may strike some in the press corps as a “minor” film by a major director may strike fresher eyes as a revelation.

And in still other cases, a jury may be excitingly ahead of the curve. Back in 1999, when the Cannes jury headed by David Cronenberg awarded two prizes (including the Palme d’Or) to the Dardennes’ “Rosetta” and three prizes to Bruno Dumont’s “Humanite” (in both cases, the filmmakers’ first competition appearances), many in the press thought they had lost their minds. Now, the Dardennes are beloved Cannes fixtures, while Dumont has won an additional Grand Prix (for “Flanders” in 2005) and continued to turn out rigorous, uncompromising work that puts him at the front rank of contemporary French directors. As to what this year’s Palmares may hold in store, your guess is as good as mine.

DEBRUGE: Your guess may be better, actually. I’ve been spreading myself across the festival and have missed more than half of this year’s competition lineup. I hope to catch up with the Argentinian breakout “Wild Tales” and Naomi Kawase’s “Still the Water” in the reprise screenings this weekend. The thing about trying to accurately predict the Palme is that it has so little to do with quality and so much to do with second-guessing what nine wonderfully independent-minded jury members can agree on, with the ridiculous rule that films can’t collect multiple prizes. In the years before I had the chance to attend Cannes, I foolishly maintained the impression that some sort of consensus formed around the films in competition after they had premiered here, but in practice, that’s hardly the case. Nearly every film has passionate adherents and detractors alike.

Even a movie like Xavier Dolan’s “Mommy,” which has garnered perhaps the most enthusiastic response among American critics (if Tweets and snippets of overheard conversation can be any sort of barometer), seems to have dozens more cursing his name. I tend to prefer my stories a little less boisterously unhinged than Mr. Dolan does, but if we can accept that he likes his drama with a capital D, then I am delighted to see that he has finally found his own voice. A fair number of the directors here — including Ceylan, the Dardennes and Zvyagintsev — are operating at or near the top of their game without necessarily surprising us with their latest work.

I suppose the two films I haven’t been able to shake are Mike Leigh’s unshakable “Mr. Turner” and Olivier Assayas’ “Clouds of Sils Maria,” which I saw just this morning. It’s sheer coincidence that both happen to be hyper-intimate portraits of aging artists and the codependent relationships that help them cope with an audience hungry for fresh new alternatives. As Kristen Stewart tells Juliette Binoche’s insecure character in “Sils Maria,” “You can’t be as accomplished an actress as you are and still hold on to the privileges of youth.” That’s a lesson that applies to directors as well. As critics, we tend to thrill to Dolan’s mischief (or the energy of “Wild Tales”) out of sheer novelty and respectfully yawn at the familiarity of the established pros, but there’s thrilling work being done in both camps.

Cannes critics ratings, a composite of  7 different critic scores, where some of the highest ratings might surprise you:

Screendaily Jury Grid (Page 24 from Digital edition #8), where currently the highest rated films are Mr. Turner at 3.6 and Winter Sleep at 3.4, with the latest Dardennes film, Two Days, One Night, rated an even 3.  None of the other films are rated above 3:

Les Etoiles de la critiques is now complete, where the highest rated films are now the latest Dardennes film, Two Days, One Night, with 12 reviews at 3 or above, with 8 declaring it a masterpiece, Winter Sleep, with 10 reviews at 3 or above, and 5 declaring it a masterpiece, Timbuktu, with 11 reviews at 3 or above, with 4 declaring it a masterpiece, Mommy has 10 reviews with 3 or above, with 4 calling it a masterpiece, while Foxcatcher has 9 reviews at 3 or above, with 2 declaring it a masterpiece.  The well touted Leviathan has only 7 reviews at 3 or above, with 4 declaring it a masterpiece.  What’s interesting in looking at this completed board is how the French critics barely watch any films from Un Certain Regard, concentrating all their energies exclusively on competition films:

 The Cannes Criterion Forum is up and running:

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:, also: 
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:

Kevin Jagernauth, Oliver Lyttelton, and Jessica Kiang the indieWIRE Playlist: 

Daniel Kasman, Adam Cook, and likely others at Mubi:

The Guardian collection of reviews:

The Guardian Cannes commentary: 

David Jenkins from Little White Lies: 
Eric Lavallee and Nicholas Bell from Ion Cinema:

Drew McSweeny and Guy Lodge & others from HitFix: 

Various writers at Twitch: 

Sukhdev Sandhu and Robbie Collins from The Daily Telegraph: 

And, of course, George is back at Cannes this year, where he catches up with the awards ceremony and what he’s missed so far:  

After finally catching up with Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "Winter Sleep" this morning just hours before the awards ceremony it was hard to understand how anyone with any cinematic sense could suggest any other film could win the Palme d'Or.  But these judgements are subjective and there were strong supporters of "Leviathan" and "Two Days, One Night" and even "Mr. Turner."

None were remotely as ambitious as "Winter Sleep," or had its depth or profundity. Just as "Tree of Life" grappled with the meaning of life, this film tackled head on the purpose of life along with morality and conscience.  For three hours and sixteen minutes in a series of lengthy conversations that are of Biblical proportions flowing naturally from one to another, it examines what makes people who they are confronting the hardest of truths while digging to their innermost recesses.

The first is between the father of a young boy who has thrown a rock at a truck breaking its side window and the lead character in the movie, Haluk Bilginer, one of the two men in the truck at the time.  The son has been poisoned against Bilginer by his father, as he is his landlord and recently was responsible for the repossession of their TV and refrigerator for not paying their rent.  The father is a volatile ex-con who hasn't been able to find work since serving a six-month sentence.  Like many of the conversations it starts out reasonably but then escalates to anger and rage. 

The landlord runs a small hotel in the spectacular Cappadocia region of central Turkey that is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its fairy chimneys and eroded "Badlands" landscape.The hotel is carved out of one of the many dazzling sandstone mounds in the valley. The landlord is a former actor and writes a column for the local newspaper.  In one of the conversations his sister tells him his writing isn't as good as he thinks it is.  He doesn't get angry at first, but the conversation leads to a full appraisal of both of their life's with each speaking harsh truths, just as goes on throughout the movie.  Unlike "Mommy" where such confrontations were shouting matches these are written with the depth and veracity of great literature. They penetrate to the inner core of one's being such as it would take a year of therapy to achieve. There are similar extraordinary conversational battles with his much younger estranged wife who lives in separate quarters of their house and a teacher at the local school he doesn't respect. 

One of the themes of the movie is the contrast between the haves and have nots as the Dardennes and Loach attempted in their films.  Ceylan goes well beyond with a simple grace their less than fully flushed out takes on the issue even though that was the main thrust of their movies.  Though the others were well-received, Ceylan makes their versions seem superficial and demonstrates why many were disappointed that they didn't go further than they did.  They clearly did not put the extra effort into their scripts as did Ceylan.  This was truly a great film for all of the ages.  Of course its running time and all the talk will be daunting to many, and a different jury could have penalized it for that, but fortunately this jury did not and immortalized if with the Palme d'Or.

The jury also recognized the other great film in the festival, "Foxcatcher," by giving Bennett Miller the best director award, something juries often do.  These two films stood head and shoulders above all the others.  The jury could have doled out their five other awards to any of the other all very good films other than Egoyan's.  Giving the best actor award to Timothy Spall was no surprise.  He gave one of the best acceptance speeches in Cannes history holding stage for nearly five minutes fumbling through a speech he had composed on his phone while flying from Holland, where he had been working on his boat before being summoned back to the festival at noon today to receive his award.  He tearfully said the award was as much Mike Leigh's as his.  They have worked together for 33 years and spent three years on this film.  "Mike made me start learning to paint two years ago," he said.

Xavier Dolan also tearfully accepted the Jury Prize award that he shared with Godard, the youngest and oldest directors in the Competition.  He told jury president Jane Campion that it was seeing her film "The Piano" as a fifteen year old that inspired him to become a filmmaker and to portray strong women characters with soul and will and strength and not as victims.  Godard hadn't been at the festival to present his film nor to come to accept his award.  

The other three awards were all somewhat surprises, but gave understanding to the juries thinking process.  It had almost been considered a given that Marion Cotillard would win the best actress award on the grounds that she was due after being overlooked the past two years and also because her film deserved an award.  The jury rather than being sentimental gave the award to what many thought was truly the best performance by Julianne Moore in the Cronenberg film.  I won't know for sure until tomorrow when I will finally see it.  Moore wasn't able to return to accept her award.  

A bigger surprise than that was the Italian film "The Wonders" winning the Grand Prix.  Here was the Jane Campion influence awarding one of the two female directors in the Competition.  No one expected this.  A jury is often influenced by recognizing a film by an unknown to give it some attention rather than giving it to a better film by a known director who doesn't need the help of an award.  So it was here.  

The screen writing award went to "Leviathan," a big disappointment to Ralph and its other supporters who thought it should have won the Palme d'Or.  That had to be a compromise choice by the jury, as there were other much better scripts, but evidently strong supporters who wanted to recognize it with some  award, having to settle for the least of the awards.

Another surprise was the jury neglecting "Timbuktu," a smaller film by the Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako that I was able to see this morning.  It was a film that an award could have helped and about a pressing current issue, armed Islamic fundamentalists pushing their agenda on a small town banning music and forcing women to wear gloves and socks in public at all time.  Its subject matter was certainly more topical than the bee keeping of "The Wonders," though its film-making not so dazzling despite the spectacular Sahara landscapes and the authentic performances of its cast.

My day included another African film, "Run," from the Ivory Coast.  It was a lesser film of someone who assassinates the prime minister of a country and then goes into hiding.  I was joined by Gary Meyer, former director of the Telluride Film Festival and now its lead curator, at this screening.  Afterwards we headed to the Soixante to see "Mommy," which he had missed and I was curious to see again to try to appreciate it more than I did at my first screening.  But it was sold out, allowing us to dash up to the Director's Fortnight for its award winner "Love at First Fight," or "Les Combattants," its French title.  I wasn't aware it was screening so I was actually pleased to be shut out of "Mommy."  

We arrived just as it was starting and were the last ones allowed into this delightful romantic comedy.  The first fight is a small grapple forced upon a guy and a girl by an army recruiter who has come to their town.  The guy doesn't want to fight the girl, but the solid girl who thinks she is as tough as any guy is a willing participant in the exercise.  When she takes him down and has him pinned he bites her arm to gain his release.  Later they meet a second time when he comes to her parent's house to build a shed for their swimming pool. Neither is happy to see the other.  But during his process of building their shed they warm up to each other and enlist together for a two-week military training camp.  

Ralph and I were sorry to have to leave twenty minutes before its dramatic conclusion to see the always entertaining awards ceremony.  Gary stuck it out.  We were hoping to get together for dinner afterwards but failed to connect.  That meant I could stay for the post-awards film "A Fistful of Dollars," Clint Eastwood's spaghetti western from 1964 by Sergio Leone, played somewhat in honor of Quentin Tarantino in town for the 20th anniversary screening of "Pulp Fiction" and also to present the Palme d'Or along with Uma Thurman.  The French truly love Tarantino, the consummate cinephile, and find a way to lure him to Cannes whenever they can.

I met up with Ralph afterwards at the Arcades for its final screening of the festival, "The Tale of the Princess," just planning to get a taste of this two-hour animated Japanese film that we knew would not have English subtitles.  Ralph lived and worked in Tokyo for nearly a decade up to 1999 so speaks some of the language and appreciates its culture.  We were both enjoying the film, but decided to leave after half an hour, hoping to get to catch up a little bit in our sleep, which hadn't been much more than five hours a night.

Usually the Awards Ceremony is on Sunday, the final day of the festival.  It was moved up a day not to conflict with the Euorpean elections.  Without the awards signaling the final day of the festival we had one more day of cinema to look forward to.  I will be able to complete the full roster of the Competition films with Godard's and Cronenberg's and also two of the award-winning Un Certain Regards films--Wenders' doc and also "Turist," a Swedish film that takes place at a ski resort.  It ought to be Another Great Day of Cinema.

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