Monday, May 26, 2014

Cannes 2014 Day 12

Charlotte Gainsbourg and Asia Argento

French actress Marion Cotillard

Russian model Natasha Poly

Uma Thurman

Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor

more Kapoor

Chinese fashion model Liu Wen

English model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

Former Miss France, French actress Sonia Rolland

Zoe Saldana

Chloë Grace Moretz and Juliette Binoche

Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche after the screening of the film Clouds of Sils Maria

British Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton and American singer Nicole Scherzinger

Chinese director (and juror) Jia Zhang-ke and his famous actress wife Zhao Tao

A collection of pieces from The Hollywood Reporter: 

Cannes photos from The Telegraph: 

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

E Online photos: 

The Huffington Post: 

Elle fashion photos: 

Vanity Fair best dressed: 

International Business Times:  

Hollywood Life photo gallery: 

Another large gallery of photos:  

Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman

the last look of the fest is the elegance and breathtaking beauty of Gong Li

Cannes 2014: Nuri Bilge Ceylan's slow-burn Palme d'Or, and career  Steven Zeitchik from The Los Angeles Times, May 25, 2014

For more than a decade, the Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan has been reliably bringing a movie to the Cannes Film Festival every time he had a new one, starting with the odd-couple class drama “Distant” in 2002 and continuing with new works “Climates,” “Three Monkeys” and “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia”, at intervals of about every three years. He won at least one prize each time out.

This year Ceylan premiered his new movie, the marital drama “Winter Sleep,” on the Croisette. And on Saturday he reached a career pinnacle, winning the Palme d’Or, Cannes and global cinema’s highest honor.

Given Ceylan’s deliberately paced Cannes ascent, it is fitting that he won the biggest prize of his life with “Sleep”--itself a slow-burn story that revels in the details, and then some, over its 3¼-hour running time.

“It’s not really okay now to do a movie this long,” he said. “Maybe 20 years ago it was okay. People today like to live fast‎.” He paused. “I like to go slower.”

Ceylan, 55, has a sweat shirt pulled up on a windy day as he talks at the beachside restaurant area of the Turkish Pavilion, the country’s headquarters in Cannes. It is a week before the director will learn his film’s epic length is a selling point, ‎or at least no obstacle, to the Jane Campion-led jury that will vote on the Palme. Still he is unapologetic, saying he believes people will stay with these characters -- particularly protagonist Aydin (Haluk Bilginer), an actor-turned-hotelier and newspaper columnist -- even through the dialogue scenes that can flatten and undulate many times over before they’re done.

Besides, Ceylan says, flashing a smile, impatient viewers should consider themselves lucky. "This is the shortened version. The original was 4½ hours,” he said.

Telling personal stories -- often about existential characters and dilemmas -- in an exotic setting has been Ceylan's calling card since he came on the scene (his first film was “Small Town,” which received accolades at the Berlinale when it premiered there in 1998). "Winter Sleep" offers maybe the most ambitious example yet of this admixture.

After an opening scene that lays out, in the movie’s picturesque Cappadocia town, class tensions between the wealthy landowning stratum (of which the middle-aged Aydin is a part) and the poor residents who see little but hopelessness and harassment from their unofficial masters‎, the movie shifts into a lower gear. Aydin soon gets into a series of extended one-on-one conversations with his younger wife Nihal (Melisa Sozen).and divorcee sister Necla (Demet Akbag) over their respective life choices and one's purpose on this earth generally.

Aydin has an earnest, righteous quality, but it is a peculiar brand of piety, brushed with arrogance as he admonishes Nihal for, of all things, her charity work. As these conversation unfold, one gains insight into Ceylan’s view on justice and life’s purpose even as small character details, not all of them savory, emerge.

Much of the movie continues in this fashion -- the sprawling Turkish countryside setting belies the film’s chamber-piece essence --‎ before a final-hour turn to Istanbul, where the plot quickens its pace.

"You had to include those conversations before sending Aydin to Istanbul‎," Ceylan said, offering an indirect explanation for the digressive, conversational nature of his film and a rebuttal to those who in these past few days have been pressing him on it.

How much Aydin‎ can or should be identify with is a question at the heart of the piece, since while he makes some defensible points, he also has a peremptory air that keeps him at arm's length from our sympathy and makes us ask questions about both his motives and our own.

“I’m interested in the timeless.  This is a story about the human soul. When you think about it, we know nothing about that,” said the director, who wrote the film with his wife and former acting collaborator Ebru Ceylan, a professional union that may help explain the movie’s preoccupations with marriage and partnership.

Ceylan has a ruminative style of speaking, filled with pauses, that is reminiscent of some of his characters. He said this film came out of a tension he felt between the way he and his peers live his life compared with working-class people, and a kind of crisis of conscience that came with that realization.

“We intellectuals like thinking about life more than living it.” he said. “It leaves you with a guilty conscience sometimes. Other people are living it.”

Indeed, also central in the movie (which does not yet have distribution in the U.S.) is the difficult position everyday people find themselves when economic prospects are bleak and class and religious tensions are high, as they are in modern Turkey, the personal made more dramatic by the political. It is no accident that Ceylan tossed a nod in his Palme acceptance speech to  "the young people in Turkey and those who lost their lives in the last year,” a reference to the economic and religious tensions the country has faced of late. The filmmaker's movies may not be overtly topical, but topicality is never far from his mind.

Turkey had not previously been a global-cinema power, but Ceylan has begun to change that. And if recent movies—including “Monkeys” and “Anatolia”-- have had more of a genre dimension, this film is more sweeping, he said, simply because a life, longer and more fully lived, leads to tougher questions and grander perspectives.

“I never wanted to make a film about one thing. I wanted it to be about life,” he said. “So I felt free to put everything in there. Other films [of mine] maybe are‎ more narrow. This is more divergent.”

That divergence can take time to develop. but as Ceylan learned Saturday, if it’s moving in the right direction it will one day be rewarded.

Cannes film festival: The most buzzed-about performances  Jake Coyle from The San Jose Mercury News, May 25, 2014

CANNES, France -- The 67th annual Cannes Film Festival featured a number of remarkable performances, many of them from big-name stars. These were among the actors that had Cannes buzzing:

-- Steve Carell: It was an open question which star of Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher" turned in the most impressive performance. There's Channing Tatum as Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz, a physically potent but emotionally stunted man. And as his older sibling and mentor, Mark Ruffalo's brotherly physicality is also essential. But Carell, with a prosthetic nose and grayed hair, was the one to cause the biggest stir at Cannes for his dramatic turn as the creepy multi-millionaire John du Pont who's obsessed with the other two.

-- Kristen Stewart: There's a clever irony to casting one of the most famous American actresses as the assistant to a European star, played by Juliette Binoche. But in Olivier Assayas' "Clouds of Sils Maria," Stewart does more than wink at her fame. She's natural and intelligent in a way she hasn't been perhaps since the 2009 "Adventureland."

-- Timothy Spall: Great artists have often been given majestic big-screen incarnations. In Mike Leigh's biopic of British master J.M.W. Turner, Spall takes another route. His Turner is a humble, grunting worker whose grand artistry is hidden beneath his gruff manner.

-- Marion Cotillard: The Dardenne brothers have never before cast a major star as a protagonist, but they said they were smitten by Cotillard after a brief encounter. In their "Two Days, One Night," Cotillard proved (to most, although not all) that her stardom didn't interfere in telling a story about a working class woman trying to convince her co-workers to vote against a raise that will eliminate her job.

-- Robert Pattinson: The former "Twilight" star is beginning to put his teen heartthrob past behind him, and the early returns are encouraging. Along with a supporting role in David Cronenberg's "Maps to the Stars," Pattinson impressed as Guy Pearce's bloodied, not-all-there companion in David Michod's Australian thriller "The Rover."

-- Evan Bird: "Maps to the Stars," a midnight dark satire of Hollywood, offers up a lot of choice parts. Most notable is Julianne Moore as a star actress terrified that her status is slipping. But the 14-year-old Evan Bird breaks out playing a Justin Bieber-like child star with an ego far greater than his years.

-- There were others, too. The Italian family drama "The Wonders" was impossible to imagine without the gentle presence of the young Maria Alexandra Lungu. Alexey Serebryakov enlivened the Russian tragedy "Leviathan" with vodka-swilling fury. Ibrahim Ahmed rooted the Turkish "Winter Tale" with uncommon gravity. Jean-Luc Godard's dog also took a bite out of Cannes -- stealing the show in the French master's 3-D "Goodbye to Language."

From magical cinema to politics and emotion at the awards ceremony, here are some of my highlights from Cannes 2014:

-         Palme d'Or Winner Nuri Bilge Ceylan dedicating his award to the young people of Turkey died in clashes during the protest movements in the past year.

-         Canadian director Xavier Dolan gives a big Mommy hug to president of the jury, Jane Campion, after winning the Jury Prize jointly with father of the New Wave cinema Jean-Luc Godard.

-         Football choreography without a ball and with brightly coloured shirts in the Saharan sands, along with a supposed-jihadi dancing like a bird on the roof of the local madwoman’s house in Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu.

-         The whale skeleton and the ship skeletons on the shore of the Barents Sea in Andrey Zvyagintisev’s Leviathan.

-         Little Abdul Khalim Mamatsevi’s entranced dance scene in The Search.

-         Gilles Jacob bowing out gracefully at the awards ceremony after spending the best part of his 80-something years with the Cannes Film Festival and establishing the short film and Un certain regard sections to help foster new generations after new generations of filmmakers.

Cannes: The 2014 Palme de Whiskers  But what Cannes fest would be complete without Barbara Scharres and her memorable tribute to cats at Cannes, from the Roger Ebert site, May 23, 2014

All of Cannes is quivering in excitement in anticipation of the awards. The bestowing of the Palme d’Or is imminent. That means it’s time for the coveted Palme de Whiskers, my annual imaginary prize for Best Feline Performance.

I regret to say that the dogs have had their day in a big way at the 67th Cannes Film Festival. We cat lovers have had to tolerate insufferably flamboyant performances by dogs in countless films including "Saint Laurent" (disgusting little bulldogs), "White God" (killer canines), and Jean-Luc Godard’s "Goodbye to Language" (stereotypical slobbering pooch). Jean-Luc’s betrayal especially hurts, since a pair of kittens from his "Film Socialisme" were awarded the Palme de Whiskers back in 2010.

Preparations are in place for a fabulous award ceremony at the glittering Palais de Kitty—cats along the Croisette, the Cannes seaside promenade.  The glamour-pusses of the Riviera are assembled in their finery, with rhinestone collars galore. Last year’s winner Ulysses, feline star of "Inside Llewyn Davis," stands ready to present the award.

Never has a more distinguished jury been assembled for the Palme de Whiskers. Some of the world’s most important film critics have sent their cats. From the U.K., representing Sight & Sound, editor Nick James’s mysteriously nocturnal Cleo is splendid in her ginger and white coat.  

Vogue magazine film critic John Powers and his wife, novelist Sandi Tan ("The Black Isle"), sent two fine judges. All the way from L.A. come grey-striped Chubs, his un-catlike tuxedo T-shirt a little tight around the belly, and elegant Nico, a snotty Siamese. "I don’t wear any fur but my own," she chortles throatily. Finally, there’s elderly Mr. Snuffleupagus, sent by Art Forum’s film critic Amy Taubin. He’s badly in need of a catnap due to the medication he took on the plane.  

The nominees are: [I’ve given names to those whom callous scriptwriters have failed to identify.]

From "Mr. Turner" by Mike Leigh, the fluffy trio of "Joe," "Mel," and "Will" get an ensemble nomination for walking on tables. Only two have lines, though, which might be a drawback for this jury.

From Pascale Ferran’s "Bird People," golden-eyed "Charlie," named for Charles de Gaulle airport where he has his big scenes, has a dramatic action scene in pursuit of a sparrow. Strong contender!

Asia Argento’s "Misunderstood" did some fine cat casting, most notably the sleek black male "Dac," as he is named in this saga of childood. The heroine said it all in describing her pet: "Pointy ears, electric whiskers, and a traitorous nose."

Also from "Misunderstood," there’s "Simon Le Bon," part-Siamese, who gets to lounge in a pink boudoir and flick her tail.

And finally, from multi-national omnibus film "Bridges of Sarajevo," there’s "Izzy," a little adolescent of mixed heritage performing cute stunts in her first role in the Isild Le Besco sequence of the film.

What a line-up! The discussions are intense. Mr. Snuffleupagus champions adorable "Izzy" but he’s lying on his side and snoring by the time the vote is taken. Chubs mentions that "Misunderstood" has one of the great cat lines of all time: "What a piece of pussy," but Cleo snidely points out that it doesn’t count because it refers to a human. Everyone is impressed with Charlie’s performance in "Bird People," but Nico rakes her claws across the ballot dismissively, snarling that the big stunt was mostly CGI. "And, his voice was dubbed," adds Cleo.

The moment has arrived. My own Miss Kitty is the mistress of ceremonies. She’s disconcerted for just a moment when Nico cattily asks if her red highlights are real, but Chubs gives a friendly wink. Odysseus, the Brad Pitt of the feline film world, leaps to the stage with an athletic bound. The winsome females in the audience are about go in heat in ecstasy at the sight of this handsome stud, and they’re invitingly treading the floor with their hind legs in excitement.

Odysseus claws the envelope open, his golden-striped paws gleaming. This year’s Palme de Whiskers goes to Dac, from "Misunderstood!" Asia Argento will be so proud. The jury pronounces him a cat role model for acting as a little girl’s best friend and guardian angel; extra points for being an extra-cuddly armful. Quite a good-looking tomcat himself, Dac gives Odysseus a friendly nod but scampers back to the audience, his eye on a few of those flirtatious lady cats.

The grand salon of the Palais de Kitty-cats is vibrating with purrs. The waiters are beginning to pass out the catnip appetizers, but these pussycats are high on a job well done. Take that, you festival dogs!

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:   

Roundtable discussion about the films from Film Comment:

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 what he’s missed so far: 

It may have been wind-down Sunday, but people were still lining up an hour or more early for a final film they were determined to see.  There was no great need, other than for the Godard film, “Goodbye to Language,” as that was the only of my final six that played to a packed audience, drawing a crowd seething with that Cannes semi-desperate, must-see frenzy.  One even had to fight through the throngs pushing into the theater to grab a pair of 3D glasses.

Ralph and I put the over/under on the number of people who would walk out at 50, although Ralph said it might be left up to me to make the count as he anticipated he'd be among those fleeing even though it was a mere 71 minutes long.  But Ralph endured and only about ten percent of the 300-seat theater left starting at after about half an hour when they'd had enough of the dialogue-free series of random scenes and images and pronouncements.  At least it was fast-paced and enlivened with music and 3D images poking out of the screen. It included occasional nudity and a dog and nature footage with brightly-colored foliage.  Bike lovers were rewarded with a scene from The Tour de France of a lone rider on a mountain stage climbing through a narrow gap of throngs of fans.  What meaning it had was beyond me, as were the other two bicycle images, one of a parked bike and another of a guy passing through an urban parking lot.  I'm not enough of a Godard scholar to comment on the significance of the bicycle in his oeuvre.

Our final day of cinema had begun at nine at the Debussy with "Turist," the only of the Un Certain Regard films to play in one of the larger theaters on this repeat weekend.  This Swedish film taking place at a ski resort was pronounced the second best film of its category by the Un Certain Regard jury.  It would be a natural for the Telluride Film Festival if it isn't deemed too dark by its directors.  A family of four on a six-day holiday in the Alps is brushed by an avalanche as they are eating lunch.  The father flees as it approaches while the mother stays to protect their two small children.  The mother is so mystified by her husband's behavior she can't mention it until that evening when they are having dinner with friends.  He denies abandoning them.  Over the coming days their marriage begins to unravel as they continue to grapple with this traumatic event.

My third film of the day also won an award--David Cronenberg's "Map of the Stars" for Julianne Moore's performance as a tortured famous Hollywood actress. She calls her personal assistant, played by Mia Wasikowska, her "chore whore," some of the barbed wit that has won this film some favor. It is one of three Competition films with a person of wealth and a lackey.  The other far superior films were those by Ceylan and Assayas.  Like "Mommy" it features a slur spewing kid, though their hate-filled venom doesn't match that of the teacher in "Whiplash."  If cinema is a mirror to the world we live in, it may be even worse than one realizes.  The plot of this indictment of Hollywood was almost as idiotic as that of Egoyan's film. Cronenberg put an embarrassing minimum of effort into his script. It was questionable whether it should have been recognized with any award, especially when there were other most worthy female performances--Cotillard, Swank and Binoche.

Fellow Canadian Ryan Gosling also dreadfully fumbled with his directorial debut "Lost River," a surreal account of a family losing their house in a run-down neighborhood that might have been Detroit.  The festival was willing to program this for his being the star in Competition films the past two years and despite his use of that disclaimer "pardon my French" after one of his characters uses the f-word.

No complaints though for Wim Wenders noteworthy documentary “The Salt of the Earth” in 2D this time of Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado that also won an award from the Un Certain Regard jury.   Wenders travels the world to many of the isolated places he photographed while narrating his fascinating life story giving up his promising career as a World Bank economist to devote himself to photography.

There was no Closing Night film this year, though the one I concluded with could have easily qualified if it had been a little more artful, rather than just a solid, straight-forward telling of a true story that took place just thirty miles down the coast at Nice.  "In the Name of My Daughter" by André Téchiné and starring Catherine Deneuve and the latest young French star Adèle Haenel, who also starred in the Director's Fortnight winner "Les Combattantes," is the story of a young woman who disappeared thirty years ago and her mother reopening the case to bring murder charges against her daughter's lover.  

Ralph somewhat regretted he had opted to see a South Korean violence strewn thriller, partially because it had a shorter running time, as his final film.  We had a nice festival rehash at a pizza restaurant that he frequented nearly every day.  It was another fine two weeks we both felt privileged to experience.  The films were great and so was our accommodations and camaraderie.  We were virtually prepared to put down a deposit the very next day.

Now it’s film withdrawal time.  We'll both do it through the bicycle.  My immediate destination is Toulouse to scout out the final two stages of The Tour de France before the peloton is transported back to Paris for its finale on the Champs Élysées.  Ralph will be taking the TGV back to Paris to retrieve his super light-weight bike.  He may take the train back to Avignon or Toulouse himself for a foray into the Pyrennees.  He travels without panniers, just a small bag, staying in hotels rather than camping, so our styles are too mismatched to ride together except for a possible short spell.  If we don't meet up again here, it will have to wait until Telluride come August.  But I at least have the joy of meeting up with Janina in three weeks in the UK before The Tour starts in Leeds.

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