Sunday, May 18, 2014

Cannes 2014 Day 4






 



Jessica Chastain 



Actress Zsófia Psotta watches a dog smother kisses on Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó 






Léa Seydoux 










Gong Li 







Sofia Coppola and Jane Campion 










Eva Green 








Salma Hayek 









Chloé Dumas













A collection of pieces from The Hollywood Reporter: 

Cannes photos from The Telegraph: 

Vogue guide to Cannes: 

Elle fashion photos:

E Online photos:

Hollywood Life photo gallery:

Huffington Post fashion styles:

Best dressed from Vanity Fair: 

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 

International Business Times: 

Another large gallery of photos: 








Cannes 1980  








Cannes 1980
 






summary of Cannes' first week  Jonathan Romney from The Observer, May 17, 2014

The word "festival" is supposed to conjure up joy, lightness, insouciance, merriment, n'est-ce pas? That's the theory, but for cinephiles the Cannes film festival is an ambivalent affair. For them, the annual 12 days on the Croisette are at once a delight and a morbidly obsessive binge, with a dash of boot camp thrown in. Oh, we'll rave wild-eyed about the masterpieces but you can also expect us to moan like ashen-eyed spectres about the four- or five-film-a-day regime, and the way the viewing schedule we so intricately worked out in advance suddenly fell to pieces when we failed to notice that this year's hot bet for Palme d'Or (Winter Sleep by Turkish master Nuri Bilge Ceylan) is a cool three-and-a-quarter hours long.

You always hear it said that we are here to celebrate the seventh art at its loftiest and headiest peak. Then how does one explain the festival opening with a scrap of tawdry tinsel like Grace of Monaco? I can't remember an opening film more roundly, or more justly, savaged by the critics: one French paper punned, "De Grâce!" ("Have Pity!").

The film is set after Grace Kelly stopped being Grace Kelly the movie star and became Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco, Duchess of Valentinois and Earthly Goddess of Ineffable Fragrance. The year is 1961, and Monaco is facing a blockade from France, which threatens to raid its coffers to finance the war in Algeria. Grace (Nicole Kidman) is opposed to such bullying tactics ("Colonalism," she declares, "is so 19th century"), squares up to nasty Charles de Gaulle and saves the day by making a speech about the power of love, therefore ensuring the survival of Europe's pluckiest little tax haven.

Never mind that Kidman (46) is somewhat mature to play Grace, aged 32 when the film was set, and never mind that she only really resembles her when it comes to the immaculately silky hair. Personally, I'd be happy to see Bill Nighy play the princess, if his performance were convincing. But it's been a while since we saw any sort of real performance from Kidman, whose features seem to have been embalmed in an eerily immobile L'Oréal-ad placidity. Kidman's Grace is a combination of debutante breathiness and a wide-eyed ingenue gaze, as if she's constantly walking in on a palace orgy just out of shot. It doesn't help that the camera has a bizarre penchant for shooting her face in extreme close-up, like a space probe searching for signs of life on a desolate planet.

Directed by Olivier Dahan, this tedious piece of gilded snobbery has been denounced by Monaco's royal family as a "farce" on the strength of the trailer alone; once the fuss has blown over about what a lousy film it is, Grace of Monaco will mainly be remembered as the film that made the Monegasques blow a monegasket.

As for the competition proper, so far it's looking lively. Whenever you hear of a director's "dream project", you tremble slightly, but given that Mike Leigh's dream project, a film about the painter Turner, is a 19th-century story, and that period did him well in Topsy-Turvy, there was every chance that Mr Turner might be rather fine. It's better than that – this is an extraordinary film, perhaps closer to big Victorian social canvases like Frith's The Derby Day than to Turner's own work. It's a huge tableau that offers an expansive sweep but also, in characteristic Leigh style, homes in on the fine details and eccentricities of society and character.

Structured as an episodic overview of the last 25 years of Turner's life, the film gives us the public man – exuberantly holding court at a Royal Academy vernissage – as well as the very private one. The intimate Turner engages with the various women in his life, shows filial tenderness for his elderly barber father (a very impressive Paul Jesson) and, in one very touching scene, waxes tearful as he sings Purcell's Dido's Lament in an off-key strangulated bray. As Turner, Timothy Spall is magnificent: it's a huge, energetically physical performance, whether he's holding forth grandiloquently or issuing a strange guttural hoot that is the character's taciturn trademark, something between Chewbacca and a rutting turkey cock.

Mr Turner will further fuel the tendency to refer to Mike Leigh's work as Dickensian, and justly so – in scope and density it feels like a deconstructed Victorian novel, the proverbial loose baggy monster. It's a terrific ensemble piece, with a magnificently irate Ruth Sheen among Leigh regulars, and less-known names excelling, such as Marion Bailey, as Turner's final consort, and Joshua McGuire, priceless as a foppish John Ruskin. The film also features some succulent period language, such as the imprecation: "Brook your ire, sir!" The film is so well liked here that someone could do a roaring trade in T-shirts: MR TURNER SAYS: BROOK YOUR IRE.

Early days yet but Mr Turner is clearly a frontrunner for the Palme d'Or. So is Timbuktu, by Mauritanian-born Abderrahmane Sissako. This year looks set to be a very current affairs Cannes, with major documentaries in the programme about events in Libya and Ukraine. Timbuktu may be fictional but it couldn't be more real and urgent: it dramatises the effects of Islamisation in Mali, with ordinary people's lives being fundamentally transformed by squads of "police Islamique" surveying every aspect of their conduct. The changes introduced start with the seemingly trivial (men forced to wear socks), and even afford some comic moments: boys banned from playing football instead play matches with an imaginary ball. But this humour only offsets the extremity: a couple buried up to the necks and stoned; a woman lashed for singing but continuing to chant even while she takes the strokes. It's a mightily defiant film, all the more powerful because Sissako isn't issuing a tract: he uses grace, lyricism, visual imagination and sweetly dark irony to get his message across. It's a very authoritative statement.

Also in competition is the latest from Canadian auteur Atom Egoyan, The Captive. Expect this film to put some backs up (it took some boos at the press screening) because Egoyan has made a teasing and playful puzzler out of something horrifying: a case of child abduction and imprisonment with grim echoes of the Fritzl case. Round this ghastly core, Egoyan spins a fragmented detective drama, in which Rosario Dawson plays a paedophile-busting cop, and Ryan Reynolds is the father of the missing girl. It could be accused of trivialising the unthinkable, but this genre thriller with an arthouse twist is Egoyan's strongest in a while.

There's another tricksy crime offering in The Blue Room, from actor-director Mathieu Amalric. Cannes just isn't Cannes unless you've seen one – or five – films starring the hardest-working man in French cinema. This year Amalric is wearing his director's hat, as well as his usual characteristic look of a bewildered veal calf, as the lead in his own thriller. Based on a Georges Simenon story, The Blue Room is a twist on classic French crime material, a tale of small-town infidelity, guilt and death – although we don't find out until an hour in exactly what the case is that Amalric's small-town adulterer is implicated in. Brilliantly conceived as a narrative Rubik's Cube, this arty and erotic modernist thriller is utterly seductive – and, you can bet, the most French film we'll see here this year.

In the opening films of festival sidebar sections, programmers seem to be doing their best to offset last year's complaints that there weren't enough women directors in the programme. Directors' Fortnight opened with Girlhood (Bande de Filles), by up-and-coming auteur Céline Sciamma, a specialist in the sexual and social travails of young Frenchwomen. This one is about an African teenager who joins a band of tough-as-nails jeunes filles: there are some brutal girl-on-girl rumbles but the gang also goes in for more innocent pleasures like dressing up in shoplifted frocks and lip-syncing to Rihanna. The film's a little flat dramatically but the young non-professional cast are electric: keep an eye on its charismatic lead, Karidja Touré.

And the official Un Certain Regard sidebar kicked off with Party Girl, directed by three unknowns, two of them women – Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis. This exercise in bustling, docu-style realism is about Angélique Litzenburger, a 60-year-old club hostess who decides to build bridges with her family and to give marriage a whirl – only to find that the lure of late nights, sullen single men and overpriced ersatz champagne is hard to resist. Viewed in isolation, Party Girl seems a routine piece of French lowlife realism in the Abdellatif Kechiche vein, with some lively screen presences but little new to reveal. Then you realise that Litzenburger is playing herself, that she's the mother of co-director Theis, and that Angélique's family members are also playing themselves – at which point the film takes on the colours of a daring and fascinating existential project, or therapeutic exercise.

It'll be a lively fest for Brit-spotters: apart from Leigh and Ken Loach in competition, there's a comeback film in store from John Boorman, and offerings from Matthew Warchus and editor turned director Andrew Hulme. Directors' Fortnight has already unveiled Catch Me Daddy by newcomer Daniel Wolfe. It's another ripped-from-today's-headlines story: in Yorkshire a young Muslim girl (Sameena Ahmed) goes on the run and is pursued by her brother and his posse. It's clear that an honour killing is in the offing, and that's the nitty-gritty that the film moves towards in its troubling finale. It's a slightly bumpy ride getting there, shifting gears between pursuit thriller, hard-times realism and lyrical film poem à la Lynne Ramsay. But it's an intriguingly intense debut.

No-show of the week

Alas, poor Grace – rarely was such an insipid film so controversial, though not among the critics, who have been pretty much in agreement about its awfulness. The real row was between the film's US distributor Harvey Weinstein and director Olivier Dahan over the cut. It was Dahan's cut that screened here, and good luck to Mr W if he thinks he knows how to improve it. Weinstein didn't show up for the opening night, instead sending a communiqué explaining that he was detained visiting a Syrian refugee camp, with writer Neil Gaiman, of all people. This must be one of the best festival no-show excuses ever. Last year Ryan Gosling didn't make it here for Only God Forgives because he was busy directing this year's Cannes entry Lost River. And Jean-Luc Godard, a few years ago, sent a scrawled fax to say that he was detained in Venice by "problems of a Greek nature" (which everyone took to mean a crash in his personal economy).

But for sheer insouciant absenteeism, you can't beat Gérard Depardieu, who failed to turn up at the Venice Film festival to launch Potiche, his 2010 reunion with Catherine Deneuve. The reason? A more pressing engagement at another festival in Armenia.

Tanks for the testosterone

The stars of action pic The Expendables 3 – among them Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford and Antonio Banderas – are expected to proceed down the Croisette today in two Soviet-era tanks. Precautions, it seems, have been taken; the treads have been replaced with rubber tyres so as not to mince up the pavement, and the gun turrets removed. The assembled hard men might have a tough task; they'll be lucky if they can actually get anywhere along the Croisette on a Sunday, when the streets are filled with locals walking microscopic lapdogs on super-long leads.

My lips are sealed, but…

In addition to elbowing his way into screenings, yours truly is serving on the jury for the Critics' Week Grand Prix. The president is Andrea Arnold, who made her own Cannes debut in that section in 1998 with her short Milk, before graduating to the red carpet with 2006's Red Road. Jurist's omertà forbids me from telling you about the films, which in any case we haven't seen: but the themes include sexually conflicted Italian teens, American kids suffering strange visions, and a Danish woman with paranormal body hair issues. It'll be a bracing week.



Cannes 2014 struggles with strikes, showers and unhappy critics  Vanessa Thorpe from The Observer, May 17, 2014

When Timothy Spall, playing the painter JMW Turner, swings determinedly into the halls of the Royal Academy on Piccadilly, where the summer show has just been hung, he amuses the gathered grandees by describing the cluttered squash of paintings covering the galleries as a "cornucopia". He is right: style clashes with style and colour palette clashes with colour palette, while there is scarcely an inch of wall space between them.

It is no stretch to see this scene in Mike Leigh's acclaimed new film, Mr Turner, which premiered here at Cannes on Thursday, as a pretty good approximation of the role of the annual film festival. Director vies for attention with director – and nobody agrees on the purpose of film-making in the first place. Some make money by it and some don't.

To me, after a dozen years of covering the festival's opening run, the comparison seems apt, especially since, just as Turner once sensed the threat photography posed to his art, the cinema industry is now braced for the impact of the digital age.

This time the film festival also faces criticism on some potentially damaging fronts. While it still offers a great platform for launching new projects of any sort, many are saying its grip on contemporary cinema has weakened. So while, last Friday, early promotional clips of Benedict Cumberbatch's upcoming performance as Alan Turing, Michael Fassbender's Macbeth and Colin Firth's voice work as an animated Paddington Bear, were screened with great fanfare, some of the finished films actually being shown in the main festival competition are causing critics to shift uneasily in their seats.

Atom Egoyan's Captives is the latest to displease the crowd – earning one star only from the Guardian and Variety, although others liked it. "Thin line-up, very thin," mutter the seasoned cineastes to each other along the Croisette.

Troubles come in threes and the 67th Cannes festival is no exception: fear of bad weather, the effect of widespread strikes and attacks on the selection criteria for films are all having an impact.

The weather, of course, no one can do much about (although Vivienne Westwood, who spoke about climate change on Cannes beach on Friday night, might disagree). The early days of recent festivals have been marred by heavy rain. Last year it went on and on; this weekend, happily, the showers seem to have stopped and most of the free Film4 umbrellas on offer are being left unclaimed. But wet weather has become part of the Cannes image, and it makes the high prices for food and accommodation harder to justify.

The opening of the 2014 festival was also marred by strikes at French airports and at taxi ranks along the Côte d'Azur – as if poor reviews of Grace of Monaco were not enough of a downer. British film producer Jenny Walker, of Frame of Reference Films, was not pleased. "It just makes it so hard to justify coming here, when all your meetings fall down," she said. "There is no one here yet and you can't afford to wait."

A team from the BFI London Film Festival were stranded when their flight was cancelled. Claire Stewart, director of the London festival, said: "There's always something, some protest or strike, during Cannes, but this year it's really extreme. It's affecting everyone."

Stephen Woolley, the veteran British producer, suffered too, he told me. He had to walk with his bags from Nice airport to the train station, but he took it in good part (as you might expect from the man behind the strike movie Made in Dagenham). The trip to Cannes is always worth it, Woolley says. "I have been coming here for 32 years and some of my stories would turn your hair white. I have had so many disappointments, but great successes too, particularly when Mona Lisa won," he said. "I might criticise the power of the festival organisers, or say that the selection is too predictable, or too French, or biased, but it is still great that it exists. There has to be somewhere that Mike Leigh and Ken Loach can catch their moment in the sun."

People who come to the festival should, he warned, be prepared for its huge scale and for the chaos around the Palais du Festival. It remains, he added, a great place to meet the people you need to see. As if to prove this point, as I walk away from Woolley, I pass American producer Harvey Weinstein making his personality felt into a mobile phone: "Do it, just do it now," he is saying.

The more serious problem – the accusation that the competition selection is predictable – rests on the fact that of 19 directors in contention for the Palme d'Or prize next weekend, 13 have already been nominated at least once. There is David Cronenberg – who delivers his take on Hollywood, Maps to the Stars, this week – Jean-Luc Godard, Egoyan, and of course Britons Leigh and Loach. Disgruntled critics suggest the competition has become a cosy club, where the chosen few are never ejected, merely shuffled to one of the less prestigious selections – Un Certain Regard or The Directors' Fortnight. There are some newer directors, of course, such as Turkey's Nuri Bilge Ceylan or Japan's Naomi Kawase, who do find favour, but it is never clear why some are anointed and some ignored.

Selections are made by the Cannes festival director, Thierry Frémaux, and he defends himself forcefully from the charge that he protects only certain film-making species, few of them female. Last week he argued that great established directors make great films "so there will always be a place for them in the festival".
Frémaux makes his international choices in consultation with a covert network of advisers. In Britain the writer Agnès Poirier is a key influence, although she recently confided to one Cannes critic that her advice is not always taken. The big British film funding units, Film4, the BFI and BBC Films, also have large parts to play. Like the film festival itself, they concentrate on fostering reputations.

"We are building careers," said Film4 supremo Tessa Ross, the executive behind Slumdog Millionaire and 12 Years A Slave, who is attending her last Cannes in that role before moving to the National Theatre. "That is the only way to do it if you want to have films that matter. If it is about one film, then in the end it becomes just about money. We want to create a space for directors to take on big subjects and perhaps tell us something about ourselves."

Ross's colleague Sam Lavender stresses that sticking with talent for the long haul is essential. "A film such as Under the Skin took years to bring together, and our new film Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, was the same. That is how you get quality."

Leigh's passionate argument in Mr Turner is that artistic genius is not easy to handle and is not always evident to all. Speaking last Thursday, the director was vehement in his denial that Turner's struggle is his struggle. "This film is not a narcissistic investigation of myself," he said. All the same, it is difficult to ignore the idea that this story of "a radical and a revolutionary" who "was inspired to distil and capture the world", is not designed to tells us something.

In the film, Turner goads his cautious rival Constable, played by James Fleet, by stabbing a whopping blob of red on his own canvas. The rivals have entirely different temperaments, but are hung on the same wall. Meanwhile the ill-tempered painter Benjamin Haydon, played by Martin Savage, remains impoverished and marginalised.

The lesson for Cannes here may be that good art is rarely delivered in a bankable package, but we do need a space in which to cultivate it in several varieties, while staying sensitive to the fact that some artists are going to feel aggrieved and excluded.


Cannes Film Festival 2014: National Gallery Review  Budd Wilkins on the latest Frederick Wiseman effort from The House Next Door, May 17, 2014

Frederick Wiseman's institutional analyses entered a new register in the mid '90s with Ballet, wherein the institution's involvement with the constructive and performative aspects of artistic endeavor came to the foreground. Performance was usually an element in Wiseman's films, of course, from the rank-and-file formations in Basic Training to the catwalk struts in Department Store, and later films like At Berkeley have returned to the structural expose format, but Ballet puts the emphasis on creation and not routinization. National Gallery takes this development to the next logical step, using its titular establishment as a springboard for an all-encompassing exploration into the multifarious nature of art as both history and object. This is one of Wiseman's richest and most thought-provoking films, and easily one of his best.

With Wiseman's films, it's often tempting to try and work out the underlying structure, even while you're watching them, to break them down into discrete sequences, and thereby discern the broader thematic movements or acts (depending on your artistic analogue of choice). National Gallery is hardly an exception: After an overture that offers up a number of famous paintings for the critical gaze of patrons and viewers alike, the film's first hour examines the historical and formal context of the museum's holdings. Wiseman presents extended talks from curators and guides about particular works of art. Classes in art appreciation for young and old, as well as art classes where students sketch from a live model, embody what John Berger famously called the art of looking. In that sense, a film and a painting aren't vastly different. Each can be "read" in a number of ways, and it has always been one of Wiseman's greatest strengths that he can present his material in a way that leaves it most open for individual interpretation.

National Gallery's second hour delves into the physical lives of the paintings, exposing the normal wear and tear suffered by works that are hundreds of years old, and follows the redoubtable efforts of the museum's restoration and retouching staff. Museum-studies aficionados will relish footage of curators discussing the philosophy of putting together an exhibition, and what can be gleaned from a seemingly random configuration of artworks. The film's third hour touches on the museum as a physical space with an amusingly complicated discussion of lighting techniques. Many of the paintings seen earlier crop up again in new contexts, which is part and parcel of the section's theme: that what we think we see depends in no small measure on our frame of reference. (A discussion of J.M.W. Turner's The Fighting Temeraire brings to mind Mike Leigh's Mr. Turner, to boot.)

Nor does Wiseman ignore the institutional aspects of the museum: Discussions about budget cuts and layoffs put the rarefied realms of the Renaissance in a new perspective. What is the value (use or exchange, to wax a bit Marxian) when people go hungry or, as a showboating Greenpeace protest halfway through the film asks, the Arctic ice caps are under threat? Approaching the question from another angle, a marketing meeting discusses selling Old Masters to modern citizens. It's a dilemma, obviously, lacking one definitive answer. Nevertheless, the film provides its own implicit response in the end, calling attention to an exhibition entitled "Metamorphosis," where art's alchemical ability to inspire a ferment of creativity yields striking transmutations of its basic elements into something new and daring, sounding a clarion call that's been upheld by most modern art movements. You only have to think of Ezra Pound's Imagist manifesto: "Make it new!"



The Cannes Criterion Forum is up and running:  

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

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

to win the Palme d’Or
(titles in bold have been screened at the festival)

3/1 Winter Sleep (N.B.Ceylan)
9/2 Leviathan (A.Zvyagintsev)
 
7/1 The Wonders (A.Rohrwacher)
7/1 Maps to the Stars (D.Cronenberg)
 
8/1 Timbuktu (A.Sissako)
9/1 Mr Turner (M.Leigh)
- – -
14/1 Two Days, One Night (Dardenne & Dardenne)
14/1 Still the Water (N.Kawase)
16/1 Goodbye to Language (J-L.Godard)
16/1 Clouds of Sils Maria (O.Assayas)
25/1 Foxcatcher (B.Miller)
 
25/1 The Homesman (T.L.Jones)
- – -
33/1 The Search (M.Hazanavicius)
33/1 Jimmy’s Hall (K.Loach)
40/1 Mommy (X.Dolan)
 
50/1 Wild Tales (D.Szifrón)
50/1 Saint Laurent (B.Bonello)
- – -
150/1 The Captive (A.Egoyan)


BEST ACTRESS
5/4 Two Days One Night – Marion Cotillard
6/1 The Wonders – Maria Alexandra Lungu
9/1 Maps to the Stars – Julianne Moore (solo or with Mia Wasikowska)
10/1 Still the Water – Makiko Watanabe
12/1 Mommy – Anne Dorval (/Suzanne Clement)
12/1 Winter Sleep – Demet Akbag / Melisa Sozen
14/1 Timbuktu – Toulou Kiki
16/1 Leviathan – Elena Lyadova
16/1 Clouds of Sils Maria – Juliette Binoche (/ K.Stewart and/or C.G.Moretz)
18/1 The Homesman – Hillary Swank
18/1 Mr Turner – Dorothy Atkinson
20/1 Wild Tales – Erica Rivas (/female ensemble)
22/1 The Search – Bérénice Bejo

BEST ACTOR
3/1 Mr Turner – Timothy Spall
9/2 Winter Sleep – Haluk Bilginer
5/1 Leviathan – Alexey Serebryakov (/ Vladimir Vdovichenkov)
6/1 Timbuktu – Ibrahim Ahmed
10/1 The Search – Maksim Emelyanov
14/1 Foxcatcher – Steve Carell (/ C.Tatum and/or M.Ruffalo)
14/1 Jimmy’s Hall – Barry Ward / Jim Norton)
20/1 Mommy – Antoine-Olivier Pilon (/Patrick Huard)
20/1 Two Days One Night – Fabrizio Rongione
20/1 Saint Laurent – Gaspard Ulliel
20/1 The Homesman – Tommy Lee Jones
20/1 The Wonders – Sam Louwyck
25/1 Maps to the Stars – Robert Pattinson (/John Cusack and/or Evan Bird)
25/1 Still the Water – Hideo Sakaki
28/1 Wild Tales – Ricardo Darín (/ male ensemble


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:  http://www.screendaily.com/, also:  http://www.screendaily.com/festivals/cannes/reviews 
 
The Hollywood Reporter at Cannes:  http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/cannes/2014
 
David Hudson does all the links for each review at Fandor:  http://www.fandor.com/blog/?s=Cannes+2014

The Film Center's Barbara Scharres and Michał Oleszczyk from the Roger Ebert blog:  http://www.rogerebert.com/festivals-and-awards 

Kevin Jagernauth, Oliver Lyttelton, and Jessica Kiang the indieWIRE Playlist:  http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/tag/cannes-film-festival 
 

Daniel Kasman, Adam Cook, and likely others at Mubi: https://mubi.com/notebook/posts/tag/Cannes%202014



Cannes Diary from Film Comment:  http://www.filmlinc.com/blog/cannes 

The Guardian collection of reviews:  http://www.theguardian.com/film/cannes-2014

The Guardian Cannes commentary:  http://m.guardiannews.com/film/cannesfilmfestival 

David Jenkins from Little White Lies:  http://www.littlewhitelies.co.uk/features/festivals 
 
Eric Lavallee and Nicholas Bell from Ion Cinema:  http://www.ioncinema.com/category/news/film-festivals


Drew McSweeny and Guy Lodge & others from HitFix:  http://www.hitfix.com/movies/cannes-film-festival 

Various writers at Twitch:  http://twitchfilm.com/festivals/cannes/ 

Sukhdev Sandhu and Robbie Collins from The Daily Telegraph:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/cannes-film-festival/ 

And, of course, George is back at Cannes this year, where he finds off the beaten track film fare:  http://georgethecyclist.blogspot.com  

With Invitations in hand for the two films debuting in Competition today I knew my day would be a good one.  I had only seen one of the four Competition films that have played so far.  I sacrificed an Invitation for the Ceylan film yesterday, giving it to friend, free-lance reviewer Patrick McGavin from Chicago,  to see the FIFA film, as that was the last time it was on the schedule. Though it couldn't compare to the Competition entry, I was glad to have seen it, as I might not ever again have the chance, even on DVD.  I knew I would have many opportunities for Ceylan's film in the days and years ahead and could exercise some patience, as difficult as it was.

Despite arriving at the Palais before eight for the early morning screening of "Saint Laurent" I had to climb high up into the balcony for a seat.  Though the huge screen was a long ways away, I was filled with privilege and eager anticipation to be at another premier of what could be a seminal film.  Gaspard Ulliel convincingly inhabited his role as Yves Saint Laurent as did Timothy Spall two days earlier with Turner.  This French biopic by Bertrand Bonello covers about a decade of Laurent's life starting in the late '60s when he was establishing himself as the world's premier fashion designer and battling drugs.  Like the Turner movie it was two-and-a-half hours long, but this one felt like it, becoming bogged down about half way through, as the story stagnates.  

After it was over I joined the mad dash back outside for the line returning to the Palais for "Wild Tales," a delightful Spanish dark comedy produced by Pedro Almodovar.  This series of six stories of distressed souls lashing out at the injustices of the world by Damian Szifron was a refreshing antidote to the all too serious and heavy films that dominate the festival.  From the very first outrageous segment on a plane filled with people a vengeful flight attendant arranged to put on the flight who have wronged him over the years, this film manages to sustain originality and unexpected twists from start to finish.  Any of the tales could have made for a full length feature.

When I fell fifteen people short, three of whom had budged in front of me, of getting into Ceylan's film after standing in line for an hour at the Soxiante, it allowed me to see one of the two movies in the market on Somali pirates--one a documentary and the other a feature.  This American production,"Fishing Without Nets," was the feature. The cast of mostly non-professional Somalis, like those in "Captain Phillips," are creepy characters prone to unpredictable behavior.  They don't fully know what they are doing, nor do they all trust one another.  This was less convincing and riveting than the Tom Hanks film and largely told from the Somali viewpoint, but offered further insight into the pirating.

Not having my day consumed by the three-hour Ceylan movie also opened up the opportunity for a mountaineering documentary that had interested me since spotting it in the program five days ago--"Cerro Torre--A Snowball's Chance in Hell."  Cerro Torre is a unique sharp pinnacle in Patagonia that hadn't been climbed until 1959.  A couple of Austrian climbers make an attempt on it in 2009.  One of them is a climbing prodigy whose father is a Nepalese Sherpa and mother Austrian.  The scenery is spectacular and the footage of them being the first to free-climb a giant wall topped by ice is palm-sweating.

People were already lined up outside the Star theater two hours before Abel Ferrara's "Welcome to New York" was to screen at nine p.m.  Rather than playing in three consecutive time slots at the Star as originally scheduled, it was reduced to two screenings playing simultaneously in two of the Star's 250-seat theaters.  I had made the long trek to the distant Star on my bike to see "Stations at the Cross" at 7:30 and then maybe "New York" if its wasn't mobbed.  That didn't seem likely.  And "Stations" was so engaging I didn't care to to leave it prematurely.

This German film had won the best screenplay at Berlin in January.  It tells in fourteen segments (the stations of the cross), most of which are shot with a stationary camera the story of a very devoted and somewhat tormented Catholic girl during her confirmation process.  Her very dominating mother, prone to angry outbursts, shows her no mercy in ordering her about to withstand the temptations of the material world, especially not listening to demonic rock music. As with "Wild Tales," one segment after another is packed with intense veracity--in the confessional booth, in her high school gym, at a doctor's office. This more than rewarded my obsession with filling every time during the day with cinema.

Un Certain Regard gives up one slot every year to a film that has already played at Sundance or Toronto.  Last year it was the significant "Fruitvale Station."  This year Thierry Fremaux did Harvey Weinstein a favor by letting it be his "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her," that had played at Toronto. Weinstein was there in stage with his wife and the two stars of the film, Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy, though not Isabelle Huppert or William Hurt, who play Chastain's parents.  This film, which takes place in Manhattan, opens with a silly fleeing a restaurant without paying scene , and then Chastain jumping off a bridge trying to commit suicide.  She is saved and hospitalized.  The script does little to try to explain what led to her suicide, but is rather preoccupied with showcasing some occasional bon mots by the first-time director Ned Benson.  The self-indulgent script does not try to understand its characters, but rather tries to entertain those watching them.  It was a stark contrast to "Party Girl" and "That Lovely Girl," also in Un Certain Regard, that were full honest and realistic.  This was just someone who had some writing talent wanting to make a movie.

Although I only saw six movies today, after seven the past two days, it was still Another Great Day of Cinema.  I'm getting by on less than six hours of sleep a night, but still going strong, enervated by the varied worlds and stories I'm able to immerse myself in all day long.  Sharing a place with Ralph less than a mile from the Palais rather than camping is saving me time, but also keeping me up late dissecting the movies. I miss that four-mile bike ride to and from the campground along the Mediterranean, but our conversations are more than adequate compensation.  Without Ralph's keen eye I wouldn't have realized my pass entitled me to Invitations this year, a great bonus, and his contacts also greatly enhance being here.

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