Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cannes 2014 Day 6


the ever popular Jessica Chastain

Cheryl Cole

Sarah Marshall

Jennifer Lawrence

Béatrice Rosen

Cate Blanchett wearing Armani Privé and Roberta Armani attend the Armani party

Ryan Gosling with Christina Hendricks

Frieda Pinto

Red carpet shots from The Hollywood Reporter:

A collection of pieces from The Hollywood Reporter:  
Elle fashion photos: 
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:  

French actresses Isabelle Carré, Joséphine Japy, and Mélanie Laurent

Ten years ago, Chinese actress Gong Li, Indian actress Aishwarya Rai, and French model Laetitia Casta, from the 57th Cannes Festival

See the Worst of America: Head to a French Film Festival  Jon Frosch from The Atlantic, May 19, 2014

Cannes Film Festival artistic director Thierry Frémaux has been credited with bringing a touch of old-fashioned Hollywood glamour to the Croisette.

“I grew up loving American cinema; if you’re a movie buff, you love American cinema,” Frémaux recently said. “When I started [in 2001], it was quite obvious that Hollywood had drifted quite far away from Cannes. We decided to make an effort to have Hollywood come back and feel comfortable here.”

Beyond selecting American movies for competition, that effort entails luring stars to the festival with the promise of a special honor or the possibility of a promotional platform for their latest work.

On Sunday, the cast of The Expendables 3 (to be released in the U.S. in August), including Sylvester Stallone, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, and Antonio Banderas, rolled up to the red carpet in Soviet-style tanks, drawing deafening cheers from the crowd and a frenetic marathon of camera flashes from the photographers. Later that night, Jennifer Lawrence held court at a party for the upcoming installment of her Hunger Games franchise (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, due in US cinemas November 14). And just two days before, DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg celebrated the animation studio’s 20-year anniversary at the gala premiere of How to Train Your Dragon 2.

If Hollywood has been toasted outside the screening rooms, though, it was thoroughly roasted inside, with David Cronenberg’s delicious Maps to the Stars playing Monday in competition. The most purely entertaining selection in a solid but uninspiring line-up thus far, the Canadian body horror specialist’s latest doesn’t bring anything new to the well-worn tradition of satirical industry bashing: Bruce Wagner’s screenplay features a monstrous child star (Evan Bird), an aging screen diva (a gloriously go-for-broke Julianne Moore), an aspiring actor who works as a limo driver for cash (a very good Robert Pattinson) and an outcast who dreams of directing (Mia Wasikowska), as well as a threesome, incest, drugs, yoga, therapy and lots of name-dropping. But Maps to the Stars is so crisply directed, furiously paced and gleefully performed, that you go along for the ride. After the verbose monotony of his last work, Cosmopolis, Cronenberg’s new movie plays like a bracingly acidic palate cleanser.

Also screening Monday was one of two American competition entries, Bennett Miller’s long-awaited Foxcatcher. Based on the true story of multi-millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell, playing against type and fitted with a prosthetic nose) and his relationship with Olympic wrestler brothers Mark and Dave Schultz (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo), the film was enthusiastically received by American critics, who started tweeting about Oscar buzz before the lights had even gone up. If this restrained ‘80s-set drama largely works despite pacing problems and—more detrimentally—all-too-readable thematic and psychological arcs, it’s thanks to the superb trio of actors. Tatum, in particular, is a revelation as an emotionally fragile soul stuck in the body of a brute.

The other American entry, Tommy Lee Jones’s period western The Homesman, was less popular, but also spurred Oscar talk for leading lady Hilary Swank. As a devout, no-nonsense mid-19th-century spinster who joins forces with Jones’s claim jumper to accompany three mentally ill women from Nebraska to Iowa, Swank is indeed terrific. She’s a performer who blossoms under the guidance of a good director (as in Kimberly Peirce’s Boys Don’t Cry, Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia, and Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby), and Jones proved himself a sure hand behind the camera with The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada in 2005. His new film isn’t as strong—both lead characters feel under-baked and there are distracting cameos from Meryl Streep and James Spader. But Jones continues to craft evocative, painterly images, and he takes real risks with tone, shifting—not always convincingly, but with confidence—from tragic to comic without the usual cues or transitions.

The Homesman also grapples admirably with some tricky ideas. Swank’s character is tough and independent-minded, unafraid to point a gun and drive a mule-drawn carriage, but the film, adapted from a 1988 novel by Glendon Swarthout, has no illusions about feminist empowerment in the Old West. The price of the expansionist impulse—the physical and psychic stresses of setting out and starting anew—can be read on the anguished faces and battered bodies of the women in The Homesman.

Like Maps to the Stars and Foxcatcher, Jones’s film regards American ambition with considerable skepticism. At a festival that doubles as a playground and wheeling-and-dealing headquarters for U.S. celebrities and entertainment big wigs, that’s a good thing.

Cannes Film Festival: Hollywood is an ecosystem of fear and desperation says ...  Hannah Furness interviews actor John Cusack from The Telegraph, May 19, 2014

Hollywood can be an ecosystem of fear, greed, desperation, and an "infantile" need for acknowledgement, the actor John Cusack has said, as he launches his new film starring Julianne Moore as a fading, fame-hungry actress.

Cusack, who plays a New Age television psychologist in Maps to the Stars, said the circumstances of the film felt "familiar", as it explored the disturbing excesses of fame.

Saying the film is a "heightened myth" of reality, he added there is "something about LA" that gives people's "hunger and need for acknowledgement" an extra infantile edge.

The film, which has been premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, tells the story of Havana, an ageing actress who finds herself snubbed from a film role she is desperate to play.

Cusack plays a celebrity psychologist, who spouts "New Age platitudes" to clients while abusing a troubled daughter and allowing his child actor son to go off the rails.

Speaking at a press conference, David Cronenberg, the director, denied the film was deliberately taking aim at Hollywood and the film industry, arguing it could equally have been set in "any place where people are ambitious, desperate, greedy, fearful".

John Cusack, star of Being John Malkovich, High Fidelity and Grosse Point Blank, said the scenes and characters in the script had a "familiar " ring about them.

Cusack, who has worked in Hollywood since the early 80s, said: "I thought it was a very familiar ecosystem. It's a heightened sort of myth of it.

"You have a lot of people in an ecosystem of fear and greed and desperation, and there's all sorts of people who function within that and feed it and enable it.

"It could be Washington, it could be a financial district, could be Silicon Valley.

"But there's something about LA and fame and that hunger and need for acknowledgement that is almost little more infantile.

"It felt familiar in that way. When you read it, you didn't think it went to far, you thought it was just about right."

He added he had imagined the film as a "very lurid fever dream about Hollywood".

The film also stars Robert Pattinson, best-known for his role in the Twilight franchise, and Mia Wasikowska, who plays a young burn victim working as a personal assistant to Julianne Moore's character, Havana.

It also features a guest role from actress Carrie Fisher, as herself.

Moore told a press conference she would not "disparage" Hollywood, arguing it was important to explore the issues about the "desire to be seen" on the big screen.

When asked about the comic side of her character, among the dark moments of her breakdown, she added: "I think everything is funny. I think tragedy is funny, life is funny. We find humour in absolutely everything: our desires, our desperation.

"These are all people, especially Havana, who are so desperate to be heard and acknowledged and work very hard on the externalisation of that rather than internalising anything.

"There is something funny and sad about people who consistently miss the mark.

"That's what the whole movie is about - looking out rather than looking within. Havana in particular is extremely adolescent which as we all know is very funny."

Cronenberg, who is in the running for the Palme d'Or for Maps to the Stars, said of the film: "These people are desperate to exist, desperate to exert their existence.

"For Havana, she's terrified that she will cease to exist because as an actress she's been discarded by the industry. It would be a living death.

"That's where the desperation comes from, and the cruelty and the viciousness too."

He insisted the film was not a comment on Hollywood in particular, adding: "You could set this in Silicon Valley, on Wall Street - any please where people are ambitious, desperate, greedy, fearful.

"You could really set it anywhere and still convey the same ring of truth. To see it only as an attack on Hollywood and showbiz is to shortchange it."
Bruce Wagner, who wrote the script, said he believed the "cult of celebrity" had always existed.

"Warhol once said that in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes," he said. "Now I think that in the future, which is now, everybody will be famous all the time.

"As long as there is a need to be seen and be paid attention, it will exist. The Kardashians existed in the time of the pharaohs."

Cannes Day Five: "Map to the Stars" | Cannes | Roger Ebert  The Film Center’s Barbara Scharres review of Map to the Stars, from the Roger Ebert site, May 19, 2014

There’s a knack to squeezing through the crowd to enter the Palais for the big press screenings of competition films if you hope to get a highly desirable aisle seat. There are no lines for the main floor section, just hundreds of journalists in a body-to-body mash, all funneling to a narrow gate where the passes get scanned by guards. Once the gate is open, the crowd surges forward with scary force. Bruce Lee said, "Be like water," and it helps: offer no resistance and use the energy of others to move forward. I employ the slither and the baby-step shuffle to slip into the smallest opening like a ghost.

When I got into the theater tonight for the press premiere of David Cronenberg’s "Maps to the Stars" there were some ghosts on the screen, but the biggest specter in the room was the pale ghost of the Cronenberg whose work I had once liked and admired. The master of body-loathing, the great explorer of the technology of viscera reached career heights with films like "Videodrome" and "The Fly," and moved into powerful new territory with "A History of Violence." I thought "Cosmopolis," seen at Cannes in 2012, was a fluke, but it’s as if a Cronenberg imposter directed "Maps to the Stars."

Based on a script by novelist Bruce Wagner and set in Los Angeles, where it was shot, the black comedy "Maps to the Stars" has the aspect of a film industry home movie. There are copious insider references to industry players, some mentioned only by first name but drawing knowing laughs from the Cannes audience, rehab and name-brand drugs, and things like contracts, percentages and grosses. The film surfs celebrity culture with such a flurry of name-dropping that it’s a veritable Who’s Who of mainstream and indie filmmaking.

When the semblance of a plot emerges there are mirror-image themes of incest and of death and disfigurement by fire encompassing characters with overlapping relationships. Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore) is a neurotic, aging actress vying for the role of playing her own mother, a former star, in a new film. Child star Benjie (Evan Bird) is a teen heartthrob with a ruthless stage mother. His father (John Cusack), a vain, driven New Age therapist with a TV show, helps clients locate their "magical child."

Facially disfigured Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), a new girl in town, hooks up with an actor moonlighting as a limo driver (Robert Pattinson), and gets a job as Havana’s personal assistant thanks to a Hollywood Twitter buddy (Carrie Fisher playing herself). Agatha is concealing a whopper of a secret, and has a mysterious and persistent interest in Benjie’s family. Some of these characters see people from their past who aren’t there.

"Maps to the Stars" looks and feels clunky and disjointed. It sounds good on paper, but it’s a mess on the screen. Other than the evidence of Agatha’s scars, Cronenberg’s once-profound fascination with the body as dark vessel and blank canvas is limited here to off-putting incidents around the subject of excrement. There’s one murderous rampage that has the force of his earlier work as it teeters in its excess between horror and comedy, but otherwise the film is as blunt, unsubtle and graceless as the scene in which John Cusack’s angry fists pound a prone woman’s chest. 

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)

7/2 Winter Sleep (N.B.Ceylan)
5/1 Leviathan (A.Zvyagintsev)
7/1 Timbuktu (A.Sissako)
15/2 Mr Turner (M.Leigh)
- – -
10/1 Still the Water (N.Kawase)
10/1 The Wonders (A.Rohrwacher)
10/1 Foxcatcher (B.Miller)
- – -
16/1 Maps to the Stars (D.Cronenberg)

16/1 Two Days, One Night (Dardenne & Dardenne)
20/1 Goodbye to Language (J-L.Godard)
20/1 Clouds of Sils Maria (O.Assayas)
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)
100/1 Saint Laurent (B.Bonello)
- – -
200/1 The Captive (A.Egoyan)
2/1 Two Days One Night – Marion Cotillard
11/4 Maps to the Stars – Julianne Moore (solo or with Mia Wasikowska)
7/1 The Wonders – Maria Alexandra Lungu
12/1 Still the Water – Jun Yoshinaga
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

4/1 Mr Turner – Timothy Spall
9/2 Foxcatcher – Steve Carell (/ C.Tatum and/or M.Ruffalo)
6/1 Winter Sleep – Haluk Bilginer
7/1 Leviathan – Alexey Serebryakov (/ Vladimir Vdovichenkov)
8/1 Timbuktu – Ibrahim Ahmed
11/1 The Search – Maksim Emelyanov
16/1 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
22/1 Still the Water – Nijiri Murakami
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  

"Foxcatcher," the ninth of the eighteen films in Competition, becomes the first of the lot to break through the good and very good category to the mantle of greatness.  This true story of the deranged billionaire John du Pont appropriating the U.S. wrestling team in the 1980’s to his estate outside of Valley Forge was a gripping and powerful portrayal of ego and the curse of wealth and trying to please one's mother.

At last we had a movie that had us thinking and talking for long afterwards about its every grim, disturbing detail and the brilliant performances by its lead characters, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo as the brothers Mark and Davie Schultz, gold-medal winning wrestlers from the 1984 Olympics, and Steve Carell as the creepy DuPont, and also the brilliant directing of Bennett Miller, whose other two features were "Capote" and "Moneyball" and the great documentary "The Cruise" about a New York tour guide.  This may be too close to Holllywood fare for the jury to give it the Palme d'Or, but best director would be a worthy consolation prize.

My day was bookkended by Competition films, as Ralph and I ended our day with the Japanese film "Still the Water" by Naomi Kawase, who has won awards at Cannes twice before.  She called this her best film.  This was traditional art fare that would be too challenging for most audiences.  The story set on a lesser tropical island in the Japanese archipelago quietly drifts along interlaced with pleasing shots of crashing waves and aerial views of lush mountainous scenery and the best of all of cinematic shots, a boy and girl who are in the early stages of a fumbling romance gliding along on a bicycle, the girl clutching his waist.  

There was even more biking, and the best of the festival so far, in "The Finishers," a French film by Nils Tavernier, son of Bertrand, who has had a few Competition films over the years.  A father and his 18-year old son with cerebral palsy are training to compete in the Nice triathlon, which has a 112-mile bicycle leg with a 3,000 foot climb after swimming 3.8 miles in the Mediterranean and then concluding with a marathon.  The boy has to convince his father to do the triathlon with him and also the administrators of the event to let them in and his very protective mother as well.  Tavernier recognizes the beauty of bicycling, so his characters spend much more time training on their bicycle built for two  with the boy perched in front of his father, than swimming or running.  This inspiring, beautiful film already played at Toronto and is in commercial release in France.

My day also included the well-done documentary "Life Itself" about Roger Ebert that debuted at Sundance.  It was the first film from Chicago's Kartemquin group to play at Cannes.  The director Steve James had just flown in, arriving ten minutes before the screening.  He was accompanied by his son who had graduated from Chicago's Columbia College, where Janina teaches, with a degree in cinematography.  He worked as the second cameraman on the film, which was largely filmed in Ebert's hospital room in his last days.  Ebert's wife Chaz was also on hand to introduce the film.  Scattered in the audience were Milos Stehlik of Facets, critic Scott Foundas who along with Milos participated in the tribute to Ebert at the Chicago Theater after his death, and Michael Kutza, director of Chicago's film festival, good friends of Ebert. None were included in the film, though they could have, and the film did include excerpts from the tribute, actually opening with it.  Jonathan Rosenbaum, interviewed in the lobby of the Music Box, is among the many talking heads in the movie along with Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, Errol Morris, Gene Siskel's widow, Rich Kogan and other former drinking pals, Richard Corliss and  A.O. Scott.

Chaz said the movie, named for Ebert's memoirs, could have been titled "Love Itself," as the movie is "about his love for me," not something that most would agree with. During the movie James asks Chaz how they met.  She made public for the first time it was at an AA meeting when Roger was fifty and weighed 300 pounds and had no hang-ups about his weight.  Roger over the years had been very open about AA coming to his rescue in 1979, but Chaz had preferred to remain anonymous about her affiliation.  

The projection of the film was interrupted for half an hour about two-thirds of the way through.  James and Chaz took to the stage to fill the time.  Someone asked Chaz if she had always been a cinephile.  She had indeed.  Her favorite film was "Clockwork Orange."  No mention was made that Roger had seen many a film in the centerpiece theater, the Bunuel, where the screening was taking place.  I had memories myself of sitting near Roger in the theater with his boisterous voice loud above all others.  This very even-handed film does not shy away from mention of some of Ebert's lesser qualities, but by and large champions him as one of the premier lovers of cinema of all time.

With the break in the film extending its running time I was thwarted from seeing either a French documentary on political cartoonists or an Argentinian film that were both Out of Competition selections that would have been superior to anything else playing next.  Instead I had the unpleasant experience of watching an American semi-horror film such as I try to avoid.  But I feel duty-bound to see something, if only to see what filmmakers are up to.  "Blue Family" actually tried to lend itself some credibility by closing with the statement that it was dedicated to those who have fought and will fight for the freedom of everybody, as it is about three young women who have been abducted and held hostage in a car salesman/musician's basement so they can give him the family he has never had.  This low-budget bunk will be lucky to be seen by anyone other than the people who made it.

I did luck into a decent little American-made thriller earlier in the day--"Things People Do."  Like the Spanish film "Beautiful Youth" from the day before it was a story of our desperate economic times.  This one though wasn't about ordinary people but rather a guy who had just lost his good job and could no longer afford the mortgage on his luxury home with a swimming pool that he had recently spent $40,000 to install.  He doesn't tell his wife about his firing, but instead tells her he is in line for a promotion so they can better afford their lifestyle.  He is an otherwise very likeable and moral guy, even calling a foot fault on himself at a bowling match after he rolls a strike.  But he falls into the life of an armed robber.  It seems inevitable that he will be caught.  He has recently become good friends with a police detective.  This film was well-executed from start to finish without going too far, complete with a fresh and credible resolution.

Ralph's day was further highlighted by sharing a coffee with Tommie Lee Jones and his wife Dawn at the Carlton Hotel, where the festival is hosting them in one of its penthouses.  Dawn is enrolled along with Ralph in the highly-respected Brookings Photography school in Santa Barbara.  The actor/director was still nervous about the reception of his film, as he has yet to secure an American distributor for it.  He was unaware of the Screen Magazine report card of ten critics.  Ralph had to reassure him that his 2.6 score wasn't bad at all.

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