Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cannes 2014 Day 7


Cheryl Cole

Petra Nemcova

Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai

Alessandra Ambrosio

Channing Tatum

Kylie Minogue

Amber Heard

Mark Ruffalo

David Cronenberg

Red carpet shots from The Hollywood Reporter: 

A collection of pieces from The Hollywood Reporter: 
Hollywood Life photo gallery:!1/blake-lively-cannes-5/ 

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:  

International Business Times:
Another large gallery of photos:  

Actors Mark Ruffalo, Steve Carell and Channing Tatum

Director Bennett Miller 

[Cannes Review] Foxcatcher - The Film Stage  Peter Labuza on a Hollywood film that’s a strong contender for major awards, May 19, 2014

There is an unspoken emptiness that hangs boldly over Foxcatcher, which is sure to be one of the subtly darkest films made by a major Hollywood studio this year. The film’s Pennsylvania ranch initially appears like a gorgeous emblem of American society, sparkling with the country’s ideological symbols of majestic plains, galloping horses, and sizable, but not elegant, mansions. But there also seems to be a totalitarianism hanging over these as well, a kind that makes one second guess the images presented onscreen. The dread that sits over Bennett Miller’s superbly directed, bleakly dystopic view of American life is palatable in every moment without ever feeling overwhelming, simply sitting in the empty spaces that separate the physical bodies. Miller is a director of these spaces — spaces that have been hollowed out, leaving characters to need to sit, look, and think, as we often see with Channing Tatum’s Mark Schultz. Mark desires something, but never has the words to articulate it.

It’s a tricky line that the director of Capote and Moneyball must balance here — a film that could be overblown with melodrama at any moment, but these motivations and desires are impressively sublimated. Based on a true story (but one that shouldn’t be looked up; this one deserves a tabula rasa approach), Foxcatcher begins on the body of Mark, fighting against a training dummy in a darkened wrestling room. Schultz, along with his brother, David (played by America’s great treasure Mark Ruffalo), are both Olympic winners in the sport from 1984, and have begun their training process for the 1987 World Champions and 1988 Olympics. But while David is well-respected, a good teacher, and enjoys a life with his family, Mark is defined by his emptiness. Tatum quietly sulks his body when he’s outside the ring, an introverted personality searching for something to fill a void of respect.

The answers come when he receives an invitation to Foxcatcher Ranch, the grounds of America’s wealthiest family, at the behest of John du Pont. du Pont is quiet, leaving subtle pauses between each phrase, and looks deathly ill in the withering body of Steve Carrell, brutally menacing without ever once raising his voice. What du Pont has that Mark lacks is a vision — he speaks of the Soviet menace, the need for role models in America that represent freedom and strength, and, of course, the willingness to give Mark a blank check to come to the fully equipped ranch to begin training. Imbued with ideology — but, more than that, a mentor that believes he may be the real champion — Mark gladly accepts the offer, and thus begins training and learning from his billionaire mentor / father.

Foxcatcher threatens to fall apart at any moment — it’s a film that could rely on a simple explanation or big moment to create a centerpiece that defines the film, but instead Miller lets the drama slide out so effusively without ever once forcing a card. Using the true story to his advantage, Miller instead relies on the physical body. It helps that the sport is not just a physical one, but one built on calculated and essentially intensely awkward gestures. This timing gives Miller the moments to capture intense jolts which become reflective in the film’s editing patterns. The shock cuts — notably the first to a dramatically changed Tatum — are so briefly noted that they only register psychologically instead of melodramatically.

This is to say, Foxcatcher confirms that Miller is, without a doubt, a true descendant of Clint Eastwood in his emphasis on classical cinema techniques to articulate his narrative. The intense shadows of Greig Fraser’s cinematography give each room a physical, arid feeling with a sense of emptiness always hanging over Mark, and an intense intimacy that he feels when cared for by his brother, Dave. It is only du Pont’s relationship with his mother (a quiet performance by Vanessa Redgrave) that is given too much clarity and simplification, the kind of character that sits as an easy solution to John’s motivation, just “spoken” a little too much.

The performances by Tatum, Carrell, and Ruffalo build on each other in ways that feel lived-in and authentic, bringing a clarity to these motivations without ever once making a case for why these characters need to make each action. The psychological motivations are exact and clear through Miller’s framing of men sitting on a couch, the use of a door, or an unfocused presence in the foreground of the shot that invades the space of another. This is as classic as classic Hollywood gets, but without the banality that has invaded contemporary Hollywood cinema. That Foxcatcher thus becomes a darkened view of the American dream, using one of the country’s most effectively exported aesthetics to critique the same, is why the film will quietly disturb audiences without telling them why.

Cannes Review: Bennett Miller's 'Foxcatcher' Starring Steve ...  Jessica Kiang offers another take from The Playlist, May 19, 2014

Director Bennett Miller has already proven that he has the uncanny ability to spin exquisite, immersive, intelligent stories from material that on paper might not seem so appealing—we’ll still never quite get to the bottom of why “Moneyball,” a film about baseball sabermetrics should be so rich and engaging. But with "Foxcatcher," he has outdone himself, turning his uniquely meticulous eye to a tiny story in a totally rarefied, specific environment and through whatever alchemy he has perfected, created something so universal and resonant that it feels epic, sprawling, almost ancient in its mythic overtones. “Foxcatcher” is an enormous film. 

Unfolding slowly and deliberately, in rubber-floored gyms, ugly hotel rooms and chintzy overdecorated parlors and trophy rooms, the film tells the true story of a peculiar, almost absurdist crime: the killing of an ex-Olympic wrestler by a scion of the fabulously wealthy du Pont family. But really "Foxcatcher," filmed from a brilliantly economical (even at 134 minutes) script by Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye, is about much grander themes of familial rivalry and ambition, of talent and jealousy and egotism, and of how much we despise the weaknesses in others that we fear we ourselves display. It’s so many things at once and yet none of them is underdeveloped, and as thematically multi-stranded as the story is, tonally and narratively it is totally singleminded: an elegy for the destructive power of the myth of American exceptionalism, and how lofty ideals can become corrupted and perverted by the agendas of subconsciously terrified little men.

John du Pont (Steve Carell, and it still doesn’t seem possible that that actually was Steve Carell) summons Mark Schulz (Channing Tatum), the younger, overshadowed brother of Olympian Dave Schulz (Mark Ruffalo), and offers him, seemingly, everything he could ever have asked for (in a brilliantly skewering detail, one of the things he asks for is the paltry salary of $25,000, which he can’t believe he receives—wrestling is not a glamor sport of endorsement deals and Hollywood wives). How does du Pont know which buttons to press? One of the cleverest aspects of the film is the clarity and yet subtlety with which the parallels between the two  are drawn: both live in the shadow of a family member, (if you notice, almost every scene involving du Pont’s grand dame mother, played by Vanessa Redgrave, is immediately followed by one involving Mark’s brother, her death also foreshadowing his). And both men have a desperate desire to be great, to be the best at something, yet neither really has the resources to achieve that by talent alone. And so Mark accepts the offer to move in and start training for the World championships at du Pont’s purpose-built Foxcatcher facility. But soon after his initial success, their relationship starts to take on a much darker tone, with Mark essentially becoming a kind of emotional rent boy. Du Pont’s world-class boundary issues actually result in him destroying the thing he loves as he introduces dissipation into Mark's lifestyle, and that’s when du Pont turns on him and, in an act that can only be seen by Mark as a betrayal by both men, hires Dave to come on board. As "Assistant Coach," that is, as du Pont's delusional idea that he has any wrestling expertise to offer results in more than one desperately pathetic display of ineptitude, in the face of everyone's complicity in maintaining his illusions.  

Marked by moments of levity and humor (the cocaine scene in the helicopter when both du Pont and Mark repeat “Ornithologist, philatelist, philanthropist” over and over is hilarious, but also hilariously pointed), actually the film is overall extremely somber, a slow, inexorable uncoiling toward a tragedy we can feel in our bones is going to happen practically from the first shot of du Pont. Character is destiny, after all, and the character of du Pont is one of the most most complex and fascinatingly fucked up we’ve ever seen on screen. Carell is the revelation that everyone has suggested in the role, and then some: vocally, physically and psychologically he is not just unrecognizable, he simply is a different man, and a man whose tragic flaw (cursed to wield great wealth and influence with no shred of greatness to justify it) is the entire story of this film. It’s seldom we’ve ever witnessed such a total erasure of self in a role, and it deserves to win him everything, everywhere. 

But he’s amply supported by the rest of the cast, particularly Channing Tatum who turns his lunkishness to brilliantly doleful purpose and invests his role with an interiority of loneliness and self-loathing that by the end we could even see coming across even in his style of wrestling. Which, incidentally deserves praise all its own—we’re no experts in the sport, but Tatum and Ruffalo both totally convinced in those fight scenes, especially the extended one of the two of them training that begins the film and that tells you, in course of a session that goes from cordial to aggressive, everything you need to know about their relationship. Ruffalo’s own part is smaller, but he’s as committed as if he were the star, and a single scene in which he is the uncomfortable subject of an interview about du Pont is a masterclass all by itself. Redgrave arguably does even more with even less; she really only speaks in a single scene, but when she does it’s with a fascinatingly contradictory mix of maternal instinct and disdain for her son, and even, at one moment, a flash of what might be fear. 

We’ve been anticipating "Foxcatcher" since forever, it feels like, and our expectations were sky high, and yet in almost every way this towering film exceeds them. The sweeping intelligence of Miller’s enormous movie feels like it will be feeding our minds for days to come and as the best of his films, it is also simply one of the best dramas dissecting contemporary America (despite its period) that we've ever seen. Like the fox hunts that are a recurring motif or like the munitions with which the du Pont family first made their fortune, the arc of this story tends inexorably towards senseless death, but Miller has taken this unthinkable crime and carefully, precisely, dazzlingly, thought it out. [A]

How the Cannes Film Festival works  Jessica Stahl interviews film critic Ann Hornaday from The Washington Post, May 19, 2014

Washington Post movie critic Ann Hornaday is at the Cannes Film Festival, which kicked off Wednesday with what she described as a “more muted” feeling than previous years. The festival runs until May 25 and Hornaday joined a live chat to talk about what she’s seen there so far – the movies she’s loved (Steve Carrell is “going to blow you away”), the ones that didn’t go over as well (“Yes, people did laugh, and whistle and boo”) and how the whole proceedings actually work.

Q: What’s it like there? Is it as glamorous as it looks in pictures? Is it like one big party or are people working really hard?

Ann Hornaday: It’s really people working very hard, with a few minutes every day of movie stars looking effortlessly ethereal as they climb the 22 red-carpeted steps of the Grand Theatre Lumiere. Otherwise, it’s like a huge, over-crowded trade show dominated by people who spend way too much time sitting on their tushies in darkened rooms.

Here’s my routine: Up around 7 a.m., quick breakfast, then out the door to make an 8:30 press screening; once out of that, it’s a non-stop dash for more screenings (most of them held in the Grand Palais, aka our convention center), with *maybe* time for a quick espresso or sandwich in between, or a press conference, interview or impromptu conversation with a colleague that will often result in deciding to see a film that hasn’t been on my radar, which will then throw that entire day’s schedule into turmoil. In bed by 12:30 if I’m lucky. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat…

Q: How does Cannes actually work? I mean, how does a film end up showing there? Is it all independent movies or is there studio stuff too? Is the point of showing there for the publicity or for the cred?

Hornaday: Thousands of films are submitted to Cannes every year, and they *say* that the screening committee sees all of them. Ultimately, the program is selected by festival artistic director Thierry Fremaux, with the imprimatur of the festival president (the outgoing president is Gilles Jacob).

As was quite evident this year, the program can often be a parade of festival favorites whose films seem to be programmed because they’re “friends of the festival” (op cit “Grace of Monaco” and “The Captive”). But, especially in sidebars like Un Certain Regard, Critics Week and Directors Fortnight, there’s lots of room for new and emerging talents.

And yes, big Hollywood films have been increasingly visible here in recent years, expressly at the behest of festival leadership. For those big mainstream productions (like “How to Train Your Dragon 2″ this year), it’s all about publicity. For smaller films, it’s both publicity and credibility that can start off a strong festival circuit and maybe even awards nominations — all of which, ultimately, feeds box office.

Q: Every year during the Oscars, we hear the details regarding how the AMPAS nomination and voting process works. The Cannes process seems much less regimented. Can you unpack how this process works?

Hornaday: After the festival director selects what films will compete, a jury is appointed and they are obligated to see all the films, which they take very seriously. They really do see all of them, then they meet — I believe the festival president attends the meeting but does not take part — they vote, and the winner is determined by a majority. This year the jury president is Jane Campion. Her fellow jurors include Sofia Coppola, Willem Dafoe, the Iranian actress Leila Hatami and Nicolas Winding Refn.

Q: How do you decide which films to go to and which ones skip?

Hornaday: Generally I try to see what’s in competition, and I go by provenance — the director, writer, cast, etc. And yes, there’s almost always a trade-off, and the madder people are about missing great things, the better the festival has been programmed!

I learned long ago never to get too stressed out about missing things. I will most likely get another chance — maybe at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, maybe if/when the film comes out in theaters — and the best part of a festival is always that film you didn’t plan on seeing that just blows you away. One of those for me this year was a Swedish movie called “Force Majeur,” about a family’s ski vacation that goes awry. I just wandered in with no expectations and came away quite impressed.

Q: What’s the best film you’ve seen since you’ve been there? (And do you think it will come to theaters?)

Hornaday: I’ve seen lots of good films here: Today’s screening of “Foxcatcher” with Steve Carell (he’s going to blow you away); Mathieu Amalric’s erotic thriller “The Blue Room”; the aforementioned “Mr. Turner”; a film from Mali called “Timbuktu.” “Wild Tales,” an omnibus of antic vignettes of Argentinian life in the tradition of Pedro Almodovar.

But the great film I’ve seen here is “Winter Sleep,” by the Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan. It’s a 3-hour-plus deep dive into the life of a prosperous hotelier in Anatolia, based on a Chekhov story that just takes viewers to another place. So far, it’s made the biggest impact on me.

I don’t think ‘Winter Sleep’ has been picked up for US distribution yet, but I’m sure that it will.

Q: Did this Atom Egoyan/Ryan Reynolds film ‘The Captive’ deserve the booing it received from the Cannes audience?

Hornaday: As much as it breaks my heart to report this, yes, it did. An incredibly misguided, poorly executed misfire from Egyoan, whose work I’ve greatly admired in the past. ‘The Captive,” just seemed to have been concocted out of screenwriting-class ‘beats.’ You could hear the machinery grinding. That said, Reynolds was fine in the movie. He has nothing to apologize for.

Q: Ms. Kidman seems to be getting negative reviews for her portrayal of Grace [in ‘Grace of Monaco’] using what were referred to as her frigid features. [Ed: The question is probably referring to this Variety review.] Isn’t that how she always looks?

Hornaday: Ah, that’s interesting — if anything, I thought she was the strongest thing about an otherwise terribly lame movie…Although I *do* think she’s too old for the role. But she certainly does her best with material that really doesn’t do her any favors. She basically spends the film looking very tired and tense in gorgeous clothes. “Grace of Monaco” got the festival off to a strangely negative start, but things have started to look up by today, thank goodness!

Q: Is it true that people laughed when it was shown? Has that kind of reaction ever happened before at Cannes? You’d think people would only take a film there if they knew it was good – or at least passable…

Hornaday: Your words to the movie gods’ ears…If only.

Yes, people did laugh, and whistle and boo. And no, that’s not uncommon at all at Cannes, which is known for its tough audiences (and not just the ink-stained wretches of the press!). I never enjoy those moments. You just want to move along quickly, and hope for a better one around the next bend. Ouf.

Marion Cotillard

Directors Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne kiss cast member Marion Cotillard

Cannes: a new day, a new Palme d'Or favourite with Two Days, One Night  Catherine Shoard announces yet another award contender from The Guardian, May 20, 2014

No film-maker has won the Palme d'Or three times. But if ever there were men to do it, those men would be Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, the Belgian brothers and Cannes perennials who previously triumphed with Rosetta in 1999 and in 2005 with The Child. Two Days, One Night is the shortest film in competition (just 95 minutes, 101 minutes less than sometime bookies' favourite Winter's Sleep), and the one which has most united the critics. No review has yet given it fewer than five stars.

The film follows factory worker Sandra (Marion Cotillard) over a weekend in which she tries to persuade her colleagues to give up a 1,000-euro bonus so she can keep her job. The experience is traumatic for all involved. The workers are by turns belligerent and pitying; Sandra – much supported by her husband and two children – has only just recovered from a bout of depression.

The film's story was inspired by what Jean-Pierre called "the obsession with performance and violent competition between workers everywhere in the workplace, in Belgium and elsewhere".

Neither brother had personal experience of such a dilemma, said Luc. "And we would have never suggested the agreement – it's a kind of blackmail and that's not what we do. The crisis doesn't foster solidarity but it's always been something that was not a given, even in the past when there were more major social movements. In the 60s when a strike was organised because a plant was to be closed, workers had to speak first with their spouses. It wasn't easy. Solidarity is a sort of moral commitment, based on moral decisions."

Yet the timidity exhibited by the workers – who are too few in number to have a formal union – does appear to be something the brothers perceive as a new phenomenon. "The absence of collective reaction," said Jean-Pierre, "of any struggle against the principle behind that vote, reveals a very contemporary lack of solidarity."

They first met Cotillard, with whom they have never previously worked, on the set of Jacques Audiard's Rust and Bone, which they helped produce. It was "love at first sight", said Jean-Pierre. The film is their first since Rosetta to focus so solely on a female lead – necessary, said Jean-Pierre, because "this would never happen to a man". "In real life women are more fragile in employment. They find it more difficult to find another job and there are many more women unemployed than men."

Cotillard said she felt the part was of a piece with those characters she had played in recent films Rust and Bone and The Immigrant. "I view these women as people who are fighting for survival and they discover things they didn't realise they had. That's what interests me in the human condition. I'm deeply touched by survivors, [those] who manage despite circumstances and handicaps. I learn a lot about human beings when I explore people's souls."

The role requires a substantial downgrading of Cotillard's natural glamour – Sandra is rake thin and washed out, emotionally bedraggled and popping Xanax. "I don't view myself as someone who is ugly," said the actor. "I can transform myself and that's an asset in the job I do. I know I can manage if the part requires me to be quite beautiful and I can also be quite ugly." She expressed great admiration for the dressing-down of Penelope Cruz, all but unrecognisable in the 2005 Italian romance Don't Move. "It's really hard to make her look ugly," said Cotillard. "But she looks absolutely hideous."

This is the third year in a row that Cotillard has given an acclaimed lead performance at the festival (The Immigrant was here in 2013) yet the actor said she hadn't considered the possibility of an award for her performance. "I protect myself by not thinking about things like that. It's a natural defence."

The competition runs through the week, with the Palme d'Or – and best actress prize – being handed out on Saturday night.

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:

While Les Etoiles de la critiques is up and running as well, 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, and Foxcatcher with 9 reviews at 3 or above, and 2 declaring it a masterpiece:

The Cannes Criterion Forum is up and running:   

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:, 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:

Cannes Diary from Film Comment: 

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 finds off the beaten track film fare:  

Day Seven was a frustrating day of being turned away from films after hour-long waits without even coming close to gaining entry and then just narrowly getting into another film after a similar wait while all around people were brazenly jumping the line without anyone uttering a peep.  It was also a day of not appreciating as much as the general consensus much hyped and embraced films. Still I managed to squeeze in seven films, though not all of them in their entirety.

No film, other than something like "Tree of Life," is worth more than an hour of standing in line to me.  Ralph however was willing to join the fray half an hour earlier than me, but still barely got into the Cronenberg and Wenders films sweating it out as those with higher-priority credentials than ours were given preference.  He was much pleased with both films.

Neither of us though were overly impressed with the day's opening film, "Two Days, One Night," that has had many gushing that it will make the Dardennes brothers the first three-time winners of the Palme d'Or. This socially-conscious film that is a testament to our times with a woman played by the always good Marion Cotillard beseeching her fellow sixteen workers at a solar-panel plant to forego their 1,000 euro bonus so she can keep her job is most certainly a fine film, but it did not achieve the poignancy that it could have.  

Cotillard visits fourteen of the sixteen workers who initially voted for the bonus rather than for her over a weekend after she convinces the manager of the plant to put it to a re-vote as he had prejudiced them against her by threatening that one of them had to lose their job.  Most of her fellow workers tell her they desperately need the bonus to survive themselves, other than one who says she was counting on it for a patio. But a few with a conscience on second thought say they will vote for her.  One tells her that she will have to discuss it with her husband after he returns from his morning bicycle ride.  The script could have better debated the morality of the issue, but almost lapsed into predictable cliche, several times with heated violence.  It is another of at least three of the higher-profile films films here where the script has taken the easy route of having a frazzled woman attempt suicide, which could well have feminists up in arms.

I was similarly let-down by "Whiplash," a Sundance award winner and great crowd-pleaser about a drummer at a prestigious music college battling his overly zealous instructor brilliantly played by J.K. Simmons in a role to die for.  His over-the-top performance of a venom-spewing drill sergeant of a teacher, calling his students faggots and cock-suckers and hymie-fucks and worse when they don't measure up to his expectations, driving them to tears and even worse, was way beyond credibility in this age of political-correctness and students standing up to their professors.  I well know that from Janina who has had students gang up on her in class for criticizing obesity and anti-depressants, accusing her of being insensitive and insulting them.  Janina will be appalled by this highly exaggerated portrayal of a professor, though it is remarkable in many ways and drew a large round of applause from my sold-out Director's Fortnight audience. 

Even less credible was the Australian apocalypse movie "These Final Hours," also a Director's Fortnight selection.  The world is going to end in twelve hours. Violence has broken out everywhere and also at least one spectacular orgy.  A guy's girl friend tells him she's pregnant.  He responds, "What difference does it make," as could be said of this movie.  

The rest of my day was market fare of films that in some way or another had attracted my attention.  The program notes on "Memories of the Desert" from Brazil stated that a writer bikes around the Atacamba desert for material.  It wasn't clear if it was on a motorcycle or a pedal-bike.  Having biked through the Atacamba Desert in northern Chile and knowing its beauty, that was enough to make me want to see this movie.  There are indeed snippets of him on a mountain bike, riding rather haphazardly though.  The film though does full justice to the spectacular desert dotted with snow-covered volcanoes.

There was a rare clutch of people outside the Lerins One for the Thai film "The Last Executioner."  One person hoping to get in told the director of the film, "I've heard good things about this."  He recognized it as a pandering plea and said, "That's interesting, as this is the first time it’s ever been screened."  This was a biopic of someone who had executed fifty-five people by gun shot before capital punishment was switched to lethal injection in 2003.  The Thai method of execution was to shoot the prisoner in the back while he or she was tied to a post.  The shots were fired through a hole in a large sheet.  As impersonal as it was, the executioner still had to wrestle with his conscience, though this was only superficially portrayed.

My day was rounded out with two documentaries.  "Beltracchi, The Art of Forgery," was enlivened by an up-beat soundtrack and a very willing and personable character.  This German film about a German forger presently serving prison time, though only at night, intimately demonstrates his forging technique and reconstructs his fascinating career hoodwinking experts left and right.

"The British Film Industry: Elitist, Dormant or Deluded" was like a typical film festival panel discussion of directors complaining about funding.  Ken Loach and Stephen Frears are among the many British film directors rehashing this tired old issue.  I was happy to have to leave this early to hop on my bike and dash up to the distant Croisette for "Whiplash."

My three hours of standing in lines allowed me to read all three trade dailies in their entirety for the first time while trying not to become incensed by the immoral and unscrupulous budging ahead of me,  among the many reviewers were a handful of films I will have to try to squeeze in.  It's not going to be easy.  But at least I have an Invitation for the noon screening of Xavier Dolan's "Mommy" on Thursday, the film I've most wanted to see.

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