Friday, May 23, 2014

Cannes 2014 Day 9

Victoria Secret model Chanel Iman

Chanel Iman

Marion Cotillard

Brazilian model Izabel Goulart

Thai actress Araya A. Hargate

British fashion model Cara Delevingne

Cara Delevingne at the beach

 Jessica Chastain and Cara Delevingne

Cannes night life aboard Roberto and Eva Cavalli’s 'RC' yacht

Ana Beatriz Barros and Alessandra Ambrosio

Suzanne Clément, Antoine-Olivier Pilon, Xavier Dolan, and Anne Dorval

Sophia Loren

A collection of pieces from The Hollywood Reporter: 

Cannes photos from The Telegraph: 

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

E Online photos: 

The Huffington Post: 

Elle fashion photos: 

Vanity Fair best dressed: 

International Business Times:  

Hollywood Life photo gallery: 

Another large gallery of photos:  

Andrei Zvyagintsev

Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan

Cannes 2014 review: Leviathan - a new Russian masterpiece  Peter Bradshaw on yet another award contender, this time from Russia, from The Guardian, May 22, 2014

Andrei Zvyagintsev's Leviathan is a sober and compelling tragic drama of corruption and intimidation in contemporary Russia, set in a desolate widescreen panorama. This is a movie which seems to be influenced by the Old Testament and Elia Kazan; it starts off looking like a reasonably scaled drama about a little guy taking on big government. Then it escalates to a new plane in which man is taking on the biggest, cruellest, and most implacable government of all, and the final sequence of devastation must surely be influenced by the final moments of Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice.
It is acted and directed with unflinching ambition, moving with deliberative slowness, periodically accelerating at moments of high drama and suspense. It isn't afraid of massive symbolic moments and operatic gestures; I was fractionally sceptical about these at the time, but they live and throb in my head hours after the final credit-crawl. Leviathan incidentally features a horribly watchable performance from Roman Madyanov as a crooked mayor who resembles a hideous reincarnation of Broderick Crawford in the 1949 municipal graft classic All The King's Men — with a hint of Boris Yeltsin. I hadn't heard of this 51-year-old Russian performer before now. His excellent performance makes me think it's a pity Cannes doesn't have a best supporting actor prize.

The film's hero is Kolia (Alexei Serebriakov), a car mechanic with a beautiful second wife Lilya (Elena Liadova), and a teenage son Roma (Sergei Pokhodaev) from his first marriage. It is his fortune or misfortune to have a modest family-built property on prime real estate: a beautiful spot on the waterfront in the lapland wilderness of north-western Russia. Now a crooked mayor Vadim (Madyanov) wants this land to build his own gruesome luxury dacha, and slaps the Russian equivalent of a Compulsory Purchase Order on Kolia: he gets this precious land for a derisory sum. But Kolia calls on the help of his old army buddy Dimitri (Vladimir Vdovichenkov) who is now a slick lawyer in Moscow and he has arrived in this remote region with a file full of incriminating evidence on Vadim which he promises his old comrade will induce Vadim to back off. But it soon becomes clear that getting the old homestead back isn't precisely what Dimitri has in mind. And his motives for helping aren't what they first appear.
Leviathan shows a world governed by drunken, depressed, aggressive men: there is a brilliant scene in which Kolia and Vadim square up late at night, both wrecked on vodka. Later, Kolia and his buddies will go on a hunting trip: they have gallons of vodka, rifles and one even has his old army issue Kalashnikov — and for targets they use portraits of Russian leaders from Brezhnev to Gorbachev. Yeltsin, "the boozy conductor" is indulgently not included and the guy bringing the portraits says he has kept back the more modern portraits — until they get "some historical perspective". (In fact, the current President's picture is hanging coyly in Vadim's handsomely appointed office.) Endlessly, officials talk about the Russian criminal code, giving chapter and verse from the rule book. But it is all a cynical nonsense. What counts is money and power. At the film's courtroom scenes at the beginning and end, the court President babbles through the charges and verdicts robotically. It is gibberish.

Kolia finds himself at the centre of a perfect storm of poisoned destiny. He is a poor man who through a quirk of fate has what others want: a beautiful wife, a handsome property. He is at the focal point of contemporary Russia's most dangerous forces: smart lawyers, gangster-rich politicians, arrogant priests — Vadim is a close friend of an icily dogmatic Orthodox churchman who is impatient and contemptuous of this politician uneasy private confidences. Dimitri, for his part, says that as a lawyer he is only interested in facts. Poor Kolia is at the mercy of events that will happen behind his back: key scenes and moments occur agonisingly off-screen, although it isn't hard to guess what has happened.

The director has said that the title refers partly to Hobbes's Leviathan, the classic work about the implications of relinquishing some of your natural liberty to a central sovereign so that society may be peaceful and orderly. Kolia, that tough frontiersman, feels that he has relinquished quite enough to the state, with its dodgy cops and shady politicians. But Leviathan also means the whale: many literally get stranded in this waterway, and one is seen brooding in the water. A Dostoyevskian-looking priest speaks to Kolia about enduring his trials like Job, submitting to God's will, as mighty as the great beast of the sea: "Canst thou draw out Leviathan with a fish-hook?" Yet Kolia has become not Job, but the beached whale, with all the burdensome size but none of the power: massive, inert, waiting only for death to put his trial to an end.

Leviathan is a forbidding and intimidating piece of work, a return to his earlier themes, and away from the more domestic drama of his previous, awarding movie Elena but it has a magnificent ambition and scope. So much cinema is content with minor themes and manageable topics — small fry. Leviathan is hunting bigger game. It is a movie with real grandeur.  Barbara Scharres on Leviathan, from the Roger Ebert Site, May 22, 2014

There is both beauty and pessimism in "Leviathan" by Russian director Andrei Zvyagintsev ("Elena," "The Return"), which premiered tonight in competition.  The beauty of the film’s bleak setting is striking from the first shot, but the pessimism comes in a subtle creep accompanying a long slow squeeze that pits a man without resources against a system that takes many shapes.

"Leviathan" is set around a small, economically depressed fishing port on a mountain-flanked inlet somewhere in northern Russia. Just as Zvyagintsev depicts a stark land, his characters are equally stark in the simplicity of their needs and goals. Kolya (Alexei Serebriakov), with a ruddy, chiseled face and a hair-trigger temper, lives in the house his grandparents built on a lonely outcropping of land with his second wife Lilya (Elena Liadova) and his teenage son. The town mayor (Roman Madianov), a swinish character with a gangster past who manages to simultaneously fulfill and transcend every stereotype of his kind, wants the land.

Zvyagintsev constructs a story far more complex than these bare facts; one in which the moods of the widescreen landscape with its low-hanging clouds and lichen-covered rocks plays a part. There’s a lawyer friend from Moscow with a plan, an unwise secret affair, and a quantity of heavy drinking in which the vodka bottle is increasingly a black-humorous symbol of folly. In sessions of drinking, the caged aspect of this life seems most apparent, but it’s Zvyagintsev’s style to suggest without pressing points. Scenes are often open-ended but weighted with portents.

Twice in the course of "Leviathan" the director stages scenes in which legal judgments are delivered in a manner to render them meaningless. These distractingly lengthy sequences seem like diversions at the time, but coalesce in meaning later in relation to another sort of legal judgment and an ominously pompous sermon delivered by a Russian Orthodox priest in full ceremonial regalia. A bleached whale skeleton makes a brief appearance, but "Leviathan" proposes that the monster is something far more alive, sinister, and very, very large.

Stéphane Lafleur

Lafleur’s Tu Dors, Nicole

Julianne Côté and Catherine St-Laurent  Yet another Canadian film drawing praise at Cannes, by Oliver Lyttelton from The Playlist, May 22, 2014

Even more so than the hotly-tipped, much anticipated big-ticket movies, one of the true delights of a film festival is rolling the dice and seeing something you know nothing about. Going to see a picture that's under the radar, that doesn't yet have buzz, and you don't even know the logline for, and could really be anything. Sure, sometimes you'll end up with a borderline unwatchable, relentlessly grim disaster. But sometimes you'll stumble across something wonderful. And so it was a couple of nights ago with "Tu Dors, Nicole" (or "You're Sleeping, Nicole"), the new film from Québécois helmer Stéphane Lafleur, who's directed two previous, relatively little-seen features, but is probably best known as the editor behind 2011's Oscar-nominated "Monsieur Lazhar." We went in totally blind, barely even remembering the title, and mainly because it happened to be on next at the venue we were already at (it was playing as part of Cannes' Directors Fortnight). And as it turns out, we wouldn't have missed it for the world: it's a comedy that comes across as a sort of French-Canadian take on "Frances Ha," but also stands as its own unique, and equally brilliant, beast.

The titular Nicole (Julianne Cote) is in her early twenties, not all that long out of college, and she's having trouble sleeping. Working in a large charity store, she's looking after her parents' house for the summer, which would be more of a novelty if she didn't live there too. Nevertheless, she's looking forward, with best friend Veronique (Catherine St-Laurent), to taking advantage of having the place to herself. Except that her older brother Remi (Marc-Andre Gronin, from "C.R.A.Z.Y" and "Goon") has the same idea, and has set up shop with his band—expectant father Pat (Francis La Haye) and JF (Simon Larouche), the latest in a long string of drummers—in the hopes of recording a demo. Armed with a new credit card, the girls book a trip to Iceland, and prepare to sit out the summer.

It's not the most plot-heavy of films, dancing from skit-like episode to episode, a structure reminiscent of the aforementioned "Frances Ha," a parallel further underlined by the black-and-white photography (if anything the 35mm work here, by photographer Sara Mishara, is even better than in Noah Baumbach's film). There are also echoes of "Ghost World" in the central relationship between the two girls, and of plenty of other indie comedies, but the film never feels derivative, repackaging its elements into something new.

Part of that is down to an absurdist, almost surreal streak closer to Kaurismaki than anything listed above: one stand-out running gag involves Martin (Godefroy Reding), a 10-year-old boy whose voice (lent by Alexis Lefebvre) has broken early, and so now thinks he stands a chance with his former babysitter Nicole as a result. It initially feels like an odd, throwaway joke, but over time becomes more and more crucial, as the wants-to-be-older-than-his-years Martin is set in contrast with Nicole, who's petrified by the concept of adulthood to the extent of insomnia.

The use of Martin is a microcosm for the film as a whole: initially appearing sweet, if slight, before revealing hidden depths. It's hardly the first film to investigate the ennui of post-college twentysomethings, but it's one of the richest. Nicole isn't just listless, she's borderline depressed and kind of self-destructive, a fact that the film only gradually ekes out across Cote's remarkably accomplished performance. Nicole's relationships in the film are expertly captured, from her bond with her brother, highlighting the very particular bond between siblings who are a decade apart, to the starting-to-crumble friendship with Veronique, to her flirtations with JF. This all informs our knowledge of her, and the result is an entirely complete character study of someone we love, but like the other characters, can be frustrated by.

This all makes it sound like much heavier going than it actually is, but Lafleur maintains a bouncy, consistently funny tone that you'd describe as featherlight, were there not real weight grounding it all. It's a near-miraculous trick, and evidence of the immense talent on display here: he has a real talent for making comedy work visually, and as you might expect from a former editor, a sense not just for landing a joke, but for creating a unique and distinctive rhythm.

On paper, "Tu Dors Nicole" sounds generic (if I'd known the synopsis going in, I might well have skipped it), but it's executed with such charm and skill in every gorgeous frame that I walked out completely and totally smitten. It's a film that deserves to find an audience much wider than just at Cannes, and rest assured that we'll be keeping a very close eye on what Lafleur is up to down the line. [A]

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, Mommy has 10 reviews with 3 or above, with 4 calling it a masterpiece, while Foxcatcher has 9 reviews at 3 or above, with 2 declaring it a masterpiece:

The Cannes Criterion Forum is up and running:

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

to win the Palme d’Or

Awards and Best Actor predictions
4/1 Winter Sleep (N.B.Ceylan) Palme d’Or
9/2 Leviathan (A.Zvyagintsev) Grand Prix
5/1 Mommy (X.Dolan) Best Director
7/1 Mr Turner (M.Leigh) Best Actor
8/1 Goodbye to Language (J-L.Godard) Prix du Jury
10/1 The Wonders (A.Rohrwacher) Best Screenplay
- – -
14/1 Timbuktu (A.Sissako)
14/1 Still the Water (N.Kawase)
16/1 Foxcatcher (B.Miller)
16/1 Two Days, One Night (Dardenne & Dardenne) Best Actress
16/1 Maps to the Stars (D.Cronenberg)
20/1 Clouds of Sils Maria (O.Assayas)
- – -
28/1 The Homesman (T.L.Jones)
33/1 Jimmy’s Hall (K.Loach)
50/1 Wild Tales (D.Szifrón)
- – -
125/1 Saint Laurent (B.Bonello)
150/1 The Search (M.Hazanavicius)
200/1 The Captive (A.Egoyan)

7/4 Two Days One Night – Marion Cotillard
7/2 Mommy – Anne Dorval (solo or with Suzanne Clement)
8/1 Clouds of Sils Maria – Kristen Stewart (solo or with Juliette Binoche)
10/1 Maps to the Stars – Julianne Moore (-”- Mia Wasikowska)
11/1 The Wonders – Maria Alexandra Lungu
- – -
14/1 Still the Water – Jun Yoshinaga
16/1 Winter Sleep – Demet Akbag and/or Melisa Sozen
22/1 Timbuktu – Toulou Kiki
22/1 Leviathan – Elena Lyadova
33/1 The Homesman – Hillary Swank
33/1 Mr Turner – Dorothy Atkinson
33/1 Wild Tales – Erica Rivas (/female ensemble)

3/1 Mr Turner – Timothy Spall
9/2 Winter Sleep – Haluk Bilginer
6/1 Foxcatcher – Steve Carell (/ C.Tatum / M.Ruffalo)
7/1 Leviathan – Alexey Serebryakov (/ Vladimir Vdovichenkov)
8/1 Timbuktu – Ibrahim Ahmed
9/1 Jimmy’s Hall – Barry Ward (/ Jim Norton)
10/1 Mommy – Antoine-Olivier Pilon
- – -
16/1 The Search – Abdul-Khalim Mamatsuiev
22/1 Saint Laurent – Gaspard Ulliel
25/1 Two Days One Night – Fabrizio Rongione
28/1 The Homesman – Tommy Lee Jones
28/1 The Wonders – Sam Louwyck
33/1 Still the Water – Nijiri Murakami
40/1 Wild Tales – Ricardo Darín (/ male ensemble)
40/1 Maps to the Stars – Robert Pattinson (/John Cusack and/or Evan Bird)

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:   

a round-up of indieWIRE reviews:, with everything consolidated here:

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

The Guardian collection of reviews:

The Guardian Cannes commentary: 

David Jenkins from Little White Lies:   

Eric Lavallee and Nicholas Bell from Ion Cinema:

Drew McSweeny and Guy Lodge & others from HitFix: 

Various writers at Twitch: 

Sukhdev Sandhu and Robbie Collins from The Daily Telegraph: 

And, of course, George is back at Cannes this year, where he finds off the beaten track film fare:  

In "Mommy" French-Canadian Xavier Dolan returns to the material that launched his career, a single mother and her teen-aged son verbally lambasting one another with a viciousness never before seen.  His first film "I Killed My Mother," which he wrote, directed and starred in when he was nineteen years old, was my most memorable film-going experience of the 2009 festival, if not the entire year.  I have vivid memories of walking into its end-of-the-day screening on the final Saturday of the festival at the Arcades with Charles of Facets, both of us overwhelmed.  The film was so subversive it received only a token release in the US several years and films later.

The film was fresh and original and seemingly personal and cathartic.  He's made three films since before resurrecting the mother-son battlefield in "Mommy," his first non-gay themed movie.  Rather than offering a new perspective on the love-hate relationship of a mother and son, he seems to be trying to one-up his first movie. Here the son, whose role he turns over to Antoine-Olivier Pilon, escalates his combativeness to trying to strangle his mother and molesting a neighbor's wife and other extreme unsettling acts. He is a menacing monster. Among other things he calls his mother a whore and a hoe at the top of his lungs.

He has brief respites of calm, but is generally out of control and self-destructive, even setting fire to his school resulting in a lawsuit of $250,000.  Whereas the son in his first film was somewhat sympathetic and held the promise of maturing, this latest version is so volatile and repugnant that he seems doomed to a horrific, tragic end. There is no denying Dolan's rare talents, but they largely went to waste on this less than fully reasoned retread.

The venerable 77-year old Ken Loach, rather than growing angrier and more incensed with age, has mellowed enough to temper his outrage at the injustices of society to make "Jimmy's Hall" less of an indictment of the powers-that-be than a younger version of himself would have made.  This true story of Jimmy Gralton building a dance hall in 1921 Ireland and the outrage it caused the Catholic Church includes some of his trademark rhetoric, but it is not as powerful or as pointed of a film as it could have been.  There are almost as many feel-good moments in the movie of dancing and the citizens of the town embracing their beloved Gralton topped by a concluding scene of hoards of the citizens on their bicycles chasing after the truck that is sending him into exile in the US for the rest of his life.  A younger Loach would have dominated his film with Gralton passionately arguing for his dance hall and all it represented.  There are a handful of tempered speeches and debates that make his case, and show where Loach's heart is, but nothing to compare to the prison scene in Steve McQueen's "Hunger" of Bobbie Sands articulating in no uncertain terms his refusal to eat. Despite its restraint this was worthwhile, wholesome pablum.

I caught up with Atom Egoyan's "The Captive" that played on the third day of the festival and was so reviled by the critics.  Through the first two-thirds of this crime thriller I thought they might have been wrong as Egoyan introduced a host of interesting characters while trying to create some suspense, but when it came time to tie up the many strands of this kidnapping movie it became a grotesque insult to anyone with the intelligence of much more than an ape.  Very often one can be swept up by such a movie and overlook some of its inconsistencies that only begin nagging if one thinks about it too much, but those in this one are glaringly evident at the very moment.  

The festival selection committee totally misread this movie.  Today and tomorrow all the Competition were scheduled to be replayed.  And then the process will be repeated Saturday and Sunday.  What theaters they will play in this weekend hasn't been decided. They will be seeded by their popularity, the better ones in the larger theaters and the lesser in the smaller theaters.  But those playing today and tomorrow were predetermined before the festival started.  Eight of the eighteen films are playing in a large 260-seat theater while the other ten are playing in theaters with half to a quarter of its seating capacity.  The schedulers thought Egoyan's film would be among the eight most popular films along with those by Dolan, the Dardennes, Leigh, Loach, Hazanavius, Bomello, and Cronenberg. They were wrong on Egoyan as well as overlooking the films by Ceylan and Miller. That will be rectified this weekend.

Hopefully all the Un Certain Regard films will be replayed as well what with the extra day of repeats due to the Eurpean elections Sunday. There are several I'd very much like to see. Among them is Rolf de Heer's "Charlie's Country."  I had to walk out after half an hour to see "Mommy."  I could tell from that half hour it was another completely assured and coherent tale from this Australian master who never fails to please.  Ralph thought this Aboriginal tale the best film he's seen in Un Certain Regard.  We'll find out the jury's decision tomorrow, a day ahead of the Competition film awards.

The nine-year old girl in the Italian film "Misunderstood" could win the category's best actress award.  She is a wildly energetic sprite coping with the lack of attention of her separated movie star father and famous musician mother played by Charlotte Gainsbourg. There is a host of frenzied characters in this entertaining saga that is more commercial than art-house fare.

Ralph and I also saw one of the ultimate art films of all time, a fully restored copy of Sergei Paradjanov’s Russian film "The Color of Pomegranates."  It was introduced by Kent Jones, who oversaw the restoration.  People who didn't know what they were in for in this non-narrative tableau of scenes representing the key moments in the life of the Armenian 18th century poet Sayat Nova streamed out of the theater.

I was only able to see the first half of another restored movie playing immediately afterwards--Hitchcock's "Jamaica Inn" from 1939, the last movie he directed in the UK before heading to Hollywood.  The movie of a bunch of brigands who plunder shipwrecks and are in danger of having their operation exposed by a young woman who comes to stay with her aunt who is the wife of their leader had fully grabbed my attention, but I had an Un Certain Regard film to see.

Likewise I caught abbreviated thirty-minute doses of films I had seen earlier and liked, "Red Army" and "Two Days and One Night."  Surprisingly there were empty seats in the Dardennes movie half-way through when I showed up to get in line for the Egoyan film. Since no one was in line for Egoyan I slipped in to revisit the Dardennes.  One plot line they resisted was having any of Marion Cotillard's co-workers promise to vote for her to keep her job rather than for their bonus, to be nice to her, but then not in the secret ballot, showing another dark side of human nature.  But that would have further complicated the plot, that the Dardennes tried to keep simple.

I've now seen twelve of the Competition films and am in good shape to see the remaining six. I have an Invitation for tomorrow's Olivier Assayas film in the same time slot that "The Class" and "Blue is the Warmest Color" filled, also French films that went on to win the Palme d'Or.  As good as his film may be, the day's highlight could well be the festival's second Master Class, this one with French master Jacques Audiard.  It will be a thrill to see snippets of "A Prophet" and "Rust and Bone" and "The Beat My Heart Skipped," that Janina teaches in one of her film classes, and hear him comment on them.  Ralph too is giving priority to the Master Class after missing Loren's.  He photographed Audiard at Telluride and talked Leicas with him. Audiard also requested a spectacular photo of Ralph's that the festival showcased of "Rust and Bone" on the screen of the outdoor theater with Cotillard and a whale.

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