Saturday, May 23, 2015

Cannes 2015 Day 10

French actress Marion Cotillard

British fashion model Jourdan Dunn

Chinese fashion model Liu Wen

Chinese actress Shu Qi

Cast members Zhou Yun, Chang Chen, director Hou Hsiao-hsien of The Assassin, and Shu Qi

Shu Qi

American actors, models and newlyweds Nikki Reed and Ian Somerhalder

Jane Fonda, with Michael Caine looking on

Fonda with Harvey Keitel

Robin Thicke, Doutzen Kroes, Joan Smalls, Lara Stone, Kendall Jenner, Jourdan Dunn and Karlie Kloss

American fashion model Gigi Hadid

Brazilian model Daniela Braga

Hungarian fashion model and actress Barbara Palvin

Polish model Anja Rubik

Swiss model Kristina Bazan

American tennis champ Serena Williams

A collection of pieces from The Hollywood Reporter:   

Red carpet photos from PopSugar: 

Best dressed from Vanity Fair:   

Cannes photos from The Telegraph: 

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

Photo gallery from The Daily Mail: 

Also here: 

also vintage earlier looks of 18-year old model Charlize Theron: 

A glamorous view from the Business Insider: 

Celebrities arrive for the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, from The NY Daily News: 

Vogue guide to Cannes:  

Also here: 

Elle fashion photos:    

Photo Gallery from E-Online:  

Los Angeles Times gallery photos: 

Fashionista blog: 

Daily list of best dressed at Cannes from Blouin Art Info: 

Best Cannes festival dresses of all time, from Marie Claire: 

Best and Worst fashion choices from International Business Times: 

Most Memorable Moments ever at Cannes from The Huffington Post: 

Also the most iconic moments at Cannes from The Huffington Post: 

also seen here: 

and still more here: 

Most Stylish Day Ever: Cannes Film Festival 1975, from GQ magazine: 

Harper’s Bazaar at Cannes: 

Hollywood Life photo gallery:  

Another large gallery of photos: 

People magazine hits the Cannes red carpet: 

while also performing a running behind-the-scenes diary style: 

Hou Hsiao-hsien’s The Assassin is the most beautiful film at Cannes   Chicago critic Ignatiy “Iggy” Vishnevetsky takes the morning off to walk around and describes the setting as well as the complicated badge system at Cannes from The Onion A.V. Club, May 21, 2015

9:30 a.m. Even to a newcomer, it quickly becomes obvious that the Palais, Cannes’ main theater complex, is either a microcosm of the festival, or was built in its image. Cannes is a culture of patronage, consecration, and iron rules, and the Palais itself resembles a late ’70s abstraction of a medieval city. It has towers, bridges, and a central marketplace, the Marché, located in the basement, full of stalls where sales agents and national film agencies hawk 3D animated films from China, Dolph Lundgren and Steven Seagal movies, and unproduced projects that are looking to pre-sell. This is the convention/trade show part of Cannes, with its own theaters and screenings, from which the press are usually barred.

The Palais itself is built on the water, like the merchant trading center that it is. Yachts the size of three-story houses are moored behind the Palais, floating offices for larger production outfits like Arte and Red Granite. On the other side of the complex, on the Boulevard De La Croisette, stand the crowds, begging to be let in, waving handmade “Invitation S.V.P.”

After fortification, the most effective way to exert power is to manage how people and information move. Entrance and exit are strictly controlled, even within different corners of the Palais. Wi-fi is accessed with one of those plastic cards that hangs behind your badge, with a login and password you have to enter every time you log on. Every empire—and Cannes is an empire—needs a postal system, so, in lieu of handing journalists print materials and press kits in the theater, like most festivals do, Cannes provides the press with a wing of private mail boxes, accessed with a badge swipe. They fill up every day.

I skip the morning screenings to walk around, take it in, and catch up on writing.

1:50 p.m. I have a pink press badge, which is widely considered “cool.” Pink badges are let in before the blue badges, who are let in before the yellows, who are rarely let in at all. There are also white badges, but they are rare, reserved for the big-big fish; I’ve met only two since getting here. They can move fluidly through the festival.

This color-priority thing creates a caste system, because every badge color represents a different relationship to time. Blues and yellows spend a large part of the day waiting in their respective lines. Pinks are all but guaranteed access, even if they arrive only five minutes before a screening starts. Within a few days, you realize that it’s difficult to socialize with people who don’t share your badge color. Here, as in Toronto, there’s a contingent of critics who can be identified by the fact that they wear their badges on the leopard-spotted lanyards of the Locarno Film Festival—a form of subcultural identification, as dorky as the shouts of “Raoul!” that precede every screening at the Salle Debussy.

The parallel Quinzaine festival prides itself on running its press line “democratically,” which means a first-come, first-served basis, which in turns means that getting into a screening involves standing for a long time in the sun, even if you’ve got a white badge. If Cannes, with its punishments and strict rules of decorum, brings to mind the medieval, then the Quinzaine is democratic chaos. The line inevitably swells into a crowd, which spills in front of the entrance to the JW Marriot hotel. Arriving taxis and livery cars honk indignantly, trying to push through.

(skipping ahead)

10:01 p.m. The mythic past as a distant place: Hou Hsiao-hsien’s The Assassin (Grade: A-) is the most beautiful thing at Cannes, but who knows what it’s really about. Here, Hou takes wuxia, the most over-played genre in Chinese fiction and film, and makes it seem completely unfamiliar, without subverting any of its outsize gestures or values. In certain respects the most conventional movie Hou has made in decades, The Assassin is also enigmatic in ways some will find absolutely mesmerizing, and others might think is infuriating.

Super-saturated with color and smudged by fire and fluttering curtains, The Assassin finds Hou—returning to features for the first time since 2007’s French-language Flight Of The Red Balloon—at the height of his powers as an audiovisual stylist, mixing rich imagery with a sparse soundtrack of martial drums and birdsong. Set in the 9th century, the film casts Shu Qi—who starred in Hou’s Three Times and the underrated Millennium Mambo—as a mysterious, nearly silent assassin who is sent by her master to kill the governor of Weibo, Lord Tian (Chang Chen, Shu’s Three Times co-star), to whom she was once promised in marriage.

Hou is relatively faithful to the conventions of period martial-arts movies. There are wire-assisted leaps, theatrical beards, acts of black magic, and, yes, fights—but Hou’s sense of staging, movement, and time makes it all feel like an abstraction. Most of Hou’s major works have been conscious period pieces, even the ones set in the present. (Millennium Mambo, which this movie recalls in unusual ways, was narrated from the future, for instance.) Here, he approaches the world of wuxia fiction as one of haunting beauty—it’s hard to overstate just how sharply gorgeous this movie is—and purity, which resonate across time, but are ultimately unknowable and difficult to grasp.

Cannes impresses with a War On Drugs thriller and a Hitchcock doc  Ignatiy Vishnevetsky from The Onion A.V. Club, May 20, 2015

Hitchcock / Truffaut (Grade: B), a talking-head doc about one of the best books ever published about film, doesn’t offer much more than the experience of watching smart people talk concisely about art, but it does it very well. Directed by Film Comment’s Kent Jones, it’s a lot more artful than the TV-ready format might suggest, deftly combining clips and archival recordings with sit-down interviews with a who’s who of movie-buff directors, including David Fincher, James Gray, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Richard Linklater, Arnaud Desplechin, Wes Anderson, and, of course, Martin Scorsese. (Said interviews look pretty, which isn’t surprising, given that they were shot by a team of cinematographers that included Mihai Malaimare Jr. and Eric Gautier.)

First published in 1966, Hitchcock—popularly known as Hitchcock/Truffaut—is a book-length conversation between Alfred Hitchcock and critic-turned-director Francois Truffaut, covering the former’s entire filmography in chronological order. It’s one of those indispensables that anyone with a passing interest in movies should own. Jones’ film is similarly pitched at entry-level viewers, laying out ideas about film and filmmaking with admirable clarity.

'Actors are cattle': when Hitchcock met Truffaut - The Guardian  Stuart Jeffries from The Guardian, May 12, 2015

There’s a derangingly perverted scene in the 1958 film Vertigo. The femme fatale Judy, played by Kim Novak, appears before Scottie, James Stewart’s retired cop, in a sleazy motel room. She’s dressed as the dead woman with whom he’s obsessed. “I indulged in a form of necrophilia,” the director Alfred Hitchcock told François Truffaut during a week-long series of interviews they did in Hollywood in 1962.

Scottie has insisted that Judy dye her hair blond and wear the outfit he bought. Only then will he be able to have sex with her. But there’s a problem. Scottie can’t consummate his desire because one detail is wrong: Judy is wearing her hair down. The dead woman, Madeleine, wore it up. “This means,” Hitchcock explains to Truffaut, “she’s stripped but won’t take off her knickers.”

Scottie sends her back to the bathroom and sits impatiently on the bed. “He’s waiting for the woman to come out nude ready for him,” Hitchcock adds. “While he was sitting waiting, he was getting an erection.” Then Hitchcock tells Truffaut to turn the tape off so he can tell a story. We will never know what it was, but the safe money says it was really dirty.

Kent Jones’s engaging new documentary Hitchcock/Truffaut teems with such moments: the 30-year-old tyro French director asking his hero to explain how he made his films, and the 63-year-old responding in detail, often revealing the lubricious impulses behind such masterpieces as Psycho, The Birds and Marnie. For 50 years, these conversations have existed in book form. Jones has set them free, juxtaposing the audio recordings with relevant scenes from the films.

Hitchcock clearly revels in disclosing some of his secrets. As we watch the superbly sinister scene in the 1941 thriller Suspicion in which Cary Grant slowly, but implacably, ascends a spiral staircase towards Joan Fontaine’s bedroom, we may well wonder why the glass of milk he’s carrying looks so ominous and hyperreal. Because, Hitchcock explains, he lit it from inside with a little lightbulb. Truffaut gasps.

Truffaut had seduced Hitchcock into doing 30 hours of interviews by means of an imploring letter: “Since I have become a director myself, my admiration for you has in no way weakened; on the contrary, it has grown stronger and changed in nature. There are many directors with a love of cinema, but what you possess is a love of celluloid itself.” Hitchcock, flattered, telegrammed back in French from Bel Air: “Dear Mister Truffaut, your letter brought tears to my eyes, and I am very grateful to receive such a tribute from you.”

At the time, Truffaut had made just three films, including his semi-autobiographical debut, Les 400 Coups, while Hitchcock was editing his 48th, his extraordinary and probably self-revealing account of sexual repression, Marnie, starring Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery.

Truffaut’s aim was to liberate Hitchcock from his reputation (one that the Englishman cultivated) as a light entertainer and celebrate him for what he was, a great artist. “It’s wonderful that Truffaut got Hitchcock to talk because directors of his generation didn’t often,” says Jones, head of the New York film festival, and the director who collaborated on Martin Scorsese’s survey of Italian cinema, My Voyage to Italy. “They were dismissive about their art, at least publicly. John Ford would say, ‘I only make westerns.’ Howard Hawks would say, ‘I only make comedies.’ They weren’t inclined to talk seriously about their work, partly because they needed to survive in the studio system.”

Hitchcock and Truffaut were from different cinematic cultures. Hitchcock had made the first of his pictures in the silent era and went on to work in Hollywood. Truffaut was initially a critic for Cahiers du Cinéma. Thanks to critics such as Chabrol, Rohmer, Rivette, Godard and indeed Truffaut (all of whom who would become the iconoclastic hipster directors of the Nouvelle Vague), cinema for the first time became, as director Olivier Assayas puts it in Jones’s film, self-conscious. For the first time, it reflected on itself as art rather than dismissing itself as mere entertainment. The Hitchcock-Truffaut interviews were part of that revolution.

Truffaut and Hitchcock began their interviews on 13 August, Hitchcock’s 63rd birthday. Four years later, the interviews were published. “It has been an incredibly influential book,” says Jones, adding that it was pivotal in the education of film-makers such as Coppola, De Palma, Lucas, Spielberg, Scorsese, Friedkin and Schrader. Today’s generation, it seems, is no less in awe. “When I asked David Fincher if he’d read it, he said, ‘Only, like, 200 times.’”

There are only two moments when Hitchcock clams up. First, as Truffaut suggests, quite sensibly, that the lack of realism and plausibility in Hitchcock’s movies (think of the scene in North by Northwest when Cary Grant emerges unscathed from a fireball caused by the crop-dusting plane that’s been pursuing him crashing into a fuel truck) is because his pictures yield to a deeper logic, the logic of dreams. “Hitchcock just doesn’t want to go there,” says Jones. “He’s not comfortable with that level of disclosure.”

Yet, as Fincher, one of 10 present-day directors whom Jones interviews for the film, argues, one of the exciting things about Hitchcock is that his fears and fetishes, his nocturnal terrors and his sexual daydreams, are all over his work. Indeed, for Fincher, one of the lessons of Hitchcock’s cinema is that any film-maker who thinks they can stop their psychopathologies leaking on to the screen is, as he puts it, “nuts”. Jones says: “I think David’s right. Hitchcock does what he wants, and indeed, if you look at those film-makers who try to do what others want, or what they think the audience want, they come unstuck.”

The other moment is when Truffaut, again quite sensibly, argues that Hitchcock’s trademark omniscient shots (the terrifying airborne shot of the town on fire in The Birds; the camera descending from Olympian heights to find the compromising key in Ingrid Bergman’s hand in Notorious) could have been made only by someone raised, as Hitchcock was, a Catholic. Hitchcock asks Truffaut to turn off the tape so he can go off record. “Again, we don’t know what he said, but he clearly didn’t want to reveal his motivations,” says Jones. Instead, in Jones’s film it’s left to another Catholic director, Scorsese, to clinch the point: the God-like perspective of Hitchcock’s aerial shots induce terror.

“In the book of the interviews,” says Jones, “Hitchcock came over as stilted and formal, which you can hear he isn’t.” Quite so: Hitchcock is often droll and cantankerous. “Actors are cattle,” he tells Truffaut, underlining his reputation for giving them no scope but to fulfil his artistic vision. “He can’t mean that,” says Jones. “Yes, he started in cinema during the silent era, well before the post-war era after which, as Scorsese says, the power shifted to the actor. But he wasn’t contemptuous – he had immensely fruitful relationships with actors.”

True, but Hitchcock was always boss. The film recalls his on-set spat during I Confess with Montgomery Clift over a split-second moment in which the actor was required to look up at a building as he crossed the street. The method actor who had trained with Lee Strasberg said he needed to consider whether his character, a guilt-ridden Roman Catholic priest, would look up at that moment. Hitchcock didn’t care what Clift thought: he needed him to look up at that precise moment or everything leading up to and from that glance would not make sense. Truffaut, when Hitchcock explains this to him, agrees: if Clift refused, he would have ruined the story arc. Happily, Clift ultimately glanced upwards and the scene makes sense.

Truffaut, for all that he was profoundly influenced by this father figure, gave actors more leeway. He tells Hitchcock about a scene in Jules et Jim that his three actors improvised. Hitchcock is incredulous: he could never allow that.

Later, Jones reveals, Hitchcock worried that he was too rigid in his commitment to narrative rigour. Perhaps he should have given his actors more freedom. In one telegram to Truffaut, he says how difficult it would have been for Mondrian to paint like Cézanne: by which he means how difficult it would have been for Hitchcock to direct like Truffaut, or indeed like others in the Nouvelle Vague, still less like the great American directors of the 1970s who allowed their actors a great deal of freedom.

It’s a point taken up by Fincher, who wonders how Hitchcock would have got on directing such actors as De Niro, Pacino and Hoffman. “Sadly, we’ll never know,” says Jones. “But he did have conflicts with actors who were less willing to respect his authority, not just with Clift on I Confess and Paul Newman on Torn Curtain.”

In any case, he did try to loosen up, to mutate, as it were, from Mondrian to Cézanne. “There is some 16mm test film provisionally called Kaleidoscope/Frenzy, in which he tried to be freer and give some young kids in New York the chance to express themselves as actors.” But that film was never made. Instead, in 1972 he made Frenzy, his penultimate – and psychosexually deranged – film, in which Barry Foster strangles his victims with a necktie, grunting: “Lovely! Lovely!”

Almost two decades after Truffaut and Hitchcock recorded their interviews, the Frenchman was still lecturing the world on his hero’s merits. “In America,” Truffaut told the American Film Institute in 1979 during a homage, “you call him Hitch. In France, we call him Monsieur Hitchcock. In America, you respect him because he shoots scenes of love as if they were scenes of murder. We respect him because he shoots scenes of murder like scenes of love.”

The following year, Hitchcock died. All too soon Truffaut followed him in 1984, aged only 52, and at the height of his powers.

• Hitchcock/Truffaut premieres at Cannes on 19 May.

Cannes 2015: Peter Bradshaw predicts the award-winners and Palme d'Or  Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian, May 21, 2015

So the Coen brothers and their fellow Cannes jurors retire to consider their verdict on the 2015 festival. My own verdict is in, right now. It’s been an excellent year.

I have been bemusing my fellow festivalgoers and even rather trying their patience, by bouncing around like Pollyanna, talking about the string of outstanding films: Todd Haynes’s Carol, the intense love affair between an older woman and a young shopgirl. László Nemes’s unbearably brutal Son of Saul. Asif Kapadia’s Amy, his study of Amy Winehouse. Matteo Garrone’s Tale of Tales, the surreal and hallucinatory re-enactment of 16th-century Neapolitan folk tales.

There has also been Michel Franco’s quietly haunting Chronic, starring Tim Roth, really giving the performance of his career as a troubled homecare nurse and Stéphane Brizé’s tremendous The Measure of a Man, with Vincent Lindon as the unemployed factory worker who finds a soul-destroying job as a supermarket security guard.

Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt has become an entrancing Cannes premiere directed by Todd Haynes, beautifully made and outstandingly intelligent.

Perhaps most urgent of all, as the festival nears its end, has been Hou Hsiao-hsien’s hypnotic wuxia martial arts fable The Assassin, about which critics here really have been passionate. There has been something fascinating and even rather inspiring from a cinephile point of view about the way this film has been so generally and enthusiastically discussed — people have been responding to it as a work of art, and cynicism has been banished. I have enormous admiration and respect for this very beautiful, glacially poised film, although it was sometimes too opaque to capture the heart as well as the head. But what an extraordinary movie.

Cannes wouldn’t be Cannes without a scandal or storm-in-a-teacup. In 2011, Lars von Trier was declared persona non grata for making wisecracks about Hitler at a press conference. This year it was reported that certain women were persona non grata for wearing flat shoes instead of high heels: the offenders were being turned away from red-carpet galas, reports said.

Asif Kapadia, in a tweet to the Times’s Kate Muir, confirmed that this happened to his wife. Festival director Thierry Frémaux dismissed the idea of an anti-flats policy as “unfounded”, although it is clear that the festival’s security staff (who are sometimes prone to come down hard) had been interpreting dress codes in their own way.

So heelgate came and went, and it is an interesting example of how Cannes, and perhaps the French cultural establishment, is more brisk and less vulnerable to Twitter-shaming and social media brush-fires than are Anglo-Saxons. The same scandal in London or New York, with its overtones of sexual-political malpractice might have resulted in the director having to issue some sort of cowed personal apology, especially as this year is supposed to be the festival’s “year of women”.

I don’t have disappointments, but I wanted to love Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth, having found his previous film The Great Beauty such a joy. Youth was an elegant, eccentric sketch with some hilarious flourishes, of which only this director is capable. But there was something nebulous and unfocused about it. However, Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel had a great double act going, and I am looking forward to watching it again for a UK release.

And so to my predictions: always unfailingly wrong. I am the opposite of Nate Silver, the statistician. I feel that the top prize will go to Carol, which is replete with artistry, flair and immediately comprehensible passion, the ability to grab you by your lapels, or something more intimate. But Hou Hsiao-hsien must surely come away with silverware for his outstanding work, as well as László Nemes, Matteo Garrone and Yorgos Lanthimos. I have also suggested my own personal prizes in lesser categories that the festival does not have, but should ... 


Todd Haynes for Carol (dir. Todd Haynes)


Hou Hsiao-hsien for The Assassin (dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien)


László Nemes for Son of Saul (dir. László Nemes)


Matteo Garrone for Tale of Tales (dir. Matteo Garrone)


Tim Roth for Chronic (dir. Michel Franco)


Zhao Tao for Mountains May Depart (dir. Jia Zhang-ke)


Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou for The Lobster (dir. Yorgos Lanthimos)

Additional imaginary awards ...


Mark Lee Ping Bing for The Assassin (dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien)


Hwarng Wern-ying for The Assassin (dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien)


Joe Walker for Sicario (dir. Denis Villeneuve)


John Turturro for Mia Madre (dir. Nanni Moretti)


Olivia Colman for The Lobster (dir. Yorgos Lanthimos)

The Directors’ Fortnight doesn’t present awards itself, but some of its sponsors do. This year, the Art Cinema Award, presented by the International Confederation of Art Cinemas, goes to Ciro Guerra‘s Embrace of the Serpent. “A visually mesmerizing exploration of man, nature and the destructive powers of colonialism, Embrace of the Serpent (El abrazo de la serpiente) marks an impressively realized third feature,” writes Jordan Mintzer in the Hollywood Reporter. “Reminiscent of Miguel Gomes’s Tabu in its recreation of colonial events through a richly nostalgic modern prism, the story (written by Guerra and Jacques Toulemonde) was inspired by the journals of two explorers who traveled through the Colombian Amazon during the last century: the German Theodor Koch-Grunberg and the American Richard Evans Schultes, here transformed into the characters Theodor (Jan Bijvoet from Borgman) and Evan (Brionne Davis). Cutting between 1909 and the 1940s, the parallel narratives chart each man’s voyage down a similar stretch of river as they search for a rare flower, the yakruna, with alleged healing powers.”

“It would be unfair to reveal Embrace’s surprises,” writes Screen‘s Tim Grierson, “but let it be said that everything from cannibalism to deranged religious cults are in the offing for Theo and Evan, and the deeper these men venture into the Amazon, the less logic has a place in their journeys. Instead, Guerra operates from intuition, incorporating a dream-like tone in which events occur almost by random—and yet, there’s a coherent escalation of anxiety, wonder and madness.”

“The making of the film, according to the director’s short preamble prior to the screening, was an arduous, drawn-out process,” notes Jessica Kiang at the Playlist, but “it seems that filming in the Amazon region Fitzcarraldo-style, presented its very specific set of physical and psychological challenges. Yet none of the arduousness behind-the-scenes shows in the final film, which unfolds with a stunning directorial sureness (and this is only Guerra’s third feature) and a layered intelligence that at times lands an insight so wincingly wise and true it takes your breath away.”

Marc van de Klashorst for the International Cinephile Society: “Shot in stark, crisp black and white (except for a short sequence near the end), the cinematography fits the film like a glove, not only aesthetically but also thematically, as it takes the focus away from what our senses (in this case sight) detect, and moves it towards the relationship of the men. Sound design is strong too, sparse but very detailed, which again is important in its marriage to how important listening is for the Amazonians.”

The Europa Cinemas Label for best European film goes to Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s Mustang. For Screen‘s Tim Grierson, “what begins as a playful look at five young women’s rebellion against their strict upbringing soon becomes something far more stirring and emotional. First-time feature director Deniz Gamze Ergüven has crafted a story of female empowerment which is attuned to the buoyancy of adolescence, but she’s also deeply critical of a modern Turkish patriarchy in which women still struggle to be equal citizens. Buoyed by a cast led by appealing newcomer Güneş Nezihe Şensoy, Mustang is a deceptively simple tale bearing an urgent message.”

“School’s just out,” writes Jay Weissberg, setting it up in Variety, “and five orphan sisters join their male classmates for a boisterously innocent beachside frolic. A scandalized headscarf-wearing neighbor reports them to their grandma (Nihal Koldas), who accuses them of pleasuring themselves on the shoulders of their boy peers. The perplexed girls, barely aware of their sexual aura, are beaten by their uncle Erol (Ayberk Pekcan) for acting like whores. After subjecting them to virginity tests, Erol locks them in the house and Grandma removes anything likely to be ‘perverting': skimpy or clinging clothing, cell phones, computers, makeup. A team of aunties come to teach the sisters domestic skills: as the superfluous voiceover says, ‘the house became a wife factory.'”

“There are mordant echoes here of the five Bennet daughters in Pride and Prejudice, whose mother’s anxiousness to get them married off is a matter of financial rather than moral urgency,” suggests David Rooney in the Hollywood Reporter. “However, this is no comedy of manners. The more direct comparison is with the Lisbon sisters in The Virgin Suicides, but those doomed sirens become architects of their own isolation, almost as much as their overprotective parents. Erguven and her co-screenwriter Alice Winocour (whose film [Disorder] screens in Un Certain Regard) are more interested in the girls’ instinct for self-preservation as they strike back against their enforced captivity and the hurried plans being made for them.”

“One could easily graft something of a political message about Turkey’s increasing trend away from secularism in this film,” figures Jordan Hoffman in the Guardian. “However, there isn’t much that’s specific to Islam. The frustrations are as universal as Splendor in the Grass, and this isn’t a finger-pointer like, say, Jafar Panahi’s The Circle.”

More from Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa. Variety‘s Dave McNary reports that Cohen Media Group has acquired all North American distribution rights.

The SACD Award for French-language feature film, presented by the Société des auteurs et compositeurs dramatiques, goes to Arnaud Desplechin’s My Golden Years. Click the title for reviews.

The Directors’ Fortnight does honor a short or two. This year, the illy Prize goes to Fyzal Boulifa’s Rate Me. And an honorable mention goes to Peter Tscherkassky‘s The Exquisite Corpus.

*          *          *          * 

Cannes critics ratings, a composite of  7 different critic scores, where some of the highest ratings might surprise you:

The Cannes Criterion Forum is up and running:

Screendaily’s Jury Grid gets a new joint leader, as Hou Hsiao-hsien’s The Assassins has joined Todd Haynes’ Carol as the only films rated above 3, both receiving a 3.5 rating. 

Les Etoiles de la critiques is up and running as well, where Nanni Moretti’s Mia Madre remains the highest rated film. (By the way, to open up the screen, click on the link [Edition mobile : cliquez ici pour afficher l'image]):

While Neil Young from Jigsaw Lounge maintains the odds for winners, making some early predictions for prize winners:                         

7-4 Hou- The Assassin {prediction: Palme d’Or)
5-1 Nemes – Son of Saul {Grand Prix}
5-1 Haynes – Carol {Best Actress}
– – – – – – – – – – –
12-1 Maïwenn – My King aka Mon Roi {Best Director}
14-1 Sorrentino – Youth
14-1 Jia – Mountains May Depart
14-1 Franco – Chronic
16-1 Kurzel – Macbeth
16-1 Audiard – Dheepan
16-1 Trier – Louder Than Bombs
{Best Screenplay}
16-1 Lanthimos – The Lobster {Prix du Jury}
– – – – – – – – – – -
25-1 Garrone – Tale of Tales
25-1 Moretti – My Mother aka Mia Madre
28-1 Kore-eda – Our Little Sister
40-1 Brizé – The Measure of a Man
{Best Actor}
50-1 Villeneuve – Sicario

– – – – – – – – – – -
150-1 Nicloux – The Valley of Love
200-1 Donzelli – Marguerite and Julien
1000-1 Van Sant – The Sea of Trees

5-2 Cate Blanchett and/or Rooney Mara (Carol)
11-4 Zhao Tao (Mountains May Depart)
5-1 Emmanuelle Bercot (My King aka Mon Roi)
6-1 Marion Cotillard (Macbeth)
8-1 Margherita Buy (My Mother aka Mia Madre)

– – –
11-1 any (or several) from Our Little Sister
14-1 Emily Blunt (Sicario)

– – –
22-1 Isabelle Huppert (Louder Than Bombs and/or The Valley of Love)
25-1 Shu Qi (The Assassin)
25-1 Rachel Weisz (The Lobster and/or Youth) solo
40-1 Anaïs Demoustier (Marguerite and Julien)
50-1 Jane Fonda (Youth) solo or with Rachel Weisz
50-1 The Lobster’s female ensemble

7-2 Vincent Lindon (The Measure of a Man)
4-1 Géza Röhrig (Son of Saul)
5-1 Tim Roth (Chronic)
7-1 Antonythasan Jesuthasan (Dheepan)
8-1 Michael Fassbender (Macbeth)
8-1 Michael Caine and/or Harvey Keitel (Youth)
– – –
14-1 Vincent Cassel (My King aka Mon Roi)
16-1 Colin Farrell (The Lobster)
16-1 any (or several) from Louder Than Bombs (Byrne, Eisenberg, Druid)
– – –
28-1 Toby Jones (Tale of Tales)
28-1 John Turturro (My Mother aka Mia Madre)
33-1 Liang Jingdong (Mountains May Depart)
33-1 Benicio Del Toro (Sicario)

33-1 Gérard Depardieu (The Valley of Love)
50-1 Jérémie Elkaïm (Marguerite and Julien)
50-1 Ken Watanabe and/or Matthew McConaughey (The Sea of Trees)

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:

David Hudson does all the links for each review at Fandor:

The Film Center's Barbara Scharres and Michał Oleszczyk, also Ben Kenigsberg and Chaz Ebert at Cannes from the Roger Ebert blog:

Kevin Jagernauth, Oliver Lyttelton, and Jessica Kiang the indieWIRE Playlist:   

a round-up of indieWIRE reviews:

The Guardian collection of reviews:

David Jenkins from Little White Lies:   

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

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky at Cannes for The Onion A.V. Club:

Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa:

Sukhdev Sandhu and Robbie Collins from The Daily Telegraph:

Eric Lavallee and Nicholas Bell from Ion Cinema:

Drew McSweeny and Guy Lodge & others from HitFix: 

International Cinephile Society:

Various writers at Twitch: 

Glenn Heath Jr. from the L-magazine:

Cannes Diary from Film Comment:

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

It was a good day of catching up.  I saw three Competiton films bringing my total to fourteen of the nineteen.  I'll see two tomorrow and then hopefully the last three on Sunday to complete the slate provided none of the three are scheduled at the same time.  And I'm still awaiting a film that I can root for the Palme d'Or.  Maybe it will be "Macbeth," the only film yet to be screened.  Thierry Fremaux may have saved it to the end so he wouldn't have to fly back its stars, Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, for the awards ceremony.

I was hoping my screening today of "The Assassin," that the critics have swooned over, might be the film to blow me away, but I failed to connect with this costume drama of intrigue and sword-fighting from the ninth century by Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-Hsien. The costumes were lush and the scenery spectacular, highlighted with an occasional lingering shot of great beauty, but since my mind was still distracted with my hacking case after I discovered a bunch of emails from my drafts file had been erased, I couldn't give this film the full focus it needed, as is generally necessary with Hsiao-Hsien.  Ralph had no easier a time of it than I had and couldn't shed any light on my dark. 

My day's two other Competition films were much less subtle, though they both had an element of mystery that wasn't fully explained.  They were both by young, but established auteurs making an English language film, even though that wasn't their native tongue, and working with high profile actors, making their films much more accessible than "The Assassin." 

Tim Roth is a care taker in Mexican Michel Franco's "Chronic."  He is very tender and gets quite close to his clients, too close for the liking of some of the relatives of his clients, most of whom are in their final days. When the children of one of his clients discover he has been watching porn with their father they bring suit against him.  It may not be the first time it has happened.  We learn he has been married and has a daughter in medical school, but he largely remains a mystery.  He seems to be a lost soul,  much repressed and stoop shouldered, on some sort of a mission but not entirely sure what it is.  How he became this way is left for us to speculate.

Gabriel Byrne also has his burdens in "Louder than Bombs" by Joachim Trier of Norway. He lost his wife, Isabelle Huppert, a few years before, to suicide.  They had two sons.  One is a college professor and the other is a morose teen still in high school, the very same one where Bryne teaches and is having an affair with one of his teachers unbeknownst to his son.  That's not the one thing he isn't aware of.  He doeant know his mother's death was a suicide and it is about to be revealed in a New York Time piece on an exhibition of his mother's photography.  Father and son hardly speak, so it is difficult for Byrne to let him know. The professor son, played with panache by Jesse Eisenberg, whose wife has just had a baby, is back home visiting helping prepare for his mother's  exhibition.  He offers advice to his younger brother, not all of which he heeds. The film abounds with little plot twists and revelations that  aren't pursued but keep one's interest level high.  This wasn't a particularly ambitious film, but it had insights and truths, and made for a somewhat nourishing dose of cinema.  It could have been another film with an odd name for a newborn, but they name their daughter Isabella after his dead mother.

As so often happens, my films, like the animals marching onto Noah's Ark, come in pairs of some sort or another.  I also had a pair of films today on bands of soldiers in rough circumstances.  One was rebel soldiers in the thick forests of Colombia and the other was French soldiers manning an outpost in Afghanistan.  

It has been a fine year for Colombian cinema.  "Embrace of the Serpent" won the best picture award in Directors Fortnight and "Land and Shade" won an award in Critics Weekly.  I only saw a handful of films in these sidebars, but was lucky to see both of them.  And today along came a Colombian film in Un Certain Regard, "Alias Maria."  There have been so many respectable films in this category, this probably won't win an award, but it was still a solid effort featuring a young woman rebel soldier on a mission to deliver a baby to safety.  It cries a lot.  She finds the best way to calm him is to offer him her breast.  Surprisingly she has milk to offer, as it is forbidden for any of the women soldiers to be pregnant. She is ordered to have an abortion, but her maternal instinct is too strong to comply, so she  must escape from her rebel battalion.

Trying to find a couple of lost members of a small unit guarding a pass in Afghanistan keeps the tension high in "The Wakhan Front," an award-winner in the Critics weekly.  This won as much for its  casting and its setting outside a small mountain village as it did for its script.  French soldiers, Afghani locals and rebel soldiers all look as if they were plucked from reality.  One negotiation session after another threatens to erupt into violence.

I rounded out the day with my first film from India--"Fourth Direction." I was hoping it would have song and dance to keep me awake, but that wasn't necessary.  This was the second film in Un Certain Regard with dog cruelty.  A family living in a walled compound in the countryside has a dog that barks in the night when a band of rebels patrolling the region makes its rounds.  They don't want attention drawn to them and order the owner at gunpoint to do away with his dog.  Government soldiers who come by the next day hearing he has been consorting with the rebels are also incensed by the dog and actually take a shot at it.  He puts off killing the dog despite a feeble attempt to poison it, until a crucial moment much later.  This too was a film that cast an array of authentic-looking people of the region.  Even if the film was a bit simple-minded at times, it gave a fine dose of India. If there were an award given for the best set of beards in a movie it would be a strong contender against the Icelandic film "Rams" that played on Day Three.

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