Sunday, May 24, 2015

Cannes 2015 Day 11

Marion Cotillard and Michael Fassbender

Adrien Brody and his partner Lara Lieto

Aomi Muyock, Gaspar Noé, director of Love, and cast members Karl Glusman and Klara Kristin

Rachel Weisz and Michael Caine

Jury members Sienna Miller laughing uncontrollably with Xavier Dolan

Jury member Sophie Marceau

French Actress Sara Forestier

Bolivian actress Carla Ortiz

Portuguese model Sara Sampaio

Hungarian model Barbara Palvin

Cara Delevingne and Kendall Jenner

Thailand actress Araya A. Hargate

A collection of pieces from The Hollywood Reporter:

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

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

Best and Worst fashion choices from International Business Times:

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

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

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

Cannes Film Festival's Crown Prince Xavier Dolan on Directing Oscar Winners at Age 26  Julie Miller interviews Xavier Dolan at Cannes for Vanity Fair magazine, May 21, 2015

Some Americans might not yet be acquainted with 26-year-old Québécois director Xavier Dolan. But at the Cannes Film Festival, where the filmmaking wunderkind won the Jury Prize last year for his fifth feature, Mommy, Dolan is a bit of a god. On top of the Cannes honor (which the filmmaker shared with Jean-Luc Godard), Mommy earned an eight-minute standing ovation. Last week, the Cannes accolades continued when Dolan earned more opening-night-ceremony applause than Jake Gyllenhaal and Guillermo del Toro, all three of whom serve on this year’s jury.

But evaluating this year’s Cannes entries is not all the filmmaker and actor is focused on this week. In addition to prepping his next project, an adaptation of the stage play It's Only the End of the World starring Marion Cotillard, Dolan announced a film competition geared towards helping his demographic break into the tricky industry he infiltrated at such a young age. (The filmmaker partners with Magnum and i-D magazine for the competition, called “Be True to Your Pleasure,” presented by Vie Magnifique, and will mentor its young finalists.)

In celebration of the new venture, Dolan found time to sit down with us on the Croisette during his crazed schedule. Among the subjects the filmmaker discussed were his Cannes celebrity, why there aren’t more risk takers in film, and how he’s enjoying his fellow jury members.

VF Hollywood: Last year at Cannes you won the jury prize, and now you find yourself on the festival jury. How does it feel to come full circle at Cannes, especially so quickly?

Xavier Dolan: Well, we have a very passionate group and are asking ourselves questions—hopefully the right questions.

You have such a grueling schedule this week and are beginning your next film almost immediately after the festival wraps. Are you mentally prepared?

I will be watching what we want to claim are the best 20 films on Earth right now. So I don’t see how that can’t be inspiring. Whether I love the films or not, I find the experience very enriching. But also there are a lot of parties and I don’t get a lot of sleep. So I am afraid I am going to get on set a little hungover. I am going to be completely hammered—Cannes hammered—and that is a big hammer.

You spoke about having a crush on Jake Gyllenhaal in an interview last year. Is it hard to concentrate with him on the panel?

[Grins] Is it hard? What part of me?

Fair enough. You'll be directing Marion Cotillard in this next project and then Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates in The Death and Life of John F. Donovan. Are you intimidated at all about directing Oscar-winning actresses?

How could I be nervous? I can only be inspired. [Marion and I] have already had rehearsals and I cannot wait to direct her. I have like a mega, mega crush on her. And I think we have a special connection too. But it is early to say that. We will get on set and see.

Jessica Chastain so enjoyed Mommy last year that she reached out to you on Twitter, and ended up being cast in The Death and Life of John F. Donovan. Have any other actors reached out to you directly about collaborating?

Sometimes. But through my agents—who are smart, funny, great people—I have been able to meet with people I could only dream of meeting with. But people reach out—and I have to say I am impressed and intimidated whenever I hear that some of these actors or actresses want to work with me. I am like, ‘Really? He or she knows who I am?’ I don't want to take this in a too bashful way; I work hard and my dream has always been to work with great actors. But I am as excited to work with Anne Dorval from Mommy as I am to work with Jessica or Marion. I am sorry I can't say anything more about the movie, but I can tell you about Magnum and what we are doing here.

How was the idea for the competition conceived?

Well, they reached out to me with this beautiful gesture for the future of youth, which I am still a part of—I hope. But I had been approached maybe once or twice with those sort of initiatives where companies group with magazines to curate a forum for young filmmakers to express themselves. But it had never worked and seemed like the right fit. But I have the time and want to do it right now. If I can guide people, I will do it in the most generous way I can.

You found success at a relatively young age, but were there any obstacles you encountered that you hope to help aspiring filmmakers avoid?

Cinema is a thankless industry where sometimes to appear on the cinematic scenery is a thing for late bloomers and people who are very patient. The places are accounted and the space is often unwelcoming. Money is rare and independent voices are muted by the almost complete absence of risk takers. It is always about evaluating the risks. And if there is one, people just pussy out. The fact that Magnum and i-D are doing this and offering these needs and the production framework to filmmakers is rare. First films, when you come from nowhere, and you come from somewhere where you don't have the proper resources . . . you may have a vision, you may have some things you want to say, you may have a purpose, but sometimes it is hard to put it together in a non-shitty way that will [not] go completely under the radar of other people.

I felt a lot of loneliness in the process at the beginning. So to provide them with a framework with, let's say, the resources for professional filmmaking—it is a very generous act and an investment in the future of youth.

At Cannes Film Festival, Good Sometimes Isn't Enough  Manohla Dargis from The New York Times, May 22, 2015

CANNES, France — We came, we saw, we cheered and, as you may have heard, we also jeered. In other words, welcome to the latest edition of the Cannes Film Festival, which ends Sunday. For more than a week, thousands of journalists and industry insiders have swarmed into this Riviera city to sift through titles that will be coming to a theater near you or just your favorite small screen. Inside the festival headquarters, journalists have raced from screening to screening while, at the film market, business types have bought and sold movies and sometimes projects that no critic has seen nor may ever want to, like “I Am Wrath,” a revenge flick set to star a gun-toting John Travolta.

The critics haven’t been packing, thankfully; we can scarcely smuggle a croissant past the headquarters guards, who check our bags and wand us electronically. Instead, we have made do with poison pens and iPads. Critics like to be wowed at Cannes, after all, and have volubly complained that there haven’t been many occasions for that. Even so, much depends on where you’ve looked, and outside the main competition it has been possible to see satisfying movies from around the globe, including two ruminant tales: Grimur Hakonarson’s “Rams,” a story of Icelandic sheepherders that flirts with comedy and deepens into tragedy; and Yared Zeleke’s “Lamb,” a modest, touching Ethiopian drama about an intrepid Jewish boy and his pet sheep that introduces you to characters defined by more than the daily struggles to feed themselves.

Even in the oft-lambasted main competition there was plenty to chew over and critics who weren’t especially excited by the very fine likes of Jacques Audiard’s “Dheepan” (from France) and Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth” (Italy) may find that once they’re home, this year’s Cannes wasn’t that bad, after all, especially when they’re faced with reviewing another Marvel movie. Nothing if not timely, “Dheepan” follows three Sri Lankan refugees, including its title character, trying to make a home together in a dangerous French slum. The movie doesn’t cohere as beautifully as a previous Audiard Cannes entry, “A Prophet,” but, he still holds you with performances and jolts of tenderness and violence. The ending of “Dheepan,” set in a pastoral British backyard, reads as a savage critique of France’s immigration policies.

“Youth” is another carnivalesque romp from Mr. Sorrentino, once again working with English-speaking actors. Michael Caine, as a composer, and Harvey Keitel, as a film director, star as longtime friends who, while staying at an astonishingly situated Swiss spa, reflect on life, love, and death amid sagging and nubile bodies. Mr. Sorrentino’s brightly effusive visual imagination can be intoxicating; almost every scene gives something worth looking at — a mountain landscape, a beauty queen strutting about in all her glory, Mr. Caine’s wonderful face, by turns delicate and stony. But the story is too diffuse and Mr. Sorrentino’s ideas (we live, we regret, we die) are too flimsy, especially when not tethered to the glories of Rome, backdrop of his last feature, “The Great Beauty.”

“The Great Beauty” had its premiere at Cannes in 2013. That year, the main slate also included “Inside Llewyn Davis,” from Joel and Ethan Coen (back this year as the presidents of the main feature jury), Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska,” James Gray’s “The Immigrant,” Abdellatif Kechiche’s “Blue Is the Warmest Color” and Jia Zhang-ke’s “A Touch of Sin.” Like those movies, most if not all the titles in this year’s main competition will roll out globally, whether on big screens or only small. Yet it’s doubtful that even the highest praised selections here — including the French critical favorite “My Mother,” from the Italian director Nanni Moretti — will excite those who keep the Oscar machine running or set off the kind of passionate argument that greeted “Blue Is the Warmest Color.”

One problem, of course, is what does any festival programmer do when some of the most revered filmmakers in the world arrive here with a good movie rather than another critically anointed masterwork? Mr. Jia’s “Mountains May Depart,” which was rightfully spared jeers, is not his supreme achievement, but instead a quietly stirring, characteristically thoughtful drama that tracks several characters as they move from China’s past into its present and future. Like several other directors here this year, Mr. Jia really trips up only with his English-speaking performers. In his case, however, the use of English serves his larger narrative and political points, whereas with other directors who don’t normally work in English, it has felt like a financing compromise.

The vagaries of auteurist output aside, the festival has made baffling choices, including turning down Arnaud Desplechin’s terrific “My Golden Days,” which played in a parallel event, the Directors’ Fortnight. That was bad enough, but worse has been the chatter that Mr. Desplechin’s movie was bumped partly to make room for more commercial French films like “Dheepan” and for two female directors: Maïwenn’s monotonous soap, “My King,” and Valérie Donzelli’s “Marguerite & Julien,” an incest romance in a leadenly whimsical Wes Anderson key. It’s a problem when there are no women in the main competition, as has been the case in the past, but programming by gender instead of quality risks giving ammunition to those who think that women can’t hack it with the big-boy auteurs.

Cannes Film Fest: 10 Films That (Almost) Won the Palme d'Or  P. E. Holdsworth from Blouin Art Info, May 20, 2015 

With “The Pianist,” “Pulp Fiction,” and “The Leopard” all having left the Cannes Film Festival with the top prize, the Palme d’Or award has proved to be a veritable sign of cinematic sucess over the festival’s 68-year history.

But it is not just winners of the Golden Palm that have gone on to find success either critically or commercially. Runners-up that have taken either the Grand Prix or the Jury Prize in place of the Palme d’Or include Ingmar Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal” which left Cannes in 1957 with the Special Jury Prize. It has gone on to be one of the world’s most studied and parodied films.  2013 runner-up “Inside Llewyn Davis” was a commercial success at the box office, grossing $32,935,319 worldwide according to

As the prize winners of the 68th Cannes Film Festival are announced on May 24, many people will no doubt be taking a look back this week at the past winners of the Palme d’Or. BLOUIN ARTINFO thought we would instead give due attention to some of the esteemed examples of world cinema that have left Cannes with either second or third prize.

View the slideshow to see 10 noteworthy films that didn’t win the Palme d’Or.

The Seventh Seal – 1957

Joint Special Jury Prize

Ingmar Bergman

It has been 58 years since “The Seventh Seal” was screened at Cannes giving it ample time to secure its place as a classic of world cinema — despite not having won the Palme d’Or. The Swedish fantasy film about a knight playing death at chess during the years of the plague, firmly established writer-director Ingmar Bergman’s world renowned artistic status. One of the earliest examples of self-aware “art” films, “The Seventh Seal” has not just played an important role in film-studies but also in popular culture as many depictions of death with his dark cape and pale face playing games from chess to badminton have been created since as parodies to scenes from the film. William Wyler’s “Friendly Persuasion” beat this early example of “film as symbolism” to the most revered prize, suggesting that the judges were perhaps not quite ready to welcome art-house cinema to the Cannes Film Festival in 1957.

Alfie – 1966

Special Jury Prize

Lewis Gilbert

Who doesn’t love watching Michael Caine in his breakthrough role, portraying the loveable rogue title character in “Alfie”? A despicable philanderer he may be, yet the film was created in such a way that when Caine flashes a grin to the camera in a break of the fourth wall, Alfie is near forgiven of all sins. Having received critical acclaim in the 60's, “Alfie” is still a much loved British film, currently holding a 100 percent rating on the film review site Rotten Tomatoes. French film “A Man and a Woman” and Italian “The Birds, the Bees and the Italians” were joint winners of the top prize that year making 1966 a fantastic year for cinematography.

The Mother and the Whore (La Maman et La Putain) – 1973

Joint Grand Prix Spécial du Jury

Jean Eustache

French director Jean Eustache’s masterpiece revolves around the love triangle of a man and two women living in Paris after the demonstrations of May 1968. The lifestyle choices of Alexandre (Jean-Pierre Léaud), Marie (Bernadette Lafont), and Veronika (Françoise Lebrun) are the focus of this film rather than the plot, leading the critics at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973 to have strong opinions of it. Télé-7-Jours dubbed it a "monument of boredom" whilst the French newspaper Le Figaro called the film “an insult to the nation”. Nevertheless “La Maman et La Putain” has gone on to be adapted into a stage play by Jean-Louis Martinelli and inspired a song by French rock band Diabologum in a showing of the film’s legacy.

The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser – 1974

Grand Prix Spécial du Jury

Werner Herzog

This German film portrays the real story of Kaspar Hauser (Bruno Schleinstein), the man who spent the first 17 years of his life in a cellar where he was chained and allowed no contact with the rest of the world aside from being allowed one toy horse for company and visits from a man in a top hat who would feed him. In 1828 the man released Hauser, taught him how to walk and how to say some simple phrases and then left him to fend for himself in Nuremburg. Rescued, exploited, attacked and the figure of much public curiosity, Hauser’s life-story was recounted through the film with particular attention to accuracy which was based on letters Hauser had possessed. “The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser” not only won the Grand Prix Spécial du Jury at Cannes in 1974 but it also left with the FIPRESCI Prize and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.

Cria Cuervos – 1976

Joint Grand Prix Spécial du Jury

Carlos Saura

This allegorical Spanish drama uses the family-life of an eight year old girl living with her authoritarian Father and later her Aunt, to comment on life under Francisco Franco’s harsh regime. The film was shot as Spain’s dictator lay dying and deserves praise for the subtlety with which it criticizes Franco’s regime. Selected as the Spanish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 49th Academy Awards and studied by university language students the world over, “Cria Cuervos” is quite rightly considered to be a classic of Spanish cinema. Politically charged and psychologically played-out as we witness a young child attempt to kill her parental figures, this masterpiece was a worthy contender for the Palme d’Or prize of 1976 but lost out to Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver”.

The Meaning of Life – 1983

Grand Prix Spécial du Jury

Terry Jones

The film’s original tagline read "It took God six days to create the Heavens and the Earth, and Monty Python just 90 minutes to screw it up." Well the Monty Python team couldn’t have screwed it up too badly as the film took the Grand Prix Spécial du Jury prize in 1983 and is well-loved by many who are fans of the surreal comedy of this British sketch troupe. “Why are we here? What’s life all about? Is God really real? Or is there some doubt?” Find the answers in this outrageous, film broken down into the seven chapters of life, covering everything from “The Miracle of Birth” to “Death.”

Cinema Paradiso – 1989

Joint Grand Prix du Jury

Giuseppe Tornatore

The predecessor to “La Vita è bella” is “Cinema Paradiso” as it is the Italian film regarded as reinstating Italy’s previously floundering film industry. An ode to the movie theaters of old, this film was made to indulge the nostalgic in us all. The films plot sees projectionist Alfredo (Phillipe Noiret) working in the Cinema Paradiso movie house in war-torn Sicily when he meets a young Slavatore Di Vita (Salvatore Cascio). The two develop a friendship, the depth of which is expressed beautifully by the actors, and Salavtore grows to have such a passion for cinematography that it makes us all want to visit the Cinema Paradiso and discover the same. Renowned for its montage of kissing scenes ending, the film is undeniably a classic and faired far better with audiences than its joint prize winner, French comedy-drama, “Trop Belle Pour Toi.”

Life is Beautiful (La vita è bella) – 1998

Grand Prix

Roberto Benigni

“Life is Beautiful” is the holocaust tragicomedy that Roger Ebert noted caused offense to critics at Cannes due to its use of humour in relation to such sensitive subject matter. Ebert also said about the film “"Life Is Beautiful" is not about Nazis and Fascists, but about the human spirit. It is about rescuing whatever is good and hopeful from the wreckage of dreams.” Actor, director Roberto Benigni based the film partly on his own families history as he plays a Jewish librarian who tries to protect his son from the realities of a Nazi regime from within a concentration camp. The film grossed $229,163,264 worldwide making it the highest ever grossing movie to be made in Italy.

Persepolis – 2007

Joint Jury Prize

Marjane Satrapi

This animated film follows the story of a young Iranian girl, Marjane, growing-up in 1970’s Tehran through the downfall of one brutal regime and the uprising of an oppressive other. Her politically active, Marxist parents send her to live in Vienna, Austria for fear that their daughter’s rebellious nature is dangerous in the new Islamic Republic. Marjane’s coming of age story recounts the Iranian revolution whilst focusing on the exhilarating, isolating experience of being an outsider growing-up in Europe. The French speaking film takes its title from the historic Persian city of Persepolis and was written and directed autobiographically by Marjane Satrapi herself. The animation is based on Satrapi’s graphic novel of the same name. Although “Persepolis” missed out on the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival, it was awarded the Southerland Trophy (grand prize) at the London Film Festival that same year.

Inside Llewyn Davis – 2013

Grand Prix

Coen Brothers

Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, this comedy-drama set in the 60’s oozes the Coen brother’s classic visual style. Oscar Isaac plays the title role, a folk singer struggling to balance his personal life with his musical ambitions in New York. The film follows one week in the fictional character’s life giving viewers a chance to play voyeur as they enter into a character analysis of the disorganised musician. Though a fiction film, the story drew inspiration from real-life folk singer Dave Van Ronk. Alongside the movies visually satisfying colour palette there is also a folksy soundtrack channelling the likes of Bob Dylan. No wonder this 2013 Grand Prix winner did astoundingly at the box office when it offers such a convincing insight into the Greenwich Village folk scene of the 1960’s.

Shakespeare’s tragedy and noir-thriller prototype Macbeth appears in a new screen version from Australian film-maker Justin Kurzel, famous for his brutal crime movie Snowtown — the story of how a warrior-nobleman is encouraged to commit regicide by his ruthlessly ambitious wife, who then descends into bewilderment and despair as her husband fanatically reinforces his position with an escalating series of pre-emptive murders.

This is not the traditional stage Macbeth, crammed into claustrophobic interior spaces. It is conceived in (and almost dwarfed by) a vast Scottish plain, like Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth. The movie never entirely quits the battlefield (“heath” is replaced with “battlefield” in one early tinkering with the text) above which the air finally becomes blood red in a dusty fog of war — a Scots Outback, maybe. The leery figure of the Porter is entirely removed: this is a deadly serious Macbeth, with fascinating moments and shrewd, sharp insights, though often the pace is conducted at a uniform drumbeat. There are slo-mo battles, stylised blood-spouts and bellicose roaring, perhaps influenced by Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood — and some mangled Scottish accents from its Irish, French and English stars. The genuine Scots voices, coming from the mouths of minor characters, sound like a documentary-realist interjection from another film.

As Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard are a dream-team pairing, actors who radiate charisma, perhaps more charisma than can be entirely absorbed into the fabric of the film. As ever, Cotillard is able to convey enormous amounts with her face without saying a word. Fassbender is arguably less good with Macbeth’s introverted vulnerability and self-questioning, but always effortlessly virile and watchable, responding to Macbeth’s outbursts of anger and imperious paranoia. When he dismisses the witches: “Infected be the air whereon they ride/And damned all those that trust them!” he tops it off with a whooping rebel yell. Paddy Considine is a frowningly vigilant Banquo and David Thewlis is Duncan, the sacrificial victim King smilingly presiding over the nation which sometimes looks focused on a pagan court and sometimes in a vast Christian cathedral from a later age.

Right off the bat, Kurzel begins with a bold flourish. Tackling the perennial question of the couple’s evident childlessness, and Lady Macbeth’s mysterious later allusions to breast feeding, he starts with the two attending the infant’s funeral. Kurzel’s version intuits the way that Lady Macbeth is embittered, anguished, and that her grief is what has become twisted into murderous ambition — and he also interestingly connects her emotional torment with the weird sisters themselves, the three witches: a radioactive feminine agony in the firmament, playing on a soldier’s macho aggression. And it’s something that makes more sense of Macbeth’s resentment of Banquo’s son.

Kurzel’s other interpretative flourish is the way he handles Macbeth’s speech after Duncan is murdered: “Had I but died an hour before this chance,/I had lived a blessed time …” Some productions show that Macbeth is of course play-acting for the court’s benefit, but also genuinely realising — to his own secret horror and guilt — that he does in fact believe what he is saying. Kurzel and Fassbender play it quite differently. Fassbender’s Macbeth slumps next to Duncan’s blood-stained corpse and sneeringly speaks the line directly into the stunned face of Duncan’s rightful heir Malcolm, played by Jack Reynor, who has discovered the scene. It is if he is brazening the thing out, challenging the milksop youth to fight him or flee, or possibly already withdrawing into his own psychotic and delusional world.

For her part, Cotillard is able to command her own space in the film, doing more with less. As she greets Duncan as the King arrives at their house (actually a kind of personalised encampment) she is a picture of demurely sinister intent and for their intense disputes, while Macbeth appears to want to back out, Cotillard gives a whiplash-crack to her denunciation of cowardice. Actually, her Frenchness is not a problem, she seems like a foreign Tudor bride who has time-travelled back to 11th-century Scotland.

Later, the Macbeths’ “Queen is dead” scene is genuinely quite shocking and Fassbender brings his A-game to the resulting “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” speech. And when he has to address Seyton, he pronounces it “Satan” to give his situation an even more diabolic ring.

There is a lot of sound and fury in this Macbeth, but not without meaning. It’s not perhaps a very subtle version, and I felt that Kurzel should have perhaps worked more closely with Fassbender with the contours of his speeches, and shown the painful mind-changing and nerve-losing in the early stages. There is an operatic verve.

Fassbender, Cotillard put a new spin on Macbeth  Liam Lacey from The Globe and the Mail, May 23, 2015

One of Shakespeare’s most cinematic tragedies, Macbeth, famously filmed by Orson Welles, Akira Kurosawa and Roman Polanski, would seem ideal for the modern era of computer-generated effects: bearded witches that disappear in the air, a ghost at a banquet seen by only one man and even an apparent walking forest of ten-thousand soldiers camouflaged by the tree branches.

The surprise about Australian director Justin Kurzel’s adaptation of the play, the last film screened in this year’s Cannes competition, takes exactly the opposite approach. This intimate drama, starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, scuttles the metaphysical horror of Shakespeare’s tragedy and cheap-seat thrills in favour of an almost modern psychological approach. Kurzel and the writing team of Todd Louiso, Michael Lesslie and Jacob Koskoff, put their cards on the table with the movie’s opening scene, featuring not the witches on the heath, but the funeral of Macbeth’s toddler, complete with a funeral pyre, in the craggy Scottish winter landscape. Grief, not ambition, is the goad that drives the Macbeths.

While there’s something reductive about interpreting Macbeth as a story of regicide as a marriage therapy, Macbeth mostly works, thanks to the emotional intensity of Fassbender and Cotillard’s performances and Kurzel’s stylistic economy. Soliloquies fold deftly into voice-over over montages, the dynamic shifts between brutal battles to intimate scenes of sickly tension. The sum is less a history play than a blood-hazed expressionist nightmare with a pounding soundtrack full of sound and fury.

In the press conference following the screening, Irish star Michael Fassbender (Shame, Twelve Years a Slave) said he had encountered Macbeth only twice before, once as a student and later at drama school. But it was not until preparing for the role that “it occurred to me that he was suffering from post-traumatic distress disorder, which Justin suggested to me in one of our first conversations. And that changed everything for me.”

“We know from soldiers today coming back from Iraq or Afghanistan that they have these hallucinations. They can be walking down the street here, the Croisette, and the next thing, it’s Basra."”

Director Kurzel said that, while he understood that Macbeth is typically thought of as a drama about ambition, Shakespeare’s language is “very elastic” and, without having a pre-defined “concept” of the play he brought his personal experience to bear.

“I was really interested in grief, and what you do to replace something you’ve lost,” said the director. “I’ve experienced that in my own life. I was very interested in how desperate you can be to fill a hole left by grief.”

In acting the role, Fassbender said he wanted to tried to strike a balance between following a “what ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach toward Shakespeare’s language, while “fileting what you can to stand within the vision that Justin Kurzel had.”

“For me it’s a story about loss,” said Fassbender. “The loss of a relationship, the loss of a child, and the loss of their sanity.”

Cotillard, speaking in French, said of her sympathetic portrayal of Lady Macbeth, which she described as the biggest challenge as an actress, playing a character who was “all gloom.”

“She grapples with her fears and that turns her into a bit of a monster. There’s a lot of love between these two characters but they’re just too damaged to allow in anything luminous.”

Of course, loss is highly personal, and Shakespeare purists may grieve for some of the Macbeth scenes the film excises, including the famous witches’ incantation (“Double double, toil and trouble”) and memorably disgusting cocktail, involving eye of newt, various other animal and human body parts, all chilled with a topper of baboon’s blood.

In compensation, Cotillard bewitched and Fassbender charmed. Fassbender also offered some insight into another ancient Scottish potion.

Asked a question about the best and worst parts of shooting a film in the wilds of Scotland, Fassbender answered promptly:

“Whisky and whisky.”

This year’s Un Certain Regard jury, presided over by Isabella Rossellini (other members: Haifaa al-Mansour, Nadine Labaki, Panos H. Koutras and Tahar Rahim) have presented the Prix Un Certain Regard to Grímur Hakonarson’s Rams. “A small story about two old estranged brothers and their animals gently morphs from gentle near-absurdist comedy to something close to tragedy in Rams, a simply but skillfully told tale of the hardships of isolated rural life in Iceland even today,” writes the Hollywood Reporter‘s Todd McCarthy.

Variety‘s Alissa Simon finds that “Hakonarson, an experienced documentarian, capitalizes on his extensive knowledge of Icelandic bachelor farmers and the unique landscapes of his homeland, while spicing the proceedings with some wonderfully wry, charmingly understated comic moments. Like his compatriot Benedikt Erlingsson in Of Horses and Men, Hakonarson lovingly captures a deeply rooted rural culture that is closely connected to the Icelandic national spirit.”

“It is a lonely life for the stoical Gummi (Sigurdur Sigurjonsson) even although his brother Kiddi (Theodor Juliusson) shares their family land and lives in a neighboring farmhouse,” writes Allan Hunter in Screen. “The discovery of the lethal disease scarpie in the flock means that all the sheep must be slaughtered. Compensation will be paid but for many it is the last blow in their struggle to survive. Clandestine moves to keep the flock alive might be the only thing that will force the brothers to finally set aside their differences. Rams may sound bleak and unforgiving but it has a generous spirit and wit that make it entirely accessible.”

“Part of its charm is due to the tranquil nature of the film but it’s also born from the earnest humanity that emanates from both brothers,” writes Raphael Deutsch at the Film Stage. “There is a natural allure and honesty which extends to the aesthetic look of the film, creating an environment which doesn’t feel too produced but rather a snapshot of organic, country life.” More from Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa.

The Un Certain Regard “Prix du Jury” goes to Dalibor Matanic’s The High Sun. “The cruel ethnic wars fought in former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 2001 are revisited with passion and compassion in Dalibor Matanic’s absorbing drama,” writes the Hollywood Reporter‘s Deborah Young, noting that it “looks back at the beginning and end of the conflict in a trio of poignant love stories. Though the stories and characters are different, all three feature the superb young actors Goran Markovic and Tihana Lazovic as war-crossed lovers, linking the narrative with a bridge of anguish, guilt and redemption. The film hits a high-water mark for Croatian writer-director Matanic (Fine Dead Girls, Kino Lika).”

“It’s handsomely mounted and expertly edited, offering rewards quite apart from the too cliched but well-meaning script,” finds Jay Weissberg in Variety. Screen‘s Allan Hunter: “There is a glimmer of hope at the end of this long, languid production but the fact that the first story is easily the most arresting and tightly constructed leaves the remainder of the film struggling in its wake.”

More from Fabien Lemercier (Cineuropa) and Barbara Scharres ( Interviews with Matanic: Cannes and Cineuropa.

The prize for best direction goes to Kiyoshi Kurosawa for Journey to the Shore. And a Special “Prix Un Certain Talent” goes to Corneliu Porumboiu’s The Treasure. Click both titles for reviews.

Special Un Certain Regard jury prizes for “promising futures” go to two debut features, Neeraj Ghaywan’s Masaan and Ida Panahandeh’s Nahid.

“India’s inexorable rise as a 21st century global power may be undeniable but it remains a country tethered to a past firmly marked by the caste system, class division and deeply ingrained religious beliefs,” writes Allan Hunter in Screen. “Neeraj Ghaywan’s very engaging debut feature Masaan confronts the tensions between ancient and modern through a Paul Haggis-style approach of intertwining tales of love, loss, grief, police corruption and crumbling moral certainties set in Benares, the holy city of the Ganges.”

“Ghaywan juggles a balance between social realism and a more melodramatic strain of filmmaking,” writes Barbara Scharres at “Devi (Richa Chadda), a student, meets her boyfriend at a hotel for an illicit tryst that will end in his suicide after the police stage a raid and a corrupt cop makes her a pawn in an extortion scheme. Engineering student Deepak (Vicky Kaushal) falls in love with a woman well above his caste but the fate of their relationship is not to be determined by either of them.”

And Cannes has posted its interview with Ghaywan.

“Were the title not already taken, Nahid writer-director Ida Panahandeh could easily have called her debut feature A Separation, for its similarly fraught portrait of the byzantine legal complications and social stigmas concerning divorce and remarriage in Iran,” writes Variety‘s Scott Foundas. “That thematic connection is hardly lost on Panahandeh, who has cast A Separation co-star Sareh Bayat in the title role here, as a small-town divorcee who finds herself navigating a peculiar minefield known as ‘temporary marriage.’ The result is a reasonably absorbing, well-acted melodrama that lacks the taut dramatic construction and universal resonances of Asghar Farhadi 2011 Oscar winner, but adds another valuable voice to the cinematic chorus concerning the generally deplorable position of women in Islamic society.”

“With a distant and unhurried style that sometimes recalls the work of Yasujiro Ozu, Panahandeh films her heroine in a series of fixed medium-shots, as if Nahid were incapable of escaping the frame,” writes Jordan Mintzer in the Hollywood Reporter. “It’s a technique that corresponds well to her predicament, although one that sometimes lacks verve.”

Screen‘s Allan Hunter suggests that Panahandeh is “a welcome addition to the ranks of compassionate, social realist filmmakers that stretches from Vittorio De Sica to the Dardenne brothers.” More from Barbara Scharres at

'Son Of Saul' Wins FIPRESCI; Ecumenical Jury Honors 'Mia Madre' – Cannes  Nancy Tartaglione from Deadline, May 23, 2015          

As the prizes continue to roll out here in Cannes, Hungarian helmer Laszlo Nemes’ harrowing Holocaust drama Son Of Saul has been awarded the FIPRESCI prize in the main Competition. The honor, handed out by the International Federation of Film Critics, comes a day ahead of the official prize ceremony. Son Of Saul is the only title by a first-time filmmaker in the Competition while Nemes was a Deadline Director to Watch this year. The film has sold well for Paris-based FilmsDistribution and was picked up for North America by Sony Pictures Classics.

Son Of Saul focuses on Saul Ausländer, a member of the Sonderkommando, the group of Jewish prisoners isolated from Auschwitz in 1944 who were forced to assist the Nazis by cremating the bodies of the dead. Set over a day and a half, the film closely follows Saul as he discovers the corpse of a boy he believes is his young son and sets out to offer him a proper burial.

FIPRESCI also honored Un Certain Regard title Masaan by India’s Neeraj Ghaywan. Another debut feature, it’s set in Benares and recounts the intersecting paths of a group of diverse characters all seeking a better future, whilst buffeted between the demands of modern life and an attachment to tradition. Pathé International has sales.

Rounding out the trio of FIPRESCI awards today is Critics’ Week victor Paulina. Santiago Mitre’s Argentine drama was named the Grand Prix Nespresso winner in that section on Thursday. It centers on a young woman who gives up a brilliant career as a lawyer to dedicate herself to teaching in a depressed region in Argentina. It’s sold by Paris-based Versatile.

In other awards, the Ecumenical Jury gave its top prize to Nanni Moretti’s Competition entry Mia Madre. Moretti’s semi-autobiographical work tells the story of a female film director who is trying to make a movie amid chaos in her life provided in part by a teenage daughter, a formidable, ailing mother and a big-headed American film star (played by John Turturro). FilmsDistribution also has sales here and completed a U.S. deal with Alchemy a few days ago.

The Ecumenical Jury also gave special commendations to Competition pic La Loi Du Marché by Stéphane Brizé and Un Certain Regard title Taklub by Brillante Mendoza.

*          *          *          *

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, while Son of Saul and Mountains May Depart are both listed at 2.8 

Les Etoiles de la critiques is up and running as well, where Nanni Moretti’s Mia Madre and the French film The Measure of a Man remain the highest rated films. (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
14-1 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)
7-1 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)

– – –
20-1 Kalieaswari Srinivasan (Dheepan)
25-1 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)
6-1 Antonythasan Jesuthasan (Dheepan)
7-1 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:  

Its hard to remember at times what an extraordinary privilege it is to be at Cannes getting a first look at the best the world of cinema has to offer when I am too often preoccupied with the worry of getting into a screening or thinking about the rush after the movie to the next one and having a backup plan if I'm turned away from it.  Years of seeing a movie that I was delighted to have seen thanks to being turned away from another movie does not ease the frustration of not greeting into something I might have been waiting an hour or more for.  So when I arrived at the Palais a little after eight this morning and was kept waiting for twenty minutes, even though I had an Invitation in hand, I was  nervous rather than exhilarated and expectant of what I was about to see, as I would have been if I had been able to walk right in and take my seat.  

When I was able to take my seat moments before the theater went dark I barely had time to gather myself before being swept into the spectacular highlands of Scotland and the world of "Macbeth."  The cinematagraphy grew more and more astounding, not only the breathtaking landscapes, but the battle scenes in slow motion and close-up.  And Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard as the principals are stunning as well. Harvey Weinstein knew what he was doing putting Australian Justin Kurzel at the helm of this project.   But this is Shakespeare and since my brain has never processed him very well, the words coming out of the mouths of the characters didn't always register, preventing me from liking his movie as much as I would have liked to.

If one of the seven awards the Cannes jury dispenses was for cinematagraphy, giving it to "Macbeth" would be the one sure thing of all the awards. As it is, there is no clear favorite for any of the awards, only that "Carol," "Son of Saul," and "The Asssassins" will receive something.  Usually the list is longer, but nothing else has particularly distinguished itself.  Certainly not "Valley of Love," the other Competition film I saw today.  Isabelle Huppert and Gerard Depardieu play factionalized versions of themselves in Death Valley as a divorced couple hoping to reunite with their son who recently died .  In his suicide note he tells them he will reappear at one of several scenic sites there during a one week period.  

The critics who savaged Gus Van Sant's movie ought to have had at this as well, as the European faction of the press had to forgive the film for its portrayal of the Americans they encounter as unrefined boors.  One guy recognizes Depardieu but can't remember what he has seen him in or his name.  He asks for his autograph.  Depardieu signs it as Bob DeNiro.  Later the guy confronts Depardieu as he and Huppert are dining and lambasts him.  Depardieu is apologetic and invites him and his wife to join them.  The movie stars are extremely tolerant of all their foolish questions and comments. As with the married couple in Van Sant's movie, they bicker over long festering and present aggravations, though not quite as venomously.  This is not a film that will rank very high in the work of these actors, but a nice little curiosity.

The Director's Fortnight always includes a film or two that was a hit at Sundance in January. Last year it was "Whiplash."  This year it was "Dope."  As with "Whiplash" it included a mesmerizing performance, but rather than by a veteran actor, this was by a newcomer, Shameik Moore a young black of Jamaican descent who is as glib as was J.K.Simmons. He is a very bright, Harvard-bound kid growing up with a single mother in a  rough neighborhood of Los Angeles.  There's no chance he'll win an Oscar, or even be nominated for one, as this film isn't good enough for that, but he may in the future.   It is the silly story of three high school geeks who come into possession of several kilos of cocaine and how they dispense it.  

The kids in "Welcome, or No Trespassing" are somewhat silly too, but they provide an allegory for the Soviet system in this seminal film from 1964 by Elem Klimov about a kid's summer camp.  They get into all sorts of hijinks. This first film by the acclaimed director was suppressed when it came out. This just restored print was a late addition to the schedule.

It became a two Russian day when I ended it with "Peace To Us In Our Dreams," a Lithuanian-Russian co-production.  This too took place out of the city on the fringe of the woods. A directionless man and woman are grappling with what they want to do with their lives. A young man is living in an abandoned cabin.  He steals tomatoes from their greenhouse and the rifle of some hunters. He shares the sense of purposelessness of those he steals from in this understated film from the Director's Fortnight.

My day also included a repeat screening of the Icelandic film "Rams" after it won the award for the best of the nineteen films in Un Certain Regard.  I had seen thirteen of them.  When clips were shown of all nineteen preceding the awards ceremony, each brought back a fond memory.  I was hoping one of the six I hadn't seen would win the award, so I could see something I hadn't seen, but I realized that I would have been happy to see any of them again, not something I can say of those in Competition.  The Isabella Rossellini-led jury of five gave out five awards.  Three of them went to movies I hadn't seen, adding further emphasis to what a fine batch of films this had been this year, but probably justifiably their top prize went to "Rams."  Surprisingly, Rossellini didn't say how hard it was to choose a winner as is customary saying many deserved it, but instead said how wonderful it was to see all these films and that she and the jury had felt like they had taken a flight around the planet and that any anthropologist would be envious of them.  As with any commendable work of art, it was most worthwhile to experience "Rams" again and to further  appreciate its great craftsmanship and depth and many nuances.

I was able to do my nightly FaceTime with Janina from outside the Palais and could give her a display of all the women in their gowns and high heels.  I felt like a filmmaker walking amongst all the attendees letting Janina feel as if she was right there as I panned around and up and down. In the twelve years I've been attending the festival the high heels issue never came up and I was oblivious to the fact that they are required for the evening Palais screenings.  My eye has always been drawn to all the stunning gowns.  Now I'm checking out the footwear.  The gowns certainly are stunning, adorning all the svelt, tanned beautiful people of the Côte d'Azur wafting along as if in a state of grace. They are like a second skin to many.  But there are those who are clearly uncomfortable in such attire and footwear, appearing embarrassed and awkward.  It is certainly an entertaining show each evening.

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