Friday, May 15, 2015

Cannes 2015 Day 2

South African actress Charlize Theron

British actress and Jury member Sienna Miller

Un Certain Regard Jury president, Italian actress Isabella Rossellini  

Chinese actress Fan Bingbing  

Bollywood actress and former model Mallika Sherawat  

American actress Eva Longoria  

Mexican-Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o on hotel balcony with friends  

Japanese actresses Masami Nagasawa, Suzu Hirose, Haruka Ayase and Kaho from Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s Our Little Sister  

American actor John C. Reilly  

Chinese actress, and wife of director Jia Zhang-ke, Zhao Tao  

A collection of pieces from The Hollywood Reporter:

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 more looks of supermodel Doutzen Kroes: 

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

Los Angeles Times gallery photos: 

Fashionista blog: 

7 best dressed at Cannes from Blouin Art Info: 

Indian actress and former beauty queen Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as she has appeared at Cannes through the years, from International Business Times: 

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

Most Memorable Moments ever at Cannes from The Huffington Post:

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

Harper’s Bazaar at Cannes: 

Hollywood Life photo gallery:  

People magazine hits the Cannes red carpet: 

Cannes After Party

The Secret to the Success of the Cannes Film Festival, by Eric Kohn from indieWIRE, May 14, 2015

The bus full of tuxedoed moviegoers was pulling up to Palm Beach at the cusp of the Croisette in Cannes when the fireworks started. As the crowd pooled at the entrance to a hulking white tent where the opening dinner for the Cannes Film Festival would take place, a panoply of glittering colors filled the air to the tune of deafening explosions. Usually at this chaotic festival, which attracts thousands of cinephiles, dealmakers, partygoers, celebrities and their gawkers alike, any given crowd quickly dissolves into mayhem. But for a brief moment, the roaring spectacle brought the whole scene to a standstill, and all we could do was just stand there and watch.

So goes the underlying paradox of Cannes in its every crevice: The festival simultaneously caters to high-minded, cultured sensibilities and plays up the much emptier conceit of a big, wild show. Look closer, however, and those seemingly contradictory impulses actually complement each other well.

At the entrance to the party, the group dispersed and steadily ventured forward. Colleagues and friends traded niceties while exchanging thoughts on the opening night selection, a snapshot of French social-realism about youth delinquency called "Standing Tall." Some were mystified as to the movie's prominent opening night slot, which so often goes to starrier titles. But others saw past that. "It was very French," said former Museum of Modern Art curator Laurence Kardish, who was fresh from attending a Fassbinder retrospective in Berlin. "So it makes more sense than you might think."

Heads turned as "Standing Tall" star and legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve sauntered past in a painfully bright dress. Other recognizable faces made quieter entrances, though it didn't take long to pinpoint the likes of Natalie Portman, in town for the premiere of her Jerusalem-set directorial debut "A Tale of Love and Darkness," as well as jury members Jake Gyllenhaal and Xavier Dolan huddled at a table with jury presidents Joel and Ethan Cohen along with Joel's wife, Frances McDormand. Still, anyone who missed some of the heavyweights in attendants received a handy guide when Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux grabbed the microphone to welcome the guests and singled out several of them by name, inviting bountiful applause each time. At Cannes, anonymity is a foreign concept; the stars are essential to the show.

But they didn't form the whole scene at Wednesday's dinner. Seated at tables throughout the room were various influential distributors, curators and other foot soldiers of the business involved in making sure that some of the highlights from Cannes' rich selection of world cinema found its way around the globe.

At one table, a veteran distributor beamed proudly about a recent acquisition of a major festival title while ruminating on many of the others that had screened for buyers in advance. He lamented the abundance of stories involving family drama and other formulaic scenarios, which include the opening night selection to Norwegian director Joaquim Trier's "Louder Than Bombs," the story of estranged New York relatives, to Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino's "Youth," in which Michael Caine plays an aging composer looking back on on his life. "Even when they're good," he said, "it's all just overwrought material. Show me something new."

Still, the buzz remained strong for many competition titles yet to screen, including rising Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, whose FBI drama "Sicario" was generating waves of enthusiasm way ahead of its premiere. Smaller titles, such as the immigration drama "Mediterranea" from American director Jonas Carpignano (screening at Critics' Week) and Todd Haynes' lesbian thriller "Carol," continued to fuel heated speculation.

The media already had a few more titles to chew on. In its first day, Cannes unveiled two competition films to the press, Hirokazu Kore-Eda's tender "Our Little Sister" and Matteo Garrone's "Tale of Tales," from Japan and Italy, respectively. Both are festival regulars, which meant that their work was inevitably being compared to their earlier successes at the festival. Though Garrone's dark, outlandish fairy tale was destined to divide audiences, the reaction to "Our Little Sister" felt, like Kore-eda's movies, incredibly subtle.

Based on a Japanese manga, the director's fifteenth feature arrives on the heels of 2013's "Like Father, Like Son," a textured look at two sets of parents that discover they swapped infants at birth. "Our Little Sister" examines another story of relatives coming to grips with past mistakes: A trio of sisters attend the funeral of their estranged father and befriend their younger half-sister, the result of their late dad's second marriage. Her initially affable entrance into their lives eventually conjures darker feelings toward the sense of abandonment that their half-sister dredges up.

Yet Kore-eda's fascinating ability to resist melodramatic overstatement means that the emotional turmoil of "Our Little Sister" unfolds over the duration of the movie, through many scenes of affable exchanges where smiles belie a more sophisticated set of psychological challenges in play. In other words, it's not the ideal selection for the first day of screenings, when many bleary-eyed attendees were tussling with jetlag and unknotting their schedules for the next few days. "It's one of those movies that people will appreciate more when it's not at Cannes," said one admirer, speculating about its release prospects. (The next day, word would circulate that the movie landed U.S. distribution with Sony Pictures Classics.)

In a week's time, the quality at this year's festival would hold up to a whole new level of scrutiny. But for now, the room crackled with the giddiness of people just excited to be there and ready to keep the momentum going. Nobody looked more pumped than juror Guillermo del Toro, the wide-eyed Mexican director and Cannes juror holding court throughout the evening with various well-wishers passing by his table. While Fremaux stopped the proceedings to encourage the whole room to applaud the chefs in the house, del Toro leaned back and took in the rambunctious scene. "I need to get Thierry to corral a fucking mariachi band," he said, ruminating on how much party time his jury duties might allow.

Fortunately for del Toro, his ten days of Cannes screenings contained plenty of openings. "We are lucky this time," he said, when someone recalled last year's Palme d'Or winner "Winter Sleep," which clocked in at over three hours — one of several titles that lasted on the longer side. "The longest movie in this year's competition is only two hours and eleven minutes. So we can do all kinds of stuff."

That meant he could scope out a lot more than the competition titles on his itinerary. He could barely contain his excitement over Thursday's upcoming out-of-competition slot for "Mad Max: Fury Road," already a critical hit in the U.S. and on the verge of becoming a commercial one. "If the world was going to end and I was stuck somewhere, I would forget about all those great films from Renoir or Bresson," he said. "I would grab 'The Road Warrior.'"

Del Toro's enthusiasm spoke to the kind of hysteria that Cannes inspires even in an average year. There were murmurs that better movies had landed this time in Directors' Fortnight, the smaller gathering down the road, and some industry folks wondered if the festival's programming no longer held the same standards that made it the most prominent movie-related gathering on the calendar. However, no matter how one picks apart quality at Cannes, no other festival invites such analytical scrutiny on the same scale. No matter the red carpet insanity, at the end of the day, Cannes fuels conversations about movies with unparalleled influence.

Not that most of the people at the after party knew much about that. Adjacent to the tent where the classy dinner came to a close, a DJ fired up thumping club music while throngs of partiers swooped in from a separate entrance. By stepping just a few feet from one terrain to another, one could enter another, far more unruly world, the detritus of Cannes' success and also its secret to success. While VIP guests were scrunched to the side of the room, the newcomers grabbed drinks and hit the dance floor.

For this subset of the festival, Cannes was a hedonistic world of luxury yachts, pricey booze and after hours hook-ups. Their enthusiasm for those very separate priorities enhances Cannes' chic brand while bolstering its potential as a platform for cinema. As one colleague put it, Cannes "helps the nerds get laid" — literally, in some cases, but also figuratively by associating the film community's most diehard advocates with a hip, mainstream event. At Cannes, marginalized sensibilities are suddenly in style (or cool by association, anyway).

But that doesn't mean the festival needs to embrace its rambunctious nightlife. While the party raged on, Fremaux could be found seated at a remote table in the now mostly-empty dining tent, finishing his dessert. The jury quickly scurried away in vehicles waiting outside. It was the first night of the Cannes Film Festival, and there was much more to come.

Hou Hsiao-hsien's Assassins

Hou Hsiao-hsien takes a detour into martial arts, by Amy Qin from The New York Times, May 12, 2015

BEIJING — It has been eight years since the Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s last feature-length film, the elliptical “Flight of the Red Balloon” starring Juliette Binoche, opened the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes International Film Festival.

During this time, the renowned arthouse director dedicated much of his energy to building up the independent cinema scene at home in Taiwan, serving as chairman of both the Taipei Film Festival and the executive committee of the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival.

But Mr. Hou, 68, said there was another reason for his prolonged absence: He was recreating the Tang Dynasty.

In a Skype interview from Taipei last week, Mr. Hou spoke of the painstaking research efforts undertaken for his newest film, “The Assassin,” a Tang Dynasty-era martial arts epic set to premiere on May 21 at the 68th annual Cannes festival.

The film, which features the actress Shu Qi in the title role, is the director’s seventh film to compete for the Palme d’Or, the festival’s top prize. Previously, Mr. Hou took home the Jury Prize for his 1993 film “The Puppetmaster,” the second in his trilogy of films dealing with modern Taiwanese history.

Based on a popular legendary tale from the Tang Dynasty, “The Assassin” or “Nie Yinniang” in Chinese, takes place in the year 809 and tells the story of a young girl who is kidnapped by a nun and eventually trained to become a skilled assassin (Ms. Shu).

After failing a mission, she is sent by her master back to her hometown, 13 years after she was taken away, and is given a new target: the most powerful military governor in the North, a man who also happens to be both her cousin and her childhood love (played by Chang Chen).

The film represents the first foray into the traditional martial arts genre for Mr. Hou, who first rose to prominence in the 1980s as a key figure in the New Taiwan Cinema movement. He is best known for his layered meditations on Taiwanese identity within the context of the island’s turbulent 20th-century history.

“I’ve always had a dream to make this story into a film. I first came across the Tang Dynasty legendary tales when I was in university studying film and before that I had read many wuxia stories when I was a child,” Mr. Hou said, referring to China’s rich tradition of martial arts stories. “But I could never make the film because it required such a large amount of financing.”

Now, a string of internationally acclaimed films later, Mr. Hou has less difficulty finding investors. With a budget of around $14 million, “The Assassin” is the director’s biggest production to date. Costs were split between Sil-Metropole Organization, a Hong Kong production company, and Mr. Hou’s film studio, 3H Productions.

In taking on a wuxia film, Mr. Hou is joining a growing number of commercial and arthouse directors from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Prominent examples from recent years include Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” (2000), Zhang Yimou’s “Hero” (2002), and Wong Kar-Wai’s “The Grandmaster” (2013). Even Jia Zhangke, China’s top independent film director, is said to be preparing a big-budget martial arts film. (In the meantime, Mr. Jia’s latest film “Mountains May Depart,” his first to be filmed partly outside of China (in Australia), will be competing alongside “The Assassin” at this year’s festival.)

Still, Mr. Hou’s decision to make a martial arts film has aroused interest among followers of his work, many of whom are wondering whether he has abandoned his signature contemplative style for high-intensity subject matter.

“It’s hard to imagine a director with Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s particular style — distant camera, slow takes and long takes — doing a wuxia film, which is very fast-cutting,” said Shelly Kraicer, a film critic in Toronto who is a scholar of Chinese cinema. “It has to be a different procedure for him, so it’ll be fascinating to see a director of his stature approach this experiment.”

Mr. Hou, who began working on the screenplay in 2012, said that it would be different from other directors’ wuxia films and that he had remained true to his long-established approach.

“I rarely do costume pictures,” he said. “The Tang Dynasty element will be very new but I think people will see that my filming process is the same. It’s still long takes and a static camera. The actors have just changed their clothes and altered their accents a little.”

He added that he made minimal use of computer-generated effects. “I didn’t want the actors to be flying here or there,” he said, referring to the acrobatic feats in wuxia films like “Crouching Tiger.” “There’s essentially no flying.”

Hwarng Wern-Ying, the film’s production and costume designer and a veteran member of Mr. Hou’s creative team, said this time around Mr. Hou seemed even more meticulous in his attention to detail than she had seen in the past.

“He might film only one scene in one day, and then he would film that scene five or six times in one week,” she said. “Then a few months later he’d ask us to go back and film that same scene again but I had already dismantled the set.”

Mr. Hou said that he endeavored to make the film as realistic as possible, a culmination, he said, of several years of scrupulous research into historical accounts of the Tang Dynasty, which ruled China from 618 to 906. It is often referred to as the “golden age” of Chinese civilization, a time when trade and culture flourished and Chang’an, the cosmopolitan dynastic capital, was the largest city in the world.

“Everyone has a different understanding of what the Tang Dynasty was like and I think this film will be a very pure representation of Hou’s vision of that time,” Ms. Hwarng said.

In the film, the actors speak classical Chinese, a decision Mr. Hou said he made to enhance the period feel. The language also turned out to be the “biggest challenge” during the filmmaking process, said the director, since classical Chinese was mostly used for literary texts and almost never spoken. The final version includes Chinese subtitles.

Admirers of Mr. Hou’s work may be pleased to know that the director does not plan to wait another eight years to make his next film.

“There are so many movies I want to make,” he said. “Even just in terms of Taiwan’s history the possibilities are endless.” He added that he was already in talks to make a film about the Taiwanese Communist Party under Japanese and later Kuomintang rule.

Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Our Little Sister

Isabelle Huppert plays a war photographer in Joachim Trier’s Louder Than Bombs

At the Cannes Film Festival, Reality Intrudes in a Make-Believe World, by Nicolas Rapold from The New York Times, May 12, 2015

Every spring, the Cannes International Film Festival arrives like a bright dream — a never-never land of cinema, star power and sun. But the festival does in fact take place somewhere in the physical realm, and France, besides hosting the world’s pre-eminent showcase of cinema, is a country with trauma in its recent past. The 68th edition of Cannes, running from Wednesday through May 24, arrives four months after the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

That fact may seem far removed from the life of an international film festival, where the most pressing matters of discussion are what (or whom) you have seen. But to judge from a number of films in this year’s slate, the realities of the world at large, albeit different aspects, are keenly felt. Economic strife, immigration travails, drug and human trafficking, and myriad contemporary woes push their way up in the usual garden of filmic delights.

The sense of social concern was partly signaled by the festival’s own choice of bookends. The opener, Emmanuelle Bercot’s “La tête haute” (Standing Tall) tells the story of efforts by a children’s magistrate and a teacher to steer a youth clear of criminal delinquency. The closing-night selection addresses the topic of climate change: unusually, a documentary, “La glace et le ciel” (Ice and the Sky) by Luc Jacquet, about the French glaciologist Claude Lorius.

Premieres from a variety of auteurs also stare at the hard facts of contemporary upheaval. Jacques Audiard’s competition entry “Dheepan” follows a Tamil fighter who immigrates to Paris from Sri Lanka, while Souleymane Cissé of Mali returns with a special screening of “Oka” (Our House), centering on real estate speculation and fraud. The event film of the Directors’ Fortnight section, Miguel Gomes’s tripartite “As mil e uma noites” (Arabian Nights) draws on actual accounts by Portuguese citizens struggling under a failing economy.

Edouard Waintrop, the artistic director of the Directors’ Fortnight, regards Mr. Gomes’s film as expressing a mood that many people, filmmakers and otherwise, are feeling.

“It’s more obvious in the countries where the crisis is harder and the response of the governments, as Gomes says in ‘Arabian Nights,’ is ‘not inspired by social justice,”’ Mr. Waintrop said in an email.

Roberto Minervini, who continues to chronicle backroads America in “The Other Side,” his Louisiana-set entry in Un Certain Regard section, sees films that provoke meaningful debate about these matters as a vital part of the festival.

“The socially relevant work of auteurs like Fassbinder, Godard, Seidl, Bresson, Jia Zhang-ke, Reygadas, and Bergman (to name a few) has been thoroughly showcased at the festival,” he said in an email.

That’s not to make the festival sound like a coalition of concerned filmmakers. Part of the enduring strength of Cannes under Thierry Frémaux as the artistic director — who is joined this year by Pierre Lescure as the incoming president, after the robust tenure of Gilles Jacob — is a reliable showcase of artistic brio.

Highly anticipated entries, crisscrossing the past rather than the present, include Todd Haynes’s “Carol,” starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as women who fall in love in 1950s New York; Matteo Garrone’s “Il racconto dei racconti” (Tale of Tales), a hallucinogenic adaptation of 17th-century fairy tales, starring Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel and John C. Reilly; and Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s long-awaited “Nie Yinniang” (The Assassin), a Tang Dynasty martial-arts saga.

Mr. Hou’s film, the subject of playful buildup during last month’s press conference, illustrates a couple of other notable features of this year’s slate. One is the formidable Asian contingent. Jia Zhang-ke, the Chinese director, follows “Touch of Sin” with “Shan He Gu Ren” (Mountains May Depart), a story of a man and woman in and out of love that spans decades and countries. The 2010 Palme d’Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul presents “Rak Ti Khon Kaen” (Cemetery of Splendor), a tale involving sleeping sickness that’s also a highly personal reflection on Thailand’s tortuous history. And the prolific Philippine director Brillante Mendoza presents the Typhoon Yolanda drama “Taklub.”

Indian independents, Korean genre artists and new works by no less than four Japanese auteurs —Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Takashi Miike and Naomi Kawase — round out a breathtaking panorama of Asian cinema.

“The Assassin” also marks a change of pace for Mr. Hou, who is Taiwanese, because of its larger budget. A similar expansion of horizons is happening for promising younger directors, too. With “The Lobster,” Yorgos Lanthimos, the Greek mastermind of “Dogtooth” and “Alps,” presents a classic Cannes whatzit starring established actors: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz and Léa Seydoux. Joachim Trier’s “Louder Than Bombs” features Isabelle Huppert as a war photographer whose death leaves behind her husband and son, played by Gabriel Byrne and Jesse Eisenberg. And the Canadian director Denis Villeneuve — while no slouch after “Prisoners” and the Academy Award nominee “Incendies” — takes on the dire subject of drug cartels in “Sicario,” with the help of Josh Brolin, Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro.

Cannes has groomed many of this year’s filmmakers through past appearances in other sections. But 2015 is crucially also a year for newcomers to the competition. Nine directors are vying for the Palme d’Or for the first time. The Australian director Justin Kurzel, for example, moves from his gory murder thriller “Snowtown” to tackling an older gory murder thriller, “Macbeth,” with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. Michel Franco of Mexico, who won Un Certain Regard section in 2012 with “After Lucia,” presents “Chronic,” a drama about a depressed nurse (which also stars Tim Roth, the jury president who recognized “After Lucia”). Out of competition, Natalie Portman makes her directorial debut with “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” an adaptation of Amos Oz’s autobiographical novel. And for the Hungarian filmmaker Laszlo Nemes, his very first feature in the festival, with “Saul Fia,” (Son of Saul), appears in competition.

“Choosing young unknown filmmakers is the greatest risk,” Mr. Frémaux said. “It’s a risk for them first: if their film isn’t liked, they don’t have a prestigious past that could arouse any generosity of feeling. For a newcomer, the critical reception is merciless.”

He also observed that the past year just happened to yield fewer new works by “big names” than usual, adding, “In this edition, you had to be a selector but, most important, you had to be a programmer.”

This annual churn of established names and rising talents is as signature a feature of Cannes as any other (along with the tallying and caviling). So, too, can one reliably expect a battalion of top-flight French filmmakers, and this edition does not disappoint. New features from Philippe Garrel and Arnaud Desplechin alone make the Directors’ Fortnight a hot ticket, while Gaspar Noé has reliably turned up to scandalize again with the 3-D midnight skin flick “Love.” But most of the French directors, who also include Mr. Audiard, Stéphane Brizé and Maïwenn, reside comfortably at the prestigious address of the main competition.

Adventurous forays into other countries’ cinemas tend to appear in Un Certain Regard. There can be found a veritable United Nations of films ripe for a visit: from Croatia, Iceland, Iran, India, Romania — still going strong with the likes of Corneliu Porumboiu and Radu Muntean — and, for the first time at Cannes, Ethiopia.

That assortment of choices exists side by side with more known quantities. Among those are Gus Van Sant’s “The Sea of Trees,” with Matthew McConaughey in a suicide-themed drama; Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth,” starring Michael Caine; Nanni Moretti’s “Mia Madre” (My Mother), which has already been released in Italy; and Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man,” pairing up Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone as professor and student. And in the cavalcade of movies, there are of course some Hollywood heavyweights screening out of competition, represented by George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” from Warner Brothers, and Disney’s animated “Inside Out,” by Pete Docter.

As the resurrection of a 30-year-old franchise, “Mad Max,” serves as a reminder of how movies are experienced by millions worldwide: as a vehicle for spectacle, and as a business transaction. Those functions also have their place at Cannes, to be sure. But the festival’s busy sprawl of offerings securely ratifies its identity as an energetic celebration of film art, and one that doesn’t lose touch with the world at large.

Andrew Pulver reviews Elie Wajeman’s The Anarchists from The Guardian, May 14, 2015 

Cannes’ Critics Week sidebar opens with a film that couldn’t be any more French if it tried. Heady ideological discussion accompanied by swirling fogs of cigarette smoke; merciless beatings handed out by “the pigs”; pouting 22-year-olds who equate political freedom with, you know, other kinds of freedom ... if this film didn’t exist, someone would be working on it right now. Not that the above is any kind of criticism, director and co-writer Elie Wajeman has come up with a vastly entertaining police-infiltration thriller that uses fin-de-siècle radicalism as a exqusitely atmospheric backdrop – though anyone looking for trenchant insights into the pyschopolitics of propaganda by the deed won’t find much here.

Tahar Rahim, of A Prophet and Grand Central, plays a blank-slate foot copper called Jean who takes on the task of penetrating a small anarchist cell operating in a nail factory; he appears to espouse no particular political beliefs at the outset, though later on the film suggests he may not have been entirely honest. Jean cosies up to radical firebrand Elisée, the charismatic leader of the group, and through Elisée he gets even cosier with Judith, the pouting 22-year-old mentioned above. Judith is played by Adèle Exarchopoulos, the actor who shared in the Palme d’Or last year for Blue Is the Warmest Colour, and Exarchopoulos is very good here, in a role with somewhat limited scope; though denied much chance to participate in the group’s actions, she does a good line in frustrated passions that are Jean’s signal to worm his way into the heart of things.

Rahim is good too: most of the time he affects a smiling, good-natured persona – though one that is not convincing enough to deflect the suspicions of another of the group’s key players, Eugene (Guillaume Gioux). The façade cracks briefly when he runs into an old girlfriend he had callously dumped at the start of the film; he doesn’t hesitate to quietly mutter dire threats in her direction to prevent his deep cover being exposed. Jean’s moral position is consequently evasive, hard to pin down; even his (presumably genuine) passion for Judith doesn’t seem to necessarily sway him one way or the other.

As the group’s activities mount in scope and risk, Wajeman’s film runs through the traditional cruxes. Should Jean get blood on his hands in the service of a greater good? Is emotion more important than loyalty? When does activism cross over into criminality? Well, The Anarchists doesn’t come up with any particularly original thoughts on the matter, but that’s not its strength. Instead, it cooks up real heat between Rahim and Exarchopoulos, while at the same time reconstructing the turn-of-the-20th-century era in loving detail. It gets the Critics Week off to a very good start.

*       *          *          *

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:    

Les Etoiles de la critiques is up and running as well:

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

5-1 Garrone – Tale of Tales
11-2 Audiard – Dheepan
6-1 Hou – The Assassin
7-1 Trier – Louder Than Bombs
8-1 Nemes – Son of Saul
9-1 Haynes – Carol
– – – – – – – – – – –
10-1 Sorrentino – Youth
14-1 Lanthimos – The Lobster
14-1 Franco – Chronic
18-1 Kore-eda – Our Little Sister
20-1 Jia – Mountains May Depart
20-1 Villeneuve – Sicario
– – – – – – – – – – –
25-1 Kurzel – Macbeth
28-1 Maïwenn – My King
28-1 Brizé – The Measure of a Man
– – – – – – – – – – –
33-1 Moretti – My Mother
33-1 Van Sant – The Sea of Trees
50-1 Donzelli – Marguerite and Julien
100-1 Nicloux – The Valley of Love

2-1 Cate Blanchett (Carol) solo
11-2 Margherita Buy (My Mother)
6-1 any (or several) from Our Little Sister
8-1 Emily Blunt (Sicario)
– – –
10-1 Marion Cotillard (Macbeth)
12-1 Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara (Carol)
12-1 Isabelle Huppert (Louder Than Bombs, solo or with The Valley of Love)
16-1 Shu Qi (The Assassin)
16-1 any (or several) from Dheepan
– – –
20-1 Rooney Mara (Carol) solo
22-1 Zhao Tao (Mountains May Depart)
22-1 Shirley Henderson and/or Salma Hayek (Tale of Tales)
22-1 Emmanuelle Bercot (My King)
25-1 Anaïs Demoustier (Marguerite and Julien)
40-1 Rachel Weisz and/or Jane Fonda (Youth)
40-1 any (or several) from The Lobster
40-1 Blanchett, Mara & Paulson (Carol)
50-1 Naomi Watts (The Sea of Trees)

3-1 Géza Röhrig (Son of Saul)
5-1 Vincent Lindon (The Measure of a Man)
11-2 Michael Caine and/or Harvey Keitel (Youth)
6-1 Tim Roth (Chronic)
9-1 Jesuthasan Antonythasan (Dheepan)
9-1 Toby Jones (Tale of Tales)
– – –
12-1 Vincent Cassel (My King, singly or plus Tale of Tales)
12-1 any (or several) from Louder Than Bombs (Byrne, Eisenberg, etc)
16-1 Michael Fassbender (Macbeth)
16-1 Gérard Depardieu (The Valley of Love)
16-1 Ken Watanabe and/or Matthew McConaughey (The Sea of Trees)
– – –
20-1 any (or several) from The Lobster (Farrell, Reilly, etc)
25-1 John Turturro (My Mother) solo or with Nanni Moretti
25-1 Liang Jingdong (Mountains May Depart)
28-1 John C Reilly (The Lobster and Tale of Tales) solo
33-1 Jérémie Elkaïm (Marguerite and Julien)
50-1 Kyle Chandler (Carol)
50-1 Benicio Del Toro (Sicario)

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:   

The Guardian collection of reviews:

David Jenkins from Little White Lies:   

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

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: 

Various writers at Twitch: 

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

Ordinarily Day Two starts off with the first Competition screening of the festival bright and early at 8:30 a.m. in the 2,300 seat Palais. This year that time slot went to "Mad Max: Fury Road," an out of Competition entry, which would receive its official world premier that evening at 7:30 with the full Red Carpet treatment.  I had no burning desire to see it, knowing I'd have ample opportunity later stateside, but since the first film of the day that I did wish to see didn't start until 9:30 I went down to the Palais just to see if I could get in and if the procedure for us non-ticket holders was the same as last year. 

There were about fifty people in the Last Minute Line when I arrived at 8:15 positioned on the outside of the second row of barriers this year instead of inside them.  And, as last year, we weren't allowed to start filtering in until the very last minute at nearly 8:30.  Surprisingly, there was so little interest among the press for this screening that there was space in the Palais on the first floor rather than in the balcony for all of us.  More often than not we're turned away from the Palais and funneled to the Soixante Theater for a 9:00 a.m. screening of the film.  Getting into the early screening meant I could watch fifty rather than twenty minutes of the action before slipping out.  It was instant crashes and explosions and furious fightering and loud noise.  It wss unrelenting for thirty minutes.  Where there was a brief lull, the audience responded with applause, either in appreciation of all the mayhem or in thanks for relief from it.  

When I switched theaters It was a dramatic shift from the grand Palais to a fifty-seat screening room and an equally dramatic shift from the desert to the jungle and from fantasy to reality for the true story of "Pure Life," recounting the expedition of a young Frenchman in 1949 in the Amazon seeking an isolated tribe.  The director wishfully pitched his movie as a cross between a Herzogian epic and "Into the Wild."  The young Frenchman was ill-equipped for his adventure and lost nearly all his funds playing poker with an ex-con just before he ventures into the jungle.  He had to trade a watch for a canoe at one point. He disappears never to be found, only his journal.  His father spent twelve years futilely searching for him.  The first time director wasn't much better prepared to do justice to the story than the Frenchman was in undertaking his adventure.

"Twice Upon a Time in the West" gave promise of being the wackiest film of the festival--a Bulgarian feature  paying homage to Sergio Leone's masterpiece with Claudia Cardinale playing herself.  Cardinale no longer wishes to live in Paris and decides to retreat from the world and go live in anonymity in Spain where "Once Upon a Time in the West" was filmed.  Not too many others thought this would make for an interesting movie, as there were only three of us attracted to this screening. Not even the star power of Cardinale, who gave a Master Class here a couple years ago and was a recent tributee at Telluride, could fill the thirty-two seat Gray 4.  Cardinale was a delight counting stories from her long career though she talks more about Fellini than Leone.  She felt lucky to have lived 140 lives, one for each movie she appeared in.  This movie may have had a top-notch premise, but unfortunately it didn't have a director who could execute it.

During the three years I have known Janina she has cultivated in me an interest in ballet, one of her passions.  Thanks to her I was drawn to "Ulyana Lopatakine," a French documentary on the renowned Russian ballerina.  It was equal parts rehearsals, performances, interviews with her and interviews with those who know her raving about her brilliance.  She made for an excellent subject and a most captivating documentary.  She was positively radiant and a rare, rare talent.

"Fou d'Amour" was my second French movie of the day that was a true story about a young French man with hubris who dies young.  This one was a philandering priest.  The movie opens with him being led to the guillotine.  His head is lopped off and left in a basket to narrate his story.  It is 1959 and he has been assigned to a small rural church.  He is very charismatic and warm.  All the women, young and old, fall in love with him and offer themselves to him.  He ranges about his parish on a bicycle for his assignations until a wealthy woman buys him a scooter.  That allows him greater freedom.  If he had stuck to the bike, he might not have gotten so deep into trouble.  If Gaspar Noe had made this movie, it might have been worthy of being in one of the Competitive categories, but instead it was in the Market looking for attention.

I ended the day with a pair of "Un Certain Regard" entries by accomplished directors who'd had films invited to the festival over the years and I at last had the pleasure of genuine cinema by masters of the art.  The honor of the opening film for this category went to the Japanese film "An" by Naomi Kawase, a fomer winner in the Competiton field. This story of a gruff man with a past who runs a small food stand and the kindly 75-year old woman who befriends him was just a bit too slight to be worthy of being in Competiton, though it had to be a tough decision for Thierry Fremaux. The film opens during the cherry blossom season, allowing Kawase to include many of her signature nature and cloud shots, and had her usual social sensitivity.

Just as "An" was a characteristic Japanese film, "One Floor Below" by Radu Munteau was a chararacteistic Romanian film of gritty every-day realism.  A murder takes place in a small apartment building.  A tenant who could assist the police chooses to withhold information that could help them solve the case.  As with "An" this film had a simple profundity that displayed the power of cinema to give us insight into the human condition. I had a fine midnight ride back to the apartment on a hill uplifted by two fine films knowing many more awaited me.  

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