Monday, May 18, 2015

Cannes 2015 Day 5

Diane Kruger

Competition juror Sienna Miller

American actress Jane Fonda

Russian model Natasha Poly

Chinese actress Li Bingbing

Un Certain Regard Jury president Isabella Rossellini

Competition jurors Xavier Dolan, Sienna Miller, and Jake Gyllenhaal

Eva Longoria

Salma Hayek

Natalie Portman

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

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

Also here 

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: 

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: 

The 10 most controversial Cannes winners, Joshua Rothkopf and David Ehrlich from Time Out New York, May 13, 2015

There really isn’t anything quite like the Cannes Film Festival. Each May, the movie world collapses on the French Riviera for a fortnight that feels like a cross between film school and a James Bond movie. The parties are on yachts, the critics are in tuxedos, and the most revered auteurs from every corner of the map premiere their latest works amid a flashing mob of paparazzi. It’s a perfect storm of high art and low culture, and—for better or worse—it makes for viewing conditions unlike those of any fest. Sometimes that means epic standing ovations, and sometimes that means people standing up and denouncing a major director as soon as the credits roll. It’s no surprise that Cannes has seen more brouhahas, dust-ups and finger-wagging than any other festival on Earth, and the biggest shockers of all are often saved for the awards ceremony on closing night. As this year’s edition kicks off, we take a look at the 10 most controversial winners in the history of the fest.

La Dolce Vita (1960)

Today considered one of the best films of all time, Federico Fellini’s magnum opus was probably destined for the Palme d’Or regardless of the shenanigans surrounding its Cannes premiere. Still didn’t hurt when the Catholic Church denounced the movie for its loose morals and subversive attitude, thus making La Dolce Vita the hittest ticket on the Croisette. 

L’Avventura (1960)

Even the most adventurous film audiences in the world would have been known to recoil when confronted with something genuinely new. When this Michelangelo Antonioni classic ─ an existential epic about a woman who disappears from a bourgeois boat trip ─ premiered at Cannes, it was jeered so forcefully that the director and star Monica Vitti had to flee the theater. The film would later be given a special award for “the beauty of its images, and for seeking to create a new film language.”

Taxi Driver (1976)

Now it seems like an example of a jury doing its job perfectly right ─ awarding Martin Scorsese’s powder keg the Palme d’Or. But the boos at the screening were vociferous, and even jury chair Tennessee Williams held the movie at a distasteful arm’s length, telling reporters, “Films should not take a voluptuous pleasure in spilling blood.” The ultimate gangsta response: Scorsese wasn’t even in town to accept his prize.

L’Argent (1983)

Robert Bresson is among cinema’s most towering titans, but that didn’t stop Cannes audiences from booing the premiere of his final film, an accusatory but incredible ensemble drama about the fallout from a few counterfeit bills. Orson Welles’s jury recognized L’Argent as the real deal, and allowed Bresson to split the directing prize with an undeserving upstart by the name of Andrei Tarkovsky.

Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)

Steven Soderbergh’s breakthrough had a glorious premiere at Sundance, winning the Audience Award, then went on to Cannes, whee it took the Palme d’Or and the FIPRESCI Prize. Honestly, no one complained that vigorously ─ except for Spike Lee, who clearly felt Do the Right Thing was worthier. He wanted to take out his aggression on jury president Wim Wenders, who notoriously called the character of Mookie “unheroic.”

Wild at Heart (1990)

Only a month after his pilot episode for his breakthrough show Twin Peaks aired, director David Lynch captured the Palme d”or for this lurid crime fantasia. Not all were pleased with the riding-high filmmaker: The cememony’s announcement was drowned out by the boos, the loudest from Roger Ebert. Lynch would have his revenge on the critic in 1997, using Ebert’s thumbs-down  review for Lost Highway in the advertising itself, as an unwitting endorsement of quality.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

A worthy Palme d’Or winner, right? Well, allow Cannes to retort: The first midnight screening was a sensation, but by the time Quentin Tarantino had claimed the fest’s highest prize, a critical backlash was already in force. The director accepted his award to jeers, possibly launched by those who felt that Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colors: Red ─ the culmination of his trilogy ─ should have prevailed.

Crash (1996)

David Cronenberg’s aggressively unpleasant drama about car fetishists found itself swept to the podium in an unlikely way: Though nominated for Cannes biggest award, the Palme d’Or, it instead won a Special Jury Prize. The waves of shock on the Croisette were palpable, especially from traumatized viewers who shrieked at the film’s pervy sex scenes (and not in a good way).

Farenheit 9/11 (2004)

Despite the fact that Michael Moore’s inflammatory anti-Bush screed earned a 20-minute standing ovation at its Cannes premiere (one of the longest in the festival’s history), Quentin Tarantino and his jury’s decision to award the doc the Palme d’Or was seen by some as a provocative political statement. “What have you done?” Moore asked when receiving his prize. At the height of an election year, it was as if the film world had cast its vote in public. 

Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)

Abdellatif Kechiche’s steamy lesbian drama gave Cannes audiences the vapors, but its path to the Palme was complicated by reports that the director had heinously mistreated his crew, and accusations fromcritics like The New York Times’ Manohla Dargis that the movie “registers as more about Mr. Kechiche’s desires than anything else.” The day after its festival win, the author of the graphic novel on which the film is based denounced the adaptation as “porn.”    

What really happens at the Cannes Film Festival, by Paul Byrnes from The Sydney Morning Herald, May 17, 2015 

By the time you read this, I will be up to my bow tie  in glamour at the Cannes Film Festival. I will be moving through an endless parade of glittering parties, on to intimate rooms where the stars entertain by invitation only, drinking Krug and scoffing caviar with Harvey and Brad and maybe George, whoever is in town. It will be so glamorous I can hardly stand it, but someone's got to do it.

What a lovely dream. The reality is somewhat different. The alarm screeches three hours after I have gone to bed. I am late. I haul bottom down the kilometre between my outrageously overpriced accommodation and the palais, the big white festival centre, to arrive half an hour before the first press screening, because if I don't get there early, I will be sitting in the nosebleeds. I may have to queue but the 8.30am screening is the most civilised of the day. The later ones will be more Darwinian, as each of the 4000 accredited reptiles (hacks is too nice a word) tries to convince the camp guards – sorry, the festival security staff – that they do, indeed, have the correct pass to go quickly into the sacred halls, through the holy metal detectors.

Between screenings, I might go to a press conference for a film in competition, but these clash with screenings, making it harder to see all the films. And I can watch the press conferences later online. Frankly, it is sometimes too painful to attend, when the questions are along the lines of "What was it like to work with Brad Pitt?" and "Do you like doing love scenes?" Do I get to see stars? Yes, but they are often wincing. It is hard to get press accreditation to the Cannes Film Festival, but not hard enough, if you get my drift.

There are usually 24 films in competition – ostensibly the best of the best. In fact, half of them will be soon forgotten, or never heard of. That's because Cannes is foremost a French film festival, meaning that when the government puts up most of the money, French films get a disproportionate number of the slots – or proportionate, if you consider the golden rule (as in: he that pays the money makes the rules).  Many of the films in competition will have French money in them, even if they are not quite French. C'est la vie.

Being in competition can be a mixed blessing. It's very prestigious, but only until the film has screened. At that point, if the senior critics don't like it, it becomes a disaster. That's what happened last year to Grace of Monaco, the French film that opened the festival. If you were watching TV, you would have seen a gorgeous Nicole Kidman parading on the red carpet, smiling for 500 cameras. This is "job done", in one sense. Those pictures will reach every corner of the world and establish the film's title, and Nicole's role in it, in the public mind. The bad reviews would have dented the paintwork but no review can compete with the power of the red carpet. Cannes delivers sizzle, not sausage. I guarantee that almost every TV report you see from Cannes will begin with scenes from the red carpet. That's the currency.

The senior critics hunt in packs, to some extent. You might expect that the critics from The New York Times, The Guardian and Le Monde would be at the apex of the pyramid. Not so. They are powerful, but Cannes is all about the money, and the money reads the trades. So The Hollywood Reporter, Variety and Screen (the British trade paper) all put out daily papers during Cannes, trying to beat each other with the most news, the best reviews, the latest gossip. After each competition screening, the two or three senior reviewers for these organs will decide the line. I do not mean that they decide together. Au contraire. Each reviewer will disappear to compose his (or occasionally her) response and get it out as quickly as possible on the web.

If it's a big negative, as with Grace of Monaco, the reviewers will compete to demolish it, like sharks. That's natural: if you promise the world and don't deliver, you will be eaten. Every critic at Cannes will read those damning words and react, one way or the other. Some go with the herd, some rise to the defence, some walk the line, knowing that editors at home are reading the same early reviews. Within 24 hours, the film will be sailing or sinking. And those reviews have a direct impact on whether it will be selling, down in the bowels of the Palais, where all the deals are done by 8000 worker bees in the market.

That's the real heart of Cannes, not the red carpet. It's a trade show masquerading as a beauty pageant – the best ever invented. And that's why what those trade reviewers write has a big impact on what you get to see in your cinema. Think of it this way: not everyone comes to Cannes, but Cannes comes to everyone, one way or another. And yes, George, another dirty martini would be lovely. Ta, Cloonesy.

Rooney Mara

Cate Blanchett

Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett grabbing the butt of director Todd Haynes

Todd Haynes' 'Carol' Starring Cate Blanchett & Rooney Mara, by Jessica Kiang from Hit Fix, May 16, 2016

Made of crystal and suppressed tears, shot eternally through windows and mirrors and half-closed doors, Todd Haynes' "Carol" is a love story that starts at a trickle, swells gradually to a torrent, and finally bursts the banks of your heart. A beautiful film in every way, immaculately made, and featuring two pristine actresses glowing across rooms and tousled bedclothes at each other like beacons of tentative, unspoken hope, the film is based on a novel by "The Talented Mr Ripley" and "Strangers on a Train"'s Patricia Highsmith. But "Carol" is not those stories, nor their filmic adaptations. It is not dark and it is not cutting, instead it is an aching, pining film that layers the simplicity of this love affair with such strata of feeling that the story eventually becomes the essence of every affair ever, gay or straight, in which true, luminous love has been denied by circumstance.

In one of the burning unbroken glances that Haynes favors throughout, Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) and Therese Bellivet (Rooney Mara) find their eyes meeting across the department store floor where Therese works. Carol, swooping in with an almost predatory air of sexual allure, and the kind of sophistication that would be irresistible to a callow, curious younger woman, leaves her gloves. Therese returns them, and thus a social obligation is established by which they can meet. Therese resists the idea that she is in love with Carol for a time (but seriously, Blanchett, in this form, with those Sandy Powell clothes, her hair and makeup, how could you not be?), while Carol, en route to a divorce from her bewildered, resentful husband Harge, who still wants her back, lavishes gifts and lunches on the dazzled shopgirl. When they finally steal away on a trip together, it transpires that the "against the grain" nature of Carol's love life could become a bargaining chip in the divorce, which might grant Harge sole custody of her beloved daughter Rindy.

So far, so wildly melodrama-weepie, yet somehow, Haynes' restraint makes the story feel less hormonal and hysterical than that would suggest, and more timeless and universal. In this he's abetted by Edward Lachman's fantastic compositions, so often putting the people in separate frames within the frame, or shooting those remarkable faces (the film is a symphony of cheekbones) behind windows or other reflective/transparent surfaces. Special note must also go to Carter Burwell's wonderful score, to Randall Poster's choice soundtrack cuts, and to the moment at which the score and a radio song conflate during one dreamy sequence speeding through a tunnel and the result is peculiar and sublime.

This is, of course, not Haynes' first foray in the mid-century-set period drama — his last project, the HBO miniseries "Mildred Pierce," also fits that bill. But the parallels are actually closer with Haynes' great homage to Sirkian melodrama, "Far From Heaven," easily a complementary film to "Carol" in its portrayal of a woman stifled by 1950s mores, trapped in a marriage made a lie by homosexuality, who seeks out a potentially ruinous affair with a lover society cannot sanction. As much as we adore "Far From Heaven," there is an archness to it that "Carol" feels like it has moved beyond, as though having experimented with that format, Haynes has taken similar material, and with help from Phyllis Nagy's excellent, understated script, drained it of even the hint of lurid excess or heightened pitch. And so, "Carol" is transgressive because it is not formally transgressive at all. Instead, it is the most sumptuous, classical star cross'd lovers romance — a "Juliet and Juliet" story — in which the central love affair is presented just as legitimately as those that dotted the Hollywood films of the Golden Era (films that historians refer to as "machines for the creation of the heterosexual couple").

But if Haynes is referring less directly to Sirk and Wyler here, his love of the films of that era slips through in other ways, both overt ("Sunset Boulevard" plays within the film at one point) and inferred, like how Blanchett gets a truly Greta Garbo moment with a phone receiver, or how an insensitively timed interruption by an old friend is played exactly like a similar moment from "Brief Encounter." Haynes has co-opted the language of heterosexual Hollywood wholesale, set it in service of a nominally gay story, and the result is swooningly romantic, whatever your sexual orientation.

There is a lot more going on in "Carol" than the love story, or rather that the love story is not only about its two exothermic participants. Kyle Chandler, as Carol's husband Harge, is remarkably solid in an unforgiving role, and Sarah Paulson as Abby, the childhood friend and Carol's ex-lover, again makes us wonder just why it is that we only ever see her in supporting roles. But you cannot take this film away from its two leads, who beneath the sparse dialogue seem to be ever communicating in a language of looks and gestures and sideways glances, a secret lovers' morse code blinking out between them like the light at the end of Daisy's pier. Mara is the revelation, investing Therese with a very gentle witchiness that makes Carol's description of her as "flung out of space" all the more appropriate: she is a little bit of an alien. Blanchett is stunning, going from a magnificent creature of secret smiles and sly winks, to a less lustered, ground-down version in a subtle but heartrending evocation of a woman trying to suppress her most vital instincts. "Carol" is a love story for the ages, a film you feel like you may be walking toward, like Therese does at one point, entranced and lovelorn, forever. [A]

More reviews from Barbara Scharres from the Ebert site

Tim Grierson from Screendaily

So far, the highest rated film at Cannes (according to comes from the Director’s Fortnight, where the first of a 3-part trilogy from Portuguese director Miguel Gomes has been screened,‘Arabian Nights: Volume 1, The Restless One,’ review provided by Jay Weissberg from Variety, May 16, 2015   

The number of films dealing head-on with the global economic crisis have been shockingly few, leaving the field wide open for someone with the creative complexity and storytelling verve of Miguel Gomes, whose three-part “Arabian Nights” tackles the subject with characteristic imagination and, unsurprisingly, righteous anger. While too early to tell how the trio of pics hang together, it’s possible to say from “Arabian Nights: Volume 1, The Restless One,” that audiences are in for a meaty opus that weaves actuality and allegorical fantasy into an outraged portrait of European austerity, witch doctors, the Portuguese politicos at their beck and call, and, most importantly, the unemployed masses. The project’s commercial viability is less clear, though art houses will certainly find space.

It’s likely the films need to be released together, since clearly from the first entry they’re meant to be screened within a short period of time; weekends may be ideal, as the entire project clocks in at 381 minutes. The big question mark is: Will “Arabian Nights” transcend the helmer’s devoted fanbase to reach a wider audience? Given its sheer length, the answer is probably no, although the subject matter could beckon activists and legions of disaffected citizens furious at how the IMF and the World Bank seem deaf to the economic misery around them (in all honesty, however, the latter aren’t known for plunking down coinage for arty fare with multiple narratives).

Gomes’ devotees will delight in how “Arabian Nights” takes structural elements from “Our Beloved Month of August” as well as “Tabu” and stretches them even further: Using Scheherazade as the thread to bring together so many tales was a splendid move, allowing for all sorts of nonfiction and fiction stories to be woven together in a tapestry of frustration, melancholy and burlesque. Choosing Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s regular d.p. Sayombhu Mukdeeprom to lense the opus further cements Gomes’ reputation among his auteurist followers (though visual similarities are few).

Shot between 2013 and 2014, the pic stems from Gomes’ anguish at watching Portuguese society crumble under the outrageously heavy austerity burden imposed by European financial institutions. The director himself is seen early on running away from the film crew, his depression too much for the grand project he’s envisioned. Already we hear in voiceover men speaking of massive layoffs at the shipyards of Viana do Castelo, and this interchange between real people telling of their lives, alternating with fanciful storylines and outright satire, continues throughout Volume 1.

It appears Gomes himself, at least at the start, wasn’t sure how everything could fall into place. Intercutting the laid-off shipyard workers with discussions of a plague of wasps devastating the country’s beehives, he admits (perhaps disingenuously) that he doesn’t know how they connect, but he knows they must. Auds even marginally aware of Portugal’s economic plight can deduce that the wasps are like the European financial bodies, destroying indigenous industry.

From there he introduces Scheherazade (Crista Alfaiate), the classic storyteller who keeps one step ahead of her husband the sultan’s murderous impulses by telling a different tale each night, making him so eager to hear more that he allows her to live another day. Her first story (told on the 447th night) is the most outright satirical: “The Men With Hard-Ons.” Here, European bigwigs arrive on camels to tell Portuguese politicians they need to cut public expenditure by a ridiculous amount. On a stroll following an unhappy lunch, the group meets a wizard (Basirou Diallo) who offers them an aerosol spray that guarantees enormous, long-lasting hard-ons. Thrilled with their newfound prowess, the men relax their stranglehold on the nation’s economy, only to tighten it again when they discover that permanent erections have their disadvantages.

Next comes “The Story of the Cockerel and the Fire,” inspired by the true tale of Fernanda Loureiro, who was taken to court because her rooster disturbed one of her neighbors. The cockerel itself, in voiceover, explains that it crows to warn people of coming danger, like a fire that devastates nearby fields — clearly, some people don’t wish to be informed of what’s coming. The last of the stories in “Volume 1″ concerns three “Magnificents” (actually two men and one couple) who speak of their helplessness and anger in the face of unemployment. Gomes combines this with a Jonah-like tale, furthering biblical parallels that occasionally pepper the proceedings.

At times it appears the director gets subsumed by wanting to fit in too much, so a truncated story of a Chinese emperor goes nowhere (could it reappear in the other volumes?), and a scene with Austrian schoolkids, connected to the “Hard-On” episode, feels a bit dangly. Obviously it’s hard to fully judge “Arabian Nights” from one installment, yet without question, Gomes furthers his Bunuelian bona fides with biting allegories of capitalism run rampant. He may have started as a “helpless, paralyzed director,” as claimed early on, but he discovered how to channel his anger into a series of tales that balance real voices of economic hardship with parables on both the destructiveness of blind, deaf economic theory and the ineptitude of local politicians who agree to excessive demands.

Widescreen lensing on 16mm gives the satisfying tactility of much of Gomes’ previous work, allowing for a richer palette in some of the tales yet maintaining a sobriety in keeping with the quasi-documentary elements. Music is a sweeping, powerfully used melange, moving from Rimsky-Korsakov to Arvo Part.

*          *          *          *

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 Jury Grid (Page 52 from Digital edition from Day 6), where the Todd Haynes film Carol is the only film rated higher than 3 with a 3.5 average score

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

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

7-2 Hou – The Assassin
4-1 Nemes – Son of Saul
4-1 Haynes – Carol

– – – – – – – – – – –
10-1 Maïwenn – My King aka Mon Roi
10-1 Audiard – Dheepan
12-1 Lanthimos – The Lobster
12-1 Sorrentino – Youth
14-1 Trier – Louder Than Bombs
14-1 Brizé – The Measure of a Man
14-1 Garrone – Tale of Tales

16-1 Jia – Mountains May Depart
– – – – – – – – – – –
20-1 Franco – Chronic
20-1 Moretti – My Mother aka Mia Madre
25-1 Kore-eda – Our Little Sister

22-1 Villeneuve – Sicario
28-1 Kurzel – Macbeth
– – – – – – – – – – –
50-1 Donzelli – Marguerite and Julien
100-1 Nicloux – The Valley of Love
500-1 Van Sant – The Sea of Trees

6-5 Cate Blanchett and/or Rooney Mara (Carol)
4-1 Emmanuelle Bercot (My King aka Mon Roi)
6-1 Margherita Buy (My Mother aka Mia Madre)
– – –
10-1 any (or several) from Our Little Sister

12-1 Emily Blunt (Sicario)
14-1 Marion Cotillard (Macbeth)
– – –
22-1 Shu Qi (The Assassin)
25-1 any (or several) from Dheepan
28-1 Rachel Weisz (The Lobster and/or Youth) solo
28-1 Zhao Tao (Mountains May Depart)
28-1 Isabelle Huppert (Louder Than Bombs and/or The Valley of Love)
33-1 Anaïs Demoustier (Marguerite and Julien)
50-1 The Lobster’s female ensemble

7-4 Vincent Lindon (The Measure of a Man)
7-2 Géza Röhrig (Son of Saul)

– – –
10-1 Tim Roth (Chronic)
12-1 Jesuthasan Antonythasan (Dheepan)
14-1 Vincent Cassel (My King aka Mon Roi)
14-1 Colin Farrell (The Lobster)

16-1 Michael Caine and/or Harvey Keitel (Youth)
16-1 any (or several) from Louder Than Bombs (Byrne, Eisenberg, Druid)
– – –
25-1 Toby Jones (Tale of Tales)
25-1 John Turturro (My Mother aka Mia Madre)

28-1 Michael Fassbender (Macbeth)
33-1 Gérard Depardieu (The Valley of Love)
33-1 Liang Jingdong (Mountains May Depart)
40-1 Jérémie Elkaïm (Marguerite and Julien)
50-1 Ken Watanabe and/or Matthew McConaughey (The Sea of Trees)
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:

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

Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa:

Sukhdev Sandhu and Robbie Collins from The Daily Telegraph:

Cannes Diary from Film Comment:

Eric Lavallee and Nicholas Bell from Ion Cinema:

Drew McSweeny and Guy Lodge & others from HitFix: 

Glenn Heath Jr. from the L-magazine:

Various writers at Twitch: 

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

Invited films are often distinguished from those in the Market by a strong charismatic performance by a star.  They can  lend credence to a script that may not be entirely credible engaging an audience enough with their artistry to make their movie seem worthwhile.  The Market is full of very marginal movies with a star hoping their performance can save the day. I could spend the entire festival indulging in such fare. Mickey Rourke can be seen in three Market movies, Nicholas Cage is in two.  Joe Pesci, James Caan, Joe Mantegna, Eric Roberts, Richard Jenkins, Michael Madsen, Danny Glover and Oscar Isaac are among a host of actors who can carry a movie who have non red-carpet roles.  I'd be curious to see each of their performances on the Big Screen, but won't be able to work many them into my schedule.

This day was highlighted by a couple of riveting performances in movies of questionable validity that a lesser performance would otherwise have left audiences with a sour taste.  Vincent Cassel dazzled the screen as an über-suave restauranteur in the day's opening Competition film, "Mon Roi." He sweeps Emmanuelle Bercot (director of the opening night film "Standing Tall"), playing a lawyer, off her feet.  He's too perfect to be true and she asks him after their first bout of conjugal bliss if he's for real, or like all men a jerk.  With his non-stop repartee he tells her he's the King of Jerks, not a jerk himself but all other men are his subjects.  He of course turns into the ultimate jerk, and would be further fodder for Janina's gender study class. Initially he fully caters to the object of his desires, but then becomes the ultimate control freak, even insisting they name their baby "Sinbad," rather than Elliot, as she would prefer.  This was  directed by Maiwenn, whose previous film "Polisse" won the Jury Prize, a much more realistic film.

Matthias Schoenaerts, another Gallic actor who can ignite the screen, somewhat redeems the Un Certain Regard "Disorder," playing a part-time security guard while he awaits word on whether he can return to duty in Afghanstan as he deeply wishes despite being shell shocked.  He is guarding the wife and son of a prominent French businessman who is a presidential candidate.  The businessman is engaged in questionable practices that have him in trouble with the press as well as people he does business with.  His wife becomes a target.  Schoenaerts is a hunk.  The script can't help but lapse into matters of the libido. 

Collin Ferrell is also known for his sexual dynamism.  But they are entirely wasted in "The Lobster," a Competition film I caught up with today.  He plays a nebbish with a paunch and glasses, a role better suited for a Greg Kinear or John C. Reilly.  Reilly does turn up in this movie playing his usual bumbling self, and just like the other Competition film he had a similar role in "Tale of Tales," it was an exercise in inconsequential absurdism.  Reilly and Ferrell are a holding center for singles in a futuristic world.  They have 45 days to find a mate or they will be forced to be turned into an animal of their choosing.  Ferrell would like to become a lobster. 

This was a rare day with a Market film on a subject matter of personal interest--a documentary on a trek of the US from Mexico to Canada by four recent graduates of Texas A&M on horseback.  The film takes its title "Unbranded" from the wild mustangs they enlist for the ride.  The subject of the west being overrun by wild horses is a recurring theme of the movie.  Their numbers are increasing at 20 per cent a year.  Over 50,000 are being held in corrals awaiting adoption.  It takes three months to train one for domesticity.  The scenery is spectacular as their route includes the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Glacier National Park.  They guys don't entirely get along, distracting from the glory of their experience.

My day included two other documentaries with lengthy, self-explanatory titles--"David Lynch: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" and "Can't Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police."  Lynch narrates in a droning tone his life-story up until his first movie "Eraserhead."  He is rarely glimpsed though, as his commentary is accompanied by drawings and paintings and sometimes photographs of what he is describing, making this transcend the usual bio-pic. A recurring phrase from his mother as he was growing up was that he was disappointing himself.  His first ambition was to be a painter.  He rented a studio while he was still in school.  When he upset his father with his benign defiance,  he told him he was no longer a member of the family.  He regained his good graces, but when he went to visit him a few years later where he was living in Philadelphia his father was so unsettled by his work that he advised him that he shouldn't have children.  Little did Lynch know at the time that his girl friend was pregnant.  They married shortly thereafter.  Lynch says his life was saved a few years later when he won a $5,000 grant from the American Film Institute to make a short.  He later earned a scholarship to move to LA from the AFI which led to "Eraserhead."   

The documentary on the Police was based on the memoirs of guitarist Andy Summers, one of the three members of the band.  The group's singer and song writer Sting wasn't invoked at all in the making of the movie, as Summers said all along he only cared about himself.  The film has plenty of archival interviews and concert and rehearsal footage to draw from as well as some recent reunion concerts.  

The day concluded with "Journey to the Shore," another Un Certain Regard film that leant an insightful view into the culture of another country, this time Japan. Ralph and I could fully connect with this movie, as Ralph spent a good part of his working life there and I two months bicycling it.  A young woman's husband returns three years after he was thought to have been lost at sea.  He says he had been depressed and needed to regain his health.  He has spent the time traveling about Japan working an assortment of jobs.  It was just what he needed. His face is continually wreathed in a beatific smile.  He takes his wife on a trip to meet many of the wonderful people he came to know during his time away.  They are all very happy to see him again.  

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