Sunday, May 22, 2016

Cannes 2016 Day 11

Izabel Goulart

Taraneh Alidoosti

Alice Isaaz

Bella Heathcoate

Isabelle Huppert with director Paul Verhoeven

It’s not all stars and celebrities on the streets of Paris, as Vogue photographer Pier Guido Grassano found many stylish looks from ordinary citizens.

A collection of pieces from The Hollywood Reporter:

Red carpet photos from PopSugar:

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

Celebrities arrive for the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, from The NY Daily News:

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


director Juho Kuosmanen

Un Certain Regard award

“Shooting a boxing drama in black and white might risk inviting comparison with the gold standard for that genre, Raging Bull,” suggests David Rooney in the Hollywood Reporter. “But Finnish first-time feature director Juho Kuosmanen’s captivating account of the 1962 world featherweight championship match between country baker Olli Mäki and American title holder Davey Moore is in a ring of its own. So gracefully does The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki sidestep the formulaic mold of struggle, perseverance and simple victory or defeat that it could almost be considered an anti-fight picture.”

The winners for the Un Certain Regard competition at the Cannes Film Festival were announced today with "The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki" directed by Juho Kuosmanen nabbing the top prize of the night. 

"Thank you for your weird taste in cinema," the director said upon receiving the award. "I am so surprised and happy."

The black and white feature is based on the true story of the Finnish boxer Olli Mäki and his highly hyped 1962 championship match against the American featherweight champion Davey Moore. The film follows Olli as he unexpectedly falls in love and becomes more committed to pursuing a budding romance than training for his greatest fight.

The Jury Prize went to Japanese writer-director Kôju Fukada’s "Harmonium," about a man released from prison who causes havoc on the family of an old acquaintance. 

The Best Director prize went to Matt Ross for his film "Captain Fantastic" starring Vigggo Mortensen. The story follows a father who's raised six children in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. When his wife dies, the family leaves the woods to attend the funeral and must learn how to assimilate into society. 

Delphine and Muriel Coulin took home the award for Best Screenplay for their film "The Stopover." The feminist military drama is adapted from Delphine's novel "Voir du pays," which traces the tensions between two servicewomen returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

The Special Jury Prize when to "The Red Turtle" by Michaël Dudok de Wit. The immaculate film was considered one of the most beautiful features to arrive at the festival. The French-Japanese animated movie tells the story of a man shipwrecked at sea who becomes stranded on a deserted island inhabited by turtles, crabs and birds. He learns to live in isolation, until he comes upon a woman lost at sea and begins a life with her.

The complete list of winners:

Un Certain Regard Prize: Juho Kuosmanen, "The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki"  
Jury Prize: Kôji Fukada, "Harmonium"  
Best Director: Matt Ross, "Captain Fantastic"  
Best Screenplay: Delphine and Muriel Coulin, "The Stopover"  
Special Jury Prize: Michaël Dudok de Wit, "The Red Turtle"


Cannes: 'Toni Erdmann,' 'Dogs' Take Fipresci Prizes  Rebecca Ford from The Hollywood Reporter, May 21, 2016

The International Federation of Film Critics (Fipresci) awarded its prizes at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday.

German comedy Toni Erdmann took the prize for competition films. Maren Ade's third directorial effort, about a woman and her prank-loving father, earned strong critical praise after premiering in Cannes. (Read THR's review here.)

In the Un Certain Regard section, Dogs (Caini), the first feature from Romanian helmer Bogdan Mirică, received the nod. The film follows a man who finds out that his late grandfather, the owner of vast lands near the Romanian-Ukrainian border, was a crime lord. (Read THR's review here.)

For the sidebar sections of Directors' Fortnight or Critics Week, Raw (Grave), the cannibal film directed by Julia Ducournau, received the prize for a first film. The flesh-eating French thriller was warmly received at the fest. (Read THR's review.)

The jury members included: president Alin Tasciyan (Turkey), Pamela Biénzobas (Chile), Tereza Brdeckova (Czech Republic), Michael Kienzl (Germany), Noémie Luciani (France), Bujor Ion Ripeanu (Romania), Rita Di Santo (UK), Vecdi Sayar (Turkey) and Léo Soesanto (France).

The top prizes for the main selection will be awarded on Sunday night during the closing ceremony at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes.

Cannes Keeps Its Traditions, Including Its Boos  Manohla Dargis from The New York Times, May 20 2016

CANNES, France — A week into the Cannes Film Festival, the machine-gun-carrying soldiers vanished. For the first stretch of this event, a cluster of soldiers had been patrolling the main shopping drag that runs parallel to the promenade overlooking the Mediterranean, just one part of the show of force this year. France remains in a state of emergency, but festivalgoers exist in a bubble, and, in time, talk about heavy security gave way to other concerns, like whether Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdmann” would win the Palme d’Or, and if Sean Penn’s “The Last Face” was worse than Nicolas Winding Refn’s “The Neon Demon” or Xavier Dolan’s “It’s Only the End of the World.”

Mr. Penn may be the unfortunate winner of this dubious contest, to judge from the insistent jeers that greeted “The Last Face” at its Friday morning press screening. Booing — lustily, rightly, wrongly — is a Cannes tradition. Michelangelo Antonioni’s art film landmark “L’Avventura” was famously heckled, as was Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver,” which went on to win the Palme. Mr. Penn is unlikely to receive any awards here; it’s doubtful that he will even receive many (any) good reviews for “The Last Face,” which centers on two relief-aid doctors (Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem) who fall in love in 2003 amid the genocidal horrors of Sierra Leone and Liberia.

As grindingly sincere as it is wildly misbegotten, this is a melodramatic miasma of white tears falling amid unspeakable black suffering. Yet what’s perplexing about it isn’t that it was produced — terrible scripts are greenlit all the time — but that the festival programmers gave this movie one of the 21 prestigious slots in the feature competition. “The Last Face” would have been negatively received, no matter what section it appeared in. Yet the programmers invariably made Mr. Penn a bigger target than he might have been by putting his movie in competition instead of screening it out of competition, alongside the starry titles that play at Cannes only to feed its red carpet.

It’s similarly mystifying how Mr. Refn and Mr. Dolan made it into competition, except as would-be representatives of a younger auteurist guard. The parade of beautiful, bloodied women in Mr. Refn’s flashy dud — about a young model (Elle Fanning), newly arrived in Los Angeles — suggests that he fell under the spell of both Helmut Newton and David Lynch at an impressionable age, but without learning anything, including how to move beyond shocks or how to animate his visuals. Mr. Dolan, in his family drama, seems to be trying for the operatic excesses that sometimes work for Pedro Almodóvar, with a touch of John Cassavetes thrown in.

It’s been a strange Cannes, with both streets and theaters quieter and less populated than usual. Deal-making was apparently slow, though plenty of movies will make their way into theaters or onto video on demand. Others, like “The Death of Louis XIV,” a mesmerizing elegy from the Spanish director Albert Serra, will doubtless continue to find their most receptive audiences on the festival circuit. Set in the king’s bedchambers in Versailles and anchored by a poignant performance from Jean-Pierre Léaud, the movie focuses on the king’s slow, excruciating death from gangrene. Despite this forbidding premise, the filmmaking and Mr. Léaud hold you, turning the king into a figure of pathos even as it’s also clear the rot eating away at this royal body reflects the disease that, decades later, will be excised by the guillotine. Mr. Léaud said a few words before the movie, receiving a standing ovation.

This welcoming applause was an emotional acknowledgment of Mr. Léaud’s stature, starting, of course, with “The 400 Blows,” which inaugurated his working relationship with François Truffaut. Elsewhere at the festival, though, ovations can be as cheap and unreliable a marker of quality as the jeers. Olivier Assayas’s competition entry, “Personal Shopper,” starring an exceptional Kristen Stewart, was unfairly booed at its first press screening. Ms. Stewart, who appeared in Mr. Assayas’s earlier film “Clouds of Sils Maria” (at Cannes in 2014), plays a young American working in Paris who’s trying to contact her dead twin, even as she juggles a living malign force.

“Personal Shopper” primarily comes across as a lovingly appointed platform for Ms. Stewart’s talents and beauty. Mr. Assayas places her in wide-ranging situations — the movie embraces a range of genres, from a paranormal thriller to a glossy action movie to a coming-of-age tale — and dresses her in a variety of costumes, from haute couture fetish to cool-girl schlub wear. It’s a reminder that the history of cinema is also a history of male directors working with superb actresses, a truism borne out in “Aquarius,” from the Brazilian director Kleber Mendonça Filho. Sonia Braga (“Kiss of the Spider Woman”) stars as a widow and retired music critic whose fight with some developers (they want to evict her) evolves into a stirring look at the intersection of class, history and memory.

The warmly received “Paterson” finds Jim Jarmusch in a lovely, self-contemplative mood. Low-key, even by Mr. Jarmusch’s laid-back standards, it turns on a poet, Paterson (Adam Driver), who drives a city bus in — where else? — Paterson, N.J., where he lives with his partner (Golshifteh Farahani). The poetry in the movie was actually written by Ron Padgett, and, wouldn’t you know it, Mr. Jarmusch’s friend the writer Luc Sante once wrote, “Jim’s humor has a lot in common with that of Ron Padgett.” One of Mr. Sante’s books is on Paterson’s shelves, along with the work of William Carlos Williams, whose multivolume opus, “Paterson” is probably on Mr. Jarmusch’s shelves.

In “Paterson,” Williams famously and repeatedly advises “no ideas but in things.” In a letter to his publisher, he enlarged on this, writing that it is the poet’s business “not to talk in vague categories but to write particularly, as a physician works, upon a patient, upon the thing before him, in the particular to discover the universal.” That’s a nice entry point for Mr. Jarmusch’s “Paterson,” which takes place over a week or so and emphasizes its protagonist’s bus-driving routine, the physical world around him — the work boots of two passengers, a waterfall, a tilted mailbox — and the patterns that emerge through his quotidian observations.

The night after “Paterson” had its first press screening, its American distributor, Amazon Studios, hosted a party at Silencio, a nightclub that shares its name with the velvet-draped nightspot in David Lynch’s film “Mulholland Drive.” Champagne poured as guests, including Mr. Jarmusch, mingled with the Amazon Studio executives Ted Hope and Bob Berney, both indie-film veterans. The company has a second Jarmusch title that played out of competition, “Gimme Danger,” a surprisingly unsurprising documentary about Iggy Pop that finds Mr. Jarmusch in elevated fanboy mode. A few days later, he and Iggy Pop, after wagging their middle fingers at photographers, took their turns on the red carpet, with the singer showing off a bare chest under his suit jacket.

Going into the festival, Amazon Studios, with its deep pockets and great ambitions, was the hot prospect turning everyone’s head. The ardor may have cooled by the time Cannes ends Sunday, given that not all its titles have been well received, Mr. Refn’s included, but maybe not. Cannes is about many things, including the romance of cinema, and right now Amazon is at least partly in the romance business. Compared with the superblockbusters released by the big American studios, its titles — like many of this festival’s selections — can seem small, little more than Hollywood chump change. Yet, as movies like “Paterson” remind us, good art invariably finds a way, even amid the vulgarity.


director Cristian Mungiu

Cannes Review: Cristian Mungiu’s Intelligent, Involving, Labyrinthine ‘Graduation’  Jessica Kiang from The Playlist, May 19, 2016 

There was presumably a single, ground-zero favor done way, way back, that needed to be repaid and that ultimately led to what Cristian Mungiu‘s terrific “Graduation” convincingly portrays as the national Christmas-lights-tangle of quid-pro-quo corruption and endemic nepotism, that passes for a system of governance in modern-day Romania. Whichever Carpathian caveman it was who first borrowed his neighbor’s adze or whatever and blithely grunted “I owe you one” has an awful lot to answer for.  An excoriating, gripping, intricately plotted morality play, Mungiu’s film is less linear, more circular or spiral-shaped than his previous Cannes titles (Best Actress-winning “Beyond the Hills” and Palmed’Or-winning “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days“) but it is no less rigorous and possibly even more eviscerating and critical of Romanian society, because it offers its critique across such a broad canvas. Tracing the labyrinthine messes we get ourselves into the millisecond we decide the end justifies the means, pragmatism trumps integrity, and moral relativism is preferable to moral absolutism, “Graduation” is intimate, epic and crisply intelligent: Haneke with a human touch and no desire to judge.

Romeo (Adrian Titieni), a paunchy middle-aged doctor, and his frail and distant wife Magda (Lia Bugnar) have a college-age daughter Eliza (sulky Titian portrait Maria Dragus, who was one of the children in Michael Haneke‘s “The White Ribbon“) who is about to write her final school exams with the promise of a scholarship to Cambridge University if her grades hold up. But the day before the exams begin, Eliza, having been dropped off a short walk from school by Romeo who is anxious to get to his lover Sandra (Malina Manovici) for a morning roll in the hay, is attacked and assaulted. Her injuries are not serious, but her wrist is in a cast and the trauma has affected her concentration.

All Romeo wants, pursuant to his near-obsession with Eliza taking the scholarship as a means of getting the hell out of Romania, is for the rules for taking the exam to be bent, or relaxed a little, in this very understandable and justified case. Failing that, he turns reluctantly to the black market favor economy that exists apparently everywhere, underneath a thin veneer of rigidly “fair-minded” propriety. If he prioritizes a certain man’s liver transplant, that man can talk to the education board member whose wife regained her job due to his efforts, and maybe he can call in a favor to make sure that Eliza gets the requisite grade. Meanwhile: the investigation into the attack is ongoing; Eliza is seeing more of motorcycle-riding boyfriend Marius; and Sandra is possibly pregnant, and needs Romeo to see about finding her own son, Mateo, a speech therapist.

This all should be too much, but Mungiu’s skill is deceptive: the Romanian New Wave-approved handheld, real-location aesthetic lends an authenticity that feels raw, but the storytelling itself is silken — the director always knows which scene to play out and which to cut from, and despite the massive sprawl of plot and character, we always are exactly where we need to be.

And that’s because he sticks so closely with Romeo, who emerges not necessarily as sympathetic (the film is cool to the touch emotionally, which may alienate some), but as deeply, inherently understandable: a man who will sacrifice anything to get his daughter a shot at a life completely different from his own, willing to barter his own conscience, and maybe even hers. Almost every conversation Romeo has is a negotiation between the opposing impulses of pragmatism and integrity, sauced with an added dash of social embarrassment/humiliation. It is important to Romeo, as it is to all the men involved in this tit-for-tat circle-jerk that they can convince themselves of the one-off nature of their transgression with quick, mutual assurances that “I don’t do such things, but…”

And it is all men. While the beloved daughter, the washed-out wife, the patient mistress and the frail mother all make claims on Romeo’s time and care, when it comes to the business of getting things done they have at best the status of petitioners or conscientious objectors. The arcane nature of the boy’s-club system is a solid way of ensuring the continuance of male power structures and hierarchies, even in a slowly modernizing social environment, as the favor chain, where things really get done, links male doctor to policeman to male politician to male civil servant.

This is a bleak view of modern-day Romania as a place where your only choice is between noble guaranteed failure and a slim shot at compromised, tainted success and where bricks come through windows for no reason. And it ends not with a bang but an ambivalent whimper, but of course that too is part of the point. As desperate as things threaten to get for Romeo, this is the drama of the ongoing: events play out, but they don’t get parceled up and delivered with a neat lesson attached — there’s no way of knowing if the moral sacrifices you made were worth it. Some time before the film ends on its deliberately anticlimactic, unresolved note, there’s an almost surreal interlude where Romeo think he spots someone involved in the attack on Eliza and gets off the bus to run after him. Soon astray in unfamiliar darkened backyards setting off a chorus of dogs, it’s as good a metaphor as any for the magnificent pessimism in “Graduation”: you make your choice and whichever way you jump, you’re down the rabbit hole, lost in the hedge maze, hunted by the barking dogs of bad decisions past. [A-/B+]

*          *          *          *

Closing Cannes with Farhadi, Verhoeven, and best-of-the-fest picks   Mike D’Angelo from The Onion A.V. Club, May 21, 2016

Having concluded with two cheery films about the aftermath of sexual assault—so radically different that “cheery” is only sarcastic as applied to one of them—the Festival De Cannes now takes a breather while we await tomorrow’s awards ceremony, to be presented by a jury headed by George Miller and including Arnaud Desplechin, Kirsten Dunst, Valeria Golino, Mads Mikkelsen, and Donald Sutherland. I’ve long since given up pretending that I have even the slightest clue what a Cannes jury will favor—they rarely echo critical opinion, and often bestow prizes that seem not just wrongheaded but downright deranged (as when Tarantino’s jury, in 2004, gave Best Director to Tony Gatlif for the now-forgotten Exiles, ignoring the likes of Lucrecia Martel, Wong Kar-wai, and Hong Sang-soo). Rather than make any attempt at prognostication, therefore, I generally prefer to act as a jury of one, handing out the festival’s various awards as I see fit (while also tossing in the occasional speculation). Since I’ll be able to address the final two Competition films I saw along the way, let’s just get to it.

Palme D’Or: Toni Erdmann

Regardless of what ends up winning, Maren Ade’s nervy tightrope walk of a father-daughter comedy will be the film for which Cannes 2016 is ultimately remembered. I remain quixotically hopeful that Ade might become the first female director to be honored solo (Jane Campion’s Palme D’Or for The Piano in 1993 was shared with Farewell My Concubine, in a rare tie), but Andrea Arnold seems more likely, if only because American Honey has more “weight.” While Toni Erdmann’s three-hour running time does work in its favor—at 96 minutes, I think we’d be talking about a completely lost cause—it’s hard to imagine a film this goofy and riotous taking home the crown, despite a melancholy undertow and inconclusive ending that ultimately make it both a stealth weepie and a secret drama. The good news is that Sony Pictures Classics has already snapped the film up for U.S. distribution, so you’ll eventually have a chance to experience its go-for-broke nuttiness for yourself. Try to read as little as possible.

Grand Prix: Paterson

This is a bit of a cheat, because the Grand Prix, despite sounding like it should be the top prize, is basically second place, and Paterson is actually my third favorite Competition film. But I want to give my second favorite film a different award (that’s roughly equivalent in stature), so Jim Jarmusch’s lovely existential portrait of a New Jersey bus driver who moonlights as a poet, played by Adam Driver, gets bumped up to runner-up. I’m curious to see what I’ll think of this when I inevitably watch it again down the road—Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive made me swoon here a few years ago, but the magic dissipated for me a bit on second viewing (though I still really like it). Thing is, though, what I wanted from Only Lovers was a plotless paean to art and creativity (evident mostly in its first half, before Mia Wasikowska’s character shows up), and that genuinely does describe Paterson from start to finish. So I suspect that this exercise in repetition with slight variations will expand, not diminish.

Director: Alain Guiraudie, Staying Vertical

By rights, Staying Vertical should be my Grand Prix winner; I’m sticking to the Cannes rules, though, which prohibit the jury from awarding multiple prizes (except for acting) to a single film. Best Director is always tricky, because a director’s job entails so many disciplines and half of them are all but invisible onscreen. In practice, I generally cite films to which my response is primarily defined by composition and/or rhythm, rather than by narrative and/or performances. (Those attributes also fall under cinematography and editing, of course, but neither one is a Cannes category.) What I remember about Staying Vertical is mostly the precision of Guiraudie’s visual plan, which alternates metronomically among a restricted number of locations (open road, pasture, isolated house, underpass) in a way that lends each one symbolic import. Jarmusch does something quite similar in Paterson, actually, but I can picture Staying Vertical’s imagery much more clearly, perhaps because it’s more exterior than interior.

Actress: Sonia Braga, Aquarius

The embarrassment of riches in this category is remarkable and heartening (especially as compared to the meager options across the street in Best Actor). I’ve seen folks passionately advocating for Sandra Hüller (Toni Erdmann), Sasha Lane (American Honey), both leads from The Handmaiden, Ruth Negga (Loving), Kristen Stewart (Personal Shopper), Adèle Haenel (The Unknown Girl), Elle Fanning (The Neon Demon), and Isabelle Huppert (Elle), and won’t be surprised or dismayed if any of the above gets the nod. Most impressive of all, though, was Braga’s wily, sensual, almost regal performance as a 65-year-old woman fighting to keep the Recife apartment she’s lived in all her life. I’m probably prone to give bonus points to charismatic newcomers and veterans who stage unexpected comebacks (that is, to actors who take me by surprise); Braga fits snugly in the latter category, but is so blatantly superb that I feel certain I’d feel the same way even if I hadn’t been watching her onscreen for three decades.

Actor: Dave Johns, I, Daniel Blake

As I say, pickings are relatively slim amongst the men—a lot of solid work, nothing truly revelatory. As its title suggests, I, Daniel Blake is constructed almost entirely around Johns, who injects a welcome amount of tetchy good humor (he’s primarily a stand-up comic) into a role that might otherwise have come across as overly sad sack-ish, for lack of a better term. Indeed, Johns succeeds in creating the character of Daniel Blake before he’s even seen—the film’s opening credits appear on a black screen, accompanied on the soundtrack by Dan being interviewed by a bland social-services functionary, and the full force of the man’s personality comes across from his voice alone. Honorable mention goes to Adrian Titieni as the protagonist of Graduation, whose apologetic wheedling has endless registers.

Screenplay: Asghar Farhadi, The Salesman

This is an award that I could have predicted before the festival even began, as Farhadi is, for my money, the greatest dramatist in the world at the moment (at least among those working in film). The Salesman (Grade: B+) seems to me a lesser work than A Separation or The Past, but that might be in part because I’d expected something akin to Death Of A Salesman and instead got the low-key Iranian version of Death Wish. Farhadi regulars Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti (that’s Elly herself from About Elly) play Emad and Rana, a married couple who are currently spending their evenings performing as Willy Loman and his wife, Linda. 

Early on, they’re forced to move to a new apartment, and complicated circumstances involving the previous tenant result in Rana being attacked in the shower by an unknown assailant. The show must go on, but Rana’s nerves have been shattered to such an extent that she can barely be alone, much less act, and Emad becomes obsessed with tracking down the culprit, who fled in a hurry and left numerous clues behind. The film is an unusually slow burn, even by Farhadi’s standards, but culminates in an extended confrontation so intense that it almost becomes painful to watch. The threat of violence here is psychological rather than physical, for the most part, but nobody can engineer an escalating domestic crisis like this guy. I’m already looking forward to a second viewing, which might reveal details that escaped me due to my expectations—the Death Of A Salesman aspect was all I’d heard, and is much more tangential than I would have guessed.

Jury Prize: Elle

This is sort of a “whatever else you feel like honoring” prize. Most years it functions as third prize (and is often a tie between two films), but Tarantino’s jury awarded it both to Tropical Malady and to Irma P. Hall’s performance in The Ladykillers, thereby essentially creating a nonexistent Best Supporting Actress trophy. (Something similar was done in 1991 for Samuel L. Jackson’s performance in Jungle Fever, but they didn’t use the Jury Prize.) In any case, I’m just gonna hand mine to the film that most befuddles me, which happens to be the last Competition title that screened: Paul Verhoeven’s Elle (Grade: B). Isabelle Huppert stars as Michèle, the CEO of a video game company (though its product looks more like tentacle porn) who’s being brutally raped by a masked intruder literally the second the movie begins. Rather than call the police, Michèle calmly goes about her business, explaining a bruise on her face by claiming she fell off her bike (which she never once rides). That’s already somewhat perverse, and the movie gets considerably less P.C. as it goes along, incorporating horrific details from Michèle’s childhood; her affair with the husband (Christian Berkel) of her best friend and business partner (Anne Consigny); her efforts to sabotage the new relationship between her ex-husband (Charles Berling) and a young, hot yoga instructor (Vimala Pons); and various other seemingly irrelevant subplots. Eventually, Michèle learns who raped her, yet still doesn’t go to the police, preferring to encourage the man’s violent attentions. At a certain point very near the end, everything suddenly seemed to coalesce, and I was ready to embrace Elle as a seriously fucked-up but potent ode to embracing one’s true self, however grotesque that self might be. The last 10 minutes or so, however, take the movie in a different direction, one that I’m having trouble reconciling with various elements that seem pretty crucial (most notably, the fact that Michèle’s father has spent the past 40 years in prison for murdering over two dozen people—a tabloid sensation in which 10-year-old Michèle was seen by the world as complicit to some degree). That fit snugly in my preferred interpretation; now, I don’t know what to do with it. What I can tell you for sure is that Elle deserves more consideration than it’s likely to receive from some when it’s eventually released (Sony Classics has this one as well). Whatever its intentions, it doesn’t take anything it shows lightly or frivolously, and I expect to be wrestling with it for some time to come.

And that’s the lot. Check Newswire tomorrow to see what nonsense the jury coughs up. Apologies for not covering some of the higher-profile Directors’ Fortnight films, including Pablo Larraín’s Neruda, Paul Schrader’s Dog Eat Dog, and Risk, Laura Poitras’ companion piece to Citizenfour—I absolutely wanted to see them, but all of their screenings conflicted with Competition films, sadly. And thanks for checking in every day to read breathless reports about movies that you won’t be able to see for months, or possibly even for a full year. (The Lobster, which opened theatrically in the U.S. just last week, played in the 2015 Competition, for example. Café Society, The Neon Demon, and Hell Or High Water are right around the corner, though.) Hopefully, a few tantalizing films are now on your radar; like the dad in Toni Erdmann, all I wanted to do was give you something to smile about.

My own predictions
Palme D’Or:  Graduation, Cristian Mungiu

Grand Prix:   Paterson, Jim Jarmusch

Jury Prize:  American Honey, Andrea Arnold

Director:   Maren Ade, Toni Erdmann

Actor/Actress:  Sonia Braga, Aquarius

Screenplay:  Philippe Djian, David Birke, Harold Manning, Elle

*          *          *          *

Cannes critics ratings, a composite of 7 different critic scores: 

The Cannes Criterion Forum is up and running:  

Screendaily Jury Grid

Ioncinema Critics Panel:

The final version of Les Etoiles de la critiques is up and running as well (click on image to obtain a full screen):

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

6-4 Ade / Toni Erdmann
9-2 Loach / I, Daniel Blake
8-1 Farhadi / The Salesman
9-1 Mendonça Filho / Aquarius
10-1 Almodóvar / Julieta
14-1 Jarmusch / Paterson
16-1 Mendoza / Ma’Rosa
16-1 Arnold / American Honey
– – – – –
25-1 Verhoeven / Elle
25-1 Nichols / Loving
25-1 Puiu / Sieranevada
33-1 Mungiu / Graduation
40-1 Dardenne & Dardenne / The Unknown Girl
40-1 Dumont / Slack Bay
50-1 Guiraudie / Staying Vertical
50-1 Assayas / Personal Shopper
66-1 Dolan / It’s Only the End of the World
– – – – –
100-1 Park / The Handmaiden
200-1 Garcia / From the Land of the Moon
200-1 Refn / The Neon Demon
1000-1 Penn / The Last Face

6-4 Aquarius (Sônia Braga)
– – – – –
5-1 The Unknown Girl (Adèle Haenel)
6-1 Toni Erdmann (Sandra Hüller)
8-1 Elle (Isabelle Huppert)
9-1 Julieta (A.Ugarte, E.Suarez, Palma)
12-1 Ruth Negga (Loving)
14-1 Personal Shopper (Kristen Stewart)
16-1 American Honey (Sasha Lane)
– – – – –
20-1 I, Daniel Blake (Hayley Squires)
22-1 From the Land of the Moon (Marion Cotillard)
25-1 The Handmaiden (KIM Min-Hee)
33-1 The Salesman (Taraneh Alidootsi)
– – – – –
40-1 Paterson (Golshifteh Farahani)
40-1 Slack Bay (J.Binoche, V.Bruni Tedeschi, etc)
40-1 Sieranevada
40-1 Ma’Rosa (Jaclyn Jose)
66-1 The Neon Demon (Elle Fanning)
66-1 It’s Only the End of the World (N.Baye, M.Cotillard, L.Seydoux)-1
66-1 Graduation (M.Dragus, LBugnar)
100-1 The Last Face (Charlize Theron)
150-1 Staying Vertical (India Hair)

7-2 Toni Erdmann (Peter Simonischek)
7-2 I, Daniel Blake (Dave Johns)
9-2 The Salesman (Shobeib Hosseini)
7-1 Paterson (Adam Driver)
10-1 Graduation (Adrian Titieni)
– – – – – – – –
22-1 Staying Vertical (Damien Bonnard)
28-1 Slack Bay (Fabrice Luchini, etc)
28-1 Sieranevada
33-1 Loving (Joel Edgerton)
– – – – – –
50-1 Its Only the End of the World
66-1 The Unknown Girl
80-1 American Honey (Shia LaBeouf)
80-1 The Handmaiden (HA Jung-Woo)
100-1 Personal Shopper (Lars Eidinger)
100-1 From the Land of the Moon
100-1 Ma’Rosa
150-1 Elle (Laurent Lafitte)
– – – – –
250-1 The Neon Demon
250-1 Aquarius
300-1 The Last Face
500-1 Julieta

*          *          *          *

The round-up of various links covering Cannes:

Screendaily still has paywalls, but if you click on the reviews, they are at least temporarily open to the public: 

The Hollywood Reporter at Cannes: 

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

The Film Center’s Barbara Scharres, Ben Kenigsberg and Chaz Ebert at Cannes from the Roger Ebert blog: 
a round-up of Cannes news and reviews from indieWIRE: 

The Guardian collection of reviews: 

Mike D’Angelo back at The Onion A.V. Club:

Sophie Monks Kaufman and David Jenkins from Little White Lies: 

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

Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa: 

Sukhdev Sandhu and Robbie Collins from The Daily Telegraph: 

Slant magazine at Cannes: 

Eric Lavallee and Nicholas Bell from Ioncinema: 

Various writers at Twitch: 

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

This was a day of sports films (rugby, swimming and boxing) that all won awards. “The Happiest Day in the Life of Ollie Maki,” the true story of a Finnish boxer who fought the American Davey Moore for the world featherweight championship in 1962 in Finland, was named the best picture in the Un Certain Regard category.  Second was the Japanese thriller “Harmonium,” which the jury politely referred to as a family drama, that would have been the choice of Ralph and I.  Three others films were recognized with awards—“Captain Fantastic” with Viggo Mortenson,  which Ralph liked a lot and said I ought to make every effort to see, but couldn’t, “The Stopover,” a French film about soldiers returning from Afghanistan that I recommended to Ralph, and “Red Turtle,” an animated feature with no dialogue that Ralph was able to see and liked.

When director Juho Kuosmanen accepted the award he thanked Thiery Fremaux for liking weird films, even though his film was anything but weird.  It was a very understated, almost drab, portrait of the boxer.  It must have won favor from the five-person jury, which did not include Fremaux, for having been shot in black-and-white.  The boxing and training are very limited.  A large part of the training consists of trying to make weight by sitting in a sauna and vomiting.  It did include the best bicycling scene of the festival, Maki riding through the countryside with his girlfriend on his handlebars and also a scene of his girlfriend on her bike as he trains running behind her.

The Directors Fortnight gave “Mercenary” one of its six awards--the Europa Award for the best film from Europe.  There is more sports action in this rugby film about a young man who is recruited from his small South Pacific island that is a French territory by a fellow islander who doesn’t have his best interests at heart.  He is given a salary of just 400 euros a month to play for a small-town club team that is comprised mostly of local French players but supplemented by other mercenaries such as himself from other countries.  He isn’t totally welcomed by his teammates even though he develops into a dominant player. This well-crafted, finely-acted film gave fine insight into the island culture he comes from and the trials he has adjusting to his new culture.

Directors Fortnight gave its award for the best French film to a romantic comedy featuring swimming, though not of a competitive nature in “L’Effet Aquatique.”  A young man takes a liking to a swimming instructor and pretends he doesn’t know how to swim so he can take lessons from her. As they are making out for the first time high up on the diving platform at the pool when it is supposedly closed, three other people appear at the pool.  One falls in fully clothed and appears to be struggling.  The man who supposedly doesn’t know how to swim dives in and saves her.  Rather than being a hero to the instructor, she is incensed at his duplicity and refuses to have anything to do with him.  He is so smitten by her he pursues her to Iceland where she is attending a conference on swimming.  The dramatic Icelandic geography and its host of wacky characters bring the comedy to a boil.  This at first seemed little better than Market fodder, but it developed into genuine entertainment. 

The day was rounded out by the final two Competition films to be screened.  Sometimes the best is saved for the last and sometimes the worst is slipped in at the end to spare it the savagery of the critics, as was the case yesterday with Sean Penn’s unfortunate film.  Today’s films greatly exceeded that.  Paul Verhoeven’s “Elle” could have earned Isabelle Huppert a best actress award if there weren’t so many other fine female performances and she weren’t an icon already.   She heads a large company that makes violent and sexually-charged video games.  Her life mirrors her profession.  

The film opens with her being violently raped by a masked intruder into her home.  She doesn't notify the police as she wants no media attention as her father was a notorious serial-killer and is seeking parole after over thirty years in prison.   She was involved as a ten-year old in destroying the evidence of his crimes and still suffers recriminations from the public for it.  Someone sends out a mass email to everyone in her company of an animated video of her being raped by a large serpent.  She’s not sure if that is connected to her own rape.  The plot thickens as she is having an affair with her best friend’s boyfriend and her mother hints of marriage to her boy toy and her son is about to move in with his girl friend who has him completely under her thumb, glaring at Huppert when she gives him a kiss letting her know he is now hers while demanding a large screen TV rather than a microwave as a gift for their apartment that Huppert will be paying for. She is a no-holds barred bitch.  Feminists will flip out over the rampant misogyny, but those who go for sexist-thrillers will be delighted by this feast of intrigue.

The wife of a school teacher and actor is startled while showering by someone who comes into her apartment in Tehran under mistaken pretenses in “The Salesman.”  She falls and injures herself and is greatly traumatized by the event. They have just moved into the apartment and learn the former tenant was a prostitute.  They want out, but it is not easy to find a place to live in Tehran.  The intruder left his pickup truck. The husband tries to track him down.  The plot doesn’t thicken to the degree of  Ashgar Farhardi’s two previous award-winning Cannes entries, but it is a good companion piece to his work examining the mores of Iranian society and the strictures placed upon women.

One day to go.  The just released schedule of repeat Sunday will allow me to see both Romanian films again along with the lone film I have yet to see, “Ma’ Rosa,” but not “Toni Erdmann.”   I could also see “The Salesman” again to try to tie up some loose ends.  Neither Ralph or I could understand why blood on a guy’s sock was such significant clue.  The films are rescreened in four theaters ranging in size from the Debussy with 1,068 seats to the Bazin with 280 seats.  The three films scheduled for the Debussy, giving them top seeding, are “Patterson,” “Toni Erdmann” and “I, Daniel Blake.”  There are only three time slots, there is the award ceremony, and then the Palme d’Or winner will be shown on its screen.  Last year for the first time a ticket and formal attire was required at the Debussy.  In the past it was for the press and those with Market badges.  If that is not the case again this year, we’ll have to watch the proceedings on a television in the Palais complex.  Either way, it will be riveting and a fine conclusion to another two weeks of the best cinema to be found.

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