Saturday, May 14, 2016

Cannes 2016 Day 3

Juliette Binoche   

at Cannes in 1985

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Lily-Rose Depp

Jury member and mother to Lily-Rose, Vanessa Paradis

Jury member Kristen Dunst

Li Bing Bing

Cheryl Cole

Gong Li

Ingrid Bisu

an Agnès Varda sighting

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:                      

People magazine hits the Cannes red carpet:,,21005726_30489946,00.html

another look at the Cannes jury


11 Breakout Actors and Directors From Cannes 2016 We Can ...  Kate Erbland from indieWIRE, May 10, 2016

With the 2016 edition of the Cannes Film Festival launching this week, the springboard is loaded. Here are Indiewire's picks for the 11 actors and directors to watch at this year's festival.

Delphine and Muriel Coulin, directors, "The Stopover" 

The filmmaking sisters are making their return to Cannes five years after their feature debut, "17 Girls," made its premiere during the always-exciting Critics Week. Their first feature followed a group of teenage girls who make a pregnancy pact in hopes of forming a community of young mothers and kiddos beyond the reach of the rest of society. This time around, the Coulins are again compelled by stories about women living in strict subcultures, and their Un Certain Regard offering "The Stopover" ("Voir du pays") follows a pair of female soldiers who take a short leave in Cyprus after a tour of Afghanistan. Strong women are also in front of the camera, as the Coulins cast two exciting (and newish) talents as their leads, singer/actress Soko and Greek New Wave regular Ariane Labed. 

Soko, actress, "The Dancer" and "The Stopover" 

Singer and actress Soko is hitting this year's Cannes in a big way, thanks to two starring roles in two very different features. First up is the Coulin sisters' thoroughly modern take on life during wartime, "The Stopover," which will see the budding actress (she's been working on screen since 2003, but 2016 seems to be her year to really break out) starring as an on-leave soldier who heads to Cyprus after a tour of Afghanistan. Soko will also pop up in another Un Certain Regard title, as the eponymous dancer in Stéphanie Di Giusto's debut feature "The Dancer." Set during the turn of the 20th century, the film will see Soko taking on the role of famed dancer Loie Fuller as she navigates a complicated relationship with her protege Isadora Duncan (Lily-Rose Depp). Having two films in Cannes is a major step forward for any performer, but having such different roles to show off range on the international circuit is absolutely huge. 

Sadek, actor, "Tour de France"

Cannes 2016 might end up as an unexpected proving ground for singers making the jump into serious acting. Look no further than French rapper Sadek, making his film debut in Rachid Djaidani's Directors' Fortnight offering "Tour de France." It's a huge film to make your first; not only is Djaidani becoming a Cannes regular, but the feature casts Sadek, who has been rapping since he was just a teen, against French powerhouse Gerard Depardieu. At least Sadek gets to slip into somewhat familiar skin, playing a Muslim rapper who is oddly tasked with driving his best friend's slightly nutty father around France for what seems like an increasingly bizarre (and tension-filled) trip. The film reportedly culminates with a big-time concert, all the better for Sadek to show off his skills in a brand new forum, while also staking a claim as an up-and-coming actor.

Michael O'Shea, director, "The Transfiguration"

Filmmaker O'Shea is making his big screen debut in one hell of a forum: Cannes' Un Certain Regard section. O'Shea has been trying to get his film career off the ground since his time in film school in the '90s, and while he never quite gave up on his dream, he did get pretty damn close. Earlier this month, he told Indiewire that he had made a pact with himself to give up the ghost if he hadn't made a film in 10 years, a decision that was further bolstered by his switch from trying to make "the great American indie" and instead exploring the world of genre-based features. His debut, "The Transfiguration," is a modern vampire tale with a twist, and it should end up being one of the most talked-about features at the festival, if not only for its subject matter, but for the breakout star behind its camera who almost, almost gave it all up.

Adele Haenel, actress, "The Unknown Girl"

The Dardennes Brothers made a big splash two years ago with their "Two Days, One Night," which boasted a big time international star in Marion Cotillard, the kind of casting move the filmmaking pair rarely make (though it certainly paid off). They're returning to more untested waters with their "Unknown Girl" star Adele Haenel, who already has two Cesars under her belt (two! and she's only 27!), but who hasn't yet been able to get much traction in the states. Coming out strong at Cannes with a Dardennes feature is a well-tested method of breaking out, and Haenel has the talent to back it up.

Pyotr Skvortsov, actor, "The Student"

The young Russian actor toplines Kirill Serebrennikov's bold (and possibly controversial, given its source material, a play that stirred up a lot of chatter when it debuted a few years back) as Veniamin, the titular student who bucks teen convention and goes all in on something really subversive: Religion. The narrative fallout from Veniamin's new lifestyle is swift and complex, which should afford the film's newbie star a big, meaty role and the kind of signature performance that can set him apart from the pack.

Edie Yvonne, actress, "Kitty"

The tiny star of Chloe Sevigny's filmmaking debut, the Critics' Week short "Kitty" comes from a performing background, but the Closing Night offering marks her on-screen debut. And what a debut it is, tasking young Yvonne with not one, but two roles: one as growing kiddo Kitty and another as a changed Kitty after she starts becoming, well, an actual kitty. Yvonne brings both grace and playfulness to the part, the rare child actor who seems in control of her work without feeling too trained or overly restrained.

Adriana Ugarte, actress, "Julieta"

A mainstay on Spanish television programs like "La Señora" and "El tiempo entre costuras," Ugarte arrives at Cannes with the kind of project that most actresses can only dream about: A Pedro Almodovar film that features her talents front and center. Almodovar's newest, adapted from a trio of stories from Alice Munro, follows the eponymous Julieta over the course of three decades, with Ugarte playing the younger, hipper Julieta to Emma Suárez's more (literally) grown up version. Almodovar's love and affection for his actresses is one of his greatest strengths as a filmmaker, so there is little doubt that "Julieta" will give all of his ladies room to shine, especially Ugarte (and what looks to be a pretty stellar '80s era wardrobe).

Sasha Lane, actress, "American Honey"

Talk about plucked from obscurity. Texas native Sasha Lane was reportedly working as a waitress at a Tex-Mex chain when she was discovered by talent scouts who eventually landed her a starring role (her first screen credit) in Andrea Arnold's long-gestating and much-anticipated passion project "American Honey." Lane has yet to appear on the big screen, and the in-competition premiere of Arnold's latest will serve as her introduction the the industry. No sweat, right? Arnold's film promises all kinds of young energy and angst (it follows a group of magazine sellers as they criss-cross the country) and it's reasonable to assume that much of that emotion will flow right from the newly minted actress.

Nathan Morlando, director, "Mean Dreams"

Morlando's first feature, "Citizen Gangster," was a big hit in his native Canada, where it earned him accolades at TIFF and nods from the Genie Awards and the Directors Guild of Canada. Still, bowing his next film – a coming-of-age drama featuring a cast that includes Colm Feore and Bill Paxton – at Cannes is a major step forward and the feature, debuting in the Directors' Fortnight section, will likely serve to push forward Morlando's career in a very big way. Morlando's interest seems to lay in crafting smart, dangerous films with a palpable edge of tension to them, and "Mean Dreams" appears to fit neatly onto his burgeoning resume. Keep an eye out for this one.

Jodie Foster


Jodie Foster at Cannes in 1976


Jodie Foster: 'I think this is the most risk-averse period in movie history'  Nigel M. Smith from The Guardian, May 12, 2016

In Cannes, the actor and director of Money Monster addressed the lack of female directors in mainstream Hollywood, saying ‘studio executives are scared’

“I’m not a spokesman for anything – I know nothing,” Jodie Foster declared in Cannes on Wednesday, in front of a room of press attending her Kering Women in Motion talk. But over the course of her hour-long conversation with Variety’s Ramin Setoodeh, she proved herself wrong, passionately advocating on behalf of fellow female directors.

The actor and film-maker is in Cannes to premiere her fourth feature as director, Money Monster, outside of competition. She previously directed 1991’s Little Man Tate, 1995’s Thanksgiving comedy Home for the Holidays and 2011’s Mel Gibson vehicle, The Beaver.

The two-time Oscar winner, who famously began her career as a child actor, opened the discussion by reflecting on her 50 years in film, addressing how far she believes women have come in Hollywood despite the challenges they still face – a recent report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University found that women directed just 7% of Hollywood’s top 250 films in 2014.

“I’ve seen drastic changes,” Foster said. “When I was younger, I only saw women as the script supervisor, makeup person or as fellow actors. I saw faces change as time went on. When I was young, there were a lot of men on movie sets ambling around these towns, getting into trouble and unhappy. Everything changed when women got onto movie sets. Suddenly it felt more like a family – and movie sets became healthier.”

Foster, who played the lead in hits including The Silence of the Lambs, Nell and Contact, was asked why projects with women in the lead have largely shifted to the independent film arena, as well as television.

“I think studio executives are scared, period,” Foster said. “I think this is the most risk-averse period in movie history. Now so many things have changed in terms of the economy, the structure of studios.” She urged the film-makers in the room “to realize the business is shifting” and “get used to the landscape”.

“Every film is a new invention,” Foster elaborated. “We’re not a factory where we make shoes and we keep making shoes. So the rules are going to be different. The conversation has to become as complex as possible to really attend to the issues.”

Foster said that female directors looking to make an impact in a male-dominated industry need to be as adaptable as possible.

“You want to tell stories with whatever technology is happening,” Foster said. “If you’re telling them on iPhones, great. You roll with the time and stay relevant – and adapt to what’s around you. There’s a democratization that technology has brought that’s wonderful – women can take advantage of them, minorities can.”

Foster, who has also directed for television, taking on episodes of House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, meanwhile praised the medium for being “more open to women”. Asked why women are afforded more opportunities on the small screen, both behind and in front of the lens, Foster offered: “Financially, it’s less of a risk.”

“When you have less risk, you’re willing to take more chances,” she added. Foster didn’t concede that television is producing greater content than film, but did stress that “TV is where you go for narrative” nowadays, with studios so invested in releasing franchise films and tentpoles.

Over the course of her acting career, Foster has only worked with one fellow female director: Mary Lambert, who directed her in the 1987 film Siesta. Asked how the experience of making a film with a woman differed from working with male film-makers, Foster said it all boils down to a directing style she describes as “good parenting”.

“I was 23 or 24, and I needed somebody to tell me to change my behavior [on the set],” Foster recalled. “I won’t tell you what that was, but Mary took me aside sat me down and said, ‘No, you can’t do that. That’s disrespectful.’ She took me aside the way a parent would. At that age, I really listened. I was really grateful that a director sat me down like a person.

“Our leadership styles are informed by our mothers and how we were raised. If you’re a woman, you’re going to have a different leadership style based on your background.”

On her own temperament as a director, Foster admitted to confusing people for being very direct with her colleagues on set.

“I think men are often confused by women who don’t follow traditional rules in conflict,” Foster said. “But guess what: all they need to do is have more experiences with them. I don’t think it’s a big plot of men putting women down in the film business – the film industry is pretty progressive. They’re just stuck with the same traditional models and they’re trying to figure out how to get around that. But they haven’t had enough experiences with women to do that.”

Ken Loach

Ken Loach's 'I, Daniel Blake,' about an ailing carpenter who fights to stay on welfare, is a film of moving relevance

The British director Ken Loach will be 80 years old in June, and he has worked in film and television for more than 50 of those years, but with his bone-deep empathy for the desperate and the downtrodden, you may feel that he was almost put on earth to make a dramatic feature about the current economic moment. “I, Daniel Blake” is one of Loach’s finest films, a drama of tender devastation that tells its story with an unblinking neorealist simplicity that goes right back to the plainspoken purity of Vittorio De Sica. The tale of Daniel Blake (Dave Johns), a 59-year-old carpenter from Newcastle, who is fighting to hold on to his welfare benefits, even though his heart condition forbids him from working, is one that’s sure to resonate across national borders, because it’s about something so much larger than bureaucratic cruelty (although it is very much about that). It captures a world — our world — in which the opportunity to thrive, or even just survive, is shrinking by the minute. With the right handling, the movie has a chance to connect with audiences as few Loach films ever have. It’s a work of scalding and moving relevance.

Daniel, whose grizzled pate and washed-out pallor make him look much older than he is, has a way of barking at folks he doesn’t like, but really, he’s the soul of crusty friendliness. A widower with no children, he has recently suffered a heart attack and receives an Employment and Support Allowance from the British state. But then, for no good reason, his benefits are denied; the state wants him to go back to work — even though his physician is on record as saying he can’t. The movie takes us through the agony of the appeals process, which is a much bigger nightmare than it sounds like, because all Daniel is trying to win is the right to an appeal. He’s forced to jump through hoop after hoop, to hurry up and wait, and some of the demands are so unreasonable (he mustn’t just spend 35 hours a week applying for jobs he couldn’t take anyway; he must prove that he did) that the inescapable conclusion is that the system, as rejiggered by conservative government forces, has been engineered to toss people off the welfare rolls. It’s designed, in no small part, not to work.

The battle to keep those benefits, without which he’ll literally be out on the street, may be even more Sisyphean in Daniel’s case, because as an old-school carpenter with almost no formal education, he’s a lost relic in the digital age. “I’ve never been near a computer,” he says, and while such confessions bring nothing but scolding contempt from the clerks in the welfare office, the audience looks at Daniel and, indeed, sees a man — you may have at least one relative like him — who lacks the consciousness to evolve with technology. Daniel is forced to take a class in how to draw up a CV, but even then, he writes it out in longhand – which inspires the film’s most cutting welfare official, who’s like a Kafkaesque version of Jane Lynch, to look at that piece of paper as if it were a scroll of shame. The main thing Daniel learns in the class is that there are dozens of people applying for every low-wage job. In other words: Why even bother?

In the welfare office, Daniel spots a woman in a similar predicament, and being the Samaritan he is, he tries to help Katie (Hayley Squires) and her two kids get set up in their new flat. They’ve been squeezed out of the newly gentrified London, with no money and no prospects, and the four begin to hang out, because they have nothing much else to do. Yet in their way, they form a ragtag surrogate family. Squires has a dark-eyed beauty, yet her performance is so emotionally addled with dissolute worry that when we look at her, all we see is her stressed-out sadness. She’s a woman who has stopped being; she is merely existing. She literally cuts down on what she eats to have the money to feed her kids, and when she’s shopping at the government food bank and compulsively tears the top off a can of beans, dripping the syrup into her mouth, it’s a tearful epiphany — a fusion of hunger and degradation. It’s literally what she’s been driven to.

If “I, Daniel Blake” had been made 20 or 30 years ago, the personalities of those in the welfare office might have been more colorfully villainized. But the film’s despair arises out of its perception that it’s the whole impersonal system that’s to blame. The layers of bureaucracy, which have only been added to with the Internet, are designed to wear people down. Johns, in a powerful performance, gives Daniel a plucky decency but a lonely anger underneath that simmers until it needs to explode. Daniel works to give the system every benefit of the doubt, until it insults his very being, at which point he has an impromptu “Attica!” moment. But it’s only a moment. The quiet beauty of “I, Daniel Blake” — the reason it’s the rare political drama that touches the soul —  is that we believe, completely, in these people standing in front of us, as Ken Loach and the actors have imagined them. And when the movie ends, we feel like we won’t forget them.

Maren Ade

Cannes 2016: "Slack Bay," "The Student," "Toni Erdmann"  Barbara Scharres from The Ebert blog, May 13, 2016

I was not looking forward to “Toni Erdmann” by German director Maren Ade, scheduled for this evening’s press screening, even though it is the first of only three by women selected for the competition. For a start, it’s almost three hours long. The press kit verbiage made it sound like a self-indulgent dud based on some aspect of the director’s relationship with her father. I figured that I could check it out and leave after an hour. I was delighted to be proven so wrong. There’s no justice if this film doesn’t win a major prize, and count me as one who’s keeping my fingers crossed for the Palme d’Or. It’s that good.

“Toni Erdmann” is a hilarious, knee-slapping, crowd-pleasing comedy about the rocky relationship of an oddbll practical joker dad with his adult corporate businesswoman daughter. Over the years I’ve been coming to Cannes, I’ve never experienced an audience reaction quite like the one this film elicited. The entire Palais convulsed in laughter over and over, and the surprises just kept coming. I swear, this never, ever happens.

Winfried Conradi (Peter Simonischek) is a big bear of a man with a mop of white hair. He’s a semi-retired teacher who seems to live a 24-hour, one-man show of pranks, silly costumes, whoopee cushions and jokes. The film opens with an ice-breaker of a stunt he pulls on a deliveryman, pretending to be the brother of the package recipient, and then returning to the door as himself, but bare-chested, with handcuffs dangling from his wrist, wearing goofy trick-shop shades, and false teeth.

Daughter Ines (Sandra Hüller) is a corporate consultant: model thin, uptight, serious, perpetually on the phone, and long since weary of dad’s devil-may-care approach to life. She’s currently posted in Romania, where she’s the hardnosed key negotiator in a project that would involve outsourcing hundreds of jobs for an oil company. She’s hardworking, successful, and desperately unhappy. Dad pays her a surprise visit and it doesn’t go well. They part on lukewarm terms after only a couple days, and he presumably heads for the airport.

Dad reappears a few days later in a new guise, with a shoulder-length dark wig, false teeth, rumpled suit, and a business card that introduces him as Toni Erdmann, life coach and consultant. He looks like a brunette Gary Busey, and turns up everywhere in Ines’ business life, charming her associates, spinning stories and impressing them with the claim that he’s the executive coach to her CEO. Sometimes he introduces himself as the German ambassador. Ines can’t shake this guy, and can’t reveal who he is.

In one incident, as “ambassador” he cons his way into a family party, introducing Ines as his secretary Miss Schnuk. Spotting an electric piano, he suggests they perform a song to thank their hosts, and tricks Ines into singing Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All.” Starting out hesitant but goaded by her irritation, she begins to belt it out, finally escalating to such an over-the-top virtuoso performance that not only were the fictional party guests in the film applauding, but tonight’s audience in the Palais were spontaneously applauding right along with them.

The father-daughter relationship subtly begins to change, and Ines is slowly led to rethink her life and some of her friendships. It’s tempting to reveal the film's funniest bits, but the element of the unexpected is one of its most satisfying aspects. I will hint that Ines eventually throws a one-of-a-kind, corporate team-building party in her Bucharest apartment, and a furry suit and a very special dress code are involved.

*          *          *          *

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

The Cannes Criterion Forum is up and running:

Screendaily Jury Grid (Page 88 from Digital edition from Day 4)

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

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

3-1 Ade / Toni Erdmann
5-1 Farhadi / The Salesman
6-1 Loach / I, Daniel Blake
10-1 Almodóvar / Julieta
11-1 Arnold / American Honey
– – – – –
20-1 Mendonça Filho / Aquarius
22-1 Verhoeven / Elle
22-1 Puiu / Sieranevada
22-1 Jarmusch / Paterson
22-1 Dardenne & Dardenne / The Unknown Girl
22-1 Mungiu / Graduation
25-1 Mendoza / Ma’Rosa
28-1 Dolan / It’s Only the End of the World
33-1 Dumont / Slack Bay
33-1 Nichols / Loving
33-1 Penn / The Last Face
33-1 Assayas / Personal Shopper
40-1 Guiraudie / Staying Vertical
40-1 Park / The Handmaiden
– – – – –
66-1 Garcia / From the Land of the Moon (aka Mal de pierres)
100-1 Refn / The Neon Demon

5-1 Almodóvar / Julieta (Emma Suárez, Adriana Ugarte, Rossy de Palma) BD
11-2 Farhadi / The Salesman (Shaheib Hosseini, Taraneh Alidootsi)*?
6-1 Puiu / Sierra-Nevada (Mimi Branescu, Bogdan Dumitrache) ucr
12-1 Verhoeven / Elle (Isabelle Huppert, Laurent Lafitte)
14-1 Arnold / American Honey (Sasha Lane, Arielle Holmes, Shia Labeouf)
14-1 Bellocchio / Sweet Dreams (Bérénice Bejo, Valerio Mastandrea)
16-1 Larraín / Neruda (Luis Gnecco, Gael Garcia Bernal)
20-1 Quillévéré / Heart aka Réparer les Vivants (Anne Dorval, Tahar Rahim, Emmanuelle Seigner)
20-1 Kaplanoğlu / Grain (Jean-Marc Barr, Ermin Bravo, Lubna Azabal)
20-1 Boo / Apprentice   *?
22-1 Dumont / Slack Bay (Juliette Binoche, Fabrice Luchini)^? GPx2
25-1 Escalante / Untamed.  *?  BD
25-1 Kore-eda / After the Storm (Hiroshi Abe, Kirin Kiki)^? JP
25-1 Park / The Handmaid aka The Handmaiden (Kim Min-hee, Ha Jung-woo) GP
28-1 Penn / The Last Face (Charlize Theron, Javier Bardem) BA
28-1 Dardenne & Dardenne / The Unknown Girl (Adèle Haenel, Jérémie Renier) PDx2
28-1 Bonello / Paris Is Happening aka Nocturama (Finnegan Oldfield, Manal Issa)
28-1 Dolan / It’s Only the End of the World (G.Ulliel, N.Baye, M.Cotillard, L.Seydoux) JP
28-1 Jarmusch / Paterson (Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani)^? GP
28-1 Guiraudie / Staying Vertical (India Hair, Raphael Thiery, Damien Bonnard)
28-1 Loach / I, Daniel Blake (Dave Johns, Hayley Squires) PD
28-1 Mungiu / Family Photos (Adrian Titieni, Lia Bugnar) PD
35-1 des Pallières / Orphan (Adèle Exarchopoulos, Adèle Haenel)^?
35-1 Kurosawa / The Woman in the Silver Plate
….. (T.Rahim, O.Gourmet, M. Amalric) [Fr: 25 May]
40-1 Serra / The Death of Louis XIV (Jean-Pierre Léaud)^?
40-1 Tran / Eternity (A.Tautou, B.Bejo, M.Laurent) CD
40-1 Zlotowski / Planetarium (Natalie Portman, Lily-Rose Melody Depp)
Ando’ / The Confessions (Toni Servillo)
Assayas / Personal Shopper (Kristen Stewart, Lars Eidinger)
Beatty / untitled Howard Hughes project (Warren Beatty, Lily Collins)*
Brizé / A Life (Judith Chemla)
Cedar / Oppenheimer Strategies (Richard Gere, Lior Ashkenazi)
Chazelle / La la Land (Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, J.K. Simmons)*?
Dvortsevoy / Ayka aka My Little One.    ucr
Franco / Zeroville (James Franco, Seth Rogen)
Garcia / From the Land of the Moon aka Mal de Pierres (Marion Cotillard, Louis Garrel)
Gray / Th

PD = Palme. GP = Grand Prix. BD = Best Director. JP = Jury Prize. BA = Best Actor. CD = Camera d’Or. ucr = Prix Un Certain Regard bold = most likely to be competing

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:, also:

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:

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:

Sukhdev Sandhu and Robbie Collins from The Daily Telegraph:

Eric Lavallee and Nicholas Bell from Ioncinema:

Drew McSweeny and Guy Lodge & others from HitFix: 

Glenn Heath Jr. from The L-magazine:

Various writers at Twitch: 

Cannes Diary from Film Comment:

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

Today’s menu of films included substantial fare from three pre-eminent filmmakers with films in Competition that left Ralph and I plenty of fodder to digest and discuss.  Ken Loach’s “I, Daniel Blake” is a powerful indictment of England’s social service system.  Blake, a cantankerous but warm-hearted older working man, has a heart ailment that has him out of work.  His personal doctor disagrees with the government’s doctors on whether he should go back to work or not.  His attempts at arbitration cause him no end of frustration between his lack of computer skills and dealing with the bureaucracy.  He erupts with fury multiple times at the social service office.  

On one occasion he defends a young single mother with two young children resulting in all of them being evicted from the offices.  They strike up a friendship and he becomes their guardian angel fixing up their flat, helping them get food and drawing the young boy from his shell.  When the young woman is caught shoplifting and is drawn into work that upsets Blake their friendship ends and Blake spirals downward.  He has to sell his furniture and commits an act of protest that gets him arrested.  

The film maintains a fine balance of the struggling and downtrodden looking after one another and offering hope  and the desperation they find themselves in.  Loach says this is his last film, the thirteenth time he has been in Competition.  Some of the plot twists may be a bit facile and not fully earned diminishing the full power the film could have had, but it is an excellent effort to go out on.

The three-hour long Romanian “Sieranevada” by Cristi Puiu, whose first film “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu” was the art film of the year in 2005, making more Top Ten lists than any other, is much meatier fare.  It is a small gathering of friends and family in a modest apartment to commemorate the death of the patriarch of the family.  We don’t learn much about him, but rather of the lives and torments of those gathered.  The conversation ranges from 9/11 conspiracy theories to how life had been under communism. Some of it is well-reasoned but it can veer into explosiveness, especially an argument over a parking spot.   Secrets and old grievances are bared.  Each character is convincingly played and has more than a superficial veneer.  As Ralph predicted, this is an early favorite for best screen play. He is eager to see it again to fully appreciate its depth and many nuances.  Me too.

Not so with Bruno Dumont’s outlandishly absurd comedy “Ma Loute.”  The setting along the rocky seashore of northeastern France is most beguiling but the story of cannibalism and levitation and a grotesquely obese detective continually falling appealed to a sense of humor I do not share.  Dumont’s cinematic skills make it watchable, but the senseless shenanigans of the impoverished locals and effete airs of the wealthy on the bluffs, who have to be carried across the lagoons by those who want to make a meal of them, hardly even leant itself as an allegory.

The rest of my day was comprised of a strange mix of documentaries.  I didn’t realize that “Cheer Up,” a Finnish film about high school cheerleaders was going to be a documentary.  I had hopes of this being the wackiest film of the festival, but it was a dud, with not enough of the acrobatic, highly cinematic cheerleading routines and too much examination of the mundane lives of the cheerleaders.

I had hopes that “Peter and the Farm” about an idealistic counter-culture refuge of the ‘60s who had lived the last thirty-five years of his life maintaining a farm in Vermont could be an inspirational affirmation of my ideals.  Half way through the documentary we learn that he is an alcoholic who the filmmakers fear will kill himself and ruin their film. We do get a sense of life on the farm looking after sheep and bailing hay, but this was another example of a seemingly interesting person who on the surface seems worthy of a documentary, but needed more accomplished filmmakers to make him so. 

Sunny Leone, as the most googled person in India, is certainly worthy of a documentary.  In “Mostly Sunny Partly Cloudy,” she is a young woman of Indian heritage who grew up in Sarnia, Canada, moved to LA with her parents in her teens and by happenstance ended up in Penthouse magazine and went on to be the Penthouse Pet of the year in 2003, which led to a career in pornography.  She married one of her fellow porn stars, who became her manager.  She was drawn to India to appear on a reality show and has become a megastar there, forsaking her porn career to become a Bollywood star.  She conveys an innocence and sincerity that has won her widespread popularity.  Her videos were found in Osama Bin Laden’s lair. The film includes an appearance on Howard Stern’s show where she describes her porn antics.

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