Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Cannes 2016 Day 7





Ana de Armas




Robert De Niro and his wife Grace Hightower






Chanel Iman




Sonam Kapoor






Toni Garrn




Adam Driver and Golshifteh Farahani with Paterson director Jim Jarmusch




Kristina Bazan























A collection of pieces from The Hollywood Reporter:   
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/package/cannes-style

Red carpet photos from PopSugar: 
http://www.popsugar.com/Cannes-Film-Festival
















A French site that lists daily galleries of red carpet photos:  
http://festival-de-cannes.cineday.orange.fr/diaporamas/

Celebrities arrive for the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, from The NY Daily News: 
http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/stars-flock-france-2016-cannes-film-festival-gallery-1.2631521






Daily list of best dressed at Cannes from Blouin Art Info:  
http://www.blouinartinfo.com/galleryguide/894412/894411/event/1305845            




People magazine hits the Cannes red carpet:  
http://www.people.com/people/gallery/0,,21005726_30489946,00.html
 

a few voices chime in on what we’ve seen so  far…





Bilge Ebiri


 






Reasons to Rejoice, From Cannes: 'Paterson,' 'The ... - Village Voice  Bilge Ebiri from The Village Voice, May 16, 2016

Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, which premiered last night at the Cannes Film Festival and follows the life of a poet in Paterson, New Jersey, is the closest the director has come to an artistic manifesto. Jarmusch first arrived in New York back in the 1970s with dreams of becoming a poet, and although he quickly gave it up for music and filmmaking, poetry has remained a touchstone for the filmmmaker. (Christopher Marlowe even appeared as a character in his last film, Only Lovers Left Alive.) It was clear to most of the audience here that this was a major work — the purest distillation yet of Jarmusch’s aesthetic.

The title refers to the town as well as the character: Adam Driver plays a man named Paterson, who lives in Paterson. (It also refers to William Carlos Williams’s masterpiece Paterson, an epic poem about the splendor found in the everyday.) Paterson goes through his daily routine: waking up, talking to his wife, driving a bus, walking his dog. The language of real life drifts in and out of his world: men talking about women, kids talking about revolution and coffee, a rapper practicing his rhymes, a co-worker complaining about his family. He carves his poems, slowly, patiently out of all that basic, mundane material. "We keep plenty of matches in our house," he writes. "Recently our favorite brand is Ohio Blue Tip, though we used to prefer Diamond Brand." That may not sound like much, but Paterson keeps coaxing the words until finally he lands on the image of one of those matches "lighting, perhaps, the cigarette of the woman you love for the first time."

This poetry sounds...not unlike a film by Jim Jarmusch, steadily building meaning and beauty out of simplicity and routine. Jarmusch’s films usually have tangible narrative arcs — even if they’re loose and subdued — but Paterson is resolutely un-dramatic, following a week in his life with minimal changes from day-to-day. And yet, with each step, the film gains depth. Small variations in routine start to feel momentous, and the briefest encounter can seem like some momentous sign.

If Paterson is a quiet rallying cry for minimalism, then Park Chan-wook’s deliriously twisty Gothic thriller The Handmaiden, which might be the best film so far at the festival, is a clarion call for what I guess we’ll have to term maximalism — the idea that sometimes more really is more. Based on Welsh novelist Sarah Waters’s Fingersmith, the film transposes its source's Victorian tale of sex, duplicity, and madness to 1930s Japanese-occupied Korea. Grifter and pickpocket Sookee (Kim Tae-ri) infiltrates the household of the young and very wealthy Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee) by posing as a maid. Sookee’s mission: to help convince Lady Hideko to leave her depraved soon-to-be-husband for a dashing Japanese Count (Ha Jung-woo), who is himself Sookee’s partner-in-crime. As the conspiracy tightens, however, the two women start to fall for each other, and a lesbian counter-narrative starts to emerge.

The film is a series of sleights of hand about sleights of hand: Park brings the full arsenal of cinematic expression — interlocking sets, crane shots, dollies, and dizzying pans, not to mention a savvy interplay of eerie reserve and hyperventilating emotionality with his performances — to invest us in each moment, even though much of the time we know the characters are being conned, that it’s all an illusion. Sometimes, his style is playful in the strangest, most disarming ways: One rather explicit lesbian sex scene is scored to what I’m pretty sure is Hans Zimmer’s music for Terrence Malick’s WWII movie The Thin Red Line! It seems like a bizarre choice, until the scene’s tone transforms from one of mere seduction and pleasure to confrontation, and then to the sisterhood of combat.

Park can make a mere door opening an act of emotional transcendence. But he undercuts his stylistic flourishes, too: One scene, of two figures stealing quietly away into the night, is played first through an elaborate, precise crane shot – a Sergio Leone-style liberation. Later in the film, the same moment is replayed in breathless close-up, revealing that we didn't see the full picture the first time around. All this may be indulgent, but it's not empty: The story is all about the construction of identity and personal narrative, and the way human relationships can be pre-negotiated, often by third parties. So, he lets us enjoy the exquisite pattern of his rugs — just before he pulls them out from under us.

There are usually a couple of films at Cannes that split critics right down the middle — with different sides proclaiming them disaster or masterpiece. So far, the most divisive film in competition appears to be Andrea Arnold’s occasionally enthralling but currently quite rough American Honey. It belongs to a subgenre I like to call "smuggler’s musicals": films that aren’t technically musicals, but that include so much singing and dancing that they secretly manage to be. (Other such movies: Emir Kusturica’s Underground, and at least one Leos Carax film.) The tale of Star (played by electrifying newcomer Sasha Lane), a poor teenager who joins in with a rough, diverse crew of kids traveling the country selling, um, magazine subscriptions, Arnold’s film is a semi-improvisatory road movie, filled with what appears to be documentary footage and nonprofessional bit parts.

Music and dancing are woven into the very fabric of these lives: Star first sees Jake (Shia LaBeouf), the Artful Dodger of this crew, as he gets up on a supermarket checkout counter to dance along to Rihanna on the store radio; when Star goes to tell the mother of her boyfriend’s kids that she’s leaving, the woman is in a country and western bar, line dancing — a nice metaphor for being stuck in a pattern. On the road, the kids sing along to their van’s stereo, pull out a guitar, dance with potential customers. The expressive abandon of music speaks to both connection and danger: At one point, the crew’s ringleader, Krystal (a sleazily good Riley Keough), drops off Star and a couple of the other scantily-clad girls among a group of oil workers and encourages them to gyrate to techno while the men stare in disbelief. "Are you girls prostitutes?" one man asks. "No, we’re selling magazines," is the response, but in this film’s vision of America, it doesn’t really matter. To survive, you have to sell — whether it’s your body, your soul, or some boating mags.

American Honey is the kind of film some will say is all about How We Live Today™. And I’m pretty sure that’s the intention, too; it has a Grand Statement feel to it. But the voraciousness of Arnold’s camera can also be its undoing: She finds perversity in this world, and loads of symbolism, but the film is both overstuffed and incomplete. A "romantic" triangle (there’s nothing actually romantic about it) between Jake, Star, and Krystal, while narratively and thematically necessary, is unconvincing. The movie feels like it could go on forever, and doesn’t quite have an ending. That’s probably intentional — the grind never ends— but it also means that this often exhilarating film regularly flirts with tedium. Don’t be surprised if, by the time it arrives on U.S. shores, American Honey clocks in well under its current 162-minute running time.

Meanwhile, Maren Ade's Toni Erdmann is probably the festival's biggest breakout so far. (With 3.8 stars, it actually set some sort of record in the Screen International Jury Grid, which tallies the highest-rated films in competition. This is the sort of thing to which Cannes-watchers pay very close attention.) That's reason to rejoice, as Ade, a German director whose previous two efforts played at Berlin and had very short theatrical lives in the US, is one of the great hopes of today's world cinema. Toni Erdmann may not be a masterpiece, but it is still quite good. The story of a practical joker of a dad who goes, uninvited, to stay with his corporate hotshot daughter while she does business in Bucharest, the film ambles along at the speed of life. The title refers to one of several loosely defined identities Dad assumes — sometimes a diplomat, sometimes a life coach, always an embarrassment to his child.

The aspirational nature of identity — what we are, what we think we are, what we wish we were, and how others see us — has been Ade's great theme across her three features to date. As a writer and director, she is a supernaturally gifted behavioralist, unafraid to let her scenes ramble on, and on, secure in the knowledge that we will find these characters and situations as fascinating as she does. And she’s right. For example, she absolutely nails the forced seriousness of the corporate world — the jargony rambling about steering committees and contractor rates and team-building, the lightly submerged sexual politics, the politely pissy disagreements. And although the overt trajectory of the father-daughter dynamic is one we've seen countless times before (a critic friend correctly pointed out that the film feels at times like a more subdued, European remake of the Adam Sandler vehicle That's My Boy!), Ade never goes for pat conclusions or emotional red herrings. She'll consciously set up plot threads but not follow up on them. When some directors do that, it feels like laziness or avoidance; when Ade does it, it's always in the pursuit of a greater truth about the unresolvable messiness of our lives as we live them.





Mike D’Angelo, listed at number #22 from "The 25 Best Movie Critics of All Time"


Monday marks Cannes’ midpoint—at this writing, 10 of the 21 films in Competition have screened. That means it’s time for my traditional halftime stocktaking, in which I share the results of two major critics’ polls published by the trades and reveal just how little my own opinions of these movies reflect the consensus. It’s both typical and amusing that my favorite film thus far sits atop both polls, while my second favorite occupies their bottom rungs. Apparently, I’m right on except when I’m dead wrong.

First, the poll from Screen International, which gathers votes from a dozen critics representing almost as many countries. (Names you might recognize include Manohla Dargis of The New York Times and Justin Chang, who recently moved from Variety to the Los Angeles Times.) Ratings are on a four-star scale, with no half stars. Here are the current averages; only eight of the 10 films we’ve seen were in this morning’s edition.

3.8 Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
3.0 Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu)
2.4 American Honey (Andrea Arnold)
2.4 I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach)
2.3 Slack Bay (Bruno Dumont)
2.2 The Handmaiden (Park Chan-wook)
2.1 From The Land Of The Moon (Nicole Garcia)
2.1 Staying Vertical (Alain Guiraudie)

Toni Erdmann’s near-perfect score is reportedly the highest in the poll’s history; it’s definitely the highest average I’ve seen in the 14 years that I’ve attended the festival. That doesn’t mean Ade’s film is a lock for the Palme D’Or, though, by any means—Cannes juries are notorious for going their own way (as last year’s did by giving its top prize to Jacques Audiard’s less than rapturously received Dheepan). Staying Vertical, by contrast, turns out to be much more divisive than I’d realized, though such an aggressively strange film was probably destined to have as many detractors as champions. Interestingly, the three longest films (at 162 minutes, 173 minutes, and 162 minutes, respectively) hold the top three spots (along with the Loach, in a tie for third), suggesting that we critics tend to be impressed by the epic.

The other poll is entirely French, and appears in Le Film Français. The magazine also uses a four-star system of sorts, but it’s calibrated quite differently (for example, two stars is described as a film the critic likes “beaucoup,” i.e., rather a lot), so directly comparing the averages to Screen’s poll is pointless. The relative placement is interesting, though. Here’s its current rundown:

3.00 Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
2.67 Slack Bay (Bruno Dumont)
2.47 I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach)
2.23 From The Land Of The Moon (Nicole Garcia)
1.93 Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu)
1.93 Staying Vertical (Alain Guiraudie)
1.73 The Handmaiden (Park Chan-wook)
1.21 American Honey (Andrea Arnold)

Again, Toni Erdmann is way out in front, but otherwise the order is almost entirely different. The French hate Arnold’s film, for some reason—maybe because it’s a sprawling portrait of the American heartland (though I feel like they’ve historically dug those when they come from outsiders like Wim Wenders; Arnold, as a Brit, should qualify)—and they feel much more warmly toward a couple of the French films, Slack Bay and (seriously?) From The Land Of The Moon. Even the French aren’t getting behind Staying Vertical, though. Looks like I’m mostly on my own there.

Which is fine. I enjoy the rare opportunity to stand up for a film most others have dismissed; the inverse dynamic, which tends to embarrass me, is much more common. Judging from initial Twitter reactions, for example, it looks like I’m gonna be one of the few critics for whom Loving (Grade: C+) inspires little or no lovin’. Written and directed by Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter, Mud, Midnight Special), for whom it represents a remarkably middlebrow, Oscar-friendly change of pace, the film recounts the history behind Loving v. Virginia, the landmark 1967 Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage nationwide. That history unfolds over roughly a decade, and Nichols doesn’t streamline events for dramatic effect; his pace is measured, unhurried, at times borderline sluggish. We see Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton, looking very period in a blond crew cut) and Mildred Jeter (Ruth Negga) travel from Virginia to Washington, D.C., to marry and then get arrested for cohabiting back home (where their marriage license is invalid). We endure their frustration as they move to D.C.—even though Mildred hates urban life and being separated from her family—in order to avoid prison time. We watch their house gradually fill with kids as years pass. Eventually, the burgeoning civil rights movement inspires Mildred to write Robert Kennedy about their situation, at which point Nick Kroll shows up as a relatively inexperienced ACLU attorney, and the court case finally gets under way.

Thing is, though, Nichols isn’t remotely interested in legal strategy. Rather than go the Lincoln route, he fashions a two-hour testimonial to Richard and Mildred’s fundamental goodness and decency, as if viewers need to be persuaded that anti-miscegenation laws were unjust. Maybe some do—there’s little doubt that Loving is meant to invite reflection on Obergefell v. Hodges (which various counties in Alabama, Kentucky, and Texas are still actively defying, in some cases by simply refusing to issue any marriage licenses at all) as well as the current uproar regarding transgender bathroom rights. But the film is so relentlessly on the side of the angels that the only possible response is to sadly shake one’s head at the small-minded bigotry on display. Nichols’ arthouse instincts sidestep the generic uplift that somebody like Ron Howard might have brought to this material, and he gets fine performances from his two leads (though Negga leans too hard on a beatific smile); during quiet domestic scenes, it’s possible to imagine an entirely fictional movie involving these characters, in which they’re not required to be symbols of hope for a benighted time. Mostly, though, Loving just asks, over and over, “Isn’t it wrong that two people who love each other this much are being persecuted for no reason?” Indeed it is, but I knew that before the movie started and had been hoping, quixotically, for something more.

Much more my speed was Paterson (Grade: A-), which may be the most existential movie Jim Jarmusch has ever made—and that’s saying a lot. Its title refers both to the main character, whose name is Paterson (Adam Driver), and to the city in New Jersey where he drives a bus, eavesdropping on passengers and dreaming up poetry. Not that Paterson would ever call himself a poet, even though he spends his downtime jotting free verse (the work of an actual poet, Ron Padgett) into a notebook. That would be too presumptuous for this modest working-class guy, for whom every day is a comfortable routine. Jarmusch shows us an entire week of Paterson’s life, beginning with him waking up beside live-in girlfriend Laura (Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani), eating a bowl of Cheerios, and heading off to work. In the evening, he walks Laura’s English bulldog and stops by the corner bar, hanging out with the regulars there. Nothing exciting happens, and by Wednesday (the film starts on Monday), it’s pretty clear that nothing exciting is going to happen. Rather, Jarmusch has something altogether more delicate in mind. He wants to explore the aspects of daily life that make up an artist’s sustenance—even a closet artist like Paterson.

Driver was an interesting choice for this role. His trademark is his volatility, but Paterson doesn’t have a confrontational bone in his body; here, Driver taps into the aimless vibe embodied by John Lurie in Stranger Than Paradise, minus the coolness. He’s primarily watchful, and so is the movie. Early on, Laura urges Paterson (for the umpteenth time, clearly) to photocopy his poetry notebook, just in case, as he has no other copies of his work. He promises to do so over the weekend, and what happens on Saturday provides the film with its one significant narrative beat and emotional crisis. That development is beautifully resolved, too, via an ending that affirms the value of creativity for its own sake. The heart of the film lies precisely in its ordinariness, which Jarmusch somehow makes transcendent through repetition, point of view, and poetry. Everything Paterson encounters is fuel for his art, and that’s made clear even though there’s little direct correspondence between what he observes and what he writes. That may sound pretentious, but Paterson himself is deathly allergic to pretension, and the film inhabits his sensibility. It’s A Portrait Of The Artist As A Working-Class Stiff, arguing for the mundane beauty of all our lives.
 















Paterson review: Adam Driver's poetic bus driver proves safe pair of ...  Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian, May 16, 2016  

Jim Jarmusch’s new movie is a quiet delight: the story of a gentle, artistic man and his wife which celebrates small-town life and dreams without patronizing

Jim Jarmusch’s new film in competition here in Cannes is a delight: a prose-poem of gentle comic humility and acceptance of life. It is about that rarest of things in art as in life — a completely happy marriage. As so often in the past, Jarmusch shows that, like Richard Linklater or John Sayles, he is a film-maker who is intensely American, without being Hollywood. The two are different.

Adam Driver plays a bus driver and unpublished poet called Paterson, who works in Paterson, New Jersey, musingly listening to snatches of his passengers’ conversation on his bus and writing verse on his lunch-break. The coincidence of the names has given him a sense of quiet civic pride in his hometown, a sense of identification and ownership, and also a lively sense of cosmic connection and karmic coincidence. Paterson was apparently once in the military, a former existence which is never explicitly discussed, but which has evidently prepared him for a certain act of heroism at a late stage in the movie. As ever with Jarmusch, his towns are not crowded with people exactly: they often seem almost eerily deserted, but individuals can pop out at any time and chat to the protagonist: it is rather like his Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999) in that way.

Paterson wife’s Laura is played with enormous, unaffected charm by the Iranian star Golshifteh Farahani — who has appeared in films like Asghar Farhadi’s About Elly and Atiq Rahimi’s The Patience Stone. The couple has an English bulldog, Marvin, who wheezes in the corner. There is no backstory about how Paterson and Laura got together. Their relationship just appears on screen fully formed. Laura is a stay-at-home wife but she has many artistic interests, and she is cheerfully and confidently aware of her career options. She paints, designs, decorates the house, bakes cupcakes which she sells at the farmer’s market and is learning the guitar with a view to being a country singing star. And importantly, there is nothing foolish or ironic about any of this: her cakes are delicious; her designs are great, and after just a day’s home tutorial, her guitar strumming sounds very good.

Paterson himself is very different. Unlike Laura, he has no conception of making a career out of his poetry, or even showing it to anyone other than her: he doesn’t participate in poetry-slam readings or send his stuff off to magazines, or blog or promote his work on social media. Laura says he should give his poems to the world, but envisages only Xeroxing them to hand out copies.

The traditional problem with fictional poets or painters or composers in films is that if the point is that they are genuinely good, the audience may be unconvinced by their supposed masterpieces if any are riskily shown on screen, especially as this audience has already, in some sense, been asked to put its trust upfront in the genuine creative talent of the film itself. Irony is therefore the safest, and almost irresistible default option here. But we are not tested by Paterson’s writing in this way.

His poems themselves appear up on screen as squiggly handwriting as Paterson thoughtfully writes them in his notebook: homey, folksy, local newspaper verses, perhaps inspired by Paterson’s famous poet William Carlos Williams and the short poem which is rightly or wrongly his most well-known: This Is Just To Say, about eating the plums, which Paterson actually reads aloud to his wife. Jarmusch handles the tonal difficulty with Paterson’s work with matter-of-fact calm and ease. At first, it might seem as if the joke is that the poems are awful, and that Paterson’s commitment is a tragicomic delusion. That is not the point at all; the film doesn’t patronise or make fun of his efforts, but neither is it reverent.

For Paterson, his poems are just a part of his life, like doing his work, loving his city and loving his life: they do not stand apart from life, transforming it or presenting themselves as brilliant artefacts which will make him rich and famous. The poems are just part of his life’s fabric, part of the quietly but richly inhabited existence which includes a nightly walk with Marvin to the local bar, where he chats with the owner Doc (Barry Shabaka Henley) and takes an interest in a couple of young people Marie (Chasten Harmon) and Everett (William Jackson Harper) who are going through a painful breakup.

This is not to say he does not take his poetry seriously: he is a committed reader, with a den in his cellar packed with books, including work by Frank O’Hara and David Foster Wallace. He believes in his poetry’s worth, and there is pathos when he realises that his job-description and life-description is bus driver — with poet coming in second. When something terrible happens to Paterson’s life work, it is devastating.

Paterson and Laura do not have children, and Jarmusch allows us to register this issue indirectly, with a very funny and subtle recurring gag, one of those universe-patterning flourishes that Paterson is always noticing. Laura says one morning that she has had a dream that they had twins, and from that moment on, Paterson is always noticing twins all over town. The question of children is left open, part of the couple’s untroubled faith in the future. What a lovely film Paterson is.


*          *          *          *

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

The Cannes Criterion Forum is up and running:  

Screendaily Jury Grid (Page 24 from Digital edition from Day 8), where Toni Erdmann, one of the few films that appeals to both French and American critics, has been bought by Sony pictures, setting records for high scores, Cannes: 'Toni Erdmann' sets Screen Jury Grid record:

Ioncinema Critics Panel:

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:                 


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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: http://georgethecyclist.blogspot.com/

One of the axioms I adhere to as I select my films for the day is, “When in doubt go with a French film,” not only out of respect for French cinema but also for the opportunity to gain some insight into the ways of the French.  Thus a couple days ago the lackluster comedy about building an indoor ski slope in French Guiana earned some merit for the commentary that France is run by interns in the summer months when everyone is on vacation.  I wasn’t so lucky today, though, in learning anything about the French from two French films in the Market other than that the French can make comedies as lamebrained as Hollywood.

In “Pattaya” two guys hoodwink a dwarf to get a free trip to Thailand where they hope to let their hormones go amok.  They have responded to a challenge by a fight promoter in Thailand for a dwarf to fight its champion dwarf.  All expenses will be paid.  The two French doofuses who try to pull this off entice an Islamic dwarf they went to school with but had only ridiculed that they have won a trip to Mecca and would like him to accompany them.  They try to ditch him when they get to the airport, but he manages to get on their flight to Bangkok, which he thinks is a connecting flight to Mecca.  The plane is packed with rowdy guys excited about all the sex they're going to have in Bangkok.  This was idiotic enough for Hollywood to steal the idea and do a remake.

“We Can Be Heroes” at least had a pertinent and serious subject matter though it's wasn't necessarily material for a comedy--a single father trying to raise two young daughters.  He is a shmuck and is making a mess of it.  He has been reported to the social services for repeatedly being late in picking up one of his daughters from school.  When a woman comes to their home to interview them and size up their situation, the daughters reveal how much they like their Saturday outings to the supermarket when there is free food so they can have a picnic and that the smell of vinegar in the apartment is the ointment their father has been applying to their hair to combat lice and how their father lets them sleep in when they don't want to go to school. The daughters are clearly cheerful and happy, but that doesn’t matter to the woman.  She orders the husband to attend parenting classes.  Those too are a vehicle for shtick making a mockery of these issues.

The deadly serious “The Stopover” came to the rescue for French cinema. A plane load of French soldiers is flown to Cyprus at the conclusion of their tour of duty in Afghanistan for three days of readjustment before returning home.  They have all been shaken by their war experience.  As they drive to their luxury hotel two women express their relief at not having to worry about bombs on the road.  They engage in debriefing sessions trying to ease the pain of their time at war.  There is considerable friction between the three women soldiers and their male cohorts.  One of the women puts a knife to the throat of one of the men harassing them. This was an authentic portrayal of a relevant subject.

Not so relevant was my forth French film for the day, the Competition entry from Olivier Assayas, “Personal Shopper” starring Kristen Stewart in a role similar to the personal assistant she served as to Juliette Brioche in last year's Competition film “The Clouds of Sils Maria,” also by Assayas that won her a French Cesar.  She is equally captivating here though in a continual haggard and bedraggled state.  She shops for a wealthy, famous socialite, who we see little of, while trying to cope with the recent death of her twin brother.  They are both psychics.  Her brother vowed to give her a signal that there is an afterlife.  It’s been three months and she’s still waiting.  At last there are some possible hints--water faucets suddenly spurting water, glasses dropped and mysterious texting on her phone.  A stalking element is drawn into the plot compounding the tension.  All the mysticism earned this film laughs of ridicule from my audience and two zero star reviews from “Screen’s” panel.  There have been thirteen Competition films screened so far and there has only been one zero star review, setting this film well apart from all the others, even though enough critics liked it to spare it of lowest score.  The film is hardly worthless, but the deeper it trespasses upon the supernatural, the less credible it becomes.

Jim Jarmusch’s frivolous “Paterson” earned high marks from all of “Screen’s” eleven reviewers, down from twelve after Manohla Dargis bowed out, except for the two from France. As with me, they found this restrained story of a bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey who writes poetry more drab than droll. There is an immediate danger sign that this movie has problems with the brief glimpse of a cute dog sitting on a chair.  He becomes a recurring character--the last refuge of a screenplay desperate for material.  The dialogue was little more than a dashed-off rough draft.   This had none of the zing and quirkiness that mark so many of Jarmusch’s film. The inane conversations of bus passengers and innocuous banter of husband and wife are an embarrassment for the man who gave us "”Coffee and Cigarettes.”

Pedro Almodovar is equally bereft of having much of a story in “Julieta,” my third Competition film for the day.  This movie defies the theory that everyone has an interesting story.  What caused the estrangement of a daughter from a mother could certainly make for a good movie, but Almodovar put little effort into elevating this story told in flashback beyond the ordinary.  One can’t help but to continue to ask, “Why should I care about this?”

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