Friday, May 20, 2016

Cannes 2016 Day 9

Marion Cotillard

Léa Seydoux

Iggy Pop with Jim Jarmusch

Jean-Pierre Léaud

Marie-Josée Croze

Jourdan Dunn

Liya Kebede

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

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:            

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

Critics Week Award

The first award handed out at Cannes this year is from the Critics’ Week jury presided over by Valérie Donizelli, with a jury panel including Nadav Lapid, David Robert Mitchell, Santiago Mitre, and Alice Wincour, awarding their Nespresso Grand Prize to Oliver Laxe’s film Mimosas. 

Shot in Morocco, where Laxe, a French-born Spaniard has lived for the best part of a decade, the film has been four years in the making.  An interview with the director by Michael Pattison may be seen from Filmmaker magazine on October 12, 2015 here:  “It's Good For You To Experience Disasters”: Oliver Laxe on His ...

While a recent review was written after a screening at Cannes.

Cannes 2016. Oliver Laxe's "Mimosas" on Notebook | MUBI  Daniel Kasman review from Mubi Notebook, May 16, 2016

Time seems to have inverted: last year saw the release of British artist Ben Rivers’ The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers, a feature film that appears to be a behind-the-scenes record of the production of Spanish director Oliver Laxe’s second film, Mimosas, in Morocco. But soon The Sky Trembles turns into something else, its patchwork-colored landscapes drawing Laxe off his own film set and on a stripped-down journey through the desert. Kidnapped and covered in tin armor, Laxe goes through an allegorical rite of passage inspired by the writing of Paul Bowles and reminiscent of how, in his feature debut, 2010’s marvelous You Are All Captains, the young director is also replaced from his own film and which seems to get along just fine without him.

This year we finally see Mimosas, the film whose production we spied in The Sky Trembles. Ben Rivers’ unorthodox docu-fiction hybrid is now no longer its own film, but a kind of cinematic prediction that presaged, foresaw and calls forth Mimosas. Laxe’s new film, much-anticipated after the lyrical and tenderly self-aware mixed-form of his debut, is not so different from that film which was made inside it, a film that, in a simple but strange fact, predates it. Mimosas, too, is a desert allegory; and it, too, folds two forms indistinguishably within itself. First, set some indeterminate time in the past, we see a band of travelers in the Moroccan desert trying t0 cross from one place to another, led by a sheikh and taking along with them two scoundrels. En route the sheikh dies, and while most of the caravan dissolves, the two men, previously contemplating robbing the group, have a change of heart and decide to take his body on an arduous path in an attempt to bury the man in its rightful home.

The scoundrels' path quickly meets Mimosas’s second thread, following a third man (Shakib Ben Omar, who replaced Laxe as a director in You Are All Captains), introduced in modern times as an incompetent miscreant trying to secure a gig as a taxi driver and spouting religious dogma. He is given a job not as a cabbie but rather is instructed to help escort the caravan on its journey, and thus, without any magic but that of cinema, his world and that of the desert thieves meet, and the three, along with the sheikh's body, travel on.

Structured in chapters based on Sufi prayer positions (bowing, standing, prostrating), the film's procession through the rugged landscape isn’t presented so much as an ordeal but rather as a low-key phantasmagorical journey. The spiritual or physical challenge for all three men—and an eventual young woman who joins—is in fact remarkably muted. The warmth imbued from the celluloid photography—never looking for the picturesque or pretty, yet always thrumming with an undercurrent of energy and beauty—and the dubbing of many voices and sounds removes turns the men's half-acknowledged pilgrimage into a dream—but an unexpectedly lucid one.

This unusual clarity and the anecdotal, unpretentious nature of the story's bare, quiet movements, admittedly had me struggling for the source of the film's inner purpose, as I found myself a bit stranded in the abstraction of an empty landscape with few signposts. Quite possibly, Mimosas may be subtly playing off of cultural or literary traditions and sources lost on me, not being familiar with the Sufi religion or the tales of the region. It was a struggle that I also had with Ben Rivers’ beautiful film, which made me, as a viewer, feel like a wanderer myself, looking of an oasis or escape to something concrete. It could very well be that watching this alluring but strange new film back-to-back with its British forbearer, The Sky Trembles, is the ideal experience. That film had the foresight to send Mimosas’s director on his own difficult path of ambiguous religiosity, and thus when combined with Oliver Laxe's new film, the duo may give way to an ideal experience of mirrored, refracted and amplified tales of desert pathmaking and the search for spiritual equilibrium.

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11 films that were booed at Cannes  The Telegraph, May 18, 2016

The Cannes Film Festival audience is a famously vocal one, unafraid to express its admiration – or contempt – of the new titles screening at the event.  To make matters even more fun, attendees are usually completely unperturbed by the fact that the stars and directors of the films they're vociferously denouncing are often only a few feet away. But do the booers always get it right? Quite a few of the movies they've turned their noses up at have gone on to win international acclaim, not to mention the Palme d''s our pick.

Gertrud (1964)

Carl Theodore Dreyer was no stranger to controversy, famously objecting to the cuts religious censors made to his silent 1928 masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc (the uncut version was believed to have been lost forever until a copy was miraculously discovered in 1981). But it was his final film Gertrud, an introspective study of an opera singer who ends up alone because of her passionate, perfectionist attitude to love, that earned him the dreaded chorus of French boos. Later, critics would deem the film one of the best of the year – but it sounds as if the attention-short Cannes audience just couldn’t handle the movie's slow pace and all the long takes (one is almost 10 minutes long).

Taxi Driver (1976)

Yes, lots of films get booed at Cannes… but did audiences really mutiny against Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver? To modern fans of the film – now seen as a classic – the idea seems unthinkable. But at its first screening the movie’s paranoid, nihilistic tone and Robert De Niro’s complex antihero proved a bit of a turn-off for some viewers: they were too different; too jarringly ahead of their time. Despite this, the film went on to win the festival’s prestigious top prize, the Palme d’Or, as well as four Oscar nominations (including Best Picture).

Under the Sun of Satan (1987)

It’s not just Hollywood big cheeses in need of a dressing down who suffer the jeers of the Cannes crowds – the French festival-goers are every bit as likely to turn on one of their own. Even the great Gerard Depardieu isn’t immune. Maurice Pialat’s dark religious drama Under the Sun of Satan, which stars Depardieu as a priest tempted by the devil, was booed at its first Cannes screening, and when it later claimed the Palme D’Or, by audience members frustrated with Pialat’s unconventional, fiercely individualistic approach to filmmaking. “I won’t be untrue to my reputation,” a defiant Pialat retorted. “I am, above all, happy this evening for all the shouts and whistles you’ve directed at me; and, if you don’t like me, I can tell you that I don’t like you either.”

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Quentin Tarantino’s effortlessly cool little crime movie, with its sharp yet sprawling dialogue, clever non-linear structure and irresistibly spot on soundtrack,  wasn’t badly received at Cannes when it premiered there in 1994. But audiences were upset – by which we mean upset enough to boo – when the film claimed the top prize, pushing aside Krzysztof Kieślowski’s weighty, much more serious Three Colours Red.

The Idiots (1998)

Given that Cannes audiences have a habit of booing anything vaguely edgy, it’s really not surprising that the Danish enfant terrible of cinema Lars von Trier has repeatedly managed to ruffle festival feathers. His 1998 film The Idiots, a provocative boundary-pushing comedy in which a group of friends decide to act like people with mental disabilities, seeking their “inner idiot”, was never going to be a “polite applause” kind of movie. But the angry reaction it elicited fro the crowd was extreme even by Cannes standards: not only did the audience boo, but critic Mark Kermode decide to repeatedly shout “Il est merde!” from the back of the cinema.  

The Brown Bunny (2003)

Poor Vincent Gallo. Despite his best efforts – and the inclusion of an unsimulated oral sex scene, featuring actress Chloë Sevigny – his rambling second feature film bombed at Cannes in 2003, where it was loudly booed. Critic Roger Ebert even described The Brown Bunny as “the worst film” he’d ever seen at the festival. Gallo responded by calling Ebert a "a fat pig with the physique of a slave trader" and expressing a wish (particularly distasteful in retrospect) that Ebert would “get cancer”. Surprisingly, however, the actor-director later managed to redeem himself and patch things up with the critic, re-editing the film to produce a tighter, more focused version that eventually won Ebert over. Kudos to Gallo for showing that he could learn from feedback – and to Ebert for being pen-minded enough to revise his original verdict.

Marie Antoinette (2006)

In her film Marie Antoinette, director Sofia Coppola took one of France’s most iconic national figures – the ill-fated young queen, whose decadent lifestyle became a symbol of everything that was wrong with pre-revolutionary France – and produced an unusually modern, impressionistic period drama, set to the strains of the Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees and starring Kirsten Dunst. Predictably enough, this unconventional response didn’t go down too well at Cannes (although Coppola at least got to keep her head). "I didn't know about the boos – it's news to me," said the director, after being told of the reaction. "But it's better than a mediocre response."

Antichrist (2009)

Explicit sex. Close-ups of genital mutilation. An unusually chatty (if somewhat pessimistic) fox. Lars von Trier’s Antichrist is a disturbing, surreal, compelling film. It might even be a great film. But was anyone – least of its famously controversial director– really expecting the Cannes audience not to boo it?

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

In yet another example of the Cannes reaction being at odds with later critical reviews, Quentin Tarantino's revisionist (nb: extremely revisionist) Second World War adventure was booed when it screened at the festival in 2009.

The Tree of Life (2013)

Terrence Malick’s unashamedly poetic The Tree of Life – the one with the dinosaurs and Brad Pitt – certainly wasn’t a flop when it screened at Cannes in 2013. In fact, many audience members (not to mention many critics) left the cinema raving about the movie they’d just seen. But we’re including it on this list because of the fact that a small, determined section of the audience, outraged by the hype surrounding what they considered to be an undeserving film, decided to boo at its close. “The booing at the end of today’s Tree of Life screening was an ugly, animalistic thing that may explain why Malick doesn’t do press,” wrote IndieWire’s Eric Kohn at the time.

Personal Shopper (2016)

Personal Shopper, the latest film by the Clouds of Sils Maria  director Olivier Assayas, was booed this year at Cannes - but neither Assayas nor star Kristen Stewart shouldn't despair. In his review of the movie Telegraph Robbie Collin wrote: "Personal Shopper was booed not because it’s bad (it emphatically isn’t), but because it breaks lots of good-taste conventions in a way that’s deliberately designed to set your soul jangling... Assayas and Stewart can wear the boos as a badge of honour." 

Xavier Dolan

Described as the most disappointing film at Cannes (Xavier Dolan's It's Only the End of the World Is the Most Disappointing Film at Cannes) by Richard Lawson from Vanity Fair, the general consensus is that Dolan unearthed a Cannes bomb, a kind of epic misfire, like the kind Joseph Cotton as the newspaper theater critic was forced to rail against in Citizen Kane while spending the night getting hammered for fear of having to write a scathingly accurate description of the dreadful performance by the wife of his best friend, newspaper publisher Orson Welles, calling her a “pretty but hopelessly incompetent amateur,” found passed out, slumped over his typewriter, a review eventually completed by Welles himself, where he had to agree with that assessment, taking out a full page ad in his newspaper to print a personal apology to theater fans everywhere, vowing it would never happen again.    

“To say It’s Only the End of the World is a misfire is an understatement,” suggests Nicholas Bell at Ioncinema.

David Jenkins at Little White Lies simply tweeted a picture of the Hindenburg.

'I was screaming inside': Xavier Dolan reacts to his latest film's ...  Chris Knight from the Cannes press conference at The National Post, May 19, 2016

CANNES — There is no such thing as a consensus at Cannes. But the word on Xavier Dolan’s newest, Juste la fin du monde (It’s Just the End of the World), is not good.

Ben Croll in The Wrap calls it “his first total misfire.” In the Hollywood Reporter, Jon Frosch says it’s “cold and deeply unsatisfying.” And Charles Gant in Screen Daily calls it “a minor Dolan,” which at least speaks to the 27-year-old director’s major career – five films at Cannes to date, with 2014’s Mommy winning the Jury Prize. Dolan was also part of the jury that last year awarded the Palme d’Or to Dheepan by Jacques Audiard.

But it’s instructive to note that Tim Robey, writing in London’s Daily Telegraph, claims there is “no emotional release” in It’s Only the End of the World, while Peter Debruge of Variety speaks of “a completely unexpected catharsis.” And were either of them watching the same film as Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian? His four-out-of-five-star review praises “a brilliant, stylized and hallucinatory evocation of family dysfunction.”

Dolan, meeting the press the morning after the world premiere of It’s Only the End of the World, was blunt: “Cannes needs to chill out.” The desire for instant analysis of films can be anathema to a movie that is naturally divisive, or requires contemplation.

“Movies have to live inside people,” he continued. “I remember it was a very special experience for me to be on the jury but I wouldn’t do that every year.” Of the bad press: “I’m not particularly worried. There have been glowing reports too.” Though he also admits to a very human reaction: “I was screaming inside.”

This critic found much to admire in the film: exemplary performances from the cast; judicious use of music as a soundtrack to memory; and extreme closeups that evoke the square-screen format of Dolan’s last film, Mommy, even though this new one is Cinemascope-wide in comparison.

But, truth be told, It’s Only the End of the World came at the end of eight days of festival, 22 screenings and numerous interviews, press conferences, glasses of wine and Croisette-bought baguettes. I owe it to Dolan to have a non-bleary-eyed second viewing before passing judgement.

The movie is Dolan’s own adaptation of a play by Jean-Luc Lagarce, himself a young prodigy who founded the Théâtre de la Roulotte at the age of 21, and wrote 25 plays before his death of AIDS in 1995, aged 38. It tells the story of a writer (Gaspard Ulliel) who returns to the family he hasn’t spoken to in 12 years, to tell them he’s dying. An all-star, all-French cast – Nathalie Baye, Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard, Léa Seydoux – play his bickering relatives.

Cotillard said it was “wonderful in human terms and professional terms” to work with Dolan. “He gives of himself, and we try to do likewise. We were one body; we breathed together.”

Ulliard added that Dolan was very present on the set; literally so. “At first it was intimidating,” he said. “We had an impression that we were being filmed with a microscope. It’s the first time I’ve seen a director grab someone by the belt and move him to the other side of the set. It was very physical.”

And Cassel remarked that the camera never stopped shooting. “There are kilometres of film,” he said, which allowed for a very freewheeling set, where anything could be tried, or tried again.

Of course, this meant there was much work when Dolan the director entered the editing suite. There, he pointed out, “you can re-invent, but you can’t invent.”

It’s Only the End of the World is one of his shortest films to date – 97 minutes – but there are only a dozen or so scenes, one of them 14 minutes long. Dolan spoke of “the scalpel of precision” – not the first time the metaphor of surgery had been raised by his admiring cast – and of the need to “seek and chase those little moments.”

“Bottom line: It was hard. But fun.”

It’s Only the End of the World is set to open in Canada in September, while Dolan is already at work on his next feature, The Death and Life of John F. Donovan. Starring Kit Harrington, Jessica Chastain and Natalie Portman, it will be the director’s first English-language feature.

The only positive review found so far…

The claustrophobia of family has rarely been so well-wrought as in the latest highly stylised – and highly polarising – drama by the French-Canadian enfant terrible Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World is histrionic and claustrophobic: deliberately oppressive and pretty well pop-eyed in its madness – and yet a brilliant, stylised and hallucinatory evocation of family dysfunction: a companion piece in some ways to the epic shouting match that was Dolan’s earlier movie, Mommy. This is a pressure cooker of anxiety, a film with the dials turned up to 12. Watching it, listening to it, is like having your head in the speaker bin for a Motörhead concert.

That’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve heard it denounced as “insufferable”. Dolan has made insufferable films in the past – his fey, musing films like the interminable Laurence Anyways, in 2012 – but this isn’t one of them, and the uncompromising ear bashing here is an intentional, black comic effect. 

It is an adaptation of a stage play of the same name by the prize-winning French dramatist Jean-Luc Lagarce, who died of an Aids-related illness in 1995. It is the story of a prize-winning French dramatist who returns to his hometown after an absence of more than a decade, with the intention of telling his family that he is dying. 

For this, Dolan has assembled an A-list French cast: Gaspard Ulliel plays Louis, the writer in question; Nathalie Baye is his genial, wittering widowed mother. Léa Seydoux is Suzanne, his sullen, punky sister who respects what Louis has achieved, albeit in a mood of resentment that he has not carried her along with him as a kindred spirit. Vincent Cassel – his inverted triangle of a face permanently set in a scowl – is his brother, Antoine, who has a blue-collar job as a tool-maker and is married to mousy and submissive Catherine, played by Marion Cotillard in a style not far from Olivia Colman. However much these family members might have wanted to keep things nice and polite, it is of course futile. The moment Louis steps through the door, the screaming starts. 

It is a nightmare: stylised, unreal. We see them in the woozy way Louis sees them. Or perhaps this is the dream that he is later having about the family reunion. For most of the film, Dolan brings his camera tight in for extreme closeups on the characters’ faces. In fact, the action is almost just a sequence of faces, either square on or in profile, and they are almost always quarrelling or shouting. And Dolan keeps a clamorous orchestral score surging through the querulous dialogue. Occasionally, his own memories will cause a power surge of euphoria to crash through, but these are soon submerged again in the ongoing melee. Louis looks very ill, but it is not merely his illness. It is a form of nervous breakdown, mingled with guilt and fear. Being back among his family is causing something like anaphylactic shock. 

The point is that they are not always like this. Dolan shows us that Louis’s family probably rub along reasonably well in Louis’s absence. He has caused this pain, whether he wanted to or not. They resent his success, to some degree. But it is more that they are hurt that he refused to contact them while his career was exploding, except in a supercilious series of cryptic little postcards. By returning home, he has triggered an outburst of precisely that toxic discontent which drove him away, only a hundred times worse, as if saved up for him: a kind of mass Tourette’s aria of anger.

Louis has to find the right moment to tell them that he is dying – a revelation of victimhood that will reverse their status relationship and possibly make them resent him more than ever. And perhaps he feels that staying in this family felt like dying, and leaving them felt like living. The paradox is unbearable. 

It’s Only the End of the World is a deeply pessimistic film on the subject of “family”: which emerges as not a supportive, nurturing institution, but something unbearable and clinging. The movie might appear to raise the possibility that we can soothe the pain by talking about things – and that talking about things is dramatically inevitable. Yet these assumptions are also upended. It’s Only the End of the World is confrontational absurdism: a fascinating, sustained assault.

While more sound like this, where that scathing opening paragraph is one for the ages….

Cannes Review: Xavier Dolan's Shrill, Shrieking Drama 'It's Only The ...  Jessica Kiang from The Playlist, May 19, 2016 

It’s a fairly prevalent fantasy among petulant teenagers to avenge themselves on their families, who are stupid and mean and don’t understand anything, by imagining just how sad and sorry everyone would be if it turned out they were dying. Xavier Dolan‘s Cannes Competition title “It’s Only The End Of The World” is basically that fantasy, filmed. Although apparently adapted from a play by Jean-Luc Lagarce, it’s simply impossible to believe that a story this stridently self-pitying could not refer, more or less explicitly to writer/director Dolan himself. And indeed if, as the framing, dialogue, voiceover narration and basically everything else about the movie encourages, we read a degree of self-referentialism into the story, it suggests a level of martyred self-involvement on Dolan’s part that is tantamount to a persecution complex. Why and where exactly the 27-year-old Cannes Jury Prize-winner (for the thrillingly gonzo, indelibly vibrant “Mommy“) gets the impression that he is so hard done by is a bit of a mystery, but ironically, “It’s Only The End of the World,” reinforces the very negative impressions he may have designed it to address.

Successful writer and playwright Louis, played by Gaspard Ulliel with the damp eyes of the deeply misunderstood and the condescending wistfulness of the soon to perish, is on an airplane flying home for the first time in 12 years. This we hear from his opening voiceover, which comes after the irritatingly offhand and completely pointless text “Somewhere, a while ago already,” and which fills us in on the important stuff, namely that Louis is visiting his family to tell them that he is dying. We never find out what of, or how soon it will occur, but presumably it’s from something non-disfiguring such as might have afflicted a Romantic poet, consumption maybe, or The Vapors.

Anxiously awaiting his arrival are his mother Martine, a nightmare of overcoiffed hair and tacky manicure played by Nathalie Baye; Suzanne, the younger sister he scarcely saw grow up played by Lea Seydoux in a performance of pouty hero-worship; Antoine, Louis’ hair trigger thundercloud of an elder brother embodied by one-man weather system Vincent Cassel; and Antoine’s wife Catherine, a nervy little startled fawn of a person whose main function is to bleat “Antoine!” pleadingly when her verbally abusive husband gets verbally abusive. This last, amazingly, is played stutteringly by Marion Cotillard in one of the great actress’ very least great performances.

No sooner has Louis arrived, all hesitant embraces and stumbling half-kisses, then, one by one every single relationship under that roof self-immolates in one dubiously motivated firestorm of shrieked recrimination after another — saintly, doomed Louis can only look on with Messianic compassion as these shouty narcissists unleash a dozen years’ worth of resentments on each other and on him. If only they knew… he seems to be thinking to himself with the long-game wisdom of the terminally ill, but he can never seem to find the right moment to drop the bombshell. Though if you look at it from the audience’s point of view, we’re already enduring such an ongoing blitzkrieg of hysteria, that it’s hard to see how many other civilian casualties could possibly have been incurred, and in fact it would have been far kinder to have dropped the A-bomb early and been done with it. But then, of course, Louis would have no excuse for that exquisite air of “I’ve got a secret and it’s suuuuper tragic” and it really seems like that would be something hard for him to part with.

It’s a very difficult visit (understatement), punctuated by occasional quiet spells when Louis locks gazes with Catherine (for some reason) or reminisces about his first love, or simply takes seeming eons, and a multitude of shot/reverse shot cuts, to answer the most straightforward of questions. But mostly, every interaction is fraught with regret and resentment and turns on a dime from loving to hateful, in the most mystifyingly high-anxiety manner. As tortured as he is by it all (everyone is scared of everyone in this household, which we know because almost everyone delivers the line “I’m scared” at some point) all the drama actually just serves as another big ego trip for Louis: it confirms just how very, very important he was to these people, even while he was off being successful and celebrated far, far away. None of the other characters have any depth, they’re simply sounding boards and reflective surfaces for him, constantly telling or showing him just how much his departure wounded them, and presumably winking out of existence the second he leaves the room, or blinks.

Dolan’s undeniably exciting filmmaking craft, however, far outstrips his storytelling here, and everything from the saturated palette to a few nice surreal flourishes with a cuckoo clock, to the now-trademark use of appalling pop music blared out like it’s the “Carmina Burana” gives ‘The End of The World’ at least the look and feel of something much better. But having recruited as fine a cast of French-speaking thesps as has ever been assembled, and marshalled a strong behind-the-camera team, Dolan’s usually exuberant egotism is here taken so seriously that what we’re left with is a shrieking bore, without a single character worth rooting for, least of all the puddle of maudlin self-pity at its center.

Wunderkind and enfant terrible are sobriquets often appended to Dolan’s name, but in fairness the screechy, mawkish “It’s Only the End Of The World” does suggest that the time for comparing him to a child is past. Here after the leap forward in maturity that “Mommy,” for the most part, represented, this does feel like a regression, but not to childhood, instead it appears to be the work of a sulking, self-conscious teenager, locked in his bedroom with his music blaring, feeling like the most misunderstood genius who never asked to be born. [C-]

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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:

Today was the first of two days of repeat screenings of the Competition films that had played so far.  I was having a good year and was only two behind, the Philippine film “Ma Rosa” from two days ago and “Toni Erdmann,” the German film that was an early sensation of the festival and highest rated film in the history of “Screen’s” panel of critics exceeding the record of Mike Leigh’s “Mr. Turner.”  I had a chance to see “Erdman” today along with the day’s two latest Competition films that both had the promise of being sensations as well--Xavier Dolan’s much anticipated film and  a Romanian film by a former Palme d’Or winner.  This could be a memorable Great Day of Cinema that might leave me so charged with pleasure that I won’t be able to sleep for the rest of the festival.

Christian Mungui, whose first film “Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days” made him one of the youngest winners of the Palme d’Or, led off the day at 8:30 a.m. with “Graduation.”  It was a grand-slam without even anyone on base.  This highly-detailed, brilliant-conceived, sweeping indictment of the moral decay of Romania firmly places him as an auteur of the highest rank.  A physician known for his honesty, a rare breed who doesn't need incentive (bribes) to do good by his patients, is driven into the moral abyss to insure that his daughter gets a good grade on her final exams so she can earn a scholarship to a university in England.  He becomes entangled in a vast web of corruption that involves a liver transplant.  The fully credible, deeply nuanced plot reveals how horribly corrupt Romania has become with things accomplished only through favors circumventing the law.  That is why the doctor is so determined to free his daughter of Romania.  

It was three hours until the screening of “Toni Erdmann.”  I’d met two guys who had twice been turned away from seeing it despite waiting two hours in line.  Today all passes were treated equally, so if one was in line early enough there was no concern of a rush of priority passholders keeping one out. I was among the first in line two-and-half hours ahead of time, allowing me to catch up on the trade papers.  Only two women, who said they were financiers for the film, slipped in ahead of us.  Erdman is the alter-ego of a mostly retired music teacher whose daughter is a corporate shark.  He doesn’t see much of her so he decides to surprise her where she is on assignment in Bucherest.  

They couldn’t be more different.  He is a fun-loving prankster and she is coldly calculating and driven. He is so frustrated by her he asks, “Are you human?”  Later she responds to his crazed antics asking, “Are you insane?”  Thus the lines are drawn in this offbeat comedy with skyrockets of great originality.  It’s the third film by Maren Ade.  If she were a more accomplished director she would have considerably tightened up its three hour running time and made it a much more powerful film.  It lacked the full impact of a Palme d’Or winner.  Either of the leads could win a best actor award, especially the daughter for an outrageous and totally unexpected prolonged scene of nudity.  The film received all the accolades it did because it was such a surprise, not so much for being truly exceptional.  It was hardly a disappointment, but certainly failed to live up to being the best film screened at Cannes in the past twenty years.

A true disappointment was Dolan’s “It’s Only the End of the World.”  Not even its stellar cast of Marion Cotillard, Vincent Cassell and Gaspar Ulliel among the five players in this play turned into a movie could save it.  A writer returns to his family after a twelve year absence to tell them he’s dying.  Everyone’s so wrapped up in their own petty grievances with one another and the world he never gets around to why he returned.  The dialogue is so fast and disjointed it’s almost impossible to follow.  Cotillard, who is totally wasted in her mousey role, said she never had so much difficulty in learning her lines because they were so obtuse.  Dolan is as inventive as ever with his camera work, but his choice of making it ninety per cent close ups of heads doesn’t make it particularly watchable.  No awards for this film, though Dolan was hoping for the first Palme d’Or for his generation, possibly making him the youngest winner.  Ralph and I stood in line for two hours to make sure we saw it. It put Ralph to sleep.

The pair of two-hour waits for films today limited me to just four for the day.  My only non-Competition film was “The Transfiguration,” a small but very worthwhile film that smoothly unfolds in a housing project in Queens.  Like many of those selected to play in Un Certain Regard rather than Competition it had an uncomplicated plot without any grand ambitions, making it less liable to stumble.  A bright fourteen-year old boy who lives with his ex-military brother, as both their parents are deceased, has an obsession with vampires.  He is picked on by the older gang members who are impossible to avoid.  He is a good-hearted kid who develops a caring friendship with a white girl a little older than him who lives in his building with an abusive grandfather.  There is no sugar-coating or mincing with the difficulties of their predicament, though the film maintains an air optimism.  This was a most satisfying film that justifies this twelve-day submergence into the world of cinema.

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