Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cannes 2013 Day 1

While the opening night buzz was about the strange and mysterious world of not just Gatsby, but The Great Gatsby, an otherwise forgotten figure buried in the rush of surviving the Great Depression, something that left an even more profound impact in our lives.  For those counting, this is another one added to a host of films that have never done the novel right, beginning with a Silent version in 1926, a film noir in 1949, a Hollywoodish 1974, a made-for-TV 2000, and now the brash and exuberant Baz Luhrmann’s take on an American classic in 2013.   Odd for a Cannes opening night film, the film has already opened in America, whee you can go to the Cineplex today and watch it on regular screen or in 3D, still all the rage if you can plunk down the cash.  Those in the know think otherwise, as you’re likely not missing a thing by avoiding 3D altogether.  While Luhrmann’s effort is entertaining throughout, there are some questionable casting decisions, though the stand-outs are Carey Mulligan as Daisy and Joel Edgarton as her lout for a husband.  More on the film later once the Fest is over when this site will get back to reviews.

Meanwhile, how about some opening night red carpet photos from The Guardian:

and yet more on the Gatsby group, where it apparently rained on the red carpet, from Vanity Fair:

Carey Mulligan channeling the Kardashians (though the red carpet photos look more like Veronica Lake) for her Gatsby role as Daisy, by Julie Miller from Vanity Fair:

This afternoon, we receive somewhat haunting news about Carey Mulligan’s preparation to play Daisy Buchanan in Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming adaptation of The Great Gatsby. The actress apparently drew inspiration from the world’s preeminent sex-tape opportunist and her reality-show-starring family in her portrayal of the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald character. Mulligan attempts to explain Daisy’s similarity to the sisters in a new Harper’s Bazaar profile:

“The Kardashians are sort of a reference in that Daisy’s purpose in life is—she feels her purpose is to look very beautiful all the time and to constantly be on show,” she said. “So what I was trying to imply was that there’s an essence of part of the amazing business they run as the Kardashians is looking beautiful a lot and looking very present, presentational and perfect.”

In light of that explanation, we are willing to concede that Mulligan has a point, although we’d prefer that the Kardashians aren’t used as inspiration for anything but villains in adaptations of Great American Novels from here on.
Fortunately, observing the Kardashians was not the only research that Mulligan conducted for the role. Luhrmann gave the 27-year-old actress “about seven biographies” of Zelda Fitzgerald—the novelist’s wife, on whom Daisy Buchanan is believed to be based—for reference. She also read through love letters from Fitzgerald’s muse, Ginevra King. In a previous interview, the English actress revealed that she had not read The Great Gatsby until the days immediately before her audition.

also a look at the Jury, headed by Stephen Spielberg this year, where Nicole Kidman is only 5’ 10” tall, but towers over all the rest:


For those interested in such minutiae, you may take a look at Christopher Hitchens notes that he jotted down while reading The Great Gatsby:

One of my favorites every year is pulling out those archival classic photos from Cannes Fests of yore, from Vanity Fair:

Brigitte Bardot arrives at the 1956 festival for the premiere of And God Created Woman

Brief previews of each of the In Competition films from Time Out London:

The Palme D’Or Contenders from Time Out London:

The full lineup for the 2013 Cannes Film Festival (May 15-26) has been announced. Nineteen films will compete for the prestigious Palme d’Or, which was won last year by Michael Haneke’s ‘Amour’ and won in the past by the likes of Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction’ and Jane Campion’s ‘The Piano’ – although don’t rule out some last-minute additions to the competition.

So, what sticks out? Well, there are no British films for one, although Stephen Frears’s ‘Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight’, a HBO film about the boxer’s decision not to serve in Vietnam, will screen out of the main competition as a special screening. That’s probably because one HBO TV film was enough for the selectors: Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Behind the Candelabra’, a film about the relationship between Liberace (Michael Douglas) and one of his lovers (Matt Damon) will compete for the Palme d’Or. Seeing as Soderbergh said only this year that 2013’s ‘Side Effects’ was his last film, the elevation of this new movie to ‘proper film’ status is nothing if not amusing.

Last year, the Cannes selectors were heavily criticised for not picking any women to compete for the Palme d’Or. Well, they’ve definitely not been applying any new policies on that front. One female director will compete, and that’s the Italian-French director-actor Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, whose third film is ‘Un Château en Italie’. It’s about a French family forced to sell their holiday home and stars Bruni Tedeschi herself and Louis Garrel.

The French are, as ever, well represented. The busy François Ozon (whose 'In the House' is currently in cinemas) brings ‘Jeune et Jolie’, a film about the sexuality of a 17-year-old girl and reportedly shot on a closed set because of the sensitivity of the subject. Expect an enormous amount of attention to be poured on the young actress and model Marine Vacth. Other Gallic offerings include ‘Couscous’ director Abdellatif Kechiche’s ‘La Vie d’Adèle’.

Eyes will also be on two French films screening out of the competition: Claire Denis’s ‘Bastards’, screening in the secondary Un Certain Regard section, and the first English-language film from Guillaume Canet (‘Tell No One’), ‘Blood Ties’, a 1970s-set New York story starring Clive Owen and Marion Cotillard (and co-written, incidentally, by American filmmaker James Gray, whose ‘The Immigrant’, a story of early-twentieth-century immigration to New York, also stars Cotillard and is in contention for the Palme d’Or).

Elsewhere, confirming the festival’s truly global status, there are films from Chad (Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s ‘Grigris’), Mexico (Amat Escalante’s ‘Heli’), China (Jia Zhangke’s ‘A Touch of Sin’) and Italy (Paolo Sorrentino’s ‘La Grande Bellezza’).

There are some international big guns with new films: Roman Polanski (‘Venus in Fur’), the Coen brothers (‘Inside Llewyn Davis’), Alexander Payne (‘Nebraska’) and Nicolas Winding Refn (‘Only God Forgives’) will all walk the festival’s famous red steps next month.

Who’s missing? We knew that Lars von Trier’s ‘Nymphomaniac’, Jonathan Glazer’s ‘Under the Skin’ and Steve McQueen’s ‘12 Years a Slave’ probably wouldn’t be ready. Some thought that Jim Jarmusch’s hip vampire tale ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’, with Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston, might make the cut. But apart from that, there are no obvious big omissions.

Who will win the top prize? That’s for Steven Spielberg’s jury to decide when these 19 films unfold next month at world cinema’s most scrutinised, discussed and reported event. We’ll be there and we’ll be bringing you news and reviews as we get them.

A look back at the 10 Best Palme D’Or Winners, quite subjective, naturally, according to Time Out London:

20 alternative picks at Cannes by Nicholas bell from IonCinema:

Guy Lodge from HitFix lists his picks for the 10 most anticipated films at Cannes:

Neil Young from Jigsaw Lounge maintains the odds for winners, amazingly before a single film has been screened:

to win the 2013 Palme d’Or

5/1  Haroun, Mahamet Saleh — Grigris
11/2  Farhadi, Asghar — The Past
13/2  Gray, James – The Immigrant
7/1  Kore-eda, Hirokazu – Like Father, Like Son
9/1  Desplechin, Arnaud -- Jimmy P.: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian
9/1  Payne, Alexander -- Nebraska
- – -
14/1  Soderbergh, Steven – Behind the Candelabra
14/1  Jia, Zhangke — A Touch of Sin
14/1  Coen & Coen – Inside Llewyn Davis
16/1  Kechiche, Abdellatif – Blue is the Warmest Colour
16/1  Sorrentino, Paolo – The Great Beauty
- – -
20/1  Ozon, Francois – Young and Beautiful
20/1  Winding Refn, Nicolas – Only God Forgives
25/1  des Pallières, Arnaud – Michael Kohlhaas
25/1  Escalante, Amat – Heli
28/1  Bruni-Tedeschi, Valeria – A Castle in Italy
33/1  Van Warmerdam, Alex — Borgman
40/1  Polanski, Roman — Venus In Fur
50/1  Jarmusch, Jim – Only Lovers Left Alive
80/1  Miike, Takashi – Shield of Straw
Best Actor
9-2 Like Father, Like Son: Masaharu Fukuyama
5-1 Nebraska: Bruce Dern
….. (solo, or with Will Forte and/or Stacy Keach)
11-2 Borgman: Jan Bijvoet
7-1 Mathieu Amalric and/or Benicio Del Toro*
- – -
10-1 Behind the Candelabra: Matt Damon and/or Michael Douglas
10-1 The Great Beauty: Toni Servillo (solo or with others)
12-1 The Immigrant: Joaquin Phoenix and/or Jeremy Renner
14-1 The Past: Tahar Rahim and/or Ali Mosaffa
16-1 Michael Kohlhaas: Mads Mikkelsen
18-1 Shield of Straw: Takao Osawa and/or Tatsuya Fujiwara
- – -
20-1 Inside Llewyn Davis: Oscar Isaac
22-1 Only God Forgives: Ryan Gosling and/or Vithaya Pansringarm
25-1 A Castle in Italy:  Filippo Timi and/or Louis Garrel
28-1 A Touch of Sin: Jiang Wu (and/or others)
33-1 Only Lovers Left Alive: Tom Hiddleston
33-1 Heli: Armando Espitia
40-1 Blue is the Warmest Colour:
….. Jérémie Lahuerte and/or Aurélien Recoing
* any combination of Amalric and/or Del Toro in Jimmy P. and/or Amalric in Venus In Fur
Best Actress
11-4 The Past: Bérénice Bejo
9-2 The Immigrant: Marion Cotillard
5-1 Only God Forgives: Kristin Scott Thomas
8-1 Young and Beautiful: Marina Vacth
- – -
10-1 Venus In Fur: Emmanuelle Seigner
12-1 A Castle in Italy:  Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi
12-1 Blue is the Warmest Colour:
….. Adèle Exarchopoulos and/or Léa Seydoux
14-1 A Touch of Sin: Zhao Tao (and/or others)
16-1 Only Lovers Left Alive: Tilda Swinton and/or Mia Wasikowska
18-1 The Great Beauty: Sabrina Ferilli
- – -
25-1 Like Father, Like Son: Machiko Ono (and/or others)
25-1 Inside Llewyn Davis: Carey Mulligan
28-1 Grigris: Anaïs Monory
33-1 Shield of Straw: Nanako Matsushima
33-1 Heli: Andrea Vergara

The round-up of various links covering Cannes:

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

The Hollywood Reporter at Cannes:

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

Matt Zoller Seitz and Kevin B. Lee at Press Play from indieWIRE

the indieWIRE Playlist:

indieWIRE reviews, with grades listed:

Robert Koehler from Filmjourney:

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

The House Next Door at Cannes:

Drew McSweeny and Guy Lodge from HitFix:

Mike D'Angelo at The Onion AV Club:

Cannes Fest at Time Out London:

Cannes Diary from Film Comment:

The Guardian Cannes commentary:

The Envelope, the Cannes Blog from The LA Times:

The Film Center's Barbara Scharres and Michał Oleszczyk from the Roger Ebert blog:

Richard Corliss (though there may be a paywall) from Time Magazine:

Karina Longworth at LA Weekly:

Movieline Cannes Coverage:

Various writers at Twitch:

Michael Oleszczyk from Hammer to Nail:

Melissa Anderson at ArtForum:

Julie Miller at Vanity Fair:

Sukhdev Sandhu and Robbie Collins from The Daily Telegraph:

Alex Billington from First Showing:

Michael Phillips at Cannes (though there may be a paywall) from the Chicago Tribune:

The Huffington Post:

Emanuel Levy:

Eric Lavallee Ion Cinema:

Brad Bevet from Ropes of Silicon:

Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa:

Charles Ealy at the Austin Movie Blog:

David Jenkins from Little White Lies:

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

Registration in the market is up ten per cent this year. That may have contributed to my having to settle for my second and third choices of movies I wished to see in my first two time slots of Cannes 2013. There were more than a hundred of us hoping to get into the 73-seat Palais screening room for Paul Schrader's "The Canyons" with Lindsay Logan and Gus Van Sant. It was easily the movie to see in the opening ten a.m. time slot with only two other choices, one a horror movie and the other an animated feature about Africa. Tomorrow there will be nearly fifty choices per time slot, but not on this first day while people are still gathering.
Arriving fifteen minutes early wasn't early enough, so I was among those turned away. I was slowed down by the new ultra strict policy about what one can bring into the huge Palais complex with its twenty screening rooms and hundreds of market booths. My tire irons, which I carry at all times in case I have a flat tire, raised the concerns of the man perusing the contents of my pack. I had to plead my case with two supervisors before I was allowed to bring them in. Water bottles too were not being allowed in, though it was rather artbitrary depending upon on how thorough one's bag was being checked. This guy let mine in, but not the next. 

Three times during the day I had to pass through the checkpoint with six lines and six checkers. Another time I was told I couldn't bring in my cheese sandwiches and can of ravioli. I left the ravioli on a water bottle cage on my bike and simply stuffed the sandwiches into the pockets of my vest. The ravioli was still on my bike when I returned to it four hours later. The third time I entered, the check had been somewhat relaxed and hopefully will continue so. If not that may effect my choice of movies.

The highly-sexed lifes of Africans was the predominant theme of the well-done animated feature "Aya of Yop City." It was one of three films of the six I saw today with a young woman becoming pregnant, leading to marriage. In this one the woman marries the nerdy bald son of a wealthy beer baron. When the baby looks nothing like the nerdy guy, but rather a suave unemployed guy with a full head of frizzy hair, the giveaway, the beer baron wishes to annul the marriage, which he wasn't all that enthusiastic about to begin with.

I had to settle for my third choice of films at noon, after I was turned away from "Crystal Fairy" about an American traveler in Chile and then denied entry to the Palais complex because of a bottle of chocolate milk in my bag preventing me from seeing the Italian film "About Face" concerning plastic surgery. All that was left was "The Starving Games" a spoof on "The Hunger Games," something I really didn't want to see. But since I felt obliged to see something, if only to monitor the many strands of cinema on offer, I begrudgingly subjected myself to it. The program said I only had 82 minutes of it to endure. It was actually 72 minutes and it was padded by several minutes of out takes that were no better than the film. It was a polished effort that may find an audience, though not on my recommendation. It was one of two films I saw today with an Internet reference--a no-good character in the movie is Mel Gibson's only Facebook friend.

The other Internet reference came in my next film, "The Gilded Cage." A French couple, whose son is going to marry a Portuguese woman he impregnated, goes to Wikipedia to read up on Portugal before going over to their apartment for dinner. The pregnancy is a minor strand in this story of a Portuguese couple who have served as the concierges in a Parisian condo complex for 32 years. They are well liked by everyone. They have just inherited the husband's brother's business in Portugal that will earn them 200,000 euros a year along with his chateau. They like Paris very much and aren't sure if they want to give up their life there, but if they wish the inheritance, they have to move back to Portugal. They have two weeks to make their decision. They wish to keep the inheritance a secret from all their relatives and friends in Paris, but they all know unbeknownst to them, and all to try to keep them in Paris. Along with a couple of nice shots of the Eiffel Tower, this was a pleasantly heartfelt portrayal of a very likable couple.

Next up was the film I was most interested in seeing this day, "Michael H.: Profession Director," a documentary on two-time Palme d'Or winner Michael Hanake. I feared a mob for this in the same screening room Schrader's film played in, but there were only about 25 of us who cared to see it. More than half the film is clips from just about all of Hanake's films. The notable exception was the remake of "Funny Games." There are quite a few clips, too, of shooting on the set of multiple takes of the same scene. Many of the clips were of slaps, including several attempts of a father slapping his son in "The White Ribbon." There is a dissertation to be made on the slaps of Hanake. There are also interviews with many of the actors who have worked with Hanake, all emphasizing what a kind and gentle man he is and an extreme perfectionist, all of which is evident too in the many interviews with Hanake in the film from throughout his career. 

I followed this with another documentary, "Le Pouvir," by a filmmaker who had full trust and accessibility to his subject, this one the current president of France, Françoise Hollande. The film opens just after Hollande's election a year ago as he shows up at the French White House just a couple blocks from the Champs Ellysees where The Tour de France concludes. He is welcomed by the outgoing President Nicolas, who then drives off. There is extraordinary footage of Hollande in conference with his staff, mostly at his residence, but also on the Presidential plane and when he goes to New York to attend a conference. He is regularly consulting with his staff on speeches that he must give. When his staff discusses where he ought to appear on Bastille Day, July 14, I had hopes they'd also discuss his appearance at The Tour de France several days later near his home town in Tulle and also show it, but that was not to be. He's shown greeting staffers, shaking hands and kissing some women on the cheeks, but shaking hands of most.

I finished the day with an American feature, "Free Samples," playing in the 15-seat Grey 5 hotel screening room, the smallest of venues. I did not hold out much hope for it, but it was just one of two films to be seen in the final eight pm screening slot on this day's abbreviated schedule. From here on out there will be films screening to midnight and beyond. But this film of a feisty Stanford law school drop-out who likes to drink trying to decide what to do with her life had a veracity to it and a delightful cameo by Jesse Eisenberg. If I'd known he was going to be in it I might have made an effort to see "Touchy Feely" earlier in the day with Ellen Page, his "Juno" co-staf, playing a masseuse who develops an aversion to touching people. Eisenberg meets the law school drop-out at a bar then meets up with her the following day while she's doing a friend a monumental favor filling in for her operating an ice cream truck giving away free samples for the day. Eisenberg invites her out to dinner that night, which she's not sure she wants to accept, as she's separated from a boy friend she hasn't given up on. When she learns later in the day her boyfriend has taken up with another woman and gotten her pregnant and decides to marry her, she goes to the dinner and we are treated to another fine bit of acting by Eisenberg. The director is able to maintain interest through the whole movie with an array of offbeat characters who come by for the free ice cream.

I was greeted by a misty drizzle when I left the theater. I had a wind-breaker but not a rain coat for my four-mile bike ride back to the campground. Rather than the coastal route, I stayed inland, which wasn't quite as wet. The rain only managed to penetrate my arms, and not through my shirt and vest. It only marginally dampened a good first day of cinema.

Then I had the bonus of a Skpe call with Janina from the campground unisex washroom/shower complex. She had the exciting news that she will be treating her urban cinema class to "Medicine for Melancholy," a film by a Telluride friend I had introduced her to. I am sorry I can't sit in on it tomorrow at their final class to see their reaction and if they chuckle at all the right places.

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