Monday, May 19, 2014

Day 6 at Cannes 2014

I thought it was only me having the impression that this year the festival had a weak in-competition selection but no, it is not only me who is "concern" with the quality of the films. Fest has been like a roller-coaster, one day is great with mood going up, next is not good with mood going down and you can feel everything from the brief writings of Twitter to the headlines of film reviews.

Of course there are some exceptions and according to me up-to-today, with four days to go, the only exceptions are Nuri Bilge Ceylan's film and perhaps the only Italian film in competition, both films fit what used to be the high festival standards. Still hope that there are a couple of more films with those standards.

Then some headlines cry that Cannes needs "new blood". The main competition is NOT for "new blood", the sidebar and parallel sections ARE for new blood and this year they have new and very interesting blood. In the main competition we used to get the BEST of the BEST cinema in the world and usually didn't came from "new blood" BUT there are a few exceptions in the past. Cannes has been, is and hope will always be a directors' festival, a festival where directors are celebrated and honored for their complex work while doing a film. Now seems that perhaps because wanting more world media coverage, the fest has become cosmetic/plastic and the movies with more noise are the ones that have "celebrities" acting. The risk that Cannes becomes an actors' festival is real and I just hope no one, no organizer body, will select a film just because the actors will help to attract attention to the festival.

I have spoken. Sigh.

The Competition

Foxcatcher by Bennett Miller

Seems Miller is becoming the "sport-story storyteller" by excellence as his second sport film, after great Moneyball, is getting quite positive reviews from English-language reviewers, not so from non-English Cannes-viewers that tend to find film "boring". Above what critics think, I have to see this film just to watch more of Steve Carell as trailer gave me the creeps but made me wish to see more of what surely will be award-winning performance. Still and above Carell's performance and before watching movie, I believe this film, another real-people biopic, does not belong in Cannes and much less in competition. Sigh.

As everything related to sports in America, I am positive that due to the nature of the story, this film will be more than just a "sports film", as will show us the lengths many are willing to go to succeed, which obviously speaks about American society values -which we also see in -for example- Wall Street movies. On this subject check what Miller says in the press conference:

"I knew that there were messages in it that went beyond the story itself, and had something to say about us and our country. It's not a political film, it's a film that tries to understand certain phenomena, such as decline".

Suggest you watch videos from this film as they are in English plus there is one from the press conference with Channing Tatum that made me laugh hard! The one about the ducks that were geese, LOL! The red carpet has many "celebrities" as you know by now, when is an American film all of them come out to have their 5 minutes of photos!  Then do not mind seeing Jessica Chastain and the girl from the TV show The Good Wife, both promoting The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby.

Reactions to film
Ennui méga massif devant Foxcatcher. Bon casting mais film tout mort, tout mou, tout vide. (Grégory Audermatte)
A CHAUD #Foxcatcher élegant, distant, inabouti, lent (ecran noir)
Énorme déception avec Foxcatcher. Narrativement (alors que c’était la force de Bennett Miller) le crash est total. (David Honnorat-Vodkaster)
FOXCATCHER, confirmation du brillant talent de Bennett Miller. Trois grands numéros d'acteurs. (Viggy Simmons)
Film de performance à la mise en scène indigente. Mais rien de plus qu'une irréversible lutte contre l'ennui. (Mehdi Omaïs)
Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum give superb performances in Bennett Miller's powerfully disturbing true-crime saga. (Justin Chang-Variety)
Bennett Miller's drama about eccentric millionaire John DuPont's destructive relationship with a pair of Olympic wrestling champions gets you in a hold and won't let go. (Peter Bradshaw-The Guardian)
Carell sorprende en Cannes con dramático papel en "Foxcatcher" (Ecuavisa)
A superbly modulated study of a twisted mind with a career-changing performance by Steve Carell. (Todd McCarthy-THR)

Maps To The Stars by David Cronenberg

I have been so disappointed by Cronenberg late films that my hopes for him to go back to exciting great non-commercial cinema are almost zero. Seems that he finds inspiration by using male muses as in his fantastic violent movies Viggo Mortensen was his "muse", fortunately Viggo can act and by-the-way he has been getting better and better with time. Now Cronenberg "muse" is Robert Pattinson that again is in one of his movies BUT unfortunately Pattinson does not know how to act and maybe Cronenberg knows that as based ONLY in trailer, seems that Pattinson is only good to have sex in the same fashion with well-known actresses; first was Juliette Binoche in Cosmopolis and now is Julianne Moore in MTTS. Sigh.

Alright I got the above out of my system, so let's be more constructive. Storyline is nothing new but maybe the good cast (Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Olivia Williams, John Cusack, Carrie Fisher, etc) will deliver good performances that will disgust us profoundly as there is nothing pleasant in Hollywood, isn't? First reviews from English-speaking Cannes-viewers tend to be positive, even calling film the best from Cronenberg in 10 years. But still and on-purpose have to check headlines from non-English reviews.

As you imagine videos are easy to watch as most is in English without awful voice-over translation, suggest to watch outside videos (photocall and interview) to see how bad is the weather today in Cannes after the beautiful day yesterday.  The red carpet best photo surely will come from Cronenberg wearing his eyeglasses. Best moment: Viggo Mortensen greeting Cronenberg.

Reactions to film
Une satire sanglante de l'univers parallèle que constitue Hollywood. On y retrouve cette confusion entre le réel et le virtuel et cette fascination pour la monstruosité. (Isabelle Regnier/Jean-Francois Rauger-Le Monde)
David Cronenberg's Agriest Movie (Eric Kohn-Indiewire)
A Nightmare you don't want to wake from (Robbie Collin-The Telegraph)
David Cronenberg paints Hollywood as a black hole in this toxic showbiz satire. (Peter Debruge-Variety)
Curdled wit about Hollywood served with a scalpel. (Todd McCarthy-THR)
Hollywood dreams turn queasy in David Cronenberg's brilliant nightmare. (Peter Bradshaw-The Guardian)
He just may have created his most twisted, dark and brutally funny satire yet. (Matt Risley-Totalfilm)
On attendait de Cronenberg un peu mieux qu’un simple objet théorique où les acteurs sont réduits à l’état de pantins. On a surtout la désagréable sensation que cette désincarnation du récit sert plutôt à consolider sa stature d’auteur respecté, en agitant de manière névrotique deux ou trois marottes, un peu éculées. (Renan Cros-Cinema Teaser)
Sublimement malsaine dans le rôle d’une actrice qui se raccroche pathétiquement aux branches les plus pourries de la gloire, Julianne Moore peut prétendre, avec ce rôle radical, au prix d’interprétation féminine. (Alain Spira-Paris Match)
Voici une grande farce névrotique. Humour noir, fantômes et bain de sang mis en scène avec un savoir-faire brillant et une maîtrise irréprochable. Cronenberg dépeint Hollywood comme un monstre dévorant. (Fabienne Bradfer-Le Soire)

Special Screenings

Caricaturistes - Fantassins de la Democratie (Cartoonists - Foot Soldiers of Democracy) by Stéphanie Valloato (documentary)
Twelve graphic artists, twelve cartoonists. Perhaps will watch doc just to see what they show about the infamous late Venezuelan president.

El Ardor (Ardor) by Pablo Fendrik

I suppose this film is in the official selection because the celebrations of the western genre as this is another "western" but now set in the Amazon jungle; well, to be more precise "the tropical forest" of Argentina... which probably will be the Pampa! (lol) Love copying the headlines and then "think". Nope is not la Pampa is the tropical rainforest surrounding the Parana river in Argentina. So Fendrik calls his film: "Mesopotamian western" that is a suspense-filled story of vengeance. Whether is or is not a western, I know will not be rushing to see film because I do not enjoy the lead actor performances (with a few exceptions- NO was one).

Reactions to film
Despite the fiery passion implicit in its title, this rumble in the jungle lacks heat. (David Rooney-THR)
In its favour, El Arbor looks bewitching, the banks of the Parana River shrouded in mist and vegetation. (Fionnuala Halligan-Screendaily)

Un Certain Regard

Dohee-ya (A Girl at My Door) by July Yung

Yes, I am curious about this film both because story seems to be a strong female-centered drama as for whatever lesbian interest is present and makes film compete for the Queer Palm.

The thriller tells the story of Young-nam, a local chief police officer and a strong woman, yet one whose stability is gradually undermined as she protects a young girl from her violent stepfather and deals with a sensitive investigation that threatens her life.

Reactions to film
A resolutely left-field and refreshingly off-kilter drama. Is a deftly intriguing tale of alcoholism and abuse that starts off as a seemingly familiar domestic drama before spiralling off into something more unnerving and vaguely disturbing. (Mark Adams-Screen daily)
Bae Doona astonishing in THE GIRL AT MY DOOR, with a harsh melancholy to her like a wilting waterlily. (FilmLand Empire)
A middling and muted drama revolving what could have been a convergence of many forms of social injustice. (Clarence Tsui-THR)
Korean Cinema At Its Finest (Pierce Conran)

Xenia by Panos H. Koutras

Not sure what to think about this film from a director who has been described as the "Greek Almodovar" (???), hope film reactions give me a clue. Film is competing for the Queer Palm.

Reactions to film
Tout en portant un constat sévère sur la société grecque contemporaine. (Trois Coleurs)
A realistic and extremely charming fable about two brothers of Albanian heritage in today’s Greece (Fabien Lemercier-Cineurope)
Reality and camp are expertly juxtaposed in this touching if overlong story of two Patty Pravo-crazy teenage brothers. (Boyd van Hoeij-THR)

Bird People by Pascale Ferran

Film is must be seen for me for the right reasons, the director, the story, the cast, and because is mainly a French production. Have expectations (!) for this film as hope will be one of the few American-French movies that will work flawlessly, similar to the kind of French cinema I highly enjoy. Let see what reactions to film say. But if it means something -surely it does!- take a look WHO were at the first screening: Ozon, Lvovsky, Zlotowski, Laurent Cantet, Sissako.

Seems that maybe will be as English-language comments tend to tell what I am hoping for, even when their comments are not positive.  But I will obey the last reaction and according to my French cinema golden rule, will NOT read a thing about this film.

Reaction to film
Two lost souls flock together, sort of, in an ambitious French film that takes flight in some highly unusual ways. (Jordan Mintzer-THR)
This clinically observed two-hander reveals itself as an unlikely Cinderella story. (Peter Debruge-Variety)
Possibly the wackiest film yet: Pascale Ferran's BIRD PEOPLE, an ennui feather fantasy with shades of The Witches (Isabel Stevens)
BIRD PEOPLE (Ferran) Feels subtly brave until it's outwardly radical. I'm baffled but entranced. Think this might be special. A- (Jordan Cronk)
Bird People (Ferran): 80. Hated the last three minutes (which are crucial); adored everything else. Truly extraordinary. Read nothing. (Mike D'Angelo) ...and I will obey!

Cannes Classics
Life Itself by Steve James
Cannes pays tribute to Roger Ebert by showing Steve James film about the film critic.
Overlord by Stuart Cooper
After winning the Jury's Special Prize in 1975 at the end of the 25th Berlinale, the American director Stewart Cooper decided to restore one of his most powerful films on the absurdity of war – and also the most richly documented, Overlord.

Cinéma de la Plage
Seconds by John Frankenheimer
First screened in Cannes in 1966. This feature film is a good example of the bold visual style of the American filmmaker, who took risks at a time when Hollywood was still very reticent about casting off its conformist codes.

Quinzaine des Réalisateurs

Mange Tes Morts (Eat Your Bones) by Jean-Charles Hue

Not sure what to think about this movie as seems will be too violent for my taste. Check the synopsis.
18 year old Jason Dorkel belongs to a community of gypsies. He is about to celebrate his baptism when his half-brother Fred returns after fifteen years in prison. Together, with their last brother, the violent, hot-headed Michael and their Christian activist cousin, the four young people set off on a binge among the "gadjos" in search of a cargo of copper.

Reactions to film
French shotgun story combines documentary and film noir traditions for generally compelling results. (Jordan Mintzer-THR)
Mange tes morts" présenté à la 15zaine : un film qui ne vole pas haut, concentré des idées toutes faites sur les gens du voyage (Culturebox)
Mange tes morts met en scène des figures quasi mythologiques, héritiers de traditions et d’un mode de vie séculaires, vivant en autarcie, envers et contre tous. (Olivier Père-arte France Cinema)

Cold in July by Jim Mickle

Another violent movie starring Michael C. Hall, Don Johnson, Sam Shepard among others. Seems that if you like the "violent/horror genre" then you probably will enjoy this film. I don't. Film premiered in Sundance. Check synopsis
How can a split-second decision change your life? On a balmy Texas night in 1989, Richard Dane shoots the man who breaks into his home. Despite being hailed as a small town hero, his life begins to unravel into a dark underworld of corruption and violence.

Reactions to film
Full-blooded Texas noir COLD IN JULY = super-strong (Tim Robey
Sam Shepard AND Don Johnson! Indie thriller COLD IN JULY is a lean, mean Southern-fried treat (Time Out Film)
#ColdinJuly: Classy grindhouse fare from Jim Mickle ('Stake Land', 'WAWWA') with an excellent turn from Don Johnson. (CineVue)
At its best as a modest character study that flirts with suspense. (Slant Magazine)

These Final Hours by Zak Hilditch

Maybe not violent but this film is about the last day on earth. sigh. But maybe is more a drama . The synopsis.
It's the last day on earth, twelve hours before an event will end life as we know it. James makes his way across a lawless city to the party to end all parties. Along the way he somewhat reluctantly saves the life of a little girl named Rose, desperately searching for her father. Stuck with the unexpected burden of responsibility, James is forced to question what really matters as the hours tick away.

Reactions to film
The filmmaker shows promise, but this under-written debut is more of a calling card than a compelling work in its own right. (David Rooney-THR)
Comme l’annonce son titre, ce film de fin du monde australien déroule son programme sans surprise, tirant les ficelles du film de genre. (Trois Couleurs)
My first walk-out this year. THESE FINAL HOURS is a vile end of the world club 18-30 vomit. (FilmLand Empire) Oops!

La Semaine de la Critique

Når dyrene drømmer (When Animals Dream) by Jonas Alexander Arnby

From the parallel sections, this is the film I am most curious as a female werewolf absolutely calls my attention especially when is in a Danish film. Somehow I got the impression that could be similar to my favorite vampire film, Swedish Låt den rätte komma in by Thomas Alfredson. Then you have the cast with Sonja Ritcher (has 2 movies in this edition of Cannes-the other is The Homesman) and Mads brother, Lars Mikkelsen that promises good performances plus the following story synopsis:

The young woman, Marie, is an outsider in the small coastal community where she has grown up. The townspeople live in fear of her and not least her mother, who is wheelchair bound, suffering from a mysterious illness. When Marie discovers her body changing – long hair growing on her chest and back – she begins searching for answers concerning her family’s hidden past. Something that will have great consequences for herself and her family – and the choices she has to make.

Reactions to film seems to describe the film I was hoping for excellent! Right now is the second screening of film so perhaps will add more reactions later. By-the-way film was in Berlinale market and Radius-TWC (yes, Weinstein) bought the rights for USA; check what Tom Quinn from the distribution company said:
"It’s extremely hard these days to find a groundbreaking genre film, but ‘When Animals Dream’ is that rare gem indeed. I haven’t been excited in Berlin since buying ‘Let the Right One In."

A former commercials director, Arnby is a leading light of the Nordic Twilight trend of character-driven, artsy genre films with tight budgets. While the film depicts the teenager’s transformation in an eerily realistic way, in line with Scandinavia’s film tradition, it also weaves in genre elements. It is Arnby's first feature film and also competes for the Camera d'Or.

Reactions to film
This operates on the more earnest, sophisticated end of the horror genre scale. (Allan Hunter-Screendaily) Exactly what I was hoping for, yay!!!
When Animals Dream, the Danish teen werewolf movie at #Cannes2014 is brilliantly bonkers and beautifully shot. (Kate Muir)
When Animals Dream : entre Tourneur, Cocteau et Black Swan, le bijou actuel de la @semainecannes (Julien Lada)
Après It Follows, le danois When Animals Dream : @semainecannes is the new Etrange Festival. (Alexandre Hervaud)
Stark, bright, gorgeous, raw, great performances. Great metaphoric examination of the repression of women. (Shelagh M Rowan-Legg)

Ha-Ganenet (The Kindergarten Teacher) by Nadav Lapid

Suspect this film will not be easy-to-watch because story and how director chose to tell the story.  Take a look at the synopsis:
A teacher discovers in a five year-old child a prodigious gift for poetry. Amazed and inspired by this young boy, she decides to protect his talent in spite of everyone.

But I'm not familiar with director previous work, so let's pay attention to film reactions. Unfortunately there are not many by now and the one below talks about the risk of doing poetry in film as well as some interviews I read.

Reactions to film
Rainstorms, melancholy, and risk in poetic #Cannes2014 THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER (indiewire)

Short Films Program 2
A Ciambra (Young Lions of Gypsy) by Jonas Carpignano
The Chicken by Una Gunjak
Crocodile by Gaëlle Denis
Les fleuves m’ont laissée descendre où je voulais by Laurie Lassalle
TrueLoveStory by Gitanjali Rao

Cesta Ven (The Way Out) by Petr Václav
No distribution but was able to find some info for the director that now lives in France but returns to the Czech Republic for the first time since he left many years ago. Synopsis: Taking place in the Czech Republic in 2013, Cesta Ven is the story of a young Gipsy couple who wish to live an ordinary life – something impossible for Gipsies. Alone, they lead an uneven struggle against the hostile majority that denies them the right to a decent existence. And they must protect their dignity and love.


-Today the second screening of Turist (Force Majeure) by Ruben Ostlund got crowds and major film critics paying more attention to film.  Good. Suspect this film is another that should be in the main competition, not the sidebar.
-Yes is true.  The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby movie has a third version! Now is Him, Her and in post-production, Them!!!  (I thought was a joke, lol)
-Adrien Brody and director Le Tamahori had a photocall to announce the new film: Emperor.
-More new films for the future: Laurent Cantent's Return to Ithaca, Tobias Lindholm's A War, Tom Vaughan's How to Make Love Like an Englishman (with Pierce Brosnan).
-From Cannes Marche films, the source for the new guessing game: Which films will make to Venice Film Festival. The first guesses are those films that are not here.
-Tomorrow will be the turn for two of my favorite actresses: Marion Cotillard and Gong Li plus the trio of excellent directors, Dardenne Brothers, Naome Kawasi and Zhang Yimou! What a day!

-Was looking at FIPRESCI tally and top score goes to Winter Sleep followed by Mr Turner and Timbuktu. Last is Captives closely followed by Saint Laurent.  For SURE tomorrow will change the tally.

-As I suspected about the odds, Julianne Moore jumped to the second place only Marion Cotillard is above her. But it is surprising that Steve Carell is in second place after Timothy Spall in Mr. Turner.

Not-so-serious News

-Every movie has an after party, right happening the Foxcatcher after party hosted by Annapurna at Baoli Beach.
-Today there was an IMDb Dinner Party at Restaurant Mantel. Nicolas Winding Refn on attendance.
-Right now happening the Chopard Backstage Dinner & Afterparty at the Cannes-Mandelieu Aerodrome. Most interesting guest: Colin Firth! Seems that tonight Pharell Williams will be singing Happy!
-L'Oreal changed their ambassadors as of today is all about Cheryl Cole and Eva Longoria.
-Today in Cannes, Elvis Presley's granddaughter of The Runaways, The Good Doctor, Jack and Diane, Magic Mike, etc fame: Riley Keough. No I did not recognize her in the Foxcatcher red carpet.

Photo of the Day

Windy, windy day- Jessica Chastain

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