Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Day 8 at Cannes 2014

The festival is fading away as practically we get only one more day of competition as on Friday we will start to learn winners in parallel sections. Still in the main competition we have four more movies by four great directors that unfortunately were scheduled to towards the end of the fest, when most of the media are no longer in Cannes. Next year maybe organizers will schedule in the final days whatever American films they have and then we will see that media stays until the last day. Sigh.

The Competition

The Search by Michel Hazanavicius

A few days ago I had a discussion about this film as the friends I was with could not understand that a remake was in competition and on top, the remake changed almost everything in story. So the question was: why keep the name? Why he didn't changed the name? We had no answers then and surely will not have answers today, but the first reactions to film are of the not positive kind, which undoubtedly in my mind is a consequence of doing a remake, changing a lot of the story, keeping the name and a not-good director.

What was surprising and puzzling is the Cannes absence of the most visible person related to the film. No, Annette Bening is not in Cannes, surprising isn't? Another question that will remain unanswered. Or maybe, she's not there as she doesn't have a significant role in the movie. We will not know until we see film.

Last, have to remind you all that the original movie by Fred Zinneman had in the lead none other than Montgomery Clift playing the American soldier. This character has been replaced by an NGO worker played by Bérénice Bejo. This is an inconceivable situation as Clift is an American cinema icon of an era when American films were extraordinary and no matter what is changed, in the back of our minds many will be thinking about Monty when we see this film.

Bérénice Bejo is a good actress and my confirmation to the statement came when I saw Asghar Farhadi's The Past, as I did not enjoy much her performance in The Artist and well, I didn't liked much the Hazanavicius film. So was wondering if her performance could save the movie but if we believe reactions to the film, then maybe she was not able to save film. Why is this film in Cannes? A big question mark.

Reactions to film
Michel Hazanavicius has relocated Fred Zinnerman's 1948 Oscar-winner about a westerner who helps a lost child to the Chechen war. You can't fault the intention, you can't help but query the corny execution. (Peter Bradshaw-The Guardian)
Bening’s character, meanwhile, is like The Search itself – committed and serious but working too hard on too many fronts to be properly effective. (Fionnuala Halligan-Screen Daily)
"What is this piece of shit?” (Guy Lodge-Hitfix)
Oscar winner Michel Hazanavicius makes a 180-degree shift from the effervescent charms of 'The Artist' with this grueling, lumbering and didactic war picture. (Justin Chang-Variety)
Forcément très attendu, le nouveau film de Michel Hazanavicius, The Search, laisse un léger goût d’inachevé. (Premiere)
“The Search”, de Michel Hazanavicius, film de guerre bien trop candide (Frédéric Strauss-Telerama)
Le film est une vraie déception malgré des tours de force indéniables (filmosphere)

Adieu Au Langage (Goodye to Language) by Jean-Luc Godard

Already said everything I think about Godard in the Cannes Check about French directors so there is no surprise when I say that no matter what happens in the festival with his latest film, I will not be running to watch the film. Still it is remarkable that after expressing his reservations about the arrival of digital technology Godard embraces cutting-edge technology and does his film in 3D.

From film's promotional material I got the impression that film will have a non-linear narrative that will feel like experimental cinema while having great visual imagery that will not be enough to gather my attention to sustain the whole experience. Reactions from known-to-me critics -who are not afraid to dislike Godard- tend to be on the not-positive side.

Reactions to film
The usual erudite and exuberant Godard video collage with added experimental 3D playfulness. Is often an assault on the senses but I just love what's done with the 3D format, some of it is incredible (FilmLand Empire)
Torrent d'applaudissements après la projection d'Adieu au langage de Godard, beau, drôle et abscons. (Culturebox)
Honestly, stumped. It's a dog's life? Amazing cross-eyed coups; saturation, sound entice. Insufficient (ace) mutt action. (Tim Robey)
ADIEU AU LANGAGE (Godard): Godard frees the cinema-image from its dictatorial frame. Fin du cinéma, etc. Also, poop jokes. (Zach Lewis)
Jean-Luc Godard's ADIEU AU LANGAGE: We're all the dog. Or we aren't. The moment when Godard moves one of the 3D cameras, is truly inventive. (Karsten Meinich)
J'ai vu Adieu au langage. Le chien est parfait. (Chloe Beaumont)
Jean-Luc Godard's Farewell To Language is chaotic, eccentric, exasperating and mad. (Peter Bradshaw-The Guardian)

Out of Competition

L'Homme Qu'on aimaint Trop (In the Name of My Daughter) by André Téchiné

Today's greatest surprise was the release of the film's trailer and from that material I can assure you that Téchiné is alive and well! Yes, there are signs all over the trailer of his peculiar filmmaking style that includes the look and visual texture of his films. Great!!!

Catherine Deneuve and Guillaume Canet look in trailer in top form but is Adèle Haenel who called my attention perhaps because she has been all over the place lately. From winning a Lumiere for Most Promising Young Actress to winning a Cesar for supporting role and her much publicized "coming out" in her award acceptance speech. But particularly this year she is Cannes first at the Quinzaine with Les Combattants and now in the Official Selection in a film by Téchiné and sharing the screen with none other than Catherine Deneuve. Impressive for a young actress that called my attention in 2007 when she was one of the leads in Céline Sciamma's Naissance des pieuvres.

Going back to film -another film based on real people-, this crime-drama story also has Téchiné signature as basically is a story of passion and rivalry, money that is siphoned off and maneuvers by the Mafia; all the ingredients are there to concoct a drama under the sun of the Côte d’Azur. What is unusual is that he decided to include the trial in the film, so we have to see film to find out if was a good or not-so-good idea.

Suggest to watch videos as all speak French, so no voice-overs with annoying translations. Interview is truly funny just to see how awkward Adèle Haenel is in this type of situations and how the group seems to NOT get along well together, which also transpires in the photocall! (lol!) Not often you see cast behaving what seems to be truthfully.

Reactions to film
Malgré Deneuve et Adèle Haenel, la narration du Techiné sur l'affaire Agnelet fait un peu trop penser à "Faites entrer l'accusé" (Time Out Paris) (a France 2 TV Show)
Hoy vi igual L'homme qu'on aimait trop, de André Téchiné, con Catherine Deneuve. Con momentos rescatables, pero no da para mucho. (Arturo Perez Navarro)
La scène du sourire d'Adèle Haenel dans le dernier Téchiné montre que l'actrice n'a pas fini de nous révéler l'ampleur de son talent. (Yann R.)
Vu L'Homme qu'on aimait trop #Techiné Qu'est ce qui le distingue d'un bon tvfilm France3? On va dire de bons acteurs et belle mise en scène. (CinephileParis)

Special Screenings

Of Men and War by Laurent Bécue-Renard

The French film director presents a documentary about young war veterans who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, who, once home, struggle to live the life that they left behind for a while. The crew was allowed to film the therapy of twelve of these American soldiers.

Reactions to film
An illuminating portrait of psychologically damaged Iraq War veterans that works as both a compelling network narrative and a vital historical document. (Jordan Mintzer-THR)

Maïdan by Sergeï Loznitsa

Feature films by Loxnitsa absolutely blow my mind from all points-of-view, the story, the filmmaking slow-ish style, actors' performances, and most of all, his imagery with many compositions that are true visual poetry. He has been twice in competition in Cannes with My Joy in 2010 and In the Fog in 2012.

Even when Loznitsa started doing docs and he returns to what some say is "his favorite genre", I have no idea how this documentary could be/look/feel as chronicles the protest that happened just last December 2013 in Maïdan, a square in Kiev, Ukraine. But I am curious and if I'm able to see film, will be Loznitsa's first doc that I see. Nevertheless the few promotional material I have seen suggest doc has impressive visual images.

Reactions to film
Loznitsa's MAIDAN is a staggering, you-are-there immersion into the epicenter of the Ukrainian Revolution. One of the best of #cannes. (Scott Foundas)
This stunning, epic-scaled film harkens back to the heroic, journalistic roots of documentary-making and yet feels ineffably modern and formally daring. (Leslie Felperin-THR)

Un Certain Regard

Fantasia by Wang Chao

Film looks at the difficulty of living in China today plus the human suffering of facing death and the ability to psychologically overcome a tragedy. Not really familiar with director's work so need reactions to see if he is the level of other sixth generation directors like, for example, jury member, Jia Zhang-ke.

Based in mostly English-language reactions seems that perhaps this is not the film to start learning about this director. The only French-language reaction says the opposite, so probably will give movie a try.

Reactions to film
Realist auteur doesn't break new grounds in social commentary or aesthetics in his latest look at the Chinese working-class. (Clarence Tsui-THR)
#Fantasia de Wang Chao peinture subtile et tendre d'une famille chinoise face à la maladie du père. Magnifique. (Audrey Fournier)
Fantasia: Wang Chao y el monstruo urbano chino. Diluye sus dotes y buenas intenciones con un ritmo y una fatalidad cansinos. (Victor Esquirol)
FANTASIA: Skinny, lurking son keeps family drama alive but otherwise Wang Chao's latest is tired, emotionally-frigid territory. (Brian Hu)

Snow in Paradise by Andrew Hulme

Got the impression that this film has the kind of violence I do not enjoy as was inspired by a true story about a petty delinquent named Martin Askew, who grew up in the East End of London in the milieu of organized crime.

Some compare film to the cinema of Jacques Audiard, which have violence but whatever is shown is not gratuitous as is integral part of the narrative, so perhaps this film also plays with similar style. Will give movie a try.

Reactions to film
SNOW IN PARADISE est un grand échiquier où se déplacent les pions de l’argent, qui se phagocytent et se dévorent jusqu’à ce que la spiritualité rentre en jeu et mettre un terme à ce jeu de pouvoir. (Cinemateaser)
#SnowInParadise Pour un premier film, au lieu d'innover, le réal se contente de suivre les règles. Ca tourne un peu en rond là dedans. (Le 7ème avis)


Short Films Program 1
Skunk by Annie Silverstein
Provincia by Gvorgy mor karpati
Lievito Madre (Sourdough) by Fulvio risuleo
Soom (Breath) by Kwon Hyun-ju

Short Films Program 2
Les Oiseaux-tonnerre (Thunderbirds) by Lea Mysius
Oh Lucy! by Atsuko Hirayangi
The Bigger Picture by Daisy Jacobs
Leto Bez Meseca (Moonless Summer) by Stefan Ivancic

Cannes Classics

Regards sur une Révolution: Comment Yukong Déplaça les Montagnes by Marceline Loridan and Joris Ivens

This Wednesday, the Cannes Classics selection will look back at a historic transformation: that of China in the 1960s and 1970s, when Mao Zedong plunged the country into an unprecedented cultural revolution in order to strengthen his grip on teh nation. This major historical event is related in Regards sur une Révolution, a film consisting of four shorts directed at the time by one of the leading couples of French documentary-making: Marceline Loridan and Joris Ivens.
The Centre National de Cinématographie (CNC) used this feature-length film, which is over twelve hours in its original format, to create Regards sur une Révolution. It selected four of the twelve films that make up the piece (Les Artisans, Une Histoire de Ballons, awarded the César for best short film in 1977, Professeur Tsien and Répétitions à l’Opéra de Pékin) and restored them.

Paris, Texas by Wim Wenders
A cinema classic that I enjoyed a long time ago and wouldn't mind revisiting. Or maybe not. Surely my memories of this film are better than the ones I could create if I see this film today. Sigh. Still if you have not seen it then strongly suggest you watch this Palme d'Or winner.

Masterclass by Sophia Loren

Not often Cannes has an actress masterclass (last was in 2006), much less one given by Sophia Loren. In this unique opportunity the actress will look back at her career, her links with the Festival de Cannes and I assume she has to speak about her directors.

Cinéma de la Plage
La Folie des Garndeurs by Gérard Oury
This comedy has Yves Montand in a lead role but also here an actor I can't stand (sorry), Louis de Funes (the other is Fernandel!); even when I was a kid couldn't watch French comedies and this film was not the exception. Revisit or watch for the first time only if you enjoy French comedies.

Quinzaine des Réalisateurs

P'tit Quinquin by Bruno Dumont

A TV miniseries with characters played by children in "an improbable, screwball and slapstick police procedural focusing on bizarre crimes on the outskirts of a small Channel Town in the Boulonnais that has fallen prey to evil, and to an band of young scoundrels led by Li'l Quinquin and his beloved Eve." Interesting idea but I wonder if I will like it, probably not.

Reactions to film
Qui l’eût cru? Avec sa série P’tit Quinquin, réalisée pour ARTE et présentée à la Quinzaine des réalisateurs, Bruno Dumont signe la comédie la plus drôle du festival. (Quentin Grosset-Trois Couleurs)

Kaguya-Hime No Monogatari (The Tale of The Princess Kaguya) by Isao Takahata

As it is in film's promotional material "The Tale of The Princess Kaguya is the newest animation film from Studio Ghibli, and the strikingly beautiful culmination of decades of contemplation by its director, Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata." and yes, animation looks/feels awesomely beautiful.

Check synopsis: Found inside a shining stalk of bamboo, a tiny girl grows into an exquisite young lady raised by an old bamboo cutter and his wife. From the countryside to the grand capital city, even unseen she enthralls all who encounter her, including five noble suitors. Ultimately she must face her fate, punishment for her crime.

Reactions to film
Isao Takahata revient avec Le sublime conte de la Princesse Kaguya (Premiere)
Isao Takahata's retelling of the oldest recorded Japanese narrative is a visionary tour de force. (Maggie Lee-Variety)

La Semaine de la Critique

ПЛЕМЯ Plemya (The Tribe) by Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy

The last film in competition is very puzzling and strange movie as film has no subtitles or voice-over, characters speak in sign language and you hear background noises. That's it, nothing more. I always have spoken and strongly believe in the power of images with silence and wonder if this film will fit what I have in my head or not.

Maybe perhaps because the nature of the story I feel not attracted to movie but I know that I have to see this not really silent film that surely with non-actors face/body/hands expressions will tell the story that words could not tell. Check the synopsis
Deaf mute Sergey enters a specialized boarding school for deaf-and-dumb. In this new place, he needs to find his way through the hierarchy of the school's network dealing with crime and prostitution, The Tribe. By taking part of several robberies, he gets propelled higher into the organization. Then he meets one of the Chief's concubines Anna, and unwillingly breaks all the unwritten rules of the tribe.

Reactions to film
The Tribe, un choc de cinéma violent et renversant à la @semainecannes: film noir en langage des signes sans sous- titre. Future Caméra d'Or? (Thierry Chèze)
The #Tribe, le film choc de la @semainecannes "fière de représenter la communauté sourde" dit l'actrice: un diamant brut sans parole. (Stephane Leblanc)
“The Tribe”, de Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy, le pari de la violence en silence. (Pierre Murat-Telerama)
The Tribe : caméra d'or en vue. (Abus de ciné)

Short Film Collection Canal + (check info for each short here)

To celebrate its 30th birthday, Canal + gives the green light to 5 French novelists to express their views on today’s world. They asked them to direct a fiction film. These are the short films.

Anti-Trente by Oxmo Puccino
La Contribution by Chloe Delaume
Par Acquis de Confiance by Maxime Chattam
Le plus petit appartement de Paris by Héléna Villovitch
Rosa Mystica by Eva Ionesco and Simon Liberati


Mercuriales by Virgil Vernier

Vernier comes from a background in documentary filmmaking and his first fiction feature film has an unique vision that combines medieval mythology, female characters, a fascination for the Parisian suburbs and a very unique sense of how to capture real life and real people on film. I'm really glad that was able to find info (in TorinoFilmLab) about film even when does not have distribution as what I was able to read absolutely called my attention and made wish seeing movie. Great! Unfortunately watched a clip and nope, I do not like the look plus based on clip, seem it's too talkie for my taste. Sigh. Check synopsis.
Two high-rise buildings stand out against the skyline of the Parisian suburbs. They are LES MERCURIALES. Lisa, Joane and Tony work there, in the concealed parts of these buildings. They are twenty years old and still searching for their paths in life.

Reactions to film
Mercuriales est une œuvre ouverte, dialectique, une tapisserie complexe qui ne place pas le film à mi-chemin du naturalisme et de la stylisation d'esthète mais ailleurs, au-delà, dans un espace où l'impératif de montrer ne contredit pas celui de penser. (Jean François Rauger-Le Monde)

-In the past few days press headlines talk about Cannes having many movies about women, which is true; but I do not understand why the have to add: even if female filmmakers are rare.  Wish the later will be said in a context of good/great cinema, not just because of gender.
-I'm having a blast reading the tweets after the press screening of Xavier Dolan's Mommy and don't mind learning too much about film, as makes me happy that media likes his movie! Happy.

Not-so-serious News
-As festival fades there are not many parties but tomorrow is perhaps the most famous event in Cannes, the amfAR Cinema Against AIDS event. The Foundation for AIDS Research benefit at the Hotel du Cap-Eden Roc. The evening will flag off with a Champagne reception and dinner, followed by a live auction, a fashion show and performances by Robin Thicke and Lana del Ray, closing with a glamorous after-party. This year Aishwarya and Abhishek Bachachan will chair the event as well as many other known business, fashion and cinema personalities.  If you visit their official site you will read: Thank you for your interest in supporting and attending Cinema Against AIDS 21. The event is entirely SOLD OUT. So maybe next year you get your tickets earlier.

Photos of the Day

Sophia Loren watching Sophia Loren

By popular demand, here is Aish

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