Friday, May 18, 2012

Day 3 at 2012 Cannes

Today is a strange Cannes day for as both of the films screened in the main competition are not that much interesting for me and is in the other sections where films call my attention. Strange, isn't?

Main Competition

Reality by Matteo Garrone

Matteo Garrone history with Cannes starts with Gomorra that I realized was a good movie but had a very hard-to-watch story for me. His next film, Reality, suggests to have an easier to watch story while keeping a style that I tend to see as cinema verité -with a modern version of classic Italian neo-realism-.

Reality is a satirical comedy focusing on the obsessional relationship between Italy's TV and Reality TV; obsession that I imagine could be extrapolated to many other countries like for example, America. Still I expect a very Italian story with those particular characters that inhabit Italian cinema. Check the synopsis.

Luciano is a Neapolitan fishmonger who supplements his modest income by pulling off little scams together with his wife Maria. A likeable, entertaining guy, Luciano never misses an opportunity to perform for his customers and countless relatives. One day his family urge him to try out for Big Brother. In chasing this dream his perception of reality begins to change.

Not really watched the available photocall, TV Festival de Cannes interview or the press conference as to be honest I'm not interested in learning more about this movie that I know I'll watch out of curiosity trying to understand the reason why this film is in the official selection. Besides, can't stand the voice-over translation after a few minutes. Sigh.

Will confess that have been reading some reviews and spotted one that changed my perception for the positive. Reliable review tells about the very long film opening sequence that sounds exactly how I like my films, now I'm excited about this film that English language media is trashing. Good.

Paradies: Liebe (Paradise: Love) by Ulrich Seidl

The first of what many have predicted will be a controversial film and if you read news headlines then you'll realize that they were right. Not very familiar with director but his previous film Import/Export is one of those films that I simply couldn't watch, so my expectations regarding this film are extremely low.

Since I learned about the story I couldn't help but to compare it with Laurent Cantet's Vers le sud (Heading South) where three French female tourists go to 1980's Haiti while Seidl's film tells about one Austrian female tourist that go to Kenya, but is only the first installment of a trilogy with two more stories to follow. Main difference seems to come from Cantet's film having a very important political implication while Seidl's film seems to tell a story about longing for love. In his next films, one will be about sex tourism and the last about losing virginity Check film synopsis.

On Kenya’s beaches they are known as "sugar mamas": European women who seek out African boys selling love to earn a living. Teresa, a 50-year-old Austrian woman, travels to this vacation paradise. "PARADISE: Love" tells of older women and young men, of Europe and Africa, and of the exploited, who end up exploiting others. Ulrich Seidl’s film is the first in his PARADISE-Trilogy about three women, three vacations and three stories of the longing to find happiness today.

Still I found some movie clips quite funny in a very dark way, so maybe eventually I could give this movie a try hoping to have a better experience than with his previous film. Sigh.

Skipped videos for the same reasons as the first movie in competition; wish they had a version where there was no voice-over translations for those that understand the language(s) people are speaking.

Un Certain Regard

Beast of the Southern Wild by Benh Zeitlin

Debut film (competing for the Camera d'Or) by Benh Zeitlin that is an award-winner at Sundance fest. Great credentials specially because after watching trailer got interested in watching for what seems like a dreamlike world told with great visuals. Check trailer here and the following synopsis.

Hushpuppy, an intrepid six-year-old girl, lives with her father, Wink, in "the Bathtub," a southern Delta community at the edge of the world. Wink's tough love prepares her for the unraveling of the universe; for a time when he's no longer there to protect her. When Wink contracts a mysterious illness, nature flies out of whack-temperatures rise, and the ice caps melt, unleashing an army of prehistoric creatures called aurochs. With the waters rising, the aurochs coming, and Wink's health fading, Hushpuppy goes in search of her lost mother.

Story probably will not be easy-to-watch as is set against the backdrop of Katrina but I hope that film visuals and suggested poetry will make the ride easier as definitively is a film that calls my attention and I know I'll be watching.

Laurence Anyways by Xavier Dolan

One of the most awaited films by me as absolutely enjoyed his two previous films mainly because I believe that Xavier Dolan has a particular -quite quirky- storytelling style that loudly says the word ART in the most unique way, by the use of primary colors, beautiful sights, great framing, slow pace, great music score/songs in a non-conventional narrative that tells stories often told but never seen like in his films. That's what I expect from this film and I'm sure I will get it. Just check the trailer here.

Then I consider Dolan as the best contemporary director of LGTB themed films, the one that seems to have constant high quality movies while telling good gay interest stories and I hope that this film will continue to improve his oeuvre style as well as the LGTB genre. But I know that not many that like the genre will agree with me as he does not have the regular genre style; which obviously makes his movies not for all LGTB audiences. We have to remember that he does films that absolutely transcends the genre.

Laurence Anyways is the story of a wild and unusual love. Check the synopsis.

Montreal, 1989. Laurence (Melvil Poupaud), who teaches literature at a CEGEP, has lived for two years with Fred (Suzanne Clément), the love of his life. On his 30th birthday, Laurence tells Fred that although he's madly in love with her and he doesn't want to lose her, he's a woman trapped in a man's body and wants to undergo a sex change. Although Fred feels betrayed at first, she decides to stay and help Laurence with his transformation. But daily life is not easy for the unusual couple. Laurence is fired after he starts dressing as a woman at school. Fred begins to resent Laurence for wanting her in spite of deciding to be a woman.

Dolan may not be pleased that his film did not made the competition line up but viewers like me are really happy that he continues to make very interesting films from whichever point-of-view you wish to analyze them. Ah! this is another film that many assure will generate controversy at Cannes and yes, film is competing for the Queer Palm and I'm sure deserves winning but there is another more genre conventional gay film that could please the jury more and probably will win.

Absolutely Must Be Seen for me, but yes I know, is not for everyone.

Out of Competition

Madagascar 3, Europe’s Most Wanted by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath

By now it has become usual that Cannes screens an American animation movie which surely brings media attention to the fest but makes me wonder why they so prominently do not screen animation films from other countries that produce higher quality animation and probably need more the exposure that Cannes gives. Sigh.

This movie is the 5th DreamWorks film to be presented at Cannes and will be shown in 3D today. Not much to talk about film that surely will collect huge amounts of money around the world.

Photocall, press conference and red carpet videos are available to watch if you wish to see -for entertainment purposes- the actors that gave their voice to the characters, Jessica Chastain, Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, Martin Short, Jada Pinkett-Smith and David Schwimmer.

Special Screenings

Der Müll Im Garten Eden (Polluting Paradise) by Fatih Akin

One of my favorite directors returns to Cannes with a documentary about a very important current issue: garbage pollution -so important that there is in Cannes another doc, Trashed, with the same theme-.

I find the story behind the filming of this doc fascinating as tells that while filming some great Auf der Anderen Seite scenes in his grandparents homeland at Çamburnu, Turkey, learnt that the state was intending to build a garbage dump just next door. He started to film, thinking "naively" that this would deter the planners and got into a project that would last five years. This is the synopsis.

Camburnu is a small mountain village in northeastern Turkey. Thanks to the Black Sea’s mild and humid climate, the villagers have lived for generations off tea cultivation and fishing in harmony with the nature surrounding them. But this idyllic environment is threatened by the government’s decision ten years ago to build a garbage landfill directly above the village. Despite protests by the mayor and the villagers, a waste facility has been built that does not comply with the most important security and building standards and since then has continued to pollute the environment through accidents and disasters. The air is polluted, the ground water is contaminated, the annual rains flush the waste down the slopes, and flocks of birds and stray dogs have besieged the village. The tea growers, whose plantations lie beneath the landfill, have lost their livelihood. The consequences are devastating and clearly evident for everyone to see and yet tons of waste continues to be dumped in the landfill every day.

Not easy to imagine this theme in the hands of whom has been called "a poet of sadness" but then if I think twice, there is nothing more sad nowadays as how effectively we human beings are destroying planet Earth. Absolutely Must Be Seen for me as I know Akin's filmmaking and storytelling style has to be in this documentary.

Mekong Hotel by Apichatpong Weerasethakul,

Palme d'Or winner Weerasethakul takes us into another of his mystical cinema voyages, one that travels fact, fiction and fantasy while telling a critical view of Thai society. This time he also is an actor in the film that has the following synopsis.

Mekong Hotel is a portrait of a hotel near the Mekong River in the north-east of Thailand. The river there marks the border between Thailand and Laos. In the bedrooms and terraces, Apichatpong held a rehearsal with his crew for a movie that he wrote years ago called Ecstasy Garden. The film shuffles different realms, fact and fiction, expressing the bonds between a vampire-like mother and her daughter, the young lovers and the river. Mekong Hotel - since it was shot at the time of the heavy flooding in Thailand - also weaves in layers of demolition, politics, and a drifting dream of the future.

Intriguing story that I know will not be easy to watch because Apichatpong filmmaking and storytelling style is hard to follow, but I know that I'll be watching film. To learn more about this film suggest to read article here.

Cannes Classics

Today Cannes pays tribute to Keisuke Kiroshita screening his 1958 film Narayama Bushi Ko, a film inspired by Kabuki. To read more go here.

Also today the screening of Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America new restored by the iniciative of Martin Scorsese's Film Foundation and carried out by the Cinémathèque de Bologne plus other institutions . Version is very close to the director's initial montage and is 25 minutes longer. If you wish to lean more go here.  Film was presented by Jennifer Connelly, James Woods and Robert De Niro.

Cinéma de la Plage

Today a film directed by Jackie Chan, 1983 Project A, in which he also stars. To read more go here.


No by Pablo Larraín

I watch everything that Pablo Larraín does for the big screen, so it's no surprise when I say that film is Must Be Seen for me. But this time I have my doubts as lead character is played by an actor that I don't enjoy much, Gael Garcia Bernal; but hope that Larraín was able to make his performance more enjoyable. Also here Larraín regular great Alfredo Castro the lead in director fabulous films Tony Manero and Post Mortem.

From the little I been able to learn -which is more than enough for me- without a doubt I believe that story will be interesting.

When Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet, facing international pressure, calls for a referendum on his presidency in 1988, opposition leaders persuade a brash young advertising executive, Rene Saavedra, to spearhead their campaign. With scant resources and constant scrutiny by the despot’s watchmen, Saavedra and his team devise an audacious plan to win the election and free their country from oppression.

I expect unconventional narrative with Larraín peculiar style that is not easy-to-watch as can be considered brutal and very realistic, told with a very slow pace that seems like movie stays still for too long periods of time. Also expect a very intense emotional voyage that plays more with non-pleasant emotions. No, I'm not a masochist, you have to watch his films to really understand what I'm expecting and how those films give you great cinematic experiences.. But the inclusion of Garcia Bernal makes me think that maybe this time Larraín has gone more mainstream, let's hope I'm wrong.

I already know that today's screening had a long standing ovation (or like someone says: Wild Applause) and that some critics reviews are positive, so my hopes for a great film are confirmed, somehow. Spanish press goes wild with reactions, articles abound all over. I'm learning about media reactions because I'm looking for a film still that doesn't have Gael Garcia to include here, but as there is no trailer there is no sans Gael Garcia photo, unbelievable. So,  photo is from the screening with film credits in the background.

Alyah by Elie Wajeman

Debut film (competing for the Camera d'Or) by Wajeman that I'm not sure if I will enjoy or not. From few clips and synopsis can't figure out director style or if I will like story, but I'm not concerned as with many French films it is only after watching that you learn if you like director style and story. Then cast is interesting with the likes of Cédric Kahn and Adèle Haenel.

Suggest to check clips here and this is film synopsis.

Paris 2011. Alex is 27. He's lives off dealing and pays the debts of his brother, Isaac, who after being his support has now become dead weight. When his cousin announces he's going to open a restaurant in Tel Aviv, Alex imagines he can join him and change his life. Set on emigrating, Alex has to find money, leave his beloved Paris, end his complicated love life, drop his destructive brother and find his way.


As we know yesterday Nuri Bilge Ceylan received the Carrosse d'Or and earlier he gave a masterclass. To honor and congratulate him here are some great photos from the masterclass.

Semaine de la Critique

Au Galop by Louis-Do de Lencquesaing

Lencquesaing debut film that is another French film with a great cast that I'm not sure will enjoy or not; nevertheless clips suggests that I probably will. Check clips here.

Lencquesaing is best known as an actor, last saw him in acclaimed Maïwenn's Polisse, but he has been in 61 films; the good news is that he also acts in film along with Xavier Beauvois, Denis Podalydès, Marthe Keller, and Alice de Lenquesaing. But is synopsis what stimulates most my imagination.

Ada was settled in her life, she was pleased with it, or thought she was. She was one half of a couple who seemed happy, she’d had a child, was even due to get married, and wham… she met Paul… And this Paul was writer to boot, who lived alone with his grown daughter, had an exceedingly intrusive mother, and had the unfortunate idea of losing his father when this story had hardly got off the ground… Life started to gather speed. It was about time.

Think I have to watch this film that first European reviews headlines tell about reviewers' approval.

Howard by Shia LaBeouf

The special screening of the fourth short film by this very talented young American actor -that I'm still waiting for him to stop doing Hollywood blockbuster movies-. Story is very " à propos " of the section where is screened, take a look.

This is the story of Howard Cantour. A film critic. A warrior. He lives his life vicariously through movies and in movies. But Howard is no sellout. He says it like he sees it. This is the story of his life and how he struggles to review his film hero's latest directed movie.

Yes will watch if ever comes near me.


Today La Vierge, Les Coptes et Moi (The Virgin, the Copts and Me) by Namir Abdel Messeeh a documentary that tells the story of Namir who decides to shoot a film on the Virgin Mary's apparition in Egypt, but then the problems start. Film was at 2012 Tribeca so there are many reviews; if you wish to read one review at Slant Magazine go here.  Not really interested in film.


Think is about time to talk about something that's happening in Cannes which makes me extremely uncomfortable. This year the selection has all male directors and before fest opening a French feminist group, La Barbe, started a protest to complain about the absence of women directors. News spur into the world scenario thanks to wide media coverage. Then American feminists joined the protest with a petition at initially signed by 250 people that by now has about 700 protesters demanding more women directors at Cannes.

I don't appreciate that this is a man's world as my own experience taught me what means to reach the crystal ceiling and not being able to advance my career due to the fact that I am a woman working in a huge international corporation with an all male board and only males in top positions.

But I do not wish that Cannes organizers select a film just because they have to fill a female directors' quota. I wish that women directors create great films that have the word ART attached to it, films that explode emotions, films that leave you breathless and in a few words, films that intensively move viewers. Then, only then, films will be worthy of Cannes and many other festivals in the world.

I highly appreciate world feminist movements as when something changes in the big countries the effect eventually spills all over the world; but, again, their specific Cannes efforts will only generate that festivals be forced to fill a quota with films that do not necessarily deserve to be honored and that's unacceptable to me.

Other Important News

Another day with very interesting announcements.

Headline read: Cate Blanchett to star in lesbian drama Carol.. Oh!!! Fantastic News! Cate Blanchett and Mia Wasikowska are to play the leads in a film version of Patricia Highsmith's lesbian classic Carol, adapted by Phyllis Nagy and directed by John Crowley. Highsmith novel was written under the Claire Morgan pseudonym and the name The Price of Salt in 1952; perhaps her best known work is The Talented Mr. Ripley thanks to the movie with the same name.

FilmDistrict acquired US distribution rights to Dead Man Down, a romantic thriller that reunites again what I believe was a very successful duo: Director Niels Arden Oplev (remember excellent original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?) and Noomi Rapace (remember awesome original Lisbeth Salander?). My only concern is that Noomi co-star is Colin Farrel as can't imagine them working together but hopefully Niels Arden Oplev will work his magic.

Gwyneth Paltrow is in negotiations to play opposite to Antonio Banderas in Guernica 33 Days, the tale of Pablo Picasso's emotional turmoil as he painted his masterpiece.

Bertrand Bonello next film will be about the "passionate love" between Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé; set in the 60's and 70's. Great.

Sylvain Chomet is preparing a prequel to fabulous Triplettes de Belleville called Swing Papa Swing.

Think already twitted about François Ozon's latest movie, Dans La Maison (In the House) that today news tell that US distribution rights have been acquired by Cohen Media Group. Film opens in October in France. Film star is none other than Kristin Scott-Thomas. CMG also has rights to Sylvie Verheyde's Confession of a Child of the Century with Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Fantastic news is to find that producer Raymond Danon is in Cannes to finalize finance on film called Romy, about the life of tragic actress Romy Schneider!!! No actress has been cast yet to play Romy, but shooting is scheduled to start in March 2013.

Other Activities

Trophee Chopard in Partnership with Variety was handled by Sean Penn to winners Shailene Woodley and Ezra Miller last night at Martinez Hotel. Private party followed with Lana Del Rey concert. This award is given to achievements of Rising Talents and past winners include Marion Cotillard, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Diane Kruger and Gael Garcia Bernal. Just in case you are not aware Chopard is the creator of the Palme d'Or.

This evening, the Festival Agora will be hosting a benefit event for Haiti organized by Sean Penn, Petra Nemcova and Paul Haggis. Also involved Giorgio Armani who with his niece Roberta will act as the event chairs; gala will also benefit Nemcova's charity, the Happy Hearts Fund and Haggi's Artists for Peace and Justice. Photocall video is available at Cannes site if you wish to watch it.

If you have time browse the Screen At The Cannes Film Festival daily that surprisingly is FREE to read. Dailys' are very user friendly but have 100 pages with so much great info that will drive you crazy. Huge Enjoy and BIG Thank You to Screen! Go here to open Yudu file.

Suggest to watch the Daily from Variety Live @Cannes that broadcasts live at 1:00pm EST, 10am PDT; but you can also watch recorded editions. Go here.  Variety also has a FREE Cannes daily but it is not Yudu so is a bit harder to read, use this link and go down the page to find the three available.

The Not-So-Serious News

The Quinzaine might not have a good website but surely they know how to party; check some photos here.

Last night was the L'Oreal and Cannes Film Festival 15th Anniversary dinner and not only the L'Oreal stars attend but also many celebrities.

Those magnificent photos from last night fireworks were from the China Night - Opening Night of the Market event.

In Cannes, Naomi Watts, la divine Ludivine Sagnier, Melissa George, Joshua Jackson (yes with Diane Kruger), Salma Hayek, Paz Vega, Gemma Aterton, Dark Shadows Australian Bella Heathcote, Danny Glover, Ennio Moriccone, Elizabeth McGovern, Mads Mikkelsen, Asia Argento and Dario Argento.

Just for fun check a video from Calvin Klein's last night Women in Film soiree here.

Photos of the Day

Been to those VIP movie theaters where seats become almost beds and yes, I have fallen asleep in them. But nothing appeals me more right now that being able to go to Cinéma de la Plage to watch the great films and to be pampered in cozy white blankets. Photo was last night on the Croisette.

Europeans will know who is in this great photo. Can you guess?

Is Charlotte Casiraghi, Caroline's daughter and Grace Kelly's grandaughter.

No comments yet