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Film Critics: Today, December 13, winners from Dallas ForthWorthFCA, ChicagoFCA and Film Comment Magazine. Nominations from HoustonFCS, PhoenixCC. PhoenixFCS.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Day 4 at 2012 Cannes


Today's program is fantastic with great recent and older films.

Main Competition

După dealuri (Beyond the Hills) by Cristian Mungiu

Extremely excited that one of my favorite directors, the one that made learn a new language and introduced me to Romanian New Wave cinema, has a new film.

I expect an intense emotional experience and outstanding visuals, more great visuals than what we got from his masterpiece Palme d'Or winner 4 luni, 3 săptămâni şi 2 zile (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) as story allows him to create fantastic outdoor compositions, check impressive clip here. If you wish to learn more about my expectations go here.

Photocall introduces me to the cast and only if wish to meet them watch video. TV Festival de France interviewer says that's a "love story" oh, my hopes improve, even do I know that lesbian interest is absolutely non-essential for me to be excited about this movie, still it is a big plus. Interview -in general- confirms that my expectations are in this film, there are some little spoilers moments that I didn't mind learning, suggest to watch if you wish to learn more about movie.

Press conference allows me to learn that story is more about "intimate friendship" between two women, which definitively motivates me to stop thinking about this non-essential issue, great as this expectation was starting to annoy me. Answers about tech specs are very exciting... perhaps I should not watch more as I'm raising even more my expectations. They're starting to asks questions about "the meaning" and no, I don't want to learn anything about Mungiu's (or any other) story interpretation before watching film. Better stop watching but I was highly enjoying Mungiu's very concrete answers. Watch only if you do not mind spoilers.

Red carpet was during day time, so looks and feels informal, there is an interview with Mungiu that gives more spoilers (sigh). We can see the Dardenne brothers who are film co-producers. Upsets me that there are very few press photographers as this is a film that really deserves media exposure.

Have to admit that checked in Twitter reactions to this film. English press comments are divided, some say is good while others call it a disappointment; Romanian comments tend to be positive, French comments also are positive, while Spanish comments tend to follow English reactions. My net take away, if I consider these reactions, is that I will like this film that has to have more European style than Mungiu's first film, which to me is just excellent!

Think will share something I already know about the story told in this film which probably is generating some not-positive reactions. This film is inspired on a true story that happened in Romania and yes, includes an exorcism that was done in the real life story. So, no surprises -in this sense- for you and me when we watch film.

Obviously film is Must Be Seen for me.

Lawless by John Hillcoat

Trailer (here) and good cast excited me and gave me hopes to have a good entertainment escape moment, let see if what I'll be learning today change my expectations.

Watch photocall only to see the fantastic cast this movie has, great Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, and Guy Pearce. TV Festival de Cannes is dry as interviewers did not changed his usual style and this group told him he already answered whatever he was asking, which I think is true. Only exception is Jessica that tries harder to answer, lovely and Guy Pierce. Video is kind of entertaining but nothing else, so if you skip will not miss much.

Press conference starts quite animated and as expected -after interview- is entertaining with more silly/funny answers than serious ones. Director is about the only one that gives interesting answers. But then press questions are not that good. Hillcoat gives very interesting comments about the state-of-the-cinema business in America. Finally Jessica and Mia are talking, both give good answers. Yes is true, Jessica was last year with two films and again this year with two films, quite an accomplishment for a young actress, isn't? Impressive, Jessica and Mia intervention changed the press conference mood that turned more serious and interesting. Video is entertaining with some irrelevant moments and some serious moments; yes think I'll recommend seeing both for entertaining purposes as well as for learning interesting aspects about film.


Red carpet video is worth watching just to see how beautiful Mia and Jessica are. Have to admit that I'm kind of disappointed by the performance the male cast/crew gave in Cannes, perhaps is their first time in fest or maybe in real life they're arrogant, but they have to know that they're working and the many eyes that watch Cannes deserve their respect as is not only the media who are watching them.

After all I have seen my expectations did not changed a bit, still expecting more an entertaining escape moment; which makes me wonder why this film is in the selection. Well let's hope there is more than what I expect.

My Twitter exploration mostly takes me into English comments that approve film for being "gripping, bloody and characterful", but there are some with sarcastic comments like "doesn't deserve to be part of the competition... wait, producer is Harvey Weinstein" ... reliable critics' comments tend to be not positive "cocktail of violence and sentimentality", "macho-sentimental violence".

Un Certain Regard

Les Chevaux de Dieu (God's Horses) by Nabil Ayouch

First time in Cannes director has a film that seems to have quite impressive visuals (trailer) but surely story will not be that easy to watch as was inspired by the terrorist attacks on May 16, 2003 in Casablanca, Morocco. This is the film synopsis.

Yachine is 10 years old, he lives with his family in the slum of Sidi Moumen in Casablanca. His mother, Yemma, leads the family as best as she can. His father suffers from depression, one of his brothers is in the army, another is almost autistic and the third, Hamid, 13, is the boss of the local neighborhood and Yachine’s protector. When Hamid is sent to jail, Yachine takes up jobs after jobs, though empty, to get free from the doldrums of violence, misery and drugs. Released from prison, Hamid, now an Islamic fundamentalist, persuades Yachine and his pals to join their "brothers". The Imam, Abou Zoubeir, their spiritual leader, starts to direct their long-standing physical and mental preparation.
One day, he tells them they have been chosen to become martyrs.

Not my kind of movie mainly because story; but visuals and great visual compositions definitely call my attention. If comes near me and I find the right mood maybe I'll watch it.

Antiviral by Brandon Cronenberg

I imagine that being David Cronenberg's son is not easy, especially when son follows the father steps; consequently I'm trying to be fair and forget the connection. Is not until this moment that I'm able to watch a clip from this movie at Cannes site and definitively I'm impressed with Cronenberg's storytelling style but what tells me that this could be a "crazy" movie is the synopsis.

Syd March is an employee at a clinic that sells injections of live viruses harvested from sick celebrities to obsessed fans. Biological communion - for a price. Syd also supplies illegal samples of these viruses to piracy groups, smuggling them from the clinic in his own body. When he becomes infected with the disease that kills super sensation Hannah Geist, Syd becomes a target for collectors and rabid fans. He must unravel the mystery surrounding her death before he suffers the same fate.

Twitter tells very funny comments that tell approval like "Brandon Cronenberg definitively was not adopted"; but serious reviewers tend to not spontaneously give something about movie, "I'm still not sure" says one -which I don't really know how to interpret it as there are two possibilities: be careful what you write as is about Cronenberg son or is a film that stays with you and later will become clear. But in general seems there is film approval in English for those that stay the whole film as seems some left theater.

My expectations rotate around great visuals in a horror story that could be crazy/creepy. As some of you know I do not enjoy horror films, so am I going to skip this film? Are you kidding, there is no way I'll skip this film by David Cronenberg's son, have to see it even if I get repulsed by story.

Out of Competition

The Sapphires by Wayne Blair

I'm very curious about this film that trailer plus synopsis made me wish I had to learn about the real story and the play, which immediately I did. Afterwards my curiosity was risen even more.

Film is based on an award winning play with the same name written by Tony Briggs about a singing group of four Koori women who tour Vietnam during the war, a story that's inspired in the true story of Briggs mother and aunt. Briggs co wrote the movie screenplay which is directed by Wayne Blair, who was an actor in the play. The group, the play and how they did the movie are very fascinating stories, but Blair's movie seems destined to captivate world audiences as seems like a feelgood movie. Check the film synopsis.

1968 was the year the planet went haywire. All around the globe, there were riots and revolution in the streets. There were hard drugs, soft drugs, free love and psychedelic music. There was the shock of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy’s assassinations. And dominating every other news story. There was Vietnam. For four gorgeous young women from a remote Aboriginal mission, 1968 was the year that changed their lives forever. Sisters Gail, Julie and Cynthia, together with their cousin Kay, are discovered by Dave, a down-on-his-luck Irish musician with attitude, a taste for Irish Whiskey and an ear for Soul Music. Dave steers the girls away from their Country & Western origins then flies them to the war-zones of South Vietnam, where they sing Soul Classics for the American Marines. On tour in the Mekong Delta, the girls sing up a storm, dodge bullets. And fall in love.

I strongly suggest you read this Cannes site article as briefly tells about movie historical context. Yes this is women-centered story about what Australia was like in 1968 and which Blair sees as a way of paying homage to his Aborigine grand-mother, a passionate fan of soul music, who died in 1966 as a foreigner in her own country.

Think I like too much the story and I hope the movie is as good as the story and the award-winning play reviews are.

Red carpet video is available if you wish to meet/see the actors in this film, especially well-known Chris O'Dowd. Twitter very active Mister Thierry Fremaux after premiere was over twitted that audience gave an interminable applause.

Special Screenings

Today Dario Argento's Dracula 3D by the master of Giallo with his daughter Asia Argento and Rutger Hauer that no, I have no interest in watching as Giallo is not my cinema genre at all. But know that genre and director fans will like to watch this film.

Cannes Classics

Today Cannes Classics screens two movies that are really classics in my book.

The Ring by Alfred Hitchcock

"One of the first full-length movies directed by the master of suspense: a silent film where a love triangle tears itself apart against a background of boxing and the fairground" That is how the article at Cannes site starts, which I suggest you read it.

Master filmmaker Hitchcock deserves that this digitally restored by the British Film Institute is released in Blu ray so it can end up in my collection.

Lawrence of Arabia by David Lean

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the film Cannes is screening in restored print by Sony Pictures Entertainment one of the greatness film in cinema history and undoubtedly David Lean's masterpiece. Restored version was made from the Director's Cut in 1989 and includes 21 minutes of unreleased footage, bringing the total running time to 3 hours 42 minutes. Hope they release a Blu ray as this is a version I would simply LOVE to see even when I still remember the story and the absolutely impressive Peter O'Toole performance, but film also have other great performances by Anthony Quinn, Omar Sharif, Alec Guinnes, Jose Ferrer and more.


Around the Selection

Leçon de Musique Masterclass by Alexandre Desplat

Today in a packed room Alexandre Desplat gave his Masterclass about a personal history of film music. Interesting is to learn that Desplat has composed the music to all Jacques Audiard films. If you wish to learn more go here.

Cinéma de la Plage

Today Le Farceur (The Joker) by Philippe Broca a light French film that I saw a long-long time ago with very young Anouk Aimée and Jean-Pierre Cassel. Suggest you read more here and watch movie clip.

Quinzaine

La Sirga by William Vega

Trailer gives you the idea that film will be very visual with glorious slow pace but synopsis tells you that not all will be enjoyable in this film, check synopsis

Alicia is helpless. Fleeing the armed violence that has claimed the lives of those dearest to her, she ends up in La Sirga, at the guesthouse of Oscar, the only family she has left. Here, on the shores of a great lake in the Andes, she tries to rebuild her life. But this place, where she feels safe, is not spared by the fighting. The return of Freddy, the son that Oscar has been awaiting for years, his enigmatic intentions and his possible link with the warring factions bring La Sirga what Alicia fears the most.

Spontaneously this Colombian, French and Mexican production gave the impression that I was watching a Reygadas film but probably is only because trailer has a very good scenes edition. Check trailer here.

Film calls my attention and will watch when comes near me.

El Taaib by Merzak Allouache

After finally watching clips, film seems like a movie to watch because the story it tells and don't particularly find story interesting. This is the synopsis.

Algeria region of the high flatlands. As Islamist groups continue to spread terror, Rashid, a young Jihadist, leaves the mountains to return to his village. In keeping with the law « of pardon and national harmony », he has to surrender to the police and give up his weapon. He thus receives amnesty and becomes a « repenti ». But the law cannot erase his crimes and for Rachid it's the beginning of a one-way journey of violence, secrets and manipulation.

La Noche de Enfrente by Raoul Ruiz

As a special screenings Raoul Ruiz first posthumous oeuvre that I'm sure is screened to honor the prolific director. Can't say that I enjoyed all his films but this one was his going-back-to-Chile film which makes it more interesting for me. This is the film synopsis:Three ages of a man who sees death approach overlap. Raoul Ruiz's film testament.

What do I expect from film? Lots of fantasy presented as reality and lots of reality presented as fantasy, which is what director does in many of his films plus short stories in which film is inspired suggest magic could be also in film. Also expect an exploration of death, dying.

Not looking forward to watch film but know that eventually I will.

Semaine de la Critique

God's Neighbors by Meni Yaesh

Know too little about this film to have an opinion as only have seen a few scenes, some film stills and the following synopsis.

Rules must be followed. For the “supervisors” of a Bat Yam neighborhood in Israel, this means ensuring that women are dressed appropriately, that people respect Shabbat, or that Arabs from Jaffa don’t enter the neighborhood with music blaring from their cars. Avi, Kobi and Yaniv are young and know how to fight. Avi is their leader. The group’s dynamic is challenged when Avi threatens a young woman that doesn’t follow their rules, a woman he’s about to fall in love with…

Hard to believe that film is only a love story but until a trailer or more information are released is all that I know from Yaesh debut film competing for the Camera d'Or.

Augustine by Alice Winocour

Special screening of Winocour film that from clip here seems to be a very classic French film but being in La Semaine tells me that surely I'm wrong as this section usually screens very hard-to-watch and unusual films.

Still not sure why film is competing for the Queer Palm as synopsis does not suggest anything related to this award; this is the synopsis.

1885. In Paris, at Pitié Salpêtrière hospital, Professor Charcot is trying to understand an illness, hysteria, the causes of which as yet unknown. Augustine, a young woman just out of childhood, presents all the symptoms of the illness. It isn’t long before she attracts his attention. From object of study, Augustine soon becomes an object of desire, and the exclusive subject of his research, his obsession. Augustine does everything she can to seduce the Professor when he carries out experiments on her. Over the course of his examinations, their intimacy grows: the closer Charcot comes, the more he desires her; and the more he looks at her, the sicker she becomes

Film has well-known actors like Chiara Mastroianni and Vincent Landon; but it is singer Soko (aka Stéphanie Sokolinski - she also is in Despentes' Bye Bye Blondie ) that plays Agustine who gets my attention from clip.

Actually I really do not need to know more about this film that I know will watch as soon as comes near me. Expect a very French film like that ones that disturb me but are quite emotional cinematic experiences.

Short Films Program 1

Today the first short films program that screens the following shorts: Ce n’est pas un film de cow-boys by Benjamin Parent, Un dimanche matin by Damien Manivel, Hazara by Shay Levi, O Duplo by Juliana Rojas, and Yeguas y Cotorras de Natalia Garagiola.

L'ACID

Today Ini Avan by Asoka Handagama a Sri Lanka production that has the following synopsis: After the war in Sri Lanka, an ex-militant of the Tamil Tigers returns home in hope of starting a new « normal » life. Don't know much about this film and story does not call my attention, so I think I'll skip it.

Cannes News

Not many news today so will tell you about a Swedish project directed by Daniel Fridell that will bring to the big screen the biopic of Swedish porn king Berth Milton Jr.

Music Box Films picked up all North American rights to Sean Baker's Startlet with Dree Heminway (Mariel's daughter).

Other Activities

There were several parties last night and tonight there are many more, so is no surprise to find Cyndi Lauper, Ron Wood, Lyle Lovett, Boy George in Cannes.

The source of my in Cannes today is Getty Images that keep me informed about the celebrities but today I found not many photos of newcomers, so list is brief with Gerard Butler, Robert Rodriguez, and Michelle Rodriguez. Also Jane Fonda left Cannes.

Photos of the Day

Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska today best photos from Lawless photocall and Red Carpet.

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