Tuesday, April 28, 2015

2015 Cannes Check #8 - The Americans

For the purpose of this exercise I call America to the continent that goes from Alaska down to Chile; but also when talking about a group of people living in one country, refers to those born in USA . So in the America continent directors we have one Mexican director, one Canadian director and one American director.

Michel Franco

Born in Mexico City in 1979. Right after his media studies started to make short films, his 2001 Cuando Sea Grande, an anti-corruption short became his first; then in 2003 he did short Entre Dos won several international honors. He gained international recognition with his first feature film 2009 Daniel and Ana screened in the Directors' Fortnight in Cannes. Then in 2010 he attended La Résidence where he developed the screenplay for his second feature film, After Lucia, that was finished by 2012, opened in Cannes Un Certain Regard and won the section top award.

His third feature film, Chronic, is his first in the English language and his first in Cannes main competition. I really wonder how much of his style will be kept in a not-Mexican production; still have to imagine that maybe he was able to keep some of his disturbing style as film is a so-called Indie film with no studio behind. We have to recall that Tim Roth met Franco in 2012 Cannes, when Roth served on the jury of Un Certain Regard and gave him the top award, so at least the lead actor knows Franco's disturbing psychological narrative style. They wanted to work together, so much that Franco's original story lead was a woman but change it into a man after meeting Roth.

Believe it or not, the most exciting news related to this film is being able to see Bitsie Tulloch in the big screen and Cannes red carpet! (LOL)

Unfortunately information about the film still is confusing and consequently unreliable. Most info comes from the movie site at Wild Bunch plus the European database site, Cinando. Both sites confirm that even when film was shot in USA there are NO US Dollars involved in the production.

Basic info about Chronic
Director: Michel Franco
Scriptwriter: Michel Franco
Language: English
Runtime: 90 mins
Production country: France and Mexico
Production Companies: Vamonos Films (Grégoire Lassalle), Lucia Films
Distribution: Wild Bunch for International Sales

Cast: Tim Roth, Bitsie Tulloch

Plot Summary
David is a nurse who works with terminally ill patients. Meticulous, efficient and dedicated to his profession, he develops relationships that go beyond caregiver and patient interaction. He connects with them and establishes a deep intimacy. But when each patient dies, David has to return to the "real" world, the world of the living. And the real world is where David is ineffective, awkward, and reserved. It is clear that he needs his patients as much as they need him. As we follow David from one patient to another, we discover the past from which he has been hiding. For years he has been carrying guilt and remorse. Now the weight has grown unbearable - David must return and face his past in order to heal..

Film Still

Denis Villeneuve

I simply LOVE Villeneuve's early movies, those made in Quebec like his feature film debut 1998 Un 32 août sur terre with Pascale Bussières, his second film 2000 Maelström with Marie-Josée Croze, and most of all absolutely mesmerizing 2009 Polytechnique. Also enjoyed very much his fourth feature film, 2010 Incendies that propelled him to international cinema stratosphere thanks to the many honors that collected including an Oscar nomination. Then everything changed.

Not really enjoyed both of his English-language movies, 2013 Prisoners and 2013 Enemy, so assume that his latest English-language film Sicario, in competition at 2015 Cannes, will follow the steps of his two previous films. I just wish he would go back to film in Quebec, do truly mesmerizing films and regain my respect as a great director. It is his first time in competition but has been in Cannes 4 times before.

He was born on October 3, 1967 in Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada. The first time he was in Cannes was with 1996 Cosmos and his segment Le Technétium that was screened at 2007 Directors' Fortnight; next Un 32 août sur terre opens in 1998 Cannes Un Certain Regard; follows the short film Next Floor that opens in 2008 La Semaine de la Critique and wins the short films Grand Prix; last, his fabulous Polytechnique opens in 2009 Directors' Fortnight.

What do I expect from Sicario? Violence, very violent, unfortunately in a very Hollywood-graphic way. In the positive side of the scale, he has said that his film is very dark, a dark poem, which absolutely grabs my attention. Film backers wanted to change lead character from female to male; but Villeneuve prevailed, so there is hope that maybe he was able to do whatever he wanted.

Basic info about Sicario
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Scriptwriter: Taylor Sheridan
Language: English
Runtime: 121 mins
Production country: USA
Production Companies: Metropolitan Filmexport,Black Label Media, Thunder Road Pictures
Distribution: Lionsgate for International Sales, Leone Film Group

Cast: Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio del Toro, Victor Garber

Plot Summary
In the lawless border area stretching between the U.S. and Mexico, an idealistic FBI agent is exposed to the brutal world of international drug trafficking by members of a government task force who have enlisted her in their plan to take out a Mexican cartel boss.

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Gus van Sant

Complex. That's the first word that comes to my mind when I think about Gus van Sant. Have seen all his feature films and some short films. Have liked many of his films, but none has really excited me; perhaps the one that has moved me more is his first feature film, fantastic Mala Noche. Perhaps the LG interest films Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, My Own Private Idaho and Milk are all right; plus everyone liked crowd-pleaser's Good Will Hunting and Finding Forrester. Then his latest films came and went leaving no impression in me. Sigh.

Still, believe he is one the most interesting contemporary American directors and recognize his incredible achievement of winning with one film two top awards at 2003 Cannes, the Palme d'Or and Best Director for controversial Elephant.

Born on July 24, 1952 in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. Maybe he is not a Cannes regular but definitively is a Cannes darling that belongs to the select club of Palme d'Or winners. This will be his 7th visit to Cannes and his 4th time in competition.

The more I read about The Sea of Trees the more I get interested in watching film. Can't deny that the story calls my attention and imagine a film visually similar to Naomi Kawase's Mogari no Mori (The Mourning Forest), which undoubtedly is a HUGE mistake as ups my expectations to a level where van Sant has never been before. Confess that it's hard for me to imagine Matthew McConaughey and fabulous Ken Watanabe working together. Still, hope film could meet my visual and narrative expectations as after all is in the most important competition of the world. Sigh.

Basic info about The Sea of Trees
Director: Gus van Sant
Scriptwriter: Chris Sparling
Language: English
Runtime: 110 mins
Production country: USA
Production Companies: Netter Productions, Waypoint Entertainment (Ken Kao)
Distribution: Bloom for International Sales, Entertainment One, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, SND Films

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe

Plot Summary
Arthur Brennan treks into Aokigahara, known as The Sea of Trees, a mysterious dense forest at the base of Japan's Mount Fuji where people go to contemplate life and death. Having found the perfect place to die, he encounters Takumi Nakamura, a Japanese man who has also lost his way. The two men begin a journey of reflection and survival, which affirms Arthur's will to live and reconnects him to his love with his wife.

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