Saturday, May 16, 2015

Day 4 - Cannes 2015

The fourth day brings to Cannes the first monumental film flop and the dubious honor goes to an American film.

The Competition

Mia Madre by Nanni Moretti

If you read my 2015 Cannes Check #2 you already know that this film is must be seen for me no matter how well -or not- did in Italy where already was released and collected lots of nominations at the David di Donatello awards or in Cannes. So I have my tissues ready as know that film will make me shed some tears like it has happen with most audiences that already have seen the film in Italy as well as in Cannes. We have to recall that Moretti's style blends quite outstandingly drama and humor, allowing viewers to ride an -usually satisfying- cinematic emotional roller-coaster.

Videos are nice as have to admit that have always enjoyed Margherita Buy performances and well, after all she is working, performing when she faces the photographers cameras in the photocall. Nice to see those three together, Nanni Moretti, Margherita Buy and John Turturro. The interview has the three of them and so glad they allows us to clearly hear Italian, French and English (no awful voice over translations). Talked too early, unfortunately there is awful voice over with English translation, sigh; I'm watching the French version. You can skip the interview.

Watching the press conference in English, let see if can stand it. Nope, going to French (lol). Well, not my day, is the same, awful French voice over translation. It's hard when you understand the three languages as you try to hear the original language in the back (lol) and notice how not-good the translation goes. Sigh. Had to stop watching, not worth the effort.

No doubt that this film could be a strong contender for top award -could be the second Palm d'Or for Moretti- but when I think about the jury, start to wonder if film has chances. Nevertheless know that film will collect some awards, perhaps not top awards, but certainly collateral awards. The only exception for top award could be Margherita Buy and the Best Actress award as -for example- odds place her in the second place after Cate Blanchett but her film hasn't been screened yet.

Reaction from the press
Can't deny that I'm gland with the mostly positive reactions to the film but was expecting them as that was the reaction of critics and viewers after films was released in Italy.

A distaff director’s emotions become increasingly frayed as her mother is dying in Nanni Moretti’s affecting but fitfully integrated drama. Jay Weissberg-Variety (USA) Pre-Cannes review.
Good, strong, understated filmmaking is enlivened by Moretti’s characteristic wry blend of drama and humor. Deborah Young-THR (USA) Pre-Cannes review.
This is one of Moretti’s least showy films, but also one of those that most successfully rises above his personal tics and mannerisms to achieve a kind of universal pathos – even as it rejects grand universal statements in favour of the muddled everyday. Lee Marshall-Screendaily (UK) Pre-Cannes review.
Nanni Moretti's meta-movie is his best since The Son's Room ... he returns to the domestic with the tale of a film director juggling her teenage daughter, formidable mum and a needy Hollywood star. Peter Bradshaw-The Guardian (UK)
Moving Italian film mixes personal drama with showbiz comedy. Steve Pond-The Wrap (USA)

Early possible EFA Selection candidate numero 4: MIA MADRE, Nanni Moretti's moving and funny homage to his mother and cinema. European Film Awards
Dying parent stuff felt interminable (I'm a monster) but liked the loose comedy about filmmaking. Buy's very good, Turturro fun. Allison Willmore-BuzzFeed (USA)
Mia Madre was a big hit at #Cannes2015. Pulls off tough tonal shifts from heartbreaking hospital drama to meta film-making comedy with grace. TotalFilm (UK)
Répond à ça Haneke. Amore version 2. Mia Madre est une merveille d'écriture. L'actrice Margherita Buy est incroyable. Mehdi Omaïs-Trois Couleurs
Ecumenical Jury's wet dream: well-meaning, reactionary, warm & mushy on the inside. Michal Oleszczyk (Poland)

The Sea of Trees by Gus van Sant

Gee, this is hard as even when I'm no fan of van Sant, couldn't imagine that his latest film could generate such negative reactions. Now I'm really curious to find out the reason why to the spontaneous reactions. What was the main generator: the story? the performances? the director? or the mixing of them all? Will read reviews to try to find answer.

To be honest when I finally saw film clip noticed that Matthew McConaughey was -let's say it softly- below his lately good performances as sounded woody, without depth. But from reviews get the impression that the visuals are great; problems seem to arise with the story-screenplay, the flashbacks structure, the performances, and actors chemistry. My spontaneous deduction is that most critics consider the screenplay as the start of the failed effort, with one saying that script was great to read but hard to translate into images. No doubt that a bad script can ruin a film but I believe that's where a great director, a great master filmmaker uses all the tools of the trade to make a script better in the screen.

Obviously have not seen film but my best guess is no matter how not good or hard is the script and how much the director does to make it better with images, efforts can be lost with the wrong casting. If film has as many lead character monologues as critics mention, casting should have gone to a more reliable good drama actor as McConaughey performances track suggest he was not going to give the stature.

Not in the mood to watch videos, so will skip them and if any of you see them, please comment. Thank you. Maybe if Ken Watanabe was present could see videos, but without him plus the mess, no.

Press Reactions

Sorry to report that SEA OF TREES is Gus Van Sant's worst movie. Eric Kohn-indieware (USA)
Matthew McConaughey and Ken Watanabe star in this risibly long-winded drama from Gus Van Sant. Justin Chang-Variety (USA)
Matthew McConaughey and Gus van Sant Get Lost in The Sea of Trees. Isn’t a problem of execution; it’s a problem of terrible design. Richard Lawson-Vanity Fair (USA)
Sparling’s sensitive-seeming, increasingly manipulative screenplay is not above brazen miscues in its attempt to inject fresh twists into the back story. Charles Gant-Screendaily (UK)
Fake and forced ... 'suicide rehab' film is blighted by ridiculous contrivances and overwrought performances. Tim Robey-The Telegraph (UK)
A fantastically annoying and dishonest tear-jerker ... is an exasperatingly shallow film on an important and agonisingly painful subject - depression and suicide. Peter Bradshaw-The Guardian (UK)
Many of this film’s plot twists are both predictable and unintentionally funny, triggering more than a few titters. Barbara Scharres-Roger Ebert (USA)
Sans doute le pire film de Gus Van Sant, d'affreux mélo pur sucre -interminable. Premiere tweet-(France)

Special Screenings

Panama by Pavle Vučković

From what I read about film gives me the impression that story is not one I can appreciate as not long ago saw a movie with a similar story and definitively does not call my attention to see again the same story. Basically Pavle Vučković paints the portrait of a generation whose superficiality and depravity are fueled by their lives being completely taken over the Internet; youth without ideals posting videos on social networks that do not do much for human dignity, etc.

Don't think I'll be giving this film a try.

Sipur Al Ahava Ve Choshech (A Tale of Love and Darkness) by Natalie Portman

First films by actors are not always great films and if I believe what most (not all) critics/viewers say about Portmam's directorial debut then have to say that film isn't an exception to the rule.  Still perhaps will give film a try.

Based on Amos Oz best-selling novel film tells about one family's experience during the creation of the State of Israel.

Some samples from press reactions
This is one of Portman’s warmest, saddest performances, but it’s also surprisingly superficial. Tim Grierson-Screendaily (UK)
Natalie Portman wrote, directed and starred in this well-meaning but dreary adaptation of Amos Oz's autobiography. Peter Debruge-Variety (USA)
A flawed but respectable first film. Deborah Young-THR (USA)

Midnight Screenings

Amy by Asif Kapadia

The controversial documentary about Amy Whinehouse.  Controversial before coming to Cannes as singer family doesn't approve the documentary perhaps because film reveals "inflammatory" relationships with her father, drugs and fame -as we learned today.  But now, after the Cannes screening most critics poured spontaneous comments and reviews that tend to the positive side, calling film "mesmerically absorbing", "has left critics in awe", "extraordianry and heartbreaking", and more.

But on the other side of the scale is being called "melodramatic, opportunistic storytelling", "devastating, discomfiting", "unsettling", "Kapadia's portrait punched me hard in the gut", and more.

Before reading about doc was not interested because the documentary subject, not the director as enjoyed his Senna doc; but knew will see it when film came to cable channels. Then with all the fuzz and buzz became interested, will watch it sooner than I thought.  By-the-way doc competes for the Queer Palm but have no idea what is the queer-interest in film.

Un Certain Regard

Nahid by Ida Panahandeh

Iranian cinema is making way for a new generation of film-makers with Ida Panahandeh. After ten years of working for television, on short films and documentaries, the young director has signed her first feature film, Nahid, the story of a single mother who has to fight against the preconceived ideas of society, so that she can love in the open.

Film lead actress is Sareh Bayat that also was the lead in Asghar Farhadi's A Separation.

Synopsis: A young divorcée living with her son in a small northern city of Iran, wants to marry the man she has fallen in love with. According to the current rules, the father has the custody of children; however, her ex-husband has granted her that right on the condition that she doesn't remarry. Struggling to keep both of her beloved ones, she has to think about the third option: Temporary Marriage (Sighe). However, this will get her into a predicament, as despite its being legal, Sighe is not well-received by the society at all. Would temporary marriage be a good solution for her?

Believe story could be interesting to watch and will give film a try.

Maryland (Disorder) by Alice Winocour

The difficulty soldiers have readjusting to normal life while dealing with the trauma inflicted by war is the subject of Maryland, the second feature film by director Alice Winocour, who was selected to compete for the Short Film Palme d'Or in 2005 with Kitchen. Admit that know Winocour more as screenwriter than as director, as she is one of the co-writers of fabulous Ursula Meier's 2008 Home. Let's check the synopsis.

Synopsis: Vincent, a French Special Forces soldier just back from Afghanistan, is suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder. He is hired to ensure the security of Jessie, the wife of a rich Lebanese businessman at their luxurious villa « Maryland ».  As he starts experiencing a strange fascination for the woman he has to protect, Vincent increasingly seems to fall into paranoia. Unless he is right, and the danger is very real indeed...

Story seems interesting but we have to acknowledge that this is a high profile movie, not for the director but for the actors as the lead male role belongs to Matthias Schoenaerts and the female lead role to Diane Kruger. The very strong lead actor assures -according to me- that film will be powerful as his past violent performances have been extraordinary, both in Bullhead as in Rust and Bone.

Reactions from the press
No doubt that film will generate extreme reactions as this is primordially a French film by a French director and we know that English-language press is not always kind with French films. Sigh. I'm interested in watching film mainly to see the performance by lead male actor.

If people in Hollywood think women are not "muscular" directors check out Maryland from Alice Winocour. A taut, intense thriller. Melissa Silverstein-indiewire (USA)
If Alice Winocour's 'Maryland' had been in English it would have gone straight to video. CineVue (UK)
Thriller paranoïaque efficace dans sa 2ème partie, porté par Matthias Schoenaerts tout en tension et en muscle.

Cannes Classics

Insiang by Lino Brocka, 1976
Brocka's movies revolutionized the Filipino film industry and this year Cannes is to pay tribute to him twenty-two years after his death.
Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans by Gabriel Clarke and John McKenna.
1971 Le Mans behind the scenes documentary made with lost rushes that the directors found, more than three hours of archive footage shot in the 1970s and today's interviews with family and friends. Yes, very interesting in watching Steve McQueen in the screen once more.
La Légende de la Palme d’or (The Golden Palm's Legend) by Alexis Velle
From the mines of Colombia to the red carpet ... hmm, so the gold comes from Colombia, that's news for me. Just for this little fact, doc has become must be seen for me. Then I don't mind to see Palme d'Or winners talking about what meant to them.
The Lady from Shanghai by Orson Welles, 1948
A classic, now in restored version.  Worth watching again for Rita Hayworth and much more.

Cinéma de la Plage

Hôtel du Nord, Marcel Carné, France, 1938
Restored version of classic Carné watched under stars. Marvelous experience that surely rivals the tale of the aborted suicide of two young lovers in a room at a run-down but much-frequented Paris hotel. Sigh.

Quinzaine des Réalisateurs

A Perfect Day by Fernando León de Aranoa

The only Spain cinema representative is a movie in English with an American and European cast telling an American story. Somehow think movie tells about what is happening with Spain's cinema, a sad story more related to money-making machine than to great cinema.Sigh. Press call film "dated, inane and bland", "total mishmash", and more. Still believe that the natural target for this film is male teenagers and non-mature men that "adore" dumb gratuitous violence. Not interested in film.

As Mil e Uma Noites - Volume 1 O Inquieto (Arabian Nights: Volume 1, The Restless One) by Miguel Gomes

I'm extremely curious about the three films by Miguel Gomes, mainly because the story it tells as it's not easy for me to image how he will mix the fantasy of a well-known tale with the cruel reality of a broken country. But my gut tells me that films (3) are not for all audiences especially because the story and the directors' style plus tone and manner. Surely will check first film and if I can sustain director's anger will see films 2 and 3.

Nevertheless know that three films are must be seen for those that love great cinema and seems no disappointed will come as film has been called "zany, poetic ... an inspired reinvention of the political essay film". In a Cannes that's honoring Costa Gravas, master filmmaker of political essays, is quite interesting to see how this particular kind of difficult cinema can evolve; but, believe Gomes had to play with fantasy to be able to well-tell what's going on in his country, so this cinema evolution comes out of necessity. Sigh.

I believe that this is the only real "auteur cinema" in 2015 Cannes that could reach and deserve A+ mark, consequently insists that absolutely is not for all audiences, you really have to enjoy serious great auteur cinema.

Semaine de la Critique

Ni le ciel, ni la terre (The Wakhan Front) by Clément Cogitore

A film in competition about Afghanistan war that calls my attention because the actors: Jérémie Renier and Kévin Azaïs. But when I learn story has a paranormal ingredient I get confused as I don't like the genre in American cinema, so could French cinema give something different? Maybe. After reading reviews is US industry magazines believe there is a possibility film is NOT like American genre cinema, so maybe will give film a try.

After all, reviews in French tend to be quite positive regarding "l'absurdité de la guerre" and one (crazy) viewer calling film style a mixture between Antonioni and Apitchatpong (??!!).  Last, film competes for the Queer Palm and imagine that has to have some gay-interest, no idea if storyline could be primary or secondary in narrative.

Coin Locker Girl, Han Jun-hee

A special screening in la Semaine that is a Korean and Chinese production with a story that could be interesting, check the synopsis.

As a just-born-baby, ‘Il-young’ gets abandoned in the coin-locker #10 of a subway station. Eight years later, she is sold off to the godmother of a Chinatown ring known as ‘Mom’, and becomes a member of her family. Only the useful ones can survive in this family of Chinatown. Coin Locker Girl is a story of two women who have found their own ways to survive in a cruel, harsh world.

From what I read perhaps the most interesting is the reference that first time director Han Jun-hee didn't reinvent the famous South Korean' thriller, what he did was changing the almost 100% male story to the story of 2 women. I'm hook, want to see what happens with this great change.

Short Films Program 1
The first short film program will screen the following short films:  Too Cool for School, Boys, Varicella, The Fox Exploits the Tiger's Might, and La Fin du dragon.  To read about films go here.


De l'Ombre il y a (Mirinda) by Nathan Nicholovitch
The horrors of the lowlife seen with hope. Film competes for the Queer Palm.  Check synopsis.

Synopsis: In Cambodia still haunted by the crimes of the Khmer Rouges, Ben, a 45 years old French transvestite works at the Blue Bar where he's know as Mirinda and lives as a prostitute in the back-streets of Phnom Penh. After meeting a young trafficked girl, he gradually discovers the feeling of fatherhood.

Crache Coeur by Julia Kowalski
A French/Polish production with an unusual romance between two polish people living in France.

Synopsis: Jozef, a Polish man in his fifties, arrives in France not only to work in construction, but also to find his son Roman whom he had abandoned fifteen years earlier. He goes to Rose, the construction foreman’s daughter to help him in his search. But this lost adolescent ends up falling hopelessly in love with Roman, and uses the information about the lost son for her own quest for Roman.

Cosmodrama by Philippe Fernandez
Film has been promoted as one of the occasional sci-fi French films. Check the synopsis.

Synopsis: A space-ship is lost in space, conveying a small team of scientists who no longer know, probably due to too long a cryogenisation period, where they are, where they're going, or where they've come from. 

Market News
-Seems IFC will acquire Anesthesia by Tim Blake-Nelson, starring Kristen Stewart, Glenn Closel
-To check critics scores up-to-today: FIPRESCI with 3.86 Son of Saul; French Press: Son of Saul with 3 Palmes and 4 three-stars; UK Screendaily 2.8 for Son of Saul. In the odds chart Son of Saul went up BUT still The Assassin is in #1 spot; Cate Blanchett is #1 for Best Actress and Son of Saul's Geza Rohrig became #1 for Best Actor.
-Last night was the Chopard Trophee ceremony with Julianne Moore presenting the trophies to Lola Kirke and Jack O'Connell.
-So Magnum, the Unilever ice cream, is very active in Cannes with a Beach Lounge and talks. First was Miranda Kerr but today is Xavier Dolan! Of course Dolan captures my attention.
-Aish is in Cannes and attends the UN Panel/Variety discussion on gender equality where Salma Hayek caused a stir and I'm in shock with the truth in Salma's comments, have to get video of full talk as is must be seen for all.  In the meantime check the verbatims at indiwire here.

Todays BEST NEWS is that first reactions to Carol by Todd Haynes are POSITIVE!!! Will be a true happy pleasure to write about movie tomorrow!  Yay!!!

Photos of the Day

Chopard Trophee ceremony very nice photo with award recipients Lola Kirke and Jack O'Connell plus Marion Cotillard, Colin Firth, Livia Firth (yes is Colin's wife, she's a very well-known producer) and more.

John Turturro, Margherita Buy and Nanni Moretti

Matthias Schoenaerts and Diane Kruger

Variety Celebrates UN Women.  In Photo: Senior Advisor to Under Secretary-General UN Women Elizabeth Nyamayaro, Salma Hayek, Parker Posey,  Elizabeth Karlsen, Christine Vachon, Aishwarya Rai and Variety Co-Editor-in-Chief Claudia Eller.

Very nice photo from L'Oreal Cannes photoshoot with Naomi Watts, Katrina Kaif and Julianne Moore.

Noomi Rapace - The Sea of Tress red carpet

Only in Cannes - Day 4

No comments yet