May 25, 2015

CANNES 2015: THE AWARDS

YouthOnly two of my predictions for Cannes’s feature film awards held any note of accuracy. As certain as I was that Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth” would take a prize (either Michael Caine for Best Actor or a Jury Prize for the film) it came up empty handed. Still, the film’s provocative poster will surly help ensure that it find its audience far and wide.

I did manage to predict better than half of the Best Actress award however. Not only did I foresee Rooney Mara winning for her splendid performance in Todd Haynes’s “Carol” but I also guessed that the honor would be shared with another actress, even if I did fall short on foretelling that Emmanuelle Bercot (“Mon Roi”) would be the other selection (I supposed Cate Blanchett would split the prize).

DheepanWhile critics such as The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw feigned indignation at Jacques Audiard’s social realist drama “Dheepan” for winning the Palme d’Or, I had it down to win Best Screenplay (that award went to Michel Franco for “Chronic”). “Dheepan” (played by Jesuthasan Antonythasan) is the name of a Tamil Tiger, a freedom fighter in the Sri Lanka Civil War. Dheepan flees the country for Paris with two strangers (a mother and daughter). Upon settling into a rundown Paris suburb, the makeshift family discovers a different but equally violent social condition that requires Dheepan to once again take on the role of a tiger.

AssassinTaiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien has been a household name in Cannes for many years. His 1987 film “Daughter of the Nile” premiered in the Director’s Fortnight at the 1988 festival. Hsiao-Hsien’s 1993 film “The Puppetmaster” won the festival’s Jury Prize that same year. That the much-admired director should be awarded this year’s Best Director Palme for “The Assassin” seems fitting. The film is a visually lush story about Nie Yinnaing, a general’s daughter abducted by a nun to be trained as an efficient killing machine. Ordered to kill the man to whom she was once promised Yinnaing must choose between two opposing ways of life. It isn’t a martial arts film per se, but the action scenes fit the storyline with blinding economy and breathtaking ferocity.

Vincent LindonFrench native Vincent Lindon’s win in the Best Actor category, for his skillfully understated performance as an unemployed French family man who finally finds a job working as a security officer at a department store (in Stephane Brize's "The Measure of a Man"), is in accord with this year’s thematic through-line of films in the festival regarding social injustices in France. Lindon's persuasive bearing as a seen-it-all French everyman conveys a rare breed of integrity, well deserving of the Best Actor honor for which he eloquently thanked the Cannes jury. 
 

Son of SaulIt isn’t often that a first-time filmmaker captures the imagination the way Laszlo Nemes did with his Grand Prize-winner “Saul Fia” ("Son of Saul"), a devastating holocaust drama about a Jewish Hungarian father (Geza Rohig) forced to work in the Nazi extermination machinery. The prestigious award should aid in bringing audience attention to this powerful movie that impressed everyone who saw it at the festival.

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May 24, 2015

CANNES 2015 AWARDS:

Cannes68

 

Short Films Palme d’Or: WAVES ’98 (Ely Dagher)

 

Un Certain Regard Prize: HRUTAR (Grimur Hakonarson)

Un Certain Regard Jury Prize: ZVIZDAN (Dalibor Matanic)

Un Certain Regard Best Director: KISHIBE NO TABI (“Journey to the Shore”)

Un Certain Regard Talent: CORNELIU PORUMBOIU (“Comoara”)

Un Certain Regard Promising Future: NEERAJ GHAYWAN (“Masaan”)

& IDA PANAHANDEH (“Nahid”)

 

Camera d’Or: LA TIERRA Y LA SOMBRA (Cesar Augusto Acevedo)

 

Cinefondation Third Place Prize: THE RETURN OF ERKIN (Maria Guskova) & VICTOR XX (Garrido Lopez)

 Cinefondation Second Place Prize: LOCAS PERDIDAS (Juricic Merillan)

Cinefondation First Place Prize: SHARE (Pippa Bianco)

 

FEATURE FILM AWARDS

Grand Prize: SAUL FIA (Laszlo Nemes)

Best Actress: ROONEY MARA (“Carol”)

& EMMANUELLE BERCOT (“Mon Roi”)

Best Actor: VINCENT LINDON (“The Measure of a Man”)

Best Screenplay: MICHEL FRANCO (“Chronic”)

Jury Prize: THE LOBSTER (Yorgos Lanthimos)

Best Director: HOU HSIAO-HSIEN (“The Assassin”)

Palme d’Or: DHEEPAN (Jacques Audiard)

 

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My Cannes 2015 Awards Predictions:

Palme d’Or: “Carol”

Grand Prix: “Youth”

Jury prize: “Mia Madre”

Best actor: Michael Caine (“Youth”)

Best actress: shared award by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara (“Carol”)

Best screenplay: “Dheepan”

Best Director: Maiwenn ("Mon Roi")

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May 23, 2015

CANNES 2015: Un Certain Regard Awards

Festival de Cannes
 
Special Prices

Un Certain Regard 2015 Awards

 

Un Certain Regard 2015 presented in competition 19 films hailing from 21 different countries. Four of the works were first films. The Opening film was An by Naomi Kawase.
Under the presidency of Isabella Rossellini (filmmaker - United States, Italy), the Jury was comprised of Haifaa al-Mansour (director - Saudi Arabia), Panos H. Koutras (director - Greece), Nadine Labaki (director, actress - Lebanon) and Tahar Rahim (actor - France).

We, the jury, would like to thank the Festival de Cannes for inviting us to be part of the Jury for Un Certain Regard.
The experience of watching nineteen films from twenty-one countries was memorable. It was like taking a flight over our Planet and its inhabitants… Any anthropologist would be envious of us.
We would like in particular to thank Thierry Frémaux and his team for their incredible kindness.
I cannot refrain from expressing also my personal gratitude to the Festival for having chosen my mother Ingrid Bergman for the poster of the 68th edition of this festival. 
Mamma seems to hovered over all of us, filmmakers and film lovers, as a guardian angel.
Thank you.

Isabella Rossellini

PRIZE OF UN CERTAIN REGARD 
HRÚTAR (Béliers / Rams) by Grímur Hákonarson

JURY PRIZE 
ZVIZDAN (Soleil de plomb / The High Sun) by Dalibor Matanić

BEST DIRECTOR PRIZE
Kiyoshi Kurosawa for KISHIBE NO TABI (Vers l’autre rive / Journey to the Shore)

UN CERTAIN TALENT PRIZE
COMOARA (Le Trésor / Treasure) by Corneliu Porumboiu

PROMISING FUTURE PRIZE
MASAAN by Neeraj Ghaywan
Ex aequo 
NAHID by Ida Panahandeh

May 22, 2015

Abderrahmane Sissako and Jury announce 18th Cinéfondation Selection Winners

Festival de Cannes
 
Special Prices

Abderrahmane Sissako and the Jury announced the winners
of the 18th Cinéfondation Selection

 

The Cinéfondation and Short Films Jury headed by Abderrahmane Sissako and including Cécile de France, Joana Hadjithomas, Daniel Olbrychski and Rebecca Zlotowski, has awarded the 2015 Cinéfondation Prizes during a ceremony held in the Buñuel Theatre, followed by the screening of the winning films.
The Cinéfondation Selection consisted of 18 student films, chosen out of 1 593 entries coming from 381 film schools around the world.

First Prize:
SHARE directed by Pippa Bianco
AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women, USA

Second Prize:
LOCAS PERDIDAS directed by Ignacio Juricic Merillán
Carrera de Cine y TV Universidad de Chile, Chile

Joint Third Prize: 
THE RETURN OF ERKIN directed by Maria Guskova
High Courses for Scriptwriters and Film Directors, Russia

Joint Third Prize: 
VICTOR XX directed by Ian Garrido López
ESCAC, Spain

The awarded films will receive €15,000 for the First Prize, €11,250 for the Second and €7,500 for the Third. 
The First Prize winner is also guaranteed that her first feature film will be presented at the Festival de Cannes.

 

May 21, 2015

Cannes 2015 — Day 9

Love2The over-booked midnight screening for “Love” (Argentinian enfant terrible Gaspar Noe’s latest provocation) caused at least one fistfight to break out in front of the Palais last night. Those ticketed audience members that did get inside the crowded auditorium were treated to one of the biggest examples of regression for any filmmaker in recent history. What a flop. Pornographic in nature, “Love” is a 3D sexploitation movie made by a filmmaker unaware of the genre that he’s working in. Noe, the genius behind such groundbreaking cinematic examples of social satire as “I Stand Alone” and “Irreversible” has made a film so sophomoric that it boggles the mind that it came from the same person who made “Enter the Void,” one of the most visually and viscerally challenging films of the last 20 years.

Presented as Noe’s dream-project since his early days in film school, “Love” is meant to display the reality of “sentimental sensuality” via “blood, tears, and cum.” However, semen is by far the most plentiful of the three fluids shown on, and off-screen, when you consider the graphic scene in which Noe takes obvious advantage of the 3D process to break the proscenium window.

LoveFeatureless no-name actor Karl Glusman plays the director’s younger alter ego Murphy, an ever-horny American studying filmmaking in Paris. Murphy (yes "Murphy's law is the trite allusion that Noe is compelled to spell out in block letters) is an eternally miserable soul whose passion for cinema means that he wears an olive-green Army jacket just like the one Robert De Niro wore as Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver.” Posters from such controversial films as “Salo” and “Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein” adorn Murphy’s small Parisian pad that he shares with Omi (Klara Kristin) the mother of his son Gaspar, thanks to a broken condom. Not only is there not a single empathetic character in the movie, but also the ostensibly character-defining, formally explicit sex acts that Noe films primarily from above, illuminate fewer aspects of personality traits than you would find in a typical sample of homemade porn.

Traditionally, Cannes includes at least one salacious movie in every festival. In 2003, Vincent Gallo’s “The Brown Bunny” sent critics groaning over its gratuitous oral sex scene between Chloe Sevigny and Gallo. “Brown Bunny” certainly isn’t any better than “Love” but it was mercifully shorter at 93 minutes as compared to “Love’s” arduous running time of 130 minutes. Another difference is that no one expected much from Vincent Gallo as a filmmaker, who had only made one film (“Buffalo 66”) before “Brown Bunny.” The situation is considerably different for Noe who is likely to find that even his staunchest supporters will find little to admire, much less love, in a film that seems more like a student film project than a movie from an experienced filmmaker.

Hitchcock Truffaut2Although inappropriately screened in the Cannes Classics section of the festival Kent Jones’s painstaking documentary, about the historic eight-day interview sessions between Francois Truffaut and his hero-filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock fulfills an essential niche in the history of cinema. The interviews, for which Truffaut carefully planned for in advance in the same way that he would prepare to make a film, approached each of Hitchcock’s films up to that point, in chronological order. The resulting book (“Hitchcock Truffaut”) became a touchstone for several generations of filmmakers, such as Olivier Assayas, David Fincher, Richard Linklater, and Paul Schrader — both of whom are interviewed in the documentary.

FincherThe weakest link of the modern-day filmmakers that Jones includes for commentary is notorious art-house hack pretender James Gray, whose inclusion alongside the likes of Martin Scorsese hits a wrong note. That said, “Hitchcock Truffaut” makes ample use of clips from the films of both directors to explicate the methods and cinematic language each used toward telling stories on film. The effect is magical as it is informative. Seamlessly narrated by Bob Balaban’s non-imposing voice-over, the documentary walks a neat line between pedagogy and entertainment. The only danger is that the viewer may feel inspired to go on an Alfred Hitchcock bender after seeing it.

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May 19, 2015

Cannes 2015 — Day 7

Neither Denis Villeneuve’s “Sicario” nor Stephane Brize’s “The Measure of a Man” was able to hold a candle to Todd Haynes’s latest masterwork “Carol.” Although “Measure” features a solid performance from Vincent Lindon as Thierry, an unemployed French father trying desperately to get a job to provide for his wife and special-needs son, the script doesn’t go far enough toward addressing the systemic issue of joblessness currently crushing the lives of millions, if not billions, of people around the globe.

Cannes Birdy
“Sicaro” gives the muscular Emily Blunt space to stretch as an actress but the politically vague script, about corruption on all sides of America’s trademarked drug war with Mexico, drags and settles into a cheesy revenge-plot. Benicio Del Toro plays Alejandro, the “hitman” of the film’s title. Del Toro’s character plays all ends against the middle to avenge the brutal murder of his wife and daughter by a Juarez drug-lord who has learned every skullduggery technique the CIA has been busy teaching by example for decades.

Open-secretHot on a lot of people’s list is Amy Berg’s documentary “An Open Secret,” about young boys sexually abused by Hollywood managers, agents, and casting directors. The picture has been picked up for U.S. distribution; it opens on June 5th in Seattle and Denver, before rolling out to 20 other cities thereafter.   

One of the great pleasures of the festival is its beach screenings of select classic films. What could be better than reclining in the sand in a beach chair and watching a film such as the one playing tonight, Bo Widerberg’s 1971 “Joe Hill,” about the

Still to come is Hou Hsiao-Shien’s “The Assassin” and Guillaume Nicloux’s “Valley of Love,” a two-hander starring Isabelle Huppert and Gerard Depardieu.

4

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May 17, 2015

Cannes 2015 — Day 5

32015 is the year that art-house directors loaded their competition chances in Cannes by utilizing Hollywood A-listers to beef up their movies.

Matteo Garrone (“Tale of Tales”), Justin Kurzel (“Macbeth”), Michael Franco (“Chronic”), Paolo Sorrentino (“Youth”), Denis Villeneuve (“Sicario”), Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Lobster”), Gus Van Sant (“The Sea of Trees”), and Danish auteur Joachim Trier (“Louder Than Bombs”) all feature big name American stars in films that are about as far from typical Hollywood productions as you can get.

Still, not even Matthew McConaughey’s presence can do much for Van Sant’s latest snooze fest. Speaking of sleepy movies, Natalie Portman's directorial debut "A Tale of Love and Darkness" caused more than a few audience members to go into snore-mode.

With three features under his belt, Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos keeps improving in baby steps. Each film gets a little bit better than the last. “The Lobster” is his best film to date, behind such time-wasters as “Dogtooth” and “Alpes” but decent performances by Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz can’t elevate “The Lobster’s” flawed source material. The movie is mediocre at best. Perhaps, in another five movies, Lanthimos will make a good one.

“Sicario” is Denis Villeneuve’s drama about a lawless no-man’s-land between America and Mexico where Emily Blunt’s FBI agent Kate Mercer is brought in to battle America’s wrongheaded war on drugs. Benicio Del Toro also stars in what promises to be a gritty political thriller.

It remains to be seen whether the ever-annoying Jesse Eisenberg can pull off a naturalistic performance in Joachim Trier’s “Louder Than Bombs,” which also stars Amy Ryan, David Strathairn, Gabriel Byrne, and the ubiquitous Isabelle Huppert.

YouthMore promise lies in Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth,” which features Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel as a couple of old friends facing the last days of their lives on vacation in a plush hotel in the foothills of the Alps. If I were placing odds on which of the 18 films competing for this year’s Palme d’Or has the best chance of winning, I’d put my money on “Youth.”

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May 15, 2015

Cannes 2015 — Day 3

In spite of the fact that there isn’t a lounge for critics and journalists to hang out and drink free beer like there used to be in the pre-austerity days of Cannes, you can pick up on conversations if you have good ear.

MarylandAlice Winocour’s Un Certain Regard film “Maryland,” about a French ex-Special Forces soldier suffering from PTSD who gets a bodyguard job protecting a wealthy Lebanese businessman, is getting talked about. It doesn’t hurt that the film stars the versatile Matthias Schoenaerts and secret-weapon-actress Diane Kruger.

Cannes Style 4Every other girl on the croisette favors the Amy Winehouse eye-make-up style of heavy black eyeliner turned up at the outer edges. From the looks of it, director Asif Kapadia has a surefire hit on his hands for “Amy,” the documentary for which he and his team interviewed around 80 of Amy Winehouse’s friends, associates, and family members.

Auro 3D AudioMovie technology has a presence on the beach with Auro 3D Audio CEO Wilfried Van Baelen giving private exhibitions of the sound technology he masterminded. The process was used on the latest “Spider-Man 2” movie, and it truly does deliver on its promise of “immersive sound.” Just don’t get the loquacious Wilfried going on how his technology is not related to any “channel or object-based technology,” you might miss that screening of Natalie Portman’s directorial debut “A Tale of Love and Darkness.” Still, she’s hard to miss on the red carpet.

Amy

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