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Category: Amour

Cannes 2012: Festival offers only small hints of Oscar season

May 28, 2012 |  5:00 am

Michael Haneke's "Amour" is one of the films that emerged from the Cannes Film Festival with Oscar heat

This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.

CANNES, France -- As the world's most prestigious film festival drew to a close Sunday, the 2012 awards picture remains nearly as much of a mystery as it was when Cannes began.

In contrast to 2011, when films such as "The Artist" and "The Tree of Life" established themselves as best-picture contenders on the Croisette, this year's edition of the festival offered only small hints of the season to come.

Gaining the biggest foothold -- and offering the most intriguing questions -- was "Amour," Michael Haneke's examination of an elderly man who must care for his wife after she becomes the victim of a stroke.

PHOTOS: Cannes 2012

Sony Pictures Classics plans to release the movie this year and would be justified in holding hopes for major Oscar consideration. The French-language film garnered critical raves and standing ovations here, and on Sunday capped off its magic run by winning the Palme d'Or, Cannes' top prize. The movie tells a universally human story and centers on older people, which some pundits believe is an advantage with Oscar voters.

But a place in the best-picture hunt is far from a sure thing. Foreign-language titles are a tough sell to the entirety of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which votes on the top prize. Indeed, Haneke's last film, the German-language period drama "The White Ribbon," won the Palme d’Or as well but was only nominated in the Oscar foreign-language category and didn’t win.

"Amour" could well score acting nominations for its two leads, the octogenarians Jean-Louis Tringitgnant and Emanuelle Riva. Holding almost iconic status in France, the elderly actors return to the screen for the first time in years, giving raved-about performances and offering a compelling back story that rivals anything in "The Artist" (and just as many spelling challenges).

A number of other actors established themselves as contenders at Cannes. The events of the last 12 days made it clear we should probably keep an eye out for Garrett Hedlund, who plays Dean Moriarty in "On the Road," as he takes a significant leap from his "Tron" days. "No" star Gael Garcia Bernal could also be in the conversation as an advertising executive called on to run a political campaign against Augusto Pinochet in 1980s Chile (the Spanish-language film also has a strong shot at a foreign-language Oscar nomination).

The X factor on the actor side is Matthew McConaughey, who dazzled as an enigmatic homeless man in Jeff Nichols' well-received "Mud." But the film will need to score a U.S. distribution deal first.

The festival was useful at helping awards watchers cross a few movies off their list -- at least in pencil. Although it's very early and things could yet turn around, the kind of talk garnered by "Lawless," the John Hillcoat bootlegging drama starring Shia LaBeouf that the Weinstein Co. will open at the end of August, doesn't at this point suggest a major Oscar run, though if any executive could reverse that, it's Harvey Weinstein.

And anyone banking on a Lee Daniels return to the Oscar podium will probably want to shelve those thoughts. The director’s follow-up to "Precious" drew a large number of negative reviews and reactions, as did fellow English-language pic "Cosmopolis." Neither film comes out of the festival with much momentum.

Meanwhile, Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" could seek to take a page from the playbook of "Midnight in Paris," which was nominated for a best-picture Oscar and a bevy of other awards. Like that film, "Moonrise" opened Cannes and represents a director's feel-good switch. But to get that kind of attention, it would probably have to start approaching "Midnight"-level box office.

Finally, there's Brad Pitt's "Killing Them Softly." The Andrew Dominik-directed hit-man picture garnered respectable reviews and comes after two Oscar nominations for the actor's and director's previous collaboration, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford." Will the genre picture have a shot? It could at least be a factor on the performance side, with Scoop McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn joining Pitt in drawing acclaim.

For the Record, 3:21 a.m. May 29: An earlier version of this post suggested that "Cosmopolis" did not have U.S. distribution. It has landed a deal from eOne.

RELATED:

Cannes 2012: "Amour" captures festival's top prize

Cannes 2012: "Amour" director Haneke says he hasn't mellowed

Cannes 2012: A festival filled with wild (and divisive) experiments

-- Steven Zeitchik
twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: A scene from "Amour." Credit: Sony Pictures Classics


Cannes 2012: A fest filled with wild (and divisive) experiments

May 27, 2012 |  2:30 pm

Holoymotor
CANNES, France — The Cannes Film Festival didn't see a breakout on the order of “The Artist” this year. And yet “The Artist” was everywhere.

The silent film's sense of playfulness and disregard for convention pretty much infused the festival. Wherever one looked, there seemed to be another bold experiment — sometimes delighting audiences, often polarizing them.

Among the more well-received movies of the 65th edition of Cannes, which wrapped Sunday evening, was Leos Carax's “Holy Motors,” a surrealist romp through the streets of Paris. Some of its touches: A man biting the body parts off people at a cemetery-set photo shoot and limousines that spoke to one another in darkened garages.

PHOTOS: Cannes Film Festival 2012

Carax was hardly alone in his eccentricity. The Mexican director Carlos Reygadas offered “Post Tenebras Lux,” a dreamlike story shot with distorted lenses that featured a sex club where rooms are named after famous intellectuals. The film divided audiences but earned him the director's award.

Michael Haneke, the provocateur Austrian director of “Funny Games” and “The Piano Teacher” and a filmmaker who embodies a contemporary cinematic adventurousness, broke form himself by eschewing the violence and sex of his earlier work to make "Amour," a tender drama about aging, which took home the Palme d’Or prize Sunday evening.

And the Chilean Pablo Larrain directed one of the more unusual political films in recent years — a dramatic satire of the 1988 Chilean elections starring Gael Garcia Bernal that was shot to look as if the movie had been discovered on a VHS tape from the era. Tersely titled “No,” the movie became one of the fan favorites of the festival and scored a U.S. distribution deal from Sony Pictures Classics.

“I wanted people to feel like the archival footage we were using looked and felt like the rest of the movie,” Larrain told 24 Frames. “And I wanted to have a little fun with the medium.”

English-language directors did their share of wild noodling too. With “Cosmopolis,” David Cronenberg set nearly an entire movie in a stretch limousine as Robert Pattinson starred in a futuristic exploration of the end of technocapitalism.

The Oscar nominee Lee Daniels, meanwhile, tried his hand at an intensely heightened 1960's melodrama in “The Paperboy,” a period movie about race and murder starring Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron; the movie was so filled with over-the-top touches that it prompted pundit Eugene Hernandez to proclaim this the auteurs-gone-wild festival. Neither “Paperboy” nor “Cosmopolis” went over well with critics or festivalgoers.

Indeed, U.S.-set films, the subject of much hype coming into the festival, were also some of its biggest disappointments. Also faltering with festgoers was John Hillcoat's Prohibition-era “Lawless,” which starred Shia LaBeouf as a brother in a family of bootleggers.

LaBeouf and many Hollywood stars sought to use Cannes for another purpose: to reinvent themselves as more serious actors. Perhaps none did so more successfully than Matthew McConaughey, the romantic-comedy staple who established himself as a potential Oscar contender with his turn as an enigmatic homeless man in “Mud,” a contemporary spin on “Huckleberry Finn.” Directed by Jeff Nichols, “Mud” was by far the best-received movie of the English-language crop.

Attempts at a career makeover were also undertaken by the stars of one of the globe's biggest franchises. In addition to Pattinson's turn as a paranoid Wall Street mogul in “Cosmopolis,” Kristen Stewart, his “Twilight” costar and comrade in tween idoldom, tried a prestige turn in the long-awaited adaptation of Jack Kerouac's “On the Road.” The film received reasonably enthusiastic responses, as did Stewart for her role as Marylou from the iconic book.

“I just want to take good roles,” Stewart said, when asked by The Times about how this turn might propel her career. “That's true whether it’s a big movie or a small one, or a comedy or a drama, or if a director wants to try something completely new.”

She's in luck. Judging by this year's Cannes, plenty of filmmakers are willing to oblige.

RELATED:

Cannes 2012: 'Amour' captures festival's top prize

Cannes 2012: 'Holy Motors' has 'em saying Holy Moly

Cannes 2012: With 'Cosmpolis,' Rob Pattinson seeks acting cred

Cannes 2012: Jeff Nichols cleans up with 'Mud'

 — Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Denis Lavant in "Holy Motors." Credit: Cannes Film Festival


Cannes 2012: 'Amour' captures festival's top prize

May 27, 2012 | 11:42 am

Palmedorr-2012

CANNES, France -- In a rare convergence of critical, popular and jury tastes, the most admired film at the 65th Cannes Film Festival -- Michael Haneke's "Amour," starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva -- won the Palme d'Or on Sunday night. It was the second victory in four years for the Austrian Haneke, whose "The White Ribbon" also won in 2009.

 “Amour” is a devastating experience, the thrilling result of joining Haneke’s icy, immaculate style (think “Funny Games” and “Cache”) to an intrinsically emotional subject: what happens to the close, harmonious marriage of a couple in their 80s when the wife suffers a series of debilitating strokes. Shattering performances plus Haneke’s severe style add up to a stunningly moving experience.

For American movies at Cannes, it was a mixed year. None of the half-dozen U.S. titles -– which included “On the Road,” “Killing Me Softly,” “Paperboy” and “Mud”  -- won any prizes.

PHOTOS: Cannes Film Festival 2012

But it was an American film, Benh Zeitlin’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner “Beasts of the Southern Wild," that walked off with the coveted Camera d’Or for best first film across all of Cannes’ sections. The film also took the FIPRESCI or international critics’ prize for the Un Certain Regard section.

Aside from “Amour,” the film that did best at Cannes was “Beyond the Hills,” the new work by Romanian director Cristian Mungiu, who won the Palme in 2007 for “Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days.”

“Beyond the Hills,” set during a crisis at a monastery, won the best screenplay prize for Mungiu and the best actress prize, split between its two stars, Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan.

RELATED:

NTERACTIVE: Cheat sheet guide to Cannes films

Cannes 2012: Michael Haneke's 'Amour' feels the love

Cannes 2012: 'Amour' director Haneke says he hasn't mellowed

-- Kenneth Turan

Photo: Austrian director Michael Haneke raises his trophy as he poses with French actress Emmanuelle Riva after being awarded with the Palme d'Or for his film "Amour." Credit: Valery Hache / AFP/Getty Images.


Cannes 2012: 'Amour' director Haneke says he hasn't mellowed

May 26, 2012 | 12:28 pm

Haneke
Two months ago, the Austrian director Michael Haneke turned 70, which might explain why he recently took a turn from his provocateur past to make "Amour," a tender movie about a Parisian couple struggling with old age.

But ask Haneke if the prospect of that personal milestone informed the poignant tone of his new French-language film and he'll demur.

"It was simply the subject that called for this treatment," Haneke said earlier this week from a hotel suite at the Cannes Film Festival, where his movie premiered to rave reviews and became an instant Palme d'Or front-runner. "If I was making a movie about a different subject it might have demanded a different kind of treatment."

Upon being gently reminded that it was he, after all, who chose to make a movie about this tender subject in the first place, Haneke gave a sly smile and said. "If you're asking whether I've become a nicer person, well, you'll have to ask my wife."

Always crisply courteous in person, Haneke has spent the last 15 years making films that have been anything but polite.

With the immigrant drama "Cache" (2005), the original German-language and then remade English-language psychological thrillers "Funny Games" (1997 and 2008), and the inter-generational sex drama "The Piano Teacher" (2001), Haneke has built a reputation for uncomfortable material and unsettling scenes, as anyone who's watched the voyeurism-gone-violent of "Cache" or the infamous sex-on-a-bathroom-floor moments of "Piano Teacher" can affirm.

"Amour" is a different animal. The movie is a restrained story of a musically inclined octogenarian couple, Georges and Anne (played by the legendary French actors Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva), who are thrown for a loop when Anne suffers a stroke and her health begins to decline. Hardly in great health himself, Georges must then care for his wife while he attends to his own feelings of grief.

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