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Category: Cannes 2012

Cannes 2012: Kristen Stewart says Kerouac changed her life

May 24, 2012 | 12:23 pm

 

"On the Road"

The exploits of Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady were first described in “On the Road,” Kerouac’s autobiographical novel featuring alter-egos Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, more than a half-century ago.

But the stars of the book’s first-ever film adaptation say they believe the Beat bible resonates as much as ever, and that it has coursed through their lives in unexpected ways.

“I read it at 14 or 15 and I was touched. I said ‘I need to find people that push me like this. I want to find people in my life that I want to run after,” Stewart, who costars with Garrett Hedlund (Moriarty) and Sam Riley (Sal Paradise), told 24 Frames.

Stewart plays Moriarty's smart and free-spirited wife, Marylou, in the film, which premiered Wednesday night at the Cannes Film Festival in one of the more youthful galas to hit the Croisette in recent memory. (The “Twilight” actress drove up in a vintage car and posed with costars Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst as well as Hedlund and Riley, while outside the barricades thousands of fans lined up to catch a glimpse.)

At a rooftop restaurant Thursday morning, Stewart was still taking it all in. Dressed in a sleeveless leather top and sneaking in a quick snack of restaurant rolls, the actress was reflecting on perhaps her most prestigious role to date, as well as her first trip to oft-chaotic Cannes. “I’m a pretty nervous person, but for some reason I feel comfortable here,” she said..

Hedlund did Stewart's Cannes virginity one better — before this trip, the Minnesota native had never been to France. Smoking a cigarette alongside Stewart and Riley, the 27-year-old said he was similarly moved by Kerouac, noting that it echoed through the generations because the feeling it captures hasn’t changed.

“In your early 20s you’re at that place where you can do anything and you have years to do it,” the actor said. “Then life hits you before you know it.”

Director Walter Salles spent nearly a decade developing Kerouac's classic, whose rights have been owned by Francis Ford Coppola’s family for three decades. (Coppola's son Roman produced, after a series of stops-and-starts that had many wondering if the film would ever get made).

The movie pumps up Stewart’s character but generally takes the same free-form and episodic approach Kerouac took on the page, a set of scenes meant to tease out a time as much as a story. The movie will open just before Christmas (not long after "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2") when it could bring its stars the kind of awards-season attention they haven't experienced before.

Stewart acknowledged that "On the Road" made her want to take on other real-life stories. (She also previously played Joan Jett in the femme-rocker biopic "The Runaways") 

"You wonder a lot more about the whys" with a real-life tale, she said. "And we had such an emotional responsibility to these people. They became our family, which is so much more driving."

She said that in incarnating Marylou, who is often seen in various states of undress, "I wanted to find the person behind the character, and not the easy way of just playing the character as the girl who likes to [have sex] a lot."

Riley, who played Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis in the music biopic “Control,” said he hoped to continue taking on more serious roles too, but "so much depends on what touches you in the pile of crap that’s sent to you."

As for Hedlund, who is best known for his less Oscar-y turn as the hero in the "Tron" sequel a couple years back, the prospect of a literary work appeals because of what it allows before the camera starts rolling.

"Being involved in this project, there was such as work ethic we all had, such an investment to portray these characters. A lot of self-imposed stress, really," he said, noting that the production delays allowed for an unusual amount of preparation as he met Beat icons and personalities and read countless books. "I crave this kind of workload for every project I do."

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Kristen Stewart in 'On the Road' [video]

--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: "On the Road." Credit: IFC Films

 


Cannes 2012: Nicole Kidman is 'not interested in being safe'

May 24, 2012 |  8:11 am

Nicole Kidman
CANNES, France -- “I'm not interested in being safe, and I'm willing to fail because of that,” Nicole Kidman declares, not a shred of doubt in her voice. “I feel very ashamed when I do something safe.”

That may sound like the easy thing for an actor to say sitting in a quiet cabana at the luxurious Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc. But throughout her career, which includes three Oscar nominations and one victory, Kidman has always walked that particular walk as well as talked it, and never more so than this year.

Kidman has two films showing this year at the Cannes Film Festival (Philip Kaufman's “Hemingway & Gellhorn” and Lee Daniels' “The Paperboy”), and they showcase her in roles that couldn't be more wildly different. As far as Kidman is concerned, that is a very good thing. “The diversity of characters is the thing I'm most interested in,” she says. “I don't think I do well playing myself.”

In “Hemingway & Gellhorn,” Kidman plays journalist Martha Gellhorn, married to the novelist (played by Clive Owen) for five years but best remembered today as one of the 20th century's great war reporters.

“I don't get to read many scripts that are going to be made that are driven by a woman,” Kidman, 44, says of her interest in the project. “She's a woman who sacrifices a lot, who doesn't compromise, for a force she feels inside her, which is to tell the stories of people around her.”

If both this HBO production and Kidman's role in it share the pleasant feeling of classic, almost glamorous filmmaking, “The Paperboy,” adapted from the Pete Dexter novel, is something else again. A lurid, wildly excessive melodrama that depicts rural Florida in the 1960s as a cesspool of feverish mendacity, “Paperboy” features the actress totally convincing as a character whom fellow residents of Moat County describe as “an oversexed Barbie doll.”

That would be Charlotte Bless, a woman of formidable, unapologetic sexuality whose main activity is starting epistolary romances with death row inmates. She focuses on Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack), a sullen, white-trash alligator hunter behind bars for killing the local sheriff, and convinces Miami journalist Ward James (Matthew McConaughey) and his younger brother Jack (Zac Efron) that his claims of innocence are worth investigating.

A maelstrom of seething emotions, “Paperboy” features scenes of extreme and graphic sexuality. In taking the part, Kidman was guided, as she often is, by her connection with the filmmaker. “I believe in putting an enormous amount of trust in your director, and I'm willing to take the knocks if it doesn't work,” she says. “I've chosen that path, chosen to contribute, and I have to trust as an actor and try not to be a control freak.”

With Kaufman, Kidman responded to a director she describes as “incredibly deep and a philosopher with a very wise outlook on life.”

A fan of Daniels' best picture Oscar nominee “Precious,” Kidman describes the director as feeling “‘give me all of it, I want to devour the world.' Lee is raw and abandoned, he will do or say anything, he's completely erratic and wild and will shock you with the things he says.”

Because Kidman makes decisions about parts on a gut level, she is used to hearing criticism about her choices.

“There are so many different opinions out there, it is so extreme, diverse and loud, there is so much noise, that to get caught up in that seems like minutia,” she says. What she does feel is “protective of the director. I worry about how they're going to fare. I'm there, but it's them, they're putting themselves on the line.”

The thing that Kidman feels most protective about, however, is her marriage to country star Keith Urban and her two youngest children, 4-year-old Sunday and 17-month-old Faith. (She has two other children from her previous marriage to Tom Cruise.)

“That's my priority in terms of my life,” she says, noting that she and Urban try not to be apart for more than three or four days and that he is taking a long plane ride to be with her for a day in Cannes.

Projects Kidman takes now must factor family in. “Six months in Africa, I can't do that,” she says. “I cannot stand to be away from the girls. I'm not willing to leave them, it's very painful. I attach very deeply, and there are ramifications, pain to endure, if you allow yourself to attach and love to that extreme.”

The couple and their children live outside of Nashville, an area Kidman enjoys, among other reasons, because it is “removed” from the limelight.

“When you get to this age, I want to breathe, I can go with the flow of it,” she explains. “There's still a fire that ignites in me creatively, but I know how to put it out for a while.”

That fire is also the one thing Kidman is not willing to do without professionally. “As you get older, you can lose that abandonment,” she says. “I want to stay in that place of ‘Try it, why not.' I very much still try to maintain that artistically.”

Given where she is in her life, Kidman looks thoughtful when reminded that when she was a teenager beginning serious acting in Australia, she decided to model her career on Katharine Hepburn: She wasn't going to marry or have kids, she was just going to act.

“I knew the thing I need to do was seek out my path artistically,” she says, looking back now on her younger self. “A burning force within me wanted to go out and explore the world, have experiences. If I was going to fall in love at 18 and have a child, I would not have done that.

“In my psyche, the desire to find a partner was very strong, but I didn't want to give in to that. I had to fight against what I knew my nature was.”

It's something she doesn't have to do anymore.

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Kristen Stewart in 'On the Road' [video]

Cannes 2012: Breaking down Brad Pitt's 'Killing' [video]

-- Kenneth Turan

Photo: Nicole Kidman at the Hotel du Cap. Credit: Patricia Williams / For The Times


Cannes 2012: Breaking down Brad Pitt's 'Killing' (Video)

May 24, 2012 |  5:27 am

Brad Pitt's "Killing Them Softly" divided audiences when it screened this week at the Cannes Film Festival: Some responded to the film's metaphoric overtones about capitalism and politics; others found it heavy-handed. The Times' Steven Zeitchik and the Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips recap one of the more provocative films of this year's movie gathering.

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-- Steven Zeitchik
twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT


Cannes 2012: Kanye West, auteur?

May 24, 2012 |  4:13 am

  Kanye West and Kim Kardashian debuted the rapper's film "Cruel Summer" at the Cannes Film Festival
CANNES, France -- For years, Hollywood actors would get under the skin of musicians by cutting an album between movie shoots. Now Kanye West is returning he favor.

The hip-hop superstar has directed an approximately 30-minute film, "Cruel Summer," which stars fellow rapper Kid Cudi and the Lebanese actress Razane Jammal (with a bit part by West) and unfolds over seven screens in a specially designed pop-up theater. It took West about three months to develop and shoot the movie, which he did in Qatar earlier this year.

On Wednesday night at a swanky party at the Cannes Film festival, the rapper debuted the movie, which plays somewhere between a narrative featurette and an extended music video. (Or, as the media notes have it, "a seven-screen experience installation combining the world of art, architecture and cinema.")

Cudi stars as a thief of high-end sports cars who falls in love with a blind Arabic princess. But the princess' father won't allow the pair to marry unless the thief can help her see, so the hero must find a way to make it happen (metaphorically).

The story is secondary to the pyrotechnics, with new music from West and a thumping surround-sound quality that makes a 3-D Michael Bay effort feel like an iPad short. "Cruel Summer" was shot with multiple cameras, with each screen offering a different perspective on the action. "I can dream one day that will be the way ... people will watch movies,” West told the audience after the screening.

After a few days of screenings here, West plans on taking the movie to cities around the world, including Doha, Qatar, where it will play the film festival in November. (The Doha Film Institute co-produced "Cruel Summer.")

After the Cannes screening, West, girlfriend Kim Kardashian and fellow rapper Jay-Z mingled at the party, as West could be heard saying that he didn't want to go with just one screen when he could go seven.

The premiere marked a return to Cannes for West, who last year gave a memorable performance at a party for financier Red Granite. ("Entourage" enthusiasts will also recall that West appeared on the show to give Vince and the boys a ride to Cannes on his private jet.)

Given his new short -- and his frequenting of Cannes -- does West want to make his mark in the film world beyond cameos and soundtrack appearances? Asked by 24 Frames if he wants to be a director, West smiled and replied, "I don't answer questions." So he's basically halfway there.

RELATED:

Cannes Film Festival: Walter Salles' journey to "On the Road"

Cannes 2012: Brandon Cronenberg takes a (sort of) familiar path

Cannes 2012: Brad Pitt's "Killing Them Softly": Anti-capitalist screed?

-- Steven Zeitchik
twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Kanye West with girlfriend Kim Kardashian at the Cannes premiere of "Cruel Summer." Credit: Francois Mori / Associated Press


Kristen Stewart in 'On the Road': 'I just want ... a baby' [video]

May 23, 2012 |  3:19 pm

 

"On the Road," Walter Salles' adaptation of the Jack Kerouac novel, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday. It's a lyrical tone poem about the adventures of Kerouac alter ego Sal Paradise, his best friend and inspiration, Dean Moriarty (based on the legendary Neal Cassady, who went on to drive the Magic Bus for Ken Kesey), and Moriarty's wife, Marylou. Here's a look at two clips from the movie, which is scheduled to be released in the U.S. in late fall.

"On the Road" more than captures the purity of that long-ago quest, using youthful stars like Sam Riley as Sal, Garrett Hedlund as Dean and Kristen Stewart as Marylou to show how eternal that yearning remains.

In the first clip, above, Sal, Dean and Marylou are driving. Marylou is at the wheel, musing about Dean leaving her while simultaneously coming onto Sal and talking about going back to her fiance. "I just want a house, a baby, something normal," she says.

The second clip, below, features Kirsten Dunst, who plays Camille, Dean's ex, with whom he has an on-again, off-again relationship. 

"On the Road" is also notable for the top-flight talent in cameo roles, including Amy Adams, Terrence Howard and Steve Buscemi, all motivated, Salles says, by passion for the source material. Viggo Mortensen, who plays Old Bull Lee (based on William S. Burroughs), showed up on the set with a gun and a typewriter.

 

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— Kenneth Turan and Julie Makinen


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

May 23, 2012 |  9:20 am

Holoymotor

CANNES, France -- For those concerned that the Cannes Film Festival has been lacking some over-the-top absurdity -- not to mention a man dressed as a disheveled warlord rampaging through a cemetery and kidnapping models -- worry no more.

The 2012 edition of the festival, which has distinguished itself with quiet dramas such as “Amour,” "Rust & Bone” and “No,” finally has, in “Holy Motors,” the noisy burst of the bizarre that every festival needs, even a tuxedo-clad festival in the image-conscious south of France.

Leos Carax’s new film is an episodic romp around Paris, told with a mixture of spy-thriller moodiness and absurdist comedy. A series of nine vignettes about a rubber-faced man known as Monsieur Oscar (played by the director’s frequent collaborator, Denis Lavant), it shows the hero as he spends a day working for a shadowy group called the “Agency.” He drives around Paris assuming identities and, often, causing some type of mayhem.

In one striking scene, Monsieur Oscar dresses in a skintight motion-capture suit and simulates sex with a red-tailed female creature; in another he dons a pointy beard and acts like a madman in a cemetery, where he bites the fingers off a fashion editor at a nearby photo shoot and then makes off with the model. Then there’s the appearance of Eva Mendes in another segment; we won’t spoil the fun and reveal what character guise she turns up in. Sometimes he goes more conventional, like a dad picking up his daughter. Sometimes the entire milieu seems to exist on another planet. Oh, did we mention Kylie Minogue shows up too?

The whole thing is patently weird and self-knowingly comic all at the same time, and it begs for a comparison to something you know. Except, really, there’s no comparison to anything you know. The best descriptor might be that the episodic structure can feel like levels in a video game (a very, very surrealist video game) and the general vibe of some episodes are of performance-art merriment. Underneath it all lies the mystery of just who this man is, who gives him his orders and why he takes on these strange tasks, but that doesn’t really matter when considering the odd scenes Carax creates.

“Bonkers” and “nutso” were the reactions to media and public screenings Tuesday and Wednesday, with the official gala premiere Wednesday night sure to get the formal-wear crowd wondering what hit them.

The movie has already sparked talk of a Palme d’Or, though if the metaphysical meditation “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall Past Lives” hadn’t won that prize wo years ago, most would surely think this film too weird for any buttoned-down festival jury.

Leos Carax is an enigma in his own right. For one thing, it's not his real name, but an anagram of his first and middle names (he’s actually Alexandre Oscar Dupont, a French American who grew up outside Paris; that name also, inevitably, raises the question of whether Monsieur Oscar is the director’s alter ego). For another, his level of productivity makes Terrence Malick look like Woody Allen — the 52-year-old hasn’t made a feature this millennium, last coming out with a full-length film in 1999, the controversial, possibly incestuous romantic drama “Pola X.”

Will someone distribute this movie in the U.S., and will the audiences they market it to come out to see it? There’s something deadpan and wry that could attract a cult following — a description that might be all too fitting given how cults would seem very much to belong in this movie’s tableaux.

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-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Denis Lavant in a scene from "Holy Motors." Credit: CNC


Cannes 2012: Roman Polanski receives some therapy

May 22, 2012 | 11:23 pm

Pola
Roman Polanski may be moving on to the Dreyfus affair for his next film. But the polarizing director found time to make a pit stop and shoot "The Therapy," a short starring Ben Kingsley as a therapist and Helena Bonham Carter as his clueless patient, in a piece that doubles as a Prada commercial.

Polanski made a rare public appearance at the Cannes Film Festival on Monday to showcase the short and introduce a new cut of his 1979 romance "Tess." He was greeted with wild enthusiasm by the surprisingly young crowd, much of which was born after "Tess" was released. The audience whooped at the new short and then sat for a restored cut of the old film, an adaptation of Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the d'Urbervilles."

"Therapy" -- which has that wide-angle, glossy look that Polanski embraced in "Carnage" -- has Bonham Carter's society woman prattling on about her society-woman problems, while an increasingly distracted Kingsley begins paying attention instead to her fur coat that's hanging on a coat rack. Oblivious to his patient's confessionals, he's soon caressing the fabric before eventually swaddling himself in it.

It's not clear where the high-end ad will eventually run.

Decked out in a tuxedo in front of one of Cannes' smaller screening rooms, Polanski spoke briefly but didn't address the elephant in the room -- the legal situation that has kept him out of the U.S. for more than three decades. Nor did he talk about a new documentary that has him reflecting on his complicated life.

He did, however, offer a thought on "Therapy." Speaking in French (not as fluent as you'd expect), he said that "films could be as good short as long."

And he indulged in some reminiscing about "Tess." Aided by actress Natasha Kinski and others from the film, who stood at the front of the theater with him before the screening, he compared making a movie to giving birth to a child.

He then thanked those who restored the film and, when the camera phones and cheering had both gone down, took a seat with the audience, where he proceeded to watch his film for the next  2 1/2 hours.

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Cannes 2012: Brad Pitt's 'Killing Them Softly, an anti-capitalist screed?

-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Roman Polanski arrives for a premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on Monday. Credit: Alberto Pizzoli / AFP / Getty images

 


Cannes 2012: Joaquin Phoenix returns with Scientology-themed 'The Master'

May 22, 2012 |  5:00 pm

It's been a long while since we've seen Joaquin Phoenix on the big screen doing anything but mumbling and trying, unsuccessfully, to rap. Now that that phase is mercifully over, he's back in business with Paul Thomas Anderson's anticipated film "The Master," which by all appearances is a tale modeled on the story of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology.

A few minutes of footage were shown this week at Cannes by the Weinstein Co., which plans to bring the film to U.S. theaters in the fall. An even smaller bit, above, has been circulating on the Internet. Phoenix plays Freddie Sutton, a young drifter who becomes the right-hand man of Lancaster Dodd, a charismatic intellectual (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) whose spiritual organization begins to catch on in America in the 1950s. Amy Adams plays Dodd's wife, Mary Sue.

Neither Adams nor Hoffman appear in the trailer, just Phoenix, whose character is undergoing some kind of questioning by a man in a military-looking outfit. It's a tense, unsettling scene, made more so by the ominous atonal music and washed-out palette.

Given the significant number of celebrity Scientology adherents as well as detractors in Hollywood, the film is awaited with a sense not just of curiosity but also trepidation and giddiness. Anderson himself has worked with perhaps Scientology's best-known member, Tom Cruise, directing him in 1999's "Magnolia." (The Wrap reported Tuesday, quoting two unnamed sources, that Anderson had screened the film for Cruise and the actor “had issues” with some parts of the movie.)

The picture is being financed by up-and-coming producer Megan Ellison, 26, who is using family wealth to bankroll movies under the banner Annapurna Pictures.

While Ellison might not have any Cruise movies on her docket for a long while, she's already doubling down on Phoenix. She's funding Spike Jonze's new film, which stars Phoenix, Rooney Mara and, coincidentally, Adams.

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-- Julie Makinen

 


Cannes 2012: Brad Pitt's 'Killing Them Softly': Anti-capitalist screed?

May 22, 2012 |  6:21 am

 Brad Pitt's "Killing Them Softly," directed by Andrew Dominik, has anti-capitalist themesMost feature filmmakers shy away from acknowledging overt political messages in their films, hiding behind platitudes such as "I just wanted to tell the best story" or "I'd rather let others be the ones to interpret my work."

Not "Killing Them Softly" writer-director Andrew Dominik and his star-producer, Brad Pitt, who offered with frankness -- both in the film and at a Cannes Film Festival news conference that followed on Tuesday morning -- their unfavorable opinion of capitalism as recently practiced in the U.S.

Everything you need to know about Dominik's worldview came with a moment in the news conference in which the Australian said that in his experience America is largely about making money, and that that went double for Hollywood.

PHOTOS: Scene at Cannes

Or, as the film's touchstone piece of dialogue has it: "America isn't a country -- it's a business.”

Pitt and Dominik reunited after 2007's "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" for "Killing," which is set to be released commercially by the Weinstein Co. in September. Dominik said at the presser that if "Jesse James" was "a Leonard Cohen song," his new film is "a pop song."

Certainly that's true in terms of genre -- "Killing Them Softly" is a hit-man movie, albeit an arthouse one, and contains many of the schemes and stylized violence you might expect from a film with that label.

But the various criminal elements--including Pitt's Jackie Cogan, who likes to kill his marks from a distance, or "softly"--that try to rub each other out and protect their own interests are, well, often beside the point, their arcs followed slowly and circuitously. Instead, characters serve as symbols of, among other things, the hierarchy in a capitalist system. Dominik's larger notion is that U.S. capitalism is deeply flawed, and that government, whether Democrat or Republican, has let down its people.

CHEAT SHEET: Cannes Film Festival movies to see

Lest there be any doubt about his intentions, the director set his film in 2008, against the backdrop of the economic crisis and the Obama-McCain election. He allows empty campaign promises -- including plenty from Obama -- to play underneath much of the action. The result is a commentary on the cruel Darwinian dynamic of the have-and-have-not crime world; indeed, though it was written before the Occupy movement took hold, it is arguably the first post-Occupy film -- or, perhaps, what the documentary "Inside Job" might look like if it was a fictional feature.

Pitt even said at the news conference that it was "criminal that there still haven't been any criminal repercussions" for the financial crisis, pretty much channeling the spirit of "Inside Job" director Charles Ferguson, who on the 2011 Oscar stage famously said that "no single financial executive has gone to jail, and that's wrong."

The actor was more muted than Dominik, but he didn't totally hold his fire either. Asked about the decision to get behind this film, he said that at the time  "we were at the apex of the home mortgage debacle and people were losing homes right and left," adding of this movie that "you believe you're watching a gangster film and it wasn't until the end when it coalesced [at the "America is not a country" volley, as well as a line about Thomas Jefferson that's best experienced firsthand] that you realized it was saying something about the larger world."

Dominik adapted the script from a 1974 novel titled "Cogan's Trade" that obviously lacks these contemporary political and economic elements. The fact that he's writing this as an outsider--an Aussie character is one of the few who gets away clean, which Dominik winkingly acknowledged was a comment on his home country's less rapacious form of capitalism--will only fuel the movie's critics, particularly on the right. On the other end of the spectrum, the film will no doubt go over big in Francois Hollande's France when it premieres Tuesday evening.

And then there's this peculiarity: "Killing Them Softly" is financed by Megan Ellison, who, as the very wealthy daughter of the very wealthy Larry Ellison, is of course a prime beneficiary of capitalism. Is this her attempt at repudiating her wealth or a deeper, more head-spinning contradiction? Dominik might say the latter -- but then, given his belief system, he would say that contradictions are nothing new in the American economic order.

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-- Steven Zeitchik
twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Brad Pitt in "Killing Them Softly." Credit: The Weinstein Co.


Cannes 2012: Brandon Cronenberg takes a (sort of) familiar path

May 22, 2012 |  3:00 am

Brandonc
CANNES, France--Growing up, Brandon Cronenberg got used to things getting a little weird. Like the time he went to a new school and was told by a classmate he'd never met before, "I'd heard you were coming, and I've been excited about it." Or the occasional wacko who would run up to him and say, "Your father's movies are speaking directly to me."

"Like, literally directly," the Toronto native said, smiling incredulously as he leaned back with a glass of water at a Cannes Film Festival hotel on Monday afternoon. “He would tell me exactly what it meant and how it very clearly related to his life, and how my father intended it that way.”

Cronenberg is the son of that Cronenberg, David, the 69-year-old director of classics like "The Fly" and "Scanners" and the master of so-called body horror, which has inspired a nearly religious following. For years Brandon resisted following in his old man's footsteps. He tried video art, poetry, other forms of creative expression. "I loved not being interested when I was younger,” said Brandon Cronenberg, now 32.

It wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate what his father did; he just resented the attention and assumptions that came with it.

The switch flipped, he said, when in his late 20s he realized that he actually liked filmmaking, and that a principled stand for its own sake “was just kind of obnoxious.” He began making narrative shorts. Just a few weeks ago completed his first feature, a horror-movie-cum-social-critique called “Antiviral,” which had its premiere this week in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival.

Though famous directors sometimes spawn other directors, David and Brandon Cronenberg have made film history: They are the first father-and-son tandem to premiere movies in Cannes in the same year.  The elder Cronenberg’s movie, the Robert Pattinson-starring “Cosmopolis,” premieres later this week in the festival’s main competition section, as it reimagines a slim novel from the American critical darling Don DeLillo.

The younger Cronenberg brings his own degree of invention. Set in a science-fictiony near-future, “Antiviral” tells of a world in which people pay to have viruses from ill celebrities implanted in them. “People say it’s a horror movie, and I guess in a way it is, but when you look at the lengths our society goes to with celebrities, it’s not that big a jump,” Brandon Cronenberg said, citing an incident he’d heard in which Sarah Michelle Gellar told a talk-show audience she had a cold--only to find audience members cheering and leaning forward in the hope of catching it.

The “Antiviral” director said that despite some thematic similarities to his father’s work, he doesn’t see himself as being particularly interested in body horror; it just worked out that way for this film. “There’s a cultural fetish of the body that in a way I find grotesque, so it fit nicely with the fetish we have for celebrity,” he said.

Though “Antiviral” has received a mixed response, even the lukewarm reviews note the younger Cronenberg’s directorial chops.

For his part, David Cronenberg said he didn’t steer his son toward his line of work. “I had no dynastic ambitions for Bran particularly,” he told an audience during a panel he sat on with his son and Toronto Film Festival honcho Cameron Bailey. “Whatever he wanted to do was going to happen naturally.” (Brandon Cronenberg also has a sister, Caitlin, and a half-sister, Cassandra, from his father’s previous marriage.)

The veteran director said he did realize his son was taking to certain aspects of the filmmaking process. Even at a young age, David Cronenberg said, “I noticed he was incredibly sensitive to the music of film.” Cronenberg also said he observed that his young son shared his own fascination with nature and “the strangeness of animal life,” which he said informs many of his own films.

As for their shared cinematic experiences, Brandon said one of the first movies they recalled watching together was not a genre title but “Airplane.”  “He didn’t laugh, though, which I thought was interesting,” David Cronenberg deadpanned.

With a nose ring and a slightly nervous but still down-to-earth manner, there is, like his wisecrack-prone father, nothing terribly prepossessing (much less creepy) about Brandon Cronenberg. That made childhood a slightly odd experience; strangers were hardly expecting something so normal. "They brought preconceptions about me based on preconceptions they had about my father," the younger Cronenberg said.

Some of those awkward encounters haven’t abated. After a Cannes screening of “Antiviral,” a man with a foreign accent walked up to Brandon and suggested a very...particular read on the film.

“He was just convinced that, because of how the word was said in his language, that the title was a play on ‘Andy Warhol.’ And nothing I could say could convince him that I wasn’t thinking of that.”  Cronenberg paused. “I guess I’m getting some of those strange interpretations now.”

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-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Brandon Cronenberg. Credit: Cannes Film Festival

Growing up, Brandon Cronenberg got used to things getting a little weird. Like the time he went to a new school and was told by a classmate he'd never met before, "I'd heard you were coming, and I've been excited about it." Or the occasional  wacko who would run up to him and say "Your father's movies are speaking directly to me."

"Like, literally directly," the Toronto native said, smiling incredulously as he leaned back  with a glass of water at a Cannes Film Festival hotel on Monday aftrernoon. “He would tell me exactly what it meant and how it very clearly related to his life.”

Cronenberg is the son of that Cronenberg, David, the 69-year-old director of classics like "The Fly" and "Scanners" and the so-called master of body horror. For years Brandon resisted following in his old man's footsteps. He tried video art, poetry, other forms of creative expression. "I loved not being interested when I was younger,” said Brandon Cronenberg, now 32.

It wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate what his father did, just that he resented the attention and assumptions that came with it.

The switch flipped, he said, when in his late 20’s  andhe realized that a principled stand for its own sake “was just kind of obnoxious.” He began making narrative shorts, and just a few weeks ago completed his first feature, a horror movie-cum-social critique called “Antiviral,” which had its premiere several days ago in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival.

Though famous directors sometimes spawn directors, David and Brandon Cronenberg are the first father-and-son tandem to have movies in Cannes at the same time. The elder Cronenberg’s movie, the Rob Pattinson-starring “Cosmpolis,” premieres later this week in the festival’s main competition section.

Set in a science-fictiony near-future, “Antiviral” tells of a world in which people pay to have viruses from ill celebrities implanted into them. “People say it’s a horror movie, and I guess in a way it is, but when you look at the lengths our society goes to with celebrities, it’s not that big a jump,” Brandon Cronenberg said, citing an incident he’d heard about in which Sarah Michelle Gellar told a talk-show audience she had a cold only to find audience members cheering and leaning forward in the hope of catching it.

The “Antiviral” director said that despite some thematic similarities to his father’s work, he doesn’t see himself as being particularly interested in body horror; it just worked for this film. “There’s a cultural fetish of the body that in a way I find grotesque, so it fit nicely with the fetish we have for celebrity,” he said. Though “Antiviral” has received a mixed response, even the lukewarm reviews note the younger Cronenberg’s directorial chops.

For his part, David Croneberg said he didn’t steer his son toward his line of work. “I had no dynastic ambitions for Bran particularly,” he told an audience from a panel he sat on with his son and Toronto Film Festival honcho Cameron Bailey earlier on Monday. “Whatever hje wanted to do was going to happen naturally.” (Brandon Cronenberg also has a sister, Caitlin, and a half-sister, Cassandra, from his father’s previous marriage.)

The veteran director did say that he noticed his son taking to certain aspects of the filmmaking process. Even at a young age, David Cronenberg said, “I noticed he was incredibly sensitive to the music of film.” Cronenberg also said he noticed that his son from an early age shared his own fascination with nature and “the strangeness of animal life,” which he said informs many of his own films.

Brandon said one of the first movies they recalled watching together was not a genre classic but “Airplane.”  “He didn’t laiugh, though, which I thought was interesting,” David Cronenberg deadpanned.

With a nose ring and a slightly nervous but down-to-earth manner there is, like his wisecrack-prone father, nothing terribly prepossessing, much less creepy, about Brandon Cronenberg. That might have made a childhood spent fending off assumptions from strangers even more difficult. "They brought preconceptions about me based on preconceptions they had about my father," he said.

Some of those awkward encounters haven’t abated, though. After a screeing of “Antiviral,” a man with a foreign accent walked up to Brandon and suggested his own read on “Antiviral.”

“He was just convinced that, because of how the word was said in his language, that the title was  a play on ‘Andy Warhol,’ and nothing I could say could convince him that I wasn’t thinking of that.”  Cronenberg paused. “I guess I’m getting some of those strange interpretations now.”

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