24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Cannes Film Festival

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.

 

RELATED

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

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

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

— 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.

RELATED:

Cannes 2012: Roman Polanski in image rehab? 

Roman Polanski to direct movie about Dreyfus affair

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

-- 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.

RELATED:

Cannes 2012: Is Roman Polanski seeking some image rehab? 

Roman Polanski to direct movie about Dreyfus affair

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: 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.”

RELATED:

Cannes 2012: Is 'Sapphires' a fine gem or costume jewelry?

Cannes 2012: Shia LaBeouf's 'Lawless,' parable for the drug war?

Cannes 2012: Redoing Romeo and Juliet for the Twilight generation

-- 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.”

Cannes 2012: Sony Pictures Classics picks up Gael Garcia Bernal's 'No'

May 22, 2012 |  2:31 am

Sony Pictures Classics announced at the Cannes Film Festival that it had acquired North American rights to the buzz dramedy "No"
"No," Gael Garcia Bernal's tersely titled tale of 1980s Chilean politics, is headed to theaters.

Sony Pictures Classics announced Tuesday morning at the Cannes Film Festival that it had acquired North American rights to the buzz dramedy. Though it had played the comparatively smaller Directors' Fortnight section, "No" had been attracting festival-goer interest and critical attention since it screened in the early days of the event. The Times' Kenneth Turan was a strong supporter of the film.

Directed by Pablo Larrain ("Tony Manero") and set in 1988, "No" stars Bernal as Renee Saavedra, a Chilean advertising executive recruited by the opposition after dictator Augusto Pinochet calls for a referendum on his presidency.

Floundering with dour campaigns about human-rights abuses, the opposition (nicknamed "No") hopes Saavedra can bring a little flash to the campaign; much of the movie then unfolds as Saavedra's jazzy approach collides with the opposition's serious one.

The movie also explores Saavedra's complicated home life, with his wife a more serious opposition ideologue.

Shot to look like a 1988 VHS movie, the film has elements of comedy, satire and drama. It's based on a true story, with Pinochet eventually losing the election.

In an interview with 24 Frames, Larrain said he wasn't concerned about the esoteric subject matter. "I think a lot of people outside Chile know a little about Pinochet but they'd like to know more," he said. "They know the story of how he got in, but they don't know how he got out."

RELATED:

Cannes 2012: Auteurs take a shine to Americana

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

Cannes 2012: Is "Sapphires" a fine gem or costume jewelry?

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Gael Garcia Bernal in "No." Credit: Cannes Film Festival

 

Cannes 2012: SPC picks up Gael Garcia Bernal's 'No'

 

"No," Gael Garcia Bernal's tersely titled tale of 1980's Chilean politics, is headed to theaters.

 

Sony Pictures Classics announced Tuesday morning at the Cannes Film Festival that it had acquired North American rights to the buzz dramedy. Though it had played the comparatively smaller Directors’ Fortnight section, "No" had been attracting festivalgoer interest and critical attention since it screened in the early days of the festival. The Times' Kenneth Turan was a strong supporter of the film. (Link?)

 

Directed by Pablo Larrain ("Tony Manero") and set in 1988, "No" stars Bernal as Renee Saavedra, a Chilean advertising executive  recruited by the opposition after dictator Augusto Pinochet calls for a referendum on his presidency.

Floundering with dour campaigns about human-rights abuses, the opposition (nicknamed "No") hopes Saavedra can bring a little flash to the campaign; much of the movie then unfolds as Saavedra's jazzy approach collides with the opposition's serious one.

 

The movie also explores Saavedra's complicated home life, with his wife a more serious opposition ideologue.

 

Shot to look like a 1988 VHS movie, the film has elements of comedy, satire and drama. It's based on a true story, with Pinochet eventually losing the election.

 

In an interview with 24 Frames, Larrain said he wasn't concerned about the esoteric subject matter. "I think a lot of people outside Chile know a little about Pinochet but they'd like to know more," he said. "The know the story of how he got in, but they don't know how  he got out."

 

--Steven Zeitchik


Cannes 2012: Auteurs take a shine to Americana

May 21, 2012 |  6:11 pm

Lawless at Cannes
CANNES, France — Increasingly reliant on global audiences for box office success, many Hollywood studios are muting elements that might be considered too American. But prestige filmmakers working outside the studio system — including several from other countries — are doubling down on the red, white and blue. They are churning out movies that are not only set in America but that also traffic distinctly in Americana.

At the Cannes Film Festival, which serves as perhaps the most important window on the state of prestige film, Americana-themed pictures abound. The movies include “Mud,” a modern take on “Huckleberry Finn”; “Lawless,” a story of gangsters and bootleggers during Prohibition; “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” a folkloric tale set amid the Louisiana bayous; “Moonrise Kingdom,” a look at life in a New England summer camp; and “On the Road,” based on the generation-defining Beat novel by Jack Kerouac. All but “Mud” are set to come out in the U.S. before the end of the year.

“I think there's a notion among independent filmmakers now that myth has run aground in our country's mainstream film culture — we have sequel disease, Sherlock Holmes is getting bastardized, Snow White is being turned into the ‘Twilight’ girl,” said Benh Zeitlin, director of “Beasts.” “Some of us outside Hollywood feel like our response should be to raise and reclaim our basic myths.”

To do so, these filmmakers are taking recognizable Americana elements and adding new — but, they hope, respectful — twists. “Beasts,” which tells of a 6-year-old girl named Hushpuppy who is fighting for survival after a devastating storm, mixes in giant, imaginary creatures with its more traditional Southern-fried tale. “Mud” has two modern-day boys a la Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn taking to the Mississippi River and coming across an interesting stranger — only instead of an escaped slave it's an enigmatic slacker played by Matthew McConaughey.

And in “Lawless,” filmmakers tackle an Al Capone-type story — only this time the crime-running family is in rural Virginia, not big-city Chicago.

What's especially surprising is that many of these directors don't come from the U.S. “On the Road” is directed by Walter Salles, a Brazilian-born director who lives in Paris; while “Lawless” director John Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave hail from Australia.

“I think if Nick and I had been American we would have done a lesser version of this movie, or we wouldn't have done it at all,” Hillcoat said in an interview at the festival. “It sometimes takes someone far away from a place to have the freshest take on it.”

Continue reading »

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

May 20, 2012 |  7:23 pm


Michael Haneke's AmourConsensus at Cannes is about an improbable as a Del Taco at the Louvre. But the numerous critics and wide swath of public filmgoers attending the festival seem to have found common ground on a new movie: the mortality drama “Amour." Michael Haneke’s meticulous look at an octogenarian man and the wife he is slowly losing to the after-effects of a stroke (the French-language film is referred to as "Love" in English) scored raves from critics as well as a warmly enthusiastic reaction from the public when it premiered Sunday in a rain-soaked Cannes.

Sunday night’s post-screening standing ovation, a key measure of Cannes sentiment, topped seven minutes, and audience members could be heard buzzing about the film on the way out in the manner you wouldn’t expect from a movie about a slow death.

Like its main characters’ existence, the film’s dramatic furniture is simple. Some problems with their grown daughter (Isabelle Huppert) notwithstanding, octogenarians Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) and Georges (Jean-Luis Trintignant) have led a comfortable, cultured life as music teachers, and seem to be enjoying a relaxed retirement. But when Anne is felled by a stroke, their idyll is destroyed. She begins declining mentally and physically, and he is pressed into a thousand difficult tasks while watching the love of his life fade away, asked to do a lot but not able to do anything where it really counts.

It’s the kind of movie that brings filmgoers starkly face-to-face with the realities of failing health and death. Older viewers will be more likely to focus on themselves; younger filmgoers will think of parents and grandparents.

Those with good memories and/or a taste for mortality cinema might watch "Amour" and recall "Away From Her," Sarah Polley's 2006 examination of a marriage ravaged by dementia, though there’s undeniably something more intimate and under-your-skin here. There are also a few shocking moments in the vein of some of Haneke’s more famous provocations, but it’s generally a low-key work; if gentle Haneke isn’t an oxymoron, then that’s how it’s best described. (More shortly from Haneke himself on his eclectic career--from "The Piano Teacher" to "Cache" to "The White Ribbon"--and the process behind this film.)

"Amour" will be released by Sony Pictures Classics later this year, when it will face some hurdles. Some moviegoers know of Haneke’s reputation as a master of the uncomfortable and may pass on those grounds; others simply may not want to see a drama focused on death and dying.

Much of the promotional campaign, though, could be built around the actors, whose back stories are almost as compelling as the film. In their eighties themselves and, as a press conference indicated, more slow-footed than they once were, Riva and Trintignant hark back to an earlier time in entertainment. Riva, whose performance here makes her an instant Oscar contender, began her career in the wartime romance "Hiroshima Mon Amour" 53 years ago. (She would turn 86 the day of next year's Oscars, the oldest age of any nominee in history by about five years.)

Though 81,  Trintignant  has been working even longer, notably starring in movies such as Costa-Gavras’ best picture nominee “Z” over a remarkable 56-year career.

Still, Trintignant had been in retirement and hadn’t had a bona fide film part in nearly 15 years before Haneke lured him back. “I didn't want to act in films anymore,” Trintignant told reporters Sunday morning, saying he had been concentrating on occasional theater work. “But when Haneke offered me this part it was an exception,” describing how demanding the filmmaker is.  He then added to some laughter, “I think he's one of the great directors in the world, and it’s a wonderful opportunity. But I won't do it again.”

RELATED:

Cannes 2012: Is 'Sapphires' a fine gem or costume jewelry?

Cannes 2012: Shia LaBeouf's 'Lawless,' parable for the drug war?

Cannes 2012: Redoing Romeo and Juliet for the Twilight generation

--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

 Photo: Amour. Credit: Sony Pictures Classics


Cannes 2012: Is 'Sapphires' a fine gem or costume jewelry?

May 20, 2012 |  5:26 am

Sapphi
Last week at this time, even attentive Cannes-goers hadn't heard of "The Sapphires," an Australian comedy about an Aboriginese singing troupe that's directed by an unknown and featured no prominent stars.

But as is often the case at a festival, Wayne Blair's 1968-set movie -- which centers on a quartet of struggling Aussie singers who find unlikely fame in Vietnam performing for U.S. troops -- vaulted from obscurity in the blink of an eye. And as is also often the case at festivals, Harvey Weinstein was the reason for the jump.

As Cannes was getting underway last Wednesday, Weinstein bought the movie's U.S. distribution rights -- he would go on to pick up three movies in three days -- putting the film on the map for festival-goers. On Saturday "The Sapphires’" stock rose further after a spirited premiere screening that saw the  unknown Australians who play the singers (Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell) as well as Irish actor Chris O'Dowd (who plays their manager) get rousing ovations.

Weinstein stoked the flame further when, later that night at a party for his Cannes film "Lawless," he walked up to a reporter and, grabbing the reporter's arm, said: "Have you seen ‘The Sapphires’? ‘The Artist’ just happened again."

Fans of the film said that while it may be a little too soon to make that proclamation, the movie’s music, comedy and feel-good premise position it strongly for breakout success.

But not all Cannes-goers were on board. Around the festival's parties Saturday night and the screening halls Sunday morning, some said the whole thing had the feeling of classic Weinstein showmanship. While the naysayers acknowledged that the film (which is not yet dated for release) had crowd-pleasing elements, it was nothing that hadn't been done before or better in working-man comedies like "The Full Monty."

And others pointed out that it was unlikely to get anywhere close to the critical support of "The Artist." Indeed, a quick survey of critics around Cannes suggested that the film did not measure up to the festival’s top offerings. As Variety critic Justin Chang tweeted a few hours after he had seen Michael Haneke's "Love," "A film like 'Love' reminds you of the folly of festivals. Went straight to 'Sapphires' afterward, resented having Haneke's spell broken."

Festivals are often about the delicate game of managing expectations. The same movie can be a masterpiece or a disappointment depending on whether people see it believing it should or will be great. Weinstein has now set the bar high. We'll see if he meets it...or moves on to another acquisition.

RELATED:

Cannes 2012: Redoing Romeo and Juliet for the Twilight generation

Cannes 2012: Gael Garcia Bernal says 'No'

Cannes 2012: Shia LaBeouf's 'Lawless,' parable for the drug war?

--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: "The Sapphires." Credit: The Weinstein Co.

Deborah Mailman ... Gail 27,563 
Jessica Mauboy ... Julie 49,477 
Shari Sebbens ... Kay 44,598 
Miranda Tapsell ... Cynthia

Cannes 2012: Redoing ‘Romeo & Juliet’ for the Twilight Generation

May 19, 2012 |  1:03 pm

Romeoand

CANNES, France -- A film version of "Romeo and Juliet" seems to pop up every generation. Are the Millennials ready for one to call their own?

The people behind a recently wrapped production of the classic love story believe they are. The simply titled “Romeo and Juliet” is a somewhat unexpected collaboration between high-end Austrian design house Swarovski (it financed and also brought some of its fashion savvy) and Julian Fellowes, the novelist and Oscar-winning screenwriter (he wrote the script).

Starring British teen Douglas Booth and “True Grit” It girl Hailee Steinfeld as the star-crossed pair, the film looks to capitalize on the timelessness of the love story and the youthful appeal of its stars. It is being directed by Carlo Carlei, an Italian director who shot the traditional costume period piece in Italy earlier this year.

The film is still being edited, with footage shown to buyers here at the Cannes Film Festival. The idea is to eventually land a U.S. deal and bring it out Stateside, possibly, though not necessarily, in 2013, according to producers. It’s one of several new spins on the classic play currently being attempted by Hollywood and independent financiers.

At a swishy beachside party Saturday night aimed at shining a light on the Steinfeld project, filmmakers gathered to toast their film and woo distributors such as Sony Pictures Classics, whose executives were in the room. Sparkly Swarovski bracelets were handed out and a designer-cocktail menu with concoctions like "The Capulet" and "The Montague" was served. 

But despite the setting and the source material, the filmmakers said they were aiming for youthful, populist entertainment.

“It’s a classic story that we want every teenager in the world to come see,” Ileen Maisel, one of the film’s producers, told 24 Frames, adding that even though the dialogue retained Shakespeare’s flavor, it was uttered in “understandable iambic pentameter."

Or as one of the film’s publicists put it: “This is ‘Romeo and Juliet’ for the Twilight Generation.”

Central to that effort is Steinfeld, a teen star since her breakout turn in “True Grit" in 2010. It was hard Saturday night to forget Steinfeld’s presence in the film, with a giant painted portrait of her dressed in full Juliet regalia adorning one end of the party's lounge space.

The tortured-love vibe of “Romeo And Juliet” is felt strongly in much of today's youth entertainment. But given that baby boomers had their version of the Shakespeare classic (Franco Zeffirelli’s in 1968) and Generation X had its version (1996’s quick-cut “Romeo + Juliet,” directed by Baz Luhrmann), it was only a matter of time before someone in the 21st century tried the actual thing. The Cullen-obsessed, these filmmakers hope, want some of their dramatic romance without vampires, too.

RELATED:

Cannes 2012: Gael Garcia Bernal says 'No'

Cannes 2012: 'Gomorrah' director aims at sins of reality TV

Cannes 2012: Shia LaBeouf's 'Lawless,' parable for the drug war?

--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth in "Romeo and Juliet." Credit: Swarovski Entertainment


Connect

Recommended on Facebook


Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

Video







Categories


Archives
 



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: