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Category: Cannes Film Festival

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

May 19, 2012 |  5:58 am

Lawless

CANNES, France -- With its atmospheric period details and heavy helpings of outlaw violence and dialects, the Prohibition-era bootlegging drama "Lawless" practically smells like it's from another era.

But those who worked on the Shia LaBeouf-Tom Hardy movie, which has its black-tie premiere Saturday night at the Cannes Film Festival, say it's surprisingly of the moment.

"There are a lot of parallels to today, with the economic crisis, the political crisis, the war on drugs," director John Hillcoat told reporters at a press conference Saturday morning after the drama screened for media. "At one point we even had a montage at the beginning with what was happening now with the Mexican cartels, and that wound back to the '80s cocaine wars in Cuba and heroin in New York ... until we landed on Prohibition.

"That was the birth of serious crime," the Australian director added, "and it feeds into everything that's going on today."

Based on Matt Bondurant's family memoir "The Wettest County in the World," "Lawless" centers on a group of brothers in 1920s Franklin County, Va., who find their lucrative bootlegging business threatened by rivals as well as a conniving law-enforcement officer (played by Guy Pearce). There are numerous gun battles and moments of heavy violence -- and not the kind of abstract or poeticizied violence one might typically expect from a Cannes film.

 "That's the way Hillcoat does his violence," said LaBeouf, who brings a certain level of candor to film festivals (two years ago at Cannes he admitted that he and the filmmakers "botched" the latest Indiana Jones). "It' s messy, it's dirty, it's realistic. It's not rehearsed like a ballet."

Nick Cave, the musician turned screenwriter who wrote the script, said it was a kind of bloodlust that made him want to write the film.

"I didn't have that much interest in when it was actually set. It was more the flavor of that book that took me ... the excessive violence," he said, then deadpanned, "That's what titillates me, sentimentality and excessive violence."

Much of the violence of the 1920s, of course, stemmed from the ill-conceived  ban on alcohol, prompting both Hardy and LaBeouf to be asked if today’s war on drugs was similarly misguided.

"As the professional -- in retirement," Hardy began, then paused. "I don't want to make any political statements. There's a good argument to say 'legalize drugs' and a good argument to say [don't] .... That's my stand -- whatever floats your boat." Then he added, “Just don't get caught."

LaBeouf, who in the past has had a reputation for wild living, seemed set to answer the question when the moderator instead stepped in to call on another reporter. "Next question, next question," LaBeouf said, smiling.

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-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf in "Lawless." Credit: Weinstein Co.


Cannes 2012: Gael Garcia Bernal says 'No'

May 19, 2012 |  5:51 am

Gael

CANNES, France -- Films with buzz at Cannes usually come from one of the official selection’s numerous sections, but this year one of the early popular favorites, and deservedly so, hails from the festival’s genial crosstown rival, the Directors’ Fortnight.

That would be the simply named “No,” directed by Chile’s Pablo Larrain, best known for his previous film, “Tony Manero.” Here he’s taken a little-remembered event in his country’s recent history and made it into a smart, involving, tangy film that mixes reality and drama to provocative effect.

In 1988, after 15 years of authoritarian rule, Chile’s leader, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, responded to international pressure by agreeing to hold a plebiscite on his rule. Each side, including the "No" forces, would get a rare 15 minutes of uncensored television time to state their case.

It is the conceit of Larrain’s film (screenplay by Pedro Peirano, based on a play) that the "No" TV spots, which in reality were done by committee, were in large part the idea of one advertising man -- Rene Saavedra.

Beautifully played by Gael Garcia Bernal, Saavedra has the counterintuitive idea of selling the "No" vote the same frothy, soft-focus way he would have sold a soft drink or a microwave oven.

But rather than embracing this subversive idea, everyone is against it, including Saavedra’s ad agency boss, his estranged and politically active wife, and the political coalition that is his client. And don’t even ask what happens when the Pinochet people start to understand his strategy.

Directed by Larrain in a confident, assured style, and benefitting from the use of the actual ads that ran in 1988, “No” is a most unusual underdog story, the kind of heady, relevant filmmaking we don’t see often enough at Cannes. Or anywhere else.

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-- Kenneth Turan

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


Cannes: Audiard sought to make film whose 'protagonist was love'

May 18, 2012 |  5:15 pm

Jacques audiart marion cottilard
CANNES, France — Honored with nine Césars, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes in 2009 and nominated for the best foreign-language Oscar, the intense prison drama “A Prophet” made French writer-director Jacques Audiard’s international reputation. But by the time it was over, the filmmaker was ready for something different.

“Fifteen weeks shooting, a 9-square-meter cell, no natural light, only men, no women,” he said, sitting on a rooftop terrace here Friday and recalling the exertions required to make “A Prophet.” “So I felt a strong desire to do a love story, with sun, with light, with space. A film with women.”

That film is “Rust & Bone,” screening at this year’s festival in competition, but don’t expect a soft, fluffy movie. Audiard’s idea of a love story is edgy and fearlessly emotional.

Starring Oscar winner Marion Cotillard as a trainer of killer whales and Belgian sensation Matthias Schoenaerts as a violent, disconnected security guard, “Rust & Bone” has been well-received here, further cementing Audiard’s place in the very top rank of French directors.

Continue reading »

Cannes 2012: Next up for Jacques Audiard, a drug cartel musical?

May 18, 2012 |  2:37 pm

Jacques audiard

CANNES, France -- With “Rust & Bone” stirring major buzz at the Cannes Film Festival, just now opening in theaters in the rest of France and months away from cinemas in the United States, director Jacques Audiard is far from ready to decide on his next project. One unexpected notion, however, has crossed his mind.

“I really feel like making a musical comedy about weapons and the drug traffic,” he said in an interview Friday on a Cannes rooftop with a gorgeous view of pleasure boats at anchor. “I was very struck by hearing that each of the drug cartels in Colombia has their own band and their own song writers to write music about them."

In a similar vein, Audiard expressed admiration for Brazilian director Glauber Rocha’s little-seen 1964 bandit classic “Black God, White Devil.”

As the director of "A Prophet" has proved repeatedly, business as usual is not on his mind.

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– Kenneth Turan

Photo: Jacques Audiard in Cannes on Friday. Credit: Stephanie Cornfield / For The Times


Cannes 2012: 'Rocky' producer to take fight to Rebekah Brooks

May 18, 2012 | 10:06 am

 

Rebekah
Few media figures get liberal pundits' blood boiling more than Rebekah Brooks, the disgraced former News of the World editor who has been criminally charged in the News Corp. phone-hacking scandal.

But for moviedom, there’s a different question: Can she make a good film subject?

Gene Kirkwood, a longtime Hollywood producer who counts "Rocky" and "The Pope of Greenwich Village" among his credits, is betting she can. He's acquired rights to Suzanna Andrews' February 2012 Vanity Fair article about the redheaded wunderkind brought low and aims to turn it into a feature. (You can read the original piece here.)

In an interview at a Cannes hotel Friday afternoon, Kirkwood explained why he thought she'd make a captivating protagonist despite an, er, distinct lack of sympathy.

"It's a 'Great Expectations' story about a person who came from nothing. If Dickens was around today, he'd be writing the screenplay." Kirkwood said, adding. "You don't mess around with the facts; you tell it very straightforwardly and let the drama come out naturally."

The Brooks project, which has not yet brought on or a writer or director, leads the slate of a new company called BiteSize Entertainment that Kirkwood is forming with a tech entrepreneur named Ron Bloom (who currently runs a video-platform outfit known as Melvio).

The idea, he and Bloom said, is to merge the speed and savvy of digital culture with the glitz and talent of Hollywood, all in the service of theatrical features. They laid out how they'd like to do it -- a group of low-budget movies, a production studio being built at the W hotel on Hollywood Boulevard, making  content that will help market the film ahead of its release instead of being tacked on to a DVD.

"We want to show the drama behind the drama," Kirkwood said.  "If it were 'Rocky,' you'd see us running from the Teamsters, or Sly doing his thing down in Philly."

Bloom added, "People are a lot more interested now in how a movie comes together.  We'll give them a  lean-forward way to connect to the film before it even comes out."

The pair also disclosed several other new projects: a dark comedy with "Breaking Bad's" Bob Odenkirk and Bryan Cranston, a movie about Noel Coward’s brief stint in a Vegas nightclub and, intriguingly, “Dream Child,” a script by the late Dennis Potter, acquired from his estate, that examines the real-life relationship between Lewis Carroll and the girl who inspired “Alice's Adventures in in Wonderland.”

All of them, they say, can move through development quickly because the company will operate like a digital studio more than a movie one.

Though the short-form world of Web content hasn't merged gracefully yet with big-canvas theatrical storytelling, Kirkwood said he thought the time was right for a change.

"So much of Hollywood development moves so slowly, and people in Hollywood get frustrated by it. All the actors up in the Hollywood Hills -- they want to work and they can't because the studios don't make their movies. We'll give them an outlet. Val Kilmer can come play Mark Twain if he wants."

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Cannes 2012: Is Roman Polanski seeking some image rehab?

Cannes 2012: An Osama bin Laden battle brews by the beach

Cannes 2012: Moonrise Kingdom aims to restore Wes Anderson's crown

-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Rebekah Brooks leaving a London solicitor's office this week. Credit: Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images


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

May 18, 2012 |  4:39 am

Matteo Garrone, director of "Gomorrah," returns to the Cannes Film Festival with "Reality," an indictment of reality television
CANNES, France -- "The Hunger Games" author Suzanne Collins may have wanted to sound an alarm bell about reality television with her blockbuster trio of novels. But for those who believe a fascination with the unscripted is the province of pop entertainment, a foreign auteur at of the Cannes Film Festival wants us to know he has something to say about it too.

Matteo Garrone, the young Italian director who turned heads with his Scorsese-like portrayal of mob-infested Naples in 2008's "Gomorrah," returns to Cannes with a very un-Scorsese-like film, "Reality," a dramatic satire that premiered to reporters at a packed screening here Friday morning.

The new Italian-language feature shifts gears quite a bit from the blood-spattered mercilessness of "Gomorrah." It tells of Luciano (Aniello Arena), a 40-ish married father of three who, after seeing a reality star at a family wedding, becomes fixated on the idea of appearing on the Italian edition of Big Brother ("Grande Fratello" in the local parlance, which somehow has a classier ring to it).

At first it's clearly a money issue, as Luciano dreams of how the series can take him from the life of a small-time fish vendor and hustler straight to Easy Street. But after getting a callback audition, Luciano's "Big Brother" interest starts to becomes an obsession for its own sake, driving him to acts of ever-greater desperation. 

Convinced, for instance, that he is being spied on by casting directors for the show, he begins giving away his possessions in the hope that the directors will see him as a good person and come to assign him a slot. (Luciano's delusions about what reality television producers are actually looking for is a form of satire in its own right.)

As Luciano's increasingly horrified family looks on, he becomes more certain he will end up on the program, even maintaining the belief after the show begins its new season with all the contestants -- notably younger, hotter and crazier -- already in place.

Though the film seems unmistakably like a parable about, and an indictment of, a larger social obsession, Garrone begged off that reading in a post-screening news conference.

"This is a tale of just one person. One shouldn't draw conclusions about other things," he said, adding, "This isn't a story that's typical of a whole country or society. ... We shot the film without trying to be critical in any way."

The director did say he waited four years to make a new film because "after 'Gomorrah' I was looking for a subject that would be as powerful ... and I was heading straight into a brick wall.”

Like "Gomorrah," Garrone returns to the distinct streets of Naples for his new work, though he is much more interested this time around in the subconscious insecurities of everyday people than the subterranean life of mob hit men.

"Gomorrah" was a sensation at Cannes four years ago, winning buckets of plaudits with its many fractured story lines (and bones) as well as a major prize from the festival. When the foreign-language Oscar committee later left the film off its shortlist, the snub was so great that it prompted a rule change the following year.

Garrone's new film may too low-key and human to stir that kind of passion. But its tale of a man slowly descending into madness as a result of reality television will resonate with anyone who has ever studied contemporary pop culture, or turned on the E! network.

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-- Steven Zeitchik
twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: A scene from "Reality." Credit: Fandango


Cannes 2012: Weinstein Co. buys Libyan revolution documentary

May 17, 2012 |  5:09 pm

Tobruk
CANNES, France -- For the second time in as many days at the Cannes Film Festival, Harvey Weinstein has gotten political.

The independent-film mogul has bought “The Oath of Tobruk,” a documentary about the  2011 Libyan revolution directed by the provocateur French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy. The acquisition comes a day after Weinstein picked up “Code Name Geronimo,” a narrative film about the killing of Osama bin Laden, in the Cannes market.

"Tobruk," which was a late addition to the festival’s main selection, follows the efforts in Libya as well as  the U.S. and Europe to support the rebels and oust Moammar Kadafi. Weinstein said he saw the movie as relevant to revolutions that are still going on, and one in particular.

Weinstein “sees this acquisition as a political action that could provide hope for other countries in a similar state of peril including Syria,” the Weinstein Co. company said in a statement announcing the deal.

No release date has been set for the film.

Weinstein previously waded into the Middle East with the acquisition of "Miral," Julian Schnabel's movie about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: "The Oath of Tobruk." Credit: Cannes Film Festival

 


Cannes 2012: Is Roman Polanski seeking some image rehab?

May 17, 2012 |  4:23 pm

 

Polansk

Roman Polanski isn’t one for public appearances these days. And film festivals probably aren’t the director's favorite place in any event; it was only three years ago that he was arrested while trying to attend one.

But this year’s Cannes Film Festival is subtly turning into Roman-ville.

The Paris-born, Poland-raised director hovers over the festival with a new documentary, “Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir,” in which he is seen or heard on camera for nearly all of its 94 minutes, sharing thoughts about his life (including his legal travails) with longtime friend Andrew Braunsberg. The film screened to a warm reception from the Cannes faithful on Thursday.

On Monday, Polanski will hover over the festival more literally — the Paris-dwelling director is scheduled to come to Cannes for a special screening of “Tess,” his 1979 romance that was the first film he made after fleeing the U.S. on pending statutory rape charges. He may even make some remarks introducing the film, according to one person who was briefed on the director's plans.

“Memoir,” a documentary filmmaker who specializes in Hollywood named Laurent Bouzereau, is a straightforward conversation between Hollywood producer Braunsberg and Polanski from when Polanski was under house arrest in his Gstaad chalet. At the time, there was a lot of uncertainty about the director’s future — a Swiss court had yet to reject a U.S. attorney’s extradition request — but Polanski appears calm, recalling events from his earliest days in Nazi-occupied Poland to the present. He describes details from his childhood, with friends and family members ripped away from him by the SS, that might soften even the hardest Polanski hater.

The filmmaker makes no excuses for his sex crime, but he clearly feels he paid the price. He also wants to correct misperceptions, such as his fleeing being an act of bail-jumping. “There was no bail,” he reminds in the film. And he apologizes to his victim, Samantha Geimer — while still taking a shot at the way the media has treated her.

The movie is coming out in several European countries, including Italy, where it's being released this weekend. There is not yet a deal in place in the U.S. — though as Braunsberg told 24 Frames after the screening, that’s unquestionably the most important venue for the director.

Polanski apparently deliberated for two months before deciding he wanted to sit for the documentary.  What motivated him to step out of the shadows? Despite a lifelong skepticism of the press, he might at 78 finally be interested in defining himself instead of allowing strangers to do it for him, Braunsberg said.

“There is only story. And that’s the true story you see in this film,” Braunsberg told 24 Frames after the screening. (Polanski also recently decided to make a movie about the Dreyfus affair, a decision that could easily be read as a statement of his belief that he too has been railroaded by a prejudicial justice system.)

Before the screening, Braunsberg told the audience he felt the movie was a step toward doing what had never been done, the first phase of a potentially larger process of explanation. “This is the beginning of the beginning of who Roman is,” he said. “What you are about to see is an image of Roman from Roman's own mouth.”

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— Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Roman Polanski in "Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir." Credit: Pathe International.


Cannes 2012: ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ aims to restore Wes Anderson’s crown

May 17, 2012 |  1:18 pm

Wesand
CANNES, France — It was close to 1 a.m Thursday morning when Bill Murray began pulling randoms into the dancing circle. Just a few hours before, Murray’s “Moonrise Kingdom” — his latest collaboration with American oddball auteur Wes Anderson — had opened the Cannes Film Festival, and the actor, looking blond and sweaty, wanted to let loose at the afterparty.

Joining arms with several co-stars — including Tilda Swinton and Jared Gilman, the bespectacled pubescent star of the summer-camp movie — Murray led a group of both the willing and the surprised in a rousing round of Greek-style dancing. Save for a Sean Penn moment when he appeared to push a young French woman who had tried to take a photo of Gilman (“Very violent,” the partygoer said, looking annoyed as she walked away), the often-taciturn Murray seemed genuinely happy.

Whether there will be as much joy around the eccentric comedy when Focus Features releases it May 25 remains to be seen.

Anderson struggled with both longtime fans and at the box office with his last two films, the India-set family dramedy “The Darjeeling Limited” and the animated, George Clooney-voiced “The Fantastic Mr. Fox.”

“Kingdom” takes him in another new direction — the 1960s-set tale centers on two misfits (Gilman and Kara Hayward) who run away into the New England woods one summer, causing angst in many of the dysfunctional adults around them (Ed Norton, Frances McDormand and Bruce Willis, all speaking perfect Anderson-ese). It’s Anderson’s most child-centric movie yet and, to some, his sweetest.

Despite the new terrain, Anderson throws at the screen many of his trademarks — painterly shots, flat affect, quirk-riddled adults. Their presence is likely to evoke "The Royal Tenenbaums," a comparison Anderson would likely welcome: The 2001 movie grossed more than $50 million and solidified his status as a major American director.

That "Moonrise" not only marked Anderson's Cannes debut but was given the prestigious opening-night slot — where jury chief Nanni Moretti and others were brought out ahead of the screening — gives it an extra bit of gloss.

Word-of-mouth throughout the festival Thursday was positive, though talk of “it’s good” often came with  “well, it's at least better than his last few."

As the party unfolded shortly after the black-tie screening, bartenders doled out drinks dressed in khaki summer-camp uniforms while a carnival game allowed well-dressed revelers to fishhook a rubber-ducky for prizes. It was a lighter celebration than many Cannes opening-night affairs. Anderson can only hope he continues to have something to celebrate.

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— Steven Zeitchik

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Photo: "Moonrise Kingdom." Credit: Focus Features.


Cannes 2012: 'Bourne's' Paul Greengrass to tackle FC Barcelona

May 17, 2012 |  4:24 am

Paul Greengrass to do a film on FC BarcelonaEXCLUSIVE: Though he's famous for his handheld verite style of filmmaking, Paul Greengrass has never made a documentary. That will change -- and in very high-profile fashion -- with the "Bourne Ultimatum" director's new project: a documentary about the legendary FC Barcelona soccer club that will be unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival market Thursday, according to people familiar with the production who were not authorized to speak about it publicly.

Titled "Barca," the movie will examine the process and legacy of one of the world's most famous sports franchises, looking at a team as it prepares for the 2012-2013 campaign, in which it will seek to reclaim its title in Spain's La Liga, with a particular emphasis on its successful run over the last several years. Greengrass aims to begin shooting the movie later this year, after he wraps his newest feature.

Greengrass has been given unusual access to the team, his path smoothed by the involvement of noted Barcelona chronicler and journalist John Carlin, who will serve as executive producer.

INTERACTIVE: Cannes 2012 cheat sheet

The film has a shiny pedigree -- it will be edited by Chris King, who also edited the acclaimed sports documentary "Senna" last year, assembling a documentary narrative from only archival material. "The Beaver" producer Anonymous Content is financing and representing domestic rights to the movie at the Cannes market, while FilmNation, a company behind Cannes '12 titles "Mud" and "Lawless," will handle international sales.

Barca's history is long and rich, with the 113-year-old team winning 21 La Liga titles and four Champion's League titles over its history. At the moment, it features many of the world's best players, including Argentine great Lionel Messi and Spanish international star David Villa. It also has of course played numerous high-profile matches with its fierce Spanish rival, Real Madrid.

The idea behind "Barca" is to show the players and the Barca game, which is known for its crisp and graceful passing schemes, as well as the business strategy behind the team in the manner of "Moneyball."

The pairing of one of the world's most acclaimed commercial directors with its most famous sports brand will likely generate huge interest throughout Europe. Interest for it in the U.S. is a more open question, though certainly the growing popularity of soccer and the blockbuster success of Greengrass' Jason Bourne films could drive interest.

The movie is expected to be finished ahead of the 2014 World Cup, when public attention will begin focusing on international soccer in Rio de Janeiro.

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Cannes 2012: Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" to open fest

-- Steven Zeitchik
twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Director Paul Greengrass, left, and Matt Damon on the set of the movie, "The Bourne Supremacy." Credit: Jasin Boland / Universal Studios


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