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Category: Cannes

Cannes 2012: Watch trailers of six films playing the festival

April 19, 2012 | 12:19 pm


Bruce Willis, Wes Anderson, Josh Hutcherson, Marion Cotillard, Lee Daniels and Nicole Kidman are among the talents bringing films to the Cannes Film Festival, whose lineup was announced Thursday. The prestigious festival kicks off in the southeast France town on May 16. Check out the trailers below to get familiarized with some up this year’s films.

“Moonrise Kingdom,” directed by Wes Anderson
Opening the festival is the Edward Norton-starring comedy by Wes Anderson. It’s his first film to appear at Cannes. Set in the 1960s, "Kingdom" centers on two young lovers who run away from their New England town, prompting a search party to go after them. Focus Features will distribute the film in the U.S. starting May 25. Bill Murray, Bruce Willis and Frances McDormand round out the cast.

“On the Road,” directed by Walter Salles
Starring Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund and Sam Riley, this long-gestating adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s 1957 Beat novel will be in competition at the festival. Executive produced by Francis Ford Coppola, the film also features Viggo Mortensen, Terrance Howard and Amy Adams.

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Cannes 2012: Cronenberg, Daniels give lineup a North American spin

April 19, 2012 |  4:15 am

The Cannes Film Festival's lineup was announced in Paris, with Kristen Stewart's "On the Road," Robert Pattinson's and David Cronenberg's "Cosmopolis" and Brad Pitt's "Killing Me Softly" in the lineup

This post has been corrected. Please see note at bottom for details.

The Cannes Film Festival is set to feature one of the richest North American slates in years, as Lee Daniels, David Cronenberg, Jeff Nichols and Wes Anderson will all screen films in competition at the world's most prestigious film gathering, while an adaptation of a classic American novel will also get the Croisette treatment.

And, oh yes, there's also the premiere of new movies from Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf -- and films featuring "Twilight" stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart.

The announcement of the Cannes lineup, made by festival general delegate and artistic director Thierry Fremaux at a Paris news conference Thursday, marks the first time since 2008 that four North American filmmakers are to play in the festival's vaunted competition section. It comes at a time when an enervated independent film business has regained some strength in the United States.

The 2012 Cannes competition lineup features new movies from Cronenberg (the drama "Cosmopolis," which stars Pattinson), Nichols (the Southern fugitive story "Mud"), Daniels (journalist thriller "The Paperboy") and Anderson (whose previously announced festival opener, the offbeat romance "Moonrise Kingdom," was revealed Thursday to be in competition).

The section also includes "On the Road," Walter Salles' big-screen take on the Jack Kerouac Beat novel, which stars Stewart.

The festival is scheduled to open May 16 in the south of France and run through May 27. (For the complete list, please visit the official site.)

Equally notable on the global front is the presence of two filmmakers from the Middle East in the competition section-- Iranian Abbas Kiarostami ("Like Someone in Love") and Egyptian Yousry Nasrallah ("Baad El Mawekaa"). The selection of films from the embattled countries seems designed at least in part to send a message of free expression.

This might be particularly true in the case of Iran. As the country continues to dominate the news cycle, its relationship with cinema has been a complicated one. One of the nation's most prominent filmmakers, Jafar Panahi, remains under a 20-year filmmaking ban by the government because of alleged dissident activities.

But another director, Asghar Farhadi, brought home the country's first foreign-language Oscar when his family drama "A Separation" won a statuette earlier this year.

In a strange turn, although one of 2012's biggest commercial releases, "Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 2" won't appear on a Cannes screen, the film's two leads are set to be there, as they seek to take the next step in their post-vampire careers.

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Cannes 2011: A spell of conflict, and then (some) resolution

May 22, 2011 |  6:45 pm


With the major awards handed out and the last of the cinephiles, partiers, salespeople and hangers-on finally packing up for calmer climes, let's take a moment to look back at this year's Cannes Film Festival in all its intensity and strangeness.

The 2011 edition of the world's most prestigious film gathering was historic in several ways. Egyptian directors banded together to create and premiere shorts about their country's revolution just three months after it happened, while more female directors landed in the main competition than ever before (a sharp contrast to Hollywood's glass ceiling).

Less nobly, for the first time in the history of Cannes, a filmmaker was declared persona non grata at the festival. Leave it to Lars.

It was, as might be expected with any 64th installment, sometimes a festival of the familiar — Harvey Weinstein spending millions on high-profile films from the likes of Meryl Streep and Shia LaBeouf, and Woody Allen embraced again, thanks to his opening-night movie, "Midnight in Paris."

But it was also a festival filled with paradox.  Cannes always contains multitudes, but the contradictions rarely have ever seemed this pungent, and they've seldom grabbed so many headlines. Cannes this year saw the European premiere of Mel Gibson's new film — and yet he had to settle for second place for the festival's biggest race-themed controversy. The Croisette also saw a silent film, Michel Hazanavicius' "The Artist," making some of the loudest noise.

It was a festival where the darkest of subjects, a school shooting, was given the flashiest of treatments with Lynne Ramsay's well-received "We Need to Talk About Kevin."

Cannes is filled with old-timers and veterans, and yet one of the biggest splashes came from a young 'un first-timer, "Drive" director Nicolas Winding Refn.

And finally, there was the festival's biggest enigma, Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life," whose premiere ensured that the most scrutinized festival director was also the most invisible. Malick sat out the red carpet and the screening feting him and drove the point home when he also sat out the Palme d'Or ceremony Sunday, opting for his producers to accept on his behalf.

There was good and bad, strange and sane, in this year's Cannes. It's the favorable more than the dodgy one hopes will prevail, though in the end it will may well be that both co-exist. It was, after all, that kind of festival.

— Steven Zeitchik in Cannes, France



What Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life is actually about (yes, we finally see it)

Awards Tracker: Palme d'Or goes to Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life

In interview, Lars von Trier says he doesn't deserve a Palme d'Or

Photo: Sean Penn in Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life." Credit: Fox Searchlight.

Cannes 2011: Terrence Malick and Lars von Trier, Cannes contrasts, strangely united

May 22, 2011 |  2:30 am


Among all the plot lines the Cannes Film Festival has offered over the last week, none has been as compelling as the tale of two directors -- each highly acclaimed, each inscrutable in his own way. One said too much, and one said nothing at all. One got kicked out of the festival midway through it; one never appeared in public in the first place.

And yet for all the differences between Lars von Trier and Terrence Malick, they shared the stage in these May days. They each furnished drama at a press conference, of all places, causing reporters to drop their pens -- Malick when producers declined to acknowledge there was anything wrong with his absence; von Trier, in a more morally problematic vein, when he made his infamous Nazi comments.

Ironically lost in the separate yet parallel stories of these two filmmakers are their movies, which have a surprising amount in common. Both "The Tree of Life" and "Melancholia" make generous use of grand cosmic images, set against soaring classical music, while focusing  tightly on the dysfunctions of one family amid the astral pomp. If you asked a blind focus group to pick out the two movies among the 21 in competition with the most commonalities, a good number would choose "Tree" and "Melancholia."

And yet. There's something telling about Malick's use of cosmic images to portray the world's creation and Von Trier's use of them to show its end. The Texas auteur is fascinated with the origin of all things and Von Trier, ever the nihilist, constantly wants to tear them down.

As interesting as it has been to hear speculation about why Malick declined to show up for his premiere, it's been that much more fascinating, if frustrating, to hear the speculation about Von Trier and his motives. He is either the second coming of David Duke, a horrible and inexcusable racist, or a simple and misunderstood talent, the Manny Ramirez of the international film world, whose missteps are proof of nothing more than his quirkiness. In truth, the reality probably lies in between; he does not really embrace the Third Reich, but his comments also can't be explained away as mistimed jokes.

When we interviewed Von Trier, as his critics were circling and the festival was preparing to eject him, the director had a simple response to all. "Terrence Malick is a clever man -- he knows that it's good to stay home." He seemed to be saying, in that moment at least, that he wished he was Malick. The rest of us could only wish for something more obtainable: that Malick spoke a little more, and Von Trier a little less.


Danish director Refn describes date with Gosling, laces into von Trier

Pitt and Chastain wonder if hype, squareness are behind 'Tree of Life' divisions

With Ryan Gosling’s ‘Drive,’ a different Dane gets his moment

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Lars von Trier. Credit: European Pressphoto Agency

Cannes 2011: Danish director Refn describes date with Gosling, laces into von Trier

May 20, 2011 |  5:05 pm

On Thursday night, Nicolas Winding Refn's "Drive" played to some of the most enthusiastic media crowds at the Cannes Film Festival. On Friday, just as Refn was preparing to premiere his Ryan Gosling-starring film to the public, he sat down with 24 Frames to offer his thoughts on a range of cinematic topics: a festival youth movement, a love for soft rock and that, er, other Danish filmmaker.

While the competition section here tends to favor veterans -- Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar and the Belgian neorealists the Dardenne Bros. are both back once again, among other repeat offenders -- this year's Cannes field also includes a significant number of filmmakers in their 30s and early 40s, comers such as Maiwenn, Lynne Ramsay and Julia Leigh, as well as Refn).

Refn says that emergence of a new class is no accident. “Sometimes the most interesting things come out of age and knowledge, and sometimes they come out of being young, and even the arrogance of being young," said the 40-year-old.

Despite any youthful arrogance, Refn's demeanor differs significantly from that of said other Dane, Lars von Trier, who was declared persona non grata by the festival Thursday for his comments about Nazism. Asked what he thought of those comments, Refn replied: "What Lars said was just very, very mean. Coming from a Jewish family myself, it saddened me that someone would say something like that without thinking what it means to so many people."

Refn -- who was born in Copenhagen but spent his pre-adolescent and teenage years in New York, and says he considers himself a Dane by passport only -- went on to take a shot at his birthplace too. "The problem with Denmark is that it's in its own little world even though it wishes to be international," he said. "We had a similar problem with these [anti-Muslim] cartoons which were completely unnecessary and did not serve any purpose rather than just to get a reaction."

Then he circled back to Von Trier. "To say things like [what he said] shows you live in such a small-minded country. The ceiling is so low in Denmark it's not hard to get the spotlight. [But] to do things like what Lars did you should do when you're 18. It's kind of pathetic when you're a 60-year-old man." (Ironically, Denmark is often regarded with fondness by contemporary Jews for the monarchy's decision to stand in solidarity with Jews during Hitler's WWII aggression and the rescue of thousands of Jews by ordinary Danes.)

Despite Refn's break from his home country, it is hard to avoid grouping him with at least some filmmakers from the region. He's best known for the "Pusher" trilogy, a  gritty series about the Copenhagen underworld that fits nicely with other Nordic genre films such as "Let the Right One In," "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and "Snabba Cash" -- and differs from many of the high-cinema offerings in the Cannes competition.

But Refn says he sees the world evolving to a place where the tuxedoed set starts accepting a wider range of movies. "For younger audiences and filmmakers, genre is the new arthouse," he said. "I came from a family that worshipped the French New Wave, which was a form of rebellion, and the way to rebel against that was to go out and see 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre.' "

Refn also talked about the time he first met Gosling, over dinner in Los Angeles, when Refn was buzzed on anti-flu medication. After asking Gosling to drive him home midway through the meal, the actor turned on the car radio, only to come upon REO Speedwagon's "Can't Fight This Feeling." "And I don't know if I was really high on anti-flu medicines, or maybe there's just something about that song, but I just started crying," recalled the director. "Ryan probably thought it was the worst first date ever."


With Ryan Gosling's 'Drive,' a different Dane gets his moment

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Ryan Gosling in "Drive." Credit: FilmDistrict

Cannes 2011: Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain wonder if hype, squareness are behind 'Tree of Life' divisions

May 20, 2011 |  1:30 am

Brad Pitt was sitting in a suite high above the Croisette earlier this week, pondering the divisive reaction to “The Tree of Life,” the long-awaited Terrence Malick movie about life, death, religion and nature, among other things.

“That doesn’t bother me,” he told 24 Frames. “Really. I much prefer that some people love and others don’t get it, as long as it starts a discussion. That’s a bigger win.”

At screenings earlier in the week, some Cannes-goers had embraced Malick's boldness, while others resisted it, as boos and applause would often mix together. But Pitt was keeping a sunny attitude. “Certainly it’s engaged people in conversation. To me that’s a huge success.”

He said he did realize how buzz could work against a film, especially in the hothouse environment of a festival.  “Terry being Terry, there’s a weight it carries,” the actor said. “And this thing has been in incubation for so long. Hype is always dangerous because you could never answer all the expectations."

Just down the hall, co-star Jessica Chastain was offering her own explanation for why some had bristled.

“The qualities that some people will find it difficult is why I think it’s brilliant, and that is that there’s nothing cynical about it," she said. "It’s not cool. I’m a great fan of Michael Haneke, but his movies are really edgy and dark. There’s something about them that’s really cool. And this is a film that says we’re essentially good. And maybe the public has a harder time thinking that.”

Chastain did say that she thought a longer view was necessary in evaluating "Tree's" power. “Even if the film isn’t a great success, I know it’s something people will be coming up to me in 30 years and saying, ‘You were in that film.’"

She may not need to wait decades, though: As of Thursday evening, the film had scored a perfect 100% rating among top critics on Rotten Tomatoes.


Cannes 2011: How did the reaction to The Tree of Life get so complicated?

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: "The Tree of Life." Credit: Fox Searchlight

Cannes 2011: With Ryan Gosling’s ‘Drive,’ a different Dane gets his moment

May 19, 2011 |  8:05 pm


The focus these last few days at Cannes has been on Lars von Trier and the controversial Nazi comments he made after unveiling his movie "Melancholia." But another Dane pulled the wraps off his new film Thursday night on the Croisette, and he’s getting attention for all the right reasons.

Nicolas Winding Refn, a genre director who is swimming in high-end auteur waters for the first time, got some of the best responses of the festival when his bloody Scandinavian-flavored crime piece “Drive” debuted to the media Thursday night.

Starring Ryan Gosling as an automotive stuntman and laconic tough guy who’s as dexterous with his fists as he is with a steering wheel, the in-competition film winds through a tender relationship (with Carey Mulligan), a mob-centric heist and a general study in violence and (a)morality. Judging by the enthusiastic audience reaction, it's a blend that worked. (You can add it as the seventh film on our   six-films-to-watch-shortlist from earlier in the week.)

"Drive," which comes to U.S. theaters in September, also has a Nordic moodiness and style. In fact, rarely before can we remember something so Scandinavian in sensibility being recast as something this American -- the film is set in Los Angeles (note an opening sequence involving a Clippers fantasy scenario) and features a deep bench of Hollywood talent that includes Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks and Christina Hendricks. It's also based on a hard-boiled American novel by James Sallis.

Winding Refn is probably best known for the Danish-language “Pusher” trilogy, about the Copenhagen underworld, as well as “Bronson,” a black comedy about a dangerous criminal. But he’s a newbie when it comes to competing against world-cinema legends like the Dardennes and Pedro Almodovar.

Then again, he may be at the fore of a new trend. Scandinavian-inflected movies, particularly of the genre kind, have been gaining popular appeal in the U.S. in recent years -– witness remakes of vampire tale “Let the Right One In" and hacker mystery "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" -- while the dark-winter-of-the-soul action tales of Christopher Nolan have been carving out their place at the Oscar table. Perhaps it was only a matter of time before a movie with a genre skin and a Nordic heart got its big-stage Cannes moment.


Cannes 2011: Lars von Trier retracts Nazi comments

Cannes 2011: The six festival films you'll soon be hearing about

Cannes 2011: What Terrence Malick's Tree of Life is actually about (yes, we finally see it)

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Ryan Gosling in "Drive." Credit: FilmDistrict


Cannes 2011: Lars von Trier's 'Melancholia' could get a release-plan tweak

May 19, 2011 |  7:03 pm


How’s this for the ultimate film-marketing nightmare? You’re the Israeli distributor of Lars von Trier's “Melancholia.”

That’s the problem faced by Shani Films, the company that had bought and been all ready to release the director's new movie.  Three days ago, it hardly seemed unwise: You had a movie with a sci-fi element and actors that travel, like Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg. And Shani had experience with Von Trier's work: It had released his 2006 workplace comedy, "The Boss of It All," in Israel.

Hardly unwise, that is, until Von Trier went and made some very badly received comments about Nazis and Jews.

According to one source who was briefed on the discussions but asked not to be identified because of their proprietary nature, TrustNordisk, the Danish film entity that has been handling international rights for the picture, has offered Shani the opportunity to revert the rights and be reimbursed the fees it paid. It is not yet known if Shani will accept the offer.

(In America, Von Trier's film is scheduled to be released by Magnolia Pictures, a subsidiary of Mark Cuban's entertainment empire, in the fall. As of Thursday night, an executive told 24 Frames all plans to release the film remained on track.) Spokesmen for Shani and TrustNordisk were not immediately available for comment.

Shani may not be the only distributor to be given a refund deal: One source familiar with TrustNorskisk’s plans said distributors in several other countries could soon be receiving the same offer.

Chalk up one more bizarre occurrence at this year's Cannes Film Festival to Von Trier: He's helped introduce the notion of film-rights refunds.


Cannes 2011: in interview, Lars von Trier says he doesn't deserve to win the Palme d'Or

Cannes 2011: Lars von Trier retracts statement about Nazis

Cannes 2011: A video examination, Part 4 -- Did Lars von Trier go too far?

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: "Melancholia." Credit: TrustNordisk

Cannes 2011: A video examination, Part 5 -- The biggest misconceptions about the festival

May 19, 2011 |  5:37 pm

The Cannes Film Festival isn't easy to explain to people who haven't been to it. In fact, it isn't easy to explain to people who have, either. A mix of world-class directors, celebrity glitz, hard-core cinephiles and general mayhem, Cannes yields as many misconceptions as it does truths. The Times' Kenneth Turan and Steven Zeitchik and the Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips run down some of the things they find least understood about the world's most prominent cinema gathering.


 Cannes 2011: In interview, Lars von Trier says he doesn't deserve a Palme d'Or

Cannes 2011: A video examination, Part 3

Cannes 2011: The six festival films you'll soon be hearing about

Cannes 2011: Organizers call Lars Von Trier remarks 'unacceptable,' 'intolerable'

May 19, 2011 | 10:58 am


The backlash to Lars von Trier's comments about Nazism intensified Thursday, as the Cannes Film Festival declared the director persona non grata at the world's most prestigious cinema gathering, effective immediately.

After Von Trier jokingly said he was a Nazi and more a German than a Jew at a news conference on Wednesday, festival organizers issued a statement saying they were "disturbed" by the comments. Then the festival's board of directors convened and returned with a stronger statement on Thursday afternoon.

"The Festival de Cannes provides artists from around the world with an exceptional forum to present their works and defend freedom of expression and creation," it said. "The festival's board of directors, which held an extraordinary meeting this Thursday, May 19, profoundly regrets that this forum has been used by Lars von Trier to express comments that are unacceptable, intolerable, and contrary to the ideals of humanity and generosity that preside over the very existence of the Festival. The Board of Directors firmly condemns these comments and declares Lars von Trier a persona non grata at the Festival de Cannes, with effect immediately."

The step was highly unusual; a festival spokesman was not immediately available for comment, but several 20-year veterans of Cannes said they could never recall a declaration of this sort before. The consequences of the board's move remain unclear, though it's safe to say that any hope the Danish director had for a Palme d'Or for his film, the otherwise well-received English-language sci-fi-family drama "Melancholia," or a return visit with future films, is now in all but gone. It was unclear whether the festival's competition jury, which this year is being headed by Robert De Niro, has been instructed to disqualify "Melancholia."

Earlier Thursday, before the declaration was issued, Von Trier showed some contrition in an interview with The Times. But he also had some harsh words for organizers, who had called him Wednesday. "It's a major thing at the festival, and very problematic for the festival. And that's a little strange, because even if I was Hitler, what does that have to do with my film being here? It's a festival for films, not for directors," he said.


Lars von Trier says he may be done with news conferences -- and that he doesn't deserve Palme d'Or

Cannes 2011: Director Lars von Trier retracts Nazi comment, apologizes

-- Steven Zeitchik in Cannes, France

Photo: French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg and Danish director Lars von Trier at the Wednesday news conference for "Melancholia' at which Von Trier made his controversial remarks. Credit: Guillaume Horcajuelo / EPA


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