DAILY NEWS: Coens in Cannes; "Jessica" Deal; "Fat Girl" Nabbed; "Eden" Pact"; SearchParty Plans
by Eugene Hernandez, Anthony Kaufman and Brian Brooks/indieWIRE
>> CANNES 2001: Catching Up With the Coens
(indieWIRE/05.14.01) -- The Coen Brothers latest, a competition entry here
in Cannes, entitled "The Man Who Wasn't There," is a black and white crime
story set in Northern California in 1949. In this tale, Billy Bob Thornton
stars as Ed Crane, a mild-mannered everyman, a quiet barber who takes a
chance on a get rich quick scheme and ends up embroiled in a murder
investigation. Joel and Ethan Coen sat down with indieWIRE over the weekend
here in France, to discuss their new movie.
The seeds of the story actually come from a 50's poster of boy's haircut
styles that was used to dress the set of a scene in "The Hudsucker Proxy."
The artifact, which now hangs in their office according to producer and
co-writer Ethan Coen, got the brothers talking about the story of a barber.
"It was the idea of somebody trapped in that position," commented director
and co-writer Joel Coen, picking up for his brother, "Who is this guy?"
To casually or simply brand their new movie as film noir is to miss the
point, a fact that is not precisely pointed out by the Coens, but upon their
deeper explanation the distinction makes sense. The story is rooted in the
work of author James M. Cain, a leading pulp fiction writer whose novels
have resulted in such well known films as Billy Wilder's "Double Indemnity," Michael Curtiz' "Mildred Pierce," and Tay Garnett's "The Postman Always Rings Twice."
The reactions to the Coen's stunningly shot new film have not been
universally positive here in France. The most common complaint is that of
the film's slow pace. Others however, are proclaiming it to be their best
film yet. Historically, this festival has proven quite successful for the
brothers, who were last year with the highly successful "O Brother, Where
Art Thou?" not to mention the successful trip to France with "Barton Fink."
"Our movies do well in Europe" smiled Ethan Coen. "This is a good place to
showcase a movie for Europe," chimed in Joel, speaking softly as he and his
brother jointly picked at the label of a bottle of Pellegrino water.
Frances McDormand has re-teamed with her husband Joel and her brother-in-law
Ethan for the new film, starring as Ed Crane's wife Doris, an accountant who
is tangled up with Big Dave, her boss at Nirdlingers Department Store. While
Tony Soprano himself James Gandolfini appears as Big Dave, the husband of
The black and white film, which was shot last summer in Los Angeles, was
actually photographed in color, according to the Coens. Given the fact that
black and white film stock is no longer widely used it made more sense to
shoot the movie in color and later print the film in black and white. Roger
Deakins is back with the Coens for the sixth time as the director of
photography, he also shot "O Brother," "Fargo", and "Hudsucker" among
others. Also back on the Coen team is Dennis Gassner, the production
designer on five of their films, including "Barton Fink" and "Hudsucker."
Carter Burwell returns to create music for the Coens for the ninth time and
costume designer Mary Zophres is working with the Coen's for the fifth time.
Next up for the brothers is "To the White Sea," based on a James Dickey
novel, a film they describe as a color, widescreen movie. "It's a landscape
movie to a certain extent," offered Ethan. Brad Pitt will star.
Ethan and Joel Coen celebrated their latest Cannes debut last night (Sunday)
at a popular post-screening party held on the beach of the Martinez hotel
here in Cannes. [Eugene Hernandez]
>> "Jessica Stein" Finds a Home at Fox
(indieWIRE/05.14.01) -- Fox Searchlight has acquired "Kissing Jessica
Stein," Charles Herman-Wurmfeld's Los Angeles Film Festival debut, a source close to the deal told indieWIRE yesterday.
The movie won the audience award at last month's LA Film Fest, as well as a
special jury notice. "Jessica Stein" stars Jennifer Westfeldt and Heather
Jurgensen who adapted the script. It was produced by Eden Wurmfeld and Brad Zions and sold by Cinetic. [Eugene Hernandez]
>> Breillat's "Fat Girl" Picked Up by Code Red
(indieWIRE/05.14.01) -- Controversial French director Catherine Breillat's
"Fat Girl" ("A Ma Soeur!") has been acquired by New York based distribution
outfit Code Red, for U.S. and Canadian distribution. Cowboy Booking
International will release the film this fall. The story of two sisters on
vacation with their parents, "Fat Girl" premiered at the 2001 Berlin Film
Festival, where, according to indieWIRE's critic Eddie Cockrell, it
"received an extraordinarily hostile reception from the assembled
international press in Berlin."
"'Fat Girl' was the 'buzz' film at Berlin," commented Code Red partner Noah
Cowan. "But in the chilling climate of conservatism in this country, a
bigger company could never touch this film which deals so frankly and
clearly with teenage sexuality. While this is a sad state of affairs for the
nation, it is a marvelous opportunity for Code Red and Cowboy."
Reporting from the Berlinale, Eddie Cockrell wrote: "'What is your
justification to bore me for 90 minutes when you have nothing to say?' was
the first question fielded by Breillat, who exhibited a good bit of her lead
character's self-confidence. She answered, 'I don't have to make characters
that you like