By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire May 20, 2011 at 6:20AM
This week our Cannes coverage took center stage. Below find links to the highlights so far, in addition to non-Cannes related news and features.
Cannes Film Festival: Reviews
"More meditation than movie, Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” is bound to mystify, awe and exasperate in equal measures," wrote Eric Kohn in his review of Malick's mega-anticipated opus. The time spanning drama earned an A-. Click here to read the full review.
Before all the Malick mania, Kohn offered his thoughts on "Walk Away Renee," Jonathan Caoutte's long-awaited third feature. He gave a B to the existential self-portrait from the "Tarnation" director.
One of the festival's most anticipated titles, Lars Von Trier's sci-fi downer "Melancholia," screened in the wee hours of the morning. The verdict according to Kohn: "A dark apocalyptic masterpiece." Click here to read Kohn's full review.
Kohn also reviewed Pedro Almodóvar’s “The Skin I Live In,” starring Antonio Banderas as a deranged plastic surgeon. Kohn was only so-so on the dark medical thriller, stating Almodóvar "lets the mess pile up and enjoys it." Kohn was a much bigger fan of Jafar Panahi's “This is Not a Film,” calling it "a moving expression of frustration, as well as an eloquent indictment of Iranian society."
The Playlist also delivered their thoughts on Almodovar's turn to the dark side, "The Skin I Live In." Overall they liked the film, stating, "Much like its fellow Cannes Competition selection entry “Sleeping Beauty,” "The Skin I Live In" is an unsettling dance of thanatos and eros, death and sex; unlike the Australian film’s slow and swooning ballet, Almodovar gives us a swift and shimmering tarantella, the dance that began as a folk remedy for venomous spider bites."
"Jailed Iranian Filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof Delivers An Indictment With “Goodbye," reads the headline of Kohn's review of Rasoulof's latest. "With his fifth feature, “Goodbye,” jailed Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof delivers a suspenseful and moving portrait of modern censorship in the country that has currently placed him in its governmental crosshairs," wrote Kohn. "Along with fellow Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, Rasoulof has been sentenced to six years for his speaking his mind. “Goodbye” doesn’t literally tell his story, but it clearly espouses his views, focusing on the intense experience of a young woman desperate to find her ticket to freedom and hitting wall after wall. More here.
Kohn also caught Aki Kaurismaki’s deadpan comedy "Le Havre." "Combining his economical storytelling with a life-affirming plot, Kaurismaki churns a fundamental scenario through his own unique narrative tendencies, yielding a product both heartwarming and irreverent, two qualities that should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with his distinctive touch," wrote Kohn in his review. "Beyond that, it also introduces an element of political commentary to the director’s work that deepens its impact."
Kohn was not pleased with "This Must Be the Place," calling the film "too much of a godawful mess to merit serious moral scrutiny." Kohn also got a chance to look at "Drive" late last night, praising the film for being "a hyperactive love letter to road rage with unapologetic glee." Finally, Kohn reviewed "Oslo, August 31st," which he deemed "a powerful, upfront document of a recovering drug addict confronting the demons of his past."
Cannes Film Festival: News
Lars Von Trier's comments at the Wednesday press conference for "Melancholia," in which he joked about sympathizing with Hitler and possibly being a Nazi, racketed up controversy that set the festival abuzz with activity. The Cannes Board of Directors declared Von Trier a "Persona Non Grata," meaning he is unable to physically collect any awards for his film and his future with the festival is in question. Von Trier could also face legal action from France, where anti-Semitic remarks can lead to six months in prison or a € 22,500 fine. indieWIRE reported on the latest development in this scandal.
There has been some confusion about the technicalities of becoming a "Persona Non Grata." It seems Von Trier would still be eligible to receive the Palme d'Or but would be unable to attend the ceremony.
Thompson reported on Harvey Weinstein's Cannes buying spree. The man of the hour is said to be circling John Hillcoat's bootlegger drama "Wettest County," starring Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy and Guy Pearce.
The festival selected the three winners for the Cinéfondation prizes. The awards went to Doroteya Droumeva’s “The Letter,” Kamal Lazraq’s “Drari" and Son Tae-gyum's “Fly by Night.”
Over the weekend Kanye West dropped down in Cannes to perform a full set to an intimate crowd, courtesy of Red Granite, a new production company. Anne Thompson, Eugene Hernandez and Eric Kohn all blogged on the hottest party to hit the festival.
Cannes Film Festival: Features
Curious about Lars Von Trier's reaction to becoming a "Persona Non Grata" at Cannes? indieWIRE was able to interview the exiled director, who spoke directly about the recent controversy. "I was extremely stupid," he said, "but on the other hand we should worry about not being able to talk about certain things."
As for Von Trier's own verdict about his latest film? "Maybe it’s crap actually. Of course I hope not, there’s quite a bit of possibility this is really not worth seeing.” That's just one choice quote the Cannes vet made at the press conference following the film's unveiling. Among the others: "OK, I’m a Nazi"..."Oh, ‘Melancholia’ is a comedy. You should see what happens when I try tragedy"...And, "We had fun doing this film, but I would like to talk about my next film which is - as Kirsten insisted - is going to be a porn film."
The Playlist got caught up in the Von Trier mania on La Croisette. First up they reviewed the film (slapping it with a C+), reported on the outrageous press conference and investigated whether Von Trier's next project will in fact be a porn film.
Curious to know what films are in hot contention for this year's Palme d'Or? indieWIRE offered a round-up of the top five contenders for the coveted prize. Click here to read about the five front runners, including "Melancholia" and "The Tree of Life."
Anne Thompson weighed in on where she thinks the Tilda Swinton-starring "We Need to Talk About Kevin" will find a home. "At the premiere, green-eyed Tilda Swinton looked every inch the statuesque movie star with a light blond bob, candy pink lips and backless dark azur blue and purple Haider Ackermann sheath," she wrote. "Having won a supporting actress nod Oscar for 'Michael Clayton' as well as top notices for 'I Am Love', a small distributor with the right deft marketing touch—I’d pick Roadside Attractions, but they appear not to be chasing hard after this—could deploy a Swinton awards campaign to turn this tough little movie into a must-see."
Our new addition to the blog network, Shadow and Act, showed off clips from two Director's Fortnight entries: Ruben Östlund's "Play," a film about a group of young robbers who have developed a new system of thievery that leaves no marks; and Gust Van den Berghe's magical realist "Blue Bird."
The Playlist spent a day searching around the web for more reactions to the Malick's "Tree of Life," and posted a slew of new stills from the anticipated film. See all their work here. Click here for reactions on the film from their their entire staff.
“Return” Actress Linda Cardellini sat down with indieWIRE in Cannes to discuss her involvement with the project and her time spent on the show "E.R."
Henry Hopper, son to late actor Dennis Hopper, has been turning heads on La Croisette following the premiere of Gus Van Sant's "Resless," which kicked off the Un Certain Regard section last week. Brian Brooks caught up with the up-and-comer to discuss how he's handling the pressure.
Dana Harris caught the press conference following the early morning screening of "The Tree of Life" earlier in the week where Malick was notably absent.
The Five Smartest Things Said at the Digital Distribution Panel: All this week, the American Pavilion in Cannes has been hosting a series of industry and talent conversations. On Friday afternoon, AmPav took on the always tidy subject of releasing a film in its panel, “Indie Film Innovators: Keeping Up with New Thinking in Distribution.” As usual, the statistics are grim. Few films are chosen for film festivals; even fewer are picked up for distribution, leaving many indie filmmakers to their own devices. So now what?
Stephanie Sigman has been making waves with her first lead role in Gerardo Naranjo’s “Miss Bala.” indieWIRE profiled the actress, asking her about taking on such a demanding part and her plans for the future.
Anne Thompson went back on the Oscar beat, this time from Cannes.
Go to page two for this week's non-Cannes related News and Features.
The winners of the 38th Annual Student Academy Awards were revealed this week. Follow this link to find out who took home the prizes.
Alamo Drafthouse set an All-Texas Tour, in which ten of the best Texas films will screen in the cities they were filmed. indieWIRE got the scoop on the films and their screening destinations.
indieWIRE's weekly in-production column, which highlights five projects to root for, focused on Katie Aselton's thriller “Black Rock.” indieWIRE also drew attention to a documentary about a basketball team in Iran and three projects from Kickstarter.
"Midnight in Paris" won this week's Critical Consensus. Click here to read more about Woody Allen's new film.
In acquisition news, many films found homes this week. TLA Releasing purchased the UK and U.S. rights to Benjamin Cantu’s “Harvest." Sundance Selects acquired the U.S. rights to Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s "The Kid With a Bike.” Meanwhile, Magnolia Pictures and Madman pre-bought the North American and Australia/New Zealand rights to the Martin Scorsese-Lars von Trier project “The Five Obstructions: Scorsese vs. Trier.” "Romantics Anonymous" will hit the U.S. courtesy of Tribeca Film and Kevin Smith’s “Red State" will grace Canada because of Phase 4.
It was a busy week for festival announcements. The opening and closing films were revealed for Outfest's 29th Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, New York’s Gen Art Film Festival and the Provincetown International Film Festival. The Edinburgh International Film Festival also released a revamped program and the Human Rights Film Festival disclosed its slate of films.
Jose Gonzalez was declared the headliner for the 2011 Summer Series Live Music program. Gonzalez will be joined by bands Widowspeak and Snowmine.
indieWIRE reported on the weekend of free programming to coincide with the opening of The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s new home base, the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center.
The Independent Filmmaker Project selected the ten documentary projects for its year-long Independent Filmmaker Labs fellowship. Follow this link to see which films made the cut.
New York will host more free films than usual this summer due to the partnership between VOD service EPIX, Verizon FiOS and Rooftop Films. indieWIRE profiled the results of this union.
In another exciting partnership, Netflix joined forces with Miramax, resulting in the news that several hundred Miramax films will become available for streaming in June.
indieWIRE conducted several e-mail interviews with noteworthy filmmakers this week. The subjects included David Sigal, regarding his documentary “Florent: Queen of the Meat Market,” and Greg Jacobs, who directed “Louder Than a Bomb.”
indieWIRE profiled Sean Kirkpatrick, who wrote and directed Relativity Media’s Rogue and AMC Theaters’ Big Break Movie Contest winner “Cost of Soul.” Click here to read Kirkpatrick's thoughts on winning the contest.