Each day at the Cannes Film Festival (May 12 – 23), indieWIRE is publishing a frequently updated dispatch from France. All times listed are local French time.
11:48 PM: Woody in Cannes — Seeming chipper as he chatted with a warm press corps today, Woody Allen was asked today about his own views on life and relationships and the sort of statement he is making on happiness and obliviousness in his new movie, “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.” Does the film reflect his own pessimistic views? He seems to be saying that to be happy one must be naive.
“This is my perspective and has always been my perspective on life,” Allen explained, describing human existence as rather bleak. “I have a very grim, pessimistic view of [life],” Woody Allen continued, “I always have since I was a little boy. It hasn’t gotten worse with age or anything. I do feel that it’s a grim, painful, nightmarish, meaningless experience and that the only we you can be happy is if you tell yourself some lies or deceive yourself.”
Explaining that he is not the first person to say such things, he cited Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud and Eugene O’Neill. “One must have delusions to live,” Allen reiterated.
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If he saw people like his happy characters at a party, he said, he’d think they were foolish and dumb. He’d make fun of them.
But, he clarified, “They would be happier than me.” [More here at indieWIRE]
10:34 PM: Iranian director Panahi protests innocence from jail — Jailed Iranian director Jafar Panahi on Saturday protested he was innocent of making films against Iran’s leaders, in a letter from his prison cell made public at the Cannes film festival. “I am innocent. I have not made any film against the Iranian regime,” he said in the message read out at the top of the festival hall’s red-carpeted steps, part of it by France’s Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand…”I will no sign no confession that is forced by threats,” he said in his letter, thanking France for fighting for him to be freed. “Warm greetings from my narrow and dark cell in Evin prison,” he said. AFP reports. [Brian Brooks]
6:55 PM: Early Word on Woody’s “Stranger – Word has begun to come in on Woody Allen’s 42nd film, including generally positive words from Movieline’s David Bourgeois, who singles out Anthony Hopkins’ performance, and a write-up on Vanity Fair’s website, in which Julian Sancton calls it “the most somber film screening at Cannes,” and a throwback to Allen’s late 80s ensemble pieces. Time Out London‘s Geoff Andrews is mixed saying that “despite a handful of good scenes (there are another couple between Watts and [Antonio] Banderas), much of the film feels tired, and some of it rather crass,” while The Hollywood Reporter‘s Kirk Honeycutt calls the film “a serviceable Woody Allen comedy that trifles with its characters rather than engaging with them.” [Peter Knegt]
6:15 PM: Loneliness & Happiness; Married vs Single: Mike Leigh’s “Another Year” Takes On Contentment – “I’ve always been concerned as long as I’ve made films to celebrate the lives of ordinary people,” said British director Mike Leigh Saturday morning in Cannes following an 8:30 screening of his latest, “Another Year.” The not infrequently crusty and four-time Oscar nominated filmmaker appeared sometimes jovial, taking questions about Cannes competition film along with stars Lesley Manville, Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen…
When a journalist questioned Leigh on the observation, asking why only coupled people appeared to be well-adjusted and happy in the film, Lesley Manville chimed in, “There are plenty of films that show unhappy married people.” [Brian Brooks]
4:37 PM: “Wall Street” Round-Up—Oliver Stone’s sequel to his 23-year old cautionary greed tale “Wall Street” premiered at Cannes yesterday and was met with generally mixed reviews. Matt Holmes of Obsessed With Film applauded Michael Douglas’ return to the role of Gordon Gekko saying, “[Douglas] naturally eases himself back into the role with restraint in line delivery and demeanor, but every now and again… rekindles the fire with a speech of awe-inspiring power.” However, the change in Gekko’s character since the first film from a ruthless trader to out-of-prison matchmaker “defangs the man” according to Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune. Peter Bradshaw, of the Guardian was also less than flattering of the film, citing its male dominant attitude and turgid pacing, saying, “Money looks like its dozing a little here: my advice is ‘sell’.”
Shia LaBeouf’s main protagonist also came under fire with Manohla Dargis calling the character “too good to be true and too nice to be interesting.” While the ending of the film received most of the negative attention directed at the film, “Wall Street” was still moderately well received as not being a complete failure. [Carter Glascock]
2:45 PM: “Chatroom” Reactions—Hideo Nakata, the man who basically invented the sub-genre of “J-horror” with his films “Ringu” and “Dark Water,” returns, this time with British actors, in his new thriller “Chatroom.” The film has received many mixed and just out-and-out bad reviews since its premier at Cannes on Friday. Aaron Johnson, known primarily for his leading role in “Kick-Ass,” gives a lackluster performance. As Helen Cowley of LoveFilm.com says, “He fails to offer up the complexities of William… all we see are the Jekyll and Hyde elements to his character.”
Imogen Poots’ performance is deemed adequate but unnecessary by Simon Gallagher of HeyUGuys!, who said, “’Chatroom’ would have worked better, and probably would have been just as effective in the anxiety stakes, as a two-man production [between the two other main protagonists].” Tweets this morning about the film were merciless, with Dave Karger going so far to say it was “one of the worst films he’s ever seen.” [Carter Glascock]
9:52 AM: Icon Araki — ““It’s definitely an old school Gregg Araki cult movie,” the iconic American indie filmmaker told Anthony Kaufman, in an interview for indieWIRE this week. “For those people who think all of Gregg Araki’s movies suck except ‘Mysterious Skin,’ they’re probably not going to be thrilled. But it was super-fun to make.” He was talking about “Kaboom,” his latest feature film and the first to screen in the Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival.
“‘Kaboom’ follows the exploits of a young man named Smith (young heartthrob Thomas Dekker), who after eating some hallucinogenic cookies, finds himself embroiled in the gruesome murder of an enigmatic red-haired-girl from his dreams,” Kaufman wrote today, “According to the official synopsis, the mystery of her death will “forever change not only the course of his young life but the destiny of the entire world.” [More here at indieWIRE]
7:59 AM: Indian Cinema in America — Discussing American cinema’s priorities in the film industry yesterday, Amit Dev, the managing director of VOD company Movi, considered the bringing Indian cinema to U.S. theaters. “I have seen the Americans rely on marketing. They will find, though, that there is a lot of greatness in Indian cinema,” he noted.
Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” was singled out as bringing Indian cinema to the forefront of American consciousness, albeit at the hands of an English director.
Panelists such as Nishith Desai of the Nishith Desai Associates law firm and Franck Priot, the Deputy Director of the Film France Commission also discussed topics such as the French and American involvement in the production and distribution of Indian films.
Karl Bardosh, an NYU Associate Arts Professor, said “When people ask me why I go to India to make films I say, other than having a spiritual connection to it, India produces three times as many films as Hollywood.” [Carter Glascock]
7:45 AM: First Saturday — Established and emerging names are debuting their latest in various sections of the Cannes Film Festival today, from the gala screenings tonight with Mike Leigh presenting “Another Year” in competition and Woody Allen’s “You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger” out of competition, to the midnight debut of Gregg Araki’s “Kaboom.” Meanwhile, a pair of North Americans bring their second features to Cannes today. Xavier Dolan’s “Les Amours Imaginaires” (Heartbeats) will be unveiled after his breakthrough last year with “I Killed My Mother” in Director’s Fortnight and then there’s “Shit Year,” directed by Cam Archer, in that section later today. [Eugene Hernandez]