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.
9:45 PM: criticWIRE @ Cannes: A Mid-Fest Update – Hundreds of grades and review links from Cannes have been entered into criticWIRE as the fest nears its half-way point. Our Cannes Guide has averages for all the films that have received more than 5 individual grades, and two films have definitely emerged as fest favorites so far: Mike Leigh’s in competition “Another Year,” which has an “A-” average, while out of competition entry “Inside Job,” from director Charles Ferguson, also received an “A-” average. Check out all the films here.
8:30 PM: Frears’ “Drewe” Finds Mixed Debut – “Tamara Drewe” opened at Cannes yesterday to mixed reactions. It is decidedly fluff (no one denies it), but whether it is fluff that can be digested and is worth the time is a matter of opinion.
Hollywood-Elsewhere writer Jeffrey Wells’ reaction to yesterday’s premiere of Stephen Frear’s “Tamara Drewe” was immediate – “I hated it,” while IFC’s James Rocchi had a much gentler take on the film, concluding that while it is not Frears’ best, “it’s decidedly his — a very British movie built on universal truths, and a human comedy that stays humane.” Ray Bennett of The Hollywood Reporter, meanwhile, calls it “jaunty and entertaining” with lots of laughs and faithful to Simmonds’ graphic novel, deciding it “pretty much does” deliver the goods, and The Guardian gave it 4 stars and calls it an “undeniably entertaining bucolic romp.” [Sophia Savage]
7:32 PM: Annual Cannes Soccer Match — The 15th annual Cannes Soccer Match will be held tonight at 8 PM, sponsored by Phase 4 Films. International teams of producers and film industry executives will face off for the Alan Solomon Trophy in Stade Maurice Chevalier II, located in Cannes La Bocca. The teams are divided into Europe and World United, based on participants’ current residences. Peter Wetherall, captain of the World United team, has organized these games every year as a diversion from the intensity of the festival. The captain of the Europe team is Martin Myers. The Alan Solomon Trophy was so named to honor Alan Solomon, a 40-year industry veteran and former captain of team World United, who passed away in March. [Caitlin Nascher]
7:22 PM: Araki at American Pavilion — “Kaboom”‘s Gregg Araki sat down with John Cooper, director of the Sundance Film Festival, to speak at the American Pavilion about his film. “Kaboom,” which premiered at the festival under the Seances de Minuit, is Araki’s first film since 1999’s “Splendor” for which he also wrote the story. “There’s more of a part of you in it,” the director said of filming his own story, and claimed that, like his early films which he both wrote and directed, like “The Living End,” “The Doom Generation,” and “Nowhere,” “Kaboom” is a return to his indie roots.
“I’ve always been more inspired by music than movies I think. I think its just the sensibility of it,” Araki said. “Kaboom” features music ranging from ’80s alternative rock bands like the Cocteau Twins to avant-garde composers like Harold Budd. When asked by a filmmaker in the audience how to get his own film into Sundance, Cooper, Araki’s old friend, humorously responded, “Sleep with Gregg Araki.” [Carter Glascock]
5:25 PM: Early Word Strong on “Biutiful” — Tweets and quick reviews out of the screening of competition entry “Biutiful” – Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s follow-up to “Babel” – have been very strong, with some calling it the current frontrunner for the Palme d’Or: Jeffrey Wells called it “a sad and deeply touching hard-knocks, lower-depths drama in the tradition (or along the lines, even) of Roberto Rosselini’s Open City or Vittorio DeSica’s The Bicycle Thief”; Ropes of Silcon’s Brad Brevet giving it an “A” grade, saying that “while Bardem is a top contender for a Best Actor Oscar nomination, I can’t see Inarritu’s direction and script being overlooked and editing and cinematography nominations seem just as likely”; and The Hollywood Reporter‘s Kirk Honeycutt said the film is “an impressionistic, poignant portrait of a man on the fringes of Barcelona, forced to relinquish earthly things before his time.” One critic not so pleased was The Telegraph‘s Sukhdev Sandhu, who called the film “another laborious stretch of designer depression.” [Peter Knegt]
5:10 PM: Todd McCarthy on “Princess,” Others — Todd McCarthy reviews Cannes competition entry “The Princess of Montpensier” on his blog:
“Medieval times, encumbered as they are with codes of religion, status, politics and behavior that seem very foreign to us today, have always been particularly difficult to make come fully alive onscreen, but Bertrand Tavernier does a better job at this than most in “The Princess of Montpensier.” An adaptation of a short tale by Madame de La Fayette, sometimes regarded as the first novelist, this is a charged story of sexual desire and heated rivalry played out as on a life-sized chess board that’s left quite bloody by the time all is settled. Spirited. robust and intelligent, this is a film that courses with life and its passions, not formality and protocol.”
4:42 PM: Women in Film — Thompson on Hollywood‘s Anne Thompson moderated a panel on Women In Film in the American Pavilion today at Cannes with Arianna Bocco (IFC Films), Dina Kuperstock (CAA), Adele Romanski (Producer, “The Myth of the American Sleepover”), Andrea Sperling (Producer, “Kaboom”), attorney Linda Lichter, and Lynette Howell (Producer, “Blue Valentine”).
There was some disagreement over the hardships women do and don’t face in the film industry. Independent producers Lynette Howell and Andrea Sperling didn’t feel that their gender had held them back in any way; Howell believed that gender too often can be used as an excuse for women who aren’t successful, although she acknowledged that women in other aspects of the industry face more problems. Bocco stated that she encountered a definite “boys club” atmosphere, but wouldn’t say that gender specifically had a negative impact on her career. Dina Kuperstock agreed that she hasn’t had the same struggles as previous generations, stating “I’m very aware of the fact that I’m fortunate.” Lichter, an attorney who started her own firm because of discrimination she had encountered, said that she was only the second woman hired at the 40-year-old firm where she’d gotten her start.
All of the panelists agreed that the industry has come a long way since then, but most were careful to emphasize that there is still a long way to go before equality is fully reached, and that women in the industry need to be more supportive of one another, and mentor the younger generations to prepare them for future challenges. [Caitlin Nascher]
3:34 PM: Godard Skips Cannes — Jean-Luc Godard unexpectedly stayed home today, canceling an expected trip to the Cannes Film Festival for the premiere of his new movie, “Filme Socialism.”
The two words, “No Comment,” in medium-sized white type on a black screen, conclude the new film. Unexpectedly, that appears to be his only statement on the film. In a disappointment that tops the negative reactions to some films here so far this week, Jean-Luc Godard has abruptly canceled his trip to Cannes, cutting off a chance to speak with the legendary auteur on the 50th anniversary of his first film, “Breathless.”
In an obscure statement today, the French auteur seemed to compare his situation to that of Greece, which is currently in the midst of a tumultuous crisis. [Eugene Hernandez]
3:23 PM: Star’s Sunset — Ellen Barkin puts on a bold, candid performance in Cam Archer’s “Shit Year,” but the enigmatic movie is composed of too many fragments to sustain her efforts. An experimental account of fictional actress Colleen West, this obsessively non-linear character snapshot never settles down and consequently loses focus. The sum of its parts is both imaginative and emotionally remote. [More here at indieWIRE]
3:05 PM: Woody in London — “With each new movie Woody Allen directs, it grows increasingly clear that leaving New York was the best decision he made in ages,” says indieWIRE’s lead critic Eric Kohn, in a review today. “Two years ago, Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” freed the quintessentially neurotic comic from his out-of-touch depictions of American urbanity by letting Spanish flavor meld with the vibrancy of his speedy dialogue. Back on familiar turf with the Soho-based “Whatever Works” in 2009, Allen resorted to dated reference points and half-baked scenarios. [More here at indieWIRE]
2:43 PM: “Rubber” Road — “The selling point of “Rubber” sounds like the whole story: A tire comes to life and goes on a murderous rampage,” writes Eric Kohn, in a review. “But Quentin Dupieux’s utterly zany slice of narrative subversion transcends that singularly goofy premise to create one of the more bizarre experiments with genre in quite some time. With playful self-reflexivity, Dupieux uses his central gimmick to satirize the nature of cinematic conceits.” [More here at indieWIRE]
2:18 PM: Araki’s Return — “Within minutes of Gregg Araki’s “Kaboom,” a familiar world comes together,” writes Eric Kohn, in a review of the film today. “The man responsible for subversive American indie delights like “The Living End” and “The Doom Generation” now introduces Smith (Thomas Dekker), a shy college student majoring in film studies and toying around with bisexuality. In case that last clause made it unclear, “Kaboom” offers a welcome return to Araki’s self-made universe.” [More here at indieWIRE]
1:27 PM: A Critical Roundup of Woody Allen’s “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” – Woody Allen’s latest film “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,” along with “Match Point” and “Cassandra’s Dream,” is the latest in his growing number of films set in the U.K. and the consensus on his latest, which premiered over the weekend in Cannes, is decidedly mixed. Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman said “The film is notable, if that’s the word, for the being the first movie Allen has made in London that is every bit as bad as his most awful New York comedies, like ‘Anything Else’ and ‘Melinda and Melinda’.” Writing in his Deep Focus blog, Todd McCarthy shared a similar view saying, “‘You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger’ is one of those Woody Allen movies that bolsters the conviction that sometimes he doesn’t spend enough time on his scripts.”
Reviews for the film, however, have not all been uniformly negative. indieWIRE’s Eric Kohn commented on Allen’s prolific work schedule by saying, “Allen generally makes a movie a year, often at the expense of quality, but “Dark Stranger” has more polish than usual. If his prolific nature means he’s doomed to redundancy, than “Dark Stranger” is one of the better repeats.”
The U.K.’s Telegraph praised Gemma Jones for her performance as a wronged wife claiming that she “steals the film,” and comments that “Stranger” is “is easily the best of his recent London-based films.” Variety’s Justin Chang, however, compared “Stranger” with “Vicky Christina Barcelona,” writing, “That recent Allen standout ultimately showed as much as it told and had the good grace to invest its characters’ yearning with an ardent, searching romanticism, the v.o. here merely serves to amplify the smug distance between the people onscreen and the audience.” [Carter Glascock and Brian Brooks]
12:51 PM: Fortissimo & Singapore Unveil Initiative For Slate of New Films – Fortissimo Films unveiled a joint venture with the Media Development Authority of Singapore in Cannes. The new venture, MDA-Fortissimo Film Development Initiative (FDI), will develop, finance and distribute a slate of films in a wide range of genres including action, adventure, thriller, fantasy and films in 3D format. Select projects will also tap into Fortissimo’s development assistance and international sales and distribution expertise.
The first film selected under this initiative is “Camera,” described as a “dystopian noir thriller set in Hong Kong and Singapore.” Now in development with filming set to commence late this year. “Camera” will be directed by Singaporean director James Leong.
“This initiative is designed to give both Singaporean filmmakers and non-Singaporean producers a fast track through the process of developing their projects and accessing the varied and combined resources of the MDA and Fortissimo,” Fortissimo’s Michael Warner said in a statement. “The focus is on quality films with strong commercial attributes. The goal is to green light between three to five films in the first year of the program.” [Brian Brooks]
12:26 PM: CANNES REVIEW | Leaving New York Again, Woody Allen Does Fine with “Stranger” – With each new movie Woody Allen directs, it grows increasingly clear that leaving New York was the best decision he made in ages. Two years ago, Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” freed the quintessentially neurotic comic from his out-of-touch depictions of American urbanity by letting Spanish flavor meld with the vibrancy of his speedy dialogue. Back on familiar turf with the Soho-based “Whatever Works” in 2009, Allen resorted to dated reference points and half-baked scenarios. Read Eric Kohn’s entire review here.