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Weekly indieWIRE Clicks: The Best News, Reviews & Features

Weekly indieWIRE Clicks: The Best News, Reviews & Features

This week on inideWIRE the 64th Festival de Cannes kicked off, Oprah launched her doc label, Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest was acquired and much more.

Cannes: Reviews, News and Features

One of the most anticipated films to hit La Croisette, Lynne Ramsay’s long awaited third feature “Let’s Talk About Kevin,” hit it out of the ballpark with indieWIRE’s Eric Kohn who went on to hail Tilda Swinton’s lead performance as “breathtakingly fragile,” and the drama as an “immersive look at a high-school shooter and his grief-stricken mother,” which “avoids sentimentality and constructs a sensationally moving evocation of the ultimate dysfunctional family.” Dana Harris was on hand to catch the press conference following the first screening of the film. “It’s a bloody business, being a parent,” shared Swinton while on stage. She was joined by Ramsay, Ezra Miller and John C. Reilly.

The Cannes Film Festival was temporarily hijacked Friday by the market premiere for “Unlawful Killing,” Keith Allen’s “inquest into the inquest” of Princess Diana’s death. Dana Harris reported on the screening of the controversial project.

Eric Kohn caught the French procedural “Poliss,” the third feature directed by French actress Maïwenn Le Besco, which recounts several real-life cases of the Child Protection Unit. “Maïwenn uses a shaky-cam style to give the movie a quasi-documentary feel, while drawing the established ingredients of conventional police drama,” wrote Kohn in his review. “However, with its densely episodic structure, it’s almost too busy with good ideas.” The film earned a B.

Kohn was harsher on the buzz title “Habemus Papam,” from Nanni Moretti, winner of the Palme d’Or in 2001 for “The Son’s Room.” “Intermittently amusing, the movie never digs deep enough to justify its philosophical connotations, and lacks enough comic inspiration to sustain its lighter ingredients,” he said of the the Vatican set tale.

Moretti addressed the press following the first official screening. “This time last year, the Church was in crisis with all the scandals and there were terrible stories written about the Church,” Moretti noted this morning. “Even in Poland, John Paul II was being questioned and people asked me to perhaps change the screenplay. But I already had my screenplay, my Pope and I wanted to go with my story.”

In order to better acquaint readers with international filmmakers at the festival, Thompson on Hollywood profiled Moretti, known as the Italian Woody Allen. Click here to read about Moretti’s signature style and notable films.

Cannes was abuzz with the news that Martin Scorsese and Lars Von Trier are pairing up to remake “The Five Obstructions.” The Playlist provided the details on the history of this collaboration.

News hit that the Spike Jonze-Simon Cahn animated short “Mourir Aupres de Toi” (To Die Next To You)—a stop-motion film entirely handmade from felt—will premiere May 18 in the Cannes Film Festival’s Critics’ Week, immediately preceding Jonathan Caouette’s new documentary, “Walk Away Renee.”

Gus Van Sant’s delayed follow-up to 2008’s “Milk” premiered this week. “A flimsy teenage romance with dashes of bittersweet inspiration, Gus Van Sant’s “Restless” is little more than a whimsical exercise,” wrote Kohn in his mostly negative critique. “Neither unwatchable nor particularly memorable, it mainly succeeds as a showcase for Van Sant’s younger collaborators.”

The first film to screen in competition, Julia Leigh’s big screen debut “Sleeping Beauty,” left Kohn a tad lukewarm. “…”Sleeping Beauty” takes a long time to cast its spell,” he wrote. “Leigh, an Australian novelist making her big screen debut, relies almost entirely on insinuative behavior to provide exposition.” The film earned a B+. Other critics had a mostly negative reaction, according to Brian Brooks who attended the press screening and the subsequent press conference, where Leigh explained the viewing experience of her film.

Focus CEO James Schamus hit up a buyers-only presentation at Cannes’ Olympic Cinema to moderate a panel with “Cloud Atlas”‘s three directors — Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer. Among the announcements made: The film will star Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving and Ben Whishaw in addition to the film’s star, Tom Hanks. The film is set to commence shooting in September. [Nigel M. Smith]

News hit at Cannes that Michael Winterbottom’s next movie will star Jack Black…You heard that right. The movie has a working title of “Bailout” and it’s adapted by Jess Walter from his own novel, “The Financial Lives of Poets.” Now in pre-production, the producers plan to start shooting in August.

Sony Pictures Classics co-presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard are making an impressive showing this year, complete with screenings of Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris, Gus Van Sant’s “Restless” and Pedro Almodovar’s “The Skin I Live In.” Thompson on Hollywood examined the duo’s contributions to Cannes, along with their festival strategy.

Kohn caught the event’s opening night film, Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.” He liked what he saw. So did Anne Thompson, who called it Allen’s best work since “Deconstructing Harry” in 1997, in her feature interview with the funny man himself.

indieWIRE sat down with the Cannes’ new Director’s Fortnight head Frederic Boyer to talk shop.

Dana Harris created a Cannes Jeopardy! game where you can guess the statuses of several releases.

On opening day, indieWIRE caught Allen speak at the official press conference following the initial press screening. We also stuck around to witness Bernardo Bertolucci (in town to pick up an honorary Palme d’Or) prove that he’s still in the game, and the Cannes jury address the worldwide press.

Before the festival kicked off, Thompson on Hollywood, Anne Thompson delved into how this year’s Cannes market is shaping up. Word is this will be one busy season.

Also a day before the event, a slew of clips from films in the main competition began to flood the web. The Playlist posted a bunch, including three from “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” two from “The Kid With the Bike,” and one from “This Must Be the Place,” which stars Sean Penn and Frances McDormand.

Want to keep track of what’s playing at Cannes and when? indieWIRE has made it easy for you to keep up with the world’s leading film festival. Check out our annual Cannes Guide to All the Films to stay in the know.


News

On Tuesday night, the Oprah Winfrey Network debuted the first in their (for now) monthly series of documentaries in the Oprah Doc Club, “Becoming Chaz.” The flick chronicles the transition of Chaz Bono, son of Sonny and Cher, from female to male. indieWIRE reported on how the kickoff went for the network. Caryn James over at James on screenS meanwhile opted to review the documentary and had some great things to say.

The Los Angeles Film Festival made a slew of announcements regarding its 2011 edition this week, including the appointment of Guillermo del Toro as the festival’s guest director, as well as selections for closing night (“Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”), a special screening (“Green Lantern”), galas (including Cannes premiere “Drive”), and conversations (including James Franco, who will also world premiere his “Broken Tower” at the fest).

News hit this week that a new dark comedy, set to star Colin Firth and Emily Blunt, is being sold at Cannes by Focus Features International.

Though it still doesn’t boast a title, Paul Thomas Anderson’s anticipated follow-up to his award-winning “There Will Be Blood,” has been acquired by The Weinstein Company for worldwide distribution. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix are confirmed to star in the religious drama.

One of the world’s biggest documentary film festivals, the Sheffield Doc/Fest, announced their official lineup today for their 2011 edition. Over 110 films, including 79 features, make up this year’s slate.

Since breaking ties with “Wolverine,” Darren Aronofsky is now said to be eying “Human Nature,” which would star George Clooney. The script follows a cryogenically frozen man who makes up to discover that humans are now pets to another species. Sounds trippy.

Go to page two for this week’s non-Cannes related Features and Reviews…

Features

As Cannes first week kicks off in the south of France, a whopping 11 new films are opening in limited release Stateside. There’s Dan Rush’s Will Ferrell dramedy “Everything Must Go,” Joseph Gordon-Levitt starrer “Hesher,” and Justin Chadwick’s film festival favorite “The First Grader,” as well as the long delayed release of Lu Chaun’s “City of Life and Death” and four new docs covering everything from a lesbian folk singing sister comedy duo to Yves Saint Laurent. Want to know what topped this week’s Critical Consensus as the one to see? Click here to find out!

What’s the biggest movie this summer? The final chapter in the hunt for Osama bin Laden according to indieWIRE’s Eric Kohn. Click here to read his reasons for why bin Laden left “Captain America,” “Thor” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” in the dust.

In no particular order we picked the 20 films we’re most looking forward to catch on La Croisette. Among the ones that made the cut: “Tree of Life” (big surprise), Pedro Almodovar’s oddball thriller “The Skin I Live In,” Gus Van Sant’s delayed “Restless,” Julia Leigh’s directorial debut “The Sleeping Beauty” which landed a coveted spot in the main competition, and Lars Von Trier’s reported solid follow-up to “Antichrist,” “Melancholia.”

The scorching two-hander “Blue Valentine” came out as our top DVD/Blu-ray pick of the week. Click here to see what flicks to catch on VOD this week.

Last week, Fox Home Entertainment gave a big vote of confidence to the digital future of foreign-language movies with the announcement of Fox World Cinema. Anthony Kaufman broke down what this means for foreign cinema and whether VOD will bring it the audience is deserves.

“The First Grader,” the moving true story of an 84-year-old Kenyan villager who fought for his right to go to school, finally lands in select theaters this Friday, May 13, after a long festival run following its premiere at the Telluride Film Festival in 2010. In an Email interview with indieWIRE, director Justin Chadwick opened up about bringing this moving story to the screen.


Reviews

Will Ferrell’s latest “Everything Must Go” didn’t get much love from from Kohn in his first review of the week. “Having generated mixed reviews since its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, “Everything Must Go” will draw some curiosity from Ferrell fans before fading from view, as word-of-mouth is bound to work against its initial prospects,” he wrote. The film earned a B-.

Lu Chuan’s “City of Life and Death” got off easier. “Shot in silvery black and white with an epic sense of the frame, “City of Life and Death” has the feel of a lost post-War foreign classic, a masterwork implicating the viewer in the horrors of bearing witness,” Karina Longworth wrote in her review, originally published in 2009.

The documentary “Louder Than a Bomb,” which has been hitting film festivals under the endorsement of Oprah, premieres on the OWN network later this year following a limited theatrical release that kicks off next weekend. “Assuming a structure familiar from spelling-bee portrait “Spellbound,” “Louder than a Bomb” explores four competitors gearing up for the 2008 event, which has taken place each year since 2001,” Eric Kohn wrote in his review of the doc. “Each fills a different archetype, making it possible to show the broad possibilities for poetry to provide a vessel for teenage expression.” The film earned a B from indieWIRE’s film critic.

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