The Cannes Film Festival always unveils a few stragglers at the end of the fest, and the 66th installment was no exception. There were quite a few from the likes of Roman Polanski (“Venus in Fur”) and Jim Jarmusch (“Only Lovers Left Alive”). While the Cannes jury stepped into the modern world with its rare
unanimous choice of a three-hour lesbian romance as this year’s winner,
( jury press conference is here), some of the male auteurs and stars at the festival, on the other hand,
showed themselves to be politically incorrect dinosaurs.
THR: Men and women seem to have different reactions to the film.
Ozon: I think women understand the film more than men. I think men are afraid because it’s like, “Oh my God. There is all that in the head of a woman?” She is very powerful. But I think women can really be connected with this girl because it’s a fantasy of many women to do prostitution. That doesn’t mean they do it, but the fact to be paid to have sex is something which is very obvious in feminine sexuality.
THR: Why do you believe that is a desire? I really don’t think that’s the case.
Ozon: I think that’s the case because sexuality is complex. I think to be an object in sexuality is something very obvious you know, to be desired, to be used. There is kind of a passivity that women are looking for. That’s why the scene with Charlotte Rampling is very important, because she says [prostitution] was a fantasy she always had but never had the courage to do it. She was too shy.
THR: How did you come to the conclusion that is a theme in women’s sexuality?
Ozon: It is the reality. You speak with many women, you speak with shrinks, everybody knows that. Well, maybe not Americans!
Ozon defended himself on Twitter, saying that he was “awkward and misunderstood,” and, “Obviously I wasn’t talking about women in general, just the characters in my film.“
The French Minister for Women’s Rights, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, responded within the context of the ongoing controversy about the festival’s inclusion of women in the main competition (this year, only Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi’s film “A Castle in Italy” made the cut):
“It’s terrifying to trivialize, to give the impression that there is a casualness in prostitution. This is not true. Casualness and prostitution are contradictory. This shows that it is also important that we hear the voices of women directors because women’s views of women are not at all the same as those of men.”
Meanwhile, during his Cannes press conference, Polanski not only said, “I lived long enough to know I can direct,” but also said of his cast:
“I dominate them. That’s what the film is about. Domination. I slap them sometimes. They never complain.”
And attacked the pill:
“It’s a pity that now offering flowers to a lady becomes indecent,
that’s how I feel about it. Trying to level the genders is purely
idiotic – the pill has changed women of our times, masculinizing them.
That chases away romance from our lives.”
And then there was cranky octogenarian Jerry Lewis, starring in his first film in 18 years, “Max and Rose,” who stated at his press conference:
“Comedy isn’t for women…It’s the truth. I can’t help it…I can’t see women doing that. It bothers me. I cannot sit and watch a lady diminish her qualities to the lowest common denominator. I just can’t do that…Women, it’s just wrong. I don’t care that the audience laughs at it and likes it. I don’t happen to like it. I have too much respect for the gender. And I think that they are wrong in doing it. I can’t expect them to stop working, but just don’t work anywhere where I have to look at it.”
Back to the 21st century, Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive,” which The Playlist describes as a “deadpan, odd and deeply enjoyable vampire movie,” follows unhappy musician vampire Adam (Tom Hiddleston) through two decaying cities that Jarmusch finds “emotionally attractive,” Detroit and “The Interzone” Tangiers, as Adam gets back together with his lover Eve (Tilda Swinton). They’ve known each other for centuries; they refuse to feed on people, but acquire their blood on the black market; joining them is her younger sister (Mia Wasikowska) and boyfriend (Anton Yelchin).
Some gleanings from the press conference and video below:
Although Ohio-born Jarmusch hates to explain himself–“I really want this film to speak for itself. I don’t want to demystify it by analyzing or dissecting it or why we did this or what does this mean? I’m not sure I know what things mean in the film”–he admitted that the film took seven years to make (at one point Michael Fassbender was attached) and that both Swinton and John Hurt stuck with the project, which was finally funded in the U.K., France, Cyprus and Germany at $7 million. “It took a very, very long time,” Jarmusch said, “and it’s getting more and more difficult for films that are maybe a little unusual or maybe not predictable or not satisfying people’s expectations of something — which is the beauty of cinema: discovering new things of all forms.”
Swinton tried to unravel the allure of vampires: “I suppose because they live these long, long, potentially never-ending lives, and we’re all so terrified of thinking of mortality that we’d rather think about being immortal,” she said. “I think the idea of invisibility
and yet existing visibly is really beautiful and it was always coming. I
was never surprised when Jim said to me, ‘Let’s make a vampire film.’ I
felt like saying ‘You’ve been making vampire films for years,’ it feels
like a very natural state, that invisible, immortal world.”
The always articulate Hiddleston (who tweets beautifully) was attracted to “the idea of a character who embodied a romanticism and melancholy, but still motivated by a curiosity towards the things that he loved. And I feel like he is fascinated by two separate things which are entwined: music and science. He’s enamored by vibrating particles: they might be stringed instruments and they might be stars. And he’s so passionate about these things, and he’s such a brilliant musician and engineer, but in a way he can’t see that. And she is broader and she can hold his fragility. And it was just a beautiful story about two people who loved each other and accepted each other and they happened to be vampires. And the idea of exploring love in a context of immortality, if you are challenged with immortality, is it a blessing? Is it a curse? And what does that do to your commitment?”
Both actors agreed that they were playing characters who were more animal than human. They thought of the vampires as feral wolves. “For some people this is vampire film, for some people it’s a fairy story and for other people, it’s a documentary,” Swinton said. Sony Pictures Classics will likely release the film this fall.