CANNES - Quentin Tarantino held court at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival today with a press conference that was supposed to reflect on the 20th anniversary of "Pulp Fiction" winning the Palme d'Or in 1994. Instead, he mostly discussed his opinions on everything from digital projection (which he considers the "death of cinema"), finding himself watching "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" on Showtime, that the Palme d'Or means more to him than his Oscars (ouch) and what his next picture may or may not be. The most intriguing bit of news, however, was when he waxed over revisiting his Academy Award winning blockbuster "Django Unchained."
CANNES - In a festival that has been unusually generous to actresses -- permitted to carry any number of high-profile entries, from Tommy Lee Jones' "The Homesman" to the Dardennes' "Two Days, One Night" to Xavier Dolan's "Mommy" -- it seems fitting that the final Competition film screened to press should be an explicit examination of their craft. The graceful ghosts of "All About Eve" and Cassavetes' "Opening Night" haunt Olivier Assayas' arch-but-airy "Clouds of Sils Maria" -- a melancholic comedy seemingly only fine degrees of fictional separation from taking the title "Being Juliette Binoche."
Bryan Singer's anticipated return to the director's chair on the "X-Men" franchise finally hits theaters this weekend in the for of "X-Men: Days of Future Past." And it's being met with some pretty exceptional reviews, the best of the series so far, it seems. In noting that the new film "gives the franchise a new lease on life," HitFix's own Drew McWeeny wrote that it "feels like the single most successful attempt to pull the shape of one of the beloved comic stories into the film world." I'd agree with that, as it's very much in the spirit of (if not a direct adaptation of) the 1981 Claremont/Byrne two-issue arc (which is recommended reading).
CANNES - The Cannes Film Festival is certainly easier than some of its North American cousins in regards to the sheer number of movies screened and how they are scheduled (two major films rarely premiere at the same time). That being said, too many 8:30am screenings and it's easy for the whole festival to get away from you a bit. With that in mind, here are three quick capsule reviews from this year's fest.
The Palme d'Or race is heated as ever in Cannes with a handful of contenders still to peel out. One of those set for a bow is Olivier Assayas' "Clouds of Sils Maria" with Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz.
Bryan Singer's "X-Men: Days of Future Past" opens tomorrow. I really liked it. I remain a pretty huge fan of "X2" and think it has a lot of balance lacking in many superhero movies, and this one is very much in the spirit of those early entries. It feels more like a sequel to them than anything, using elements from "X-Men: First Class" to carry the story. And in editor/composer John Ottman, it gets some added continuity with those films as he hasn't been involved with the franchise in over a decade.
CANNES - The circus around the Cannes Film Festival is different than any other film festival in the world. It may be less Hollywood than Toronto and less audience-friendly than Sundance, but Cannes truly draws talent of all kinds from every corner of the globe. Only here could you be interviewing rising Australian filmmaking star David Michôd on a hotel rooftop deck while Kylie Minogue belts "Can't Get You Out of My Head" for a live French TV program across the street.
CANNES - Let's hear it for Xavier Dolan: not many auteurs have built up such a body of work by the age of 25 that the first and least arguable adjective that can be applied to his latest is "characteristic." The Québécois multi-hyphenate does not appear on screen in "Mommy," a restless interior epic of unconditional love between mother and son, but his presence in it could hardly be stronger or more idiosyncratic. Dolan's passions, neuroses and eccentricities fill every frame of "Mommy" -- even the frames themselves have his name written all over them, given the director's unorthodox decision to shoot 90% of the film in a distinctive, disorienting 1:1 ratio. "I'm still big, it's the pictures that got small," protested Norma Desmond in "Sunset Boulevard"; think of Dolan's aesthetic here as a uniquely literal interpretation of that boast.
When Greg and I recently discussed the Oscar-season potential of the films we've seen thus far at the Cannes Film Festival, we were muted on the prospects for Tommy Lee Jones' western "The Homesman." It's not that the film is beneath consideration. It's heartfelt stuff, beautifully mounted and well acted (particularly by two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank), and has received generally respectable reviews (if few outright raves) from the Croisette critical collective. Any prizes from Jane Campion's jury on Saturday would be a surprise, but that rarely means much either way for the awards season ahead.
Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence has been making the press rounds promoting "X-Men: Days of Future Past," and that included an appearance "Late Night with Seth Meyers" Wednesday night. The occasion brought with it a delightful anecdote of that time the "American Hustle" star blew chunks at a fancy Oscar party.