Do the Weinsteins have another crossover hit on their hands?
You have to feel for any film appearing under The Weintein Company's banner at this year's Cannes Film Festival. After last year, when The House That Harvey Built picked up "The Artist" -- and, in doing so, made the wisest long-term purchase of the festival -- everything else they touch is going to be scrutinized for similar potential to Michel Hazanavicius's improbable Oscar sensation.
Saturday, then, was a big day for the company, as they presented two of their Cannes babies to the world. But while their widely publicized, star-studded Competition entry "Lawless" made a respectable debut, reaping much critical goodwill if few outright raves, it was a far lower-profile, more recent acquisition, premiering safely out of competition, that set the Croisette whispering. That film would be "The Sapphires": a modest, good-natured musical comedy from Down Under, spinning the semi-true tale of an all-Aboriginal, Supremes-style girl group and their adventures entertaining US troops in Vietnam.
What will 'Skyfall' and 'The Dark Knight Rises' say about the contemporary hero?
Earlier today I was pursuing the Interwebz for something to jump out and scream “write about me” when I was struck by the image of the new “Skyfall” poster beside a still from “The Dark Knight Rises.” The first teaser trailer for the new Bond film is set to go online early Monday morning and there have already been several “previews” of said trailer released via the journalists who were treated to a glimpse at this year’s CinemaCon.
There is a slight trailer spoiler ahead so if you’d prefer to avoid that please click through and skip to the paragraph following the one below.
According to Cinema Blend’s description, 007 is in the midst of a revelatory word association game throughout the teaser. When presented with the word “Agent,” he responds with “Provocateur” (which indeed provokes a number of theories about his meaning). The most revealing and fascinating bit of word play, though, happens when the prompt “Murder” is met with the terse “Employment.”
Canadian director Xavier Dolan brings his third film to Cannes aged just 23
- Critic's Rating C+
- Readers' Rating B-
CANNES - Three feature films into his career, I rather imagine that high-haired Québécois wunderkind Xavier Dolan is getting a little tired of hearing the word "precocious" directed at his work -- though one rather has to accept this occupational hazard when you not only make your debut feature at the age of 19, but get to premiere it at Cannes Directors' Fortnight rather than in your mom's living room.
Having now reached the ripe old age of 23, Dolan is a known quantity these days, his signature confident and identifiable, his reach expanding within reason. A notably young auteur as opposed to a mere upstart, he can probably shed the label any time he chooses to stop making films that are so very, very precocious -- though "Laurence Anyways," his sporadically rapturous and less sporadically maddening new effort, suggests precocity is a quality than can actually increase with age.
The first American film in Competition is a subtext-laden genre treat
- Critic's Rating B
- Readers' Rating n/a
CANNES - It might sound the most backhanded of compliments to begin a film review with praise for its hairdressing, but here goes: John Hillcoat's brisk, bloody and sharply appointed Prohibition thriller "Lawless" is the most immaculately barbered film in recent memory. From the pragmatically shaved planes of Tom Hardy's short-back-and-sides to Shia LaBeouf's dandily pomaded undercut to Guy Pearce's unforgivingly skunky centre-right parting, no tonsorial decision in this robust period piece has been idly or accidentally made, every style revealing something of the wearer's designs, demographic and disposition.
One of many well-tended details in a handsomely burnished production, this would be little more than an incidental virtue in most films, not least ones shooting straight for the multiplex crowd. In "Lawless," however, it's indicative of a second, subversive, perhaps even subliminal agenda, one that trumps its proficient, slightly over-simplified qualities as genre storytelling. I'm writing of its cool preoccupation with masculine presentation, how it can inform and sometimes disguise brackets of class and age -- evident as much in the ratty shit-colored cardigans worn by Hardy's stolidly rural moonshine merchant as in the newly acquired tailoring of LaBeouf as Hardy's younger, more aspirational brother.
The film takes aim at theaters this weekend
Oh yeah, Peter Berg's big ticket board game production (shoot me) hit theaters this weekend, too. I totally forgot (honest). Guy saw the film when it opened in the UK last month and was none too high on it in his Variety assessment. Anyway, if you have something to say about "Battleship," again, hit the comments section below.
Chilean auteur Pablo Larrain delivers the film of the fest so far
CANNES - With this year's Competition still searching for that unifying critical and audience hit -- though the two biggest hitters thus far, Jacques Audiard's "Rust and Bone" and Cristian Mungiu's "Beyond the Hills," have proven excitingly and necessarily divisive -- the longest and loudest rounds of applause appear to have been heard in the sidebars. Two of the four films I saw today elicited that kind of response, with audience members cheering and reprise-clapping at odd points in the closing credits in the manner that comfortably exceeds required festival politeness and firmly establishes that they like you, they really like you.
One of these successes, an Un Certain Regard selection that had already slayed the Sundance crowds a few months back, was to be expected; the other, from the lower-profile Directors' Fortnight selection, was more of a surprise. Chilean director Pablo Larrain hasn't, until now, been the kind of filmmaker to court such all-round approval: his cold-blooded political comedies "Tony Manero" and "Post Mortem" are something of an acquired taste even to those not alienated by their contextually non-transferrable Pinochet-rule milieu. Indeed, following its Venice premiere two years ago, I remember the closing credits of "Post Mortem" being greeted by nothing noisier than the stunned shuffle of footsteps as viewers made a beeline for the nearest stiff drink.
Sacha Baron Cohen's latest hits theaters today
I haven't caught up with Sacha Baron Cohen's latest shenanigans in "The Dictator" yet but the wife thinks it looks funny so maybe we'll make it out this weekend. I do get the sense that things are running a bit thin and hope Cohen can jump into this Freddy Mercury thing ASAP for a nice shift (not that collaborations with Tim Burton and Martin Scorsese haven't been refreshing). Anyway, I imagine many of you will be seeing it, too, so when/if you do, head on back here with your thoughts.
Could the esteemed cast garner awards consideration at year's end?
Focus Features has an interesting little slate of films to pitch this season. There's Wes Anderson's latest, "Moonrise Kingdom," which opened Cannes earlier this week to mostly favorable reviews. Indeed, I found it to be one of his best, a charming mark of maturation for the filmmaker. There's also Joe Wright's big adaptation "Anna Karenina," which looks to be the heavyweight in the stable.
Then there's "Hyde Park on Hudson," director Roger Michell's latest. From the official synopsis: "In June 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor host the King and Queen of England for a weekend at the Roosevelt home at Hyde Park on Hudson, in upstate New York – the first-ever visit of a reigning English monarch to America. With Britain facing imminent war with Germany, the Royals are desperately looking to FDR for support.
"But international affairs must be juggled with the complexities of FDR’s domestic establishment, as wife, mother, and mistresses all conspire to make the royal weekend an unforgettable one. Seen through the eyes of Daisy, Franklin’s neighbor and intimate, the weekend will produce not only a special relationship between two great nations, but, for Daisy – and through her, for us all – a deeper understanding of the mysteries of love and friendship."
The event will be held in conjunction with the 2012 LA Film Festival
On the heels of the recent news that Dolby Laboratories has wrangled naming rights to the Hollywood & Highland theatre (formerly known as the Kodak) that has played host to concerts, performance events and, of course, the annual Academy Awards ceremony, Walt Disney Pictures has announced that the "grand opening" of the venue will coincide with the world premiere of Disney/Pixar's "Brave." The June 17 event will take place in conjunction with the Los Angeles Film Festival.
"This is the first of many exclusive and exciting events—from movie premieres to awards ceremonies—in which Dolby and our technologies will play a featured role," said Dolby executive VP of sales and marketing via press release.
As part of the naming rights announcement earlier this month, it was noted that Dolby "will continue to update the theatre with innovative, world-class technologies to ensure that the theatre remains state-of-the-art, beginning with the immediate installation of its recently released Dolby® Atmos™ sound technology." The "Brave" screening will be presented in Dolby 3D.
Audiard's latest an aggressively moving study of broken hearts and bodies
CANNES - As a general rule, it should be a bit further into Cannes, when the combination of punishing onscreen themes and depleted reserves of sleep have battered down all defences, that I have my first involuntary cry of the festival. And as a general rule, it should be several lifetimes before the instigator of such a reaction is Katy Perry's plastic empowerment anthem "Firework," with a wheelchair-bound young woman playing conductor to its ersatz emotional swell.
"Rust and Bone" (B+) a remarkable exercise in brute sentimentality and unwashed romance from French genre artisan Jacques Audiard, is not a film with much use for general rules: awash with aesthetic and narrative decisions that scratch at the boundaries of human empathy and simple good taste, it's the rare Croisette provocation that invites polarized responses by flirting with convention, even cliché, rather than transgression. In no other context could the Wonderbread pop stylings of Ms. Perry sound more subversive.