CANNES — Sometimes, the pre-festival buzz has it right. Nuri Bilge Ceylan's 196-minute conversational epic "Winter Sleep" entered the 2014 Cannes Film Festival as the sight-unseen frontrunner for the Palme d'Or, thanks to its heftiness of form and the Turkish auteur's perceived overdue status — any director with two Grand Prix wins and a Best Director prize behind him is bound to win the Palme at some point.
CANNES - The sun is out, the films have screened, the rosé has almost run dry, and every conversation on the Croisette seems to begin with, "So, what's winning the Palme d'Or?" And the answer that almost inevitably follows is, "Oh, I don't know." Opinion varies this year as to whether it's been a very high-level Competition or a respectably disappointing one -- but either way, the upshot is that it's the most seemingly competitive one in several years, with a handful of well-received films on the awards shuffle-board.
CANNES - Tomorrow evening -- a day earlier than usual -- Jane Campion's jury will present their awards for the best of this year's Competition, culminating in this year's Palme d'Or winner. We'll be handicapping those awards later, but first, the festival is already fully in the prizegiving mood, as the Un Certain Regard, Critics' Week, Directors' Fortnight, FIPRESCI and Ecumenical juries have all presented their own awards.
CANNES - She missed the photo call. She missed the press conference. Nothing, however, could keep Kristen Stewart from the 2014 Cannes Film Festival premiere of "Clouds of Sils Maria."
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.