No one needs awards coverage this deep
Affecting, conventional coming-of-age tale closes out the Cannes competition
Tye Sheridan, Matthew McConaughey and Jacob Lofland in "Mud."
Credit: Everest Entertainment
CANNES - A funny thing happened during this morning’s introductory press screening of “Mud” – a snafu that would make an already nervous filmmaker clutch his forehead and represents an unusual malfunction in the well-oiled machine of the Cannes Film Festival.
A little over midway through the screening of Arkansas writer-director Jeff Nichols’ third feature, the digitally projected image was suddenly buried under a gaudy griddle of fluorescent green lines, before shots began to overlap and the sound veered out of sync. Swiftly corrected and rewound, the technical error didn’t harm anyone’s enjoyment of what turned out to be a robustly applauded Competition closer, but it did oddly highlight what had been bothering me about this enjoyable, evocative slice of contemporary American classicism: it was the only truly unanticipated moment of the film thus far.
It's not what you might think
John Lithgow and Harry in "Harry and the Hendersons"
Credit: Universal Pictures
“Men in Black III”’s U.S. release inspired Kris to post a list of legendary effects/makeup artist Rick Baker’s top 10 contributions to cinema earlier this week. With 12 Oscar nominations and seven wins, Baker is perhaps the most well known and revered man working in his field.
As Kris’s article indicates, the creature effects mastermind’s catalogue of work is both varied and prolific. Baker has run the gamut between horror (“The Ring,” “Cursed”), comedy (“Tropic Thunder,” “Ed Wood,” “The Nutty Professor” and, a personal favorite, “Coming to America”), fantasy (“Hellboy,” “Enchanted”) and of course, sci-fi comedy with the distinctive “Men in Black” franchise.
In his interview with Baker, Drew McWeeny mentions the transformation sequence in “An American Werewolf in London” as a moment that forever altered his perception of what is possible in the world of filmmaking. McWeeny is certainly not alone. For many, the thriller remains, if not the most successful, the most beloved on-screen rendering of the shape-shifting beasts.
Also: Weinstein's big presence and more
Welcome to Oscar Talk.
In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.
It's been about two and a half months since Oscar Talk went on hiatus. When we last left our heroes the 2011 Oscar season had drawn to a close. That season started in earnest with the premiere of "The Artist" at the Cannes Film Festival. This year's fest is nearing its end. What clues has it offered for the upcoming awards season? Anne is there with our own Guy Lodge (I'm in Pittsburgh, so we're kind of scattered). So, on the docket today...
Buzz for the Sony Pictures Classics acquisition keeps building
Gael Garcia Bernal in "No."
Credit: Sony Pictures Classics
Well, that was a, uh, no-brainer. As Cannes winds down, its numerous awards start getting doled out -- and the most notable win so far comes for Pablo Larrain's critics' darling "No," which has just taken the Art Cinema Award, the top prize in the festival's Directors' Fortnight sidebar.
The film, a riveting political campaign drama starring Gael Garcia Bernal, was the obvious favorite for the award from its first screening way back on the third day of the festival, where it received rapturous applause and prompted many to ask why it wasn't in a higher-profile strand of the festival. Since then, it's had pretty much a dream festival run: reviews were glowing across the board, while word of mouth spread rapidly from that first screening, inspiring many more Competition-focused critics to give it some column inches.
Faithful but flummoxing adaptation of Don DeLillo's novel hits Cannes
Robert Pattinson in "Cosmopolis."
Credit: Entertainment One
CANNES - Eric Packer, the disaffected, boy-billionaire anti-hero of “Cosmopolis,” has an asymmetrical prostate. We’re told this no fewer than three times in David Cronenberg’s highly garrulous but bullet-cold adaptation of Don DeLillo’s compact 2003 novel, and it can’t just be to tease us with the reassuring prospect that there’s something imperfect about Robert Pattinson’s svelte, slicked, immaculately suited physique – nor just to amuse us with the notion that this sleek automaton of a protagonist has a prostate at all.
Rather, the image – though lifted straight from DeLillo’s novel, like pretty much everything in Cronenberg’s exceedingly faithful adaptation thereof – seems principally an assertion of the hand of David Cronenberg. That is, the funny, fevered, corporeally obsessed Cronenberg of old, the Cronenberg who became his own best adjective and has been only intermittently present, if not always to detrimental effect, in his last three or four films. After his intellectually heady but almost perversely restrained psychology drama, “A Dangerous Method,” debuted only months ago to polite critical applause that nonetheless questioned his edge, the hinky, kinky, defiantly unlovable “Cosmopolis” lands in our laps with bristly self-assurance. “You asked for this,” it seems to be saying, one of the few things unspoken amid its torrent of thematically pointed verbiage. “Let’s see if you really want it.”
Lee Daniels's bonkers follow-up to 'Precious' aims for camp-classic status
Nicole Kidman in "The Paperboy."
CANNES - Here are a few things you should know about "The Paperboy," the humid, lurid and exuberantly ludicrous new thriller from Lee "Precious" Daniels -- that is, if the swarm of dumbfounded Twitter chatter about the film hasn't informed you already. It features Nicole Kidman bitch-fighting a group of sunbathers for the privilege of urinating on Zac Efron's jellyfish sting, triumphing with the immediately immortal line, "If anybody's gonna piss on him, it's gonna be me!" It features Zac Efron dancing in the rain clad in nothing but a pair of tighty-whiteys rapidly losing their opacity. It features a close-up of Nicole Kidman's panty-covered crotch, as she publicly masturbates in front of three other men during a prison visit. It features Macy Gray as a weary, sass-talking Southern maid, her omniscient narration musing idly on the inappropriateness of a Kidman/Efron sex scene. Another sex scene, meanwhile, is punctuated with cutaways to alligators and grazing hogs.
By this point -- and make no mistake, I've scarcely skimmed through my notes here -- you've either made a mental note to be doing charity work in Eritrea when the film hits theaters, or you're already on the advance-booking hotline. On either score, you should probably trust your instincts. Critics can argue back and forth as to the level of knowingness at play here, but “The Paperboy” is a film built on its distended absurdities and polyester styling – certainly more than Pete Dexter’s cracking, tonally far slinkier, source novel, which comes in for some brutal renovation here, presumably more at Daniels’ hand than his own. (Both are credited as co-writers.)
Long-delayed Jack Kerouac adaptation isn't quite worth the wait
Sam Riley and Garrett Hedlund in "On The Road."
Credit: IFC/Sundance Selects
CANNES - "The only people that interest me are the mad ones," mumbles Sam Riley's Sal Paradise on more than one occasion in "On the Road" -- directly lifting, of course, one of the most quoted lines from Jack Kerouac's insistently quotable novel of the same title. A one-time manifesto of sorts for independent living that railed against authority, capitalism and good old-fashioned punctuation in equal measure, the book has, for its pains, been appointed the bible for shiftless college students the world over, most of whom would claim to share Paradise's (and, by extension, Kerouac's) disdain for the the functional, the rational, the balanced.
It's hard not to wonder, then, what Paradise and Kerouac would have made of Walter Salles's assiduous, attractive and somewhat airless adaptation of "On the Road," none of the virtues of which -- its methodical loyalty to the material, its meticulous visual construction, even its strategic demographic tailoring -- come from the repertoire of the mad. Salles and his "Motorcycle Diaries" screenwriter Jose Rivera have fashioned a distinctly unspontaneous film from a text about going where the road takes you, a paean to madness that never once loses its mind.
Yep, that's a Baz Luhrmann movie
Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Great Gatsby"
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
I have a feeling the freshly debuted trailer for Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" is going to draw a line in the sand. On one side, those a bit stricken by the apparent tone and visual direction the "Moulin Rouge!" director has taken the F. Scott Fitzgerald story. On the other, those who feel the material is getting a unique and vivid spin that could be good for it.
Or maybe there'll be in-betweeners. Because now that I think about it, I'm kind of on both sides of things. Maybe if you liked what Luhrmann did to Shakespeare in "Romeo + Juliet" (I did), you'll be on board for this. Maybe it's not so reductive. But I'm intrigued.
And this is the note the director plays. I actually thought he might play a different one this time, but nope, this is definitely a Baz Luhrmann joint. The (melo)drama is high. The people are pretty. The set and costume designs from his wife, Catherine Martin, are eye-popping. This will be a feast for the eyes.
With 'Men in Black III' on the way, we look at the legendary makeup artist's career
Rick Baker with his "Men in Black III" creations
Credit: Columbia Pictures
Hitting theaters this weekend is "Men in Black III," the latest installment of a sci-fi comedy franchise that has been box office gold the world over. This one has been mired in whispers of behind-the-scenes crises and near shut-downs, but what matters is what's on screen. And what's on screen is another showcase from film makeup designer Rick Baker.
Baker is seemingly the face of film makeup, his rockstar look and landmark-laden portfolio adding to the mythic image of one of the medium's top tier talents. But Baker is a fan like the rest. His accomplishments in the industry stretch back to second unit work in "Star Wars" (post-production additions on the famous Cantina scene being his big moment) and further.
Oh, and he has 12 Oscar nominations and seven wins to show for himself. Naturally, then, there's plenty of fodder for a new installment of the lists!
Festival standout finds home with top foreign-language distributor
Director Pablo Larrain (center) and stars Alfredo Castro and Gael Garcia Bernal arrives for the Cannes premiere of "No."
Credit: AP Photo/Francois Mori
In the mid-Cannes checkup piece I posted yesterday, I wrote that the festival sidebars (Un Certain Regard, Directors' Fortnight and Critics' Week, plus a handful of stray special selections) haven't produced much in the way of a word-of-mouth sensation. The clear exception I noted was Chilean director Pablo Larrain's "No" -- my own favourite film of the festival thus far -- which I saw on the third day of the festival and was far from alone in admiring. (When even self-confessed sidebar sceptic Jeff Wells has checked it out and is singing its praises, you know word has officially got round.)
So I'm thrilled to hear that the positive buzz for "No" has paid off handsomely in the distribution racket, as the US rights to the film have been picked up by arthouse major Sony Pictures Classics, whose record of shepherding foreign-language fare Stateside currently stands second to none. (For starters, they've been behind five of the last six winners of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.) That's a major profile boost for Larrain, whose last two films, "Tony Manero" and "Post Mortem" (with which "No" forms a thematically-linked trilogy), were distributed in the US by the far lower-profile outfit Kino Lorber. ("Post Mortem" hit theaters only last month on a highly limited release.)