CANNES - There were those who suggested that a Cannes jury headed by Steven Spielberg might be responsible for a lot of safe choices, but the Hollywood legend sure proved us wrong. Not only did did he present the Palme d'Or to "Blue is the Warmest Color," Abdellatif Kechiche's edgy, erotic epic about first lesbian love, but he also made history by handing the award jointly to Kechiche and the film's two young stars -- an unprecedented move that brazenly dodges the festival's recent, restrictive rule that the winner of the top prize can't also take an acting award.
CANNES - I say it every year: trying to predict the Cannes Film Festival awards is a fool's errand. Unlike, say, the Oscars, you aren't making educated guesses about a large, consistent body of voters with plenty of precedent and precursor information to go on. The Cannes jury is tiny, highly idiosyncratic and changes every year; you're effectively trying to read the minds of nine individuals with no voting track record. Who knows whether Nicole Kidman harbors a quiet passion for Mexican new wave cinema, or if Steven Spielberg is an unlikely Jim Jarmusch devotee? Perhaps not even them, until they see the films in question.
CANNES - With screenings having wrapped here at the Cannes Film Festival, all eyes are on tomorrow's big awards. I'll preview those in the morning, but in the meantime, we received the first Competition bellwether in the form of the FIPRESCI Critics' prize, which went to Abdellatif Kechiche's three-hour lesbian romantic drama "Blue is the Warmest Color" -- currently the bookies' favorite for the Palme d'Or.
When I saw Alex Gibney's new documentary "We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks" at Sundance, I was bowled over. My instant reaction was mostly admiration for Gibney, who has become "a beast at his craft," as my first blush Tweet noted. The film, opening in limited release this weekend, is a towering study of one of the most enigmatic figures of our time, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and it will surely be seen as the definitive documentary of the organization, which trades in leaked classified information that has had an impact on everything from the Arab Spring to perceptions of National Security here at home.
CANNES - A Jim Jarmusch vampire movie? Sure, why not? Much of "Only Lovers Left Alive" seems to have been made in this spontaneous, scarcely thought-through spirit, which is responsible for what is both most appealing and most enervating about it. It's a designer doodle of a dream, like much of Jarmusch's work, though it's clear some effort has gone into making it appear this cast-off. If the "Twilight" series has taught us anything, it's that vampires are natural poseurs, which creates a stronger creative bond between Stephenie Meyer and the bequiffed crown prince of American indie cinema then you might have expected.
For many of our readers, I know today has been circled on the calendar for a long while. Richard Linklater's "Before Midnight" brings a third look into the lives of Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke). It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival where it was very well received and was soon after picked up by Sony Pictures Classics. It featured prominently in our summer movie preview feature here at HitFix and I, of course, am over the moon for the film. I can't wait to give it another look. For now, though, let's hear what you thought of it. Rifle off your thoughts in the comments section and as always, feel free to vote in our poll below.
CANNES - James Gray has always made period films – it’s just that they haven’t always been set in the past. Since arriving on the scene as a precocious 25-year-old with his Venice-laurelled 1994 debut “Little Odessa,” the New Yorker has unobtrusively fostered a reputation as one of the American cinema’s last true classicists, his writing and visual storytelling alike distinguished by an unfashionable emotional sincerity and matte polish – virtues that the French have embraced far more openly over the years than Gray’s compatriots.
CANNES - Fans of New York-based writer-director (and lovingly adopted son of France) James Gray are getting a lot of bang for their, well, Euro at this year's Cannes Film Festival. His long-awaited new feature "The Immigrant" may be the main attraction, of course, but he also has a writing credit on Guillaume Canet's thriller "Blood Ties" -- a film that might be described as too James Gray for Gray to have directed himself. Between its elegiac genre qualities, its fuzzily gray visual textures, even its age-old tale of brothers on opposite sides of the law, it's a veritable checklist of attributes from the director's past films; small wonder it took a Frenchman to make it.
The Weinstein Company came to Cannes ready to show off with films like "Only God Forgives" (via VOD shingle RADiUS), "The Immigrant" and "Fruitvale Station" in tow, not to mention a big presentation of material including peeks at biopics "Grace of Monaco" and "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom". There were rumblings that footage from Judi Dench starrer "Philomena" at the film market had revved the distributors engines, and indeed, today TWC has announced acquisition of the title in the US, UK and Spain and positioned it in the fall of 2013, obviously aiming for an awards trajectory.
CANNES - "Nebraska," Alexander Payne's latest dramedy of American ennui and mislaid family relationships, opens with a vintage monochrome Paramount Pictures ident standing in for the flashier, CGI-enhanced mountain peak of recent years. It's a detail that may strike you either as a cute throwaway (hey, the film's in old-timey black-and-white!) or something rather more calculated. Like so many of his peers, Payne is deeply indebted to the American new wave of the 1970s, and with its Bogdanovich-esque lensing and revival of Bruce Dern, "Nebraska" cops to that debt pretty openly with this badge of cinematic classicism. That's all well and good, but is it stretching to detect a certain smug conservatism there too, a whiff of self-congratulation in its resistance to the new?