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Queuin' in the rain: Cannes 2012 hits the halfway mark

13 out of 22 Competition films have already been unveiled

<p>Michael Haneke and the cast of &quot;Amour&quot; arrive for the film's Cannes premiere.</p>

Michael Haneke and the cast of "Amour" arrive for the film's Cannes premiere.

Credit: AP Photo/Francois Mori

It's generally a sign of a lukewarm film festival when the principal point of conversation across the Croisette is not which A-list auteur just set the Competition afire, which out-of-competition sleeper is one to watch for future months, or even the surreal sight of ill-fated US "X Factor" judge Cheryl Cole walking the red carpet for, of all things, the new Michael Haneke movie, but the rather more mundane topic of the weather.

Admittedly, it's quite some weather: where festivalgoers can usually count on catching a bit of a tan as they queue up in balmy Mediterranean conditions for the day's hot ticket, this year we'll merely settle for staying dry. It is, according to those in the know, the wettest Cannes on record -- which makes the prospect of sitting in a dark room watching even the most gruelling festival fare a more appealing prospect than usual. If you can get into the room in the first place, that is. Whether it's down to increased accreditation numbers or this year's Hollywood-heavy lineup, the festival feels more crowded this year than in either of the previous years I've attended -- a reality that hit yesterday as I was turned away from three consecutive screenings, as the white- and pink-badged elite filled the theaters before the lowlier classes could get a look-in. 

Take a 'Moonrise Kingdom' tour with Bill Murray

"I had to work with a bunch of scouts and kids. No money can make that right, can it?"

<p>Bill Murray on the set of &quot;Moonrise&nbsp;Kingdom&quot;</p>

Bill Murray on the set of "Moonrise Kingdom"

Credit: Focus Features

A few days removed from seeing Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" and the Cannes brouhaha that came with its opening night premiere last week, I have to say, I'm looking forward to seeing it again. It's just so charming in all the ways Anderson's previous films are meant to be, but, for me, aren't quite.

"The Royal Tenenbaums" is so far his most successful film financially and critically, but after giving it another look recently, I found I liked it even less than I did back in 2001 (which already wasn't much). I'd put "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" on that lower tier as well. Both films are just overwhelmingly affected and don't strike the balance his better works do.

I'm mostly okay with "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and "The Darjeeling Limited." The former is a fun romp and the latter has a lot of soul. But "Rushmore" and "Bottle Rocket" have always been tops for me, because the emotion just feels much more authentic. "Moonrise Kingdom" can count itself in that territory, I feel.

Weinstein maintains a muscular presence at Cannes

Doubling down with multiple acquisitions and a screening of footage from upcoming titles

<p>Harvey&nbsp;Weinstein arrives at the Cannes opening night premiere of &quot;Moonrise Kingdom&quot;</p>

Harvey Weinstein arrives at the Cannes opening night premiere of "Moonrise Kingdom"

Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan

It's fair to say The Weinstein Company is pretty high on the value of Cannes this year. And tonight will be all about their upcoming films as they pull the old "let's show some footage, stir the interest pot and steal a little bit of thunder" trick.

The Weinsteins came to the fest with two heavily anticipated films already in tow (John Hillcoat's "Lawless" and Andrew Dominik's "Killing Them Softly"). But they've maintained a muscular presence in the market as well, acquiring light touches in Christian Vincent's "Haute Cuisine" and Wayne Blair's "The Sapphires," as well as political angles on Muammar Gaddafi ("The Oath of Tobruk") and the hunt for Osama Bin Laden ("Code Name Geronimo").

They grabbed market title "Quartet" in advance of the fest, which could pop up as an Oscar play from first-time director Dustin Hoffman, while there is speculation that James Gray's "Low Life" starring Joaquin Phoenix could come off the table and into their pocket soon enough, too. And speaking of Phoenix, he's front and center in the new trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master," one of three films the company will be teasing at tonight's shindig.

Feelgood Aussie musical 'The Sapphires' brightens Cannes

Do the Weinsteins have another crossover hit on their hands?

<p>Deborah Mailman and Chris O'Dowd in &quot;The Sapphires.&quot;</p>

Deborah Mailman and Chris O'Dowd in "The Sapphires."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

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.

License to brood: James Bond and Batman wrestle internal and external demons

What will 'Skyfall' and 'The Dark Knight Rises' say about the contemporary hero?

<p>Daniel Craig as James Bond in &quot;Skyfall&quot;</p>

Daniel Craig as James Bond in "Skyfall"

Credit: Sony Pictures

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.”

Review: Entering the exquisite void of 'Laurence Anyways'

Canadian director Xavier Dolan brings his third film to Cannes aged just 23

HitFix
C+
Readers
B-
<p>Melvil Poupaud in &quot;Laurence Anyways.&quot;</p>

Melvil Poupaud in "Laurence Anyways."

Credit: MK2 Productions

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.  

Review: 'Lawless' is a rollicking tale of blood, booze and cardigans

The first American film in Competition is a subtext-laden genre treat

HitFix
B
Readers
n/a
<p>Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain in &quot;Lawless.&quot;</p>

Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain in "Lawless."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

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.

Tell us what you thought of 'Battleship'

The film takes aim at theaters this weekend

<p>A scene from &quot;Battleship&quot;</p>

A scene from "Battleship"

Credit: Universal Pictures

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.

Review: 'No' and 'Beasts of the Southern Wild'

Chilean auteur Pablo Larrain delivers the film of the fest so far

<p>Gael Garcia Bernal (left) in &quot;No.&quot;</p>

Gael Garcia Bernal (left) in "No."

Credit: Fabula/Canana Films

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.

Tell us what you thought of 'The Dictator'

Sacha Baron Cohen's latest hits theaters today

<p>Sacha Baron Cohen in&nbsp;&quot;The&nbsp;Dictator&quot;</p>

Sacha Baron Cohen in "The Dictator"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

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.

2013-2014 OSCAR NOMINATIONS
UPDATED: MARCH 2, 2014

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