CANNES - For a man who spent the better part of a year under house arrest between 2009 and 2010, it's odd that Roman Polanski seems to have subjected his own art to the same punishment ever since. "Venus in Fur" is his second straight film -- after 2011's largely forgettable "Carnage" -- to fashion an economical stage play into clammy real-time cinema that doesn't leave the confines of a single interior space.
It wouldn't be too apt to call the Coen brothers the Kings of the Croisette or anything. They have amassed five awards at the Cannes Film Festival throughout their career, but Lars Von Trier, the Dardenne brothers, Michael Haneke and, certainly, Ken Loach have all won more.
However, with today's announcement of awards at the 66th annual fest, the filmmaker siblings did enter a bit of rare air with their latest film, "Inside Llewyn Davis": Joel Coen joined Haneke and Wim Wenders as the only filmmakers to have netted a Palme d'Or, a Grand Prix and a Best Director award at the festival. A few have won two of the three, from Buñuel to Clouzot* to Antonioni* to Altman (and Malick, too), but only Haneke, Wenders and now Coen have scored the hat trick.
Here's a look back at the Coen brothers' history with Cannes…
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.