Tag Archives: France

Cannes starts today!

OK, you all know by now what a big old Cannes geek I am, so, this year, I promise to keep the coverage to a minimum…you know, unless something really cool happens. And with a jury featuring Uma Thurman, Jude Law, and headed by Robert DeNiro and a new film by my man, Terrence Malick, screening in competition, some cool shit could definitely happen…so, stay tuned.

In the meantime, I wanted to be sure and share with you guys this year’s gorgeous new Cannes Film Festival poster. The picture is of Faye Dunaway and was taken in 1970 during production of her little-seen film “Puzzle of a Downfall Child”. I consider myself something of a Dunaway fan (especially of her early work!) and even I had never heard of this film, but, apparently it was the directorial debut of Jerry Schatzberg (who also took the pic on the poster) and, for whatever reason, was hardly ever shown stateside.

Anyway, a completely restored print of the film is going to be screened at Cannes this week, with both Dunaway and Schatzberg in attendance. And if the movie is even a quarter as slick as this poster, well, shit, sign me up for the Blu-Ray when it comes out. I mean, seriously, could Dunaway look any cooler in that shot?

Wow…let the festival begin!

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Confessions of a Cannes nerd…

Judging from my last couple of posts, you’ve probably already figured this out, but, for the record…yes, I am a total Cannes Film Festival nerd. Sure, I get excited about Sundance and Toronto and even the Los Angeles Film Festival — the only one I’ve ever actually attended! — but nothing for me is as exciting as Cannes.

I don’t know, maybe it’s because those cinema-mad Frenchies are such big fans of some of my favorite writers and directors.

Only a handful of American films have ever won the Palm d’or, and almost across the board, they were made by some of the coolest, most idiosyncratic filmmakers in Hollywood. Robert Altman (“Mash”), Martin Scorcese (“Taxi Driver”), Francis Ford Coppolla (“Apocalypse Now”), Bob Fosse (“All That Jazz”), the Coen Brothers (“Barton Fink”), Quentin Tarrantino (“Pulp Fiction”) and David Lynch (“Wild at Heart”) are just a few of the American winners to date, and the list of cool foreign films that snagged the top prize is even more impressive.

Unlike the Oscars, who’s crusty old members will throw a Best Picture Award at bloated schlock like “Crash”, Cannes juries are more discriminating and the movies they screen and honor with awards at the festival are much more interesting because of it.

For instance, aside from a Best Original Song nomination for Bjork, Oscar voters totally ignored modern classics like “Paris, Texas” and “Dancer in the Dark”, but not Cannes, baby. “Texas” and “Dancer” both won the Palm in their respective years and the Cannes jury even gave Björk a well-deserved Best Actress award.

And one of my all-time favorite writer/directors, Jim Jarmusch — who shockingly, has never even been nominated for an Oscar! — has been in the running for the Palm d’Or a whopping six times. And that’s just the nominations, Jarmusch’s list of Cannes wins could fill books.

Aside from taking home the lesser, but still prestigious, Camera d’or for his seminal “Stranger Than Paradise”, Jarmusch also won a Grand Jury award for “Broken Flowers”, a short-film Palm d’or for “Coffee and Cigarettes III” and a special award for “Best Artistic Contribution” for his seriously-underrated “Mystery Train”. As my French friends would say…incroyable!

And the writing awards at Cannes are even more eclectic. They doesn’t give out a screenplay award every year, but when they do, the juries at Cannes pick some really amazing scripts…stuff that is often totally overlooked by other festivals, the Academy and hell, even the WGA.

Genre-bending classics like “Nurse Betty”, “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada”, “Henry Fool”, “Volver” and even James Schamus’s pitch-dark swinger dramedy “The Ice Storm” are just a few of the rocking good screenplays to win at the Cannes Film Festival.

So, while I haven’t ever climbed the grand staircase at the Palais du Cinema in real life, I have followed the festival for years from abroad, and man alive, what a nerdtastic trip it’s been!

Vive le cinema! Vive le Festival de Cannes!

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Woody Allen @ Cannes

Even though his last movie, “Cassandra’s Dream” totally sucked — this despite featuring a uniformly excellent cast, including Ewan “Obi Wan” McGregor, Colin Farrell and the scorchingly-hot newcomer, Hayley Atwell — I am still a die hard Woody Allen fan.

And the fact that every other movie he makes is horrible will not stop me from seeing just about everything he makes. The way I see it, Allen makes enough movies that he can make a real clunker every other time out. As long as someone keeps giving him money to write and direct and super cool actors keep on signing up to work for him for scale…I say rock on, Woody!

And though my favorite films of his are mostly from the 1980’s — “Hannah and her Sisters”, “Broadway Danny Rose” and “A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy” — there are at least three other movies of his from every recent decade that I love in a big way. And I’m just talking about his major works like “Bullets Over Broadway” and ” “Deconstructing Harry”, but I also love me some minor Woody Allen as well…”Manhattan Murder Mystery” anyone? Classic!

Non-fans may see Allen’s recent “Anglophile period” as just another tired (if accented) rehash of his usual shtick — and though “Match Point” ranks with his finest work ever, I’d have to agree with them on “Scoop” and the aforementioned “Cassandra’s Dream” — but despite the misfires, I actually found it kind of exciting that he was trying something new for a change.

So, you can imagine how excited I was to read that Allen’s next cinematic venture, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”, was shot entirely in Spain, featuring mostly Spanish actors. Even cooler than that is the fact that the movie received a ten-minute standing ovation after it’s premiere this weekend at Cannes! Ten minutes…man, those Frenchies rule!

Starring Oscar-winner Javier Bardem, Oscar nominees Penélope Cruz and Patricia Clarkson, newcomer Rebecca Hall (pictured on Allen’s left in the pic with Cruz, below) and Allen’s recent way-too-young-for-him muse, Scarlett Johansson, the movie revolves around the complicated love life of a Spanish painter (Bardem) juggling affairs with three different women.

Let me see…all-star cast, shot in Spain and it’s a comedy…gloria a Dios. Welcome back, funny Woody!

Always hugely popular in France, Allen worked the European press this weekend like a pro. And when asked if he himself had ever tackled a threesome — as Bardem apparently does with Cruz and Johansson in the film — he replied: “You know, it’s hard enough to get one person”. Ha…I think Mia Farrow would disagree on that one, but you gotta love the dude for trying.

And while “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” — which comes out on our shores on August 29th — is not eligible for any major awards action at Cannes (having screened out of competition) I’m still counting the days till I can give the movie a ten-minute standing ovation of my very own right here in Burbank.

Vive le Woody!

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Cannes gets a little Lynchian…

Though he’s not vying for another Palm d’or at this year’s Festival, Cannes favorite David Lynch — who won the Palm for “Wild at Heart” in 1990 — made quite a splash on the riviera yesterday with the debut of his super cool poster for this year’s fest.

Haunting, strange, and strikingly beautiful, the poster is the textbook definition of the term “Lynchian”…and apparently, film geeks everywhere are eating it up.

I thought about ordering a print for myself, but wall space being at a premium in my already cluttered office, there is just no more room for another cool poster. Plus, even though I love the print, those “man hands” carressing that woman’s face kind of give me shivers, so I’ll just post a copy of the poster here for now…

Though the Americans are said to be taking this year’s festival by storm, with “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” set to have it’s world premiere on Sunday, and a number of other highly-anticipated films from American directors lined up after that, the big news for me this year is the jury!

Always composed of some really cool, eclectic film folks — one of my all-time favorite directors, Wong Kar Wai served as Jury President a couple years back — this year’s panel is headed by perennial hot head Sean Penn. Even though I personally think he’s a humorless prick, I gotta say, “Into the Wild” was one of my favorite films last year…so, rock on, sourpuss!

The rest of the jury — pictured below with Penn at last night’s premiere of Fernando Meireilles’s all-star supernatural thriller “Blindness” — are, from left to right: Director Alfonso Cuarón, Actor Sergio Castellitto, Author/Director Marjane Satrapi, Actress Jeanne Balibar, Director Rachid Bouchareb, Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Actress and former Queen of Naboo, Natalie Portman and finally, Actress Alexandra Maria Lara.

I know…crazy, huh? The guy who wrote and directed “Children of Men”, the chick who literally lived “Persepolis”, Madonna’s first husband, and the mother of Luke and Leia Skywalker…all on one jury? Wow…it’s like, movie nerd nirvana!

So, as the 61st Festival de Cannes settles into it’s first full day of screenings today, here’s hoping this years films are as interesting and diverse as its rocking poster and jury! Vive le France!

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