Friday, May 23, 2008

Cannes Nearly Wrapped


I can never keep up with Cannes news, which seems to erupt bi-hourly as journalists and critics exit the theaters reporting away and as photogs snap the next batch of arrivals. It's like an action film that never stops with new setpieces.

Samantha Morton, Michelle Williams, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and
Catherine Keener representin' Charlie Kauffman's Synechdoche New York

Sean Penn's jury will announce the winners this Sunday. Predicting Cannes wins is a futile game --nobody ever gets it right beyond maybe naming a film or two that will pick something up. But let's take a look at the official line up one last time and predict anyway. Because we're silly like that. How were the Official Competition films greeted? [I'm using the invaluable GreenCine Daily and the official Cannes site for most of the research here] If you haven't been playing along elsewhere, I'll sum up...

La Mujer Sin Cabeza (The Headless Woman) [Argentina] Lucrecia Martel (La Ciénaga, The Holy Girl)'s latest effort isn't going to detract from her burgeoning rep as an auteur but even the kind reviews don't seem truly enthused.

--> Leonera [Argentina] (pictured, right) Pablo Trapero tells the story of a convicted mother struggling to raise her son.

Le Silence De Lorna (The Silence of Lorna) [Belgium] The Brothers Dardenne (Cannes winners for Rosetta, Le Fils and L'Enfant) probably won't win this year. Four wins would just be so extravagant. But as per usual, critics are impressed.

Linha de Passe (Line of Passage) [Brazil] Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries) and Daniela Thomas co-directed this film about a mother and her unruly amateur soccer playing sons. Reviews have ranged from mild thumbs up to very positive with comparisons to major films like Rocco and His Brothers and Salles own Central Station. Could be a dark horse of some sort.

<--- Adoration [Canada] Atom Egoyan (Where the Truth Lies, The Sweet Hereafter)'s new one has been met with mixed reviews. Critics are glad he's returned to the multi-character mosaics of his 90s work but most feel it's too sanctimonious. Hmmm, Sean Penn as head of jury? Sanctimony? A match made in... sorry Sean! I wouldn't expect big things, awards wise.

24 City
[China] Jia Zhangke (The Platform, The World) can do no wrong with cinephiles and this one continues his winning streak. Some say it's more accessible than his previous film and IndieWire floats the interesting notion that its picture of rapidly changing China is taking on unplanned resonance in the wake of the recent catastrophic earthquake.

Entre Les Murs [France] Laurent Cantet's (Human Resources) late competition entry met a mostly warm reception. It's about a teacher and his students and a look at France's multi-ethnic modern population.

La Frontiere De l'Aube (The Frontier Of Dawn) [France] Philipe Garrel (Regular Lovers) directed his ubiquitous movie star son Louis in his first ever competition film. The black and white love triangle with a supernatural overlay. It's proving very divisive. A 'whistle or boo' sort of film. You gotta love those.

Un Conte de Noel (A Christmas Tale) [France] Arnaud Desplechin has taken on a difficult task: Make a fresh movie about a dysfunctional family during the holidays. That's an overpopulated genre. But Desplechin is amazing and at least some critics, like Glenn Kenny, are ga-ga for it. The consensus seems to be that it's too messy to win over everyone (or win over the jury) but I can't wait to see it. Desplechin directing Kings & Queen cast members Catherine Deneuve and Matthieu Amalric again? I'm there.

The Palermo Shooting [Germany] Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire) starring Campino, Milla Jovovich and Dennis Hopper.

[Hungary] Actor/director Kornél Mundruczó's slow moving art film about reunited siblings is receiving praise for its formal aesthetics but it doesn't seem like a true competitor.

---> Waltz With Bashir [Israel] Ari Folman wrote and directed this animated war film which is in Hebrew and German. Reviews have been largely hyper positive citing its big statements and timeliness ... even if they're not always crazy about the animation itself.

Gomorra [Italy] I dismissed Matteo Garrone (First Love, The Embalmer) drama in my initial write-up because I feel like the Italian crime family drama has been oversaturated for decades. But critics are very impressed, feeling that the new angle (it focuses not on wealthy power players but their working class underlings) is fresh and the film is harrowing. AO Scott called it "furious and brilliant" and best of the fest.

Il Divo [Italy] Paolo Sorrentino (The Consequences of Love)'s biopic on the Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti (played by Toni Servillo) has impressed critics with its enigmatic look at the man in question. But will the very Italian subject and ambitious political overview impress the international jury? Andreotti himself is reportedly not amused.

<--- Serbis (Service) [Philippines] Brillante Mendoza (The Masseur)'s movie about a movie house will have to make do with its status as the first Filipino film to make the competitive lineup in nearly a quarter century. Reviews haven't been especially positive.

My Magic [Singapore] Eric Khoo (Be With Me) says that this is his most personal film yet and that he was inspired thematically by Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

Uc Maymun (The Three Monkeys) [Turkey] Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Distant, Climates) returns to the fest that's helped build his rep. Reviews have been very positive calling it "gripping" and "powerfully bleak". Maybe I'm fooling myself to believe it's not going to win big since I wasn't a huge fan of the agonizingly slow if beautifully composed Distant.

Blindness [United States] If the mediocre reviews for Fernando Meirelles's film about a "white sickness" epidemic are indication, it won't win any Cannes prizes. I wouldn't rule out any Oscar campaign just yet. Haters say it's too earnest. That's not a negative with AMPAS.

---> Che [United States] Steven Soderbergh won Cannes' top honor on his first try (Sex, Lies and Videotape, 1989) but this Che Guevera biopic is only his third competition film. It's divisive already collecting fanatic devotees who love its epic ambition and violent spectacle and high profile detractors say it skimps on the stuff biopics are traditionally made of: Che's early life, why he is who he is, etcetera... It's journey through theatrical release to Oscar season should be mighty interesting.

Synecdoche, New York [United States] Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut is winning the expect huzzahs but virtually everyone is calling it an odd duck -- even less accessible, apparently than his other scripted work. (I don't really understand how movies as great as Being John Malkovich or Eternal Sunshine... are considered inaccessible but, alas, I live not by the laws of the mainstream multiplex) Can't wait for this one...

<--- Two Lovers [United States] James Gray (The Yards, We Own the Night) directs his apparent muse Joaquin Phoenix and the resurgent Gwyneth Paltrow in this romantic drama. It's been called "polarizing" ... in fact, reading over the collective pull quotes @ GreenCine it's hard to imagine that any of these reviewers saw the same film. But then again, romantic films are often among the most divisive, aren't they?

Changeling [United States] Eastwood and Jolie's team-up seems to have won the mainstream critics over in a big way (lots of Oscar talk) but what else is to be expected from an Eastwood film? Maybe the jury goes mainstream?

Palme D'Or, Jury Prize and Direction? Who knows what Sean Penn, Natalie Portman, Alfonso Cuaron and those international directors will groove on. Wild guesswork here but I'm predicting that the Palme D'Or goes to Matteo Garrone's Gomorrah (pictured right) the director prize to Steven Soderbergh for Che and the Jury Prize to either Waltz with Bashir or Linha de Passe
Best Actor? Benicio Del Toro's 4 hour biopic performance in Che seems likely as a winner but then, jury prizes aren't strict or easily guessed at. One could see a dual prize for both him and Demian Bichir (as Fidel Castro) if the jury likes the film. Other possibilities: François Begaudeau (Entre Les Murs), Toni Servillo (Il Divo) or the cast in Linha de Passe?
Best Actress? Angelina Jolie's Changeling mother won expected raves. She's already an international icon but can she join the exclusive list of Cannes Best Actress winners? Her competition: Maybe Martina Gusman (Leonara) or the female cast of Synechdoche New York?


RJ said...

I am praying to every deity that I get to see Che as the 4 hour epic it is meant to be.

Anonymous said...

I am praying Penn doesn't trick the rest of the jury into awarding the films politics of which he agrees with, rather than the best.

snapbomb said...

I'd like to see the film "Che" too! BTW there is an opportunity for entertainment bloggers to earn money blogging about Cannes. If interested go to

J.D. said...

Notluke: Alexandra Maria Lara is smart enough not to fall for the Deceiver's tricks. Not in the slightest. :)

Anonymous said...

Here is a video of Jose Saramago's reaction after watching "BLINDNESS" in Cannes:

Pivo said...

My predix:

1) Gomorra
2) Che
3) Waltz wish Bashir

1) Clint Eastwood (The exchange)
2) Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Three monkeys)
3) Steven Soderbergh (Che)

1) Toni Servillo (Gomorra AND/OR Il divo)
2) Benicio del Toro (Che)
3) Francis Bosco (My magic)

1) Arta Dobroshi (Le silence de Lorna)
2) Martina Gusman (Leonera)
3) Angelina Jolie (The exchange)

1) Synecdoche, New York
2) Adoration
3) Gomorra

1) My magic
2) Un conte de Noël
3) Three monkeys

1) Three monkeys - Cinematography
2) Gomorra - Editing
3) Blindness - Cinematography


Pivo, you're so thorough!

Cengiz said...

What the hell. I'll be biased and say that Uc Maymun will win the Palm D'or. It seems that Ceylan's films are "always the bridesmaids, never the bride" when it comes to Cannes. This year, I think is his year to win the big one. Tomorrow day OSCAR!!!!!

Boyd said...

My gut feeling tells me Waltz with Bashir will win the Palme d'Or, though if it went to either of the Italian films I would be happy too.

Anonymous said...

I'm kinda hoping for Angelina Jolie. Though I haven't seen the film, I hope she finally gates an actually respectable award (the oscars' respectability have declined these last years .. cough... Jennifer Hudson Hilary Swank Marion Cotillard Halle Berry ...)

NicksFlickPicks said...

My predix up here.

Anonymous said...

ABout your comment anonimus it's true with the clear exception of Marion Cotillard- She deserves the Oscar-, that Oscars for Best Actress are declined: Swank, Berry, Hunt, Paltrow (She's OK actress but no way she deserves that Oscar), Hudson (Best Supporting Singer)...

My feelings about Best Actress:

Best Picture: Gomorra
Best Director: Clint Eastwood
Best Actor: Benicio Del Toro / Tony Servillo
Best Actress: Martina Gussman / Angelina Jolie
Best Screenplay: Dardenne Brothers
Jury Prize: Walsh with Bazir (Like Persepolis's last year)
Technical Award: Blindness

Anonymous said...

I forgot something, I don't know and maybe I'm wrong but I have hope to Julianne Moore for Best Actress... that's my reason: Last Year The Banishment received mixed to negative reviews and still the prize goes to his Leading Actor: Konstantin Lavorenko instead two acclaimed performances by Javier Bardem and Mathieu Almaric

Anonymous said...

P.D.: Other awful Oscar: Reese Witherspoon

Anonymous said...

anonymous who replied to my other post :-). I just don't see the so called greatness in Marion. It's amazing how little she actually did in the film. She was buried under pounds of makeup, lip synched her ass off and wore a brace to walk like Edith Piaf. Aside from a few serviceable screaming and hyperreacting scenes, the emotional impact of which is not NEARLY as grand as the subtlety of Laura Linney's or Julie Christie's performance, she was duly forgettable in my book. What is it that she did, that makes so many people treat this performance as the 2nd coming of christ ?

Anonymous said...

Oh. And I forgot to add that I was really distracted by the way she seemed to alternate between looking (for lack of a better word) like a complete retard, and looking relatively normal within the same scenes.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed Christie and Linney performances and they deserves nominations but they haven't the same impact like Cotillard. I'm sorry but when I saw Marion in "La vie en rose" is iconic performance (Unleast for me) it's not like a forced Reese or awful Hunt. I didn't saw "Oh Marion playing Edith Piaf", I saw a compelling performance with perfect voice, and same mimethysm as Piaf. Plus, she has a natural human perception that makes her diferent like other biopic performances... I'm not fan of them but Marion give me a complete diferent opinion; only Bruno ganz in "downfall" and her are my favorite top biopic performances

Glenn said...

Oh sweet baby jesus, not this again.

Anyway, my prediction is that the Palme d'Or goes to 24 City if for no other reason than Still Life was amazing and I can't believe it has yet to receive a theatrical release (or, hell, a DVD release even!) and maybe if 24 wins Cannes then that will receive a much deserved release.

evermoon said...

For Best Actress, I believe the competition is mainly between Angelina Jolie, Martina Gusman, Catherine Deneuve, and Arta Dobroshi.

Gilidor said...

You can watch the closing night ceremony, which should start any moment now, live here