Yesterday nearly every Cannes critic went apeshit over Benny and Josh Safdie‘s Good Time, a visceral, high-crank crime drama about a couple of low-life, bank-robbing brothers, Robert Pattinson‘s Connie and Benny Safdie‘s Nick, running around Queens. Nick is basically Lenny from Of Mice and Men, and right away I was going “oh, Jesus, I have to hang out with some stammering…I’m sorry, challenged guy for the next 100 minutes? This guy can’t put two sentences together without sweating from the mental strain.” Then it turned I didn’t have to — fine. But I was definitely stuck with Pattinson’s Connie, whose brain cell count obviously is only slightly higher than his brother’s.
The Safdie brothers know how to whip action into a lather and keep the kettle boiling, and there’s no doubt that Good Time felt like the punchiest and craziest film to play during the festival, which is why so many critics, feeling underwhelmed by a relatively weak lineup, responded with such fervor. But I can’t abide stupidity, and after 40 minutes of watching these simpletons hold up a bank and run around and ruthlessly use people to duck the heat I was praying that at least one of them would get shot or arrested. I can roll with scumbags and sociopaths, but I need a little something I can relate to or identify with. If the repulsion factor is too strong, I check out. And that’s what I did in this instance. And good riddance.
I’m sorry but I have to catch an 11:30 am bus to Nice Airport to rent a car and meet the SRO. Given this commitment, I felt it was more important to file what I could this morning rather than attend the 8:30 am of Fatih Akin‘s In The Fade, which I can see this evening at 8 pm if it’s really all that good. I can also catch Francois Ozon‘s L’amant double, which I’ve been told is somewhat similar to Swimming Pool, this evening at 7 pm. Jacqueline Bisset, Marine Vacth and Jeremie Renier costar. If that falls away there’s also a Patty Cakes screening at 7 pm. This is my tenth day of this festival, and the eleventh if you count the 5.16 train trip from Paris + the La Pizza journo gathering. I’d be lying if I said I’m not feeling an urge to disengage.
Cannes-to-Nice Airport bus schedule, departure times.
On behalf of Sony Classics honchos Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, publicist Jeff Hill invited top-dog Cannes journos to a Thursday luncheon at Silencio (5 rue des Belges) honoring Brigsby Bear. Star-cowriter Kyle Mooney, director Dave McCary, costar Greg Kinnear, cowriter Kevin Costello and costar Kate Lyn Sheil were the headliners. Incidentally: I’ve been told by Loveless music composer Evgueni Galperine to visit Club Silencio in Paris (142 Rue Montmartre) — open since ’11, designed by David Lynch.
Brigsby Bear‘s Kyle Mooney, Greg Kinnear — Thursday, 5.25, 1:40 pm.
(l. to r.) Brigsby Bear co-writer Kevin Costello, director Dave McCary, Wrap correspondent Ben Croal during Thursday luncheon at Silencio.
Brokeback Mountain commentary sent to HE by Costello 11 and 1/3 years ago, when Costello was an Oklahoma resident.
I didn’t come to the Cote d’Azur with any expectation of becoming a Brigsby Bear convert, but converted I now am. Last night I saw this gently comic tribute to geeky childhood obsessions at the Espace Miramar, and as much as I tend to resist if not despise this kind of thing Brigsby Bear has an emotional scheme and even a theology that adds up in the end. It didn’t make me overjoyed, but I felt genuine respect.
For this is a little film, made by three childhood pals (director Dave McCary, co-writer and star Kyle Mooney, co-writer Kevin Costello), that really believes in its own alchemy, and particularly in dorkiness, hip-pocket filmmaking, piles of VHS tapes, geek dreams and deliriously cheesy visual effects.
Brigsby Bear develops its own realm and attitude, but influence-wise is basically a mixture of Room, Michael Gondry‘s Be Kind Rewind, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and the twee sensibility of Wes Anderson (and particularly that of Moonrise Kingdom).
Sony Classics is opening Brigsby Bear stateside on 7.28. The costars are Mark Hamill, Claire Danes, Greg Kinnear, Andy Samberg, Matt Walsh, Michaela Watkins and SNL‘s Beck Bennett (i.e., Vladimir Putin).
Do I have to fucking recite the plot? Mooney’s James was kidnapped as an infant by a pair of creative-imaginative weirdo shut-ins (Hamill, Jane Adams). They raised him according to their own insular reality while diverting or brainwashing him with home-crafted episodes of “Brigsby Bear”, a kindly Smokey the Bear-type character invented by Hamill. At the tender age of 30 (older?), James is rescued by a Detective Vogel (Kinnear) and reunited with his real parents (Walsh, Watkins). He tries to adapt himself to the real world, but when he discovers that YouTube-y films can be made by anyone and be about anything, he decides to make a Brigsby Bear feature. Better to recreate what matters to him most in terms of core emotional values than adapt to the pitfalls of 21st Century normality.
Earlier today at a NATO summit in Brussels Orange Orangutan pushed his way past Dusko Markovic, prime minister of Montenegro, in order to be front and center for a group photo. From N.Y. Times account: “With a grimace, Mr. Trump emerges from behind Mr. Markovic and slaps him on the arm. Mr. Markovic seems surprised at first, but then smiles and makes way for Mr. Trump who, once present at the front of the group, straightens up, stands tall, scans the room and pulls the sides of his coat together. The video, shared widely on social media, elicited disdain and mockery aimed at Mr. Trump, who is known for both his criticism of the alliance and his fondness for the spotlight.”
I completely believed in Jodie Foster as an FBI trainee in The Silence of the Lambs, but I’m somehow having trouble accepting Elizabeth Olsen as an FBI agent, even a rookie one. Taylor Sheridan’s debut effort at a director premiered at last January’s Sundance Film Festival, during which the the reviews (RT 85%) were totally respectable. I wanted to catch it here in Cannes, but it was never a top priority. From Time‘s Stephanie Zacharek: “Wind River is what we used to call, and not always pejoratively, a conventional film, a crime procedural that tells a solid story, with well-defined characters, and perhaps opens us up to a world we didn’t previously know much about…well-crafted, cinematically astute.”
This kind of well-phrased, David Mamet-level eloquence rarely happens in real life, certainly not among business colleagues, but it sure is wonderful to listen to in a movie or a play. You’re bathing in the deep mellifluous voice of Liam Neeson, and nodding with quiet satisfaction as you telepathically congratulate the man for finally landing a good, top-tier role that doesn’t involve kicking the shit out of guys. The only problem in playing Mark Felt, as noted before, is that Neeson will be going up against Hal Holbrook. The other thing is that critics are a tiny bit scared of director-writer Peter Landesman, partly because his first stab at directing, Parkland (’13), was a bust. Landesman returned two years later with the reasonably decent Concussion (’15), again as director-writer, but it didn’t make enough against the budget and p & a. But hope springs eternal.
Like many others I was touched and impressed by Kim Masters’ farewell piece about Brad Grey, “30 Years of Humor, Ruthless Ambition and a ‘No B.S.’ Relationship.” Honest and smoothly written. The best parts are the beginning and the ending, both of which allude to the last few months and especially the looming banshee:
“Like many who knew him, I was too shocked to formulate thoughts [when he passed]. He died so suddenly, so young at 59, and had seemed in good shape just recently. My first impulse was to call him and demand, ‘What the hell, Brad?’
“[Grey] had known he was sick for a long time but told almost no one. It seems his higher-ups at Viacom didn’t know. I hear Brad may have confided only in Bob Daly, his friend and discreet adviser, and confidant Lorne Michaels.
“I told Brad once or twice recently that he sounded tired, but he deflected that. On a couple of occasions, I thought that he was slightly slurring his words, and I wondered whether he might have had a drink to cope with the stress of Paramount’s terrible box-office run and the growing threat of being fired. But he was still shrewd and funny, and I didn’t think much of it, which obviously was how he wanted it to be.
“With a change in regime at Viacom and losses mounting, Brad insisted for a time that he would be perfectly fine with being paid to go away. Certainly he wasn’t telling the truth. He waged a ferocious fight to keep his job. He was sick, but maybe he still hoped he could live a while longer. Or maybe he hoped to die as chairman of Paramount Pictures.
As potentially cloying and manipulative as Wonder (Lionsgate, 11.17) may turn out to be, I’m responding to this trailer with feeling, just like I did two months ago at Cinemacon when I saw some footage. You can sense that director Steven Chbosky (The Perks of Being A Wallflower) has handled things with restraint. Maybe.
I reported on 3.30 that a Lionsgate spokesperson told the Cinemacon crowd “that Wonder has gotten the highest test scores of any Lionsgate film ever. And so the original release date, 4.7.17, was changed last February to 11.17, which means that Lionsgate is confident that Wonder has the Oscar nuts.”
Wonder is a delicate family drama in the vein of Peter Bogdanovich‘s Mask. Based on three relatively recent novels by R.J. Palacio, it’s about the journey of a young kid with a facial deformity (Jacob Tremblay) as he acclimates to school, and how his parents (Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson) and extended family help him along.
Palacio’s books were adapted by Steven Conrad. Wonder‘s costars include Mandy Patinkin, Sonia Braga, Millie Davis, Izabela Vidovic, Danielle Rose Russell and Noah Jupe.
A few hours ago Greg Gianforte, a Republican candidate for a Montana congressional seat in an upcoming special election, was charged with assault after apparently slamming Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, taking him to the floor and breaking his glasses and shouting, “Get the hell out of here!” Here’s a recording of the incident; another is below. Simmering hostility and suppressed rage are par for the course for a lot of rightwing guys. Obviously Gianforte has hurt himself more he hurt Jacobs.
The Guardian reporter sounds upset, naturally, just after the skuffle — “You just broke my glasses!…you just body-slammed me and broke my glasses!” But (and please don’t take this the wrong way) Jacobs also sounds, to me, just a tiny bit candy-assy. Not to the extent that it’s a problem, but his voice reminds me of a kid I knew in third grade who was always threatening to tell the teacher that I was throwing spitballs and making faces behind her back. But let’s not dwell upon that. Obviously the bad guy here is Gianforte.
I couldn’t get into tonight’s 10:30 pm screening of Sean Baker‘s The Florida Project. I approached Les Arcades (77 rue Felix Faure) about 45 minutes before showtime, but the line was way too long. Hollywood Elsewhere will wait in reasonable-size lines, but not the kind that are so long they sap your will to live. HE friendo Aaron Salazar, an aspiring director, was at the very front of the line, but he began his vigil at 8 pm. I admire Aaron’s gumption, but no movie is worth a two and a half hour wait. There’s another screening on Saturday but I’ll be gone early Saturday morning. I’ll just have to see Baker’s film sometime this summer or certainly at Telluride/Toronto.
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