Richard Linklater‘s Before Midnight, which opens Friday, has one of the all-time-highest Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic scores. Todd Phillips‘ The Hangover Part IIIdoesn’t have one of the lowest (RT 22%), but it’s pretty damn low. Anyone with half a brain knows that this final installment is going to take a huge dump on your face. And so it’s naturally going to earn impressive coin this weekend while Before Midnight, playing in far fewer theatres, will do respectably among those with indie-ish, somewhat rarified tastes.
Why? Because apes like the guy depicted above will probably steer clear of Before Midnight for the most part and probably flock to Hangover III, although I’m presuming it’s going to make less that the other two Hangover films. He and his brethren are real, they exist and they’re as much of a blight upon humanity as Bachar el-Assad.
At the end of today’s Roger Ebert tribute at the American Pavilion, the speaker-panelists (moderator Annete Insdorf, Chaz Ebert, Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips. L.A. Times critic Kenneth Turan and Indiewire critic Eric Kohn) joined the audience in posing for this thumbs-up “hail, Roger, good fellow” pic. Nice.
Joel and Ethan Coen's Inside Llewyn Davis is the best film of the Cannes Film Festival so far, hands down, closely followed by Asghar Farhadi's The Past and Steven Soderbergh's Behind The Candelabra.
Tweets, Not Columns
Just to reiterate a recent tweet, whenever a producer pats me on the back my positive comments, he/she always says "I read your tweets" and never "I read your column review."
Eternal Seat Saver
You can't just leave your jacket and/or your laptop on a sofa in the Orange press cafe and expect that seat to be reserved for two or three or four hours. Seat hunkies are good for maybe a half-hour. After that all bets are off.
Women Need Time
Four days ago Justin Timberlake co-hosted a foreign-buyers party for a Neil Bogart biopic called Spinning Gold, which he'll produce and star in. JT told THR's Pamela McLintock that Bogart persuaded Donna Summer to record a 20-minute version of "Love to Love You Baby" because "women can't have an orgasm in three minutes." 10 minimum and more like 15 or 20, in my experience.
Jimmy P. (Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian)
An intelligent, well-acted period film about analysis and cure of a Native American man with issues that are serious but unexceptional. Why was this film made? Why am I watching it now? What did the great Benicio del Toro see in it?
It's too much, I tell you! It's like a water virus in a horror film. It permeates and penetrates everything. The only good thing about a rainstorm is lying in bed and listening to it as you drop off to dreamland.
Like Sasha Stone, I’ve succumbed to an emotional downshift attitude as far as the Cannes Film Festival is concerned. Tomorrow is my last full day. James Gray‘s The Immigrant at 8:30 am, Jim Jarmusch‘s Last Lovers Left Alive at 7:30 pm and in-between a Nebraska round-table session at the Carlton. I don’t feel like seeing or doing anything more than these three things. I’ve just about had it with the 18-hour days. I’m getting a little ornery about this stuff.
I saw Nebraska this morning and then Blue Is The Warmest Color, which took me into the early afternoon, and then I did some writing in the Orange cafe, blah blah. And then I began to feel a little bummed about the Payne. I guess I was secretly looking for an emotional-aesthetic Nebraska uplift of some kind, and when it didn’t manifest according to expectations, I went into a private tailspin. I felt as I was in a B-17 over Germany with one of my engines on fire. I bailed out with my parachute and I landed somewhere near my apartment at 7 rue Jean Joseph Mero, dazed and shaken and asking myself “What happened? Who am I? Why do I feel this way?”
I spent three hours watching Abdellatif Kechiche‘s Blue Is The Warmest Color (11:30 to 2:30) and then I ran right into the Jerry Lewis press conference and I’ve been diddling around in the Orange press cafe since so I haven’t had time to post anything. And I have to leave for a 5:30 screening in about 15 minutes or so. It’s an involving, very intimate, emotionally readable film about a lesbian love affair…but just one about a love affair, really. People tumble, they’re entranced, they dig into their lives, complications develop and differences occur.
The only presumption that makes sense about why the 11 am press screening for Daniel Noah‘s Max Rose was cancelled is that the sales guys were afraid that the critics would savage it and that they might be forced to take less money as a result. The Rose team wanted the public screening (which is happening at the Salle du Soixantieme this evening at 7:30 pm) to be the only venue, but the festival pushed for a press screening. Or so I gather. At least I got to attend the Jerry Lewis press conference, which happened at 2:30 pm.
Lewis is 87, and he’s still plenty sharp. I laughed out loud several times. He’s cruel and dismissive, okay, but he’s fucking funny. (more…)
I don’t want to put Nebraska down too much. I “liked” it as far as it goes, but so much of it is about capturing the banality of sedentary midwestern lifestyles, and the whole thing just feels overly measured and mid-range and almost resigned. Bruce Dern‘s Woody Grant reminded me of my cranky, cantankerous dad during his last days, and Will Forte does a very decent job as a loving if somehwat conflicted and resentful son. It’s a very commendable mood-and-atmosphere piece from a respected, first-rate filmmaker, so I don’t want to be snide or dismissive. It’s fine.
Best of 2013: 1. House of Cards (Netflix series that began streaming on 2.1.13, d: David Fincher (first 2 episodes), p: Fincher, Kevin Spacey, Beau Willimon); 2. No (d: Pablo Larrain); 3. Mama (d: Andres Muchietti, p: Guillermo del Toro); 4. Room 237 (d: Rodney Ascher); 5. Side Effects (d: Steven Soderbergh); 6. Disconnect (d: Henry-Alex Rubin); 7. The Gatekeepers (d: Dror Moreh); 8. The Sapphires (d: Wayne Blair); 9. Phil Spector (HBO, d: David Mamet); 10. Like Someone In Love (d: Abbas Kiorastami); 11. Starbuck (d: Ken Scott).
Upstate New York Depression:: The Place Beyond the Pines; Decent, Respectable: Spring Breakers, Ceasar Must Die.; UnseenBlancanieves, Broken City, John Dies at the End, Beautiful Creatures, 56 Up, Parker, KOCH; Not Good Enough: Admission; Narcotized CG Mediocrity: Oz The Great and Powerful; Split Decision: Baz Luhrman's The Great Gatsby.
Worst of 2013 (in no particular order): Movie 43, Olympus Has Fallen; InAPPropriate Comedy; Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Identity Thief, A Glimpse Inside The Mind of Charles Swan III, Stoker, A Good Day To Die Hard, Gangster Squad, Stand-Up Guys, The Last Stand.
(16) Anton Corbijn's A Most Wanted Man, based on a John le Carres novel and costarring Willem Dafoe, Rachel McAdams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright; (17 & 18): Terrence Malick's two ventures -- the Austin-based film formerly known as Lawless (who knows what it's called now?) plus the relationship vehicle Knight of Cups with Christian Bale and Natalie Portman. It could be that neither will be released until 2014 or 2015. You know Malick; (20) Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel.
(21) James Gray's Nightingale, a New York-based period drama w/ Jeremy Renner, Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix; (22) Guiallame Canet's Blood Ties, a 1970s cops-and-criminals drama w/ Marion Cotillard, Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Mila Kunis, Zoe Saldana, James Caan, Noah Emmerich; (24) Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha (seen & praised at Telluride 2012 -- definitely worth its weight); (25) Richard Linklater's Before Midnight (a major Sundance 2013 highlight and an all-but-guaranteed Oscar contender for Best Original Screenplay).
(26) Stephen Frears' Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight; (27) Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring; (28) Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac; (29) Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster -- I don't want to know from this film as all Asian combat/martial-arts films will be instantly ignored in this corner from now until the day I die. I will not go there under penalty of death, fines and imprisonment; (30) Joe Swanberg's Drinking Buddies (Anna Kendrick, Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson).
(31) Jean-Pierre Jeunet's The Young and Prodigious Spivet (Judy Davis, Helena Bonham Carter, etc.); (32) Peter Landesman's Parkland; (33) Diablo Cody's Paradise (formerly called Lamb of God); (34) Brian Helgeland's 42 (Jackie Robinson biopic w/ Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford); (35 Oliver Hirschbiegel's Diana (Princess of Wales biopic/love affair with Naomi Watts).
(46) Errol Morris's The Unknown Known: The Life and Times of Donald Rumsfeld; (47) Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale -- the big hit of Sundance 2013, acquired by the Weinstein Co.
One could also include Ben Stiller's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Nicholas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives, Ron Howard's Rush, David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars. Neill Blomkamp's Elysium, Robert Schwentke's R.I.P.D., Sam Raimi's Oz: The Great and Powerful and Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim (9).
The word is so good on Blue Is The Warmest Color (La Vie d’Adele) that I’m going to catch it at 11:30 am, and in so doing bail on the 11 am screening of Daniel Noah‘s Max Rose. Update: Max Rose press screening cancelled so that settles it. Lesbian flick is three hours long, but people are creaming. The length of Blue means I’ll also miss today’s Jerry Lewis press conference at 2:30 pm.
J.C. Chandor‘s All Is Lost has completely blown everyone away at the Cannes Film Festival. (I didn’t see it until this evening.) It’s a knockout –a riveting piece of pure dialogue-free cinema, a terrific survival-on-the-high-seas tale and major acting triumph for Robert Redford, who hasn’t been this good since…what, Brubaker? All The President’s Men? A long time.
Robert Redford during post-screening yacht party in Cannes — Wednesday, 5.22, 9:55 pm.
Two years after Margin Call, director-writer J.C. Chandor has achieved the exact opposite of a sophomore slump.
Has there ever been a mostly-dialogue-free commercial film that has worked so successfully since the advent of sound in 1927? What a landmark this film is. And every minute is absorbing. It has you by the head and the throat, and it never lets up. And it ends so beautifully and succinctly.
The question on everyone’s mind tonight was “why wasn’t this film chosen to play in competition?” If it had been All Is Lost would be a clear contender for the Palme d’Or and Redford would certainly be neck-and-neck with Behind The Candelabra‘s Michael Douglas and Inside Llewyn Davis‘s Oscar Isaac for Best Actor, and perhaps on the verge of edging them out.
I was told during tonight’s after-party that the festival honchos didn’t want All Is Lost in competition because it was “too commercial” What? Nothing about All Is Lost says “overtly commercial” It may turn out to be a hit and good for Chandor, Redford and Lionsgate if that happens, but it’s going to be a bit of a struggle to get Joe and Jane Popcorn to pay to see an almost entirely talk-free movie about an older guy struggling to stay alive on the open seas. But I’m telling you straight and true it’s one of the most powerful, absorbing, original-feeling survivalist dramas ever made.
In this alone-at-sea aspect, it’s five times better than The Old Man and the Sea and far more interesting that Life of Pi.
All Is Lost director-writer J.C. Chandor, publicist David Pollick.
A good friend attended last night’s DGA screening of Richard Linklater‘s Before Midnight (Sony Classics, 5.24), which I’ve been constantly praising and plugging since catching it at last January’s Sundance Film Festival. She passed along a few snaps of director-writer Linklater and collaborators Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, who cowrote and costar as the same couple they played in Before Sunrise (’95) and Before Sunset (’04). Best long-time-relationship couple movie in ages.
In an Esquire interview, World War Z star-producer Brad Pitt takes himself to task for being a lackadaiscal slacker type in the ’90s, and says he didn’t really get on the stick until about ten years ago, or sometime around 2003. And the immediate result of this attitude change was Troy and Ocean’s 12, if you accept his chronology. I think Pitt really came alive when he did Babel, but that’s me.
“I spent years fucking off,” Pitt says. “But then I got burnt out and felt that I was wasting my opportunity. It was a conscious change. This was about a decade ago. It was an epiphany — a decision not to squander my opportunities. It was a feeling of get up. Because otherwise, what’s the point? (more…)
Movies really don’t get much worse than Nicholas Winding Refn‘s Only God Forgives. It’s a shit macho fantasy — hyperviolent, ethically repulsive, sad, nonsensical, deathly dull, snail-paced, idiotic, possibly woman-hating, visually suffocating, pretentious. I realize I sound like Rex Reed on one of his rants, but trust me, please — this is a defecation by an over-praised, over-indulged director who thinks anything he craps out is worthy of your time. I felt violated, shat upon, sedated, narcotized, appalled and bored stiff.
I hate all that cheap Asian macho shit to begin with (seething rage, swords, vengeance, territoriality, kickboxing, bloodlettings) and this rancid fantasy wank pushed all the bad buttons from the get-go. I sat there seething, my teeth grinding. Thank God it lasted only 90 minutes. (more…)
This morning’s 8:30 am screening is Nicholas Winding Refn‘s Only God Forgives, which at least seems to promise a world-class Kristin Scott Thomas performance. Ryan Gosling reportedly wont be here for the 11 am press conference — he’s directing his first film and can’t get away. I’m also catching Mahamat-Saleh Haroun‘s Grigris at 4 pm. And J.C. Chandor‘s All Is Lost (hors competition) at a 7:30 pm black-tie Salle Bazin screening followed by an after-party.
For whatever reason Jessica Chastain, here in Cannes on a promotional venture I’ve yet to learn the nature of, was asked by Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman & CEO Jim Gianopulos to offer a few remarks before tonight’s Salle du Soixantime screening of the digitally restored Cleopatra (’63). Nebraska director Alexander Payne also attended the black-tie event, along with Laura Dern (are they “happening” or are they just pallies based on Dern having starred in Payne’s Citizen Ruth way back when?).
Fox Filmed Entertainmetn chairman & CEO Jim Gianopulos, Jessica Chastain at Salle du Soixantieme earlier this evening.
“At times it’s debatable whether The Hangover Part III should even be considered a comedy at all, as it more often plays like a loopily plotted, exposition-heavy actioner. Despite a career-long devotion to lowbrow comedy, director Todd Phillips displays a deft touch for the various jail breaks, heists and car chase sequences that arise here, while the film’s attempts at basic comic banter wither on the vine. One wonders how he would fare directing a straight genre project in which he could use dark humor to spice up the action beats, rather than the other way around.” — from review by Variety‘s Andrew Barker.
James Mangold was the crown prince when Walk The Line came out and rocked in ’05. And then came 3:10 to Yuma, which I remember more for its frustrations than satisfactions. And then Knight and Day, which I recently re-saw and liked a lot more than I did the first time. And now his Wolverine-in-Japan movie, the third genre flick in a row. The next one has to step off that treadmill.
Of all the major directors of the past 20 years, Steven Soderbergh has always seemed the least emotional. His movies certainly never take a bath in the stuff. So it doesn’t sound like much to call Behind The Candelabra (HBO, 5.26) his most emotional and touching work. But I don’t mean it lightly. This HBO movie (which will play theatrically in Europe) truly touches bottom and strikes a chord. It’s a sad (but not glum or downish), movingly performed drama about a kind of marriage that begins well and then goes south after five years. Richard LaGravanese‘s script is complex, fleshed-out and recognizably human at every turn, and performed with considerable feeling and vulnerability by Michael Douglas (easily the top contender right now for a Best Actor prize) and Matt Damon.
Behind The Candelabra star Michael Douglas during this morning’s Cannes Film Festival press conference.
In the view of Indiewire‘s Boyd Van Hoeij (how do you pronounce that?), James Franco‘s As I Lay Dying is “just passable,” which raises the question of whether this adaptation of William Faulkner’s 1930s novel “deserves[s] the honor” of playing under the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard.
Pic is “not only an admittedly small-scale period movie but, at the same time, an ambitious artistic project on the more experimental end of the arthouse spectrum, with a good portion of the widescreen film divided up in split-screen, offering possibilities such as side-by-side shot/reverse shots; simultaneous wide shots and close-ups and fascinatingly merged or altogether new soundscapes.” (more…)
I was about to step on-board the Lady Joy and join the party for James Toback‘s Seduced and Abandoned, but I couldn’t stand listening to the GODAWFUL DISCO HAMMERHEAD MUSIC playing at the party next door. Can you imagine being a party DJ and actually playing this crap with the presumption that people would actually want to hear it? I was kept standing on the dock for 20 minutes because I arrived at 11:10 for a party that began at 11:30 pm. And all during that time I was getting more and more sick of listening to these DROOLING VAMPIRE FANG DEMON HELL FART SOUNDS. By the time it was cool to go onboard I was all but throwing up. I escaped.
Paolo Sorrentino‘s La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty) is not just a return to the highly stylized realm of Il Divo, but a channelling of Federico Fellini‘s 8 1/2 and La Dolce Vita with perhaps a few sprinkles of Fellini Satyricon. It’s a contemporary Roman dream fantasia, familiar and picturesque and deliciously unreal, that serves as a kind of meditation or spiritual journey piece about a 60ish good-time-Charlie journalist (Toni Servillo) trying to cut through the crap and clutter of his life and perhaps get beyond regarding everything and everyone with a smirk and rediscover something scared…a sense of purpose or connectivity, God, love, or a yen to write books again.
I did a 25-minute interview with Seduced and AbandonedJames Toback in his Carlton hotel room this morning (to be posted later), and around 12:45 pm I attended a fairly exclusive Inside Llewyn Davis luncheon and round-table session. Joel and Ethan Coen, Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, musical director T-Bone Burnett, director of photography Bruno Delbonnel. And that’s all so far. Paolo Sorrentino‘s La Grande Bellezza starts at 7 pm.
(r.) Inside Llewyn Davis director of photography Bruno Delbonnel; (l.) director-writers Joel and Ethan Coen.
I was going to give Takashi Miike‘s Straw Shield (Wara No Tate) a try, but a colleague told me it wasn’t reviewed all that favorably when it opened last month in Japan. So due respect but I guess not. I’ve got a James Toback interview at the Carlton 11 am and then an Inside Llewyn Davis press luncheon/roundtable thing in the same hotel, between 12:45 pm and roughly 2 pm.
Would it be impolite to blow off a portion of the ILD roundtables? Because James Franco‘s As I Lay Dying screens at the Salle Debussy at 2 pm, and if I miss that there’s the 2:15 pm Salle du Soixantime screening of Inside Llewyn Davis, which I really want to see again. There’s a 4 pm of Valeria Bruno Tedeschi‘s Un Chateau en Italie but the big film of the day is Paolo Sorrentino‘s La Grande Bellezza, which I gather is some kind of 21st Century La Dolce Vita. It screens at the Salle Debussy at 7pm, and there’s going to be a crowd.
MCN’s Jake Howell told me yesterday afternoon he’d heard that Serge Bozon‘s Tip Top, a “comedie policier” with Isabelle Huppert and Sandrine Kiberlain, was getting good buzz. So I blew off Claude Lanzmann’s Les Derniers Des Injustes, which I was skittish about seeing anyway because of its three-hour-plus length, and trekked over to the Theatre Croistte to catch a 7:30 pm showing of the Bozon.
People in line to Theatre Croisette management: “Kiss our collective ass, s’il vous plait.”
Guy with glasses: “The Theatre Croisette people have fucked me. They’ve stolen an hour from my life and it’s gone forever. All they had to do was take a head count and gives us a heads-up…assholes!”
James Toback and Alec Baldwin‘s Seduced & Abandoned, which screened this morning at the Salle Bunuel, is a doc that basically says that it’s harder than hell to raise money to make a mid-range or a somewhat lower-budgeted character-driven film unless your marquee elements (stars, action scenes, FX) are directly marketable to a lowest-common-denominator audience in international communities. Which we know going in. It also says it didn’t used to be like this in the ’60s and ’70s and even part of the ’80s, but everything has changed these days for the worse. Which we also know going in.
Now and then a Cannes press conference delivers some kind of newsy, nervy, stand-out quote. But mostly not. Many of the questions can be boiled down to (a) “I’m here because I liked your film and I want you to share a little about the process because it excites me” or (b) “I’m here knowing I can’t really know any more about your film than what I saw on the screen, but here’s a thought that might be fun to kick around.” That’s a long way of saying that the Inside Llewyn Davis press conference, which just ended a half-hour ago, was a little bit meh…but through no fault of the filmmakers.
(l. to. r.) Inside Llewyn Davis costar Carey mulligan, director-writers Joel and Ethan Coen.
Before arriving in Cannes I wasn’t planning on catching Daniel Noah‘s Max Rose, a new Jerry Lewis film, but now I am. It screens Thursday morning at the Salle Bazin with a Lewis press conference two or three hours later. As Paul Bond‘s 2.28 THR piece pointed out, pic “teams Lewis with comedian Mort Sahl for the first time, [and] is a drama — with funny moments, of course — that delivers the message, as Lewis puts it, ‘You don’t throw away old people.’” I want nothing less than scalding self-portraiture.