Cannes Day 8: Five more weird moments at the festival

 

Julia Roberts on the red carpet in Cannes. (Getty Images)
Julia Roberts on the red carpet in Cannes. (Getty Images)

Cannes is always full of odd happenings and strange controversies. Here are few to savor:

  1. At the screening of “Carol” last year, keepers of the red carpet prevented women who were wearing flats to walk the stairs. Heels are supposed to be mandatory, and men must wear tuxes. But last year’s huff caused a couple of funny moments this year. Susan Sarandon, who is always outspoken, reportedly wore flats on her trip up the carpet. And Julia Roberts, who was here for the “Money Monster” screening, took off her heels and walked barefoot. It was probably more a matter of practicality than protest.
  2. After getting booed at a press screening of “Personal Shopper,” Kristen Stewart and director Olivier Assayas received a standing ovation at the official premiere at the Palais. Still, the jury is out on the film. Two critics, one from France’s Liberation and the other from Russia’s Afisha, gave the movie an “X,” which translates to F.
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  3. Lots of disputes still surround British director Andrea Arnold’s “American Honey,” which was shot in the U.S. and features mostly unknown actors, except for Shia LaBeouf. A Variety critic speculated that it could be a contender for the Palme d’Or. But others still dismiss the film as overlong and repetitive. It features a group of kids going around the country, selling magazine subscriptions. They have lots of sex, do a lot of drugs, and get drunk no matter the time of day. It offers a fairly dim view of young adulthood in America, And some Americans have been huffy that Arnold is misrepresenting life in the States. That’s not my concern. At nearly three hours, it’s simply too long and repetitive for me. Sasha Lane of Texas has the starring role, even though she’s a newbie to the film scene. She was reportedly discovered on a scouting trip by Arnold’s team to Panama City, Fla., during spring break.
  4. With all the glitz and glamour of the south of France, you’d think you might be able to go two weeks without thinking of “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson. You’d be wrong. Robertson is in town to sell his new movie, “Torchbearer,” which had a screening in the market, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The trade daily reported that the poster for the film “shows Robertson clutching a Bible in one hand and a rifle in the other, with a tagline that reads, ‘When man stops believing in God, he’ll believe in anything.’ ” He also reportedly misses Miss Kay’s cooking and predicts he’ll lose weight while here. No quiche for this dude.
  5. Since 2001, a group of dog lovers have picked the best performance by a canine in Cannes, and this year’s frontrunner is the English bulldog from Jim Jarmusch’s “Paterson.” The bulldog plays a crucial role in the film’s plot and makes all sorts of weird noises throughout the movie. The dog’s name is Nellie, although he’s in a transgender male role in “Paterson.” And if the dog wins, she won’t be able to accept the honor. She died a couple of months ago, says the “Paterson” star Adam Driver. Rest in peace, Nellie.

Cannes Day 6: ‘Hell or High Water’ is rip-roaring West Texas crime tale

Ben Foster and Chris Pine in 'Hell or High Water.'
Ben Foster and Chris Pine in ‘Hell or High Water.’

British director David Mackenzie knows how to deliver a rip-roaring crime thriller, and he  has an ear for West Texas idioms, too.

The movie stars Chris Pine as Toby, a divorced father of two boys, who has taken care of his mother before she died. He’s a good guy, but the ranch and home had to be mortgaged to cover her care, and the “kindly” bank has set a deadline to pay off the debt. But here’s the catch: Oil companies have discovered oil on the ranch, and Toby wants to make sure he can pass the land along to his kids in a trust so that they’ll escape the family’s cycle of poverty.

Enter brother Tanner (Ben Foster), who has just gotten out of prison and is ready to help. They decide to rob various branches of the bank that holds the mortgage, then give the money back to the bank by paying off the debt.

It’s sort of like Bonnie and Clyde, but it’s a brother act. And wow, is Tanner the brother. He’s a wild man, and he’s way too eager to use a gun. Toby, meanwhile, tries to keep him in check, with little success.

Naturally, the Law has to make an entrance, as the bank robberies multiply. And that’s where Texas Ranger Marcus (Jeff Bridges) comes in. He’s old and wily and near retirement, and the spree of robberies gives him a chance to have a last bit of fun.

All three actors are fantastic, but Foster and Bridges have the showiest roles. Even then, they don’t own the movie. It’s pretty much stolen by a sassy waitress at a steakhouse, who asks the visiting Rangers what “they don’t want.” Turns out you’re gonna get a T-bone medium rare, and you need to decide whether you don’t want the corn or the beans. It’s hilarious. And I don’t have the name of the actress available, but she’s quite something.

The movie is scheduled to open in late summer in Austin, probably in August. It’s worth your time.

Cannes Day 4: Early standouts are ‘Toni Erdmann’ and ‘The Student’

Sandra Huller and Peter Simonischek in "Toni Erdmann"
Sandra Huller and Peter Simonischek in “Toni Erdmann”

“Toni Erdmann,” a German comedy from newcomer Maren Ade, has to be one of the early favorites in the annual race for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

It screened Friday night, and even at 2 hours and 42 minutes, it constantly kept engaging the audience. Part of the reason: It’s a woman’s film, directed by a woman, with all sorts of nuances about the corporate life of a seemingly money-grubbing capitalist, Ines, played with much depth by Sandra Huller.

She exudes the corporate mentality, staying on the phone constantly, ignoring other people even at family gatherings, obsessing over how to get ahead, putting work above all else. She wears the same old black pantsuit, and does everything she can to fit in with her corporation team. But she’s trying a bit too hard, and the casual sexism that she faces is demoralizing.

But Ines’ biggest problem isn’t sexism in the workplace. It’s her dad, Toni (Peter Simonischek), who’s a practical joker of the highest order. And when he sees what’s happening to his daughter, he thinks she needs to lighten up, to make more time for her private life, and to laugh a little. So he shows up unexpectedly at her Bucharest office, where she’s trying to negotiate a corporate downsizing.

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Any attempt to describe the father’s antics will sound cliched, like the bucktooth mouthpiece he keeps in his front pocket. Yet there’s genuine pathos in his attempts to reach his daughter. And she’s amazed that he keeps showing up in disguises wherever she goes.

Two scenes in particular are laugh-out-loud: When he father forces her to sing a cheesy pop song before a crowd, and when she melts down and decides to through a birthday party where she and all the guests must be naked. It’s absolutely nuts.

Many more competition films have yet to screen, and there are always surprises. Jim Jarmusch’s “Paterson” sounds promising. So does “Loving” from Austin director Jeff Nichols. And then there’s the enfant terrible Nicolas Winding Refn, who’ll be screening “Neon Demon,” and French-Canadian whiz kid Xavier Dolan, who’ll be showing “It’s Only the End of the World.”

In the Un Certain Regard sidebar, where films are eligible for the Palme d’Or, there’s still another early standout. It’s “The Student” from Russia’s Krill Serebrennikov. Once again, he’s a newcomer to Cannes, but his movie packs a wallop.

It deals with a teenage Russian boy who abruptly decides to obsess over the Bible and memorize various passages. He begins quoting these passages to his befuddled teachers, and he  warns that the young women in swim class should be wearing one-piece swimsuits rather than sexually proactive bikinis, which he finds sinful. He continues to battle his science teacher over evolution and sex education, and he starts a protracted battle with her that borders on dangerous.

She’s just as adamant that the student will not sidetrack her progressive teaching methods, and it’s pretty much all-out war.

As the student, Peter Skvortsov is full of rage, spouting off verses that he has memorized. But there’s a big difference between memorizing the Bible and comprehending its meaning, and he’s falling far short in the latter category.

As the teacher, Victoria Isakova delivers another fine performance, showing a stubbornness that matches her student’s. And you end up with a preachy Bible student and a strident science teacher amid a movie that’s remarkably not didactic.

But make no mistake. There’s a clear undercurrent about the dangers of fanaticism, and that’s a timely message for a festival that’s facing heightened security because of perceived threats from Islamic fundamentalists in France.

One other movie deserves a shout-out. It’s Park Chan-Wook’s “Mademoiselle,” or “The Handmaiden.”

The Korean film takes us back to the 1930s, during the period of Japanese occupation, and it deals with a Japanese heiress, Hideko (Kim Min-Hee), who has recently employed the services of a handmaiden, Sookee (Kim Tae-Ri).

Sookee plays all dumb, and Hideko plays like she’s sexually innocent. But neither woman is what she seems. And in the middle of the action is a fake count (Ha Jung-Woo), who is wooing Hideko and seeking some way to get all of her money.

The movie unfolds in three acts, and the cinematography is drop-dead gorgeous, as is the set design. There’s a bit of overlap in the storytelling, as we see the events from different perspectives, and there are far more twists and turns than expected.

I suspect this has the potential to be a cult arthouse favorite. But the sexuality and nudity are strong elements, and its distribution will probably be limited. If it opens in the States later this year, it’s well worth your time.

Park’s most famous movie is another cult favorite, “Oldboy,” which played in Cannes in 2003.

Cannes Day 4: Spielberg’s ‘The BFG’ is fine, but curiously lacking the expected emotional heft

"The BFG"
“The BFG”

Steven Spielberg, who premiered the classic “E.T.” in Cannes, is back again with “The BFG,” a charming but not quite great film based on the Roald Dahl story about a little girl who is kidnapped by a friendly giant from a London orphanage.

The movie has all the trappings of great story, filled with spectacular visual effects and nice messages for families and children. The little but plucky orphan Sophie (is there any other kind in the movies?) dares to stay up past the witching hour, when ghosts and dreamy creatures roam the streets. Played by newcomer Ruby Barnhill, Sophie accidentally sees a giant roaming the streets, and he knows that he can’t let her stay in London, because she might tell people of his existence. So he plucks her from the bed where she’s hiding and takes her to Giant Country.

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As the giant, Oscar winner Mark Rylance has to perform through motion-capture technology, but he does a fine job, making the creature endearingly dim and lovable. He’s also like Sophie in some ways. In Giant Country, he’s an outcast because he’s not as big as the other giants. And he’s a vegetarian. The other giants like to eat people.

So the Big Friendly Giant has to hide Sophie from the rest of the gang, but they have big noses and can smell her presence.

At first, Sophie keeps trying to escape but realizes rather quickly that she’s found a kindred spirit. In fact, the giant takes Sophie on adventures in dreamland, where the BFG captures various types of dreams and keeps them stored in bottles back at his home.

But things go awry when the other giants decide they must find Sophie and be rid of her. So Sophie and the BFG have to hatch a plan: They’ll go visit the queen of England (“Downton Abbey’s” Penelope Wilton) and warn her that the giants might be responsible for the snatching multiple children across the land. It helps that they can release a dream into Buckingham Palace that supports the dire warning.

After an initial hesitancy, Sophie gets the BFG to reveal himself outside the queen’s bedroom window, and before long, everyone is having breakfast in a grand ballroom. And it’s this scene that will probably leave children laughing out loud. It turns out that the BFG has brought along his favorite fizzy drink, where the bubbles go down rather than up. And this causes much flatulence. Yes, the queen takes a sip, and there’s a bit of an unseemly incident.

The aim is to get the queen to launch a raid into giant land and save England. You can probably guess that they’re successful, especially since this is one of the most beloved children’s tales of modern times.

The optimism, a Spielberg trademark, comes through loud and clear. But there’s something missing emotionally between the giant and the girl. It’s not up to the same level of that in “E.T.” Then again, most movies can’t match “E.T.” in that regard.

At a press conference after the screening in Cannes on Saturday, Spielberg said that the making of “The BFG” brought back feelings he had as a young filmmaker, and he noted that he had read the book to his children when they were growing up. “This is probably the closest I’ve come to telling a love story,” he added.

He continued to stress that he hoped people responded to the overall message of “The BFG,” and that audiences realize that such movies “give us hope to fight on for another day.”

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Cannes Day 2: ‘Money Monster’ satisfies, and Clooney, Roberts ham it up

Julia Roberts and George Clooney look serious Thursday in France, before the start of a press conference after the screening of their new movie, "Money Monster," at the Cannes Film Festival. The two friends were less reserved when answering questions. (Photo by Charles Ealy/Austin American-Statesman)

    Julia Roberts and George Clooney look serious Thursday in France, before the start of a press conference after the screening of their new movie, “Money Monster,” at the Cannes Film Festival. The two friends were less reserved when answering questions. (Photo by Charles Ealy/Austin American-Statesman)

“Money Monster” premiered Thursday at the Cannes Film Festival to an approving press audience, helping set the stage for a good opening in the United States this month (the movie opens Friday in Austin).

It’s directed by Jodie Foster, and it has echoes of “Network,” where news is melded with entertainment, and whereas “Network” seemed like a satire of the future, Clooney noted Thursday that the future is now the present, and that “Money Monster” can be seen as a commentary on that.

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The movie focuses on a crazy TV host of a financial show, Lee Gates, who dances and sashays as he kicks off his tips about where to invest your money. He has been very supportive of investing in Ibis Clear Capital, run by Walt Camby (Dominic West). But Ibis loses $800 million in one day, wiping out the savings of a working-class guy, Kyle (Jack O’Connell), who decides to seek revenge.

Posing as a delivery guy, he manages to infiltrate the TV show and storms on stage with a weapon, demanding answers about what really happened to Ibis stock. He takes Clooney’s Gates hostage, makes him put on an explosive vest, and is holding the trigger, threatening to blow up the show if he doesn’t get what he wants.

That’s a big problem, because Camby of Ibis is out of the country and can’t be contacted, or at least the company says. And it’s left to Gates’ TV producer, Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) to figure out how to prevent a tragedy as the world watches the events play out on live TV.

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At a press conference after the screening, it was noted that this is the 40-year anniversary of the screening of “Taxi Driver” in Cannes, the movie that Foster said really launched her career. Although the reception was mixed when it first played in Cannes, primarily because of the level of violence, it went on to win the festival’s highest honor, the Palme d’Or. And Foster said she had lots of love for Cannes, which she considers to be the festival for auteurs.

While Foster answered questions seriously, Clooney and Roberts, who are real-life close friends, joked around and seemed to be having a fabulous time. Clooney is a regular in Cannes, but Roberts said this was her first time at the festival and that she was thrilled to be here.

Throughout the session, various questioners tried to bring politics into the session, and it wasn’t such a stretch, since the presidential campaign has some elements of a reality TV show. Clooney acknowledged as much, and was pointedly asked about Donald Trump. That’s been a constant question, especially among foreign critics when they meet anyone from America. Clooney said he was confident that Trump would not be elected, because he didn’t think the country would respond favorably “to fear. That’s not who we are,” he said.

And then some critics wanted to know whether O’Connell’s character was a stand-in for Bernie Sanders voters. Foster handled that question, saying that she saw O’Connell’s character as being more representative of the economically disenfranchised and frustrated Trump voter.

Whatever the case, the movie is quite funny and shouldn’t be taken completely seriously. It has lots of funny lines, and lots of points of laughter, primarily because Clooney excels at playing characters think they’re smart but are actually the dumbest guy in the room. Clooney says he has practice doing such roles, mainly because of his long association with the Coen brothers.

The screening on Thursday capped a controversial first few days of Cannes, which has installed heightened security all around the Palais, with long lines for both press and general audiences. Many roads around the area have been completely blocked off, presumably to guard against car bombings, and the Croisette is completely jammed with people.

On Wednesday night, at the premiere of “Cafe Society,” even more controversy erupted when an emcee made a joke about director Woody Allen and rape. Allen reportedly addressed the controversy at a luncheon Thursday, saying that he never would try to censor any comedian from making a joke, even if it was at his own expense. He said he was more annoyed that the ceremony leading up to the screening lasted so long.

George Clooney and Jake O'Connell in "Money Monster,"
George Clooney and Jake O’Connell in “Money Monster,”

 

Cannes Day 1: The swag and the bag

The swag of Cannes, day one.
The swag of Cannes, day one.

The official Cannes Film Festival bag is filled with all sorts of info, and it’s usually bright and shiny and zippable. Not this year. It looks like a small blue laundry bag, seen at the left of the photo above.

There’s been much talk about security at this year’s festival, and earlier this month, the Cannes folks even staged a mock terrorist attack on the red carpet, to see if they were prepared for such an event. They say they are. But I wonder if the open bag might have something to do with security concerns. I’m sure I’ll spill a lot of stuff on the floor with this kind of bag. Oh well.

The bag has all sorts of program notes and other info about navigating the festival.

The official program, which is big and orange and yellow, includes descriptions of all the films in the official selection. And early word has it that at least two U.S. movies are getting good buzz: Jeff Nichols’ “Loving” and Jim Jarmusch’s “Paterson.”

Another indication of quality comes from Sony Pictures Classics, which picked up U.S. distribution rights today for Paul Verhoeven’s “Elle,” starring Isabelle Huppert. The official program has this description of the film: “Michele seems indestructible. Head of a leading video game company, she brings the same ruthless attitude to her love life as to business. Being attacked in her home by an unknown assailant changes Michele’s life forever. When she resolutely tracks the man down, they are both drawn into a curious and thrilling game — a game that may, at any moment, spiral out of control.”

“Elle” won’t screen for the press until late in the festival, but Sony Pictures Classics, co-founded by University of Texas graduate Michael Barker, got an early look, and they’re giving it a thumbs up, for sure.

Only one other movie plays in the big theaters tonight: “Sieranevada,” by Romania’s Cristi Puig. It’s quite  timely, given the security concerns at this year’s fest. Here’s the description: “Three days after the terrorist attack on the offices of Parisian weekly Charlie Hebdo and forty days after the death of his father, Lary, a doctor in his forties is about to spend the Saturday at a family gathering to commemorate the deceased. But the occasion does not go according to expectations. Forced to confront his fears and his past, to rethink the place he holds within the family, Lary finds himself constraint (sic) to tell his version of the truth.”

This, of course, sounds nothing like what I was expecting. Sierra Nevada? The mountain range in the West? Don’t think so.

Cannes Day 1: ‘Cafe Society’ is okay, but not great

 

Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg in one of the L.A. scenes of "Cafe Society."
Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg in one of the L.A. scenes of “Cafe Society.”

Woody Allen’s “Cafe Society” opened the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday, but it wasn’t as good as hoped, just like last year’s “Irrational Man.”

The film takes place in the 1930s, in both New York and Los Angeles, harking back to the days of big studio domination of Hollywood.

Jesse Eisenberg stars as the Woody Allen stand-in, Bobby, who is tired of working in his father’s jewelry store and longs to make it big in Hollywood. So he sets off, with the hopes of getting a job for his super-agent uncle, Phil (Steve Carell), who at first doesn’t seem too eager to do much for him.

Phil is always on the phone, and he keeps Bobby waiting for “an audience” with him for weeks, despite the hounding of Bobby’s mother via phone from New York. She’s the Jewish mother, of course, and has all sorts of funny lines: “Live every day like it’s your last, and some day you’ll be right”; and then when talking about her wayward older son, she says, “First a murderer, then a Christian. What have I done to deserve this?”

But that’s typical Allen shtick. The heart of the story lies in romance. This time, it begins when Bobby finally lands a menial job at his uncle’s agency and is shown around town by his uncle’s secretary, Vonnie (Kristen Stewart). Bobby is immediately smitten, but Vonnie says she has a boyfriend, and that she’s flattered by the attention, but the relationship can’t go anywhere.

As you might expect in an Allen movie, the 20-something Vonnie is involved with a much older married man. But Bobby holds out hope, while Vonnie holds out hope that the older lover will divorce his wife.

Bobby eventually finds out the identity of the older man, and it’s a big problem for reasons that would be spoilers to explain. So he heads back to New York to work at his gangster brother’s night club. And there he meets another woman, also named Veronica or Vonnie (Blake Lively), and gets married and starts a family.

But the flame for the first Vonnie lives on.

The cinematography in Los Angeles is gorgeous, capturing the heyday of Hollywood. And it was shot digitally by the legendary Vittorio Storaro.

But there’s something lacking in “Cafe Society.” The romance between Eisenberg and Stewart is believable, but the romance between Stewart and her older lover isn’t. And there’s all sorts of Allen-esque commentary on the shallowness of L.A. — something he’s rather famous for.

Parker Posey, who’s becoming an Allen regular, has an amusing supporting role as a woman who moves in both New York and Los Angeles societies. And Corey Stoll has another good supporting role as Bobby’s gangster brother, Ben.

At a press conference afterward, Allen acknowledged that “years ago, I would have played the part that Jesse is playing. But I would have played it narrower, because I’m a comedian. He’s an actor.”

He also said that he’s a romantic at heart, and that “Cafe Society” was essentially a romance, unlike some of his darker movies, such as “Match Point.” But since this is Woody Allen, the romance and comedy are tinged with inevitable sadness because he says his comic perspective takes into account an “existence that is fraught with cruelty” and other disappointments.

That’s also true of Allen’s movies. This one, regrettably, is a disappointment. It’ll do okay box-office business among the Allen faithful, but not much more.

Another day, another silly Internet falsehood

Oh dear, another day, another trending Internet falsehood. Here’s the latest, and it has to do with a movie called “100 Years — The Movie You Will Never See,” which is a joint project of John Malkovich and Robert Rodriguez.

Back in November, a cognac company that ages its spirits for 100 years said that the two movie celebrities had made a film that was being put in a vault and would not be seen for 100 years. That original story had all sorts of reasons for raising an eyebrow. For instance, just exactly what kind of technology do they think will be available in 100 years?

And today, folks started saying that the Cannes Film Festival would be “showcasing” or “displaying” the movie. Um, no.

If you care to look, you’ll find that it’s not screening in any way, with any connection with the official festival. The competition and official selection can be found here.

The screenings for Critics Week can be found here. The screenings for Directors’ Fortnight can be found here.

The reason for skepticism: Do you see in any of these reports who’s actually making the statement?

As anyone who has ever been to the Cannes Film Festival knows, there’s a concurrent Market, where anything can screen, and where all sorts of promotional events happen, usually with a corporate sponsor. That’s probably what this is. But in no way is the Cannes Film Festival screening or showcasing this movie. A company is probably screening some footage as part of a marketing event. Sigh.

Suzanne Cordeiro / For American-Statesman Texas Film Awards Honoree Robert Rodriguez walks the red carpet held at Austin Studios on March 12, 2015 in Austin, Texas.
Suzanne Cordeiro / For American-Statesman
Texas Film Awards Honoree Robert Rodriguez walks the red carpet held at Austin Studios on March 12, 2015 in Austin, Texas.

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Four things you might not know about Cannes 2016

We’ll have a preview of what’s happening at the Cannes Film Festival in our Sunday editions. But here’s some extra stuff to whet your appetite.

Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart in Woody Allen's "Cafe Society." (Amazon Studios)
Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart in Woody Allen’s “Cafe Society.” (Amazon Studios)

1. Kristen Stewart is far more highly regarded as an actress in Europe than she is in the United States. Part of the U.S. reaction to her abilities probably has something to do with her being the star of the “Twlight” movies, which aren’t exactly art-house fare. But since she rose to fame in the “Twilight” films, she has been making interesting – and smart – choices with her career. She’s carefully picking her roles and making sure that she’s working with a well-regarded director. This year in Cannes she’ll be starring in two movies that are part of the official selection: Woody Allen’s opening-night film, “Café Society,” and French director Olivier Assayas’ “Personal Shopper,” the latter of which is in competition for the Palme d’Or. Interestingly, Stewart starred in Assayas’ last movie, “Clouds of Sils Maria,” which played in the Cannes competition, and Stewart went on to win the French Cesar Award for best supporting actress for her role as Juliette Binoche’s personal assistant. She was also in Walter Salles’ “On the Road,” which screened in the 2012 Cannes competition. And she’s set to star in Ang Lee’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” which is based on the novel by Dallas author Ben Fountain and is scheduled to be released this winter. “Walk” is already getting raves from early screenings for its technological achievements, fyi, and is expected to be a player during this year’s awards season.

2. When someone writes or tells you that a movie played in Cannes, you need to know that such a phrase means little or nothing. It’s all about WHERE it played in Cannes. If it’s part of the official selection, that’s a big deal. If it’s in the competition for the Palme d’Or, that’s the biggest deal possible. If it’s in one of the official sidebars, like Directors’ Fortnight or Critics Week, that’s also a big deal. But it means very little if a movie is playing in the Market – the simultaneous event that takes place in the caverns of the Palais. Anybody can screen anything there, as long as they’re willing to pay. And if someone has a movie showing in the Short Film Corner, it simply means that they’re spending their own money to network and show a short in the basement of the Palais, where various booths are set up for folks to network. Such screenings are NOT curated, and being in the Short Film Corner isn’t a sign of artistic achievement, in any stretch of the imagination, unless you think that the trend of “everybody gets a trophy” is actually worthwhile.

3. Americans are going to be getting far more attention in Cannes this year than they have in some previous years, at least if you’re looking at the official selection. The movies are: Woody Allen’s “Café Society,” Jeff Nichols’ “Loving,” Sean Penn’s “The Last Face,” Jim Jarmusch’s “Paterson,” Michael O’Shea’s “The Transfiguration,” Matt Ross’ “Captain Fantastic,” Shane Black’s “The Nice Guys,” Jodie Foster’s “Money Monster,” Steven Spielberg’s “The BFG,” Jonathan Littell’s “Wrong Elements,” Jarmusch’s “Gimme Danger,” with a special tribute to Robert De Niro with a screening of “Hands of Stone,” directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz, a longtime friend of Austin’s Robert Rodriguez and Elizabeth Avellan and a former student at the Radio Television Film Department at the University of Texas.

4. Cannes always has some wild movies in the competition. This year, the wildest promises to be Nicoloas Winding Refn’s “The Neon Demon,” which the Danish director filmed in L.A. It’s about cannibalism and supermodels. Refn is hit-or-miss at Cannes. His movie “Drive,” starring Ryan Gosling, was a hit when it played at Cannes in 2011. But in 2013, “Only God Forgives” fell flat with most critics.

 

‘Loving’ from Jeff Nichols headed to Cannes

Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in "Loving." (Focus Features)
Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in “Loving.” (Focus Features)

Austin director Jeff Nichols is having quite a year. Variety is reporting that his new movie, “Loving,” will have its world premiere in Cannes in May, only a few months after “Midnight Special” had its world premiere in Berlin.

“Loving” stars Joel Edgerton, who was in “Midnight Special,” and Ruth Negga, who’ll be seen in AMC’s upcoming series “Preacher, as an interracial couple who were married in 1958, only to have their home state of Virginia jail them and then banish them. They decided to fight back and took Loving v. Virginia to the Supreme Court. As most people know, the court decided they had every right to be married.

Nichols wrote the screenplay as well, based in part of Nancy Buirski’s documentary “The Loving Story.”

Focus Features, the distributor of “Loving,” obviously has high hopes for the film. It will be released in the United States on Nov. 4, with a larger rollout on Nov. 11, positioning it as a prime contender for next year’s Oscars race.

Other U.S. titles slated for Cannes, which hasn’t yet announced its lineup, are expected to be Jodie Foster’s “Money Monster,” with George Clooney and Julia Roberts; Sean Penn’s “The Last Face,” starring Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem; and Woody Allen’s “Café Society,” with Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg. The presence of these titles in Cannes were first reported by Variety.