My just-arrived copy of the 2017 Elite Journalist Cannes Film Festival Instruction Manual says I need to see the following Directors Fortnight selections: (a) Claire Denis’ Un beau soleil intérieur with Juliette Binoche and Gerard Depardieu; (b) Cary Murnion‘s Bushwick (action thriller); (c) Geremy Jasper‘s Patti Cake$ (Sundance success d’estime, opening via FS on 7.17); (d) Sean Baker‘s The Florida Project (Tangerine followup, costarring Willem Dafoe); (e) Abel Ferrara‘s Alive in France (road trek doc); (f) Bruno Dumont‘s Jeannette, the Childhood of Joan of Arc; (g) Philippe Garrel‘s L’amant d’un jour (emotionally off-balance 20something woman discovers that her dad is fucking a woman her age); (h) Jonas Carpignano’s A Ciambra (follow-up to Mediterranea) and (i) Sharunas Bartas‘ Frost avec Vanessa Paradis.
The first official roster of Cannes ’17 films has been announced. My immediate reaction: “Uhhm, okay, another shortfaller and what else is new? But at least there’s the Andrezj Zvyagintsev, the half-silent Todd Haynes, the Noah Baumbach and the 390-second Alejandro G. Inarritu virtual-reality short to look forward to.”
Many interesting-sounding films were on the early-speculation lists, but only those with nothing to lose and everything potentially to gain from an early Cote d’Azur peek-out will show up. Those with even a teeny-weeny bit to lose (i.e., films which may turn out to be admired but not loved)? Forget it.
In my book there are six Cannes ’17 hotties — Andrezy Zvyagintsev‘s Loveless (very high expectations for the director of Leviathan), Todd Haynes‘ Wonderstruck, Michael Haneke‘s Happy End, Noah Baumbach‘s The Meyerowitz Stories, Alejandro G. Inarritu‘s 390-second virtual reality short Carne y Arena (which rsvp’ed viewers will have to journey on a shuttle to see, apparently within a viewing space some distance from the bunker) and a special screening of Eugene Jarecki‘s Promised Land, which reportedly “juxtaposes contemporary American socio-political history with the biography of Elvis Presley.”
Oh, yeah, right…the first two episodes of David Lynch‘s new Twin Peaks series…calm down.
As I noted a month ago, the festival’s biggest highlights will most likely be European-produced, and that the American-made films that will likely appear are going to rank as…who knows? “I’m not calling it another deadbeat Cannes in terms of U.S. entries,” I wrote, “but the counsel of Oscar strategists along with generally cautious instincts across the board have all but killed this festival in terms of potential award-season titles.
Martin McDonagh‘s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight, 10.13) was test-screened last October to excellent notices and is, I gather, 100% finished and viewable, but it won’t be screening at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. Frances McDormand‘s Best Actress campaign will launch around Labor Day instead.
Alexander Payne‘s much-anticipated Downsizing (Paramount, 12.22) was shown last night in Sherman Oaks and is therefore not that far from finished (raggedy, half-completed features are rarely shown to Joe and Jane Popcorn for research purposes), but it won’t be going to Cannes either. Appetites were whetted at Cinemacon last month when attendees were thrilled by a 15-minute excerpt (I thought it looked brilliant), but just because Payne took Nebraska to Cannes doesn’t mean he’s obliged to follow suit this year.
And while it’s entirely possible that Chris Nolan‘s Dunkirk (Warner Bros., 7.21) — another Cannes no-go — won’t be “ready” to screen in mid May, many of us suspect that a very-close-to-finished version could be shown if Nolan and his Warner Bros. handlers wanted to go there.
Over the last decade or so a few official Cannes Film Festival posters haven’t focused on some classic, iconic film star of the ’50s or ’60s — Faye Dunaway, Marilyn Monroe, Ingrid Bergman, Monica Vitti, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. But they’ve been in the minority. Juliette Binoche adorned a Cannes poster six or seven years ago. For the 2007 festival, which celebrated the 60th anniversary, several world-class directors (Almodovar, Inarritu, etc.) posed for a group shot. But this year, the festival’s 70th anniversary, it’s another ’60s head-turner — Claudia Cardinale. Born in ’38, her hot-career phase included Mario Monicelli‘s Big Deal on Madonna Street (’58), Luchino Visconti‘s Rocco and His Brothers (’60), Girl with a Suitcase (’61), Federico Fellini‘s 8 1/2 (’63), Visconti’s The Leopard (’63), Blake Edwards‘ The Pink Panther (’63), Richard Brooks‘ The Professionals (’66 — flagrantly unbelievable as a Mexican) and Sergio Leone‘s Once Upon a Time in the West (’68).
I was told this morning that my Cannes ’17 press credentials have been approved, and that I’m good for the usual pink-with-yellow-pastille badge. Unlike Team Sundance, the Cannes people know how to treat a hard-filing veteran. I wrestled briefly with using the above headline, but it’s the first thing that came to mind and that’s usually the way to go. (Yes, every so often it’s not.) “In Like Flynn” means you’ve got it, no sweat, walk right in, etc. We’re all aware of Errol Flynn‘s errant reputation, but I decided long ago that he’s more of a metaphor for self-destruction than anything else. Flynn totally cancelled his cool ticket by destroying himself with drink. The man looked like a 73 year-old when he died at age 50 from a heart attack. He may have been “in like Flynn” in the late ’30s and ’40s, but he was “wrecked like Flynn” by the mid 1950s, when he was only 45 or thereabouts. Heed this warning, party animals: think seriously about making lifestyle adjustments when you hit your late 30s or else.
Errol Flynn at age 35 or thereabouts.
Destroyed, diseased, dessicated at age 50.
HE’s own Cristian Mungiu — Palme d’Or winner for 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and co-recipient of last year’s Best Director prize for Graduation — will serve as the honcho for the 2017 Cannes Film Festival’s student and short film juries. What does this have to do with the price of rice in Pomona? Nothing, but at least it’s another opportunity to remind engaged, upmarket viewers to catch Graduation when it opens on April 7th…please.
It’s also an opportunity to re-post my 5.19.16 Graduation review, titled “Graduation Is A Grabber, But Cutting A Slight Ethical Corner In a Tight Spot Isn’t Necessarily An Evil Thing”:
Cristian Mungiu at Bouchon during a 2012 Beyond The Hills promotional party.
Graduation is a fascinating slow-build drama about ethics, parental love, compromised values and what most of us would call soft corruption. It basically says that ethical lapses are deceptive in that they don’t seem too problematic at first, but they have a way of metastasizing into something worse, and that once this happens the smell starts to spread and the perpetrators feel increasingly sick in their souls.
I don’t necessarily look at things this way, and yet Mungiu’s film puts the hook in. I felt the full weight of his viewpoint, which tends to happen, of course, when you’re watching a film by a masterful director, which Mungui (Four Months, Three Weeks, Two Days, Beyond The Hills) most certainly is.
And yet I tend to shy away from judging people too harshly when they bend the rules once or twice. Not as a constant approach but once in a blue moon. I’m not calling myself a moral relativist, but I do believe there’s a dividing line between hard corruption and the softer, looser variety, and I know that many of us have crossed paths with the latter. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
Four days ago (3.13) Screen Daily‘s Melanie Goodfellow posted a rundown of possible Cannes 2017 titles. Last night Deadline‘s Pete Hammond and Nancy Tartaglione posted their own forecast. It seems clear already that the festival’s biggest highlights won’t come from the U.S., and that the American-made films that will likely screen are going to rank as good or interesting rather than wowser or earth-shaking.
I’m not calling it another deadbeat Cannes in terms of U.S. entries, but, as I noted a couple of years ago, the counsel of Oscar strategists along with generally cautious instincts across the board have all but killed this festival in terms of potential award-season titles.
Chris Nolan‘s Dunkirk hasn’t definitely been scratched, but if you know Nolan (fiddle and fine-tune until the very last minute) and Warner Bros. (why risk even a mezzo-mezzo reaction from Cannes’ notoriously picky critics?), you know it’s unlikely. Hammond says festival honcho Thierry Fremaux has been told that Dunkirk, which will open on 7.21, won’t be ready to screen in Cannes in late May. Do you believe that?
My hunch is that while Nolan and Warner Bros. might well have strong cards, they’re scared of Cannes and would prefer to hide their hand until late June or early July, press-wise.
Nolan knows the knives have been out for him ever since the Interstellar debacle of ’14, and particularly the aghast responses when he confessed that he deliberately mixed the sound so that a good portion of the dialogue couldn’t be discerned, which was easily one of the biggest fuck-you messages sent to critics and paying audiences in Hollywood history. This is why people are gunning for Nolan. For years he’s regarded himself as Mr. King Shit, and they want to get him for his aloof Kubrickian airs, for maintaining an image as a Moses-down-from-the-mountain auteurist earth-shaker as opposed to the lithe and nimble-footed guy who made Memento and Insomnia, and particularly for that fucking Interstellar sound mix.
Hammond notes that just as esteemed director Alexander Payne went along with a May 2013 Cannes debut for Nebraska, which subsequently embarked on an award-season march all the way into February 2014, he might also go along with showing Downsizing, a dryly comic sci-fi thing, in Cannes two months hence. I can tell you that Downsizing was all set for a research screening on the Paramount lot two nights ago (Tuesday, 3.14), but they sent out a sudden cancellation notice to those who’d rsvp’ed, only seven or eight hours before the screening.