To go by the Cannes reactions to The DaVinci Code you’d think there isnt a critic in the world who likes it. But there are three critics giving it positives on Rotten Tomatoes — the New York Post‘s Lou Lumenick, the Chicago Sun Times‘ Roger Ebert and Eleanor Ringel Gillespie of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. As a result, Ron Howard’s film has a 21% positive rating. Not much, but it’s something.
(a) Catherine Deneuve adorning the west-facing side of Cannes’ City Hall, a.k.a., the Hotel de Ville — Thursday, 5.18.06, 7:55 am; (b) Area about two blocks from Grand Palais in the early morning — Thursday, 5.18, 8:05 pm; (c) the “Old Town” section of Cannes, otherwise known as “le Suquet” — Wednesday, 5.18.06, 7:45 am; (d) Grand Palais just prior to this morning’s screening of Ken Loach’s The Wind That Shakes the Barley — Thursday, 5.18, 8:10 am; (e) the red-carpet entrance to the Grand Palais — Thursday, 5.18, 8:13 am; taken inside the great DaVinci Code pyramid toward the end of last night’s (5.17) opening night party — look closely and you’ll see five or six guys hanging on metal beams near the top; they all jumped off and swung around on bungee cords
The Washington Post‘s Philip Kennicott reported yesterday that the Motion Picture Association of America has censored a lobby poster for Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross‘s The Road to Guantanamo, a highly praised film about the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Half-drama and half-doc, it’s scheduled to open in the U.S. on 6.23.
“The image that ran afoul of the MPAA is tame by the standards set by the amateur photographers of Abu Ghraib,” Kennicott wrote. “It shows a man hanging by his handcuffed wrists, with a burlap sack over his head and a blindfold tied around the hood. It has appeared in advertisements for Guantanamo, a documentary with some reenacted scenes, that follows the fate of three British men imprisoned at Guantanamo for more than two years before being released with no charges ever filed against them. U.S. distributor Roadside Attractions “submitted the poster to the MPAA, which must approve publicity materials for the films it rates, on 4.24. It was rejected the next day. ‘The reason given was that the burlap bag over the guy’s head was depicting torture, which wasn’t appropriate for children to see,’ said Roadsdie co-president Howard Cohen. The film will open on 6.23 with another poster, approved by the MPAA, which shows only a pair of shackled hands and arms. Gayle Osterberg, a spokesperson for the MPAA, said its standards for print advertising are particularly sensitive. ‘If it’s a poster that’s hanging in a theater, anyone who walks into that theater, regardless of what movie they’ve come to see, will be exposed to it,’ said Osterberg. While she wouldn’t comment on the particular reason for the poster’s rejection, and while MPAA guidelines for what is acceptable in advertising aren’t made public, she did list some of the things that are not allowed: ‘depictions of violence, blood, people in jeopardy, drugs, nudity, profanity, people in frightening situations, disturbing or frightening scenes.’ Cohen says he understands why the MPAA exercises control over advertising materials — he’s a father himself. But that doesn’t diminish his frustration with the decision. ‘This is a film with a serious purpose, and this is the subject of the film itself, and the marketing materials were appropriate to the subject,’ he said. And, he added, horror flicks and slasher movies are often advertised with images far more suggestive of graphic violence.”
Yesterday at the American Pavillion I spoke briefly to music composer Tim Truman, who worked for Miami Vice director Michael Mann n in the ’80s on the Miami Vice TV series and also on L.A. Takedown, the 1989 TV movie that Mann remade as Heat in ’95. Truman’s IMDB history indicates he hasn’t been in Mann’s employ for quite a while since, but he may have a reliable source or two in the Mann camp. I’m saying all this because Truman claimed that the cost of Miami Vice (Universal, 7.28) is in the range of $180 million bucks. I thought I read somewhere that the cost was more like $125 million, but we all know how actual costs are often kept under wraps. This is all just “loose talk” and shouldn’t be taken to the bank, but it aroused my curiosity. How in the practical world could a contemporary high-tech cop thriller cost anything like that amount? No big-time special effects, no period dressings…seems dubious. If anyone knows anything solid or has a counter-figure of any kind, please advise.
HE readers seeing The DaVinci Code this weekend might want to think about an echo element regarding Audrey Tatou‘s Sophie character. I’m speaking of similarities to a certain film that came out last summer about a very rich guy who goes around wearing a cowl and a cape. Just a thought…
It’s been revealed here and there that Brett Ratner‘s X-Men 3: The Last Stand (20th Century Fox, 5.26), which will show at the Cannes Film Festival on Monday, 5.22, is quite violent. I learned a bit more last night upon speaking to a European exhibitor source who said he’s seen it, and that the final violent sequence at the end is a bit reminiscent of the finale of Sam Peckinpah‘s The Wild Bunch (1969). It also resembles that western classic in the sense that two or three “good guys” — i.e, mutant heroes — buy the farm. Obviously we’re not speaking of Hugh Jackman‘s Wolverine, who may return in a film of his own down the line. The guy wouldn’t tell me who buys it and I didn’t want to know anyway.
I still think Tom Hanks would have been a more appealing choice to play Richard Clarke, the former White House counter-terrorism expert in Paul Haggis ‘s forthcoming film version of Against All Enemies, which is based on Clarke’s book. I’m saying this because ABC News’ Christopher Isham reported yesterday that the always superb Sean Penn has been cast in the role. A great actor, yes…but an activist anti-Bush lefty, which will probably make the film seem like more of a hard-core political piece than it would if Hanks or some congenial nice-guy actor had the role.
The first profoundly good film of the 2006 Cannes Film Festival screened early this morning — Ken Loach ‘s The Wind That Shakes the Barley . A complex but cleanly told drama about violence, death and warring Irish blood, it’s one of the finest films ever made about the Irish rebellion of the early 1920s…or about political unrest and revolution in any culture or time period. (There are strong echoes of the U.S.-British Iraq occupation, needless to add.)
I enjoyed and respected Neil Jordan ‘s Michael Collins (’96), which dealt with the same period in Irish history, but it delivered a moderately slick Irish-Hollywood sensibility…whereas Loach’s film smacks of visual simplicity and the cultural real deal . I’ll bang out a longer review in a couple of hours (probably), but to my mind Loach’s left-wing social realist brush has never rendered anything this stirring or flat-out masterful. It’s a love story, a family tragedy story. Each and every Irish-to-the-core performance is honest and rooted, with Cillian Murphy‘s, Padraic Delaney‘s, Liam Cunngham‘s and Orla Fitzgerald‘s at the top of the list. There’s no U.S. distributor at this stage. I recognize the (unfortunate) likelihood that mainstream U.S. audiences will not support this film in massive numbers when it opens in the States, but a film of this quality needs — demands — to be seen and respected. Cheers to Loach’s longtime screenwriting partner Paul Laverty for the discipline he showed in writing Barley — a script that gets right down to it, tells it straight and doesn’t mess around. He and Loach have made a political film that plays in obviously authentic terms from start to finish.