Cosmopolis morning! Last night’s coming attractions reels — trailers, really — at the Salle du Soixentieme were mostly a wash. The only standouts were (a) a violent clip from Nicholas Winding Refn‘s Only God Forgives, showing Ryan Gosling in some kind of posh Thai brothel walking over to two middle-aged Asian guys and kicking the tar out of them, and (b) blah master-teaches-student footage from Wong Kar Wai‘s The Grandmasters…nice lensing and luscious snowscapes but same-old-seen-it-all-before.
Six years and eight months ago I did a phone interview with actor-producer Norman Lloyd, whose performance as a blind ex-teacher in Curtis Hanson‘s In Her Shoes had moved me a great deal. After that I visited Lloyd at his home in Brentwood and chatted some more and took some photos and basically felt honored and gratified that I’d gotten to know one of the great old gents of Hollywood and the theatre.
Todd McCarthy, Norman Lloyd following this afternoon’s discussion in the Salle Bunuel.
Lloyd was 90 then and sharp as a whip. Spoke like a scholar, no memory loss, right on it. And he was just as lucid and mesmerizing this afternoon when he sat for an interview with Hollywood Reporter critic Todd McCarthy and French film scholar and gadfly Pierre Rissient inside the Salle Bunuel.
The man is now 97 and still playing tennis and looking hale and hearty and giving off that same old gusto and elocutionary pizazz. Will he ever ease up and just plop in front of the tube and slurp his soup like a regular old person? Nope.
For an hour or so Lloyd regaled the crowd with tales of working with Orson Welles, who directed him on the New York stage in “Julius Caesar” and “Shoemaker’s Holiday” in the late ’30s, and with Elia Kazan on stage, and on film with Alfred Hitchcock twice (he acted in Saboteur and Spellbound), Jean Renoir (The Southerner), Charlie Chaplin (Limelight) and so on.
Here’s a clip of him talking about working with Chaplin:
In ’05 I wrote that “I want to be just like Norman Lloyd when I’m almost 91. He’s done everything, been everywhere and knows (or knew) everyone. And he’s healthy and spirited with the intellectual vigor of a well-educated 37 year-old.” Can I also be like Lloyd when I’m 97?
Lloyd spoke at length about working with Hitchcock as a producer of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” the long-running ’50s TV series, and particularly about how Hitchcock revived his career when he insisted that Lloyd work with him on the show when Lloyd was blacklisted. Lloyd and McCarthy didn’t even get around to talking about his being directed by Peter Weir (Dead Poet’s Society) and Martin Scorsese (The Age of Innocence), or playing his ongoing role as “Dr. Auschlander” on St. Elsewhere in the ’80s.
Thanks to McCarthy for urging me to come and listen. The theatre was fairly full, which I didn’t expect. “How many people these days know Norman Lloyd?” I asked myself as I bounded up the Palais steps. Answer: Quite a few, at least among the Cannes faithful.
I don’t know if that rumored presentation of footage from unseen films is on or not at le Salle du Soixentieme, but The Impossible director Juan Antonio Bayona, here in Cannes, has informed me that “a clip for The Impossible is not going to be shown tonight.” Too bad but okay.
The Playlist is reporting that Cosmospolis star Robert Pattinson has told a French magazine, Les Inrockuptibles, that he’ll star in another David Cronenberg film that’ll shoot in France. “I don’t know when he wants to start filming,” Pattinson said, “[but] it’s going to be his first one in France and he promises it’s going to be very strange.” This suggests that in Cronenberg’s head at least Cosmospolis turned out okay, or at least that RPatz’s performance made the grade.
Today will be my ninth sixteen-hour Cannes Film Festival work day in a row. Is it okay with Glenn Kenny if I’m feeling a bit whipped at this stage? Tomorrow will be a halfer with my final viewing, David Cronenberg‘s Cosmopolis, at 8:30, followed by a review, packing and then a bus to Nice Airport for a 4:45 pm flight back to Berlin. My favorites in this order: Holy Motors, No, On The Road, Like Someone In Love, Killing Them Softly, Into The Hills. Sincere Respect, Painful Sit: Amour. Top Stinkers: The Paperboy, Lawless, Post Tenebras Lux.
I won’t see Men in Black 3 until this weekend, but if a mildly grumpy guy like Marshall Fine half likes it then maybe. The Rotten Tomatoes rating is 67%. Presumably some HE regulars caught it yesterday. Reactions?
“I will admit: I tend to have a bias against movies with the number ‘3’ in the title,” Fine begins. “If there’s ever a dead giveaway that all imagination has been sapped from a movie, it’s that second sequel (as if the first sequel wasn’t bad enough). Sure, the filmmaker can say, ‘Oh, I planned to make it a trilogy all along. Tell me another.
“There are exceptions, but not many of them. Still, I’m willing to add Men in Black 3 to the very short list of third outings that actually work — better by far than the second film, perhaps even better than the first.
“The director once again is Barry Sonnenfeld, but the key player here is one who isn’t even mentioned in the credits. While the writer of record is Etan Cohen” — not Ethan Coen of Joel and Ethan — “two other (and probably better) writers are listed on IMDB: David Koepp and Jeff Nathanson, both of whom have lengthy lists of strong films on their filmographies.
“The point is that the script is better for this film than either of the previous two. The first one had the disadvantage of being an origin story: trying to tell an actual story, while introducing the universe of the comic books on which it was based. The second one was simply a rehash of the first with a slight twist, bigger special effects and weaker jokes.”
Prior to the start of last night’s after-party for On The Road.
Old Town (“le Suquet”) as seen from the top floor club inside the Cannes Casino, or the location of the On The Road after-party. I spoke to costar Sam Riley — a nice guy who gives a steady, planted performance as Jack Keroauc. Wanted to speak with and take a pic of Like Someone To Love director Abbas Kiarostami, but the effort would have been strenuous.
Two and a half hours after it finished screening in the Grand Palais, Lee Daniels‘ The Paperboy is being primarily spoken of as the Nicole Kidman-pees-on-Zac Efron flick. Her line before she does so — “If anyone’s gonna pee on him, it’s gonna be me” — is also tweeting around.
Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron in Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy.
In other words, the press gang at Cannes thought The Paperboy was mostly a joke. Which is what Daniels apparently intended on some level — to flavor or season it with foolery. I love it when referenced goof humor is thrown into a drama, but the film has to be believable in the usual ways — you have to accept the bedrock reality of the story and characters — but almost all of The Paperboy reeks of fake. Bits and flourishes are pasted on and thrown at the wall. The result is something sloppy, inept and — sorry — appalling.
Defenders (like Guy Lodge) have called it a camp classic and…whatever, an instant midnight movie for stoners. I actually think it might find some traction in this vein. But most reactions have been mocking and derisive. The response at the end of the 8:30 press screening went beyond boos. A guy somewhere to my right got a case of the giggles around the two-thirds mark and couldn’t stop…”Hoo-hoo-hoo…oh-hee-hee-hee!”
Daily Telegraph critic Robbie Coll called it “the first bona fide fiasco of the festival. So bad it has to be seen to be believed. Transcendentally shambolic.” MSN’s James Rocchi said “it makes A Time To Kill look like To Kill A Mockingbird.”
You might have read that the subject of The Paperboy, set in a Florida backwater in 1969, is about a pair of Miami Times reporters (Matthew McConaughey, David Oyelowo) and McConaughey’s younger brother (Efron) trying to get a redneck, alligator-skinning cracker (John Cusack) off death row at the request of a local Barbie Doll floozy (Kidman) who’s fallen in love with Cusack and is convinced of his innocence.
Ostensibly, yeah, but the actual subjects are sex, racism, Efron’s bod, Kidman’s character’s saucy sexuality, repressed homosexuality, Southern drawls, medicinal peeing and oh, yes — sex.
Some of the plot points in Pete Dexter’s 1995 novel have been changed. Kidman relentlessly flirts with and then finally schtupps Efron in the film, but has it off with Oyelowo’s character, Yardley, in the book. And Yardley fabricates parts of his Miami Times story, which the film bypasses, or so I recall. But The Paperboy is mainly about what Daniels wanted to get into and particularly the people he’s known in his life.
“All these people [in the film] are people who live in my head, my world and my existence,” he said this morning.
The peeing scene happens when Efron is badly stung by jellyfish during a swim in the Gulf of Mexico. Three girls come to his aid as he stumbles out of the water and suggest the peeing remedy (the acids in urine work as an antidote to jellyfish poison), but then Kidman comes over and angrily shoves them away and says her famous line.
Dexter’s book invented the pen-pal love affair between Kidman’s Charlotte and Cusack’s Hillary Van Wetter, but, as I said this morning, “Kidman’s girly-girl might enjoy a sexual dalliance with a Deliverance-style redneck stallion, as played by Cusack. But not marry — no way.” Girly girls like their lives to be nice and pretty and pink and tidy, and Cusack lives in a swamp in a skunky old shack. Doesn’t wash.
And to get to Cusack’s shack, which he shares with his father and other family members, McConaughey and Efron have to boat through a swamp and then wade through thigh-deep water. The shack isn’t directly accessible by motorboats with a pier in front? When the family goes to buy groceries and other necessities they have to carry their shopping bags and whatnot through swamp water?
Efron is a sexually repressed kid (or so says Kidman’s Charlotte) who doesn’t have any girlfriends. Because, you know, he’s not good looking enough to score. Right.
The story is narrated by a maid (Macy Gray, the most likable, dignified and straight-talking character) who works for Efron’s family, but her character isn’t privy to a lot of what we’re shown and yet she’s in on every detail, including when and where Kidman and Efron have it off. Her narration is cloying and at times painful
The movie is full of little “what?” moments like these. I was physically flinching at some of them.
Pedro Almodovar wanted to make a Paperboy movie but “opted out if it,” Daniels said in the press conference.
The $12.5 million film was shot in Los Angeles and New Orleans, it says here. And Kidman had to do her own makeup, she said this morning. She did a good job. And her performance is spirited. Give her that.
(l. to r.) Matthew McConaughey, Lee Daniels and Nicole Kidman during this morning’s Paperboy press conference inside Cannes’ Grand Palais.