Since I would normally be broadcasting from Cannes at this time, I decided to go into the vault and share some of my cherished memories from past years spent along the French Riviera in the midday sun. The following video was originally published on May 29th, 2017 and produced by me and Scott Dummler of Mint Media Works.–Chaz Ebert
Below is the transcript of the video…
This year, the Cannes Film Festival marks its 70th year. And to celebrate that milestone, there have been a number of events that brought back actors and filmmakers from festivals past.
While on the red carpet you’ll see people wearing anything and everything. Out on the street festival goers are wearing little red buttons attached to their badges. Distributed by the festival, some are in French, others in English. But they all had little witty, inside jokes about the festival, such as…
“Do you think they’ll let us in?”, ”How come I didn’t get invited?” or “Come on! We DO work in Cannes!”
And we ARE working hard covering the competition for the Palme d’Or. One contender with a lot of star power is “The Beguiled.” Directed by Sofia Coppola, it stars Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning. This beautifully photographed civil war era period piece tells a similar story to the 1971 film that was directed by Don Siegel and starred Clint Eastwood. But this update tells the tale from a decidedly female perspective. At the press conference, Sofia Coppola talked about selecting this all-star cast.
Another period piece in competition is the film “Rodin” by French director Jacques Doillon and starring Vincent Lindon. It follows the ups and downs of the career and the personal life of the famous sculptor.
Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa was last in Cannes with his 2012 feature, “In the Fog.” This year, he brings his latest film, “A Gentle Creature.” In this grim tale, a married woman receives a returned package that she herself had sent to her husband in a Russian prison She sets out on a journey through remote parts of Russia to go to the prison and try and find answers about why it was returned. Along the way, she meets a number of strange characters and obstacles in her path. The director allows the conversations and situations to amble on like a very long road trip, and the film takes the scenic and often harrowing political route in getting to its ultimate fantasy destination.
To get another take on the Palme d’Or competition, I spoke with Canadian film critic Jason Gorber of ScreenAnarchy.com.
Young American filmmakers Josh and Benny Safdie have been getting a lot of attention this year in Cannes. Their competition piece, “Good Time,” stars Robert Pattinson. He’s quite good. I’d said this is his finest acting since the “Twilight” franchise. He is nearly unrecognizable as a low-level criminal on the streets of New York. After a botched bank heist, Pattinson spends the rest of the film staying away from the police while trying to rescue his mentally disabled brother who had been caught.
While “Good Time” isn’t technically a “good time” for its characters, the film is stylish and energetic, rarely letting the audience take a deep breath. It reminds me of a mishmash of “Pulp Fiction,” “Dog Day Afternoon” and “After Hours.” This may be one of the few competition films with real commercial potential.
Another very strong performance was turned in by Diane Kruger in a film by German director Fatih Akin called “In the Fade.” Although Kruger is herself German, this is her first truly German film. And she really nails the role of a woman who loses her Turkish husband and son in a street bombing. We soon learn that the bombers were members of the modern day Nazi party, and she spends the rest of the film battling the killers in and out of court. Diane Kruger’s character goes through a huge range of emotions from being wracked with grief over the loss of her family to the steely resolve it takes to make sure justice is done. While that may sound like a plot line you’ve seen a hundred times before, this is not your typical revenge thriller. I think Kruger has a good chance at collecting the Best Actress prize.
While many of us in the press are focused on the Palme d’Or competition, lots of people are here at the festival for many different reasons. We often run into studio heads, publicists, and even the heads of other film festivals from around the globe who are looking for movies for their own events. I got a chance to talk to George Lepauw, famed concert pianist, who also runs CIMMfest, the Chicago International Movies and Music Festival.
One interesting film, playing out of competition, is Roman Polanski’s newest work called “Based on a True Story.” It’s an entertaining psychological thriller, starring his wife Emmanuelle Seigner as a famous author and Eva Green as a ghost writer who wants to take over her persona. At the press conference, many wondered whether it would be bad form to bring up Polanski’s outstanding arrest warrant in the United States. Ultimately, no one did.
The final film to play in competition was director Lynne Ramsey’s “You Were Never Really Here” starring Joaquin Phoenix. He plays a hitman who was abused as a child and who wants to use his skills to help out a young girl who is being sexually exploited. It’s often brutally violent. But the strong performance by Phoenix and expert editing and direction by Lynne Ramsey has made this a poetic film that some critics hope will be a strong contender for the Palme d’Or.
That’s all for now. But check back often, as we’ll be updating you as the festival comes to a close with our annual critic’s roundtable discussing and debating the competition, as well as the announcement of prizes. As always, continue to visit RogerEbert.com for our video reports as well as the daily written reports on all the films by Barbara Scharres and the rest of our team of writers. We’ll see you next time!