TIME movies

Netflix Snaps Up Brad Pitt Movie About General Stanley McChrystal

Brad Pitt attends a "Fury" in West Hollywood, Calif. on Dec. 4, 2014.
Ari Perilstein—Getty Images for LTPR Brad Pitt attends a "Fury" in West Hollywood, Calif. on Dec. 4, 2014.

Based on the late Michael Hastings' controversial best-seller The Operators

Netflix has scooped up rights to the Brad Pitt film about the rise and fall of General Stanley McChrystal that was being shopped at the Cannes film market.

Animal Kingdom helmer David Michod wrote the screenplay and will direct the satire, originally titled The Operators and now dubbed War Machine, which will be produced by Netflix and Pitt’s Plan B. New Regency and RatPac Entertainment, who were once onboard the project, are no longer involved.

The film, which begins shooting in August, will be streamed in 2016 on Netflix and get a theatrical release as well.

Based on the late Michael Hastings’ controversial best-seller The Operators, the story centers on the commanding general of international and U.S. forces in Afghanistan and offers a behind-the-scenes portrait of our military commanders, their high-stakes maneuvers and the ensuing political firestorm that shook the United States when he was forced to resign. But the film has changed course from its original dramatic vision when the rights were bought and will now be tonally in the vein of Wag the Dog. Pitt will star as Gen. McChrystal.

War Machine is a rip-roaring, behind-the-facade tale of modern war decision-makers, from the corridors of power to the distant regions of America’s ambitions,“ Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said. “Brad and David are a perfect team to make this timely, compelling and entertaining film.”

Added Pitt: “We are so excited to be a part of the inspiring commitment by Netflix to produce cutting-edge content and to deliver it to a global audience.”

The project has been around since Pitt optioned Hastings book, which stemmed from a Rolling Stone article, in 2013. Michod boarded the project a year ago and began adapting the screenplay.

“I’m humbled to be making a big, bold movie about the whole sprawling, complex, cumbersome and crazy machinery of modern war and the many lives it touches,” Michod said.

Plan B partners Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner also are producing alongside Ian Bryce.

CAA, which reps Pitt, represented domestic rights.

Updated: CAA, not UTA, negotiated the deal.

This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.

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Cannes Film Festival Steps Into Controversy Over High Heels-Only Policy

Women are reportedly being turned away from screenings for wearing flat shoes

The Cannes Film Festival is facing backlash after several women reported that they were stopped from entering screenings for wearing the wrong shoes.

Screen Daily reports the women were turned away from a screening of Carol in their rhinestone flat shoes, even though some of the women reportedly suffered from unspecified medical conditions and couldn’t wear heels. According to the Guardian, festival-goers are to be “smartly dressed” at Cannes screenings—men are required to wear black tie and shoes, but the guidelines for women are murkier.

Amy director Asif Kapadia said his wife was even initially turned away from a screening for wearing flat shoes, though she was eventually let in.

Many are calling the alleged rule sexist. Actress Emily Blunt said in a press conference on Tuesday that all women should wear flats, adding that a heels-only dress code for women would be “very disappointing, just when you kind of think there are these new waves of equality.” Benico del Toro and Josh Brolin also joked that they should wear heels in protest.

Cannes director Thierry Fremaux tweeted, however, that the heels-only rule was “unfounded,” despite the women’s reports.

TIME movies

Cannes Film Festival Director: Red-Carpet Selfies Are ‘Ridiculous and Grotesque’

Petra Nemcova
Joel Ryan—Invision/AP Petra Nemcova on the red carpet for the screening of Two Days, One Night (Deux jours, une nuit) at the 67th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Tuesday, May 20, 2014. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

The festival will launch a campaign against them

Listen up, celebrities (and lucky cinephiles with passports): if the director of the Cannes Film Festival catches you taking selfies on the red carpet, he may not run up and start confiscating phones — but he’s definitely not going to be happy about it.

While announcing the lineup of movies for the 68th annual event, Thierry Fremaux said the prestigious French film festival will launch a campaign against red-carpet selfies, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “We don’t want to prohibit it, but we want to slow down the process of selfies on the steps,” he said. “We think it’s ridiculous and grotesque and really slows things down.”

If the scorn of Fremaux isn’t enough to deter stars like Lea Seydoux and Petra Nemcova from snapping pics, the festival director offered another reason to refrain from the practice: “You never look as ugly as you do in a selfie.”


TIME movies

The Movies’ Grandest Oldest Man: Manoel de Oliveira Dies at 106

Miguel Riopa—AFP/Getty Images Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira in 2008

In career that spanned 75 years and just kept getting better, this Portuguese supercentenarian left a legacy of magical minimalism and tales of obsessive love

On Dec. 11, 1908, when Manoel de Oliveira was born, Teddy Roosevelt was the U.S. President, Mark Twain was still working on his autobiography, and sliced bread hadn’t been invented. D.W. Griffith had just begun directing the one-reelers that would define the visual vocabulary of motion pictures. The Portuguese filmmaker’s life, which ended April 2 at the astonishing age of 106, spanned virtually all of movie history, of which he was an important and unique part.

Simply surviving to his supercentenarian years would be achievement enough, but Oliveira remained active and vital — more active, more vital — as his age increased. He hit his stride in his 60s, with the 1972 drama Past and Present, and directed some 30 fiction features, and more than a dozen shorts, through his late maturity. In his unflagging 90s, he birthed at least a film a year. (Something to think about, Woody Allen.) He had a new one at last year’s Venice Film Festival: O Velho de Restelo, in which Don Quixote and some of his eternal friends meet to muse on modern life. And the miracle of Oliveira’s career is that the quality of his movies outstripped their quantity.

A mainstay for decades at the Cannes and Venice film festivals, Oliveira produced a series of sere delights — from Francisca in 1981 to The Cannibals, I’m Going Home, Voyage to the Beginning of the World and his last major beguiler, The Strange Case of Angelica, in 2010 — often with such top international stars as Marcello Mastroianni, Michel Piccoli, Catherine Deneuve and John Malkovich. A major exponent of what might be called magical minimalism, Oliveira plumbed the mysteries of love, the miseries of aging and heartbreak, with the cinematic elegance of an old, old master.

Manoel Cândido Pinto de Oliveira was born in Porto, Portugal, to a family of landowners and industrialists; his father Francisco produced the country’s first electric light bulb. He worked on his first film project, never completed, in 1927, the year of The Jazz Singer. His directorial debut came in 1931 with Douro, Faina Fluvial (Working on the Douro River), a 20-min. poetic documentary panorama of dockside life in his home town. In 1942 he made his first fiction feature: the kid-gang drama Aniki Bobo, a kind of Mean Streets set in Porto.

The Salazar regime, which ruled Portugal from 1932 to 1968, was no fan of social realism. Following official criticism of the tough boys depicted in Aniki Bobo, Oliveira made no film of any length for another 14 years. His directorial ambitions on hold, he spent several decades managing the family business and running a vineyard owned by his wife. This disappointed but dogged bon-vivant was also an actor — appearing in the second Portuguese talking picture ever made — as well as a race-car driver who steered his Ford V8 Special to a win at the 1937 Estoril circuit rally.

Oliveira turned 60 the year Salazar fell from power, and began his filmmaking career in earnest with the 1972 Past and Present, a dark comedy about a serial widow who is faithful to all her dead husbands but tortures her current living spouse. He found international renown in 1982, when the obsessive love story Francisca charmed and wowed the Cannes crowds. His breakthrough film, if a director can have one of those when approaching 80, was The Cannibals in 1988. A gaily macabre epic in the style of fellow Iberian Luis Buñuel, the movie proceeds at a gentle lull for an hour, then explodes in a delicious orgy of artificial limbs, charred torsos and a family feast of roast viscount.

Oliveira’s films were never vivacious, exactly. He preferred a steady pace and gaze; the screen was not a window from a fast-moving train but a picture on a museum wall, suitable for extended contemplation. The average mall moviegoer might be baffled or sedated by his films’ tumid, dreamlike melancholy. Though nine of his films are available on Netflix, Oliveira’s work rarely reached U.S. theaters; it was too stately and refined (one might say “slow”) for general audiences. But given that measured pulse, alert audiences could find manifold treats and connections — like the scenes of Portuguese workmen, singing of the Douro River, that appear both in Oliveira’s first film and in The Secret Life of Angelica, 69 years later.

As befit his status, Oliveira made his share of old-man movies. In the 2001 I’m Going Home, Piccoli played an aging actor who has trouble summoning the energy for mediocre roles after his wife’s death, until he finally announces his retirement in the words of the film’s title. The 1997 Voyage to the Beginning of the World follows Marcello Mastroianni as a veteran director (also named Manoel) visiting his childhood home. In this simple fable about old age reconciling itself to memory and destiny, Mastroianni wore the wizened smile of a man who knows he is visiting his youth for the last time. This was indeed the grand Marcello’s last film — he died at 72 — but Oliveira went onto make dozens more.

Even his young-man movies showed an old man’s natural preoccupation with what comes next and what lies beyond. The protagonist of The Secret Life of Angelica, shown in Cannes when the director was 101, is a photographer named Isaac (played by Oliveira’s grandson Ricardo Trêpa), hired to take pictures of Angelica, a lovely, recently deceased blonde whom he finds her propped in a graceful pose on a chaise. As he snaps his photos, he thinks he sees Angelica smile at him. Developing the photos in his rented room, he sees her image move and smile again. She appears on his balcony and takes him for a flight through the night sky. Isaac’s landlady and her other boarders, noticing the photographer’s distracted, zombiefied air, don’t recognize the symptoms of an Oliveira protagonist: a man who needs to be unified with his immortal love, whatever the cost.

However dark or doom-laden his movies, Oliveira was a youthful, tonic presence at film festivals. In 2008, a few months shy of his 100th birthday, Oliveira showed up at Cannes for a screening of his 1931 Douro film. On hand were other directors, including 77-year-old Clint Eastwood, who was a year old when Douro premiered in Lisbon. Oliveira strode onstage brandishing a cane, but he used it less for support than as a jaunty prop — twirling it, pointing it at the cheering audience — as if he might break into a song-and-dance routine. Michel Piccoli was there to present an honorary Palme d’Or to the director who had never won the award in competition. “Finally,” Oliveira playfully exclaimed as he kissed the award, “I got one!”

His admirers on several continents would be forgiven for assuming he’d be around forever to challenge and amaze us with his annual new movie. (He may have left one for posterity, perhaps to be shown this year at Cannes.) They marveled at the vigor of an artist who remained a dapper gent and a star attraction — an ageless hero-auteur.

And on his arm was the filmmaker’s perennial leading lady: his wife, Maria Isabel Brandão de Meneses de Almeida Carvalhais, who survives him at 97. This Dec. 4 they would have celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary.

TIME movies

Fake Nicolas Cage Movies Were Shopped Around at Cannes

ABC's "Good Morning America" - 2014
Fred Lee--ABC via Getty Images Nicolas Cage is a guest on "Good Morning America," 4/11/14, airing on the ABC Television Network.

At Cannes' film market this year, movies were being touted as Nicolas Cage projects – even when he had no involvement at all

Nicolas Cage gets around, but maybe not as much as you might think. The Hollywood Reporter reveals that at this year’s Cannes film market, the actor was being touted by sales agents as the star in six upcoming films. Problem is, his people say he’s only actually involved with three of the films.

Though he’s appeared in some duds over the years, apparently Cage is still a star abroad — foreign distributors are attracted to him, as his name is often used to sell a film. This year, sales agents used his name in order to presell the upcoming films The Trust, Pay the Ghost and The Runner — all movies he’s actually signed onto. Yet the films 5 Minutes to Live, Red Squad and Dark Highway were also touted as Cage projects, even though the actor wasn’t actually involved.

Yet the CEO for Hannibal Classics — the distribution company that’s overseeing 5 Minutes to Live and Red Squad — said that the sales pitch wasn’t intentionally misleading. Richard Rionda Del Castro told THR that Cage had been in talks to appear in Red Squad, but “for whatever reason, Nic walked away just before Cannes.” By that time, Del Castro said, it was too late to change the film’s promotional materials.

Either way, Cage — and his people — are not flattered by his popularity. “It floods the market with product that’s not necessarily 100 percent real,” Mike Nilon, Cage’s manager, complained to The Hollywood Reporter. “If there are six or seven projects being talked about by any actor, then it dilutes the purchase price. If I came to you and said, ‘Would you like a steak dinner?’, you’d probably say yes. If I offered you eight, you’d probably say no.”



Pulp Fiction at 20: When Cannes Was Cool

He probably didn’t mean to, but Quentin Tarantino upstaged the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or ceremony on Saturday just by showing up.

One of the world’s most famous directors appeared last night with Uma Thurman, his star in Pulp Fiction and the Kill Bill films, to present Cannes’ top award to Nuri Bilge Ceylan, a Turkish auteur esteemed by cinephiles around the world but next to unknown in America. QT is known here, there and everywhere. Pinwheeling ideas and opinions, and wearing his charisma like a raffish musk, he has a star quality that few of the “stars” at the 67th edition of the world’s biggest movie convention could match.

He arrived here on Friday, gave a 45-min. press conference / master class in film, then joined Thurman and John Travolta at a showing of one of his most beloved movies on a giant screen on the beach, the Riviera resort version of a drive-in theater. “I’ve seen Pulp Fiction under every circumstance a person can see it except this one,” he said, encouraging the gleeful crowd to “rip out a joint and light it up.”

(READ: Corliss on Pulp Fiction in 1994)

Twenty years ago this weekend, Tarantino was just a movie geek, hitting the Cannes competition with his second feature. He was 31, the Festival 47. But so much was different back then, before the Internet crush that makes Cannes a frantic routine of writing reviews and trend pieces each day. In the ’90s, critics probably saw more films over the 12-day span than they do now — I’d guess 50 or so — but the pace was almost leisurely for those of us on weekly deadlines. We digested all the movies, totted up the prize winners and then wrote wrap-ups for our papers and magazines.

Another difference: film was still film — giant reels of 35mm stock with sprocket holes, just like what D.W. Griffith had used 80 years before to shoot The Birth of a Nation. At his Friday press conference, Tarantino lamented that Pulp Fiction was the only picture at the 2014 festival shown on film, not digitally. “Digital projection is the death of cinema as I know it,” he said. “The fact that most films are not presented in 35mm means that the war is lost. Digital projection — that’s just television in public. … But what I knew as cinema is dead.” In 1994, Pulp Fiction was screened — at first for a few critics in the Olympia Theatre two blocks behind he Cannes Palais — on mighty 35mm. Those of us in that select crowd, including Roger Ebert and Todd McCarthy, knew we were seeing something special. It became the most influential movie of its decade.

(FIND: Pulp Fiction among the all-time Top 10 Cannes Palme d’Or Winners)

In the ’90s, Hollywood studios that brought films to Cannes also spent more money wooing the critics: they threw parties at the local beach restaurants and occasionally at the Hotel du Cap’s fabulously fancy Eden Roc, down the coast in Antibes. That was where Harvey Weinstein of Miramax Films hosted a luncheon for Pulp Fiction. A couple dozen of us sat outdoors at tables with Tarantino, Travolta, Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. An autodidact with a deeper knowledge of genre films than any of us possessed, Tarantino seemed to enjoy filling us with anecdotes and lore. A gorgeous day on the Côte d’Azur, sumptuous food, and good company talking about a terrific film: in 1994, that’s what movie critics called work.

In the competition for the Palme d’Or, the smart money that year was on Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Red, the climax to the estimable Polish auteur’s Blue/White/Red trilogy. Most critics had gone rhapsodic over the Kieslowski films, but it’s likely that none of the Jury members had seen the first two installments. Pulp Fiction was its own trilogy, three interlaced segments, in one two-and-a-half-hour explosion. On closing night, Jury President Clint Eastwood — a man who likes to take his time — drew out the tension, saying, “The Palme d’Or … goes to… Pulp Fiction.”

(READ: Tarantino’s Master Class at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival)

Pandemonium and protest, as Tarantino, Travolta, Jackson, Willis, co-star Maria de Medeiros and producer Lawrence Bender mounted the stage. Many cheers, some derisive whistles. Before the director spoke, a woman in the audience shouted, “It’s a scandal!” Tarantino smiled and said he never expects to win prizes from a jury, “because I don’t make the kind of movies that kinda bring people together. I kinda make movies that kinda split people apart.” With mistress of ceremonies Jeanne Moreau translating into French, he thanked his cast — “They made a pretty damn good script an obsolete document” — and “the brothers Weinstein, for backing me 100% and letting me make the movie I wanted to make.”

Twenty years later Tarantino is still working with the Weinsteins (now at The Weinstein Company, rather than Miramax), still trying to please his toughest audience: himself. “I make them for me,” he said at Friday’s press conference, “and everybody else is invited.” The director had not invited anyone to read the first draft of his script for the Western The Hateful Eight when it was leaked online in January, and he cried betrayal and issued law suits.

“I have calmed down a bit,” he said here. “The knife-in-the-back wound is starting to scab.” Last month he directed a public reading of the script with some of its prospective stars, including Jackson, and was encouraged to keep rewriting. He said he might produce the finished work as a play.

(READ: What’s inside The Hateful Eight?)

Asked about director’s cuts — reworked and extended versions of his old films — he said, “My director’s cut in America plays in 3,000 theaters, not on some ghettoized DVD as an afterthought.” Yet he did assemble a longer amalgam of the two Kill Bill movies, called Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair. And at Cannes he said he was considering weaving 90 minutes of outtakes from Django Unchained into the two-and-a-half-hour theatrical cut to create a four-hour miniseries shown on pay cable. “You present somebody with a four-hour movie and they roll their eyes — ‘I don’t wanna watch that.’ But then you actually show them a four-part miniseries that they like, and they’re dying to watch all four episodes in one go.”

Last night, after he handed Ceylan the Palme d’Or, Tarantino was on stage again to introduce a 50th-anniversary screening of Sergio Leone’s Fistful of Dollars. At his press conference, he had said that Fistful “means not just the birth of the Spaghetti Western, which is undoubtable, but it’s the birth of genre action cinema as it’s come to be known.” One unique pop-film artist paid tribute to another, and stirred memories of his own early prime on the Riviera — back in ’94, when Cannes was cool.


The Cannes Palme d’Or: Who Won and Who Was Robbed

"Winter Sleep" wins Palme d'Or
Mustafa Yalcin—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Nuri Bilge Ceylan wins the Palme d'Or at the 67th Cannes Film Festival on May 24, 2014.

The 3hr.16min. Turkish drama 'Winter Sleep' took the top prize in a festival short on masterpieces and pizazz

No startling surprises, no unarguable triumphs. The 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival offered the predictable pleasure of worthy work rewarded tonight, as Jury President Jane Campion announced that Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep had won Cannes’ highest prize, the Palme d’Or.

Over its 3 hour, 16 minute duration, Winter Sleep probes the psychology of a Turkish landowner confronting crises from his young wife, his sister and his aggrieved tenants. Playing on the second full day of the 11-day Festival, the movie was immediately touted as a Palme front-runner. Winter Sleep fulfilled its promise when presenters Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman, in town for the 20th anniversary of the Palme d’Or champ Pulp Fiction, presented Ceylan with tonight’s biggest award.

(READ: Corliss’s review of the Cannes winner Winter Sleep)

Best Actor went to Timothy Spall for his portrayal of the painter J.M.W. Turner in the Mike Leigh bio-pic Mr. Turner. In a minor upset, Julianne Moore took Best Actress for her fearless comic turn as an aging actress in David Cronenberg’s hate letter to Hollywood, Maps to the Stars. Bennett Miller was named Best Director for Foxcatcher, the true-crime tale of two Olympic wrestlers (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo) and their troubled patron (Steve Carell in a chilling turn as zillionaire John du Pont).

The Grand Jury Prize — second place — was awarded to the Italian Alice Rohrwacher for The Wonders, the tender tale of a beekeeeper and his four precocious children. The portentous, politically prickly Russian drama Leviathan reeved the Screenplay award. The silver-medal Jury Prize was shared by baby-faced Xavier Dolan, 25, for his convulsive, compelling family portrait Mommy, and perpetual enfant terrible Jean-Luc Godard, 83, whose Adieu au langage addressed the concerns of a man, a woman and a god — in 3-D. Godard was not present at the ceremony.

The full list of the Campion Jury winners:

Palme d’Or: Winter Sleep, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Grand Prize: Le Meraviglie (The Wonders), Alice Rohrwacher

Best Director: Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher

Jury Prize: Mommy, Xavier Dolan, and Adieu au langage, Jean-Luc Godard

Best Screenplay: Andrey Zvyagintsev, Oleg Negin, Leviathan

Best Actress: Julianne Moore, Maps To The Stars

Best Actor: Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner

Ceylan’s stately accession to the Golden Palm began 11 years ago with a Grand Jury Prize for Uzak (Distant), followed by the Critics’ Prize for Climates in 2006, Best Director for Three Monkeys in 2008 and another Grand Jury Prize in 2011 for his police non-thriller Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. At 55, the presumptive heir is now le roi de Cannes.

In his acceptance speech, Ceylan noted that “This year is the 100th year of Turkish cinema, and it’s a good coincidence I think. I want to dedicate the prize to the young people of Turkey,” and added, in an allusion to the 11 deaths in antigovernment protests that began in May 2013, “especially those who lost their lives during the last year.”

Campion, the Australian filmmaker whose The Piano shared the Palme d’Or with Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine in 1993, read out the winners. Looking like Meryl Streep’s more severe sister, and managing to mispronounce the names of most of the jurors with whom she had spent that past 11 days, Campion received an affectionate kiss from Festival President Gilles Jacob, retiring at 83 after 38 years at the Festival. Jacob told her, “Jane you know what you mean to me.”

It was a night for big emotions. Dolan, the French-Canadian wonder boy who wrote, directed and starred in his first film, I Killed My Mother, at 19, paid tearful tribute to Campion, saying, “Few films changed my life in the way that your Piano did,” and speaking to “people of my generation: There are no limits to our ambitions excerpt the ones we build for ourselves.” More tears.

(READ: Mary Corliss’s review of Xavier Dolan’s Mommy)

Spall gave the longest, most passionate and entertaining speech. Pulling out his cellphone to read a speech he had written on the flight back to Cannes, he began reading his thanks but was interrupted by a beep: “Oh, I got voicemail.” He spoke of his leukemia treatment at the same time Leigh was winning the 1996 Palme d’Or for Secrets & Lies. Briefly, overcome, he said, “Oh, sorry, I’m crying. Sentimental old fool.” When the audience applauded, he murmured, “Thank you. The irony of your applause is not lost on me.” Spall spilled out his gratitude to his director, the cast and crew, ending, “Most of all I just thank God that I’m still here and alive.”

(READ: Richard Corliss’s review of Mr. Turner)

In a year with eight winning films chosen among only 18 contenders in the official competition, not many worthy works got slighted. Two we’re sorry for: the Argentine comedy Wild Tales, which brought satiric intelligence and fun of the highest order to this mostly mopey fortnight; and Two Days, One Night from directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, two-time winners of the Palme d’Or. Their thoughtful drama featuring a spectacularly solid performance by Marion Cotillard — who still has not won any official award at the Festival she so frequently graces. They wuz robbed.

(READ: Mary Corliss’s reviews of Wild Tales and Two Days, One Night)

In prizes awarded by other juries, the first-film Caméra d’Or award went to Party Girl (directed by Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis), the rambling account of a former dancer in blowsy middle age. Leidi, directed by Simón Mesa Soto, took the Short Film Palme, with special mention to Clément Trehin-Lalanne’s Aïssa and Hallvar Witzo’s Ja Vi Elsker. May we be citing these filmmakers’ feature films in Cannes coverage in future years.

So we bid adieu, or rather au revoir, to our 41st visit to this Riviera festival. As we say each year, with fingers crossed, à l’année prochaine! See you next Cannes.

TIME movies

Winter Sleep: Can a Three-Hour-Plus Prize-Winner Be Just Pretty Good?

Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Turkish film 'Winter Sleep' has earned raves and denunciations. The true evaluation lies somewhere in between.

The second day of the 67th Cannes Film Festival, a three hour, sixteen-minute Turkish film was the hot ticket — so hot that, despite begging, jostling and running a quarter-mile obstacle course to get past the guards, neither Mary Corliss nor I could gain admittance to Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep.

By the time we finally caught up with it at a closing-day screening today, the Anatolian talkathon had garnered a sheaf of raves (“a cat’s whisker away from being a masterpiece” —Nikola Grozdanovic, Way Too Indie) and a few derisive dismissals (“Yak yak yak yak yak” —Gavin Smith, Film Comment). This afternoon it snagged the FIPRESCI Critics Prize for best film in the Cannes competition, and no one at tonight’s closing ceremony would be astonished if it took one of the top awards, possibly the Palme d’Or, which last year went to the three-hour La vie d’Adèle, aka Blue Is the Warmest Color.

(READ: When Cannes Got the Hots for Blue Is the Warmest Color)

So, after all that urgent chatter, how is Winter Sleep? Pretty good. It’s true that an extra-long movie can spur passionate cinephiles to extremes: they fall in love with it or furiously denounce it. Forty years ago, when Jacques Rivette set up a nonstop screening of his 13-hour Out One for a group of critics and friends, the attendees emerged to smother the French director in compliments. Rivette’s dry explanation for all the raves: “La durée.” Which translates as “They’re congratulating themselves for having sat through it.”

Still, any film of any length can be approached and appreciated in moderation. Given that the title virtually encourages viewers to nap during the proceedings, Winter Sleep is no chore to sit through. Most of its characters are complex and compelling, and the actors’ faces, craggy or lustrous, reward fascinated study. The movie indulges one frustrating narrative trope in too many Cannes contenders: the unexplained disappearance of a major figure more than halfway through the story, as with the Kristen Stewart character in Clouds of Sils Maria and the lawyer friend in Leviathan. But as austere soap opera or probing character study, Winter Sleep validates the viewer’s attention, if not its nearly 200-min. running time — make that ambling time.

(READ: The Corlisses’ reviews of Clouds of Sils Maria and Leviathan)

Nestled high in picturesque Cappadocia, the Turkish alpine region where homes are built into volcanic peaks, the Hotel Othello is open all year for tourists. Its owner-manager, Aydin (Haluk Bilginer), also has properties around the village, and his employees have recently manhandled the surly tenant Ismail (Nejat Isler) who is long overdue in his rent. One winter morning Ismail’s young son Ilyas (Emirhan Doruktutan) throws a rock at the window of a truck carrying Aydin, and a simmering dispute erupts with Ismail. Aydin returns to the hotel, which he runs with the help of his lovely young wife Nihal (Melisa Sözen) and divorced sister Necla (Demet Akbag). The restless Nihal has busied herself with a school charity involving the local teacher Levent (Nadir Sarabacak), and this stirs Aydin’s ire, though not quite of the Othello variety.

Shakespeare does get quoted (Hamlet’s “Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all”), but the apter literary touchstone here is Chekhov — the shifting vectors of love and animosity in a land locked in the past — and the cinematic reference is Ingmar Bergman’s oeuvre of troubled souls spitting out their anxieties. Even Bergman in Winter Light or Scenes from a Marriage didn’t produce dialogues as intricate and exhausting as the ones between Aydin and his sister or Aydin and his wife. These conversations may last for 15 or 20 mins.; they build, brick by resentful brick, as the each woman spills out her guts while hardly raising her voice. When Nihal calls Aydin “an unbearable man,” she is delivering not an operatic aria but a coroner’s report.

(READ: Corliss on Why Ingmar Bergman Mattered)

And Aydin, a former actor who hopes to write a history of Turkish theater, doesn’t give her the satisfaction of a ferocious footlights retort. It’s as if he doesn’t take her arguments seriously enough to be wounded by them. Nor does Ceylan take evident sides in these wrangles. “The awful thing about life,” says Jean Renoir in his 1939 masterpiece The Rules of the Game, “is that everyone has his reasons.” Winter Sleep portrays all its characters in their full complexity, complacency or contempt.

The rock that shatters the truck window is the movie’s only obvious act of violence. And there’s a moment toward the end — a man with a gun in a shooting party attended by his perceived rival — that blessedly does not conform to melodrama. But other late scenes do dip into cliché. You will not be disappointed if you suspect that, when Nahil and Ismail are in a small room with a pile of Turkish liras and a fireplace, the money will find the flames. And the final moments contain the film’s only voiceover narration, which makes numbingly explicit what the eloquent faces of the actors reveal on the screen. That’s the last 15 minutes: an empty gesture followed by too explicit emotion.

So this critic would say of Winter Sleep: It’s good, just not that good. Not Palme d’Or good.

TIME movies

The Cannes Countdown: Six Contenders for Major Awards

IFC Films

Some sensational actresses, including Marion Cotillard, Julianne Moore and Juliette Binoche, vie for top awards at the world's biggest film festival

Cannes chugs to its conclusion, like a Riviera train overfreighted with international stars and world-class directors. They are all anxiously awaiting the Saturday closing ceremony, at which a jury headed by filmmaker Jane Campion will bestow its awards, above all the coveted Palme d’Or for best picture. Last year that prize went to the sexy French drama Blue Is the Warmest Color. This year — who knows? Among the 18 films in competition, some have staked strong claims, including two bio-pics — Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner and Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher — and Xavier Dolan’s turbulent family psychodrama Mommy.

We have covered those films in previous Cannes reports, and will address one more contender, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep, before tomorrow’s prize show. Below are short appraisals of six important movies with a prayer for the Palme and a good chance to reach U.S. theaters.

TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT. Marion Cotillard has earned an Oscar, as Edith Piaf in La vie en rose in 2008, but never a Cannes Best Actress award. In her fourth consecutive year at the Festival (after Midnight in Paris, Rust & Bone and The Immigrant), the luminous star insinuates herself convincingly into the role of a working-class wife and mother in this excellent effort from Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Two-time Palme d’Or winners for Rosetta (1999) and L’enfant (2005), the Belgian brothers cast Cotillard as Sandra, on leave for depression from her job in a Seraing solar-panel factory. Learning she is to be laid off after a vote of her coworkers, Sandra must spend the weekend petitioning them to change their minds before a Monday re-vote and let her stay, which means each employee would forfeit a 1000-Euro bonus.

The Dardennes’ original conception was to pit a below-average worker against the wavering consciences of her peers. But their on-screen Sandra is just a decent woman out of work and luck. Canvasing her 14 colleagues in a secular Stations of the Cross, she lays out her case to each one (in scenes shot in one long take) and gets different, often poignant reasons for their yes or a no. This race-against-time scenario lends an urgency to the socialist maxim, “From each according to his ability, to each according to her need,” that is at the heart of the Dardennes’ concern. This might be a provocative film with any leading lady. With Cotillard — looking fatigued yet fabulous in tank tops and jeans as Sandra makes her desperate rounds — it is also an actor’s triumph. —M.C.

(READ: Mary Corliss on the Dardennes’ The Kid on the Bike)

THE SEARCH. In any festival, the most eagerly anticipated film often turns out to be the most disappointing. That is the fate of this 2½hr. super-serious war-and-remembrance film from Michel Hazanavicius, whose blithe wordless comedy The Artist premiered at Cannes two years ago and won Academy Awards for best picture, writer, director and leading actor. Set in a Chechnya devastated by war, and loosely based on the 1948 Fred Zinnemann film of the same title, The Search puts an NGO dogooder (the excellent Bérénice Bejo) in touch with a Muslim Chechen child (Abdul Khalim Mamutsiev) traumatized by seeing his parents slaughtered by Russian soldiers. Learning, hugging and copious finger-pointing ensue, not least in the film’s depiction of a young soldier (Maxim Emelianov) so brutalized by his training, in Full Metal Jacket style, that he is turned into a soulless killer.

Hazanavicius says he made the film “to oppose the absurd theory according to which all Chechens are terrorists.” That is absurd. Not all Chechens, or Afghans or Somalis, are terrorists. But some are, and their actions brought the Russian army into Chechnya. Another discredited theory is that the mediocre, muddled followup to any Oscar-winning film deserves a choice spot in the Cannes competition. —R.C.

(READ: Mary Corliss’s review of Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist)

WILD TALES. “Pasternak,” the first of six stories in Argentine writer-director Damián Szifron’s omnibus comedy, is the shortest. The people on a flight slowly realize that they all knew a man named Gabriel Pasternak, that they in some way wronged him and that he secretly paid for their tickets. Finally they learn that Pasternak has taken over the cockpit and is about to crash the plane.

Beginning with this deliciously sour anecdote — the only terrorist-hijacking story we know of that’s played for comedy — Szifron weaves a tapestry of outrageous revenge in fables set in a roadhouse diner (“The Rats”), on the open highway (“Road to Hell”), in a DMV office (“Bombina”), among the corrupt members of a rich family (“The Bill”) and at a wedding ceremony where the bride learns her new husband has had affair with one of the wedding guests (“Till Death Do Us Part”). Except for “The Bill,” they are smart, tart, beautifully performed mini-epics of grievance escalating to a kind of sanctified madness. Wild Tales deserves Cannes’ Screenplay prize, and your delighted patronage when Sony Pictures Classics opens this in the U.S. —M.C.

MAPS TO THE STARS. Obscene misanthropy enlivens this inside-Hollywood comedy written by Bruce Wagner and directed by Canada’s David Cronenberg, more than 40 years into his film excavations of the human body as its own deadly parasite (Rabid, The Fly, Naked Lunch). Diseases of the heart and spirit ravage the entire movie business, most prominently a guru-masseur (John Cusack), his stage-moth wife (Olivia Williams) and their two kids — one a obnoxious TV moppet crashing into puberty (Evan Bird), the other a refugee from the loony bin (Mia Wasikowska).

In addition to ghosts, incest, strangulation and a tantric three-way, the movie zings with some of the raunchiest, most knowing dialogue since the almighty Heathers a quarter-century ago. (One of the milder exchanges: a Bieber-like teen star, played with regal ennui by Justin Kelly, says he can sell his excrement for $3,000 a poop, in part because “It’s got rice in it from Nobu.” And when he has diarrhea, it’s like “summer clearance.”) Oddly, Cronenberg’s staging of this delirious material is a little pokey, but worth sitting through for the sheer transgressive jolt — and for Julianne Moore’s fearless, pitch-perfect performance as an aging actress trying for one last great part. Moore might deserve the Best Actress award but, given the film’s corrosive raillery, won’t get it. —R.C.

(FIND: David Cronenberg’s The Fly on the all-TIME Top 25 Horror Movies list)

THE CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA. Call it All About Eve in the Swiss Alps. In that Joseph Mankiewicz Oscar-winner, Bette Davis was the aging actress, Anne Baxter the ingenue avid to steal her star luster. In Olivier Assayas’s update, Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) is the modern Davis: a middle-aged actress who won early fame as the scheming young Sigrid in the play Maloja Snake, and who is now asked to take the role of Helena, the older victim, in that play’s revival. Sigrid is to be played by Jo Ann Ellis (Chloë Grace Moretz), a teen hottie with a scandalous rep. To prepare for a part that forces her to acknowledge her vanished youth, Maria rehearses with her assistant Val (Kristen Stewart). But which young woman is Eve? Both Val and Jo Ann carry themselves with a precocious poise that in Maria has curdled into the self-doubt. She knows that stars shine brightest when they are new.

The Julianne Moore character in Maps to the Stars faced a similar challenge: she is up for a movie role once played by her dead mother. The threat to Maria is the shroud of an aging actress — the crow lines and thickening waist that Binoche, 50, wears as badges of long, meritorious movie service. Last appearing for Assayas in the lovely Summer House, an international art-house hit, she adroitly handles the competition and collaboration of Twilight star Stewart, whose crafty lack of affect shows to fine advantage in what may be her most complex screen role. Moretz, at 17 segueing from child roles, has just a few scenes to prove Jo Ann is wiser than her tabloid escapades would indicate. Another Cannes entry that showcases for excellent actresses, Sils Maria needs a bit more tension in its telling — and a change of its confounding title. —M.C.

(READ: TIME’s 1950 review of All About Eve by subscribing to the magazine)

LEVIATHAN. This 2hr.21min. drama by Andrey Zvyagintsev, whose The Return took the top prize 11 years ago at the Venice Film Festival, has been short-listed by some critics for this year’s Palme d’Or. It’s certainly long, bleak and politically resonant enough to win official approval. Kolya (Alexey Serebryakov), a dour handyman, has been fighting to keep his seaside property that the venal mayor (Roman Madyanov) has legally seized. In this battle he has enlisted an old Army buddy (Vladimir Vdovitchenkov), now a lawyer, who tries to buck the long odds but is more interested in Kolya’s wife (Elena Lyadova).

Scenes of the frightful price that this Job-like character must pay are kept off-screen; this is, among other things, a murder mystery in which viewers must infer whodunit. But the Mr. Big perpetrator is the post-Soviet system, rewarding corruption and punishing the innocent — those poor slobs who, in a familiar Russian stereotype, smoke and drink way too much. In this middling-quality dirge, the one moment of acerbic humor comes at a shooting party, when the host brings out framed portraits of former Soviet leaders, from Stalin to Gorbachev, for target practice. “Got any more current ones?” somebody asks. The reply: “Too early. Not enough historical perspective.” —R.C.

TIME Cannes Film Festival

Meet the Most Loyal Fan of the Cannes Film Festival

97-year-old Simone Lancelot has attended all but one since 1947

Simone Lancelot can surely be known as the most loyal fan the Cannes Film Festival has ever had.

Now 97, she went to her first one in 1947. Since then she has attended 66 out of 67 of the invitation-only festivals held in the French Riviera town. She says she fell in love with cinema at the age of eight and began attending the festival when she worked at a local movie theater.

Although Lancelot says the festival has lost some of its appeal since the early days — the film’s stars are harder to spot and are often surrounded by bodyguards — she still recommends cinema as the key to a long life.

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