TIME movies

Fake Nicolas Cage Movies Were Shopped Around at Cannes

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

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.”

[THR]

TIME

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.

TIME

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

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

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.

TIME movies

REVIEW: Mommy at Cannes: The One We’ve Been Waiting For

Festival de Cannes

French-Canadian infant terrible Xavier Dolan grows up, with a powerful film about the ferocity of mother love

Artists are different from the rest of us: they make their pain public. Most people conceal their grievances under an official smile, fearful that the airing of any animosities will force confrontations and result in emotional defeat. Aspiring artists don’t care what their parents or peers think. They channel their resentments into a semiautobiographical first novel — or, in Xavier Dolan’s case, a first film.

Made when he was 19, with Dolan in the lead role, and detailing the betrayal he felt when his mother got exasperated by his antics and sent him off to a boarding school, the movie bore the ultimate Oedipal revenge title: I Killed My Mother. It fairly burst with teen trauma, and with the unassimilated visual influences of such auteurs of romantic angst as Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Wong Kar-wai. In its world premiere in the Directors’ Fortnight program at Cannes in 2009, the film won several awards, immediately establishing Dolan as the enfant terrible of French Canadian cinema. Tomorrow, the world.

Or rather, today. At a still-precocious 25, the former Montreal child star takes a more mature but endlessly provocative and exhilarating look at the same relationship in Mommy. In a somnolent Cannes season of too many disappointments from major directors and a tepid level of ambition, Mommy is precisely the electroshock jolt the festival needed. Like Blue Is the Warmest Color, which pleasurably startled audiences on its way to winning the Palme d’Or, Dolan’s film is intimate, emotionally choleric, sensational and a bit loo long (at 2 hours and 20 minutes). But its excesses are part of, at the heart of, its appeal. Beginning with a car crash and accelerating from there, Mommy administers primal therapy to its viewers and perhaps to Dolan himself.

As in I Killed My Mother, the embattled mom is played by Anne Dorval. Suzanne Clément, a sympathetic teacher in the earlier film, takes a similar role here. The Dolan surrogate, the charming, troubled teen, is brilliantly assumed by Antoine Olivier Piton. This time, though, the viewpoint is reversed. Never condemning the son for his explosions, Dolan portrays the mother as a boundless fountain of tough love. She is Mommy dearest, without the twisted Joan Crawford irony. “Back in the days of I Killed My Mother,” Dolan says in the press notes, “I felt like I wanted to punish my mom. [But] through Mommy, I’m now seeking her revenge. Don’t ask.”

Widowed for three years, Diane “Die” Després (Dorval) cleans houses and occasionally translates children’s books. Her 15-year-old son Steve (Piton), afflicted with ADHD and given to violent outbursts, has started a fire in the school he’s been assigned to, causing the burning of another young inmate. Now Diane is to be Steve’s caregiver and teacher, while he would much rather be skateboarding or deliriously wheeling a shopping cart in traffic. Their verbal battles — in a raw Quebec patois that necessitated showing this French-language film with French subtitles — would singe the ears of the bickering couple in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? But at heart there is love: in Steve’s buying Diane a necklace with the word MOMMY, and in Diane’s indefatigable championing of her son.

They get unexpected help from their neighbor Kyla (Clément), a high-school teacher on leave for depression, who agrees to tutor the boy. She and Diane get along like loving sisters, especially when they open the box wine and dissolve helplessly into giggles. But Steve, who has inchoate dreams of going to the Juilliard School, hates the idea of sitting still for an education, testing Kyla with rude taunts. When he rips off her own necklace, she wrestles him to the floor and, her nose to his, fiercely lays down the law. His response is that of a frightened child or puppy: he wets himself.

Missing his late father, and trying to be the man of his house the blond, good-looking Steve naturally resents the lonely lawyer Paul (Patrick Huard) whom Diane befriends in hopes he can ease Steve’s legal problems. In fact, Steve bubbles with an adolescent sexual tension that keeps threatening to boil over into transgression. But in a film whose only two females are maternal figures, the prime, primal theme is the love everyone needs, not the sex everyone wants. “I’m afraid you’ll stop loving me,” Steve tells Diane. She replies with a mother’s melancholy truth: “What’s gonna happen is I’m gonna be loving you more and more, and you’ll be loving me less and less. That’s just the natural way of life.”

Set in “a fictional Canadian future,” Mommy is a film about right now and always, about any family’s bonds and how the members fight to strengthen or break them. Dolan encases the story of Steve and Diane in a nearly nonstop playlist of oldies — chosen, the director imagines, by Steve’s dead father — featuring Sarah MacLachlan, Céline Dion and, in a crucial scene set in a karaoke bar, Andrea Bocelli.

Dolan and cinematographer André Turpin chose an unusual screen ratio. Instead of wide screen they went for narrow screen, like a vertical iPhone shot, perfect for to capture the length of a body or the anguish on a face, and to dramatize operatic feelings in a narrow field. In only two sequences does the image expand to the full screen, when Steve or Diane imagines life without social or spatial confines — until the sides of the image start closing, like prison walls around a convict’s dreams.

There’s a chance the Cannes jury, headed by filmmaker Jane Campion, will share the enthusiasm of the early critics and award Mommy the Palme d’Or. That would make Dolan the youngest director to take the Festival’s top prize — one year younger than Steve Soderbergh when he won for sex, lies and videotape in 1989. Dorval, Piton and Clément would be equally worthy of individual or ensemble acting awards, so intensely committed are they to the film’s combustible story and characters.

But prizes are irrelevant to a film of suffocating power and surprising warmth. Stripping himself of his stylistic borrowings from other directors, Dolan has found his own urgent voice and visual style. Mommy doesn’t aim for classical grandeur. Instead, it bursts through the screen with the rough vitality of real people, who love not wisely but too well.

TIME Cannes Film Festival

Everyone At Cannes Loves Ryan Gosling. His Movie, Not So Much

While the actor was greeted by screaming fans at the film festival, his first movie behind the camera was met with a far less enthusiastic reception

At this year’s Cannes Film Festival, both fans and actresses alike are swooning over Ryan Gosling, who has earned a reputation as everyone’s favorite heartthrob with Hollywood favorites like Blue Valentine and The Notebook.

But the actor-turned-director was at the festival to promote his directorial debut Lost River, which was greeted by chilling boos, short bursts of applause, and overall unfavorable reviews.

No matter the critics’ reaction to the fantasy drama, Gosling’s debut at Cannes is one that didn’t go unnoticed: from screaming mobs outside the theater, to the festival director having to urge the audience not to look at Gosling but at the stage during the introduction, here’s what you just can’t miss about the actor’s first red carpet walk as a director.

 

 

TIME movies

REVIEW: Ryan Gosling’s Lost River: Crazy Like a Rat

FRANCE-ENTERTAINMENT-CANNES-FILM-FESTIVAL
Reda Kateb, Matt Smith, Iain De Caestecker, Christina Hendricks and Ryan Gosling pose during a photocall for the film "Lost River" at the 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on May 20. Bertrand Langlois—AFP/Getty Images

When an actor turns director, what happens? Usually, a modest exercise. But this indie star has gone wild with an ambitious effort that is nuts at its core

First came the boos, like an owl symphony, or a cattle crescendo. Then, a smattering of defiant applause. Then, the boos again. The antiphonal response could have gone on all afternoon, with catcalls winning in a landslide, but the critics had other movies to see. Suffice to say that Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut, Lost River, is the most enthusiastically derided entry so far at this year’s Cannes Film Festival — just edging out Atom Egoyan’s The Captive. Among the Lost River notes jotted by my colleague and better half Mary Corliss, usually a temperate soul, was the phrase “pretentious horsesh-t.”

Well, yes, but. Give some credit to Gosling, the Method-hunk star of such indie faves as Half Nelson, Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines, plus Hollywoodier fare like The Notebook, The Ides of March and Crazy, Stupid, Love, for his mad mashup of horror and social statement, crackpot fantasy and Sundance-style meandering. That means it wavers between the stupefying and the obscure, between LOL and WTF.

(READ: Corliss on Ryan Gosling in George Clooney’s The Ides of March)

To judge from the writer-director’s remarks, this collision of tones was premeditated. “I wanted to make this film because it’s a movie that I would want to see,” he wrote on his blog. “Like many children who grew up in the 1980s, I first approached the cinema through mainstream films. I was excited to shoot this kind of story, but with the language of filmmaker that I’ve acquired through the years.” His original title for the film was the very drive-in, midnight-movie How to Catch a Monster. Though he changed that to the more indie-sounding Lost River, the movie still goes for the feverish and lurid. It will appeal to people who would rather be outraged than bored.

In the fictional urban wasteland of Lost River — actually today’s Detroit, where the movie was shot — single mom Billy (Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks) is a part-time waitress raising her two sons, teenage Bones (Iain De Caestecker, the Scottish actor on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and a toddler. Bones likes the girl next door, Rat (Saoirse Ronan), so called because her other closest friend is a large, amiable rat named Nick. This part of Lost River is ruled by a bully named Bully (ex-Dr. Who Matt Smith); he patrols the neighborhood in a convertible with an upholstered chair mounted on the backseat and shouts through a bullhorn, “Welcome to Bully Town.”

(SEE: A teaser for Ryan Gosling’s Lost River)

In Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive, shown at Cannes last year, the coolest inhabitants were a pair of married, millennia-old vampires. Lost River could be called Only Losers Left Alive. Virtually all of the old residents have skipped town, leaving a cratered sump hole and a few stragglers with no option but to stay. One elderly black man advises Bones to “Head south and don’t stop till you see the palm trees.” (Fun fact: If you head due south from Detroit, the first place you hit is Canada.) This part isn’t fantasy. As Gosling has said of Detroit, which he first visited when shooting The Ides of March, he saw “40 miles of abandoned neighborhoods and, within pockets of those neighborhoods, there were parents trying to raise their children on streets where houses were being burned and torn down around them.” It’s a nightscape of decay and crime that every big city cradles and nobody outside wants to think about.

(READ: Corliss’s review of Only Lovers Left Alive)

Billy, who’s pretty naive for a woman who’s lived for ages in this garbage can near the back door of Hell’s kitchen, is behind on her mortgage, and sleazy banker Dave (Animal Kingdom‘s Ben Mendelsohn) tells her she’ll be evicted unless she goes to work at a nightclub he owns — an upmarket sado-Dada joint that could have been dreamed up by David Lynch in collaboration with Dario Argento. The star dancer, Cat (Eva Mendes), doesn’t strip; she sexily mimes bloody disfiguration. Billy’s act involves painting her face red until it looks as though the skin had been flayed off.

Now for the weird part. Bones has discovered a flooded, subterranean amusement park whose logo is a giant dinosaur head. “That’s why the whole [town] feels like it’s underwater,” he says. Bones’ adventures merge with his fever dreams, until … well, until everything burns down or blows up. Which is what might happen to Detroit/Lost River, just by atrophy or entropy.

The cast is game to accommodate Gosling’s strange scenario — from De Caestecker, clearly a young Gosling surrogate but without the pinup looks and torso, to Mendes and Mendelsohn, whom the director appeared with in The Place Beyond the Pines. (He must have said, “I’m making a movie in Detroit, wanna be in it?” and they said yes.) Gosling gives them all plenty of breathing space, but this indie effort is not really an actors’ exercise. It’s an oneiric hymn to destruction, an Armageddon anthem — a movie to see, if at all, under the influence.

(READ: Mary Pols on Ryan Gosling in The Place Beyond the Pines)

Every once in a while, prominent actors of the crazy stripe entice producers to back a weirdo project. In 1971 Dennis Hopper, fresh off Easy Rider, made a nutsy-greatsy modern western called The Last Movie. Johnny Depp, in 1977, came to Cannes with The Brave, a good-looking antimasterpiece about an American Indian who agrees to die in a snuff film for the pleasure of Marlon Brando. The movies were insane but never boring. If they failed, it was because their makers tried something bold on a broad canvas. Gosling’s movie is in that funhouse ballpark. Sometimes it’s tonic for an actor to get a crazy movie idea out of his system, and maybe into ours.

TIME movies

Sports at Cannes: Wrestling with Foxcatcher, Scoring With Red Army

Steve Carell and Channing Tatum star in Foxcatcher, a strange, distant story of an Olympic wrestler and his patron, while in Red Army, Slava Fetisov radiates star quality on and off the ice

Wrestling is the most solitary and elemental of sports: one man grappling another in intimate combat. Ice hockey, meanwhile, is pure teamwork, especially as played by the Red Army team in its dominant decades before the collapse of the Soviet Union. It follows that Foxcatcher, about a wrestler, his brother and their coach, is an investigation of men less comfortable in speaking than in expressing themselves through physical activity that can turn violent — and that the documentary Red Army, focusing on defenseman Viacheslav “Slava” Fetisov, brims with camaraderie: high spirits and a few verbal high sticks.

Thanks to its star cast of Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo and its director Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball), Foxcatcher was among the most eagerly anticipated selection at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Red Army, from first-timer Gabe Polsky, is simply one of the best.

FOXCATCHER

On Jan. 26, 1996, John Éleuthère du Pont, scion of the gunpowder and chemicals fortune, shot and killed the wrestler Dave Schultz. Du Pont, 57, ran a wrestling school called Team Foxcatcher at his Newtown Square, Pa., estate, where Dave, 36, served as a coach. Dave’s brother Mark, 35, also lived and practiced at the estate. They are the only two brothers in U.S. wrestling history to win both Olympic and World championships.

Why did John kill Dave, whom he had treated as a friend and close colleague? Du Pont’s friends were baffled by a gentle man’s heinous eruption. At John’s trial, neither the prosecution nor the defense provided a reason. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity but was convicted of third-degree murder, and died in 2010 in the Laurel Highlands State Correctional Facility in Somerset, Pa. He was 72.

(READ: Bennett Miller and Philip Seymour Hoffman on Capote)

Foxcatcher, from a screenplay by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, also declines to spell out a rationale. As Miller said at today’s press conference, his directorial style “is not so much telling a story as observing a story.” The movie, which saves the true story’s famous, fatal act of violence for the climax, is a murder mystery in which the killer’s motive remains a mystery. That makes Foxcatcher, for all its closeups of the main trio, a chilly, distant view of an enigma festering into an atrocity.

Truman Capote, as captured in Miller’s first feature by Philip Seymour Hoffman, was profligately articulate. Billy Beane, the Oakland A’s General Manager played in Moneyball by Brad Pitt, communicated clearly in words, stats and caroming body English. The Foxcatcher men have no such eloquence; Bennett describes their mode of discourse as “repressed male noncommunication.” John du Pont (Carell) may have been bred to reticence; raising one’s voice on the Foxcatcher estate was simply not done. As for the Schultzes, they articulate their fury, grudges and superb skills in their sport.

(READ: Richard Corliss’s tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman)

A marvelous early scene shows Dave (Ruffalo) leading Mark (Tatum) in a warmup exercise — a series of embraces, pats, grips and flips that eventually draws blood — and all to make Dave a more formidable wrestler. Beautifully choreographed and performed, and revealing emotional vectors that the rest of the film withholds, the scene in the wrestling circle is equally a fraternal fight and a love match.

John (Carell) wants into that circle. An accomplished ornithologist who authored several academic studies on the birds of the South Pacific, he chafes in the imperious shadow of his mother (a wonderfully haughty Vanessa Redgrave) and the 32,000 trophies and ribbons she has amassed as an equestrienne and stable owner. John considers horses “dumb. They eat and shit. That’s all they do.” His mother’s take on wrestling: “A low sport.” Perhaps eager to compete in the sports arena, he founds Team Foxcatcher — his own stable, with manflesh replacing horseflesh — and collects wrestlers dependent on his largesse. (Wrestling and boxing are the only two Olympic sports requiring amateur standing of its participants. The athletes must take side jobs or find a patron.)

(READ: The inside-baseball dish on Bennett Miller’s Moneyball)

“I have a deep love for the sport of wrestling,” John tells Mark when he flies the young man East for an interview. Dave, with a wife (Sienna Miller) and young child, wants to stay put; and Mark feels stranded without his guide and sparring partner. But John dangles this promise: “Without your brother you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.” The movie portrays a rivalry between John and Dave, to be Mark’s mentors. Dave had played that role since he and his brothers were the children of a fractured family. Dave eventually brings his family to Foxcatcher, where he trains other wrestlers and, in the process, wrests from John the role of father figure.

Tatum’s Mark is a gentle galoot, so lacking in introspection that he seems not to understand his resentment as being John’s pawn; if he had taken revenge on his host, the killing would be as understandable as John’s shooting of Dave. And Ruffalo is fine as the more gregarious Schultz. Carell gives the big performance — in startle quotient, not in sweeping gestures or fuming arias, which he avoids.

(READ: Steven James Snyder on Channing Tatum in Magic Mike)

The nice-guy correspondent for The Daily Show, who graduated to star comedy roles in Evan Almighty and The 40 Year Old Virgin, and as the voice of Gru in the Despicable Me animated franchise, Carell has a melancholy suitable for lovable losers and, here, a lonely aristocrat. His delicate, creepy work occasionally obscured by a large prosthetic nose, he plays John as gray and graceless, an inert entity. John has repressed so many of his family anxieties, as well as his urges to watch muscular men wrestle for his pleasure, that he is nearly dead, emotionally, by the middle of the movie. Killing Mark may be the one way John has to prove he’s still alive.

Really, though, we have to guess at most of this, because Foxcatcher is almost as withholding as its characters. True to his directorial creed, Miller has acutely observed the collision of its three men’s temperaments. It remains for the viewer to tell, or guess at, the full story. —R.C.

RED ARMY

More than any form of filmmaking, the documentary demands star quality — a charismatic force at its center to drive home the political or human message. Polsky, director of Red Army, found his star in Slava Fetisov, part of the legendary Green Line of the U.S.S.R. ice hockey team. During his 13 seasons, the Red Army squad won seven World Championships (out of a possible 10) and two Olympic gold medals, losing only in 1980 to the U.S. team in the “Miracle on Ice” semifinal game. Defying the Soviet hierarchy, he left Russia for North American to play for the National Hockey League, spurring an exodus of other Soviet and European stars to the NHL. Many of his fellow Russians joined him on the Detroit Red Wings, which in 1997 and 1998 won the Stanley Cup.

Those are just Fetisov’s statistics. The man is even more impressive: a dominant presence off the ice and in front of Polsky’s camera, whether declaring his political independence, misting up at the memory of his first coach or, when the mood strikes him, giving his director a middle-finger salute. At the evening screening of Red Army, Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux praised Fetisov as “this incredible actor, this character, this champion!” He is all of that in this exuberant, affecting film portrait, which could escape the niche of documentaries and become a popular attraction on the order of Searching for Sugar Man. The film has similar heart, humor and unbelievable-but-true narrative twists.

In the NHL, star players often skate freely toward the goal, a one-man show. In Soviet hockey, “The man with the puck is the servant of the other skaters.” Their coaches stressed teamwork, as developed in a decade of junior-league training, until the intricate weaving of the Green Line skaters approached the choreography of the Bolshoi Ballet or the chess mastery of Garry Kasparov. (One NHL announcer calls them “the Soviet Symphony.”) The long years of excruciating practice forged a comradeship, in the best sense, of Fetisov and his mates. Surviving the 1980 Lake Placid humiliation, and weathering disagreements that seemed like betrayals, the Green Liners were a band of brothers. Some of them reunited with Fetisov in the NHL years later, after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Fetisov, who speaks excellent English from his decade in North America, is still a Russian at heart. He returned there, at the urging of Vladimir Putin served as Minister of Sport from 2002 to 2008. Fetisov deflects some of Polsky’s questions by saying, “I’m a politician now.” As a Soviet skater, he was also a political and social force: he and his team lifted the U.S.S.R. at a time when the West was the best at everything but hockey. As one Russian commentator notes, “The story of hockey is the story of our country.”

Ice hockey is not America’s story, and at the moment Russia is not the most popular foreign power. But this playful, poignant film presents a human story that transcends decades, borders and ideologies. —M.C.

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