With a few good movies (and the new Uggie!) behind them, festivalgoers look forward to a jammed week with Soderbergh, Payne, Refn, Jarmusch, Polanski…
The first five days of Cannes have ended, with the rain and the Coen brothers dominating the conversation. But the six days of competition screenings that remain promise to bring a full slate of interesting movies – and, with a little luck, a few more films to give the Coens’ “Inside Llewyn Davis” and Asghar Farhadi’s “The Past” some competition for the Palme d’Or.
And maybe the weather will even cooperate and make getting to see the movies less of a mess.
On the upcoming slate, Monday will bring “Wara No Tate” (“Shield of Straw”) from Japanese action maestro Takashi Miike, and “Un Chateau en Italie” from Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, the only female director in the main competition.
And in the Un Certain Regard section, which stole a little of the main competition’s thunder with early screenings of “The Bling Ring” and “Fruitvale Station,” the James Franco-directed version of William Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying” will premiere on Monday, with its director arriving in town early to catch some parties and the Sunday premiere of “Borgman” (left).
Tuesday means the HBO Liberace movie “Behind the Candelabra,” which might seem out of the place in the main competition if it weren’t for the fact that it’s reputedly the last film from Steven Soderberg, who won the Palme for his first movie, “sex, lies and videotape”; and Paolo Sorrentino’s followup to his 2011 competition title "This Must Be the Place," “La Grande Bellezza.”
Wednesday is “Only God Forgives,” the new collaboration between the director of “Drive” (which won him the Cannes best-director prize), Nicolas Winding Refn, and that film’s star, Ryan Gosling; and Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s “Grisgris,” the only African film in competition.
Thursday brings Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska,” another hotly awaited film, and Abdellatif Kechiche’s “Blue Is the Warmest Color.” Friday is “The Immigrant” from James Gray, a regular on the Croisette who has never won, and Arnaud des Pallieres’ “Michael Kohlhaas.”
And Saturday winds up the competition with a bang: Roman Polanski’s reputedly erotic “Venus in Fur” and Jim Jarmusch’s vampire movie “Only Lovers Left Alive.”
It is a slate to get cineastes excited and buyers curious, and it means a lot of the action at Cannes will take place toward the end of the festival, not the beginning.
Still, the buzz from the first few days remains. Much of that buzz still surrounds “Inside Llewyn Davis” and its star Oscar Isaac, about whom First Showing’s Alex Billington tweeted, “Early to say, but I need to say, Oscar Isaac for Oscar in ‘Llewyn Davis.’ Play this right @CBSFilms and he’s good.”
(Here’s some trivia for the “Oscar for Oscar” campaign: Only five guys named Oscar have ever been nominated for Oscars, including only one actor, Oscar Homolka in 1948. The only Oscar-winning Oscar was composer Oscar Hammerstein II, who won for songs in 1941 and 1945.)
The musical side of “Llewyn Davis” is also still getting attention, with Isaac and Carey Mulligan winning raves for their performances and music supervisor T Bone Burnett getting plaudits for recreating the various styles of folk music heard in Greenwich Village in the early ‘60s.
(Left to right: Joel Coen, Mulligan, Isaac and Ethan Coen.)
And because songs are performed in their entirety, the movie itself is a musical, Joel Coen told Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times. (He said his wife, Frances McDormand, first had the insight.) “When the song is finished, we’ve notched up to a different place in the story.”
The Telegraph, meanwhile, devoted about 400 words to the other breakout star of the Coens’ film: the cat that Isaac carries for much of the film. “With an on-screen name of Ulysses, the creature is now tipped to follow in the footsteps of Uggie the dog, who starred in the Oscar-winning ‘The Artist’ two years ago,” wrote Hannah Furness.
“The film doesn’t really have a plot,” Joel Coen said at the Cannes press conference. “That concerned us at one point. That’s why we threw the cat in.”
Another Cannes connection between this year’s slate and “The Artist” is more human: Berenice Bejo, who plays a mother of two looking to finalize her divorce in “The Past,” was the co-star of that 2011 film. In an interview with the Flicks and Bits website, she described the troubling nature of her audition for director Asghar Farhadi:
“Asghar was looking for something in my face, I didn’t know what … He put some cotton wool in my mouth, he darkened my forehead, he worked on the corners of my mouth to the point where I said to the make-up artist, ‘If he wants to change my face that much, he might as well find someone else.’”
For a last word, we’ll leave it to filmmaker Tristan Goligher, who was likely referring to some combination of the rain, the security, the pomp and circumstance, the lines and the caste system enforced by color-coded badges when he tweeted, “Watching films in Cannes is like getting pregnant in a nunnery. It requires dedication and divine intervention.”