The Cannes Film Festival grew wet again on Wednesday, while inside the theaters one film was greeted with critical storm clouds and another with only the sunniest of reactions.
And as Thursday began with Alexander Payne‘s “Nebraska” (early responses ranging from “sublime” to “respectable,” from “maybe Payne’s best” to “Payne’s weakest”), the weather and the lines and the craziness began to wear on even the staunchest Cannes partisans.
“Invariably, those of us who attend the fest count the days back home until we depart, then about three quarters of the way through we start counting the days until can get the hell out of here,” wrote Awards Daily’s Sasha Stone, who is also reviewing Cannes films for TheWrap.
The trouble with this year’s lineup, though, is that leaving the Croisette early means you’ll miss some of the marquee films in the main competition. “Nebraska” debuted on Thursday, as did Abdellatif Kechiche’s “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” which drew rapturous reviews after advance screenings on Wednesday.
James Gray‘s hotly awaited “The Immigrant” is on the schedule for Friday, as it Arnaud des Pallieres’ “Michael Kohlhaas.” And Saturday, the final day for competition films, brings the one-two punch of Roman Polanski‘s “Venus in Fur” and Jim Jarmusch‘s “Only Lovers Left Alive.”
It’s safe to say that most of those films will be received more warmly by the critics than Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Only God Forgives” was on Wednesday. (You can get a roundup of the meatiest screeds here.)
But Refn (left) was unapologetic at the press conference that followed the movie’s first screening. According to indieWIRE’s Matt Mueller, the director said that he approached filmmaking “like a pornographer: It’s about what arouses me … I have a fetish for violent emotions and images.”
He also said he wrote the screenplay at a time when “I was permanently angry and didn’t know how to channel it.” His star, Ryan Gosling, couldn’t make it to Cannes, so instead he sent a note that read, in part, “Nicolas, my friend, we really are the same persons in different dimensions. I’m sending you good vibrations.”
Lots of people sent good vibrations to writer-director J.C. Chandor (“Margin Call”), who won raves for “All Is Lost,” a nearly wordless tale of survival at sea starring Robert Redford as a man struggling to survive after his sailboat is nearly capsized. One example: Jeff Wells, who earlier in the day went after “Only God Forgives” with a vengeance, called the Chandor film “a riveting piece of pure dialogue-free cinema” and “a major acting triumph” for Redford.
“Has there ever been a mostly dialogue-free commercial film that has worked so successfully since the advent of sound in 1927?” he added. “What a landmark this film is.”
The audience at the film’s gala premiere agreed, giving a near-10-minute standing ovation to a star who spends much of his onscreen time drenched and nearly all of it without speaking.
Meanwhile, the L.A. Times’ Steven Zeitchik found a young New York-based director of corporate videos and a quartet of short-film makers from L.A. in Cannes, and spotted a trend: the “Kickstarter Kids,” unexpected visitors to the South of France who got into the festival with little, independent crowd-funded films.
“It cost us more money to come to Cannes than to make this movie,” said Cate Smierciak, one of the producers of a short called “The Opportunist,” which is playing in the Critics Week section. (After using Kickstarter to get the money to make the movie, she and her colleagues used it again to get to Cannes.)
Said director David Lassiter, who has been hitting the circuit in Cannes looking for backers for a feature-length version of “The Opportunist,” “I felt guilty asking people for money. But … I guess that’s what people are doing here. They’re just doing it with richer people.”