It’s been almost a week dodging raindrops and “No Selfies on the Red Carpet” warnings at the Cannes Film Festival, where all cylinders seem to be firing for filmmakers, sales agents and news-making stars in town.
The banished-ish Lars von Trier (“Melancholia,” “Antichrist”) returns to the festival after a seven year absence over a press conference blunder where the director said he had some sympathy for Adolf Hitler.
His latest, “The House That Jack Built,” has a first look trailer — and, as social media tells it, has festival organizers preparing for extreme reactions from the crowd.
Elsewhere, the conversation about former Cannes stalwart Harvey Weinstein continues, as embedded festival media reflect on his absence. In diametric opposition, the gender parity conversation moves from the red carpet to the big screen as films shine light on a world fighting the patriarchy.
Here’s what’s shaking in the South of France today:
Lars and His New “House”
Much has been made of von Trier’s return after being declared persona non grata by the festival in 2011, but little has been shared about what he’s bringing to the table in “The House That Jack Built.”
Ahead of his Monday night premiere, IFC Films dropped a teaser trailer for the Matt Dillon film, and it’s a doozy. The ’80s heartthrob appears to be a haphazard serial killer in the throws of an existential crisis. Uma Thurman and Riley Keough make Hitchcockian blonde cameos as von Trier seems to be commenting on his own body of work through Dillon’s character.
“Some people think that the atrocities we commit in our fiction are those inner desires we cannot commit in our controlled civilization,” Dillon’s character muses in between bashing Thurman in the face with a car jack, imprisoning Keough in a hotel room and dragging a body from the back of a van, as blood spills out onto the highway. Cute!
In the official Cannes program, a warning appears next to the film’s schedule times: “Certain scenes are likely to offend the sensitivity of the spectators.”
There’s even speculation on Twitter that the festival is putting medics on standby should moviegoers faint during the screening.
Here’s the trailer:
The Fallen “King of Cannes”
On the heels of Salma Hayek’s comments that Harvey Weinstein openly discredited her abuse claims because she’s a woman of color, one critic commented on the disgraced mogul’s absence.
“The late Harvey Weinstein (well, it feels that way) was famous for bossing the Croisette with his uniquely charming blend of proximal aggression and creative vulgarity,” writes The Irish Times film critic Donald Clarke.
He recounted a Weinstein anecdote about meeting Prince Albert of Monaco, who was allegedly introduced to the monarch by Roger Ebert as “the King of Cannes.”
A king no longer.
“The most horrible manifestations of his power lunacy have, following revelations last October, led to his virtual banishment from Cannes,” the critic said.
Equity On Film
TheWrap touched this week on the blazing dominance of women in Cannes this year, from jurors Cate Blanchett and Ava DuVernay protesting on the Croisette to Monday’s pledge from festival organizers to level a massive programming gender gap .
The unifying sentiment is perhaps a direct response to the toxic Hollywood culture exposed in the Weinstein scandal — and now it’s showing up on screen.
“Girls of the Sun” takes a hardened look at a female Kurdish unit fighting ISIS, and is being interpreted as a prism for the real-world events unfolding around the festival.
“If this year is one of reckoning for women, then ‘Girls of the Sun,’ screening in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, is the film for this era,” our own Sharon Waxman, CEO and editor-in-chief of TheWrap, wrote of the film.
“Any number of scenes swing between pathos and horror, but the film cannot possibly exaggerate the horrors that women in this part of the world have actually lived,” Waxman said.
Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times singled out “Girls” and Jafar Panahi’s “3 Faces” as titles that “battle the patriarchy.”
As political and empowering as it is to see parity steal Cannes’ thunder, it’s nice to see these social anxieties and battle cries for change show up in the movies. It is a film festival, after all.