Alexander Payne has become one of those figures who isn’t just a film director — he’s a genre. As much as I love Election, his 1999 breakthrough film, the Payne movie that really kicked off the Payne format was About Schmidt (2002). The leisurely, semi-planted version of the road-trip structure; the classically framed images of a falling-down American middle class that Hollywood is no longer in touch with and no longer knows how to show us; the earnest, damaged heroes with their family ties and family demons; the arcs that are built not out of screenwriting-class “story points” but, rather, out of experience — arcs that serve as emotional bridges from one state of being to another. Not every Payne film conforms to every one of these traits (The Descendants wasn’t a road movie — though I’d argue it was a road movie of the spirit), but Payne Land is still, by now, a familiar and even cozy place, with its own off-kilter humor and skewed, knuckleball humanity. READ FULL STORY
Tag: The Palme d'Or (1-9 of 9)
At Cannes, the fabled Palme d’Or isn’t like any other Best Picture award. Unlike, say, the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, or even the Oscar, it is conferred with a reverence that says: This film is a work of art — and the person who made it has been ushered into the pantheon. He (or she) is now one of the initiated, recognized in the shimmering galaxy of the international film world to be a major artist, a saint of the cinema, a wearer of the supreme auteur merit badge. There have been 65 Palme d’Or winners (the award was launched in 1955, and in eight different years it’s gone to two films), and I would argue that it has only grown, during that time, in status and meaning. The very first Palme d’Or went, believe it or not, to Marty, that sweet little Hollywood ordinary-Joe romance with Ernest Borgnine. In the early years, plenty of fabled filmmakers (like Jean-Luc Godard, arguably the most important European director of the ’60s) never won a Palme d’Or. Back then, however, they didn’t need it. The presence of art films in the culture was transcendent on its own. In our era, the kind of movies that win the Palme d’Or mostly exist on a different island from mainstream taste. And so, paradoxically, even as the films seem smaller, the award looms larger. It’s now a major part of the cultural scaffolding propping up the notion that art in cinema thrives, and that there’s a potent continuity to it — from Fellini to Lars von Trier, from Taxi Driver to Pulp Fiction, from Andrei Tarkovsky to Abbas Kiarostami. READ FULL STORY
Similarly, if you try to figure out Terrence Malick, Terrence Malick figures out you.
The elusive director of The Tree of Life does not appear in the bonus features on the upcoming Blu-ray release of his ethereal and divisive Cannes Film Festival winner, but he is still the main attraction for those eager to learn more about him.
While the home-video release, out Oct. 11, includes a making-of documentary, Malick is actually the subject of most of the discussion from stars Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain, to his crew, producers and admiring filmmakers such as The Dark Knight Rises’ Christopher Nolan and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo‘s David Fincher. It’s a portrait of the filmmaker in periphery. READ FULL STORY
Cannes Film Festival: Lisa's Palme d'EW awards before the real event (and news of a last-minute contender for top prize)
Juries at the Cannes Film Festival have confounded betting odds over the years by picking one of the very last entries in the competition schedule as their Palme d’Or winner. (Exhibits A, B, and C: Taste of Cherry in 1997, Rosetta in 1999, and last year’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall Past Lives.)
As it happens, the very last entry I saw before returning home on Saturday (I missed the final competition entry, having seen 18 out of the 20 on the ballot) is, I think, a real contender for this endearingly Cannes-ish distinction: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, by READ FULL STORY
Now, in the final lap of the Cannes Film Festival, is the time when we critics begin comparing notes and conjecturing meaninglessly on possible prize winners. (Analyze this: What will jury president Robert De Niro like? And have Lars von Trier’s thoughtless comments, reported at face value by disingenuous journalists with no time for context, ruined the chances for von Trier’s great movie Melancholia?) Meanwhile, as we shmooze and quantify, here’s a quiet headline: There’s not a critic I know, including me, who READ FULL STORY
Cannes Film Festival: 'Melancholia' director Lars von Trier talks about Nazis, and gleeful reporters sacrifice meaning in pursuit of a quote
At the press conference following the first screening of his masterpiece Melancholia, Lars von Trier was his own worst enemy, and his own jester, too. What else is new? Answering the usual, dim, blah-blah press conference questions (What were your influences? Are you happy with the movie? How was it working with Kirsten Dunstzzzzzzz?) the Danish filmmaker with a talent both for making movies and making mischief went off on weird, dumb tangents. He talked about porn (He said that’s the kind of movie he’s making next), he mentioned Jews, and got tangled up in musings about Nazis. (He said he used to think he was a Jew. Now he thinks he may be a Nazi.) Then again, he also said that maybe his new movie is crap. READ FULL STORY
The Tree of Life premieres on Monday at the Cannes Film Festival, but another clip from the eagerly awaited Terrence Malick film has been released, showing Brad Pitt’s overly tough father trying to teach his boys how to throw a punch.
Any time a bigger guy says to a little guy, “C’mon, hit me!” it’s bound to be bad for the smaller one. READ FULL STORY
We Need To Talk About Kevin has delivered a gut-punch to the Cannes Film Festival.
The movie, about a mother (Tilda Swinton) grappling with the aftershocks of a school massacre perpetrated by her sociopathic son, played like an early-morning waking nightmare at the start of the movie gathering’s second day. It earned raves, deeply affecting critics, and stirring predictions that it would claim the festival’s Palme d’Or grand prize before most of the rest of the screenings had a chance to play.
It’s hard to describe We Need To Talk About Kevin simply as a drama – director Lynne Ramsay’s film gets under the skin like a horror story …
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Cannes: Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'Biutiful' is bleak, a little inert...and just cosmically tragic enough to win the Palme d'Or
At Cannes, there are two kinds of movies that take home the top jury prize, the droolingly coveted Palme d’Or. There are the films that deserve it, like Taxi Driver or The Ballad of Narayama or sex, lies, and videotape or 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days. And there are the movies that achieve a notably facile, Euro-friendly brand of total heaviosity, and are therefore shoo-ins. You probably think that I’m just finding a snarky way to dismiss the Palme d’Or winners I haven’t agreed with. But I’d contend that the celebrated Cannes films in the total-heaviosity category, while acclaimed at the time as deathless works of art, don’t age well. To see what I mean, here’s a list of some of those winners: The Mission, Elephant, Wild at Heart, Farewell My Concubine, Barton Fink, Paris, Texas, and — give it time — last year’s The White Ribbon. Be honest: Are you moved, truly, to see any of those movies again? (I’ve got kind of a soft spot for Barton Fink, but please.) This is the sort of heaviosity that only grows heavier, yet less profound, with the years.
This morning, I saw Biutiful, the new movie by Alejandro González Iñnáritu, a director whose work I have always enjoyed, and admired, tremendously. I was blown away by Amores Perros (2000), thought 21 Grams (2003) was convulsive and powerful if a little pretentious, and got sucked right into the globe-hopping vortex of humanistic strife that was Babel (2006), a movie so middlebrow-liberal and Oscar-ready that it didn’t even win at Cannes. Biutiful, on the other hand, may just come through for Iñárritu, even though I think it’s the first film of his that doesn’t really work. It’s set in one of the scruffiest, most low-rent districts of Barcelona, and its main character — in many ways, its only character — is a vaguely defined underworld operator named Uxbal, played by Javier Bardem, who brings the role every charismatically morose shading of disruption and anger and despair he can. READ FULL STORY
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