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Day 10 – A little Drained by Immigration

I wanted to love The Immigrant more than I did. Sorry. It was good. Well made. But it dragged a little. Perhaps the lighting was a little too dark. Or perhaps the subject just was so harrowing and so well portrayed that I left feeling drained.

And typically, this is the one film that I got interviewed about. When you leave the movie theatre at the Palais, with a crush of journalists all rushing to be the first to file their story in the press room…there are always TV crews outside waiting to be the first to send back a live report on how the movie fared to the critics. (And to get a good seat in the press conference.) And this morning, I got trapped. So I said what I could…which was that I was so disappointed in the end…even though I understand it…

The Immigrant By James Gray

The movie is directed by James Gray and stars French actress Marion Cotillard (who plays a Polish woman who emigrates to the USA) and sometimes troubled but always talented American star Joaquin Phoenix. Phoenix was unable to attend today’s press conference, after the film, because he’s on location shooting at the moment.

Gray obviously thoroughly enjoyed working with the star and said today that as a director “we spend our lives revolved around actors. We realise that with some of them, we have the same feelings about life, art and human behaviour. Our first film together showed me that Joaquin Phoenix has a very wide range of emotions to offer.”

Gray also discussed how in favour of immigration he is, that it “enriches society, vitalises culture and makes it versatile and dynamic.

Day 9 – I Can so do Cannes and South African Yachts

Cannes this year is full of ladies with little dogs in handbags. Funny to see the Hollywood trend making it to the shores of the Riviera. Umbrellas have also been an accessory. And goodness the wind has howled.

Partying in Cannes

And…as always…the people have partied…and the celebrities have shone. The other night I nearly knocked Uma Thurman over as she stepped out of a restaurant. I was running up the cobbled alleyway. But I didn’t knock her over because she has that aura…and before I could bump into her, her magnetic field knocked me back! She once told me, a few years ago, that one of the only things that makes her sad about being famous (and she was very careful to stress that she was not complaining, but somebody asked what the shortfalls were) is that she can no longer flow with other people. She said she feels like a rock sticking out of a river…and all the people, the humans, are rushing past her and she sticks out like a sore thumb…well like a rock.

Tonight we had a fabulous time on a beautiful South African-owned yacht. We were celebrating the launch of a film called “Plot for Peace” about South Africa during its murky apartheid years.

Produced and co-directed by Emmy Award winner Mandy Jacobson, together with Carlos Agullo, the documentary tells the “untold story of a mysterious Frenchman, ‘Monsieur Jacques’ who participated in helping end apartheid in South Africa and whose involvement can be attributed to being one of the influences that led to the release of Nelson Mandela from prison.”

That sounds like a tall story…but watch the documentary and you’ll see. It features interviews with Pik Botha and other notable South Africans from that period, and seems to substantiate the claims that a French man helped our country be released from apartheid!

SA Flag flies high in Cannes


Day 8 – Only God Forgives

Ryan Gosling and Nicolas Winding Refn teamed up again to do Only God Forgives – set in Thailand and focuses on Julian (Gosling), a small time criminal who runs a boxing club in Bangkok. After his brother Billy (Tom Burke) is brutally murdered by a Police Captain named Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm), Julian goes on a revenge mission at the instruction of his psycho mother Lady Macbethian played by Kirstin Scott Thomas who was probably the only character worth watching – she is amazing in this role.
Onlu God Forgives Cannea Film Festival

The lack of dialogue and movement for that matter are so draining and had me wanting to run for the exit. I kept hanging in there in the hope that something would give and that Julian would wake up and engage us but nothing. The action scenes do not make up for the rest of the films lack of substance.

Refn explained what he was going for with “Only God Forgives” during a press conference after the screening:

The idea of Julian’s character was a man who was on some sort of journey but he did not know what he is going towards. We spoke about the character of the sleep walker, destined to move, who does not know where he going. He is bound and chained to his mother’s womb. To release that he has to go through several levels of violence. Why doesn’t he speak? Maybe because the language of silence is far more potent.

With half an hour to go I could take no more and ran out of there as fast as I could feeling very angry that Refn and Gosling could waste our precious time like that. What would this do for Ryan’s movie career – this was no drive!

If you think I disliked the movie check out Jeff Wells from the Hollywood Elsewhere take on Only God Forgives.

Movies really don’t get much worse than Nicholas Winding Refn‘s Only God Forgives. It’s a shit macho fantasy — hyperviolent, ethically repulsive, sad, nonsensical, deathly dull, snail-paced, idiotic, possibly woman-hating, visually suffocating, pretentious. I realize I sound like Rex Reed on one of his rants, but trust me, please — this is a defecation by an over-praised, over-indulged director who thinks anything he craps out is worthy of your time. I felt violated, shat upon, sedated, narcotized, appalled and bored stiff.

Day 7 – Behind The Candour with Michael Douglas

Today belonged to Michael Douglas who starred in this morning’s screening of BEHIND THE CANDELABRA. Movie journalists aren’t usually the most magnanimous of souls, but when Douglas stepped into the press conference, every critic and hack there put their hands together to applaud his fantastic performance as Liberace.

Behind the candelabra By Steven Soderbergh

But that wasn’t all. Halfway though the press conference, Douglas broke down in tears as he explained with candour how much this role meant to him.

“It was right after my cancer, and this beautiful gift was handed to me…and I’m eternally grateful,” he said.  The press room erupted in applause again…with many of the journos in tears too.

When one suggested that Douglas deserved to win this year’s Palme d’Or, the coveted prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the Hollywood legend grinned graciously  and said what he had was enough. “This is as good as it gets. I always have a great time coming here [to the Cannes Film Festival]. It’s a reminder of the joy and celebration of making movies, and rekindles your own energies.”

BEHIND THE CANDELABRA is about the secret and tempestuous relationship between Liberace and probably the biggest love of his life, Scott Thorson, a handsome young animal-trainer who walked into his life in 1977. It’s a wonderful look behind-the-scenes at the lavish lifestyle the flambuoyant pianist lived, and features some great performances by Debbie Reynolds (unrecognisable with a nose prosthetic), Rob Lowe (who is perfectly cast as a plastic surgeon) and of course Matt Damon who not only convinces us that he’s in love with Douglas’ Liberace…but flashes a Brazilian fake tanned butt that, as he said in the press conference, “once you see, you can never unsee”.

Behind The Candelabra By Steven Soderbergh

Behind The Candelabra By Steven Soderbergh

Day 6 – Un chateau en Italie

What a wonderful surprise – quirky, funny, touching…found myself not wanting it to end. The entire audience laughed throughout, most of the time at very serious moments but it was so funny that we couldn’t help but laugh – even Louise and Ludovico in a very serious moment of possibly losing everything they had couldn’t help but laugh.
Story is basically about the destiny of a leading family of wealthy Italian industrialists who slowly lose their wealth and are faced with ruin amongst other testing circumstances… like the brother who is ill and the sister who is desperate to have children coupled with the mother trying to keep it all together which makes for a very warm and quirky film.
un chateau en italie cannes film festival
un chateau en italie cannes film festival
Mark this down in your list of movies to see…

Lexus and Weinstein collaboration

Harvey Weinstein, Tim Burton, Ryan Coogler and Paul Van der Burgh, Director of Lexus Europe,joined the five filmmakers for a panel discussion at The Hotel Majestic. The Lexus Short Film Directors: Justin Tipping (Swimming in Air), Cristina Molino (Beyond Memories), Campbell Hopper (one-half of directorial duo known as “Special Problems” with Joel Kefali, Echoes), Chan Chung Ki (Pupil), and Mitsuyo Miyazaki (A Better Tomorrow), discussed their individual interpretations behind the ‘Life is Amazing’ series, along with the emotional inspirations and technical influences they took from their own parts of the world.

Talking about getting started in filmmaking, Harvey Weinstein commented: When Good Will Hunting was released by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, which then became the success that it did, they went on to launch Project Green Light, subsequently finding and launching the careers of some of the most recognisable talent today.  This is the more efficient way of doing it.”

He wanted to give something back to the industry – something his father taught him and has served him well. It was good to see how impressed Harvey was to be sitting with Tim Burton – who he considers one of the best film makers out there. Tim added some great comments the conference and applauded Lexus and the Weinstein company for giving these film makers such an amazing platform from which to work. They were given access to all the Weinstein company resources so the felt like the sky was the limit for them.

Lexus Weinstein Short Movie collaboration Cannes Film festival


To celebrate the success of the Lexus Short Film Series, The Weinstein Company and Lexus hosted a party for filmmakers, talent and industry professionals at Baoli Beach, Cannes in an event which culminated the day’s successful celebration of the theme ‘Life is Amazing’ and honoured the importance of emerging global filmmaking talent.

Below is a pic of the 5 film makers from left to right at the party.

Justin Tipping (Swimming in Air), Cristina Molino (Beyond Memories),Chan Chung Ki (Pupil), and Mitsuyo Miyazaki (A Better Tomorrow), Campbell Hopper (Special Problems Kefali, Echoes), 

Lexus Weinstein Short Film colllaboration Cannes Film Festival

Day 5 – Chatting with the Coens about that Cat…

So as you know – this is one of my favourite things about being a journalist and being at the Cannes Film Festival – to watch a movie, be a little confused…and then be able to ask the people who made that movie exactly what it all meant!

And that’s what happened today, after last night’s enjoyable but a little perplexing “Inside Llewyn Davis” by Joel and Ethan Coen, the famous brothers who have made such enjoyable hits as “Fargo” and who often work with George Clooney and John Goodman.

Inside Llewyn Davis By Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
The Coen Brothers during the filming of Inside Llewyn Davis

Goodman appears in “Inside Llewyn Davis”. In fact he appears in a part of the film that has very little to do with the rest of the film. The Coen brothers admitted today that that was just something they decided to do for fun – just insert a “road movie” in the middle of the movie they were already making.

They also addressed the scenes about the cat, and confirmed (half-jokingly!) that “yes, the film revolves around the cat!”

Most of the journalists in the conference room were quite taken with the movie, actually loved it passionately – because it doesn’t conform to any rules! And most were also taken with the Coen Brothers during the press conference. Especially one man from Germany who almost brought the conference to a standstill with his question – which was basically to ask the Coen brothers to inject some humour into Germany because, according to this man, since many Jews were exterminated during World War II, the humour has left the country…The journalist claimed that this has actually been spoken about in Germany, the need for Jewish people to bring humour back.

Most people in the conference didn’t know whether to laugh or be outraged. Fortunately the sound director of the film stepped in to thank the man for his incredibly insightful question and told him he’d like to ponder it and get back to him.

Justin Timberlake was also at the press conference. Interesting. He play his role in the film so well that it takes a while before you realise that’s Timberlake. And to meet him in real life – he’s not what you’d think. He’s a deep thinker. Incredibly knowledgeable. But of course. It makes sense. Nobody gets that successful unless they’re smart and talented.

Day 4 – Inside the Coen Brothers’ Minds…

I don’t know how they do it, but the Coen Brothers always surprise! So even though you know there films are never going to adhere  to the normal structure…you still get a surprise when the beginning is at the end, when there’s an entire mini-movie within the movie…and when really, you’re not quite sure what the film’s purpose is…but since it’s late in the evening, and you’re relaxed, you sit back, enjoy and let the music wash over you.

Because one thing “Inside Llewyn Davis” is about is the music right up until Bob Dylan came along.

In fact it does raise one very interesting point – who is the more true musician – the one who stays true to who he is and sings using his name. Or the one – like Robert Zimmerman – who changes his name (Zimmerman being Dylan’s real name).

In “Llewyn Davis” (a title I’m not that fond of because I just can’t pronounce the name), the singer refuses to change his name. He wants to stay pure to himself and his art. But perhaps all IS in a name, and so what if you change your name. You are still you. And your music is still the lyrics and chords that come from your imagination, and the sound that comes from your voice.

The lead actor is an unknown – Oscar Isaac – with an incredible voice who is able to hold the screen for over two minutes at a time…just singing. At times it’s almost like being at a live show. He is brilliant.

There is also a cat in the film who’s quite interesting…

Inside Llewyn Davis By Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
Oscar Isaac

Day 3 – The Past

The movie starts with the return of Ahmad from Tehran. It’s been 4 years and he has returned at the request of his wife Marie who he is separated from to finalise their divorce proceedings. During his stay Ahmed discovers how strained Marie and her daughter Lucie have become and his efforts to help calm the situation brings out some big secrets.

The past Cannes Film Festival

The acting and script is brilliant and my only complaint would be that the story moved a little too slow at times and really did not need to. It was raw and dealt was some very relevant issues of today. Divorce, new partners, ex partners and the ones who suffer the most…the children and more often than not do not really understand what is going on or why it’s going on.

The scenes where Ahmed and the new boyfriend meet for the 1st time is so well played and so realistic. Marie is a women with 2 children, pregnant with another who is in love with a man who has his own son and wants to get divorced so she can re marry. However her boyfriend is still married to a women who has been in a coma for 10 months and not sure how to deal with all of this especially with Ahmed’s return bringing issues to the fore. Certain situations bring them together but others almost destroy them.
The Past Cannes Film Festival

Jeune & Jolie

A 17 year old girl loses her virginity on a summer vacation which seems to upset her but back in Paris she happens to see a documentary on these girls who make extra money as prostitutes and decides to try this. Isabelle becomes Lea and starts living this double life until one fateful day one of her clients literally has a heart attack and dies under her and the police come looking for her. His death seems to shock her enough to stop her prostituting herself but in the meantime the police track her down through video surveillance and inform her mother of her double life.

jeune-jolie - cannes film festival
They tell her parents who have absolutely no idea – the shock and disappointment which is played really well by her mom and step dad which then leads onto how everyone who knows her story starts to treat her differently because they they don’t trust her anymore.

She starts to date a boy in her class and it seems that normal life is ensuing but is it enough for her – I get the feeling that normal life is never going to be enough for her and that she will continue to prostitute herself.