Marshall Takes Cannes: Day 10-12

28 05 2012

The festival is over and I have so much to report from these last few days!  I don’t know if I was in Cannes for my whole life or a nanosecond; in some strange way, I feel like it’s both simultaneously.  Now that the all the awards have been handed out and everyone has left the Palais (and basically the city of Cannes as well), I figure I’ll put a bow around my tales of Cannes to wrap it all up.

To all those who have been reading, thanks for following my adventures!  If you felt even a fraction of the thrill I felt at the festival, then I feel truly blessed to have brought even the smallest pinch of excitement into your day.  I’m traveling throughout Europe for the next 11 days, but I’ll try to post some outstanding reviews during my trip.  I wound up seeing 12 of the 22 competition films, which was far more than I ever expected!  I was very blessed and fortunate, and hopefully I can convince you to see or skip what I saw!

Day 10 – Friday, May 25

Thought about rushing “Cosmopolis” in the morning … yeah, that didn’t happen.  Still feeling a little queasy and definitely feeling extremely tired, I slept past that 7:00 alarm to get up for an 8:30 screening.  I arrived around 11:30 A.M. to rush the 1:00 P.M. screening, and no one from the rush line was able to gain entry to the screening.

Not wanting to waste another day without seeing a movie, I didn’t mope for long and went almost straight to the line outside the 60th Room (a rooftop tent theater on the roof of the Palais – yeah) for the reprise screening of “The Paperboy” at 2:00 P.M.  But I should have known something was up when the movie didn’t start on time.  I found two friends in the theater and we talked vaguely about people’s reactions to the film.

Then, at 2:30 P.M., the film started … in Spanish.  I suddenly realized that I was not going to be seeing Lee Daniels’ “The Paperboy” with stars like Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron.  Instead, I mistakenly walked into “Post Tenebras Lux,” the Mexican expressionist film that seriously made me want to rip my head off.  Thankfully, a character in the film showed me what that would look like, and that pretty much talked me out of it.

The Pavilion where I worked held a big party that night, which mostly hosted our normal guests (and “Beasts of the Southern Wild” director Benh Zeitlin) plus a few big names including Macy Gray and Lee Daniels, Oscar-nominated director of “Precious” and “The Paperboy.”  Don’t worry, I finally got a picture with a celebrity – not a blurry shot taken from God knows how far away!

Day 11 – Saturday, May 26

This one would be an early morning, though, as I managed to score a ticket to the morning press screening of Jeff Nichols’ “Mud.”  It was much different than I expected, veering away from the visual and visceral brilliance of “Take Shelter” and more towards a plot-driven mainstream Hollywood film.  I’m curious to see what this means for Nichols’ career and onto what trajectory this launches him.

I then quickly ran to see if I could spot Reese Witherspoon at her photo call on the roof of the Palais.  It was initially unsuccessful, but I would not be deterred!  I lingered around the back of the building hoping she would come out of the star entrance, and my loitering eventually paid off as I eventually spotted she and Matthew McConaughey walking across the bridge into the main building!

Naturally, I ran into the building hoping to catch her before she got into her car, but that never panned out.  I decided to go into the Palais to use the restroom, and I walked past a TV that showed the press conference for “Mud.”  Thanks to getting lost a decent amount of times in that Death Star, I knew exactly where press conferences at Cannes were held.  I decided to wait outside the room near the elevator where I assumed she would have to go; there was also another area closed to the entrance to the press conference room, but I thought she would pay them no attention.

Well, I was an idiot.  I never should have doubted that Reese Witherspoon is magnanimous.  Turns out, she went over to the other area and signed a few autographs before leaving – not out the elevator, but through some back entrance.  Grr.  I did get to glimpse her magnificent beauty and become dazzled by her radiant smile.  She’s even better than I ever could have imagined over the past ten years.  Here’s the picture I did get; Reese is the blonde blob in the middle.

The day was destined to go downhill from Reese sighting, but I didn’t think it would get as bad as “Cosmopolis.”  The Robert Pattinson-starrer was a serious disappointment, mainly due to the dialogue and direction.  R-Pattz wasn’t half bad, and I actually thought he was pretty good at the end.  Maybe there is hope…

It was also the last beach screening, which was listed as a “surprise screening” on the schedule.  Rumors circulated like mad about what the movie could be – I had heard “The Dictator,” Brian DePalma’s new film “Passion,” and footage from the new Bond film “Skyfall” all mentioned as possibilities.  Turns out, it was only a short film program that lasted for over an hour and a half.  I was a little underwhelmed and upset to say the least.

Day 12 – Sunday, May 27

The last day of the festival meant a lot of packing, a lot of cleaning, and a lot of goodbyes.  There wasn’t much of a wasted moment to be had – oh, and every single one of the 22 competition films was replaying again.  I got a chance to see “Holy Motors,” the French film featuring Kylie Minogue and Eva Mendes getting her armpit licked, and that was pretty fun.  I also saw “Beasts” director Benh Zeitlin yet again, just chilling and seeing a movie like a regular Joe.  Gosh, I hope he wins an Oscar or something – the man just seems so humble, modest, and unassuming.

I thought about trying to see “The Paperboy” after my Friday fiasco, but I ultimately wound up opting for food and fun with friends.  I’ll get to see it in no time at all back home in the States.  After convincing myself that I would go out on a high note with “Holy Motors,” the jury announced all the awards.  There was one big winner that I still had the chance to see – “Reality,” winner of the Grand Prix (essentially second place).  I quickly caught a bus from my apartment and made it to the theater in time to see the movie.  Don’t know that it was worth the trip, but I’m glad I can say I saw it – especially since it looks like Oscilloscope is going to hold it for release until 2013 in the US.

Oh, and going to the bathroom in the artist’s entrance finally paid off as I saw Emmanuelle Riva, the leading actress from the Palme D’Or-winning “Amour.”

I wound up seeing all but one of the North American films, the Palme D’Or, Grand Prix, Best Director, Best Actor, and Camera D’Or winners, as well as a smattering of other films that ran the gamut from great to God-awful.  Overall, a very interesting festival – hopefully, it won’t be my last.  There’s plenty of unfinished business I have left with Cannes, and so many things I want to do better in the future.  But for now, as I close this chapter, I am satisfied and truly grateful.

Much thanks to my parents for making this trip possible!  Hopefully, Cannes 2012 is just the beginning of many great things to come.

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Oscar Moment: “For Colored Girls”

26 10 2010

Tyler Perry has been finding great success making comedies for the past five years, yet with “For Colored Girls,” he tries something totally different.  It’s a project more similar to “Precious” than “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” dark, dramatic, and depressing in tone.  Based on an award-winning play and featuring an ensemble cast of eight headlining African-American women, this seems like a great awards contender on paper.

Yet it won’t be able to follow in the footsteps of “Precious.”  As Guy Lodge of In Contention put it back in August, “‘Precious’ entered the race on a wave of festival-acquired respectability; it’s doubtful whether voters would have sought it out without the prior approval of Sundance, Cannes and Toronto. ‘For Colored Girls’ will have no such advantage.”  It will surely get a crowd from Perry’s die-hard fan base that will see anything he makes; however, how many of them will flock to see a drama is fairly suspect.

For a Best Picture play, it needs the critics since it didn’t have the opportunity to garner buzz on the festival circuit.  Knowing the stakes, Perry decided to screen the movie in advance for critics despite a bad experience with pre-screening of “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” that convinced him not to show his eight subsequent films.

And apparently, Perry should have stuck with his instincts because “For Colored Girls” is getting trashed out of the gate.  I’ll give you a sample of what the critics are saying.  BEWARE, it’s actually quite humorous.

Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter:

“For once, Tyler Perry doesn’t put his name above the title, but perhaps he should with ‘For Colored Girls’ to distinguish this train wreck of a movie from the stunning theater piece of 36 years ago by Ntozake Shange … All Perry does is force conventional plots and characters — utter cliches without lives or souls — into the fabric of Shange’s literary work. The hackneyed melodramas get him from one poem to the next but run roughshod over the collective sense of who these women are.”

Peter DeBruge, Variety:

“While Perry’s craft has slowly but surely improved with each successive film, this latest project seems to fall beyond his reach. Just as the director was finding the organic quality that eluded him in ‘Diary’ and other early efforts, he’s confronted with a conceptual piece that calls for an entirely different approach. Yet he can’t resist turning ‘For Colored Girls’ into a Tyler Perry Movie, which means imposing diva worship where nuance is called for and a pleasure-punishing Christian worldview where a certain moral ambiguity might have been more appropriate.”

The last Tyler Perry movie to get an Oscar nomination was — oh wait, none of his movies have ever received an Oscar nomination!  If it comes off as melodramatic to audiences, word of mouth could be toxic and all chances for the movie could be sunk.  There’s only one hope I see for the movie in the big category: the fact that it is the only movie about minorities in the hunt.  The Los Angeles Times made this observation: “For the first time since the 73rd Oscars 10 years ago, there will be no black nominees in any of the acting categories in the February ceremony.”  The same goes for Best Picture which, at the moment, looks to be about as white as bleach.

Sasha Stone of Awards Daily suggests that the movie could take “The Blind Side” slot, but I think it has too narrow appeal and too depressing subject matter to be that movie.  In my mind, the best chance “For Colored Girls” has is in the acting categories.  With so many actresses, there are so many possibilities.  The question, though, is how to pick which one?  Or two?  Unless there is a clear standout, the actresses will cancel each other out.

Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere quotes an Academy source who says there are three levels of performances offered in the movie: Janet Jackson and Loretta Devine are good; Phylicia Rashad and Thandie Newton are great; Kimberly Elise and Macy Gray are masterful.  Interestingly, the two mentioned as being the best are probably the least well-known of the group.  Apparently Elise came up short in 1998 for a critically acclaimed turn in “Beloved,” so maybe this nomination could be redemption.  Gray, however, has shown up in few movies, but her work here as a back-door abortionist could be shocking and gripping.

Katey Rich of Cinema Blend offers another candidate for consideration, Anika Noni Rose.  She says of Rose, “she has one of the film’s strongest monologues, plays a character who undergoes significant changes over the course of the film, and never oversells it.”  She also brings up the fact that Rose has been solid in other awards movies like “Dreamgirls.”

For me, the only certain thing about “For Colored Girls” is that nothing is certain.  The success (or lack thereof) of the movie itself makes it a risky call for Best Picture, and the fact that no female has emerged as the movie’s dominant force makes it difficult to get much buzz going for Best Supporting Actress.  Even though it’s a weak field and the movie may have a strong showing, one or two women need broad support if the movie hopes to get a nomination.

BEST BETS FOR NOMINATIONS: Best Supporting Actress (Rose, Elise)

OTHER POSSIBLE NOMINATIONS: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Gray, Jackson, Newton)