We’ll have a preview of what’s happening at the Cannes Film Festival in our Sunday editions. But here’s some extra stuff to whet your appetite.
1. Kristen Stewart is far more highly regarded as an actress in Europe than she is in the United States. Part of the U.S. reaction to her abilities probably has something to do with her being the star of the “Twlight” movies, which aren’t exactly art-house fare. But since she rose to fame in the “Twilight” films, she has been making interesting – and smart – choices with her career. She’s carefully picking her roles and making sure that she’s working with a well-regarded director. This year in Cannes she’ll be starring in two movies that are part of the official selection: Woody Allen’s opening-night film, “Café Society,” and French director Olivier Assayas’ “Personal Shopper,” the latter of which is in competition for the Palme d’Or. Interestingly, Stewart starred in Assayas’ last movie, “Clouds of Sils Maria,” which played in the Cannes competition, and Stewart went on to win the French Cesar Award for best supporting actress for her role as Juliette Binoche’s personal assistant. She was also in Walter Salles’ “On the Road,” which screened in the 2012 Cannes competition. And she’s set to star in Ang Lee’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” which is based on the novel by Dallas author Ben Fountain and is scheduled to be released this winter. “Walk” is already getting raves from early screenings for its technological achievements, fyi, and is expected to be a player during this year’s awards season.
2. When someone writes or tells you that a movie played in Cannes, you need to know that such a phrase means little or nothing. It’s all about WHERE it played in Cannes. If it’s part of the official selection, that’s a big deal. If it’s in the competition for the Palme d’Or, that’s the biggest deal possible. If it’s in one of the official sidebars, like Directors’ Fortnight or Critics Week, that’s also a big deal. But it means very little if a movie is playing in the Market – the simultaneous event that takes place in the caverns of the Palais. Anybody can screen anything there, as long as they’re willing to pay. And if someone has a movie showing in the Short Film Corner, it simply means that they’re spending their own money to network and show a short in the basement of the Palais, where various booths are set up for folks to network. Such screenings are NOT curated, and being in the Short Film Corner isn’t a sign of artistic achievement, in any stretch of the imagination, unless you think that the trend of “everybody gets a trophy” is actually worthwhile.
3. Americans are going to be getting far more attention in Cannes this year than they have in some previous years, at least if you’re looking at the official selection. The movies are: Woody Allen’s “Café Society,” Jeff Nichols’ “Loving,” Sean Penn’s “The Last Face,” Jim Jarmusch’s “Paterson,” Michael O’Shea’s “The Transfiguration,” Matt Ross’ “Captain Fantastic,” Shane Black’s “The Nice Guys,” Jodie Foster’s “Money Monster,” Steven Spielberg’s “The BFG,” Jonathan Littell’s “Wrong Elements,” Jarmusch’s “Gimme Danger,” with a special tribute to Robert De Niro with a screening of “Hands of Stone,” directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz, a longtime friend of Austin’s Robert Rodriguez and Elizabeth Avellan and a former student at the Radio Television Film Department at the University of Texas.
4. Cannes always has some wild movies in the competition. This year, the wildest promises to be Nicoloas Winding Refn’s “The Neon Demon,” which the Danish director filmed in L.A. It’s about cannibalism and supermodels. Refn is hit-or-miss at Cannes. His movie “Drive,” starring Ryan Gosling, was a hit when it played at Cannes in 2011. But in 2013, “Only God Forgives” fell flat with most critics.