This is rare, nuanced storytelling, anchored by one of Brad Pitt’s career-best performances and remarkable technical elements on every level. It’s a special film.
The following video was produced by Chaz Ebert and Scott Dummler of Mint Media Works.
Below is the transcript from the video...
As the ribbon was cut to open the American Pavilion, the films continued to compete for the Palme d'Or in Cannes.
One highlight of the festival, playing in what they call the Special Screenings section, is the documentary "Promised Land" directed by Eugene Jarecki. It’s a musical road trip, set against the backdrop of the 2016 Presidential Election. And as Elvis’s Rolls Royce travels across the country, Jarecki illustrates how the life of Elvis whose star rose and fell, mirrors the trajectory of the United States. At the American Pavilion, in the Roger Ebert Conference Center, I had the pleasure of moderating a discussion with the director.
One of the most star studded films of the Palme d’Or competition so far was Noah Baumbach’s latest work "The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)." It stars Dustin Hoffman as the dysfunctional artist father who is disappointed in his children: rival sons Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler, and neglected daughter Elizabeth Marvel. Emma Thompson plays his alcoholic fourth wife. Despite the cast, this can’t be called a comedy, and Adam Sandler’s serious performance was so strong, that people are buzzing that he has a chance to win the best actor’s prize here in Cannes! This is the other Netflix picture in Competition, and this time the Netflix logo was cheered at the night time screening. At the press conference, the cast talked about their initial reactions to reading the script.
Going for his third Palme d’Or in the last nine years is director Michael Haneke. He won in 2009 with "The White Ribbon" and in 2012 with "Amour." This year, he brings “Happy End” to Cannes, starring Isabelle Huppert. It’s a fine film about the upper class and their detachment from a refugee crisis happening all around them, but I don’t think this is the film that will get Haneke his third Palme.
Two Asian directors have beautifully photographed pictures in competition. Korean director Hong Sang-soo is often called "Korea’s Woody Allen." Shot in wonderful black & white, his most recent film, "The Day After," is about a middle aged couple who deal with suspicion and misunderstandings revolving around marital infidelity.
Another visually elegant film, although this time shot in color, is the film "Radiance" by Japanese director Naomi Kawase. It tells the story of a beautiful young woman, played by Ayame Misaki, who writes descriptive audio tracks to movies for the blind. She clashes with a famous photographer who has been losing his vision, although the more they interact, the more they begin to respect and even care for each other. Here again, I don't see either of these films being the strong Palme d'Or choice. But, at this festival, it is anyone's guess.
One film that has audiences talking is "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" from director Yorgos Lanthimos. If you saw his last film, "The Lobster," you know that Lanthimos is no stranger to strange stories. And this one certainly fits the bill. While it may not seem initially to be as outlandish as "The Lobster," it develops in a way that is more natural, which makes it even more chilling. It’s a story of two parents, played by Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman, who need to deal with the strange circumstances behind the illness that strikes their two children after a young man inserts himself into their lives. At the press conference, Nicole Kidman talked about what it’s like to have 4, yes 4, projects screening in Cannes this year. This film's shooting style, dark humor, and foreboding soundtrack actually gives "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" a bit of a Kubrick feel.
Of course it’s not 100% about movie-watching here in Cannes. Once in awhile we get a chance to get to some parties. We attended the recent Netflix celebration at a lavish mansion in the Cannes hills, and it was one of the best parties of the festival, hands down. We also got the opportunity to attend a black tie gala at the American Pavilion benefitting Planned Parenthood while promoting the currently streaming film "Rodney King" from director Spike Lee and starring Roger Guenveur Smith. I also had the chance to talk with Roger a bit one on one.
Still to come in Cannes are a number of promising films, including two by female directors. Sofia Coppola’s "The Beguiled," with Colin Farrel, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning, along with director Lynne Ramsey’s latest film, "You Were Never Really Here," starring Joaquin Phoenix. We’ll have updates on those films and much more next time, so check back often at rogerebert.com/cannes for our next report as well as written reports by Barbara Scharres and our other writers. Au Revoir!
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