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"As Cannes closes, a new breed of female lead emerges: empowered, careerist and gender-neutral": According to The Guardian's Catherine Shoard.

“Friday saw the emergence of perhaps the most formidable of this new breed of female heroines: Jesse, played by Elle Fanning, the teen supermodel at the heart of Nicolas Winding Refn’s ‘The Neon Demon.’ The director described how the film, his first with a female lead, allowed him to ‘live out my perverse dream of being a 16-year old girl, which I think every man has inside them.’ When he first met Fanning, he said, his first thought was ‘Oh my God, you’re me’; though he was keen to stress that the actor needed to ‘take the lead,’ given his distance from her age and gender. What Refn has done in ‘The Neon Demon,’ however, is to wholly demote the focus offered to his male characters. ‘I wanted to make all the men like the girlfriends in other movies. All the women are the focus; everything else is secondary. I wasn’t particularly interested in the men’s world but in order to create a story, we needed the ‘girlfriends’ to toss in here and there.’ Refn’s gender-reversal is taken one stage further by Maren Ade, whose three-hour German comedy ‘Toni Erdmann’ is the current frontrunner to win the Palme d’Or on Sunday. The film is the story of Ines, a serious, successful businesswoman in her mid 30s whose larky father pays a visit. Ines is, by and large, emotionally, intellectually and sexually self-sufficient. That she is a woman seems an afterthought rather than a mission statement. ‘Maybe it’s best to think of Ines,’ says the director, ‘as a contemporary, gender-neutral character – much like a man who cries now and then and has father issues.’ The current debate can be frustrating, adds Ade, ‘especially when it’s given so much weight. As a woman I’m used to identifying with male characters. When I watch a James Bond movie, I’m not just the Bond Girl, I’m James Bond too.’”


"Amy Nicholson's Cannes Diary: A Tale of Two Fishers. And One Adam Driver. And Some Dogs.": A hilarious entry published at MTV News.

Carrie Fisher and Fisher Stevens were the guests of honor for teatime at the Hotel Majestic, a double billing that my friend joked ‘sounded like a dare.’ But this wasn’t a PR gag — they’d teamed up by themselves to make the documentary ‘Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds,’ a mother-daughter biography codirected by Fisher Stevens and his partner Alexis Bloom.The two Fishers have been friends for years, explained Fisher Stevens, ‘ever since we did this terrible movie.’ Suddenly, producer Brett Ratner burst into the salon, squinted at the poster, and saw he’d been misattributed as the composer. He sat down at our table, then popped up again to point out the mistake and laugh. Stevens nodded his white Panama hat and signaled that it was time to open the champagne. ‘Bright Lights,’ which premiered at Cannes before playing on HBO next year, feels like an intimate portrait made by friends. In one scene, Carrie Fisher lounges on a bed and talks about losing her virginity to actor Griffin Dunne — who’s sitting right next to her. According to Carrie, Debbie suggested she sleep with one of her own older friends who had more experience. The teen girl said no. Jokes Dunne, ‘I took the pressure off your hymen.’ Both women have spent their entire lives as movie stars, and they have the big personalities to match. Carrie and Debbie still live next door to each other in Los Angeles, and their proximity, plus Carrie’s frankness about her figure (at one point, ‘The Force Awakens’ sends a trainer to empty her fridge of Coca-Cola), makes ‘Bright Lights’ play like an updated ‘Grey Gardens.’ ‘Thank god we don’t have the cats!’ laughed Carrie in green-rimmed sunglasses. ‘But we do have the dog.’ She stroked her French bulldog, Gary Fisher, who wore a matching green rhinestone collar.”


"Cannes Premiered This Hate-Watch For The Ages": BuzzFeed's Alison Willmore reviews Sean Penn's "The Last Face."

“‘The Last Face’ is rife with imagery reminiscent of a Unicef commercial — a child cries a single tear to the camera, another drinks out of a puddle, and an aid worker announces that the girl he was just dancing with was raped, ripped open, and ‘she leaks urine, but she’s dancing — she’s beautiful.’ But the film offers virtually no context for the conflicts it presents, and Africans are given few of the speaking parts, though their wounded bodies are put graphically on display. Their suffering is the point, not the causes behind the suffering or the people themselves, because ‘The Last Face’ is ultimately, maddeningly, about how hard it is to want to help, not to be in need of it. It’s also about an off-putting, set-in-two-timeframes romance between Wren, who also narrates the story in watery prose, and Miguel, who is the worst in ways that are tempting to read as hints of what it’d be like to actually date Penn. He’s self-righteous and take-me-as-I-am, arriving at his ex’s doorstep unannounced after a decade without contact, intent on winning her back. He’s a Doctors Without Borders bad boy, no ties, no faith, his desire to help impossibly pure — Wren admiringly reveals in her voiceover that he’s an orphan who was raised by the state and put himself through med school. ‘He was not subject to the contradictions and hypocrisies those of us raised in comfort had come to accept,’ she says. Wren also claims that Miguel turned her from the ‘invisible blonde girl; she’d felt like into someone ‘seen,’ and yet the characters’ romance is inert, despite the appeal of the two stars and the inclusion of a ‘Bring It On’–style toothbrushing scene. Wren’s most relatable moment is when she jumps out of a moving car because she’s so frustrated by Miguel’s fondness for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But joke’s on her, because the movie’s main sex scene? Set to ‘Otherside.’”


"Cannes 2016: Jim Jarmusch's 'Paterson' is Sublime, Poetic Perfection": A rave review from Alex Billington at First Showing.

“‘Paterson’ is a very existential film, but (and I'm borrowing this line from a fellow critic): ‘like a great poem, Jim Jarmusch's ‘Paterson’ makes the simple feel cosmic.’ It is beautifully simple in its setup and story, yet also so utterly engrossing and inspiring and invigorating and wonderful. I can't even begin to describe how it made me feel, other than to sum it by saying: ‘I’m floating.’ The script is brilliant and never once breaks stride. I drifted out of the Debussy Theater in Cannes in complete awe, with a smile across my face. You know the feeling, when you see a perfect film and there's nothing that can take you out of that moment. That's where this put me at. And it's such a relief to feel this, such a moment of joy to have experienced this. A perfect film is the kind where, as I'm watching it, every next scene must be as amazing as the one before it. There can't be any slip ups, or moments that feel out of character, or any big twists that take anyway from what came before. ‘Paterson’ is one of those films. Driver's significant other in the film is the illustrious and gorgeous Golshifteh Farahani, and even she is perfect. She is so artistic and it was inspiring to watch her scenes. Their relationship doesn't get in the way either, it enhances the story, it enhances the experience. They have a dog, and she's outstanding, and no she doesn't die or get hurt. I wouldn't want it any other way. The final moments bring it all together and make it even more substantial. Oh my goodness is it sublime.”


"Why Asghar Farhadi's 'The Salesman' Signals a Post Nuclear Deal Cinematic Resurgence in Iran": As reported by Variety's Nick Vivarelli.

Asghar Farhadi’s return to Cannes with his double prize-winning ‘The Salesman’ comes after the Iranian auteur’s Paris-set ‘The Past’ vied for a Palme d’Or in 2013. It also marks his somewhat unexpected return to shooting in Iran after ‘A Separation.’ ‘The Salesman’ stood out as this year’s only competition film to score two nods, one for actor Shaab Hosseini and the best screenplay prize for Farhadi.Following ‘A Separation,’ which in 2012 became the first Iranian film to win an Oscar, Farhadi had seemingly embarked on a path similar to his revered compatriot Abbas Kiarostami, whose last two films, ‘Certified Copy’ (2010) and ‘Like Someone in Love’ (2012), were shot respectively in Tuscany and Japan. Though neither director would publicly admit it, shooting outside Iran was certainly less problematic, and the lure of A-list international movie stars, photogenic locations, and bigger budgets, had pull.Speaking after the Cannes premiere of ‘The Salesman,’ Farhadi (pictured) explained that after it was announced last year that he would segue from ‘The Past’ to shooting a film in Spain, he got ‘nostalgic’ and changed plans. ‘I wanted to work in my country, I wanted to go back home,’ he said. ‘Despite all the existing difficulties, I get great pleasure and I am most satisfied from shooting films in my country,’ he added.Those difficulties continue to include the risk of incarceration and censorship.As the Cannes fest got started, dozens of film organizations, including the Federation of European Film Directors, launched an appeal to Iran’s government to grant clemency to Iranian filmmaker Keywan Karimi, sentenced last year to six years in jail and 223 lashes for his film ‘Writing on the City,’ about political graffiti spanning the period from the 1979 Islamic Revolution through Iran’s contested 2009 election. Though sentenced, Karimi remains free pending appeal.”

Image of the Day

Indiewire's Chris O'Falt compiles the answers of 14 cinematographers responding to the question of what cameras they used to shoot their films that screened at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Video of the Day

The Playlist's Nikola Grozdanovic reports on the Cannes press conference for "Personal Shopper" (posted above), which included memorable responses from director Olivier Assayas and star Kristen Stewart.

Matt Fagerholm

Matt Fagerholm is the Literary Editor at and is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association. 

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