At its best, Blaze feels like a cinematic translation of not just Blaze Foley’s life but his music, anchored by two incredibly likable, lived-in performances.
In addition to our full table of contents, we are highlighting some of our coverage from the 2018 Cannes Film Festival in this special edition of Thumbnails. Included below are daily dispatches by Barbara Scharres and Ben Kenigsberg as well as video dispatches by Chaz Ebert.
"Capharnaüm, The First of Many and More": Chaz Ebert's fifth video dispatch from Cannes 2018 features interviews with filmmakers Pamela Guest and Pamela Green, producer Matthew Helderman, production coordinator and Ebert Fellow Sue-Ellen Chitunya and Gary Novak, Dean of DePaul University’s School of Cinematic Arts.
“While it’s wonderful to see a female director like Nadine Labaki succeed so admirably here in Cannes, the industry still has a long way to go towards equality as evidenced by the protests earlier in the festival calling for 50/50 by 2020: Equal representation of women by the year 2020. And the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements remain at the forefront of conversation here on the Croisette. One woman active in that movement is talented actress and casting director, Pamela Guest. She was raped in the 1970’s and only realized many years later that the rapist was Oscar winning composer and filmmaker Joseph Brooks who ironically composed the song ‘You Light Up My Life.’ Guest was brave enough to make a short film about her ordeal called ‘The First of Many.’ Her role is played, and co-directed, by her daughter Elizabeth. It’s a powerful statement that really felt like a punch to the gut when I watched it.Other women filmmakers are on display here in Cannes as well. A documentary about the mother of cinema called ‘Be Natural’ and directed by Pamela Green played in Cannes Classics. It tells the forgotten story of Alice Guy Blaché, a woman who directed over a thousand films in the early silent era, and even pioneered techniques like color tinting and synchronized sound, and working with an all black cast. Despite her vast contributions to the history of film, and even owning her own movie studio, she’s been largely left out of cinema history. This film aims to change that.”
"Edward Lachman, an honoree at the festival, discusses the past and future of cinematography": In conversation with Ben Kenigsberg.
“Already a recent honoree of the American Society of Cinematographers and the Telluride Film Festival, the cinematographer Edward Lachman (‘Wonderstruck,’ ‘Carol’) received a tribute ceremony at Cannes on Friday. ‘I’m waiting for the afterlife achievement award,’ he joked when we met on Friday at a beachfront pavilion hours before the event. It may not have been his first tribute, but cinematographer, 72, clad in his trademark black hat, showed no signs of tiring when it came to sharing thoughts on his craft or his teachers, who go beyond the world of cinematography. He began with the photographer Robert Frank. He was ‘the first image maker that got me interested in images,’ Lachman said. ‘To look at 'The Americans,' I realized that here were documented images that he imbued with a certain subjectivity and poetics, in the language and also the visual metaphors and how he represented what he saw.’ His other formative influences included the writer Dwight Macdonald, with whom he took a course at Harvard, and Vittorio De Sica's movie ‘Umberto D.,’ which taught him how a film could be constructed primarily with images, not sound.”
"'The House That Jack Built,' 'At War,' 'Asako I & II'": Barbara Scharres reviews three selections at Cannes including the latest from Lars von Trier.
“For three-quarters of the running time, ‘The House That Jack Built’ is a clunky rambling film with a homemade look. The whole point seems to be von Trier’s relish of the details of the grisly murders of women, an exercise in pure savagery, with Jack later storing up the corpses in a walk-in freezer and sometimes posing them for photos. Inserted into the narrative of the murderer’s adventures in gratuitous violence are ponderous asides in the form of art reproductions, animation, diagrams, and text, as if reflecting upon Jack’s malformed psyche within the greater scope of art, religion, and world history. There’s even a YouTube clip of pianist Glenn Gould playing Bach like a madman. Von Trier increasingly aims for the metaphysical, but at its center his film contains one small and sniveling statement, an ironic aggrieved cry that cuts through the bogus intellectualism of ‘The House That Jack Built’ to reveal the glaring foundation of this film. After verbally abusing a buxom blonde, he mutilates and kills her, whining to Verge, ‘Why is it always the man’s fault? Women are always victims … to be born male is to be born guilty.’ ‘Why are they [women] always so stupid?’ commiserates Verge.”
"Hirokazu Kore-Eda wins Palme d'Or; Gilliam's Man Who Killed Don Quixote Film Closes the Fest": As reported by Ben Kenigsberg.
“Hirokazu Kore-eda won the Palme d'Or at the 71st Cannes Film Festival for ‘Shoplifters,’ which observes the dynamics of a peculiar Japanese family, while Spike Lee won the second-place Grand Jury Prize for ‘BlacKkKlansman,’ the dramatized true story of an African-American police officer in Colorado Springs who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. Both awards were milestones, in their ways: This was Cannes regular Kore-eda's first Palme and Japan's first since ‘The Eel’ in 1997. Lee, returning to competition for the first time since ‘Jungle Fever’ in 1991, had been infamously passed over by the awards jury for ‘Do the Right Thing’ in 1989. Lee accepted the prize on ‘behalf of the people’s republic of Brooklyn, New York.’ But the moment of the evening was clearly Asia Argento's speech before the presentation of the Best Actress award. She acknowledged the Harvey Weinstein scandal that has hovered over the festival. ‘In 1997, I was raped by Harvey Weinstein here at Cannes,’ Argento said at the ceremony, reiterating what she had told The New Yorker in a report published last fall. ‘I was 21 years old. This festival was his hunting ground. I want to make a prediction: Harvey Weinstein will never be welcomed here ever again.’ She said that sitting among the audience members were others who had not been held accountable for their conduct against women.”
"Palme des Whiskers": Barbara Scharres presents her amusing coverage of the best cat performances from Cannes 2018.
“The champion bull of ‘3 Faces’ has pledged to block the street with his considerable bulk if there are any threats. It’s a veritable Peaceable Kingdom of inter-species cooperation. My own Miss Kitty, Mistress of Ceremonies, takes the precaution of inspecting the lineup, especially relishing the sight of the honor guard of French Army cats with their titanium-tipped claws and jaunty berets. Before the official fun begins, some catfights are assured. Let’s sneak into the jury’s inner sanctum as quiet as mice, and find out what’s happening. Mimi, last year’s Palme des Whiskers winner, and the venerable feline French New Wave star of Agnes Varda’s ‘Faces Places,’ is ready to defend herself with a threatening paw, as pointy-faced Lola, screeches, ‘I’m here to support #MeToo, and you said it was going to be a majority-female jury, like that other one headed by Cat Blanchett.’ ‘That’s Cate, you birdbrain,’ smirks slinky Siamese Nico, ‘And I know on the best authority that it’s a pinky-skin human, not a cat, because my butler John Powers, who I let moonlight at Vogue, told me.’”
Chaz Ebert's third video dispatch from the 2018 Cannes Film Festival features exclusive footage of the women's protest, pictured above.
Our annual critics roundtable features Ben Kenigsberg, Jason Gorber and Lisa Nesselson, who share with us their favorite films of the festival.
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
A tribute to the Queen of Soul.
A review of the new series Insatiable, which premiere Friday on Netflix.