While we all sit here at our desks doing TPS reports (or making jokes about doing TPS reports), all the most fabulous of the fabulous film people are in the south of France, seeing movies at the Cannes Film Festival, attending glittery parties, and sunning themselves on the Riviera beaches. Well, OK, to be fair it's been raining the whole time.
Yes, it's been a particularly rainy Cannes this year it seems, forcing beach parties to be canceled and probably some stars' hair to frizz embarrassingly. But otherwise, the festival has continued on apace. Here are the movies that people are talking about.
Brad Pitt and Andrew Dominik's second collaboration after The Assassination of Jesse James, Killing Them Softly, has been highly praised by most critics, though its stab at grand allegory — low-level mob theft and infighting as the corrupt nature of capitalism — seems a bit polarizing. Apparently the movie, set at the very end of the Bush administration, uses lots of archival footage of Bush and Barack Obama, but Brad Pitt insists that the movie is not an indictment of Obama at least. Regardless of whatever the movie is "about," it sounds fascinating, like another sleek Drive-esque look at underworld depravity. Pitt is on quite a roll these days, so maybe this will be the movie that finally pushes him over the edge into Oscarland.
While on the topic of allegories, if Killing Them Softly is about capitalism, is Lawless, the Prohibition movie that used to be called The Wettest County in the World (such a better title), actually about the modern War on Drugs? Well, whatever it's about, some folks have liked it, while others have definitively not. We didn't much care for John Hillcoat's The Road, so we're inclined to trust the negative take, plus there's the whole Shia LaBeouf factor, which is a big knock against the film. Either way, people aren't buzzing about this movie quite the way it was once thought they would.
Folks are buzzing about Lee Daniels' new film The Paperboy, or at least about how sexed-up it is. Nicole Kidman apparently plays "an oversexed Barbie doll" in the 1960s-set crime story. She goes to visit John Cusack's character in prison and they enjoy "a heavy-breathing bout of mutual auto-eroticism," so good for them. And then she apparently pees on Zac Efron. Like, because of a jellyfish. But still. Apparently the camera lingers a lot on Zac Efron's chiseled frame, which is fine by us. Oh, and Macy Gray is in it. Man, Lee Daniels is emerging as a wonderfully crazy director — not afraid of grime and filth (in all possible meanings of the word) and downright tawdriness. Can't wait to see this one.
Something we're less excited to see is Kanye West's new experimental short film, which he screened for 200 people yesterday. The film, which stars Kid Cudi and features Aziz Ansari and West himself, was financed by the Doha Film Institute and was shot on location in the Qatari capital. West's innovation, if we're calling it that, is that it's a seven-screen movie, showing things from multiple angles and viewpoints. West came up with the idea because he apparently always gets bored at movies and sports games so ends up fiddling with his phone. A filmic testament to Kanye West's boredom. Cool. His current girlfriend Kim Kardashian was there and was the first to give him a standing ovation, because if anyone understands film, it's Kim Kardashian. Oh, Cannes! What have you become?
A film that's gotten surprisingly strong reviews is On the Road, the Kerouac adaptation with the hot cast — Garrett Hedlund, Kirsten Dunst, Kristen Stewart — that looks like one of those Levi's "Go Forth" commercials. Though, to be fair, plenty of critics are saying that the film is pretty but empty, and a bit like a museum piece. But still we're surprised this thing wasn't outright booed. Maybe people were just bowled over by the sight of nude Kristen Stewart, which apparently is a common motif throughout, including a scene wherein she, well, not-so-auto-erotically services both Hedlund (not too far from head land, I guess) and Sam Riley's character. Walter Salles, you rogue! Making poor innocent Bella Swan do such things. Only in France.
On a more serious note, Michael Haneke's latest film Amour, about an aging Parisian couple, has been rapturously received, which isn't much of a surprise. What is a surprise is that, though it is apparently difficult to watch in parts, horrors of mortality and all that, it's also sweet and touching. Not words that immediately come to mind when you think of the director of Funny Games. (Twice! He directed that movie twice!) This is sounding like a favorite to win the big prize, but there are still a couple more days of screenings, so we'll see.