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Cannes Film Review: ‘Two Friends’

4 hours ago

Some bigscreen love stories leave you wondering what the central couple saw in each other in the first place, but not “Two Friends.” From the opening shot of Louis Garrel’s rowdy, passion-fueled directorial debut, audiences fall for Golshifteh Farahani, who manages to find a moment of private ecstasy in the shower of the women’s prison where she’s serving time for an unclear crime. So, when it comes to deciphering the chemistry of this improbable love triangle, the mystery centers instead on the bond between its title characters, the two friends played by Garrel and Vincent Macaigne. How did this pair of mismatched personalities ever come to be pals? And why, after a history of betrayals, would a sentimental guy still trust the player who swooped in and shagged all his past obsessions? French cinema seems uniquely suited to such paradoxes, and its adherents should appreciate what Garrel does with that dynamic, »

- Peter Debruge

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Cannes Film Review: ‘I Am a Soldier’

6 hours ago

When a certain school of social realism is dutifully imitated, what degree of authenticity remains? That’s a question prompted by Laurent Lariviere’s diverting but derivative debut feature “I Am a Soldier,” a well-acted, well-mounted but indistinctly textured study in working-class female ennui. Seemingly in thrall to the work of Belgium’s Dardenne brothers, yet with an individual socioeconomic geography that never quite comes into focus, this tale of a disenfranchised young woman who falls into the dog-trafficking racket — with inevitably harsh consequences — works most admirably as a grimy change of pace for French star Louise Bourgoin. Thriller and romantic comedy leanings, however, ultimately chip away at the believability of this Un Certain Regard entry; commercially, “Soldier” is unlikely to see much action on foreign soil.

The grinding social impact of latter-day European austerity measures is oppressively felt in “I Am a Soldier,” even if Lariviere’s screenplay never »

- Guy Lodge

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Cannes Film Review: ‘Masaan’

11 hours ago

Anurag Kashyap’s assistant on “Gangs of Wasseypur” delivers a muddled feature debut with the narratively challenged “Masaan,” a heartfelt yet overambitious tale of class and gender inequality in contempo India. Set on the Ganges in the holy city of Benares, the pic (alternately titled “Fly Away Solo”) attempts to weave together two separate stories of people struggling to overcome societal pressures, but helmer Neeraj Ghaywan hasn’t found ways to overcome script and editing weaknesses, resulting in a disappointing drama that’s unable to realize the potential of the one truly interesting character. “Masaan” may fill a few slots at fests looking for indie Indie fare, though French co-production coin is unlikely to result in more than a limited Gallic release.

The pity is that Devi (Richa Chadda) is a fascinating figure who’d be far better served with a film of her own. She’s a university student, »

- Jay Weissberg

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Cannes: Will ‘The Assassin’ Slay the Competition?

12 hours ago

Given the number of films in competition (19), the correspondingly infinite number of possible award/talent configurations, and the sheer impossibility of guessing at the individual and collective tastes of nine jurors, predicting the major award winners at the Cannes Film Festival is obviously a fool’s errand — and one that our critics on the Croisette have gladly undertaken.

Guy Lodge

Palme d’Or: “The Assassin.” Word on the street — and among British bookies — is that my own favorite film of the fest, Yorgos Lanthimos’ high-wire relationship fantasy “The Lobster,” is the one to beat, though whether that’s based on honest hearsay or a projection of the Coen brothers’ taste for dryer-than-dust comedy, I can’t say. As much as it would thrill me to see such a singular combination of concept-y formalism and perverse heart-tugging take the prize, I have a hard time seeing it as the unifying consensus »

- Guy Lodge and Justin Chang

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Ryan Reynolds Helps Young Cancer Patient Meet Deadpool

13 hours ago

Deadpool might as well be nicknamed the Merc With a Heart.

Ryan Reynolds helped a young fan’s dream come true through the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Tony Acevedo, battling Hodgkin’s disease (also known as Hodgkin’s lymphoma), got the chance to meet Deadpool on the upcoming film’s Vancouver set. Acevedo was also able to embody his favorite comic book character by wearing the Deadpool mask and gloves.

Tony Acevedo asked Make A Wish Foundation if he could meet Deadpool,” Reynolds captioned an Instagram photo. “I wasn’t expecting him to sneak the mask, put on the gloves, smile … and then beat Deadpool about the face, arms and jugular with blazing speed. Tony’s next fight is with Hodgkin’s Disease. Hodgkin’s Disease best be wearing its brown pants.”

Reynolds met another fan, 15-year-old Calista King, who has a brain tumor, last week. She got a walk-on role in »

- Maane Khatchatourian

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Watch: Johnny Depp Is a Horrible Father in New ‘Black Mass’ Trailer

17 hours ago

When Johnny Depp’s real-life character Whitey Bulger isn’t shooting his enemies point-blank or choking them with rope, he’s doling out advice to his 6-year-old son.

Warner Bros.’ first official trailer for the upcoming drama “Black Mass” offers this pearl of wisdom from Depp: “It’s not what you do, it’s when and where you do it, and who you do it to or with,” the most wanted gangster in U.S. history says at the dinner table.

“If nobody sees it, it didn’t happen,” he continues to the disappointment of his girlfriend (“Fifty Shades of Grey” star Dakota Johnson).

The biopic about Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, who became an FBI informant and used this status as a way to eliminate criminal competition, spans the 1970s, ’80s, and early ’90s.

Black Mass,” directed by Scott Cooper, also stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, Joel Edgerton and Peter Sarsgaard. »

- Maane Khatchatourian

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Jake Gyllenhaal’s ‘Southpaw’ Gets Star-Studded Private Screening at Cannes

17 hours ago

Jake Gyllenhaal’s upcoming boxing movie “Southpaw” got an early, star-studded private screening at Cannes on Friday.

Adrien Brody, Michelle Rodriguez and Antonio Banderas were among the celebrities at the event aboard a private yacht.

Festival delegate general Thierry Fremaux introduced the sneak screening, which was also attended by singers Mary J. Blige and Charli Xcx, as well as models Adriana Lima and Dita Von Teese, by praising Gyllenhaal’s performance as “one of his best.”

Fremaux, a self-proclaimed sporting enthusiast, said the movie beautifully captures a sport that usually doesn’t read well on the bigscreen.

“This sport is so well-filmed on television that it’s very hard to get the same feeling in the cinema on screen like Martin Scorsese did with ‘Raging Bull,’” he said. “But this film is so strong and credible. We believe Jake is a boxer first.”

Audiences were shown a sneak peek of »

- Maane Khatchatourian

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Cannes: Iceland’s ‘Rams’ Wins Un Certain Regard Award

18 hours ago

Cannes — Icelandic comedy “Rams” emerged the winner of the Un Certain Regard section at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, with former docmaker Grimur Hakonarson accepting the top prize from jury president Isabella Rossellini.

The film, about estranged sheep-farmer brothers reconciled when their familial flock is endangered, was warmly received at the festival, with Variety critic Alissa Simon commending it for its “wonderfully wry, charmingly understated comic moments.” New Europe Film Sales is handling sales for the pic; deals for Taiwan, France and other European territories have already been secured.

“Rams” is the second creature-themed feature to take the prize in as many years: Hungarian canine thriller “White God” was last year’s winner.

The runner-up jury prize was presented to Croatia’s “The High Sun,” an era-spanning triptych of love stories from writer-director Dalibor Matanic, described by Variety‘s Jay Weissberg as the helmer’s strongest work to date. »

- Guy Lodge

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U.K. Government Supports Campaign to Free Ukrainian Filmmaker (Exclusive)

19 hours ago

London — A leading member of the newly elected Conservative Party government in the U.K. has thrown his support behind a campaign to free a Ukrainian film director held in a Russian jail as campaigners redoubled efforts to secure his release.

U.K. secretary of state for culture John Whittingdale has sent a message pledging to push for the freeing of Oleg Sentsov, who has been imprisoned in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo jail for over a year on what he claims are trumped up terrorism charges. Whittingdale’s message is one of his first public statements since he was elevated to culture secretary in Prime Minister David Cameron’s post-election cabinet reshuffle.

Whittingdale said: “Freedom of media and artistic expression are vital elements of an open, democratic society. I remain deeply concerned by the continuing detention without trial of filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who has been imprisoned in Russia for over a year, »

- Variety Staff

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Box Office: ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ Crossing $100 Million Mark

20 hours ago

Pitch Perfect 2″ will cross the $100 million mark at the U.S. box office on Saturday.

This is yet another high note for the Universal comedy as it looks likely to edge out big-budget tentpole “Tomorrowland” at the Memorial Day weekend box office, with just north of $41 million. The “Pitch Perfect” sequel has an estimated $29 million pricetag, while Diseny’s “Tomorrowland” reportedly cost $180 million to produce.

Pitch Perfect 2″ will surpass $125 million by the end of the four-day weekend.

The a cappella sequel launched in theaters last weekend to a surprise $69.2 million — more than the original movie grossed in total at the domestic box office ($65 million). This is the top musical opening and the second-biggest PG-13 comedy debut of all time.

For Elizabeth Banks, this marks the best debut for a first-time feature film director and is the second-highest grossing opening for a movie by a female director, behind Sam Taylor-Johnson, »

- Maane Khatchatourian

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Cannes: ‘Son of Saul’ Wins Fipresci Competition Award

20 hours ago

Cannes – Delivering early verdicts on Cannes Palme d’Or contenders, Fipresci and Ecumenical Jury Awards went to Laszlo Nemes’ “Son of Saul” and Nanni Moretti’s “My Mother,” respectively.

Fipresci’s competition nod vindicates Cannes’ selection of Holocaust drama “Son of Saul,” the only first feature in competition that has gone on to abundant international sales for Films Distribution.

A French press Palme d’Or frontrunner, “My Mother,” again sold by Films Distributiion, has scored well with overseas reviewers, as was the case with “Saul.” Neither Fipresci nor Ecumenical jury plumped for either of Cannes’ competition frontrunners, according to critics’ polls at least: Todd Haynes’ “Carole” and Hou Hsiao Hsien’s “Assassins.”

Announced Saturday, further kudos from the Fipresci International Federation of Film Critics were won by Un Certain Regard entry “Masaan,” directed by Neeraj Ghaywan, and Santiago Mitre’s Versatile-sold “Paulina,” which already topped Critics’ Week on Thursday.

A “social thriller, »

- John Hopewell

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‘Pitch Perfect 2’ Edging Out ‘Tomorrowland’ in Tight Box Office Race

21 hours ago

Tomorrowland” doesn’t have as promising a future as Disney might have anticipated.

The George Clooney-starrer is being outperformed at the U.S. box office this Memorial Day holiday by the second weekend of “Pitch Perfect 2.” While “Tomorrowland” was expected to open to $45 million — already slightly below recent forecasts — it now looks likely to reel in less than $40 million, giving the “Pitch Perfect” sequel a narrow edge with $41 million-plus.

The two films were neck and neck on Friday in as tight a race as it gets, with “Tomorrowland” earning $9.73 million, while “Pitch Perfect 2” brought in $9.66 million. The weekend’s other newcomer, “Poltergeist,” was a close third, but will likely finish the weekend in fourth with about $29 million.

The tentpole “Tomorrowland,” which carries a hefty $180 million pricetag, had been shrouded in mystery leading up to its release and is likely suffering from being an unfamiliar property with no established brand, »

- Maane Khatchatourian

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Cannes: Nanni Moretti’s ‘Mia Madre’ Set to Travel Worldwide (Exclusive)

21 hours ago

Cannes — Nanni Moretti’s “Mia madre,” which world premiered in competition at Cannes and won the Ecumenical Jury prize, set to travel worldwide.

Paris-based Films Distribution has closed Canada (eOne), Germany (Kore Media), Australia (Palace), Korea (T-cast), Taiwan (Maison Motion), Czech Republic (Film Europe), Fidalgo (Norway), Columbia (Cineplex), Denmark (Camera Film), Turkey (Filmarty), A One (Cis) and Mexico (Mantarraya), among others.

Earlier in the festival, Alchemy snapped up “Mia madre” for U.S. distribution.

Echoing Moretti’s own experience and weaving drama with comedy, “Mia Madre” focuses on a film director who struggles to cope with her mother’s fatal illness.

The film protagonist — said to be Moretti’s alter ego — is played by Margherita Buy (“The Caiman,” “Days and Clouds”). Buy stars along with John Turturro.

Films Distribution had managed to pre-sell “Mia madre” to Japan (Kino Films), Brazil (California Filmes), Sweden (Folkets Bio), Benelux (Cineart), Austria (ThimFilm), Israel »

- Elsa Keslassy and John Hopewell

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Cannes: Gilles Jacob – How To Make It in Film

21 hours ago

Dapper, drole, vigorous, Cannes Cinefondation president Gilles Jacob, now 84, kicked off Friday’s Cinefondation awards ceremony greeting festival president Pierre Lescure.

Jacob joked his life was now far easier. “As the former president of the Cannes Festival and president of Cannes Cinefondation, my situation was very difficult: I used to have to say, good day Cinefondation president, good day festival president, and I was talking to myself.”

Ex catedra, he delivered two-to-three tips to the audience, mostly made up of film school students. They are worth noting, the fruit of a long experience, and Jacob’s belief in and admiration for grand masters and auteur filmmaking:

1.“First of all, see as many films you can, good, not that good, it’s not that big a deal. Look attentively at how they’re made. François Truffaut, when he had a problem on set, when you don’t have time to think things through, »

- John Hopewell

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Cannes: Chilean Marcia Tambutti Wins Cannes First L’Oeil d’Or with ‘Allende’

22 hours ago

Cannes – Directed by Marcia Tambutti, a granddaughter of Salvador Allende,  “Beyond My Grandfather Allende” has scoped Cannes’ first L’Oeil d’Or, awarded to its best documentary.

Stig Bjorkman’s “Ingrid Bergman, in Her Own Words,” earned a mention.

Snapped up by Edouard Waintrop for Directors’ Fortnight, Tambutti’s first feature, “Allende” portrays her grandfather, Chilean president Salvador Allende, not as a political icon but in personal terms, as a family man, with his friends, on holiday, “relating in a special way with almost everyone,” Tambutti told Variety before Cannes.

A Chilean-Mexican feature, produced by Errante, Martifilms and Fragua Cine, Tambutti’s documented search for a more intimate sense of her grandfather also breaks with her family’s silence about him.

“I was brought up in a matriarchy and seeing these strong women, I wanted to know how my family dynamics operated” when Allende was alive, Tambutti said.

Tambutti’s »

- John Hopewell

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Cannes: Kino Lorber Scoops U.S. Rights to Jia Zhangke’s ‘Mountains’ (Exclusive)

23 May 2015 4:30 AM, PDT

Beating several distribs to the chase, Kino Lorber has acquired U.S. rights to “Mountains May Depart,” the episodic drama by Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke. The film played in competition Wednesday in Cannes.

The film is sold by France’s MK2, which represented the director’s previous picture “A Touch of Sin,” which was in Cannes’ competition in 2013.

At Cannes, MK2 also sold “Mountains May Depart” to Switzerland (Filmcoopi), Korea (JinJin Pictures), Poland (Against Gravity) and Colombia (Babilla).

Previous sales were closed for Canada (Films We Like), Spain (Golem), Italy (Cinema), Benelux (Cinemien), Greece (Ama), Taiwan (Joint entertainment), Brazil (Imovision), Middle East (Moving Turtle), South East Asia (Astro), Turkey (Calinos), Inflight (Encore), Tunisia (Hakka), Ex Yugoslavia (McF Megacom), Portugal (Midas).

Other territories such as Scandinavia, Switzerland, the U.K. and Argentina are in discussions, per Juliette Schrameck, MK2’s head of international sales.

Kino Lorber is familiar with Zhangke’s work, »

- Patrick Frater and Elsa Keslassy

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Cannes: Studiocanal, Impuls Pictures Announce Output Deal

23 May 2015 1:45 AM, PDT

Cannes –Adding another building block to the most powerful indie distribution structure in the world, Euro film-tv group Studiocanal has signed an output deal for Switzerland with indie film distributor Impuls Pictures on all Studiocanal international productions.

The news comes as the Weinstein Company U.S. pickup “Macbeth,” co-financed, distributed and sold by Studiocanal world premiered at Cannes to impressive reviews, and the Studiocanal-sold “Early Man” and competition player “Mon roi” have near sold out at Cannes.

The Studiocanal-Impuls pact takes in Studiocanal’s flagship titles at Cannes such as Aardman’s Nick Park-directed “Early Man,” unveiled just before the market, Stephen Frears’ “The Program” (pictured) with Ben Foster, “We Are Your Friends,” nWave’s “Robinsoe Crusoe,” the latest Ben Stassen 3D movie, and the “Untitled Donald Crowhurst Project,” from James Marsh, starring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz.

Studiocanal’s Marsh and Pierre Mazars, VP of international sales, »

- John Hopewell and Elsa Keslassy

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Cannes Film Review: ‘Macbeth’

23 May 2015 1:23 AM, PDT

As the shortest, sharpest and most stormily violent of William Shakespeare’s tragedies, “Macbeth” may be the most readily cinematic: The swirling mists of the Highlands, tough to fabricate in a theater, practically rise off the printed page. So it’s odd that, while “Romeo and Juliet” and “Hamlet” get dusted off at least once a generation by filmmakers, the Scottish Play hasn’t enjoyed significant bigscreen treatment since Roman Polanski’s admirable if tortured 1971 version. The wait for another may be even longer after Justin Kurzel’s scarcely improvable new adaptation: Fearsomely visceral and impeccably performed, it’s a brisk, bracing update, even as it remains exquisitely in period. Though the Bard’s words are handled with care by an ideal ensemble, fronted by Michael Fassbender and a boldly cast Marion Cotillard, it’s the Australian helmer’s fervid sensory storytelling that makes this a Shakespeare pic for the »

- Guy Lodge

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Relativity Media Financing Triggers Public Dispute With Investor

22 May 2015 6:24 PM, PDT

Long-simmering reports of financial strains at Relativity Media broke into the open Friday when the company accused one of its backers of privately badmouthing its economic condition in an attempt to take control of the mini-studio.

Relativity said in a statement that New York-based Colbeck Capital had engaged in a “play…to try to seize control of Relativity by trying to spread false rumors about the state of the company.” Relativity chief executive Ryan Kavanaugh remains “fully in control,” the statement said.

The film and television company also said that Colbeck’s two members on the Relativity board “will be removed from the board next week.”

The New York Post reported early Friday that Kavanaugh needed to raise $200 million by the end of the month and risked losing control of his company. Relativity denied that, issuing a statement that said: “Under Ryan Kavanaugh’s leadership, Relativity has successfully recapitalized its »

- James Rainey

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Cannes Palm Dog Award Goes to ‘Arabian Nights’ Canine

22 May 2015 6:04 PM, PDT

The pooch from “Arabian Nights” fetched the Palm Dog award at Cannes on Friday. Lucky, who appeared in the Portuguese film, was found to be top dog at the U.K. Film Centre pavilion.

“I think it was the jumpers (sweaters) – it has 10 different dog jumpers in this film,” said film critic Kate Muir while presenting the award.

The Maltipoo — half Maltese and half miniature poodle — even got to bark a couple of remarks in an acceptance speech.

Two border collies nabbed the prize for second place. The father-son duo were seen in “The Lobster” costarring with Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz.

The lighthearted award has come under some criticism by the French, who say it’s too frivolous for the high-minded films of Cannes.

“Luckily, I like dogs,” a French reporter told Yahoo News. “But seen from the French perspective, this is a bit bizarre. The British are weird. »

- Mannie Holmes

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