What's Hot At Cannes This Year

May 20, 2014
Originally published on May 20, 2014 3:08 pm

The Cannes Film Festival runs through this Saturday. Here & Now’s Robin Young checks in with L.A. Times film reporter Steve Zeitchik to talk about some of the fare that might be making waves at Oscar time.

Zeitchik says “The Rover,” “Foxcatcher” and “Maps to the Stars” are already generating a lot of excitement.


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It's HERE AND NOW. Imagine a dinner party, south of France, all sparkling crystal and ball gowns. But then, two guests who loath each other are seated next to each other, (unintelligible) that's a bit of what's happening at the Cannes Film Festival with the new film "Grace of Monaco."

The French filmmakers feuding with American producer, Harvey Weinstein, right up to the films opening, Nicole Kidman stars as Grace Kelly, who of course, became Princess Grace in neighboring Monaco, the wife of Prince Rainier.


NICOLE KIDMAN: I can be a mother and a wife and hold down two jobs without the people getting too upset, can't I?

UNIDENTIFIED: Well, what about the Prince?

KIDMAN: What about the Prince? The Prince is very supportive.

UNIDENTIFIED: Grace is never going to...

YOUNG: A little of the trailer from "Grace of Monaco." The feud over the film, which extends to the real royal family is the talk of Cannes, but what else is going on? Joining us from the French Rivera is Steven Zeitchik. He's film writer for the Los Angeles Times. Steve, good to talk to you, as always.

STEVEN ZEITCHIK, BYLINE: Same here. Greetings au Cannes.

YOUNG: And tell us, first of all, some of the intrigue behind this film "Grace of Monaco."

ZEITCHIK: Well, this has been one of those classic, kind of, national film drop it. Frankly, it's been off screen than it is on screen. You know, this is a movie that Harvey Weinstein boarded to distribute in the U.S., even though it was being produced in France. And immediately after the cut was turned in, began warring with the French filmmakers over the movie.

And that's really continued right up until the opening night of the festival. The interesting thing for Harvey, is that the movie that played, the opening night, was the version the French filmmakers wanted and it totally bombed. People really dislike it, very melodramatic, very overwrote. So we may end up with a situation now where Harvey Weinstein, again, the U.S. kind of (unintelligible) has cut his own version. And we may never see the French version in the U.S.

But just to kind of debacle all around them and to add insult to injury, the Monaco Royal Family has basically disavowed the film, saying it does not do justice to either Prince Rainier...


UNIDENTIFIED: ...or Grace Kelly. So it's been a fun drama but not a particularly pretty one.

YOUNG: Well, so don't sit Nicole Kidman next to the first family of Monaco. Lets move on to some of the other films, "Foxcatcher." It's a very dark subject. It's the story of John du Pont, the heir to the chemical fortune. He was convicted of murdering Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz. Steve Carell plays John du Pont. The performance is getting raves. Lets listen to a little. This is Steve Carell again, playing, John du Pont. And in this scene, he's talking with Channing Tatum's character. He plays Mark Schultz, the brother of Dave Schultz. Lets listen.


YOUNG: Do you have any idea who I am?


STEVE CARELL: You're some rich guy, college on the phone. I want Mark Schultz to come visit me. Well, I'm a wrestling coach and I have a deep love, the sport of wrestling and I wanted to speak with you about your future.

YOUNG: Wow, I understand that the visual is completely unrecognizable. Your thoughts on, you know, Steve Carell in this role?

ZEITCHIK: Well, that's a great clip, that's actually the first time Carell's, John du Pont meets Channing Tatum's, Mark Schultz. And absolutely right, I mean, as great as the speech cadences are from Carell, the visuals and the kind of body language and the way he looks and moves, is just unrecognizable. And it's extremely powerful, very haunting, very creepy. And you know, I just came from a lunch with the cast of this film.

And both Carell and Tatum, I think, have kind of these great reinvention stories, neither of them, of course, known for this kind of drama. You look at what tends to work particularly as we get into Oscar season, a Matthew McConaughey, type narrative as we had last year with "Dallas Buyers Club." I think we're going to have that again with Carell and Tatum. And the move, as a whole, is just very powerful, very minimalist.

You don't always know exactly every emotion that that characters are feeling. But it's just still very compelling but the wrecker has been a miller who did "Moneyball" and "Capote." So I think this is a movie we're going to be hearing a lot about.

YOUNG: Well, it seems as if actors straying from their original rolls might be a theme here because I want to take a look at Robert Pattinson. He's, of course, of "Twilight" flame but he's appearing in a couple of films at Cannes including "The Rover." Lets set this up, he plays Robert, a possible brain damaged young man trying to catch up with his brother Henry. This is, sort of, what, a post-apocalyptic movie, Steve?

ZEITCHIK: Yeah, it's a pretty interesting roll for Rob Pattinson and absolutely right, he's kind of departing from a lot of the, kind of, tween and teenie bopper stuff he's done, playing in this post-apocalyptic western from an Australian director named David Michod, playing opposite Guy Pearce, who kind of is this, sort of, outlaw, as many in this world are. And they kind of end up forming this unlikely sort of Bonnie and Clyde paring.

YOUNG: OK, lets listen to a scene, it starts with Robert Pattinson, again, playing Robert. Lets listen.


ROBERT PATTINSON: Because I believe in God and I know Henry believes in God. And there's no harm Henry would want to see me come to. And I believe in that.

GUY PEARCE: And you look at the harm he's come to and where's Henry?

He's waiting for me.

He's a waiting for you?

PATTINSON: Yes, he is.

PEARCE: No, he's not. I'll tell you what God' giving you, he's put a bullet in ya.

YOUNG: So, Steve, very dark. And Pattinson is also in another film that's getting a lot of buzz, David Croneenberg's, "Maps to the Stars." Tell us a little bit about that film.

ZEITCHIK: Yeah, Pattinson has a very small roll in that film. He's actually probably one of the better adjusted characters in it. This is a movie that is kind of a very cutting satire of Hollywood. Cronenberg of course known for, "The Fly," and Dead Ringers," and this very, kind of, graphic genre material. Here he spends most of the film, really looking at Hollywood and some of its discontent. Really kind of poking holes at a lot of the pretensions and insecurities in that town.

And that movie's really caused a bit of a stir here in Cannes, because first of all, anything Cronenberg does tends to provoke. But also because this is a town, this time a year, that's very much filled with industry players and(ph). This is a movie that really attends to skewer a lot of what happens in Hollywood. So I think it's kind of right for that sort of provocation.

YOUNG: OK. Well, we want to touch on another film that's getting a lot of attention. This is after all in France, it's not an official entry to the festival. It's called "Welcome to New York." It's a thinly disguised accounting of the sexual assault case against the former monetary fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Gerard Depardieu plays the character that's supposedly inspired by Kahn. This has generated a lot of controversy there.

ZEITCHIK: It absolutely has. And, you know, this is not a particularly good film, as you said, it was not officially accepted in Cannes. It was just kind of shown on the sly here to reporters and distributors. But, you know, DSK is a guy who was just polarizing in France and around the world. I think what's interesting about this film is that you have Depardieu, whose not really known for playing these kind of robust historical figures doing this portrayal.

It's a very cartoon-ish, kind of, depiction in characterization and there are moments during the film, when I was watching it and thought, Well, this would kind of be great if it somehow segwayed into "Greencard," or one of his broad comedies because this is one of the better accidental comedies I've seen in a long time.

YOUNG: So there's that. Well, Steve, there you are at the Cannes Film Festival. Just an overarching thought about the festival this year, some people wonder if it's being supplanted by, you know, festivals like Sundance. You have this huge controversy, as you mentioned at the beginning over the "Grace of Monaco." Just your overarching sense about it.

ZEITCHIK: Yeah, well Cannes wouldn't Cannes without a good controversy. I remember three years ago, we had the infamous Lars(ph) Nazi press conference. And something like that seems to come along every year or two and certainly this year is no exception. I do think it still, it has long been and remains the preeminent film festival in the world.

And I think when you do have movies like "Foxcatcher" or "The Rover," that are just kind of stand out pieces of art that I think we're going to be hearing about for a long time. It really does serve to reinforce this festivals place on the calendar, but again, it wouldn't be complete without a good controversy or two. And I wont be surprised if we have one or two more before all is said and done here.

YOUNG: In which case, we'll call you. Steve, thanks so much.

ZEITCHIK: Thank you, Robin. L.A. Times film writer, Steve Zeitchik, at the Cannes Film Festival on the French Rivera. You're listening to HERE AND NOW.

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