Cannes – The Upcoming http://www.theupcoming.co.uk Culture, trends, fashion from London and beyond | The Upcoming Fri, 24 Nov 2017 15:49:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.1 London Film Festival 2017: A Prayer Before Dawn | Review http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/10/09/london-film-festival-2017-a-prayer-before-dawn-review/ Mon, 09 Oct 2017 09:45:33 +0000 http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/?p=314542 While the worlds of boxing and prison have separately – and repeatedly – been mined for good cinematic entertainment, there’s little fun to be had with A Prayer Before Dawn, which combines the two. Set in Thailand, and starring Joe Cole – a talented young newcomer playing a Liverpudlian far from home – it’s less Midnight Express than Midnight Freight Train, a grimy, violent, and gruelling art house exercise that mistakes intensity for insight.

It’s based on the popular memoir of real-life figure Billy Moore, which might explain the film’s complete narrative shapelessness. He was busted for selling drugs, and in order to survive in a tough Thai prison, he signed up to the boxing team and went on to become a champion. Yet if viewers go in blind – as this critic did – they’ll wonder why they should care about this guy in the first place. The first shot is of his back, bulging with muscles; he goes out on stage and beats the crap out of his opponent, violating the few rules that seem to exist in this hellhole. When he’s thrown into jail, he’s consumed by rage, but is made powerless by blade-wielding gangs – who bully, rape and murder anyone in their way.

We’re meant to find this shocking, and perhaps there is something distinctive about shoving blood and dirt under our nose at such a relentless pace. Unfortunately, it all seems to be a game of smoke and mirrors, with none of the subtext and character that made, say, A Prophet so engaging. There’s a limit to how far filmmakers can go while adhering to a real-life story – which means that narrative strands including Billy’s transgender lover and absent father never get resolved to any satisfying degree.

Without the book’s interior monologue, all we see is punching, lots of punching, bleeding, punching, more bleeding, more punching, some occasional kicking, and just general, unimaginative variations on reprehensible behaviour. They say the worst thing about prison is the boredom; after seeing this film, you’ll be all but inclined to agree.

Sam Gray

A Prayer Before Dawn does not have a UK release date yet.

Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.

For further information about the event visit the official BFI website here.

Watch a clip from A Prayer Before Dawn here:

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The Beguiled: An interview with Sofia Coppola – Cannes 2017 best director http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/05/29/the-beguiled-an-interview-with-sofia-coppola/ Mon, 29 May 2017 10:00:00 +0000 http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/?p=300071 The Beguiled is a thriller from acclaimed writer/director Sofia Coppola. The story unfolds during the Civil War, at a Southern girls’ boarding school; its sheltered young women take in an injured enemy soldier and, as they provide refuge and tend to his wounds, the house is taken over with sexual tension and dangerous rivalries. Eventually, taboos are broken in an unexpected turn of events.

You said you wanted to make personal films, what’s personal for you in The Beguiled?

With each film, I only realise it later. I incorporate things I’ve seen, people I know. But I have always been intrigued by the interactions between women, and I have seen how these can sometimes change when a man was present.

In The Beguiled, you deal again with the theme of the community, or the collective, of women, which is transformed, evolves? In Virgin Suicides, it is a community of sisters; In Marie Antoinette, there is the court which is a universe in itself; And in The Bling Ring, there is a group that is breaking the law.

Yes, I have always liked to observe the dynamics of groups, and groups of women in particular. I feel that among women, the mechanisms that emerge are less aggressive, more subtle, when in men, they are more obvious.

This story attracted me because she speaks of a group of women. It reminded me a bit of Virgin Suicides, with these cut girls off from the world. But also because I have never done film on women of different ages, at different stages of their lives, and how they interact. In this story, each has a different relationship with the present man.

There are four age groups represented: Martha, Edwina, Alicia and the four girls.

Each one of them has a different relationship with McBurney.

When and how did you discover the novel by Omas Cullinan, The Beguiled?

My friend, the set designer Anne Ross, first spoke to me about the The Beguiled (Don Siegel, 1971), which I had never seen before, knowing his notoriety. I looked at it and the story did not leave my mind, its strangeness, the unexpected turn of events. I never imagined doing a remake, but the fim sharpened my curiosity and I obtained the book from which it was adapted.

I thought, what if I told this story from the point of view of women? My film would be a reinterpretation. The premises of this story are full of potential because the power relations between men and women are universal. There is always a latent mystery between men and women: “Oh, but why did he say that?” (Laughs)

Have you considered changing the frame of the story?

Some people said to me, “You could change places or times.” But I was fascinated by this period of history, in the South, by the way women were brought up there in their only relationship to men. They had to be refined, seductive, good housewives. Their role was defined exclusively by their relationsip to them – until they went to war. How did the women lived, left to themselves, to survive on their own?

In your film, what did you choose to put forward, or on the contrary, to withdraw, in relation to the novel?

Some elements seemed exaggerated. Even if the story has an extreme side, I wanted to emphasise the realism and the human dimension. In the book, the soldier is Irish. When I met Colin Farrell and heard his accent, I thought it would be great to keep it as it is and to make McBurney even more exotic for these women. We also allude to the fact that he is a mercenary, paid to take the place of another man (as a soldier of the Union). But I wanted him to be charming, that he did not immediately appear as a threat. In the eyes of these women, there is a general “I want to believe”. With Colin, it’s undeniable.

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In fact, by watching them on the screen with him, we feel like… not exactly hope, but something of the order of: maybe it will not turn so bad and won’t be a disastrous ending.

These women need hope, especially the character of Edwina, interpreted by Kirsten Dunst. For McBurney, it’s paradise, all these women who take care of him, make themselves beautiful for him. These kind of charming men who we probably should not know about, even if we feel so crazy … I feel like it is talking to everyone, that we all knew one.

In the fim of 1971, there was an African American character, Hallie, interpreted by the actress Mae Mercer. Have you considered including it in your adaptation?

I did not want there to be a slave character in The Beguiled, because this is a subject I consider too important to be treated on the surface. My film speaks of this particular group of women, left behind during the war.

Have you enjoyed developing the thriller side of the plot?

It reminded me of Misery (Rob Reiner, 1990), in which the man is both invited and prisoner. I saw the film when it came out, and he trotted in my head. But it was not easy, it’s a new genre for me, in which I’m not very comfortable. I folded it in my own way. I had to force the stroke a little, I am more restrained than usual. It was amusing to combine intrigue and magnitude that poetic decor, it was a first for me! (Laughs)

You have realised other films whose action takes place in a bygone era. You wanted to keep the original framework of the Civil War. What surprising discoveries have you made during your research?

I was surprised to see how people lived when everything ran out. A Civil War enthusiast came to show us how the wounds were healed, Nicole learned how to make bandages. It told us about manual work, embroidery. When the paper came to be missed, people began to write in the margins of books …

We read books of good manners dating from that time. We learned, for example, that a woman was not supposed to accept a compliment, because it gave free rein to her vanity. Women’s decorum should be highlighted, but these women are tired of being walked on their feet.

There is such a protocol, in their way of addressing each other in terms of “Mademoiselle” followed by the first name, it gives lyricism to dialogues.

Yes, and I love the fact that even in the end of the film, when they prepare … something (laughs), they retain a feminine distinction and an ability to talk about rain and fine weather. This decorum is still very present in the South, nowadays. With so many ornaments!

Visually, what were your sources of inspiration?

It is always a very heterogeneous mixture. We looked at portraits from the Civil War, but also photos of William Eggleston of young women among them – from the 70s – TESS (Roman Polanski, 1979) and films of Alfred Hitchcock for their suspense.

In the development of the project, how did your choice relate to the director of photography Philippe Le Sourd? This is your first feature film together.

I had worked with him on several commercials. He is a real artist, I had the feeling that he would bring something very beautiful to the film. I was delighted to be able to shoot on film, with old lenses, which is becoming increasingly rare. I wanted a sweet, diaphanous image, but also flooded with sunshine, impregnated with the ambient heat, and with a lot of smoke. The characters stifle, under the weight of repression of their sexual impulses in particular.

The place and its atmosphere are very tangible.

Yes, it is a natural setting, with oaks covered with Spanish moss. Madewood is a magnificent place but the dwelling and property also have a dark side that comes to them from their colonial past. I wanted insects and luxuriance to be palpable … The occupants are no longer able to properly maintain the premises, because they are no longer numerous enough and the gardeners are gone. Climbing plants proliferate, contributing to an impression of surrounding threat, even though the remaining group maintains order and cleanliness in the house. The interior refinement contrasts with the invading and wild outdoor vegetation.

The women contrast with McBurney: they dress in pastel colors, he arrives dirty, in rags. They wear many layers of clothing that choke them, but summer dresses are forbidden to them. They are perpetually stuffed in an oppressive heat. With Stacey Battat (the costume designer), we decided that they would not wear crinolines under their dresses. They look more like dresses that could be worn today. I wanted women to remain true to the time without, however, seeming too far from us. The colours are so passed that everything mixes, which also gives these women a unity. It was Stacey’s first time, The Beguiled is her first film in costumes.

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Anne Ross (head designer), like Stacey Battat, is a frequent collaborator.

With Anne, we created ambience charters to which Stacey and Philippe could refer, so that we were all on the same page. When I work with a team that I know for a long time, they understand my intentions, we have developed a common language.

This is one of the reasons why you could shoot this filmm in 26 days.

We also had a great local team in Louisiana.

Did Sarah Flack, another long-time contributor, start working on editing during the shoot?

Yes, Sarah quickly received the rushes and mounted them, while we continued to shoot. It would have been nice to have a little more time, but that’s the rule for low-budget films. We work as fast as we can.

You talked about insects. They are an integral part of the sound design of the film. There is very little music, and it resembles rhythmic explosions that could be heard in the distance, but not so far away.

The life of these women has become so barren that music too present would have made no sense. I wanted to stick to the minimum.
I thought it would intensify the experience of the spectators, that they could better feel the isolation of these women, condemned to the incessant song of the cicadas and to the sound of cannons in the distance. This war lasted for a long time, it is in the background, the women are used to it.

Like them, one notices the sound of the canons, then one forgets it, until it becomes again present to our spirit. This sound is part of their everyday life.

It’s become normal, it’s part of the set.

In what way was Nicole Kidman best suited to play Mademoiselle Martha the way you had imagined this character?

I love the work of Nicole, especially when she plays characters a little twisted as in Ready to All (Gus Van Sant, 1995). I always wanted to work with her. When I was writing the script, I imagined her in the role, which helped me. I knew she would bring a lot to Mademoiselle Martha’s character, including humour and emotions. Nicole interprets it with such authority that it leaves no doubt about who commands.

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In fact, in some scenes between her and McBurney, it’s a bit like Mademoiselle Martha was a general and he, a simple soldier.

Yes, but I wanted to avoid the terrifying school director cliché. All these women are beauties of the South, even if their hour of glory has passed and the time of receptions is gone. Today, its daily reality is to ensure the protection of thesegirls, she must be strong in the face of adversity.

You find Kirsten Dunst for the third time (after Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette), and for the third time it is a film whose history takes place in the past.

I did not think about it. That is true.

Apart from the small role she plays in The Bling Ring.

It’s a simple appearance, it does not count. I enjoy working with her, I wanted to collaborate on a new project.

What makes it the ideal candidate for films taking place in past eras, in di erent regions of the world?

Kirsten seems to come from another era. That does not mean she can not play contemporary characters, but she is very credible in a costume film. In The Beguiled, I wanted her to interpret Edwina, the vulnerable schoolmistress, because it does not resemble her. Her character is fragile and inhibited, nothing to do with Kirsten. It is the same thing for Elle Fanning who plays a “naughty girl” whereas she is an adorable girl, kind and generous. I find it exciting, I like to see actresses in roles where they are not expected.

How has it evolved since your last collaboration seven years ago for Somewhere?

She was 11 years old at the time. It’s crazy to find her in The Beguiled at 18 years old. Her personality has not changed, she remains the same – adult version. She has kept all her childish brilliance, she is so natural. She impressed me with her game at the time, and she impresses me even more today. She brings much to the character of Alicia, knowing how to render wonderfully her vanity and her narcissism. Alicia is conscious of her appearance, as when she unfolds her skirt, while they are all sitting around McBurney, and looks him straight in the eyes. In the book, Alicia’s education consisted in knowing how to conquer a man.

She is often surrounded by the four youngest actresses. How did you find them and chose them as a group?

I worked with an excellent casting team. It was important for me to have girls of the same age of the characters. I wanted to be rigorous. We saw a lot of young actresses. We then began to put some pictures of them on the wall, to see how they were doing in groups, if they did not look too alike, for example, to the point of risking confusing them. I wanted each one to have a strong personality, to distinguish one from the other. These four girls stand out from the crowd.

Two of them, Oona Laurence and Emma Howard, played Broadway in the musical Matilda. Oona, in the role of Amy, was appointed to sing, and Emma who plays Emily, is the spitting portrait of a young woman of that time. The very talented Angourie Rice is Australian. I asked her to support Jane’s prudery. As for Addison Riecke, who plays Marie, she is really funny. I did not know until after meeting her that she was playing in the TV series “The underman”, which my children love. Their collaboration went very well and I think that cohesion is visible on the screen.

You emphasized their attachment to the screen by showing them sometimes in the same bed.

Yes, we said that far from their family, they would share the same room and that sometimes one of them would slip into another’s bed, because we are afraid in this big house. They are children who cling to each other.

Have you encouraged their rapprochement?

Yes, we had a whole period of rehearsals. They took lessons in dance, decency, sewing, as the girls did at that time. And these joint activities have fostered their ties.

During the filming, especially at Madewood, they spent time together, and they became friends. For Halloween, they all went out together in the city where we were. I think that small sets like ours, in natural settings and with a small team, promote camaraderie. It’s like a summer camp, because you do not find your normal life every night.

While filming in Madewood, we slept at the Hampton Inn and were hanging around in the lobby in their pajamas. For the indoor scenes in New Orleans, there was a long table on the covered terrace of the house where we often met. There or in the garden. A gentle atmosphere prevailed.

The Beguiled is released nationwide on 14th July 2017.

Read more of our reviews from the festival here.

For further information about Cannes Film Festival 2017 visit here.

Watch the trailer for The Beguiled here:

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The Square: Ruben Ostlund on directing and writing the Palme d’Or film http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/05/28/the-square-ruben-ostlund-on-directing-and-writing-the-palme-dor-film/ Sun, 28 May 2017 20:15:04 +0000 http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/?p=300047 In 2008, the first gated community opened in Sweden, a gated residential area that only authorised owners could access, an extreme example of how privileged social groups shut themselves off from their surroundings. It is also one of the many signs of European societies getting more and more individualistic as government debt grows, social benefits shrink, and the gap between rich and poor widened continuously over three decades. Even in Sweden, once the most egalitarian society in the world, rising unemployment and the fear of a decline in status have led individuals to mistrust one another and to mistrust society. A prevailing feeling of political powerlessness has undermined our trust in the State and pushed us to withdraw into ourselves. But is this how we want our societies to develop?

During the research I made for my feature film Play, in which I describe how children mug other children, I repeatedly came across the inability we have to offer help in public spaces. The actual robberies that were Play’s backstory took place in broad daylight in the peaceful city of Gothenburg, in shopping malls, on trams and at public squares, and adults didn’t react even though the events took place really close to them.

This inhibition of our helping behavior when other people are present is known by social psychologists as “the bystander effect” or “bystander apathy”. Experiments show that the probability of help is inversely proportional to the number of bystanders, because of the “diffusion of responsibility” that prevails in larger groups although there is also evidence that group cohesiveness can balance out collective indifference.

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When my father was young, in the 50s, Western society must have had a sense of shared responsibility. Indeed, he told me that his parents let him run around and play in downtown Stockholm at the age of six. They simply put an address tag around his neck in case he got lost. This reminds us that at that time, other adults were seen as trustworthy members of a community that could help a child if he ran into trouble, while today’s social climate does not seem to strengthen group cohesiveness, nor our trust in society; we now tend to see other adults as a threat to our children. With these thoughts in mind, Kalle Boman* and I developed the idea of The Square, an art project addressing trust in society and exploring the need to reassess our current social values.

The film’s title The Square is taken from the name of our project that was first exhibited in the fall of 2014 at the Vandalorum Museum in the South of Sweden. The exhibition exemplifying the ideal of consensus that should govern society as a whole for the greater good became a permanent installation on the city of Värnamo’s central square. If someone is standing in Värnamo’s led-light version of The Square, it is one’s duty to act and react if one needs help.

What is new here is only the manner we chose to evoke values. The Square is a place of humanitarian values, drawing on the ethics of reciprocity that appears in nearly every religion (the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you) as well as in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“All humanbeingsarebornfreeandequalindignityandrights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”). If I left my bike unlocked somewhere and it got stolen, most people would think I only had myself to blame.

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The exhibit in Varnämo experimented with the idea that social harmony depends on a simple choice that each and every of us makes every day: ”I trust people” or ”I mistrust people”. Museum visitors had to choose between two doors: Left, you trust people; right, you do not. Most people chose ”trust people”, but then had cold feet when later asked to leave their phones and wallets on the floor of the exhibition… This contradiction illustrates how difficult it is to act according to one’s principles.

In the film The Square we face the weakness in human nature: when attempting to do the right thing, the hardest part is not to agree on common values, but to actually act according to them. For instance, how should I treat beggars if I want to promote a fair and equal society where the gap between rich and poor has disappeared? Should I maintain the privileged lifestyle that allows me to give them something each day and improve their situation in a rather minor way? Or should I radically change my lifestyle so as to restore the balance between us? The rise of extreme poverty and the increase in the homeless population in first-world cities presents us with such a dilemma every day.

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In my first feature, Involuntary, I reflected about how group behavior could make us cross the line with reference to Stanley Milgram’s experiment.

These tests are well known for exemplifying Hannah Arendt’s view of the banality of evil and humans’ obedience to authority.

Now, with The Square, I am inclined to cite the Good Samaritan experiment, conducted in 1973 at Princeton. Forty theology students took part in what they thought to be a study on religious education and vocations. After completing a questionnaire, they were instructed to go to another building and told to hurry, but to different degrees. On the way, an actor participating as a member of the group fell and acted out being in clear need of help. Obviously, the theology students knew the message of the Good Samaritan parable: You should help a person in need. Did the 40 theology students help? Most did not, and the results showed that the more they were told they had to hurry, the less helpful behavior they displayed.

Christian has a lot of different sides to him: he is both idealistic in his words and cynical in his deeds, both powerful and weak, and so on. Like me, he is a divorced father of two working in the cultural field, and committed to the existential and social questions raised by The Square. He is convinced that The Square, is a ground-breaking idea and truly wants art to bring people new thoughts, but at the same time he is a social chameleon who knows how to play his high-status part at the institution and to navigate the expectations of the sponsors, the visitors, the artists, etc.

Christian, faces questions we all face, of taking responsibility, trusting and being trustworthy, behaving morally at an individual level. And when he encounters a dilemma, his individual actions conflict with the moral principles he stands for. Christian will appear as a walking contradiction, just as many of us are. At the end of the film, we must evaluate if he learned his lesson.

The Square calls for a naturalistic and intimate style of acting. The loving relationship between Christian and his cheerleading daughters forms the emotional core of the film and shows, through concrete images, the idea of a quest for utopia. Indeed, the girls are united in a very efficient collective effort where every one of the individuals performing together plays an equally important part in the achievement. It is also a visual demonstration of the importance of trust to see ten-year-old girl dive into a salto, trusting that the others will catch her. The cheerleader’s focus and joy illustrates the best part of American society, a “team player effect” resulting from every American’s distrust of the State, perhaps?

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Christian’s journey articulates the two (Socratic) sources of justice: the social contract and the individual ethics. Justice is obeying laws in exchange for others obeying them as well, but more than that, justice is also the state of a well-regulated soul. So the just man will also necessarily be the happy man. This old and seductive idea that “doing the right thing“, that justice, can buy happiness is not outdated. Researchers in social psychology have observed increased trust in others amongst volunteers with a high degree of social and political interaction, and refer to the phenomenon as the helper’s high”. Maybe people will laugh at Christian’s clumsy and humorously embarrassing actions, and at some other jokes in the film, but maybe also share the idea of justice underlying his journey.

As a satire, The Square exaggerates the worst tendencies that one can observe in our day and age, such as the way the media ignores their own responsibility when they reproduce the very problems they are reporting. PR specialists are hired by the museum to get the exhibit and the ideas surrounding The Square widespread media coverage. They sarcastically say that the idea of The Square is too “nice” that no one is interested if it is consensual. “To get journalists to write about it we need some controversy and this project is really lacking any edge or conflict.“

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You can draw parallels to extreme parties, in Sweden, the US, France or elsewhere, which through provocative, polarising debate, grabbed the attention of the general public. In Sweden, such a party captured the position as the third largest political party. For the film I was inspired by the provocative stunts of Studio Total, a well- known PR agency in Sweden.

Tragic irony has turned social media into the best promotion tool around for terror organisations. Everybody knows, but no one has learnt, from the media hysteria leading Europeans to join ISIS, or inspiring the killings in Copenhagen a few weeks after Charlie Hebdo was attacked. Some years ago, press ethics would have prevented a newspaper or broadcaster from showing shocking, dubious or manipulated images. But as expenses and jobs were cut and journalists were overwhelmed, media has turned to increasingly sensational images. Now as long as a picture has explosive content, it doesn’t matter what the content is. The example of the picture of the drowned boy Aylan is alarming.

A single picture suddenly changed the “opinion” about asylum seekers in many newspapers in Europe and around the world. It showed how strong an impact a good image can have if it is provocative or touching enough to break through the never-ending flood of information and images we are confronted with.

But above all, I think it showed that we need a picture to get emotionally touched because media seldom defend a certain standpoint anymore. Indeed, unethical reports using sensationalist images have become the norm and spread all over the world via social media.

The Square tries to address this urgent question in a light-hearted, absurdist manner. The obviously fake YouTube clip created by the PR specialists to promote the exhibit’s moral stand exemplifies how media is a part of the way we look at the world and misunderstand it. I find it essential to analyze its effects, because I am convinced that moving images are the most powerful means of expression we have ever had, and thus more dangerous than ever. At the same time, film can provide us with exceptional access to the world: there are so many things we haven’t actually done ourselves, but we have experienced them in our minds through films.

Films can for instance enhance a critical way of thinking about the conventions and what we take for granted. I am thrilled when someone tells me they have been discussing my film all night with friends, because then my film has initiated change outside of the cinema theatre.

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Cannes 2017 winner The Square: Reviews roundup http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/05/28/cannes-2017-winner-the-square-reviews-roundup/ Sun, 28 May 2017 19:28:06 +0000 http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/?p=300036 Ruben Östlund dark comedy The Square won the French festival most coveted award, the Palme d’Or. Let’s take a look at how the othe publications thought about this film that conquered Cannes 2017.

The Guardian: Peter Bradshaw – 4 stars

“The ape/dinner sequence really is a cold-sweat-inducing theatre of cruelty and fear: a Stanford Experiment in accepting public humiliation. Östlund may have been inspired by Roy Andersson or maybe Lars Von Trier. There is a drop of Buñuel there too – but Östlund’s own signature is plain. This is high wire cinema.”

The Telegraph: Robbie Collin – 4 stars

The Square is a sleek, scalding rejoinder to Christian’s PR team, who believe cutting through the noise of modern life requires a short, sharp shock. Slow burn – and at almost two and a half hours, the burn here is positively languid – has a culminative force that can’t be resisted.”

Financial Times: Raphael Abraham – 4 stars

“At times the film feels overly episodic and pleased with itself but this is a sharp and skilful dissection of bourgeois hypocrisies that resonates all too uncomfortably.”

Variety: Owen Gleiberman

“Ostlund, at his best, is a heady and enthralling filmmaker, but unfortunately, he has so much on his mind that he is also, at his weakest, a shapeless and didactic one. The Square is more outrageous but less effective than Force Majeure. It’s two hours and 22 minutes long, and though it has a strong first half, the more it goes on the less it hangs together. Ostlund […] needs to let his instinct for suspense, which ignites individual scenes, guide the shape of an entire movie. But when he does, he’ll deliver a knockout. Because he possesses the thing in filmmaking that counts most: a voice.”

Screen Daily: Lee Marshall

The Square is at its best doing just two of the many things it essays. The first is to use a municipal contemporary art museum […] to probe in comic but also serious ways how we engage with culture, power, and each other. The second is to chart the undoing of a cocky, polished aesthete turned businessman and politician, whose downward trajectory begins when he tries to let his alpha male side out of its cage. But in all its flawed brilliance, The Square remains an original, visceral, uncomfortable and essential viewing experience.”

Hollywood Reporter: Todd McCarthy

“Swedish writer-director Ruben Ostlund takes modern society’s temperature and finds it dangerously overheated in the madly ambitious and frequently disquieting The Square. Following his unnerving 2014 international hit Force Majeure with a work that addresses some of the world’s pressing ills with very dark and queasy comedy, Ostlund juggles quite a few balls here, arguably a few too many to keep them all airborne for nearly two-and-a-half hours.”

Cine-Vue: John Bleasdale – 3 stars

“There is much to enjoy here – especially at the beginning – and Östlund’s ambition and vision are to be applauded. However, The Square would have been greatly improved had the director taken his scalpel and his demanding critical eye and applied it to the film itself.”

Indie Wire: Eric Kohn – C+

The Square has too many masterful moments in search of a good movie. It’s further evidence that the Swedish director has a wonderful eye for deadpan comedy that can pitch into despair at any moment, but Ostlund’s story veers off in so many directions that it’s almost like he can’t decide if any of them are worth the trip.”

Watch three clips from The Square here:

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A look at Cannes 2017 winner The Square: Three new clips http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/05/28/a-look-at-cannes-2017-winner-the-square-three-new-clips/ Sun, 28 May 2017 18:56:35 +0000 http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/?p=300042 The Square, Cannes 2017 winner of the Palme d’Or, tells the story of Christian (Claes Bang) is the respected curator of a contemporary art museum, a divorced but devoted father of two who drives an electric car and supports good causes. His next show is, The Square, is an installation which invites passersby to altruism, reminding them of their role as responsible fellow human beings. But sometimes, it is difficult to live up to your own ideals: Christian’s foolish response to the theft of his phone drags him into shameful situations. Meanwhile, the museum’s PR agency has created an unexpected campaign for the exhibition: the response is overblown and sends Christian, as well as the museum, into an existential crisis. Here are three new clips from the film:

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Cannes 2017 winners: All the reviews http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/05/28/cannes-2017-winners-all-the-reviews/ Sun, 28 May 2017 18:15:00 +0000 http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/?p=300031 It’s been another great year of cinema at Cannes, for its 70th edition. From the Palme d’Or winner The Square to the Camera d’Or Jeune Femme, here are all the winners and the reviews:

Palme D’Or – The Square (review)

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Gran Prix – 120 Beats per Minute (review)

120 BPM

Best Director: Sofia Coppola (The Beguiled) (review)

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70th Anniversary award: Nicole Kidman (The Killing of a Sacred Deer / How to Talk to Girls at Parties / The Beguiled)

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Best actor: Joaquin Phoenix (You Were Never Really Here) (review)

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Best actress: Diane Kruger (In the Fade) (review)

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Prix du Jury: Loveless (review)

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Best screenplay (ex-aequo): The Killing of a Sacred Deer and You Were Never Really Here

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Camera d’Or: Jeune Femme (review)

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L’Amant Double (The Double Lover): An interview with Marine Vacth http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/05/28/lamant-double-the-double-lover-an-interview-with-marine-vacth/ Sun, 28 May 2017 18:15:00 +0000 http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/?p=300095 Marine Vacth stars in François Ozon’s L’Amant Double as Chloe, a young woman who is in a relationship with her psychoanalyst – and his brother, who is also a therapist. The film was selected to compete in the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year.

What was it like working with François Ozon again?

After Young & Beautiful, François made other films and so did I. I also had a child. The idea of making another film together, nourished by these experiences, was very exciting. Considering the nature of the project, François needed to make sure I wasn’t apprehensive, I was ready and willing to take it on. And I was. I had wonderful memories of our work together. I really enjoyed making Young & Beautiful, and making L’Amant Double was even better. We’d gained a new level of complicity and trust.

How did you get into the character of Chloe?

First I read François’s screenplay, then I read the novel by Joyce Carol Oates. François adapted the book quite freely and reading it provided a nice complement. Joyce Carol Oates offers great psychological insight into this woman and what she’s looking for in the two men, and that helped me flesh out my own idea of Chloe.

What compelled you about the role?

I liked that it was dense, open to a variety of interpretations, and afforded a wide range of new registers for me to play. Chloe is riddled with contradictions. Her story and her duality appeal to me, as do her fragility and vulnerability, which make her touching in her quest for truth.

Chloe is double but not duplicitous…

Right. She’s never clear and yet she’s always transparent. Chloe is a woman with integrity. She’s very alive in all circumstances.

Did you do any research on twins?

No. I preferred to focus on Chloe’s exploration of herself and her unexplained malaise. Encyclopedic knowledge isn’t what leads Chloe to the truth. She has to experience the duality of Paul and Louis in order to finally discover what’s going on in her stomach. Research wouldn’t have helped me get there. On the contrary, it would have prevented me from staying on her level. I like to appropriate my characters intuitively. Francois told me about Dead Ringers, but I chose not to see it. I knew Cronenberg’s story was similar to his and I didn’t want to be influenced by it.

Her unusual condition aside, Chloe reflects a common human desire to lead a double life…

Chloe is leading a double life, pursuing a satisfying and uninhibited sex life outside her romantic relationship. I don’t think we all share that desire, but the need for imagination to accompany reality is probably pretty universal. Everyone, whether they’re in a relationship or not, needs their own a space of freedom, a secret garden.

When Louis tells Chloe that Paul is the one she should be experimenting with we tend to agree with him…

Yes, and that’s precisely the moment in the film when Chloe begins to get the upper hand with Louis. Now she’s the one asking the questions. Their dynamic is turned on its head and she reclaims ownership of her imagination. She’s no longer overwhelmed and under his thumb. She’s active and determined.

Your character’s evolution is punctuated by concrete details: hairstyle and clothing changes, different ways of expressing her femininity… 

Or absence of femininity. Chloe’s femininity develops gradually. We liked the idea of the short, boyish hairstyle. Francois, the costume designer Pascaline Chavanne and I wanted Chloe to dress casually in the beginning, to be quite ordinary.

How would you describe François Ozon’s approach to directing actors?

François is a man of few words on the set. He has a precise idea of what he wants, but he leaves plenty of room for things to evolve freely. François is always behind the camera, literally plunged into the scene with his actors. We feel his presence intensely, he’s in there with us physically, with no filters.

What was it like working with Jérémie Renier?

I was immediately comfortable with him during the screen tests. I could tell he was bold enough to roll with it and have fun. That was important for this film, because we were required to let go of control, abandon ourselves, trust each other and dive into François’s world. Jérémie is a generous acting partner. He’s very present, helpful and considerate. I felt protected. We were very close. And despite the film’s subject matter, we had a lot of laughs!

Tell us about the shoot

First we shot all the scenes with Paul, then all the scenes with Louis. Avoiding an incessant back and forth between Paul and Louis really helped me develop the character of Chloe and construct her relationships with each of the men. Doing the psychiatric sessions with Paul on the first days of the shoot was equally structuring. It laid a useful foundation on which to establish the continuity of the character, beyond the chaos that is her life.

Who did you prefer shooting with, Paul or Louis?

I liked them both! Chloe expresses very different moods, depending on which man she’s with. With Paul, she’s well behaved and reserved. With Louis, she reveals herself to be more daring and provocative, even as she lets herself be dominated by him. The duo Paul/Louis is pretty black and white: one is kind and protective, the other is mean and confrontational. Yet Paul may actually be more complex than Louis. During the shoot, Jérémie and François brought more ambiguity to the character of Paul than had been apparent in the script, and that ambiguity was further emphasised in the editing, making Paul harder to read.

The scenes with Louis are more fantasised. Did you approach them differently?

No, I played everything straight. I tried to embody Chloe’s truth and evoke the realism of each situation, while obviously bearing in mind the complexities of her personality.

What was your reaction when you saw the film?

I discovered the film through François’s direction, which was gripping. I’m especially curious to see how audiences will react when they see the film with no prior knowledge of the story.

The editorial unit

Read our review of L’Amant Double here.

Read more of our reviews from the festival here.

For further information about Cannes Film Festival 2017 visit here.

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L’Amant Double (The Double Lover): An interview with François Ozon http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/05/28/lamant-double-the-double-lover-an-interview-with-francois-ozon/ Sun, 28 May 2017 18:00:00 +0000 http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/?p=300097 Director François Ozon’s latest feature, L’Amant Double, tells the story of Chloe, who begins a relationship with her therapist, and looks at the identity issues of twins. The film is based on a short story by Joyce Carol Oates and ran in competition at this year’s Cannes.

Are you a big fan of Joyce Carol Oates?

I’ve long admired Joyce Carol Oates for her precise writing style, keen psychological observations, complex characters and smart storylines. And the fact that she’s a graphomaniac has always appealed to me. When I learned she wrote mysteries under the pseudonym Rosamond Smith, I took an immediate interest in these minor novels, knowing her limitless imagination would provide great fodder for film. That’s when I came across Lives of the Twins. I retained the premise of the book: a woman discovers that her psychiatrist, now her lover, has a brother who is also a therapist. Joyce Carol Oates tells the story in a far more realistic way, whereas I delved further into the mental aspects of the story, set the action in France and added the medical revelation at the end. Still, the film explores the American author’s pet subjects: neuroses, sex and the dark side of split personalities.

Was it the subject of twins that inspired you to make this film? 

I wanted to treat the subject of twins as something fascinating, monstrous and artistic. I got the idea of having Chloe work in a museum. Chloe is contaminated by the artwork she’s guarding. At the beginning of the film, the pieces in the museum are fairly aesthetically pleasing, but as the film progresses they become increasingly organic and monstrous, reflecting Chloe’s inner turmoil. I naturally thought of Dead Ringers. I suspect Joyce Carol Oates wrote her book after seeing Cronenberg’s film, which is also very organic and preoccupied with gynaecology. However, in his case, the story is told from the point of view of the twins, whereas JC Oates focuses on the young woman caught between two brothers. It was important for me to place Chloe at the centre of the story, to show her stomach, swelling and hurting her, and illustrate her confusion between early pregnancy and a parasitic fetus.

How did you want to present the process of psychoanalysis?

For a long time now I’ve wanted to try to capture the experience of a psychoanalytical session on film. Initially, Chloe sits across from her shrink, monologuing about her dreams, her feelings and emotions, her family… The audience is plunged into her private life and might get nervous – will this be going on for an hour and a half? I didn’t want to confine myself to the classic analytical setup represented by a neutral, static setting with predefined codes. I sought to capture something more fluid. I wanted the audience to follow Chloe’s therapy the same way a psychiatrist might listen to his patients, in a floating way. The visual effects and changing viewpoints in these first sessions almost play against the dialogue. If you listen carefully or see the film a second time, you realise everything is said in these first ten minutes. But you don’t necessarily hear it.

Does the balance of fantasy and reality allow these characters to lead double lives?

The Louis character can be seen as an avatar allowing Chloe to live out the desires and fantasies she forbids herself from experiencing with Paul, as though her love for Paul were preventing her from satisfying a more intense and uninhibited sexuality. My films are often about our need for the imaginary in order to cope with reality. In any love relationship, even a happy one, there is an element of frustration and a need for a mental space where fantasies can express themselves. Our partner can never satisfy all of our desires. We often need something more or different, something on the side.

So L’Amant Double is a mental thriller?

The intense subjectivity of the first ten minutes bleeds into the rest of the film. The idea was to follow Chloe in a linear way, creating narrative tension by playing with elements of suspense while staying anchored in a fluctuating reality complete with moments of mental or fantasmatic slippage. This allowed me to deviate from a purely realistic register and flirt with the character’s imaginary world. I liked the idea that the outside dangers and threats Chloe perceives reveal her inner turmoil.

How did you approach directing this film?

After a restrained, classical film like Frantz, diving into Chloe’s imaginary world gave me room to make bolder stylistic choices. L’Amant Double tells an essentially mental story, and my idea was to direct it architecturally, playing with symmetry, reflections and geometry. All the sets were conceived to create the impression that something is being built, that a brain is developing a thought. I shot my last few films in 35mm but for L’Amant Double, I returned to digital and cinemascope and aimed for a sharper, more contemporary image, surgical at times, but always aesthetically pleasing.

You worked with Marine Vacth before on Young & Beautiful. Why did you cast her for this project? 

When I dreamt up the project four years ago it didn’t occur to me to cast Marine as she was too young for the role. But by the time I returned to L’Amant Double after Frantz, Marine had matured, had a baby, become a woman. And we were both keen to work together again. In a sense, Young & Beautiful was a documentary portrait of an up-and-coming young actress. In it, Marine embodies a taciturn, opaque, mysterious teenager onto whom the audience projects their own interpretations. In this film, Marine has done the work of an accomplished actress and truly created a character. The secret is within her, she’s seeking the key to unlock it, and we’re right there with her on her quest. We get inside her head, her fantasies, her stomach.

Did you feel the same about Jérémie Renier, who you have also worked with before? 

This is the third time I’ve worked with Jérémie, after Criminel Lovers and Potiche. In my mind he was still the teenager I met in 1998, so I wasn’t convinced going into the screen tests. I assumed he wouldn’t have the necessary maturity for the roles, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover he’d acquired a strength, a virility. And when he tried out a few scenes with Marine there was a real erotic chemistry between them. The starting point for playing Paul and Louis was simple and binary: good guy, bad guy. But as Jérémie infused complexity into the characters, it quickly became apparent that the trickier of the two to tackle was actually Paul. He’s the more mysterious of the two, the one who’s hiding the most. We can project more onto him, he triggers our imagination. We worked on the costumes, hairstyles, physical differences, the way they carry themselves, the way they speak. In the beginning we imagined a deeper, more imposing voice for Louis, then realised that if they have the same voice the situation feels even more disturbing. Like Chloe, there comes a point where we no longer know if we’re with Paul or with Louis.

Can you tell us a bit more about these two characters and how they are portrayed in the film?

I wanted Paul to come across as a good psychotherapist whose exchanges with Chloe ring true. Louis, on the other hand, transgresses all the rules and framework of psychoanalysis. He makes outrageous claims and interpretations. In their first session, he gives the impression he knows Chloe, leading the audience to wonder if he might actually be Paul. It’s as though Louis were saying out loud everything that went unsaid with Paul, and saying it brutally, with no taboos or superego. Everything relating to the brothers is conceived in mirror images, especially the decor. Paul’s consulting room is comfortable and inviting, with leather furniture, plush carpeting and warm colours. Louis’s consulting room is glacial, with marble accents, cold colours and fake flowers. As for the mirrors themselves, Paul’s are horizontal and Louis’s are vertical.

There is also an interesting focus on these characters’ mothers…

The three women in Chloe’s life can all be seen as mother figures. Myriam Boyer, who plays the neighbour, is the intrusive, slightly grotesque, devouring mother, a bit of a witch with her taxidermy cat. I’ve always loved Myriam Boyer’s voice. In no time at all she establishes her character, the only one in the film who brings a little humour and lightness to an otherwise disturbing presence. Jacqueline Bisset is the real mother, the absent mother Chloe mentions at the beginning of the film during her session with Paul. In her fantasy world this maternal figure becomes Mrs Schenker, a nurse-cum-prison warden who cares for her incapacitated daughter at home. Jacqueline Bisset was an obvious choice, with her Anglo-Saxon charm, feline beauty and resemblance to Marine in her facial features, skin tone, freckles and piercing eyes. Dominique Reymond is the clinical mother, the scientist who gives Chloe information about her condition kindly, but without emotional attachment. I love the combination of coolness and empathy Dominique brings to the role.

What can you tell us about the final reveal?

It was while doing research on twins that I discovered the existence of parasitic twins. That was a eureka moment in my adaptation process, because it provided a path back to a reality even more fantastical and monstrous than what we’d seen up to that point. This final resolution plunges us into the abyss of what nature is capable of doing to our bodies. There’s a serenity at the end of the film. Her condition has been diagnosed and treated, things seem to be falling back into place. But all is not resolved. Chloe still feels the emptiness inside. I don’t see this ending as either positive or negative. It is brutal and unrelenting, like sexuality, the subconscious and desire.

The editorial unit

Read our review of L’Amant Double here.

Read more of our reviews from the festival here.

For further information about Cannes Film Festival 2017 visit here.

 

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Redoutable: An interview with Stacy Martin http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/05/28/redoutable-an-interview-with-stacy-martin/ Sun, 28 May 2017 17:45:00 +0000 http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/?p=300132 Stacy Martin stars as the actress and novelist Anne Wiazemsky in Michel Hazanavicius’s latest feature, Redoubtable. The film follows Wiazemsky’s relationship with the director Jean-Luc Godard in the 1960s. 

How did you become involved in Michel Hazanavicius’s project?

I went through a very official casting procedure, then Michel called and asked me to do a test with Louis (Garrel), probably to check how things worked between us. Michel called me after that to tell me he wanted to work with me. We saw each other and talked a lot, he told me that his intention wasn’t to make a biopic but a comedy about Godard, and he gave me Anne Wiazemsky’s books, in which she tells their story.

What did you know about Anne Wiazemsky?

I knew Anne through her films. Several years ago, I saw Au Hasard Balthazar at an independent cinema in London, and it moved me deeply. The story is both simple and profound. Anne is extremely beautiful in it: pure and sensual at the same time. It left its mark on me.

And Godard?

I’d seen his films, at least two from that period. I watched Une Femme Mariée again and was completely captivated, I really think it’s one of his best. I re-watched others again and a lot of Truffaut films too.

Really? Why Truffaut?

For the era, the way people talk, the way they move, the way they behave. To help me find a texture, a tone. Godard’s films are completely re-written in the editing, which makes it difficult to get direct inspiration without falling into caricature. I needed something more natural, more everyday and Truffaut’s films were very useful for this.

Have you met Anne Wiazemsky?

No…not yet! I really have to meet her now. Especially since I know she saw the film and liked it. I hope she will be at Cannes. I was hesitant before the shoot, I wondered or not I should meet her. But I was so taken by her book, and Michel’s adaptation of it, that I wanted to discover something by myself. And on top of that, I’m a big fan of her work and was a bit afraid of meeting her! (laughs). Deep down I was concerned that it would influence me too much, that by having such a direct reference, I’d lose some artistic curiosity. There was so much information in the book and the screenplay; I wanted to find something else, something of my own. Especially since she doesn’t have so much dialogue. So much is said through her eyes, her way of being, of listening…That’s the risk we took with Michel, and very quickly, after a week or two of shooting, we knew that it was working…

Now that you’ve played Anne’s character, how would you define it?

(Laughs) To me, Anne was from a very young age witness to a quite incredible world, a defining chapter of French cinema. But she was also a becoming a woman, profoundly questioning the love of her life as well as her work, her own artistic aspirations, the life she intended to live….

What do you find the most touching about her?

The way she looks at their story and at everything that happened. It isn’t so easy to revisit in writing a relationship that was sometimes difficult. She is always very tender when it comes to Godard. Even when she talks in a negative way, and this touches me deeply as it shows the love they had for each other. It’s difficult sometimes to look with tenderness at someone you have loved, who has changed a lot and became someone else. It’s as if love had changed but somehow survived… Her writing shows a combination of gentleness, intimacy and lucidity that Michel has managed to recreate wonderfully, through his direction of the cast but just as much through his narrative ability. We are truly with this couple, completely caught up in their story; it’s funny at the beginning and grows more moving as time passes before becoming melancholy – it’s also the story of the end of a love affair… What really moves me is Anne’s evolution. From the time of her meeting with Godard, also without doubt because of him, she changed, grew, studied, and discovered more of herself. It is also set in an era of turmoil, everything is changing, culturally but also for women, and this obviously resonates in her. Furthermore, in relation to Godard himself – as she says at the end, “He didn’t die that day, but something in him died forever” – she had also fallen in love with an artist who became another. When the artist becomes another artist, does he become another person? The beauty of this film is that it also raises all these questions.

What is, in your opinion, Louis Garrel’s greatest asset for portraying Godard?

He has so many it’s hard to choose only one! (laughs). Given the cult around Godard in France, it was a huge challenge, but that didn’t scare him. At the same time, Louis is very humble and worked very, very hard. The greatest thing he achieved is that he didn’t turn him into a caricature. He is a man. With all the surprises this implies. We went much further than a simple biopic. It really is an interpretation of Godard, in the true sense of the word. It was really hard, but he got it right. He makes him humble, and it really becomes a love story between a man and a woman. It isn’t the case that we forget Godard and Wiazemsky, but we are with them, we become attached to them as human beings and not only as “icons”, and I find this very beautiful…

What was it like acting opposite Louis Garrel?

I loved watching him work, and I loved working with him. He’s awesome! (laughs) And he’s very, very funny. He is extremely inventive, attentive as well, and he’s always looking for a joke, a way to make people laugh… Really attentive.

How would you define Michel Hazanavicius as a director?

Michel has the same kind of freedom children have when they draw before…before they’re told how to do it! They have beautiful creative freedom. They have such fun discovering things; they’re always searching. Michel’s a bit like that, very free, almost childlike, yet extremely precise when it comes to framing, to the image, the colours, and the performances. It was the first time I worked like this, where each texture, each composition mattered, like in painting. I remember one very long and difficult scene where we were really struggling, nothing was working. Suddenly, in the middle of the scene, Michel cuts, says nothing, walks past us, adjusts the curtain behind us: the frame wasn’t straight and was destabilising the whole image! Just like that he managed to relieve the pressure, he reminded us that we were in a film, we were also elements of that image, and we felt freer as a result… Working with him has certainly given me a new kind of liberty.

Did he talk much about the character or the era, while shooting?

We had many discussions beforehand, did quite a lot of reading, we met many times, we discussed cinema, we did tests and a lot of costume research. So much so that once we started shooting everything quickly fell into place and we didn’t need to talk about the characters much…

Was there a scene you were particularly anxious about?

All the demonstration scenes. Because of the crowd, the number of people involved. It was one of the first times I’d been on a set without so many extras… there were running scenes, a few quite violent scenes, and others with a lot of real dialogue. I was anxious about this combination of genres.

What was the biggest challenge for you?

To stay on track, the film’s track as well as the track of Anne’s book. It could have very easily fallen into caricature or mockery, which wasn’t Michel’s intention at all. We moved forward with care…

Off the top of your head, any favourite scenes?

All the restaurant scenes. They have beautiful energy, which wasn’t particularly obvious. Each character has a different dynamic, and I find that they truly represent what we shot, even though they weren’t the easiest to act. The scene where they are naked while discussing the problem of nudity in films also makes me laugh a lot!

If you could keep only one image, one moment from this adventure, what would it be?

I think the scene in the car, when they’re coming back from Cannes.

Why?

Because it was hard to shoot. It was a one shot scene… and it was very hard not to laugh! I didn’t really have much dialogue, I was a bit of an observer, and it was incredible to watch such a furious debate take place in such a tiny car. It was also very hot and we were all crammed together. We had to do at least 30 takes. It was during the very early days of the shoot; instead of giving us a big talk beforehand, Michel played us part of the score from The Magnificent Seven on set! Right away, a team spirit emerged. We all immediately felt that we were part of – not a family, since there isn’t such a creative spirit in a family! – but a troupe. It was warm and creatively very stimulating.

The editorial unit

Read our review of Redoutable here.

Read more of our reviews from the festival here.

For further information about Cannes Film Festival 2017 visit here.

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Redoutable: An interview with Louis Garrel http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/05/28/redoutable-an-interview-with-louis-garrel/ Sun, 28 May 2017 17:30:00 +0000 http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/?p=300127 Louis Garrel stars as Jean-Luc Godard in Redoubtable, a biographical drama about the relationship between the director and the actress and novelist Anne Wiazemsky in the 1960s, which screened in competition at Cannes this year..

Your admiration for Jean-Luc Godard’s cinema is well known. Bearing that in mind, how did you welcome Michel Hazanavicius’s proposition to play him on screen?

Taking this part was far from a foregone conclusion. For any actor, the role of Godard would be very intimidating. Godard has played and continues to play a central role in my work.

Think of a Christian, for whom the figure of Christ is a profound inspiration… How could he play Christ on screen without having the painful feeling he is descending into blasphemy? It’s a little like that for me. My first reaction was: as his admirer, I can’t play Godard.

Then Michel and I talked a lot while he was writing. He explained that this wasn’t a film about Godard. He talked to me about Un an après, Anne Wiazemsky’s book, whose point of view is the central theme. Redoubtable is less a biopic than the story of a filmmaker caught at a specific turning point of his life that converges with a historical turning point. The period in question is short but dense. It begins with the filming of La Chinoise and goes up until the beginnings of the Dziga Vertov Group. And for all the rest, it’s before and after May 68.

It is also a love story. So I started to see it more clearly. Later when I read the script I was captivated from the first page. It was like a sophisticated collage. And I was attracted by the subject, it was enthralling. I learned many things about the Dziga Vertov Group and the complicity between Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin… But what surprised me most was the way it was presented. Godard moves away from film, cuts himself from his network of contacts, throws himself into activism… And at the same time he’s racing in that direction, his relationship with Anne goes to pieces. All this is in the book, but Michel’s screenplay reminded me of an Ettore Scola comedy! Even though the narrative content is dramatic, the situations are all shown in an amazing comic light. Politics in particular never ceases to produce burlesque comedy.

Did you find this the right approach?

Yes. Less in keeping with what 1968 could have been than with what you hear from those who were there… Even if these experiences are composed of a combination of joy and drama, even tragedy, it’s often the absurd, even the comical, that is also highlighted in the story. A result of hindsight, I’d say… While he didn’t live the events of 1968, Michel talks about them in the same way as those who knew the barricades, meaning that he emphasises the joyous and vital side of the revolution.

This is the third time I’ve acted in a film about May 1968. Bernardo Bertolucci’s approach in The Dreamers (2003) is phantasmagorical. My father’s Regular Lovers (2005) is poetic. I didn’t want to repeat myself. But Michel’s point of view is different again: he uses the codes of dramatic farce or Italian-style comedy; his point of view is both critical and tender… After all, Godard himself, in replying to a question about May 68 and cinema, said it was a subject for Jerry Lewis.

Aren’t comedy and politics contradictory?

Probably. But you can’t separate Godard from his taste for paradox and provocation, for deconstruction and, yes, for the comic. Provocation is an integral part of his way of being and working. Godard is incapable of getting involved with anything – a television set, at an assembly, even a novel – without deconstructing and reconstructing. I heard Gorin say that he has only ever made first films. Dissatisfaction and perpetual motion have made him the inventor of modernity, the Picasso of cinema.

The film is above all a love story –  how was working with Stacy Martin?

I knew Stacy from Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, and was impressed with her performance. Even more so after I met her, since she is very different from her character in the film. I don’t know how she coped during the shooting of our film, but in each scene she managed to impose an authoritative tenderness that, in the face of all opposition, makes her love the character I played. In the end, she embodies a very intelligent woman, lover and friend. And with an immensely graceful beauty.

What do you think of this movement that in 1968 made Godard leave the bright lights of cinema for the shadows of activism?

In 1968 Godard decides to leave the place where he is absolute master to go into politics. I feel that for Michel, this shift is dangerous: he doesn’t believe that artistic practice can coexist with such militant activism. I agree in part: this shift perhaps appeared to lead him to a dead end. But with hindsight, one can also say that it’s from that place that Godard reinvented himself. And I can only admire his journey. I think it’s very powerful… All the more so in Godard’s case because it leads him to explore the limits of cinema. It is characteristic of his approach since the beginning: to redefine cinema through its limits, without respite. He continues today with films like Goodbye to Language (2014).

Did you look at documents to prepare for the part? Films? TV interviews with Godard?

All the time; I always have, even when I’m not playing him. In interviews he can be inhibiting. The way he appreciates films at unexpected moments. I think his apparent severity is a sign of a deep and constant need for the other. He needs to break up. But not rupture. He needs to determine himself in relation to the other: to deconstruct, cut and edit all relationships…he tells us that when he was a boy scout his nickname was bickering sparrow! He is someone who needs arguments, discussions, confrontation…the presence of the other, but a true other, meaning someone who resists him. I believe all these aspects are in the film.

You’ve always had a reputation as one of his best impersonators – and there are many. Was this your starting point for portraying him?

Yes and no. Michel and I wondered which Godard we wanted to show. Because there are many. We mostly know his media image. The risk was to reproduce this image during intimate moments, which would be misplaced. We also know Godard the actor, in his own films: I’m thinking of First Name: Carmen (1983) where he plays himself as a madman of sorts, or Keep Your Right Up (1987) in which he’s very funny. These elements had to be there. But they weren’t the only ones.

How did you prepare, physically?

Did I need a wig? I thought any sort of fakeness had to be avoided…but I didn’t really know what had to be done. Michel convinced me in the end by showing me a sketch of how he saw Godard, the glasses, the tuft of hair, etc… And from that everything became clear. And the idea of the comic book convinced me. A comic book tone. We tried to find a modulation between the image in the media and a more intimate image, to play on different registers… For me this modulation is essential in approaching the character.

I often told Michel that I absolutely wanted to avoid hurting those who love Godard. And he used to reply that he didn’t want to frighten those who hate him. The film is a balance between these two desires and two fears. That’s Michel’s inclusive side. He conceives of a film that can be seen by a very wide audience. He loves the idea of addressing the whole world. I tend to see things differently. I’m very happy of the meeting of our two different approaches.

The film could give the impression that it was partly improvised…

That’s the effect we wanted to achieve. But we managed it by doing the reverse. The car scene illustrates this perfectly. They are coming back from Cannes. There are six of them crammed in the car going back to Paris. That’s already quite funny in itself. It becomes hilarious when you know the context. Godard had driven south to block the festival. Although a supporter of the struggle, his friend Michel Cournot would have still liked his film Les Gauloises Bleues to be screened. From this, a terrible argument explodes. Michel filmed it as sequence shot, in a way that we were all in the frame constantly. And we are even more crammed especially as everyone is involved: Renoir, Hawks, the whole story of Cinema that Godard says he is done with… The scene seems improvised while in fact it was planned down to the last millimetre. It took us two days to be able to give Michel what he wanted. A large part of the material was unusable because of our hysterical laughter. There were long silences during which it was really difficult to refrain from laughing, it was so funny. There are directors who are really inside the action and who love the work of the actors. Michel is one of them.

What is the vision of Godard that finally emerges from the film?

The image of a man who wanted, at a decisive political moment, to turn cinema into an art that makes you think, at the risk of getting on the wrong side of people who loved him for other reasons. Michel’s view of the era isn’t nostalgic, nor is he crushed by the figure of Godard. It is a curious and tender look. And that’s how I’d like the audience to see the film.

The editorial unit

Read our review of Redoutable here.

Read more of our reviews from the festival here.

For further information about Cannes Film Festival 2017 visit here.

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