The Cannes Film Festival kicks off tomorrow and I am excited about all the new movies that will have their premieres there and about all the movie talk that will ensue. Here are some of the films which have sparked an interest in me, before having the chance to watch them. Pedro Almodóvar’s Julieta – the director is returning to a predominantly female cast and I am expecting good things from this one, especially that his previous film, Los amantes pasajeros, was such a disappointment. One of the actresses I admire the most, the great Isabelle Huppert, stars in Paul Verhoeven’s revenge thriller, Elle, and that alone was enough to get my interest in the Dutch director’s first film in a decade. Woody Allen’s Café Society will open the festival, playing out of competition, and, as usual, I can’t resist the curiosity of a new Allen film.
Andrea Arnold’s American Honey is another title on my list (I loved the British director’s Fish Tank), as well as Jim Jarmusch’s both Gimme Danger, as midnight screening, a documentary about Iggy Pop and The Stooges (I have a rock-punk lover of a husband and some of his music preferences have rubbed off on me) and Paterson – Jarmusch doesn’t make films that often and it has already been three years from his last one, Only Lovers Left Alive, which, if you still haven’t watched, I strongly recommend. Pablo Larraín’s Neruda (who also wrote/directed No – I wrote about it a few years back), starring the same Gael García Bernal, and Paul Schrader’s Dog Eat Dog, both screening in the Directors’ Fortnight section, sound interesting, too.
The poster for the 69th edition of the festival evokes a golden era of the French cinema by paying tribute to Jean-Luc Godard’s 1963 film business satire Le Mepris (Contempt). Director George Miller is this year’s president of the jury, and Kirsten Dunst (more about the actress in my next interview coming up later this week, which I am very excited about), Donald Sutherland, Vanessa Paradis, French director Arnaud Desplechinare and Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen are among the jury members.
Just in time for the festival, I thought it would be nice to offer you a glimpse into the book Cannes Cinema: A visual history of the world’s greatest film festival. As the title suggests, it is brim-full of photographs, portraits of actors and film-makers taken by three generations of the Traverso family (I love the idea of sourcing all the images in the book from a single archive), from the beginnings of the festival, in 1939, to the present day. Originally from the Tende Valley, on the Italian side of the border, the Traverso family settled in Cannes in 1850. They are artisans, and their work consists of photographing important occasions in ordinary people’s lives, as well as prestigious events. “Their single concern is with the present, there is no social affectation, no obsession with following fashion.” I like that.
But even more than the visual gems, I appreciate the words accompanying each photo; the text captures the essence and the mood of the times and of the film world exceptionally well. It doesn’t hurt that the book has the approval of the Cahiers du cinema either (author Serge Toubiana was Editor-in-Chief of Cahiers du cinema between 1973-1991).
“It was up to each person to invent a style, to be him or herself while at the same time giving the impression of belonging to the times. Times in which one learned to make one’s mark,
to stand out from the established order. Actors were better placed than anyone else to harness the zeitgeist.
It was up to them to express it, to establish its modes of expression and gestures. Here, Geraldine Chaplin
does so with some grace. Not just her father’s daughter, in 1967 she also presented Robert Hossein’s
out-of-competition film J’ai tué Raspoutine (I killed Rasputin), in which she performed.” (left image above)
“David Bowie is radiant. Nagisa Oshima is enigmatic. Their film,
‘Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence’, subtly shifted the line between
the East and the West. It was the sort of collaboration of which
every member of the audience secretly dreams. They faced their public with rare style.
They were not subdued rebels, but true modern adventurers.” (center image above)
“The American stars arriving in Cannes brought with them glamour, without which there is no cinema. The festival would not have been able to survive
without showcasing and highlighting the magical aura of the stars. “Put the Blame on Mame”,
sang this sublime redhead, while slowly peeling off her black satin gloves.” (right image above)
“In 1978, Jane Fonda came to champion Hal Ashby’s ‘Coming Home’. Her unequivocal opinions against the war
and in favour of the feminist movement were well known. But her appeal lay above all
in her elegance and her smile. She had the authenticity of an actress completely in control of her art.” (left image above)
“Bardot could have been a one-summer wonder. Followed by a crowd of admirers, she had a gift for inventing style
that broke with the then rather out-dated image of French cinema.” (center image above)
“There are moments that have to be seized, when a good photographer owes it to him or herself to be there,
such as when a star offers him or her the simple but magical act of changing his shoes, right in the middle of the Carlton.
Yves Montand, it appeared, had forgotten his patent dress shoes and had just enough time to put them on
before the official screening.” (talking about style and class)(right image above)
“There is no doubt that Sean Connery’s appearance on the Croisette in 1965 was very popular.
But was it not James Bond that people were staring at rather than the excellent performer
from Sidney Lumet’s “The Hill”? In fact, the actor had travelled to Cannes
to show that he wanted his image as an actor to break away from the Bond character.” (left image above)
photos: 1-official poster of the 69th edition of Festival de Cannes, by Herve Chigioni Gilles Frappier, based on stills from Jean-Luc Godard’s “Le Mepris”/ 2-film posters via IMDb.com (Elle, Cafe Society, Julieta) / 3-by me from the book Cannes Cinema: A visual history of the world’s greatest film festival (original photos: Henri and Gilles Traverso, left-Geraldine Chaplin, 1967 / center-David Bowie and Nagisa Oshima, 1983/ right-Rita Hayworth, 1949) / 4-Eric Gaillard/Reuters / 5-by me from the book Cannes Cinema (original photos: Henri and Gilles Traverso, left-Jane Fonda, 1978 / center-Brigitte Bardot, 1955 / right-Yves Montand, 1959) / 6-by me from the book Cannes Cinema (original photos: Henri and Gilles Traverso, left-Sean Connery, 1965 / center-Isabelle Huppert, 2009 / right-Louis de Funès, Terry-Thomas and Bourvil, 1966)
quotes: the texts relating to the years 1939 to 1968 and 2003 to 2010 are by Serge Toubiana; those relating to the years 1969 to 1979 are by Joel Magny and those about 1982 to 2002 are by Thierry Jousse