Cannes Day 5: First Heavy Hitters

by HFPA May 20, 2014

Finally the tide turned. After days of less than stellar screenings – remember, by this time last year we’d already seen Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska and Fruitvale Station - the festival turned a corner Sunday and Monday with the screenings of Cronenberg’s Maps to The Stars and Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher. The Cronenberg film is a Hollywood satire in the vein of The Player and Mulholland Drive. I suppose you could call it: Entourage for grown-ups. Julianne Moore gives a flawless performance as a disturbed C-list actress, John Cusack is believable as the alternative guru-healer figure. Robert Pattinson, who keeps making very wise career decisions, is brilliant as the limo-driving wannabe actor.

“What drew me in was the story“ said Moore. “It’s always the story. I don’t just look at my part.“ Which explains the quality of work she has under her belt. Critics call her performance ‘courageous’: “This makes me laugh because I am never afraid of films or parts. I am afraid of skiing!“ Why? “Because I go too fast and am always afraid of losing control.“

She doesn’t think that Hollywood is quite as crazy as depicted in the film but that may just be because she lives in New York. The talented, gorgeous and above all nice actress dazzled Cannes in a variety of beautiful dresses. She wore Calvin Klein to the designer’s fete, grey silk Nina Ricci to our interview and Chanel Haute Couture on the red carpet. “Do you also get no more than two or three hours sleep?“ she asked. The question was rhetorical. Sleep is for another time, another place, another continent

Monday’s other premiere was Foxcatcher, the story of Olympic wrestling champion brothers Mark and Dave Schultz and their lethal entanglement with the severely troubled billionaire John DuPont. This is only Bennett Miller’s third film after Capote and Moneyball and like his first two it is an exceptionally intelligent and well made one. Taking time, it seems, pays off big: Foxcatcher got an amazing reception, not only at the premiere but at the press screening in the morning – which is a much better way to gauge success or failure. This film is far from the latter. Steve Carell proves once and for all that he is much more than a comedy star. His John DuPont is a psychologically damaged man, and whoever is responsible for his prosthetic nose should win the Oscar for best make up. Channing Tatum surprises with an in-depth performance few thought him capable of after popcorn fare like White House Down. And Mark Ruffalo cements his reputation as one of Hollywood’s best character actors. In our interview they talked about the physical and psychological aspects of their roles : “I spent a lot of time with the real Mark, he also was on the set." Tatum said. The actor, who’s had a lot of physical roles, finds wrestling to be the most demanding sport: “Of all the martial arts training I have done, wrestling was the hardest.“ Mark Ruffalo smirked at that remark – he didn’t have to train much at all: “Haha, I was a wrestling champion in high school!“ he confessed. Both agree that the typical wrestlers’ outfits are ridiculous: “Yeah! Where did that come from? It kinda looks like a swimsuit for women in the 20ties.“ Both also rave about Bennett Miller’s directing: “He knows exactly what he wants, is very precise and thoughtful.“ Foxcatcher clearly reflects this.

The best part of the festival as it goes into its second half? The disappearance of the old white men called Expendables (Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Lundgren, Gibson, Ford, Banderas, etc) who rode a tank down the Croisette and celebrated themselves at the worst party of the festival. Gibson and Ford looked like they had swallowed soap and fled the scene early. Gibson had to fly back to New Mexico where he is shooting Blood Father, and Ford preferred the quiet terrace of his hotel.

Elisabeth Sereda