Finally the tide turned. After days of disappointing and unwatchable films – remember, by that time last year we’d already seen Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska and Fruitvale Station, films that went on to win a slew of awards - 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. Or as I like to 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. Only Mia Wasikowska needs to stop playing 18 year olds.
“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 severly 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. Whoever is responsible for his prothetic nose should win the Oscar for best make up. Channing Tatum surprises with an in debth 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 ridivulous: “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.
It is stunts like these who give Cannes a bad name. (Nightmarish memories of Sacha Baron Cohen riding a camel in front of the Carlton and causing huge traffic jams come to mind) And no one was happier to see the geriatric testosterone leave than the scores of serious international film makers who depend on this festival to get their films recognized, sold and distributed.