Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Reel Deal Goes to Cannes Update #12: And Cut (Reflections)

                                                      Photo Credit: Robbie Ezratty
Side Note: Putting parenthesis in a title makes it seem like an 80s pop song. 

Time is a funny thing, in that it goes by both quickly and slowly simultaneously. Two and a half weeks felt sometimes like a month, and sometimes like a day.

My time at the Cannes Film Festival was probably the best time of my entire life. It is an experience that I hope I can do again, but I don't know if it can ever be replicated in quite the same way. There was so much to learn and so much to see that I can barely process it all. I decided the only way to do so would be how I process almost anything in life: through writing.

As someone who makes lists a lot, both of things I like and things to do, I decided that I could somehow summarize my experiences into a list that might teach you a little something about the nature of film festivals. Here is what I learned while at the Cannes Film Festival:

The Reel Deal Goes to Cannes Update #11: The Best Posters

The funniest part is how serious the poster is. I can't wait for the sequel "No One Wannna Talk To You."

Estimated Box Office Gross: $8,073,590.

France gives us "Rust & Bone." We give them "Ice Age 4." Fair trade.

"Hi I'm Mark Wahlberg. Let's go talk to some French people."

It says on the poster, "the best Norwegian comedy of the year!" I wonder what the competition was.

No further explanation necessary.

Is this the poster for Tracy Jordan's next movie?

I'm surprised this one hasn't been made yet.

"The missing 'O' is a symbolic metaphor for Bollywood's fall and decline!" -Aspiring filmmaker who will never get a movie made.

The Reel Deal Goes to Cannes Update #10: Two More Reviews

I may have left Cannes today, but the discussion about the Festival hasn't ended just yet. 

My last day at Cannes marked what might have been the most depressing double feature known to man.

After a cheery morning of "Angel's Share," I moved right along to Michael Haneke's "Amour." Austria's Michael Haneke, one of the most provocative directors alive today, has once again subverted all audience expectations. "Amour" tells one of the simplest of stories in a complicated two hours that feels closer to four. It is slow and rewarding. While I believe that "Rust & Bone" or "The Hunt" deserved the Palme D'Or, "Amour" is a fitting winner.

"Amour" is the story of an old woman (Emmanuelle Riva) who is slowly, slowly dying as her husband (Jean-Lois Trintignant) struggles to take care of her. That's about it. However, the unique part is how long this story is drawn out for. Haneke spares no details, which is what makes this portrayal so vivid and realistic. Every scene and every shot is stretched out longer than it ever should go in order to arouse discomfort. The events occurring in the world of the film feel so immediate because there is no escaping them and they have the choice to stay as long as they feel. As a film, "Amour" enters territory where it begins to transcend script and rise into the realm of pseudo-reality.

I see it now that Riva will hear her name called come Oscar nomination time for her heart-wrenching work. "Amour" is the kind of film I encourage everyone to sit through once, and no more. It is like a bad series of events that can't be looked away from, and don't need to be viewed again, as they are engrained so well into memory. "Amour" is at times unbearably slow, but if you know the premise, then you know what will happen in the end. So, why rush death?

Next: Thomas Vinterberg's "The Hunt"

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Reel Deal Goes to Cannes Update #9: Getting Your Film into Cannes in Five Easy Steps

I can't believe that today is the last day of the festival. I might need a little break from intense film marathons, but I wouldn't complain if I was stuck in the south of France for the rest of my life. It's very nice here.

The last day is reserved for repeats of all of the films in competition. I plan of an intense double feature of "Amour" and "The Hunt" later today, but I started the day off strong with Ken Loach's "Angel's Share." Most films that screen during Cannes are not happy affairs. So it was refreshing to see a comedy in competition. This British film is light-hearted yet very smart. It's shot like a drama, yet written like a comedy. It's a caper about a group of bumbling criminals who try to steal a cask of rare whiskey. Hilarity ensues.

"Angel's Share" is certainly different than what you will usually see at Cannes, as there is, in a way, a certain "Cannes film." After watching enough of them, I can say that I've found a sort of criteria. Despite the prestige of Cannes, getting a film in the festival isn't as hard as you might think.* Based on my observations, here is my criteria of how to make a Cannes Film Festival entry in five easy steps:

1. At least one, overly long, and awkward sex scene.
See: The Paperboy, On the Road, Excision, Rust & Bone

2. At least two hours in length (exception: .

3. If it's an American film, set in the South.
See: Lawless, Killing Them Softly, The Paperboy, On the Road (certain parts)

4. Cast an actor looking to be "taken more seriously."
See: Robert Pattinson (Cosmopolis), Shia LaBeouf (Lawless), Kristen Stewart (On the Road), Zac Efron (The Paperboy)

5. Cast Brad Pitt or Matthew McConaughey
See: Killing Them Softly, The Paperboy, Mud

*Note: Getting a film into Cannes is not actually this easy.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Reel Deal Goes to Cannes Update #8: Don't Go Back in the Water

Film festivals are a great place to catch films both new and old. Even if you've seen a film a million times before, a new setting can make a world of difference.

Last night, in perhaps one of the most perfectly planned events I have ever been to, "Jaws" was screened on the beach. If "Jaws" wasn't scary enough already, the beach element really helped. It made the horror of the man-eating shark much more intimate, and way too plausible for comfort. Spielberg's film has not aged a day since its release, and in fact gets better with each passing year. Despite its status as a classic,  a film like "Jaws" would have trouble getting made today. Unlike today's usual horror films, it is filled with long stretches of no action. Yet, the long stretches create more buildup and more suspense, which is why "Jaws" is still one of the scariest films ever made.

The audience also partly made this experience so special. Multiple moments garnered thunderous applause, including the moment when (SPOILER!) Quint (Robert Shaw) is eaten by the shark. Is that because everyone wanted him to go, or because it is such a memorable moment? I think it is much more of the latter. The reason a good theatrical experience can triumph any other way to watch a film is because audience participation means so much. It guides your expectations, and the laughter, cries, or applause act almost as a second soundtrack.

A memorable moment from the "Jaws" screening was meeting Benh Zeitlan, the very young director of the much buzzed about "Beasts of the Southern Wild." Clearly, he is not fully adjusted to fame and being recognized yet, as he was kind and even a little reserved. He told us that "Jaws" is his muse, and this screening was beyond  a special experience for him. Here lies the beauty of a great film festival: it is the intersection of films old, new, and future. It is a film convention, showroom, and marketplace. And Cannes is its king.

After the Jump: Jacques Audiard's "Rust & Bone," and Marion Cotillard's possible next chance of winning an Oscar.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Reel Deal Goes to Cannes Update #7: Film Hopping

There is no middle ground in Cannes. If a film is bad, it is an insulting piece of trash. If it's good, it's a masterpiece that redefines cinema. At least that is how the critics feel.

The Cannes Film Festival is infamous for the "boos!" that greet a bad film. This only occurs during press screenings, as journalists at Cannes do not hold anything back. Also, and this goes without saying, it is rude to boo at a film in which the cast and crew is at attendence. I experience booing for the first time ever this morning at a screening of "The Paperboy," the new film from "Precious" director Lee Daniels. While I certainly wouldn't go as far as to boo with them, this didn't seem to occur without justification.

Next: My thoughts on "The Paperboy" and "On the Road."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Reel Deal Goes To Cannes Update #6: There's a First Time For Everything

The less glitzy side of The Red Carpet.
"Hitting the wall" is the Cannes related phenomena in which a while's worth of no sleep comes together in spectactular fashion.

I have not quite hit the wall yet, but I feel that I am on course for collision.

Today was yet another rainy day, yet it was also a day of many lessons. I learned that Macedonia has a film industry, the Czech Republic gives out generous amounts of free wine, and that the end of "Inception" is (SPOILER ALERT) undoubtedly reality. This is a fact that most people probably knew about three years ago. More on that coming up. 

After the Jump: Meeting IMDB's creator, Col Needham, and walking out of a movie for the first time. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Reel Deal Goes To Cannes Update #5: Screenin' in the Rain

Some people say that Cannes is like the Florida of France. While I haven't found a shuffleboard court or an old Catskills comedian yet, i'm starting to think it is because of the unpredictable weather. The bright and sunny morning quickly morphed into, hyperbolically speaking, a mini Monsoon. It has been this way for the past few days, and it seems to be showing no signs of slowing down.

This means that it is perfect weather for a movie.

Unfortunately, the day got off to a bad start, as I was swiftly rejected from a screening of "Safety Not Guarenteed," despite having a ticket. This movie was a market screening, which is meant for buyers (usually from foreign markets) first, and patrons second. Guess I will have to deal with seeing it in the States when it opens later this summer.

Last night, however, was marked with a fantastic screening of the director's cut of Sergio Leone's gangster epic "Once Upon a Time in America." Unfortunately, I missed the screening in which Robert de Niro and Ennio Morricone introduced the film. But if attending film festivals has taught me anything, it is that life will be full of rejections and expectations not fulfilled, so it is best to relish what lies in front of us. And how beautiful this film looked on the big screen. This version contained a newly restored print, which looked as magnificent as ever.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Reel Deal Goes To Cannes Update #4: Three Screenings

A hotel in Cannes decked out following a "Dictator" publicity stunt.
It's been a hectic, overwhelming, and exciting week so far at Cannes. I wish I could get a post out everyday, but it's not as easy as it seems. I have three films to talk about, all in one post, so I'll keep this introduction brief. The last few days have included another walk down the red carpet, some delicious baguettes, and a lot of movie related business. Today, I present three films. You will definetly get to see one of these films in America. Another one could come our way. And one you probably shouldn't see even if it does.

Celebrity Encounters:

  • Gael Garcia Bernal- Bumped into the Latin American star today, perhaps best known for "Amores Perros" and "Y Tu Mama Tambien." He was nice enough to take a quick photo with us, and I was a bit too much in shock to even get a word out.
  • Sean Penn- He walked the red carpet for "Reality." No paparrazi were hurt in the process. Haha good one, talk show host from 1987.
Read after the jump for the film breakdown:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Reel Deal Goes To Cannes #3: There's Quirkiness in the Air (Must Be a New Wes Anderson Movie!)

Today, The Reel Deal walked the red carpet.

Nobody asked me who I was wearing. Sacha Baron Cohen didn't try to dump ashes on me. Something I learned when I went to Sundance that has come back to mind now that in order to live some of the most glorious moments, some of the glory must be sacrificed. However, the price was well worth it.

Thanks to something called positive thinking (it's amazing what it actually can do), I ended up with a ticket for "Moonrise Kingdom." It wasn't the flashy premiere that Wes Anderson, Bill Murray, Ed Norton, and Bruce Willis would be at, but something a little quieter also in the one-of-a-kind Lumiere Theater. It is hard to review a movie totally objectively, as one's experience outside of the movie always impacts the experience of the movie itself. While the excitement of Cannes might have added to my opinion of "Moonrise Kingdom," it will definetly stand the test of time (more on that in a minute).

Cannes is the kind of place where dreams meet stark reality. There will be more people surrounding a red carpet, hoping to get just one glimpse of a celebrity, than actual celebrities. And you won't always get what you want, but if you try some time you'll find that you can get something just as good. When attending a film festival, know that you might see some things that you never imagined you would see in your life, but also remember to set your expectations to a realistic level.

Celebrity Encounters:

  • P. Diddy standing on the ledge of a balcony over his V.I.P. party at the "Famous Club." I put Famous Club in quotations because the title of the club is in quotations, implying it either isn't famous or that it isn't actually there. I can only imagine Kanye wanting to yell "I am golden God!" before jumping, only to have Kanye once again point out that he wrote the Bible.
  • Harvey Weinstein walking down the street. At this point, he is the de facto King of Cannes.
Check out a brief review of Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" after the jump:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Reel Deal Goes to Cannes Update #2: This is Just a Taste

Inside the Lumiere Theater. Apologies for "Britta'ing" this photo.
Well, the Festival officially begins tomorrow, but today, I got a good taste of what I will be taking in for the next two weeks.

I saw it all in the Palais, which is pretty accurately nicknamed "The Death Star." It is an expansive place which has just about every theater where movies are shown. Most notably is the Lumiere theater, which puts every American multiplex to shame. The Lumiere is where the opening night screenings happen, and the stars walk the red carpet. It is where tomorrow night, "Moonrise Kingdom" will open the Festival.

What movies I will see, and when, is still a mystery. The beauty of film festivals lie in the unpredictability. You could be going to a screening one minute, and then end up in someone's yacht party the next.

Even though the Festival has yet to begin, new things are to be learned just by looking around and listening. Perhaps the highlight of my day (I am still in awe from it all) was the hall of foreign movie posters lining the Palais. I would like to share a few of the highlights:

This is for an Indian movie. I'm not sure if the title is "House 2 Full" or "House Full 2." If so, I still have no idea what this movie is about, and if it is either a Tyler Perry rip-off, or an Indian version of "Full House." Either way, when does John Stamos show up?

On display here are two equally fascinating displays of poster art. The one to the left is "American Hangover," which looks like some kind of "Scary Movie" type movie. It stars Joey Fatone. Fatone is known by some as a member of NSYNC, by others as an actor in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," and by everyone as that guy who stopped being famous. The poster on the right is for a movie called "Bro" which stars Danny Trejo. I mention this movie both because Danny Trejo is awesome and because I am afraid he will track down and kill me if I don't mention it.

Without seeing a single movie yet, I have already discovered some of the great mysteries of Cannes. And there are still more to come. Here is a set of goals I have for the rest of the Festival. Some of these goals may be hard to meet, but as a wiser man than myself (MacGruber) once said, "never ever say never ever." (List after the jump)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Reel Deal Goes to Cannes Update #1: Insomnia Washes Over Me in an Awesome Wave

I just touched ground in France today and could be described as a jet lagged zombie. Apparently, staying up until 10 PM (French time) is the cure to jet lag. Luckily, I have not reached brain dead level of zombie yet.

Movie watching has not begun yet. However, that will happen in the next few days. I was informed that there may be a James Bond marathon on the beach. I guess it is fitting, as Nice and Cannes resemble the kind of towns that Bond would likely frequent. A film that can be shown beyond its typical medium is a special thing. And because it is James Bond (and includes the likes of "Thunderball" and "From Russia with Love"), you can bet I will be in line for tickets.

So far, this is my first impression of France. Not too shabby:

And contrary to popular belief, the French have a very good sense of humor:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Movie Review The Avengers

At one point, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) describes what is basically the film's premise, in which a bunch of superheroes are put into a room in order to see what happens. What he just described could also be a pitch for a new MTV reality show called "Real World: Superheroes."

At its worst, "The Avengers" is cheesy and derivative. At its best, it is fresh, funny, and exhilarating. There was never one moment in which I wasn't in some form of awe at what was occurring on screen.

The Reel Deal Goes to Cannes

In January 2009, The Reel Deal packed its bags and relocated to Park City, Utah for a week during the Sundance Film Festival. This Saturday, The Reel Deal will be heading off once again. This time, it will be to France for the Cannes Film Festival.

When I began watching and reviewing movies during middle school, attending Cannes became a dream. At this Festival, the likes of "Taxi Driver," "Apocalypse Now," and "Pulp Fiction" have had their debuts. I decided that I would do anything to get there, whether I arrive as a critic, a filmmaker, or a worker. This will be my first, but hopefully not my last, time attending Cannes.

My schedule will be hectic. I will be attending screenings and panels during any of the free time that I have. However, I will do my best to write a post at least once a day (or every two days, depending on how busy I am). This will continue until I arrive back in America on May 28. Hopefully, I will see movies like "Moonrise Kingdom" as well as those more obscure releases from places as far and wide as Mexico, Italy and South Korea.

I will post my review of "The Avengers" later today. Cannes updates will start as soon as humanly possible. Until then, keep Reel Dealin'.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Movie Review: Bernie

When we are first introduced to Bernie Tiede (Jack Black), he is making a dead body smile and look at peace. Surprisingly, being a mortician (or, in "gentler" terms, a funeral director) is no joke of a job, it is an art. What is so interesting about "Bernie" is not the art, but rather the artist.

While I hate to use such a tired phrase, "Bernie" is a story that truly is too strange to be fiction. In short, it can best be described as "Crimes and Misdemeanors" shot like a Christopher Guest movie. However, one simple sentence, and even one review, will be hard to do justice by the absolute surprise of the movie's complexity. This is unlike any work that director Richard Linklater and actors Jack Black and Matthew McConaughey have ever done.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Maurice Sendak: 1928-2012

Leave it to college to keep me out of the loop, but today, beloved children's author Maurice Sendak died after complications from a stroke. He was 83.

Sendak will always be one of the storytellers with a prime influence on my life. "Where the Wild Things Are," despite being turned into a mediocre movie, is still one of my favorite books. I believe it connected to every child, or at least this one, who wishes their bedroom was a jungle filled with monsters. "Let the wild rumpus start!" is still one of the great rallying calls for both children and adults alike.

But Sendak himself was quite an interesting man. As seen in his excellent series of interviews with Stephen Colbert on "The Colbert Report" earlier this year, Sendak was still so sharp and full of wit, even at his age. The loss of his talent as a writer, and his warmth as a human, will be missed. Watch him on "Colbert" below and you'll see what I mean:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Grim Colberty Tales with Maurice Sendak Pt. 1
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My Least Anticipated Summer Movies: 2012 Edition

1. Battleship

I'm still trying to get over the fact that the trailer nearly ruined one of my favorite bands (The Black Keys) for me. "Battleship" has been the subject of ridicule for well over a year now. It might cause the world to implode if it actually turns out to be good. Regardless, I see this movie making huge returns at the box office, and spawning even more movies based on board games. The only thing I could ever admire "Battleship" for is the fact that it turned a board game with light up pegs into a movie about aliens. That takes some very uninspired chutzpah.

2. That's My Boy

There was a time when Adam Sandler was actually funny. And the fact that I wasn't even ten-years-old at that time doesn't matter. In my mind, "Billy Madison" and "Happy Gilmore" are still classics. Also, "50 First Dates" is underrated. But really, what has happened to him? He seemed to be making a turn into new territory with "Punch Drunk Love" until he instead decided to make "Jack and Jill." I did not laugh or even crack a smile once during this trailer. "That's My Boy" also stars Andy Samberg, the comedy superstar responsible for The Lonely Island as well as one of my favorite comedies of the past decade, "Hot Rod." To both Sandler and Samberg: please start making better choices after you cash your checks for this movie.

3. Ice Age: Continental Drift

I understand why so many sequels to "Ice Age" have been made. Studio executives want to make money and sequels to successful properties typically do just that. Turning movies into money is their job, after all. However, could they find some way to not give children such an inaccurate view of common historical knowledge? First, they suggested that dinosaurs existed during the Ice Age and now, they are doing the same with continental drift. This is why Pixar should be the only ones allowed to make animated movies.

4. Dark Shadows

Once upon a time, Tim Burton made original movies like "Edward Scissorhands" and "Ed Wood," and not movies like "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Alice in Wonderland." "Dark Shadows," based off of the television show of the same name, is about an eighteenth century vampire (Johnny Depp) who ends up in the 1970s. That premise could be funny, but the trailer just seems to hint at a lot of jokes about disco and afros. Trailers have the tendency to be misleading, but "Twilight" has ruined vampires in the same way that Tim Burton has ruined Tim Burton. The only possible saving graces here are Chloe Moretz and Alice Cooper.

5. LOL

I can't wait for the upcoming sequels "ROFL" and "YOLO."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises: Final Official Final Theatrical Trailer

Death supposedly follows the rule of three.* Comic book movie franchises tend to do the same thing. However, if anyone could defeat the Grim Reaper, it would be Christopher Nolan and "The Dark Knight Rises." I don't think much more needs to be said here. My heart was racing the entire time I watched it:

As Troy Barnes of "Community" once said, "I have the weirdest boner".

*With the exception of "Iron Man 2." It is a great example of how not to make a sequel.