Cannes watch: Here's what went down over the weekend

2015-05-18 14:16

Cannes  — The first week of the Cannes Film Festival came to an end this weekend with plenty of buzz. Natalie Portman talked about why her new film in Israel is not political, there was an honour for Jane Fonda and a big deal for Tom Ford.

And then there was also Sylvester Stallone, making news outside of the festival.

Film and fashion continue to dazzle at the movie world's annual celebration of cinema on the Cote d'Azur.
The Associated Press' journalists were on hand, capturing all the details:

Rooney Mara takes top billing on red carpet

Rooney Mara scored a fashion coup at the Carol premiere in a diaphanous white gown that upstaged her more famous co-star Cate Blanchett.

Thirty-year-old Mara plays opposite Blanchett in the captivating lesbian drama and wowed crowds Sunday with her simple, yet elegant silk dress with delicate halter neck and white make up.

Blanchett looked typically ravishing, arm in arm with director Todd Haynes.

But the 46-year-old star's shoulderless bustier dress came over a tad busy with clashing blue prints and huge proportions in the train that ushers needed to help her with.

A-lister in an a-line

Natalie Portman is at home on the Cannes red carpet, but her appearance Saturday was her first as director as well as star.

Portman wrote, directed and stars in the Hebrew-language festival entry A Tale of Love and Darkness.
She wore an elegant dress from Dior Couture's spring-summer 2015 collection with an A-line skirt in black-patterned pale blue silk and a black strapless bodice. The look was topped by sleek, pulled-back hair and white diamond De Grisogono earrings.

Portman has received lukewarm reviews for the film, a handsomely mounted tale of a young boy coming of age in the newly formed Israeli state in the late 1940s. Portman plays the boy's sensitive, imaginative mother in the film, adapted from a novel by Amos Oz.

Law gets religion

Jude Law is the new pope.

The British actor will play the fictional Pope Pius XIII in The Young Pope, a miniseries directed by Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino.

The series — a co-production of HBO, Sky and France's Canal Plus — was announced Sunday in Cannes, where Sorrentino's film Youth is competing for the Palme d'Or. Filming is due to begin this summer.

Law will play Lenny Belardo, who is thrust into the role of pope and must grapple with his faith and the powerful structures of the church.

Sorrentino, who will co-write the eight-part series, said it would explore "the inner struggle between the huge responsibility of the Head of the Catholic Church and the miseries of the simple man that fate (or the Holy Spirit) chose as pontiff."

Jane Fonda blasts gender gap

Jane Fonda is starring in a film at Cannes, but she also came to the film festival to pick up an honor.

Fonda was celebrated by the Cannes Film Festival and luxury goods company Kering for her contribution to cinema Sunday as the first honoree of the Women in Motion program. It recognizes the work of women on the big screen.

When asked about the pay divide in Hollywood, Fonda was spirited in her response.

"Of course it upsets me that women are still earning 30 cents per dollar less than a man earns doing exactly the same work," she said in an interview a day prior to her honor. "It's unacceptable and it must change and we talk about it and we must be active in trying to create gender equity in terms of pay."

"The fact is that most film directors are men, white men. Most major roles are male roles and (it's) the reason that I'm excited about this award," she said. "Women have to become part of the very heart of movie making."

Fonda, who is currently starring in Netflix series Grace and Frankie opposite Lily Tomlin, is also featured in the Youth, which is in competition at the festival.

But the Oscar winner — who dazzled on the red carpet at the premiere of Gus Van Sant's The Sea of Trees on Saturday night — feels there is too much of it in Hollywood.

"That's another thing that's missing, is older women in the media," she said.

Tom Ford scores  big

Tom Ford's second film has been acquired by Focus Features in the biggest sale yet at Cannes.

Focus announced Sunday that it has acquired the worldwide rights to Ford's upcoming thriller Nocturnal Animals, with Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal to star. The film marks the second film for the fashion designer following the 2009 drama Single Man, with Colin Firth.

After Ford pitched the film to buyers during the festival, it became one of the hottest properties on the market. It sold for about $20 million, making it easily the festival's biggest purchase.

Ford will write, direct and produce the film, which is based on Austin Wright's novel Tony and Susan. Focus chief executive Peter Schlessel called it a "romantic tale of revenge and regret." It's about an art gallery owner haunted by her ex-husband's novel.

Production on Nocturnal Animals is planned to begin this fall.

Harsh greeting

Matthew McConaughey's remarkable comeback streak in recent years — the so called "McConaissance" — hit a bump at the Cannes Film Festival premiere of Gus Van Sant's The Sea of Trees.

The film, about two men (McConaughey, Ken Watanabe) who find each other in a Japanese "suicide forest," was greeted harshly by critics and was loudly booed in its initial screenings to Cannes media. Ahead of the film's official premiere, McConaughey was sanguine about the reaction.

"Anyone has as much right to boo as they do to ovate," McConaughey told reporters Saturday.

The Sea of Trees,which was picked up for U.S. distribution by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions ahead of the festival, is about a man who wrestles with guilt over a bitter marriage (Naomi Watts plays his wife) and travels to Japan to kill himself.

Variety called the film "a risibly long-winded drama." The Hollywood Reporter slammed it as "woefully sentimental and maudlin."

Sly the artiste

Last year at the Cannes Film Festival, Sylvester Stallone and his merry band of musclemen were rumbling down the Croisette in tanks to promote their film The Expendables 3. This year, Stallone is on the French Riviera, but for a completely different, understated reason — his artwork.

While Stallone is best known for his action films, he's also a painter, and he presented his creations at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nice on Saturday. The retrospective includes his work from 1975 to this year.

While the show is near Cannes, it wasn't intentional.

"It is a coincidence," he said in an interview Saturday. "I'm here for this, so I'm not here to do anything affiliated with films."

The exhibit includes a piece titled Finding Rocky, featuring perhaps the most famous character he has ever played. Stallone said Rocky was certainly an early inspiration, but now other things spark his interest.

"There is no way you can't be affected by what you see on the television, by what you see on the street and so it definitely sinks into the work too," he said. "I won't say pessimistic but it's questioning you know. What is life, what is all about, is it worth of it."

But Stallone doesn't think too deeply about the message his art is conveying — and doesn't want others to either.

"My art isn't one that educates, you know, it's not making social statements, it's not drawing conclusions, it's not declaring what is right, it is not political," he said. "It's just one man's struggle and success and all emotions you go along in life, ups and downs."

The exhibit runs until May 30th.

(Photos: AP/AFP) publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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