It's the beginning of the summer, which means it's time for Hollywood's biggest and brightest stars to make their way to the French Riviera for the Cannes Film Festival, while the rest of us look on with jealousy. But just because you didn't snag a ticket to the most glamorous film event of the year, that doesn't mean you can't keep up with all of the big films premiering over the next two weeks. To help you stay on top of things, we're running down the biggest films that premiered in competition at the festival, including Michel Hazanavicius' gritty follow up to The Artist, a strange, metaphorical film from Jean-Luc Godard, and a possible Palme D'Or winner.
Two Days, One Night The latest film from Cannes fixtures Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Two Days, One Night stars Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard as a woman who has one weekend to convince her co-workers to give up their annual bonuses so that she can keep her job. Assisted by her husband, played by Fabrizio Rongione, she must find someone to help her convince her boss to reconsider, and to give her another chance despite the time she had to take off for depression. The film premiered to positive reviews, and it's considered one of the frontrunners for the Palme D'Or.
"Cotillard's best work since La Vie En Rose unquestionably ranks as her most credible turn, as the actress demonstrates a fragility that never veers into the realm of overstatement. Despite its basic trajectory, her actions are littered with surprising moments, and each new co-worker she encounters adds another layer of texture to this delicate portrait of personal and professional priorities clashing with awkward results." - Eric Kohn, Variety
"The Dardennes have made a brilliant social-realist drama with a real narrative tension which is something of a novelty in their work. [...] As for this solar-panel company, it appears to have a union in that a vote has been forced which the management will abide by, but it is a union which manages and regulates the decisions of those above them, and they are certainly not united enough to reject out of hand the insidious Bonus/Sandra choice. Yet movingly, solidarity is what the film is about; solidarity is what Sandra is trying to achieve as her emotional state comes to pieces, through a majority vote in a democratic election." - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
The SearchAfter winning a Best Picture Oscar for The Artist, director Michel Hazanavicius went in a different direction for his follow-up, The Search. Set during the Second Chechnyan War, an NGO worker (played by Berenice Bejo) cares for an orphan boy, Hadji, who refuses to speak or open up to her in any way. Hazanavicius describes his film, which is based on the 1948 movie with Montgomery Clift, as a "picture of dignity" and "a true canvas of the suffering of humanity.”
"It’s ambitious of Hazanavicius to cram so many of war’s horrors into one film, but it makes that film a slow-moving, bloated one. And once you’ve got used to the way he cuts between three different strands, it becomes apparent that not much is actually happening in any of them. There are shockingly credible depictions of firefights and bombings, and there are more shots of corpses than you’d see in a typical zombie movie. [...] For a war movie, The Search is curiously short of conflict." - Nicholas Barber, BBC Culture
"Coincidentally quite timely in the wake of recent Russian moves on its neighbors, the writer-director’s first full-on drama attempts to present a mosaic portrait of the suffering in a region little-known or understood by the world, hence the perceived lack of concern. The result is vivid when focusing on those directly involved in the war but laborious when devoted to the fretful hand-wringing of do-gooder outsider characters, which is a lot of the time." - Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
Joss Barratt/Sixteen Films
Jimmy's Hall Irish director Ken Loach's latest film tells the story of activist Jimmy Gralton, who was deported from the country during the Red Scare of the 1930s. Gralton was the founder of the Pearse-Connolly community hall, where people from the town gathered to learn about art, music, and literature. However, his actions upset the Catholic priests and town leaders, who opposed to his teachings and practices.
"Ken Loach has taken a despicable episode of modern Irish history — the 1933 deportation without trial of one of its own citizens, James Gralton — and made a surprisingly lovely, heartfelt film from it with Jimmy’s Hall. A thematic sequel of sorts to his Cannes-winning The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Loach’s 24th fiction feature finds the activist-minded director trafficking in familiar themes of individual liberties, institutional oppression and the power of collective organizing, here infused with a gentle romanticism that buoys the film without cheapening the gravity of its subject." - Scott Foundas, Variety
"Loach has made a sumptuous period piece, beautifully photographed by Robbie Ryan, using many local people in the crowd scenes, wearing wonderful tweeds, slipovers and wrap dresses, riding on antique bikes and in donkey-drawn carts through the green hills and boggy valleys, dancing merrily. It all looks great, a dream of Ireland before the blissful bungalows. The characterful faces are a treat too, above all that of Jimmy’s aged mum (Aileen Henry, new to acting)." - David Sexton, London Evening Standard
Goodbye To Language 3D Legendary director Jean-Luc Godard's newest project takes a relatively straightforward story - a couple reflect on their relationship, life and the world around them - and through the use of voice-over, imagery and non-linear storylines, turns it into a confusing, entrancing "film essay." Starring Heloise Godet and Kamel Abdeli, the film has been described as everything from "hilarious" to "frustrating."
"Goodbye to Language" is in 3D, and a very challenging 3D at that. The film is structured in numbered sections that repeat themselves with different or overlapping content, and there are brain-scrambling superimpositions, texts, clips from old films, solarized images, and footage shot with low-res cameras. There’s even a costume-drama sequence depicting Mary Shelley and Lord Byron. The sense of experimentation is extravagant, and the 3D effect achieves such notable depth of field that this little movie puts mainstream mega-bucks productions like "The Great Gatsby" to shame." - Barbara Scharres, Roger Ebert.com
"To some degree, the overwhelming montage taps into the over-saturation of today's media climate, a point that Godard makes explicit several times: the recurring shot of a flat-screen television broadcasting static speaks for itself, as does a more comical bit in which two strangers continually tap away on their iPhones and exchange them, repeating the action. [...] It doesn't take a lot of analysis to determine Godard's intentions: He portrays the information age as the dying breath of consciousness before intellectual thought becomes homogenized by digital advancements." - Eric Kohn, IndieWire
Growing old is a part of every person's life, a universal source of anxiety that's scrutinized beyond comprehension by both individuals and the world around them. Few people enjoy talking about their age... making it the perfect subject for writer/director/producer Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin) to confront head on.
Unlike most, Apatow has been working his present job since his early 20s, when he was a writer on 1992's short-lived but much-revered Ben Stiller Show. Two decades later, he's one of the most important faces in the world of comedy. With his new film This Is 40, Apatow confronts his own longevity, following a couple (played by Paul Rudd and Apatow's real life wife, Leslie Mann) as they near the milestone age and jump every hurdle that comes with it. The film is recognizably personal. But for Apatow, there's an added layer of introspection happening on screen. Apatow's aging experiences have occurred under in the lens of show business, an industry where modern relevance is key.
The maintenance of this relevance is not an easy task, and one Apatow is certainly aware of. Hollywood.com sat down with the actor to discuss growing up in Hollywood, how he continues to stay funny after all these years, and his eagerness to collaborate with young performers, like Lena Dunham, Seth Rogen, and even Megan Fox. And because The Master director Paul Thomas Anderson really loves Heavyweights, we can't help but bring up Apatow's misunderstood Disney classic:
As you've told many people, you drew a lot from your own life in This Is 40. But do you think working in Hollywood has made you more aware of age?
Judd Apatow: I don't think about it a ton, but every once in awhile I think, "What if slowly I lose my sense of humor and I don't know it. And everyone in the world knows I'm not funny but me." [laughs]
How do you stay conscious of that?
Apatow: I try and think of people who are hysterical when they're old like Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner and Woody Allen. I think, "It's possible! You can stay sharp forever!" I just have to keep an eye on what they're doing. You know, Mel Brooks has a new special. He's 86-years-old and the entire special is him doing an interview and it's so hysterical that they made it an HBO special. It's just him talking to a guy for an hour and a half! And he did the exact same special a year ago with Dick Cavett! Because he's so funny, he can sit in a chair and make you laugh for an hour.
Do you talk to older comedians about that challenge of staying relevant?
Apatow: I never ask them directly about staying relevant, it's just certain people stay fully, intellectually engaged. It's not that they change their sense of humor, like suddenly Mel Brooks is working in an edgy, current genre. [laughs] I'd go as far to say, "Who has made an edgier movie than Blazing Saddles?" I mean, you couldn't even make Blazing Saddles today, it's so ballsy. He remains hysterical in the way he's hysterical. Hopefully I'll be just as lucky.
Along with This Is 40, I was fortunate enough to watch your movie Heavyweights with the new Blu-ray commentary you recorded. Thinking about you then and now...
Apatow: Oh yes, I had long beautiful hair! [laughs]
You were young when you wrote and produced that movie — I think you say 26 in the commentary. Do you look to collaborate with younger people because of your own early experiences? Does recalling your earlier work impact what you do now?
Apatow: I'm just a fan of comedians. I try and figure out how to get talented people [to] get their ideas across. It really doesn't matter what age they are. It is fun working with young people at the moment when they're first trying to figure out how they can develop their screen persona. So it was fun working on 40-Year-Old Virgin and Bridesmaids and working with Seth [Rogen] on Superbad and Knocked Up. But I had an amazing time working with Albert Brooks and John Lithgow on This Is 40, and being with people who were brilliant with their craft and had so much to offer. In a lot of ways, that was a new experience for me. I found it equally fulfilling. So who knows, maybe I'll find the courage to work with Dame Judi Dench.
I think the Marigold Hotel sequel is looking for a director.
Do you think you've learned anything as a director from the younger people you've worked with? Even on a film that's about turning 40?
Apatow: Absolutely. Superbad had such a strong comedic point-of-view. We had been kicking it around for a long time — I was producing it for him and his writing partner Evan [Goldberg]. But we couldn't get it made. And in the period that we couldn't get it made, we wrote Knocked Up, and we got that made. And I'm sure working on Superbad influenced how hard we went at a certain edgy type of comedy in Knocked Up. He had a big influence.
And working with Lena Dunham I'm sure influenced This Is 40, because I was seeing someone being so courageous in her choices. It made me want to have the courage to take a lot of risks with my movie. Being around someone like Lena, who is a real visionary, it definitely inspires me.
What about someone like Megan Fox, a young performer but not someone who is known as a "comedic voice"?
Apatow: Megan Fox is an example of a person who people see as a gorgeous woman, and people put them in a box because of one definition. Leslie and I saw her on Saturday Night Live and we instantly thought she was hysterical. We could tell there was so much more going on if she had the opportunity to present to people. So for me, that becomes a major opportunity. I get to be the person to show everyone that Megan Fox is also riotously funny.
So she came in and read with us and improvised and had so many funny and bizarre ideas for her character. I'm really proud of the fact that her work in the movie is so strong. And she's such a nice person, it's great to help somebody get to show more of their colors.
The movie ends up chronicling so many different scenarios for the characters. How did you know how much you could cram into one movie? At times I felt like I was watching one of your television shows.
Apatow: I was definitely influenced, and am probably more influenced these days, by television and shows like Mad Men and The Sopranos. I wanted something that was random, like life. You never know where it's going to go at any moment. You can have a great moment, then life falls apart — then something great happens at the end of the day. That's accurate to what our lives are like.
And I like when you see a movie and you don't know where it's going. There's no clear goal. It's just life, just this week. There isn't a treasure map and they're not trying to find the gold. They're just trying to get to the end of the week and put their birthdays behind them.
When you're making a movie, how do you discern what is random in a way that mimics life versus what is random in a way that's meandering? I assume there's a risk.
Apatow: I watch it with people and I can tell when they're engaged. So, in addition to how much they're laughing — because when people start getting bored, the laughs get smaller and smaller — but also, when there's a new plot point and you hear the whole crowd gasp, you go, "Oh, they're paying attention." I often joke that it's hard to know when the drama's working, because when the joke works, people make a noise. I wish when the drama works there would be a noise. Sometimes there's a "Uh! Ahh!" [laughs] But I think when they like the people and want the best for them, people get deeply involved. I don't need a murder.
Is going back to television with your own original concept something you're still interested in?
Apatow: I'm definitely not closed off to it. I'm having such a good time working on Girls that it's reminded me how much freedom you have on television to be creative. And it would be nice not to worry if scenes got laughs! When we make Girls episodes, I write a few here and there with Lena, it makes me happy to put them on television without having tested them and not wondering how people will react. Do it based on the gut and the story — that's it. Shows don't have to have resolutions that are so clean. With movies, there's a little more of a demand that people learn something.
You've got to have that lesson.
Apatow: It's hard not to have a lesson. But in television, you can end on an awkward moment or a sad moment or a happy moment — you have a different level of freedom.
Another Heavyweights question: on the Blu-ray you mention that Paul Thomas Anderson [director of The Master] loves the movie. I'm curious why he loves it.
Apatow: [Laughs] That's a good question, I'm not sure I know. For a few years, we had the same agent, and he told me he was a big fan of Heavyweights. He was working with Adam [Sandler] on Punch Drunk Love. And it was a great point of pride for me.
You can't get a much better endorsement.
Apatow: I think when you watch The Master, you feel some Heavyweights influence.
Do you talk to Paul, or other filmmakers who might be outside of your sphere of interests, about filmmaking? Ways to evolve the way you work?
Apatow: I don't, but I do ask them to watch my cuts. Ask for input. Sometimes I just want to see if I'm crazy. So I'll show Paul the movie and go, "Does this make any sense at all or am I off base for even attempting this?" He's been kind enough to look at cuts of some of my movies, and has been very helpful.
I go to my heroes when I'm figuring out the edit. In the past, James Brooks has looked at the movies, Jay Roach [Austin Powers], Cameron Crowe, Ron Howard... I'll do anything to find out what I'm doing wrong from the people I respect.
I assume you in turn watched The Master and gave notes about where jokes would fit.
Apatow: Exactly. I was the punch-up guy!
[Photo Credit: Universal Pictures; Walt Disney Pictures]
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
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A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.
Ben Stiller's midas touch was at work again. His latest comedy Night at the Museum debuted on top of the North American box office over the holiday weekend, grossing $30.8 million.
Museum didn’t quite top Stiller’s highest opener, Meet the Fockers, which took in $46.1 million in 2004, but now stands as his second biggest debut.
Rocky Balboa, Sylvester Stallone’s re-entry into the boxing ring after 20 years, opened in third place with $12.5 million, with a total of $22.1 million since opening Wednesday.
Also opening this week was The Good Shepherd, a saga about the early days of the CIA directed by Robert De Niro and starring Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie, which took fourth place with $10 million. The new football drama We Are Marshall, meanwhile, debuted in sixth place with $6.6 million.
Christmas weekend is always crowded as studios cram in family flicks and films angling for awards attention. This holiday weekend seemed even more packed than usual, Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers, told The Associated Press.
"I think the movies are beating up on each other a little bit because there's so many jockeying for position," Dergarabedian said. "I don't know how people find time to see all these films. I think it's probably overwhelming for a lot of moviegoers."
The Top 12 movies grossed $111.2 million over the weekend, up 10.46 percent from last year’s draw of $100.7 million and up .037 percent from last weekend’s total of $110.8 million.
The Top Three films at the box office this time last year were: Universal’s King Kong, which stayed at No. 1 in its second week of release with $21.2 million in 3,576 theaters, averaging $9,305 per theater; Buena Vista’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which stayed in second place in its third week with $19.7 million in 3,853 theaters, averaging $8,225 per theater; and Sony’s Fun with Dick and Jane, which opened in third place with $14.3 million in 3,056 theaters, averaging $7,045 per theater (Click here to read last year's box office report).
BOX OFFICE TOP 10, ESTIMATES
(Source: Exhibitor Relations, Inc.)
No. 1: Night at the Museum (20th Century Fox, PG)
• Gross: $30.8 million
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 3,685
• Per-theater average: $9,467
No. 2: The Pursuit of Happyness (Sony, PG-13)
• Gross: $15 million (-43%)
• Weeks opened: 2
• Theaters: 2,863 (+11)
• Per-theater average: $5,239
• Cume to date: $53.2 million
No. 3: Rocky Balboa (MGM, PG)
• Gross: $12.6 million
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 3,017
• Per-theater average: $4,201
• Cume to date: $22.3 million (opened Wednesday)
No. 4: The Good Shepherd (Universal, R)
• Gross: $9.9 million
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 2,215
• Per-theater average: $4,505
No. 5: Charlotte's Web (Paramount, G)
• Gross: $8 million (-30%)
• Weeks opened: 2
• Theaters: 3,728 (+162)
• Per-theater average: $2,146
• Cume to date: $26.8 million
No. 6: Eragon (20th Cent. Fox, PG)
• Gross: $7.1 million (-69%)
• Weeks opened: 2
• Theaters: 3,030 (+10)
• Per-theater average: $2,360
• Cume to date: $23.2 million
No. 7: We Are Marshall (Warner Bros., PG)
• Gross: $6.6 million
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 2,606
• Per-theater average: $2,548
No. 8: Happy Feet (Warner Bros., PG)
• Gross: $5.1 million (-38%)
• Weeks opened: 6
• Theaters: 2,565 (-770)
• Per-theater average: $2,006
• Cume to date: $159.1 million
No. 9: The Holiday (Sony Pictures, PG)
• Gross: $5 million (-38%)
• Weeks opened: 3
• Theaters: 2,617 (+3)
• Per-theater average: $1,911
• Cume to date: $35 million
No. 6: Apocalypto (Buena Vista, R)
• Gross: $27.9 million (-49%)
• Weeks opened: 2
• Theaters: 2,465 (unchanged)
• Per-theater average: $3,133
• Cume to date: $27.9 million
No. 10: The Nativity Story (New Line, PG)
• Gross: $4.7 million (+2%)
• Weeks opened: 4
• Theaters: 1,824 (-750)
• Per-theater average: $2,603
• Cume to date: $31.4million
Curse of the Golden Flower (Sony Pictures Classics, R)
• Gross: $489,139
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 60
• Per-theater average: $8,152
Letters From Iwo Jima (Warner Bros., R)
• Gross: $76,000
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 5
• Per-theater average: $15,200
The Painted Veil (Warner Indie, PG-13)
• Gross: $44,000
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 4
• Per-theater average: $11,000
Venus (Miramax, R)
• Gross: $36,237
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 3
• Per-theater average: $12,079