Cannes at the half: Foreign filmmakers and a folk singer rule festival

Oscar Isaac (and cat) plays an unpleasant folk singer in 1961 in the Coen Brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis.” Credit: CBS Films
Oscar Isaac (and cat) plays an unpleasant folk singer in the Coen Brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis.”
Credit: CBS Films

The Cannes Film Festival ends this Sunday. So how is it looking at the halfway mark? That is, apart from the non-film stuff: the guy who fired a starter pistol, and not one but two jewelry robberies. (You might — might! — recall Brian De Palma’s “Femme Fatale” opened with a Cannes Film Festival jewel heist.) But let’s talk movies.

“The Bling Ring” is apparently very Sofia Coppola-y. No one makes movies like Sofia Coppola, which to some is a good thing because that means the world has less like them. Her latest again wallows among the pampered, wealthy and shallow, only this time the leads (led by Emma Watson) are those who steal from them. Reviews have been the usual for this polarizing filmmaker, with some finding the film as dumb as its heroes and others finding it an embodiment of materialism in the age of Twitter. Although Paris Hilton, who plays herself, loved it.

Everyone loves “Inside Llewyn Davis.” The Coen Brothers’ latest — about an unpleasant 1960s folk singer (Oscar Isaac), whose name we’ll one day not accidentally spell as “Llewellyn” — is being received as one of their scruffy triumphs. Comparisons to “The Big Lebowski” abound, and the up-and-comer Isaac — in a cast with Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake and John Goodman — is supposed to be made a star. And that’s great, as it won’t be released in America for another half a year.

But everyone REALLY loves ‘The Past.’ Asghar Farhadi scored an Oscar and a bona fide art-house hit with “A Separation” in 2011. His second film — also about a divorce, this one with an international cast that includes “The Artist”’s Berenice Bejo — is being heralded as about as absurdly strong, which should make Farhadi the biggest Iranian filmmaker since Abbas Kiarostami. Again, you’re probably going to have to wait till winter to see this.

Alejandro Jodorowsky is actually back. The Chilean-born crazy was once one of the original midnight movie kings, thanks to his 1970 gonzo acid western “El Topo.” His career since has been bumpy. But this year the 84-year-old rules Cannes. A documentary about his aborted film of “Dune” — which was to feature Orson Welles and Salvador Dali and a score by Pink Floyd — is there. Ditto an actual, new Jodorowsky film, his first since 1991’s (pretty terrible) “The Rainbow Thief.” “The Dance of Reality” is being called overlong, but also warm and, best of all, teeming with ideas and wild images.

Keanu Reeves and James Franco direct! Franco has been a rather prolific auteur of late, but his eighth film (!!) is for some reason an adaptation of William Faulkner’s unadaptable “As I Lay Dying.” Some are even being nice to it. Meanwhile, Keanu Reeves made a kung fu movie. It’s called “Man of Tai Chi” — insert “Matrix” joke here.

Still to debut (or at least to get reviews): Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Only God Forgives,” with The Gosling; Jim Jarmusch’s vampire film “Only Lovers Left Alive;” and James Gray’s “The Immigrant,” with Joaquin Phoenix and Marion Cotillard.


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