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Cannes Update: Male Dinosaurs Misspeak, Jury and Jarmusch's 'Only Lovers Left Alive' Press Conferences (Videos)

by Anne Thompson
May 27, 2013 4:09 PM
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Polanski and Seigner at Cannes
Polanski and Seigner at Cannes

The Cannes Film Festival always unveils a few stragglers at the end of the fest, and the 66th installment was no exception. There were quite a few from the likes of Roman Polanski ("Venus in Fur") and Jim Jarmusch ("Only Lovers Left Alive"). While the Cannes jury stepped into the modern world with its rare unanimous choice of a three-hour lesbian romance as this year's winner, ( jury press conference is here), some of the male auteurs and stars at the festival, on the other hand, showed themselves to be politically incorrect dinosaurs.

French director Francois Ozon ("Young and Beautiful") got into trouble when he described prostitution as a female fantasy in this Hollywood Reporter interview, which went viral:

'Only Lovers Left Alive' at Cannes
'Only Lovers Left Alive' at Cannes

THR: Men and women seem to have different reactions to the film.

Ozon: I think women understand the film more than men. I think men are afraid because it’s like, “Oh my God. There is all that in the head of a woman?” She is very powerful. But I think women can really be connected with this girl because it’s a fantasy of many women to do prostitution. That doesn’t mean they do it, but the fact to be paid to have sex is something which is very obvious in feminine sexuality.

THR: Why do you believe that is a desire? I really don’t think that’s the case.

Ozon: I think that’s the case because sexuality is complex. I think to be an object in sexuality is something very obvious you know, to be desired, to be used. There is kind of a passivity that women are looking for. That’s why the scene with Charlotte Rampling is very important, because she says [prostitution] was a fantasy she always had but never had the courage to do it. She was too shy.

THR: How did you come to the conclusion that is a theme in women’s sexuality?

Ozon: It is the reality. You speak with many women, you speak with shrinks, everybody knows that. Well, maybe not Americans!

Ozon tweet

Ozon defended himself on Twitter, saying that he was “awkward and misunderstood,” and, "Obviously I wasn’t talking about women in general, just the characters in my film.“

The French Minister for Women's Rights, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, responded within the context of the ongoing controversy about the festival's inclusion of women in the main competition (this year, only Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi's film "A Castle in Italy" made the cut):

"It's terrifying to trivialize, to give the impression that there is a casualness in prostitution. This is not true. Casualness and prostitution are contradictory.  This shows that it is also important that we hear the voices of women directors because women's views of women are not at all the same as those of men."

Francois Ozon
Francois Ozon

Meanwhile, during his Cannes press conference, Polanski not only said, "I lived long enough to know I can direct," but also said of his cast:

"I dominate them. That's what the film is about. Domination. I slap them sometimes. They never complain."

And attacked the pill:

"It's a pity that now offering flowers to a lady becomes indecent, that's how I feel about it. Trying to level the genders is purely idiotic – the pill has changed women of our times, masculinizing them. That chases away romance from our lives."

And then there was cranky octogenarian Jerry Lewis, starring in his first film in 18 years, "Max and Rose," who stated at his press conference:

"Comedy isn’t for women...It’s the truth. I can’t help it...I can't see women doing that. It bothers me. I cannot sit and watch a lady diminish her qualities to the lowest common denominator. I just can't do that...Women, it’s just wrong. I don’t care that the audience laughs at it and likes it. I don’t happen to like it. I have too much respect for the gender. And I think that they are wrong in doing it. I can’t expect them to stop working, but just don’t work anywhere where I have to look at it.”

Back to the 21st century, Jarmusch's "Only Lovers Left Alive," which The Playlist describes as a "deadpan, odd and deeply enjoyable vampire movie," follows unhappy musician vampire Adam (Tom Hiddleston) through two decaying cities that Jarmusch finds “emotionally attractive," Detroit and "The Interzone" Tangiers, as Adam gets back together with his lover Eve (Tilda Swinton). They've known each other for centuries; they refuse to feed on people, but acquire their blood on the black market; joining them is her younger sister (Mia Wasikowska) and boyfriend (Anton Yelchin).

Some gleanings from the press conference and video below:


  • Anne Thompson | May 30, 2013 1:02 AMReply

    Thanks Lisa!

  • Lisa Nesselson | May 29, 2013 9:05 AMReply

    Just a few tweaks in terms of context:

    Polanksi's comment about dominating his cast (a cast consisting of exactly two people) was absolutely tongue-in-cheek and completely in keeping with the film being discussed, "Venus in Fur."

    In a similar vein, two years ago Brad Pitt said from that same podium that he beats his children and deprives them of food (in reply to a question on whether his parenting style resembles that of the dad he played in "Tree of Life.") Nobody took him at his word.

    Polanski's film is a celebration of female strength and a warning against underestimating a woman based solely on the way she looks or sounds.

  • tyler4all | May 27, 2013 10:31 PMReply

    Why should Ozon have to apologize? He's not running for office, what is the big deal? Some women do have fantasies about prostitution. the point of a fantasy is NOT for it to become a reality! its not the nature of the fantasy that is important but the emotions elicited by the fantasy. Either way, a non-issue. You'd think a movie-maker, a storyteller could get away with a harmless comment such as that. movies ARE mostly fantasy! suspension of disbelief, anyone? stop asking filmmakers questions and just watch the damn movie again. But, of course, tongue slips draw traffic and create stories. blah...cant wait to see his movie now!

  • Ramesh | May 27, 2013 11:58 PM

    Hollywood publicists are about 20 years behind current feminist theory.

    (its almost as if hollywood is a kingdom which has a Daddy king whose this cigar chomping nazi of the prescott bush variety, a mommy queen whose rather firmly married to daddy , and is a jane fonda feminist of the cosmetic variety , and a male son prince whose gay, who needs periodic coddling and identity reaffirming.

  • michaela | May 27, 2013 6:01 PMReply

    Who really cares? America is so conservative and puritanical for heaven's sake (and embarrassingly pc) is this article........

  • Ramesh | May 27, 2013 7:03 PM

    No it's not! The Hollywood System's FANTASY America is oldfashioned hitlerian/ Nat Soc Party nazi and PC Simultaneously...if you can imagine that ... Remember when Dick morris was predicting a Romney landslide on the day of the polls? The paid publicists of the H system are like that.

  • Salty Bill | May 27, 2013 6:05 PM

    Agreed. America is crippled by Political Correctness.

  • Ramesh | May 27, 2013 5:49 PMReply

    Also: Jodorowski (whom this headline is REALLY about, obliquely) was (surprise!) the man who made Jurrasic park.

  • Ramesh | May 27, 2013 5:40 PMReply

    PS: I'd rather watch a Polanski film than read politically correct US publicist junk that comes out of cannes. NOT SO FAST Francois! ;)

  • Ramesh | May 27, 2013 5:35 PMReply

    has speilberg left the place? is cannes safe for humanity again?

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