Last night's unveiling of No Country for Old Men lived up to all my expectations and more. It's one of the Coen brothers' most assured films, on a par with their Oscar-winning Fargo or Miller's Crossing, with a touch of the southwestern twang of Raising Arizona. The movie, which stars veterans Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem at their best and break-out hunk Josh Brolin, belongs with the Coens' bleaker films, but adds their trademark comic tone to Cormac McCarthy's tragic book. It's a faithful adaptation, a lean and spare cinematic rendering of McCarthy's western of inexorably doomed characters. The movie also touches the zeitgeist as it expresses a loss of innocence in our culture, a turn to the dark side. The ending is heart-tugging. It's going to be hard to beat for the Palme d'Or. Unless Miramax messes up the movie's fall release (it will need delicate handling, although it will earn rave reviews, because it is not overtly commercial), I see a strong Oscar run. (Luckily 42West's Cynthia Swarz is on board.) Here's Variety's review.
In a typical moment of hi-low Cannes disjunction, after the screening I walked out to the Budweiser yacht, in the marina, to catch a sighting of the babelicious Jessica Simpson, who was announcing her new movie A Major Movie Star, which sounds like a knock-off of Private Benjamin, basically. I took off my shoes. I blackberried on the pending James Gray We Own the Night deal. I hung out with my PR buds Michele Robertson and Elizabeth Wolfe. I met Simpson's Dad. And her producer. I saw backer Avi Lerner, and his colleague Henry Winterstern. I gave up. I had to go to a movie. Dana Harris took over the Jessica Simpson Watch. I never went on the yacht, never drank, never ate. UPDATE: Here's Bill Booth's account.
I restrapped my sandals and went off to get in line at the Noga Hilton for Savage Grace, produced by Christine Vachon, directed by Tom Kalin and written by Howard Rodman. It's one warped sexy decadent sophisticated movie. Julianne Moore is a Bad Mom, basically, who gets a little too intimate with her devoted son. Needless to say, it does not end well. After a standing ovation, the film entourage wound up celebrating their success at the Carlton Bar. UPDATE: At festival's end no North American distrib had bought the film, but several smaller distribs were circling. Here's an interview by Manohla Dargis with Rodman.
This morning I saw Michael Moore's Sicko, which was tough, fast-moving, funny and brought me to tears at its conclusion. The whole point of the Cuba thing was that he took 9/11 rescue workers who are damaged by their experience and having a toough time getting taken care of by our fucked up medical system. After a stunt on boats in Guantanamo Bay trying to get into the Naval Station, which he argues takes better care of its detainees than our heath care system does, Moore takes the ailing folks to Cuba, which welcomes them into its hospital and gives them care. It is very moving.
Our own country feels bureaucratic and harshly unforgiving, even merciless, to its most needy, while Canada, France, the U.K. and Cuba embrace their citizens with the nurturing they need. Tough stuff. It will play like gangbusters all over the world. But will it be enough to bail out the Weinsteins? It will certainly help. Moore was aces at the packed press conference, although the criticism that he painted a too-rosy a picture of the other countries' health care systems is fair. He should have covered himself on that. Here's Variety's review.
[Photo by Getty Images]
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]