Cannes race wide open as jury tries to pick winning film

The Cannes film festival ends Saturday with the race for the Palme d'Or top prize wide open.

Cannes race wide open as jury tries to pick winning film
Director Quentin Tarantino (L) and actor Brad Pitt pose during a photocall for the film "Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood" at the 72nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival. Photo: CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AF
With the jury due to begin their deliberations in a villa overlooking the Mediterranean, four films have been heavily tipped by critics as possible winners after a vintage year of top movies.
The Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar has made the running almost from the start of the 12-day marathon with his most personal film yet, “Pain & Glory”, in which Antonio Banderas plays an ageing gay director not unlike the maker of “All About My Mother”.
Almodovar, 69, has yet to win the Palme d'Or in six attempts but has brought up the big emotional guns this time, with Penelope Cruz playing his mother.
Whether a jury led by the Oscar-winning Mexican tyro Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu of “Birdman” and “The Revenant” fame will be swayed by such an array of Latin talent remains to be seen.
Nor is there much arguing with the star power of Quentin Tarantino's “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”, which brings Tinseltown's two most dashing leading men, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, together on screen for the first time.
Is it Tarantino's year?
Many critics loved the rollicking odyssey through the Los Angeles of 1969 in the period leading up to the Manson family murders, particularly Pitt's performance as a hoary stuntman. But there were haters too, and the French actress Emmanuelle Seigner fired a shot across Tarantino's bows by complaining that he did not consult her husband, director Roman Polanski, whose murdered wife Sharon Tate is at the film's heart.
Tellingly, however, Tarantino — who won the Palme d'Or 25 years ago for “Pulp Fiction” — has stayed behind in Cannes, prompting speculation that he is set for a big prize.
He collected the Palm Dog prize Friday for Cannes' best canine performance at the festival, joking, “At least I do not go home empty-handed.” 
Time for a woman winner?
French director Celine Sciamma could make history by becoming only the second woman director ever to win the Palme after Jane Campion in 1993 with “The Piano”.
Like that film, her period lesbian love story “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is a slow-burner which packs a big emotional punch. As well as being a worthy winner, it could please a jury which has three female filmmakers, the American Kelly Reichardt, Italian arthouse star Alice Rohrwacher and Burkina Faso's Maimouna N'Diaye.
But the competition is stiff, no more so from the Korean master Bong Joon-ho's “Parasite”, a fabulously funny morality tale about the widening gap between rich and poor in his native South Korea. Stellar performances add to its allure though some critics wonder if Cannes will reward a second Asian film dealing with a roughly similar theme after Japan's Hirokazu Kore-Eda won last year with “Shoplifters”.
The movie website Indiewire insisted that outsiders, like Cannes debutants Ladj Ly's powerful look at his own high-rise home in the poor Paris suburbs, “Les Miserables”, and Mati Diop's Senegalese migrant ghost story, “Atlantics”, might just get a foot in the door. Diop has already made history as the first black woman director in competition. Yet first-time filmmakers rarely win Cannes' ultimate prize.
Although Cannes juries are notoriously difficult to call, this one is the most cinephile in years, filled with strong personalities like Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos and the passionate Pole Pawel Pawlikowski. Even its baby, the 21-year-old American actress Elle Fanning, knows her arthouse onions.
So with so many good films in the running, critics are expecting a quality victor. Yet Cannes' winners can sometimes come out of messy compromises, with Almodovar — who presided over the jury two years ago — admitting last week that the most admired film doesn't always win.
Indeed, like German Maren Ade's “Toni Erdmann” in 2016, it can go home empty-handed. 

By AFP's Fiachra Gibbons

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French films with English subtitles to watch in November

As days get shorter and temperatures drop, November is a great month to enjoy a warm and comforting moment at the cinema. Here’s a round up of the French movies with English subtitles to see in Paris this month.

Cinema in France
Photo: Loic Venance/AFP

The cinema group Lost in Frenchlation runs regular screenings of French films in the capital, with English subtitles to help non-native speakers follow the action. The club kicks off every screening with drinks at the cinema’s bar one hour before the movie, so it’s also a fun way to meet people if you’re new to Paris.

These are the events they have coming up in November.

Friday, November 5th

Boîte Noire – What happened on board the Dubai-Paris flight before it crashed in the Alps? In this thriller Matthieu, a young and talented black box analyst played by Pierre Niney (star of Yves Saint-Laurent among other movies) is determined to solve the reason behind this deadly crash, no matter the costs. 

The screening will take place at the Club de l’étoile cinema at 8pm. But you can arrive early for drinks at the bar from 7pm. 

Tickets are €10 full price, €8 for students and all other concessions, and can be reserved here.

Sunday, November 14th

Tralala – In the mood for music? This new delightful French musical brings you into the life of Tralala (played by Mathieu Amalric), a 48 years old, homeless and worn-out street singer, who one day gets mistaken for someone else. Tralala sees an opportunity to get a better life by taking on a new personality. He now has a brother, nephews, ex-girlfriends, and maybe even a daughter. But where is the lie? Where is the truth? And who is he, deep down?

The night will start with drinks from 6pm followed by the screening at 7pm at the Luminor Hôtel de Ville cinema. There is also a two-hour cinema-themed walk where you’ll be taken on a “musicals movie tour” in the heart of Paris, which begins at 4pm.

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here. Tickets for the walking tour cost €20 and must be reserved online here.

Thursday, November 18th

Illusions Perdues – Based on the great novel series by Honoré de Balzac between 1837 and 1843, this historical drama captures the writer Lucien’s life and dilemmas who dreams about a great career of writing and moves to the city to get a job at a newspaper. As a young poet entering the field of journalism, he is constantly challenged by his desire to write dramatic and eye-catching stories for the press. But are they all true?

The evening will kick off with drinks at L’Entrepôt cinema bar at 7pm, followed by the movie screening at 8pm. Tickets are available online here, and cost €8.50 full price; €7 for students and all other concessions.

Sunday, November 21st

Eiffel – Having just finished working on the Statue of Liberty, Gustave Eiffel (played by Romain Duris) is tasked with creating a spectacular monument for the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris. It’s ultimately his love story with Adrienne Bourgès (Emma Mackey) that will inspire him to come up with the idea for the Eiffel Tower.

After a first screening last month, Lost in Frenchlation is organising a new one at the Luminor Hôtel de Ville cinema, with pre-screening drinks at the cinema bar. 

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here

Thursday, November 25th

Les Héroïques – Michel is a former junkie and overgrown child who only dreams of motorbikes and of hanging out with his 17-year-old son Léo and his friends. But at 50 years old, he now has to handle the baby he just had with his ex, and try not to make the same mistakes he has done in the past. 

The film will be followed by a Q&A with the director Maxime Roy who will discuss his very first feature. 

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here.

Full details of Lost in Frenchlation’s events can be found on their website or Facebook page. In France, a health pass is required in order to go to the cinema.