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« Cannes Diary Day 1: Trains, Badges, and Nicole Kidman | Main | Lupita Lives To Fight Another Day »
Wednesday
May142014

Cannes Beauties: Jane Judges, Nicole Headlines, Amy Sells

We'll be hearing from Diana, our woman on the ground in Cannes, soon for her take on Grace of Monaco. Since I'm starting to feel human again (yay!) I'm back at the computer and hoping to be full speed by Friday. So let's check out the festival's first day. 

1. Jane Campion, Gender, and Juries
First a Red Carpet Lineup. Who wins your best dressed vote from the ladies of the jury? (And isn't it special that they all have such different styles?)

Coppola (USA), Yeon (South Korea), Campion (New Zealand), Hatami (Iran), and Bouqet (France)Lelia, Sofia & Jane

Campion, an outspoken feminist and infrequent filmmaker (let's get that new film rolling!) responded to questions about the lack of female films at the festival (which is famously very resistant to new voices, often inviting the same "masters" each time they make a movie... so we're talking lots of old men).

It does feel very undemocratic. We don’t get our share of representation. It always seems to be a surprise for the world when a woman does come out [as a success].”

Thankfully women are well represented on the jury and for the opening film you got two movie goddesses (Grace Kelly & Nicole Kidman) for the price of one... though most critics wanted their money back even though they saw the movie for free.

Nicole Kidman & Amy Adams & Lots of Photos after the jump...


Nicole towers over her co-stars, always

Nicole waves from the opening red carpetKidman dancing with the Opening Ceremony MC, Lambert Wilson (love him!)Oh look. Zhang Ziyi & Adele Exarchopoulus are seated right in front of Kidman

2. Nicole Kidman & The Opening Gala
Nicole towered over her co-stars and director at the photocall and on the red carpet. It's almost like her bones understood how large of a star she would become and just kept trying to help her reach mythic size as she grew up (Kidman is 5'11" and always wears heels). Of course the bigger you are the bigger the target. Critics were out for blood as they usually are for "troubled" pictures that have no sacred cows attached to protect them. Kidman is, of course, no sacred cow and has been a target her whole career from her early infamous star-making marriage to Cruise until all the blah-blah-blah-botox modern fetishistic attention to her forehead. I shan't link to it but I read a whole post on a certain gossip site with dozens of photos of her face from the opening day of Cannes that kept saying "wrinkle free!" and "puffy" and accusing her of plastic surgery when I'm staring at the exact same photos and I see the wrinkles of a 40something woman, albeit a woman who wears a lot of makeup as most movie stars do on red carpets.

Diana has promised me a review of the picture but even if she hates it as many critics have, I will reserve judgment until I see it. Some of the critiques are of the kind that raise "take with grain of salt" alarms. Whenever a critic uses "melodrama" or "old fashioned" as insults, for instance, I know that I can't trust them. Ain't nothing wrong with an old fashioned weepie or a melodrama! Also festivals are insular environments that do tend to increase critical homogeneity. Mob mentality can set in, leading to the binaries of "masterpiece" and "disaster". I've already heard, for example, that Grace is "worse than Diana" referring to Kidman's BFF's Naomi Watts' princess picture. Perhaps there are mob torch hysterics at work in these early reviews since Diana (2013) is one of the worst films I have ever seen. I simply can't believe that this could be worse than that with such a strong cast and a fine cinematographer (Eric Gautier). For one, it looks (at least in clips) much pricier and classier and beauteous so at least you'll be able to ogle it, you know?

Do I sound defensive? Sure. I get it. I do. Kidman is a darling of mine and I feel loyal and protective of my loved ones. Who doesn't (besides soulless people)? Listen, she's not perfect -- no actor is -- and she's given stiff performances before (I don't think highly of her work in Cold Mountain) and I don't think much of Dahan as a filmmaker (I hated La Vie En Rose) so it's possible I won't like this picture at all. But I also know that I've never been able to trust the media when it comes to Kidman. Critics are also, if I may speak in very dangerous generalities, not to be trusted to give a fair shake to movies about the interior lives of women... specifically the sheltered lost girl princess types (see the snark and savagery that Sofia Coppola has to deal with on occasion, even though she's generally well regarded). I've long since come to the conclusion that Kidman must be one of the steeliest female stars of all time. Like Joan Crawford tough deep down.

Consider how routinely she puts herself out there in risky projects and roles with daring chutzpah. What's more she doesn't even wall herself off from emotions, admitting in the press conference that she's "sad" that the Rainier family wish the movie didn't exist. She also revealed again, as she did in our interview here, that career success and personal happiness are rarely completely aligned and she wishes that weren't so. She got philosophical at the press conference when asked about giving up acting for love (as Grace Kelly famously did.)

I’ve lived without that and existed without that in my life, and it’s a very empty life. I’ve always said that when I won the Oscar, I went home and I didn’t have that in my life. And that was the most intensely lonely period of my life. And I’ve also said that, strangely for me, the greatest highs have coincided with the greatest lows … It’s always aggravated me that it’s gone that way. I’m hoping that one day I can have a professional high and a personal high. I don’t know if that’s ever possible.” 


3. Amy Adams Commands Top Dollar
While Nicole was working the red carpet, another lauded redhead was the hottest ticket... for 2016? Denis Villeneuve's sci-fi drama The Story of Your Life adapted from Ted Chiang's award-winning short story was sold to Paramount for $20 million in a bidding war before a single frame has been shot. It will star the seemingly unstoppable Amy Adams. She'll play a linguist asked to communicate with alien invaders. I assume the high price tag is due to both Amy's hot streak and Villeneuve's rising star in the director's chair (Prisoners & Enemy both won good reviews and, perhaps more importantly, proved that he's skilled at getting great work from top Hollywood names). The huge grosses for Gravity, essentially a one-woman show, can't have hurt its case either.

But, real talk: audiences have never been averse to women fronting sci-fi films. Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986) were massive hits. Contact (1997) was a big hit. It's not audiences that are resistant to women, it's nervous Hollywood executives who have to be reminded over and over again that female driven movies can make money. Flops starring men never have them suddenly worrying about producing the next film starring a man, you know?

In other sales news Sony Pictures Classics picked up Bertrand Bonello's Saint-Laurent, the Yves Saint-Laurent biopic that's playing in competition. Curiously there could be two French-language YSL biopics heading our way this year because The Weinstein Co bought the other one last year and have yet to release it. 

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Reader Comments (31)

I'm sad but not surprised about the Grace of Monaco reviews. We all knew this was coming. And to be fair the clips recently released don't make the movie look good at all. But it can't be worse than Diana, which is disgustingly bad. I still really really want to see Grace even if it's just to stare at Nicole's beauty.

May 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

YES to all of this!

Kidman's face is undeniably different, but she gets way more crap than actresses with half the talent and double the cosmetic enhancements.

May 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmjunkie

I don't know why people keep acting like Nicole is the patron saint of Botox. I've never watched a movie and looked at the mobility of someone's forehead. I mean, really? Did she look puffy in the white dress? Yeah, but that was also terrible makeup. She looked much better at the premiere.
Even when she looks *perfectly fine* (like last year at Cannes as a jury member) you hear botox! fillers! cheeks! lips! Which are from the same people who would also be on her case if they saw wrinkles or anything else. Botox or not, she's still a fantastic actress who gets shit no matter what she does.

I always take reviews from Cannes with a grain of salt since they are usually bursting with hysteria. Does it surprise me that Grace got this reception? Not at all. It was high-profile and coming in with loads of drama between Dahan and Weinstein. Plus, people love to bring out the knives for her. Even her Oscar nom for Rabbit Hole got that article in Entertainment Weekly totally dedicated to her face. It irritates me to no end because she's so much better than all of this.

May 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck.

I'm especially appalled by people who are acting like Nicole's career is down the tubes. Um, hello! Everything since 2010 has been totally daring and exciting on her part, maybe y'all just haven't been paying attention?

And go Sony! Hope this means Saint Laurent will be in theaters this year.

May 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTB

For me in the jury, it's a tie between Sofia Coppola (who is my favorite filmmaker) and Yeon though I must say of all of the juries that I have seen at Cannes. Those ladies are the best dressed jury that I have ever seen and I wish I was in that jury with Nicolas Winding Refn, Willem Dafoe, and Gael Garcia Bernal. A pool of immense talent.

I enjoy watching the Cannes red carpet though... what in the hell is a Kartrashian doing there? They really need to ban people like that because they're just trash and have no purpose in the world.

I hate saying this but maybe Harvey Weinstein was right about this film. The stuff I read in the reviews made me worry as it looks like a total bust. What the hell? Not a good way to start Cannes. Hopefully, things will get better. No more big-time Hollywood films to start the festival unless it's from a filmmaker that is a big name with a good track record.

May 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

Thank you for posting this.

When I read the reviews of Grace, it seems like most critics wanted to be the first one who can call something as the first bomb of this year Cannes. "Grace" is obviously an easy target with all the reasons you mentioned ("women" picture & Kidman factor).

It's highly possible that this is not good considering the director but the "F" grade is way too much. I can't ever take the hyperbolic criticism coming out from Cannes especially after the trashing of "Paperboy" ( not very good but definitely doesn't deserve the critical trashing) and the praise of "Blue is the warmest Color" (very good but not a masterpiece hyped from Cannes)

The positive thing is everybody for better and worse talk about "Grace" and the program director knows it's a perfect movie to open Cannes; movie with big stars and buzz to excite people about the festival.

I am still excited to see this as I love Kidman and same as you, I think some critics are out to get her. Any reviews with Botox, forehead, upper lips, stiff facial movement etc should just be ignored because it's obvious that's what they want to believe in regardless of the actual performance.

May 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDrew

I am meh to Nicole. She gets a lot of flak for botox and bad movies, but all of that is more or less in her control so it's attention that she brings upon herself. She works for cheap and takes chances, but most if not all of her choices since The Rabbit Hole have been bad. I don't think her movie career matters to her because she is not A list anymore for casting. She can work when she wants but with Grace being yet another flop, her days in movies may be coming to a close, apart from low budget projects where she works for scale. Meh.

May 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Carter

It's a film that critics and bloggers obviously had their claws all prepped out and sharpened even before seeing which always makes me cautious. Still the trifecta of Kidman, Posey, and Vega is just too good to miss and I just love those 3. Call me delusional or in denial out of my love for the actors but I'm still holding out hope for the film.

May 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKai Lor

@John Carter: You wash your mouth and go back to Mars, mister!

May 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

I think Nicole is fearless & botox or not ABSOLUTLY FABULOUS!

May 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterstjeans

I'm gonna have to see Grace because 1. Kidman 2. Costumes 3. Parker Posey!!

It might not be great but I refuse to believe it's less than a two star affair. And there's just no way it can be worse than Diana.
I think it'll do well internationally and maybe alright stateside. I can see it picking up a costume nod from the Academy easily enough. Who knows? Maybe critics will have mellowed out on it by the time it opens up here in the U.S.

I remain stubbornly positive.

May 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSean

Too bad an Oscar-winning actress in her mid-forties still is put under the physical perfection microscope. If I were going to use that criteria, the slight facial puffiness wouldn't be a concern. It would be her going back to the tired blonde hair look that has sabotaged her before, leaving her washed out. She probably did it because Grace Kelly was a blonde, but it better suited Kelly.

May 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterg paxton

Whatever. No one has a perfect resume and I had no illusions that this would be a good movie but I will watch it anyways for Nicole. While the movies themselves may not all be masterpieces I will always appreciate Kidman and the risks she takes. People are so harsh on her and I have no idea why.

May 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commentero.s.

Some positive quotes about Kidman:

"Nicole Kidman gives one of her best performances here. She has been pushing away from her movie star tricks for the last couple of years and this role really demands layers of self-awareness that are heretofore unseen in her roles. She’s been playing rawness lately, chasing more natural performances, but this is a role that doesn’t allow that freedom. Kidman’s Grace is almost always performing on some level.
And in the few moments of raw vulnerability, Dahan likes to shove the camera right in Kidman’s face, not only in close-up, but cutting the top and bottom of her face. We can see the veins in her eyes and the (tiny) pores in her skin. Yet, as with so much of the performance, Kidman’s stillness pulls us in.
The running gag about Kidman (which I always felt was wildly overstated) was that Botox had ruined her acting. Watching these close-ups, I almost felt as though Dahan was telling Kidman’s critics to fuck off and watch her act with her eyes alone."
--- David Poland, Movie City News

"Nicole Kidman's characterization of Grace Kelly is not cut from the fabric of the typical Oscar-bound biopic that lives for its actor's precision of their subject's mimicry. While Kidman is styled to look like Grace Kelly, and apes her mannerisms and poise, she makes no attempt to replicate the Oscar-winning actress's voice. But it is a bold choice, and proof that no other modern actress could have feasibly played Grace Kelly.
One scene that completely encapsulates the symbiosis in the suturing of these two personas is when Kidman's Grace reads from the screenplay of Marnie. While she may not be the princess to the throne of a small European sovereignty, Nicole Kidman is at a crossroads in her own career where she is not the box office draw that she may have been, and not even all of her forays into arthouse fare (Lee Daniels's pulpy The Paperboy, or Park Chan-wook's moody Stoker) have landed as successfully as the initial buzz regarding these projects may have promised. She's at a stage in her career where she must shed her old identity and reinvent herself.
The tone of the scene is playful, as Kidman's Grace stares into the mirror reciting her lines, and one is left with the impression that this princess may have lost touch with the talent for acting that she once had. Both of these women are in a place where they are removed from the safety of their former comfort zone, and face a terrifying question of what the proper place for them may be.
Even on the red carpet for the premiere of this film, Nicole Kidman stayed in character - the embodiment of a modern day Grace Kelly - graciously holding her head high with dignity and poise, surely cognisant of the smugly scathing critical consensus that has formed."
--- David Acacia, International Cinephile Society

"Grace of Monaco" didn't get glowing reviews from Cannes at all, but it's good to note that there are some praise for Nicole Kidman's performance as Grace Kelly.
"Both soft and fierce in every scene, Nicole Kidman skillfully embodies the paradox of Kelly's public life... Kidman takes the movie into a sympathetic arena defined by the character's solitude."
--- Eric Kohn, IndieWire

"A terrific and credible turn from Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly...For my money the film’s most effective scene has a suddenly insecure Kelly rehearsing lines of dialogue from Marnie in front of a mirror. It’s bravura acting by Kidman and she knew the irony of the scene."
--- Pete Hammond, Deadline Hollywood

"Kidman excels in a role in which she is called on to project glamour and suffering in equal measure - and is never allowed to be seen in the same outfit twice...Her features, which dominate the screen, are far more expressive than the often trite words she and the other characters utter."
--- Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent UK

"The film does get some things right, namely the casting of Kidman. Even though she looks nothing like Grace Kelly, Kidman dug deep to uncover what she believed were Kelly’s strengths and weaknesses. She also looks fantastic in the beautifully designed costumes."
--- Sasha Stone, AwardsDaily.com

May 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

Wow that final photo of Nicole in the audience staring straight ahead, in sharp focus while everyone else is blurred or turned away. She seems so ethereal, so distant from the mere mortals around her. It is because she photographs so ethereally that auteurs have always and will always want to direct her. The camera loves her even if the critics do not.

May 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoanne

oh nathaniel - if nicole kidman giving a nazi salute doesn't dull your ardor, i guess nothing will...

May 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpar

gpaxton -- agreed that blonde hair nas never done her a lot of favors. I don't understand why she doesn't stick with the ravishing red.

john carter - you write "She gets a lot of flak for botox and bad movies, but all of that is more or less in her control so it's attention that she brings upon herself."

but it is not under her control that everyone complains about her looks all the time. TRUST that if she never had any work done or did any peels or fillers or botox or anything of the things that all aging stars do that people would complain that she looks "old". The rampant sexism (and ageism) of the world always comes out with female stars as they age. People want them to look the same forever but fact: people do not look the same forever. Faces shift as people age.

May 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I want all those photos of Coppola, Yeon, Campion, Hatami, and Bouqet plastered everywhere I go so I, too, can bathe in the fabulosity of this female-led jury. Le sigh.

Kidman haters can eat it. Get outta here, shoo!

I'm not even a big fan of Amy Adams but get it, gurl.

Yay for Bonello's Saint-Laurent getting the SPC treatment. Cannot wait for that one, honestly, based on his aesthetic and aural choices alone in House of Pleasures. Plus, Princess Léa (Seydoux) again in our lives!

May 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

I noticed a lot of bloggers at Cannes tweeting hate for the film before they even saw it -- so it was to be expected.

May 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBia

"...her days in movies may be coming to a close, apart from low budget projects where she works for scale. Meh."

Haha, nice joke. Nicole has a big biopic with Werner Herzog and an animated film coming within the next year alone. She shows absolutely no signs of a career coming to a close, in addition to playing Grace freakin' Kelly this year! Keep fooling yourself, John Carter.

May 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSquasher88

Hatami for the win, it's always quite fascinating to see a moslem woman in these film festilvals
Nicole, you be strong, girl
Win the second oscar!

May 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercraver

Campion my champion in blue... That white hair!

Lawd.

May 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMs. V

Oh Internet I love you but I can't deal with what I'm seeing here. Isn't TFE usually Switzerland? Hopefully all this hatred will have subsided once the dust settles on Cannes or til they find their next target.

May 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKai Lor

My fervent hope is that Grace of Monaco comes out and is a smashing success. The world is way overdue for a big, critically acclaimed Nicole Kidman movie...and Cannes, bless its diamond-studded heart, is far from a reliable prognosticator on quality. If Nicole captures the essence of Grace Kelly, and I know she can, let's keep those Oscar hopes alive. Nicole the veritable swan playing a middle-aged princess trying to reclaim her movie star self is too delicious not to be a sumptuous feast.

May 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I have said it before and I know other here agree: Nicole Kidman is a modern cinematic legend, a true film star with equal grace and mysticism, yet genuine and frank. She gets a lot of flak because she is pretty and she doesn't conform to current Hollywood standards—plus, yes, the blatant sexism. Unlike her fellow countrywoman, Cate Blanchett (who I adore the same), I would say Kidman dares to dive into much darker and riskier projects, perhaps a reflection of a life assaulted with controversy. She's a true auteur muse, and she lives for them. I am of the believe that as years go by appreciation for her talent will only grow. Kidman may need to lose her youthful looks for people to start appreciating her more and be a little kinder. She may not be garnering much accolades these days/years, but expect her acclaim to surge up in a third act much like Mirren or Dench.

Thanks for keeping the Kidman love in this blog.

May 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJones

What Jones said!

(Jennifer Jones is my ultimate film goddess!)

May 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Jones -- thanks for saying so. i agree.

May 15, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Bravo Jones!!

May 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoanne

I don't want to believe the reviews (I love Nicole too) but after watching the clips my excitement for Grace just plummeted. If I was bored watching a 2-minute clip... But still, I refuse to believe it is worse than Diana. I refuse to believe most movies are worse than Diana.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Jeon Do-yeon is a Korean name, so her surname goes first -- Jeon. Her first name is Do-yeon.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteryoonah

sadman - thanks for the "positive quotes" about kidman. from the media coverage of the critic reactions i was left with the impression that she too was universally panned - so much so that I didn't bother to hunt out any revews.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermatt

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