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Wednesday
Apr112018

Cannes News: Everbody Knows, The Poster Unveils, and Netflix Whines

It's still wintry here in NYC (groan) but Spring technically arrived a little while ago which means that the Cannes film festival is right around the corner. Here are three pieces of news involving the festival which will run from May 8th to May 19th.

The Poster
This year's poster, pictured above, is a quad rather than a horizontal for some reason. Usually they come in both formats or are just horizontal. It's based on the work of stills photographer Georges Pierre and the Jean Luc Godard film Pierrot Le Fou (1965). That's two posters based on Godard films in fairly quick succession. Last year's poster featured 1960s Italian sex symbol Claudia Cardinale but the year before that the poster was in tribute to Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt (1963)! 'Maybe Cannes ought to look beyond the 1960s and Godard sometime soon?,' he suggested with ribbing affection. 

Opening Night film and the Netflix controversy after the jump...

The Opening Film
This year the honor goes to Asghar Farhadi's Spanish-language feature Everybody Knows starring real life married superstars and Oscar winners Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem. Watch the trailer above. It'll be interesting to see what happens with this film at the Oscars. It's not in English which automatically is an obstacle. On the other hand it is headlined by two movie stars that Academy voters really love (each with 3 nominations and a win), features one actor voters are also surely familiar with (Ricard Darín, Argentinian superstar and a mainstay of the Spanish language submissions year after year), and a director the voting body has recently become obsessed with in Asghar Farhadi. Farhadi has won two Foreign Film Oscars in just the past seven years. Can this one make it three? And which country gets to submit it? Iran could claim it, we suppose, due to Farhadi's involvement and because the nationality of the director tends to matter quite a lot in that process and rulings. But couldn't a case also be made that Spain could submit it given that it takes place in Madrid and Cruz and Bardem are headlining and Spain helped fund it? Or it will be stuck somewhere in limbo and become one of those films that's a non-issue in the foreign film category (usually due to strange rulings or lack of submission) that ends up nominated in regular categories instead of the foreign language category like, oh, Talk to Her or Europa! Europa! or Three Colors: Red.

The Controversy
Remember last year at Cannes when there was a mini-brouhaha when Pedro Almodóvar expressed discomfort with honoring films that might not be shown in theaters? The internet got in a silly uproar and, typically, sided with Netflix, which this man right here (me, writing) thinks is a shortsighted alliance born of convenience.

[POSSIBLY INCOHERENT RANT FROM MY SICK BED] I love Netflix in some ways but they are 100% lying when they say they are '100% about the cinema' as Ted Sarandos ridiculously claims whilst complaining about Cannes. The company has made concerted efforts over the past years to move away from streaming cinema and to get rid of their back catalogue of films, and to push television productions and only recent television at that instead, as well as push their own original content which there is more and more of. Nothing wrong with that but please be honest about it! AND they're trying to get rid of movie theaters which means that basically everything they make is meant for small screens now.

Again, there is nothing wrong with this other than the incessant lying about why they're doing any of it and what it is they're doing. They're trying to get rid of the competition. Plain and simple. It's basic boring profit-driven capitalism. They are already the leader in streaming so they want the other avenues of access and forms of entertainment to dry up (like the older traditions of cable television and movie theaters) since they aren't anywhere close to #1 there. So far they're doing a great job of being a disrupter but it's not for our benefit. It is solely for theirs.

I've read some people online suggesting that the Netflix is correct and Cannes (and the Oscars) needs to lighten up about what is dubbed "cinema". I'm curious about the practicalities of these particular arguments, or if anyone making the argument has thought it through. How would we distinguish between movies and TV for example, if all distribution formats are deemed the same? Whether or not any of us like, it the separation is embedded in contracts of virtually everything that's been made. Unions have different rules about them. They pay differently. There's language in most contracts about the rights issues as something shifts from medium to medium. Different companies have different pieces of different revenue streams. Etcetera. It's going to be a legal nightmare if Hollywood ever fully caves and decides that TV and Cinema are the exact same thing. I bet you anything we lose access to a shit ton of important art in both mediums due to legal issues involving blurred lines in the future and who owns what and in what distribution format it's allowed to be shown and who profits if people are able to access it and so on and so on. I never ever enjoy losing art, because losing art is losing history and culture. [/END OF POSSIBLY INCOHERENT SICK RANT]

Cannes did offer to let Netflix show their films out of competition (as many filmmakers and studios have done for decades), but Netflix is petulantly dubbing this "disrespectful" to their filmmakers (Hmmm, does this mean it's been disrespectful to the multiple studios and hundreds of filmmakers who've done this for decades before Netflix was on the scene?) So no Netflix titles in France this summer. Which means Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, Paul Greengrass’s Norway, and Jeremy Saulnier’s Hold the Dark aren't coming as well as two Orson Welles related projects.

I fear people's deep love for both Netflix and the current ever-growing Disney empire (a different topic in a lot of ways but the same one in one key way) will end in tears. There's a reason why the government wrestled control of movie theaters away from movie studios in the early days of Hollywood back when the government was more responsible about preventing monopolies. Monopolies are bad even when they feel convenient. You don't want only two or three companies calling every shot about what you can get and how you can get it, trust! Netflix has already proven that they cannot be trusted to give us access to cinema -- they've offered less and less of it over the years unless they created it themselves, while purging the back catalogues of older classic titles which cost them money (again -- they are absolutely not pro-cinema, they're just pro-money) suggesting that they're more of a studio now than the content channel they began as so naturally they'd want to cause trouble for the other studios, including damaging the one source of revenue that they don't benefit from at all (moviegoing).

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Reader Comments (26)

I agree with you 100%. Thanks for the well-thought words!

April 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTheBoyFromBrazil

Yes, great points.

April 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Beautiful poster.
Screw Netflix.

April 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

I don't like the poster. Too many filters.

Please remember that Almodóvar was producing the Farhadi movie originally, but they parted ways for reasons unknown. The movie looks excellent. I'm glad Bardem and Cruz are finally doing good material after a decade of disappointments.

When it comes to defending the arts, we should always follow the French.

April 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I can't wait for Lars von Trier to return to Cannes in the official competition with The House That Jack Built -
Cannes needs a little controversy!
I wonder if it'll be advantageous for him that the jury president is Cate Blanchett, who gave him and his Dogma movement a loving nod in Manisfesto -
or if it'll be a detriment that she's the jury president, with the Björk's recent accusations in mind.

April 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterUlrich

What I hate about Netflix is that they're even more cravenly business oriented than even the TV networks and the studios. We say that studios don't care one whit about art, and they can certainly be craven as hell don't get me wrong, but there are easier ways to make money than being in the movie business and on some level I feel like even the most money oriented studio executive care at least a little bit about making cool movies (even if their idea of "cool" is often at odds with what cinephiles want). Netflix though isn't really a movie company at all, it's a tech company and to them movies are 100% just content to be quantified and sold.

April 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMJS

What's the point of making movies if they're not going to be shown at a cinema to the public? Fuck you Netflix.

April 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

I don't think is as simple as that. If the rule was that the movies have to be first shown in a cinema, Netflix would have done it. But in France, a movie in a cinema can only be streamed 36(!) months after. That's a bit long. Also, there are a lot of streaming services competing. To single out Netflix seems a bit harsh. All these people angry at Netflix can simply not watch it. Why the hate?

April 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commenteradelutza

Is the definition of a movie really where and how you see it? At this point and time most of us have seen classic films via TV, so haven't we already desecrated the purity of "the art of cinema" by doing so? Yes, Netflix is being a craven business, but at the same time they are probably doing more than most studios to support interesting films than the major film studios. Filmmakers are able to make films they would have struggled to make. For most filmmakers the most important thing is being able to make the films they want to make. Cannes is being elitist about the whole thing, but it's also they're prerogative to stipulate requirements as they see fit. Ultimately, it's all irrelevant. Cannes will lose out on more and more major films and Netflix will lose a high-profile marketing platform. I do wish Netflix would be more like Amazon and actually release their films, but it's their business model. The times are changing and movielovers will have to adapt.

April 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

Even after reading all that I still don’t entitely get what your issue is. Is it that they don’t respect classic films? I don’t really see how that should mean their films shouldn’t be honored.


What if one of those time you mention is an undeniable masterpiece? You fine with it not getting any awards recognition just because it’s produced by Netflix. Who gives a shit. A good film is a good film. I’m sure Netflix doesn’t want to create a precedent where festivals all over benefit from having Netflix’s best films and stars at their festivals but then not being elibgiblr for any awards even if they are truly the best. I get it.

April 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHuh

It will be interesting to see what will happen with Everybody Knows. Remember Pan's Laberynth? At the time I didn't even think about it but how did a movie featuring about Spain history, with Spain actors, filmed in Spain I believe, was submitted by Mexico? Uruguay's nomination A Place in the World mas revoked for not bei

April 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJorge

My biggest problem with Netflix is that to them it's all about quantity not quality. Like of course they have quality movies (and TV shows), but they're buried under all the other STUFF they've acquired or made. And Netflix is TERRIBLE at marketing their films (and TV shows), which is again probably due to the sheer amount of stuff they release. They at least do OK with their TV shows in this regard or at least the select shows they deem are worthy. But can y'all name one film they've marketed well not named Mudbound (Oscar attention helped with that mostly) and Cloverfield Paradox (the entire marketing for that was a solitary Super Bowl ad)? I can't.

Does that mean I'm going to cancel my subscription? Hell no. But as Nathaniel says, they should NOT feign the higher cinematic moral ground.

April 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Adelutza -- I think that's incorrect. Netflix isn't even willing to do that for Oscars. One of the worst decisions the Academy ever made was allowing distributors to four-wall one theater in los angeles for a week to qualify and even ditching the rule that it couldn't be simultaneously with a tv release. This opened the door for Netflix's shenanigans. Hell, even when they really want Oscars (as with Mudbount) they made zero effort to release it even in the big markets. THEY DID NOT CARE THAT NO ONE WOULD SEE RACHEL MORRISON'S CINEMATOGRAPHY'S ON THE BIG SCREEN. They didn't even care enough to give people the option and people think they actually care about cinema? It makes me so crazy that people believe this!.

Huh & Raul -- I wouldn't care that much if I didn't see so many people falling for their propaganda right and left. Like this thing you're mentioning that they support filmmakers no one else will? Hmmm. how is that exactly? Name names! Like other more traditional distributors they attend festivals and pick up movies -- just like everyone elsel. But the originals that they commission are hardly these cinematic gems or undersung voices.. the originals they commission are things like "Bright" and those Adam Sandler movies and those kinds of movies would get made with traditional Hollywood and still do all the time. They're not championing new voices or anything noble like that They're just after content.

The one place they do seem to have actually invested in the art is with their television series but TV was a more natural fit because in a lot of ways streaming is closer to television than it is to movies so it made sense that they would fit right in producing quality content and winning Emmys.

But movies are a different story.

People gave them a lot of credit for MUDBOUND last year and I even heard people at major websites repeating the absolute lie that nobody would release or support a film like that despite the fact that just a few months before that there had been news stories about the bidding war for it that Netflix won. People are so brainwashed by Netflix they suddenly painted them as heroes when it came to that movie which would have happened regardless since multiple Oscar-hungry distributors wanted it.

sorry, lol. i'll try to calm down. Netflix just pisses me off. I like some of the things that they offer but I'm horrified that everyone wants all of Hollywood to burn down because of them. If tomorrow I had to choose between no Netflix ever again and no movies ever again (which if Netflix has their way might actually be the choice someday -- i dont know why people don't see this) it wouldn't even be a choice. I wouldn't even require a milisecond. I wouldn't even say goodbye to netflix as a i ran with open arms towards the movies.

Okay -- i have to take some meds. I think my cold has turned into a fever because I'm being crazy. lol. good night.

April 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Being in Australia, the one thing I love about Netflix is that they make their originals - and most of their key purchases - available on the same date worldwide.

While Marvel and other blockbusters might get same-day releases in Australia, you normally have to wait up to a year for many foreign language and independent films to open in Australia. At least if it's a Netflix film, I know can be seeing it at the same time here as in the US. Or soon after its debut at a major festival, when people are still talking about it.

It is disappointing though that there aren't even token cinema screenings for their high-profile films. A lot of awards voters probably *did* see MUDBOUND on the big screen at a festival or awards screening; but it never opened on a single cinema screen in Australia, even at a festival, to my knowledge.

April 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSteve G

I love the shoutout to monopolies here given that I literally just took a break from writing a term paper about antitrust problems in the Disney-Fox merger. Feeling like I should investigate possible psychic connections, :D

April 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKevin

Totally agree and co-sign your NF rant. Nice work from your sick bed.

April 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSFOTroy

Netflix propagates movies far wider and allows for many more people to see the finished products than the rich country/big city/big screen model will or would ever do. The economic model is more efficient and cost-effective, plus does not involve dealing with rude, impolite strangers.

Plus, with a simple VPN, it provides people outside of the US and Western Europe, in countries where there still are decency laws, blasphemy laws, censorship laws and all sorts of shenanigans, to easily access content that otherwise would only be available via bootleg in questionable quality.

Last year, to watch Wonder Woman without censorship (mind you, even a massive Hollywood blockbuster that should have no distribution problems), I had to cross the border from Jordan to Israel to be able to circumvent decency laws AND blasphemy laws. And Jordan is the most moderate country in the region, give or take Bahrain. In Lebanon, they outright banned the movie because the actress was Israeli.

Please remember that most markets in the world are not free and diverse like a big city in the US and for us it is much harder to gain access to movies intact without streaming platforms.

April 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen Sandiego

About the difference between film and TV: yesterday Guillermo del Toro gave a masterclass in Brussels and he said something that stuck with me. With TV you remember the moments, with film you remember the images. He then proceeded to encourage making movies, even in this so-called golden age of TV. Can’t say I disagree.

April 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDieter

To me the rage against Netflix is odd since while they're definitely driven by business all they're doing is milking a situation that's already there. Netflix isn't killing theatres and cinema lol, the industry is. People just don't go to the movies anymore and Netflix is a factor but not the reason why. I love watching a movie on a big screen as much as anyone else does, but time, convenience, comfort and price have driven most audiences to seek those qualities in the movies they watch. And that matters in an industry where you need a couple millions to produce anything. It's a progression that started all the way back with the VHS and now manifests itself with streaming content, something which isn't pushed only by Netflix. Netflix's business model is just a way of surviving against giants that have more than just streaming to rely upon (Amazon, Apple).

The line between TV and film has been blurred loooooong before Netflix came along, and with audiences relying more and more on streaming content it was bound to keep being pushed. HBO had several films in Cannes that weren't shown in theatres before it even became an issue. So many of us watch many films on TV or streaming because that's the way it is nowadays, and believe me, I live in a major city and if I could I'd go to the theatres for every single movie but alas I can't. And I have more opportunities to do so than the majority of people! There's an enormous audience that has been granted access to a catalogue thanks to Netflix, which is also good. For all of us that watch films on a computer because we have to does this mean our experiences don't count? I didn't see a movie because I didn't see it in a theatre? It's odd to me because a movie doesn't stop being a movie because of the platform it's shown in (do people who catch theatre releases are watching tv? that's the suggestion you're making by claiming Netflix is pushing for no movies ever).

You say no major names have signed up with Netflix other than Bright which isn't true. Just Joon-ho and Baumbach last year. We have even bigger names coming up with Greengraas, Cuaron and Scorsese (and reminder that Scorsese was a major opponent of digital) so major filmmakers *are* signing up with Netflix. They trust the studio, they're given a freedom and budget other studios aren't otherwise they wouldn't be there. I give them credit there, where they deserve. They're not a perfect, glorious company but this notion that film is going downhill thanks to them seems sort of ridiculous to me. They're making use of a system already in place for business purposes, with good repercussions and bad effects. The Cannes thing is just a way to fight back, but if Cuaron, Scorsese and Baumbach are already with them, and the way the industry is changing, it's Cannes who'll need Netflix in the future. Not the other way around.

April 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAlexD

Carmen -- these are all great points. Thanks for the perspective. I do recognize that they do some things well and it's awesome that there are more options for people now than there used to be (my fear and complaint is that convenience can be an illusion. I have read so so so so many articles by people who should know better saying how "everything is available now" as if they've never done a search for a movie made before like 2006 or something.)

I just wish that Netflix weren't so disingenuous about what it is that they do.

Steve G -- this is it. Their refusal to play along even a little and show the movies at movie theaters is exactly why I balk at their ridiculous statements about "100% about the cinema" or what not. How can you claim to respect cinema when you even won't show your most acclaimed films (like Mudbound) on big screens in the top markets?

Alex D -- but even what they're doing with that is unsustainable. Do you think they're going to give a filmmaker like Scorsese $175 million once they've won this war? No. They're playing a control all the properties monopoly game and once they've won, the bank will tighten (since there is no way it's profitable to give Scorsese $175 million to make a period piece. THE DEPARTED is his top grossing movie and earned under $300 million worldwide. I just don't believe that people be happy with the post-war prospects for Netflix ideas about "movies" once they control "cinema".

April 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I do think it's all about their attitude. Netflix, as it is now, is a great resource--for movie fans who don't live in metropolitan areas, for independent filmmakers wanting their film made/available, for big names to create films without studio interference.

But their attitude that it's their way or the highway feels very offputting. Some of Cannes' rules may be extreme, but would it have killed Netflix to "play ball" a bit and keep some of their films Out of Competition? And why can't they put in just a bit more effort to screen films in theaters? Why not give the audience that choice at least? The movies will still be there on our TV/laptop forever so appease those who want to see it on the big screen.

And I know this is yelling at a void, but SOME quality control would be good. Don't just acquire every film you can. I know it's all about content, content, content... but by doing so actually gives every film less of a chance to be seen.

April 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

I like the idea of Cannes posters drawing from French films, however, always Godard? Melville? Varda? Truffaut? Demy? Tati or Chomet? You guys have SO MANY CHOICES.

April 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Nathaniel--One of the best things about reading this site is your wild exuberance for the movies. I would say that your passion is infectious, but since your'e not feeling well, that would be in poor taste <wink!>. Far from being incoherent, your sickbed rant is utterly and resolutely crystaline. Cosign every word. Folks used to say they were going to the movies on the weekend. Now they say they're looking to see what's on Netflix. The times are changing, but that doesn't mean all the changes are worth having. Something needs to be done before there are only two movie theaters left--one in LA and one in NYC.

Feel better!!

April 12, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Is there any chance that the Oscars will change the rule and disqualify all films that are released simultaneously on Netflix/VOD?

April 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRod

@ Rod

If Steven Spielberg has his way, yes! Just last week he came out forcefully against Netflix being allowed to compete for Oscars. He rightly insisted that movies that are meant to be seen exclusively on a computer or television should only be able to compete for Emmy consideration, not Oscar. HBO makes movies that are shown at festivals, but their awards prospects are relegated to the Emmys. The same should apply to Netflix. Who the fuck do they think they are? HBO cares more about movies and auteurs than these avarice, bullying liars who continuously speak out of both sides of their mouth. Positioning themselves as the saviors of cinema would be laughable if it weren't so god damn galling. Fuck Netflix! Thankfully, Spielberg is a force to be reckoned with, and many will follow his lead in Hollywood as I anticipate they will. Otherwise if Netflix achieves the hegemony it desires, their phony allegiance with directors will evaporate faster than the last 10 movies Netflix released. Sorry Marty, but I hope you like Emmys.

April 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterIshmael

Totally agree with you Nat; and the Academy rule allowing pictures to qualify by having a one-week run was clearly and obviously designed WELL BEFORE streaming services were around; Netflix is now simply taking advantage of an out-dated rule whose original purpose was completely different.

I totally get that products like Cuarón's "Roma" were shot to be shown in cinemas. But, quite simply, the moment they take a different road when it comes to distribution, and can be seen on big screens only for a handful of days, are they STILL cinema? I do not think so.

Thierry Fremeaux was quite clear: the rules for being considered eligible for the Cannes (France) main competition, include following the rule of the law existing in France when it comes to audio-visual products; all other sections of the festival are allowed. Nothing more, nothing less, and definitely not discriminatory when it comes to a festival promoting "cinema".

No one ever contested other rules, such as the one allowing only feature films at least 60 minutes long to enter the competition; or the one allowing in competition only movies not yet distributed outside their national market.

It is normal and obvious for Netflix to try to have its products accepted in the main competition; not so obvious that it must be allowed to dictate the rules, self-electing itself as "the future of cinema" whereas it is not.

April 15, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarco70go

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