Cannes Day 4: ‘Kinds of Kindness’ Kind of Confuses

The 2024 Cannes Film Festival is still going full steam, with deals and screenings galore. We’ve got the first responses to some highly anticipated projects including the new films from Emma Stone and Nicolas Cage, a filmmaker weighing in on the Harvey Weinstein conviction reversal and a studio going all in on a single filmmaker.

“Kinds of Kindness” Confounds

Yorgos Lanthimos, just a few months since his bizarre, female-empowerment madcap science fiction movie “Poor Things” scooped up four Oscars (including Best Actress for Emma Stone), debuted his new film, “Kinds of Kindness.”

The movie reunites the filmmaker with his frequent writing partner, Efthimis Filippo, and his muse, Emma Stone. The movie is not a straightforward narrative but an anthology film comprised of three loosely connected storylines, where the actors (including Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley and Joe Alwyn) play different characters in each segment. (This is Searchlight’s big summer movie; it’s going up against the new “Quiet Place” prequel.)

It seems as though “Kinds of Kindness,” at least from initial reports, is a return to the type of movie he made before he became an Oscar favorite – uncomfortable, confrontational, just plain weird. And for most, this is a good (if slightly puzzling) thing.

“Sicko Yorgos is Back,” read the headline to New York Magazine critic Bilge Ebiri’s review. With the movie, which runs a whopping 165 minutes, Ebiri writes, “he happily takes his time, delighting and luxuriating in his roundelays of absurdism and abasement. It can be a bit exhausting — anthology films often are, and this one is long — but we can feel the director’s excitement. He’s fully back in his sandbox.” The Daily Beast’s Esther Zuckerman wrote that it is “evil in the best way” (if that isn’t in every piece of marketing material for the movie, we’ll eat our hat) and that it “makes ‘Poor Things’ seem normal.”

But even the positive reviews have an air of confusion. David Ehrlich of IndieWire, said of the film, “Always interesting, seldom enjoyable, and somehow both smothered and excessive at the same time (and at all times), this nearly three-hour bonfire of Searchlight Pictures’ annual budget is a towering monument to human love that betrays almost zero interest in actually being liked.” Ditto Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson, who wrote, “Those hoping for some sense of grand meaning—or, really, any kind of explanation of what’s going on—are denied. ‘Kinds of Kindness’ is clever and a bit snide, a curio cabinet not designed for beauty.”

Our own review (from Steve Pond) called the movie “seriously disturbed but thoroughly entertaining,” saying that unlike recent features from Lanthimos that actually resembled more traditionally pleasant moviegoing experiences, it “defaults to darkness and creepiness.” He says that the tone and mood is closer to his bleak-as-hell “The Killing of a Sacred Deer.” Again: if you’re into that sort of thing, this should be a windfall of weirdness.

Judith Godrèche Weighs in on Weinstein

Judith Godrèche, a French former child star who turned into a prominent filmmaker and outspoken #MeToo activist, weighed in on the reversal of Harvey Weinstein’s rape conviction in New York. She called it “an absolute nightmare.” She spoke as part of as part of TheWrap Conversations at the Brand Innovators Salon D’Affaires, saying, “Somehow people [like] him are winning. There is enough pain and hurt that it should not be allowed. It’s insane when you think about it. Listen, I may have to face my abusers [one day]. You have to be so brave to do this.”

She also added: “I wondered how [Weinstein] had so much money to keep paying for lawyers. I thought, ‘Wow, this is crazy that he can keep going.’ It was terrible news. It was extremely shocking and I had a feeling of walking backwards.”

Godrèche is premiering a #MeToo-themed short film at the festival called “Moi Aussi.” The festival has already addressed the growing storm of the French #MeToo movement, which is trailing America’s efforts to root out predatory behavior in the film industry, but is just as powerful and important. Earlier this year the filmmaker spoke out against director Benoît Jacquot, who she said started an inappropriate relationship with her in the 1980s when she was 14 and he was 39. (This was considered a key moment in the growing French #MeToo movement.)

“It took me almost 35 years to speak out,” she explained. “It was a long journey, like a puzzle, I should say. I moved to America, I ran away from the French film industry. The story of this French woman going back to her country, an actress, could not be sincere and honest if I wasn’t telling some of my childhood, because I was a child actor. But I didn’t want it to become a #MeToo show, and I was worried about saying any names.”

“Canada” and Cage Responses

There were also premieres of two different movies – a new drama from “Taxi Driver” writer Paul Schrader called “Oh Canada,” and a Nicolas Cage movie called “The Surfer” that premiered in the midnight film program (because of course it did).

First, let’s talk about the response to Schrader’s new movie, a four-minute standing ovation (so, if we’re counting, that’s less than “Furiosa”), with the filmmaker getting emotional. The film, which stars Richard Gere, Jacob Elordi, Uma Thurman and Michael Imperioli, itself seems like it had a less rosy response. New York Times editor Karl Delossantos wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that “the best thing I can say about ‘Oh, Canada’ is that it has a gratuitous shot of Jacob Elordi in a jockstrap (both sides). Other than that it’s a muddled bore with seemingly nothing to say.” (The movie is about a writer who heads to Canada to avoid the Vietnam War draft.)

Our own review (by Nicholas Barber) described the movie as a “sincere but stupefying head-scratcher” and that Schrader, once again adapting a book by Russell Banks (who he successfully mined for the terrific “Affliction”), struggled with how to translate the material.

And if you want to see a great Gere/Schrader collaboration, a new 4K disc of “American Gigolo” is just around the corner…

Switching gears completely (and, yes, pun very much indented), is Nicolas Cage’s new film “The Surfer,” which premiered in a midnight slot.

Delossantos, writing on X, said it was “the most fun I’ve had at Cannes so far. A sun-drenched psychedelic homage to Aussie New Wave that careens between dark comedy, psychological thriller and Nicolas Cage’s patented mad guy antics.” Delossantos alos said that during the standing ovation, the crowd chanted “movies are back!”

New York Magazine’s Rachel Handler described “The Surfer” as “a deliciously bonkers, sunburnt psychological-thriller-slash-dark comedy about a man who just wants to surf, and will risk everything he has to do it.” Slate critic Sam Adams wrote on X that the film “is basically ‘Endless Summer’ meets ‘Wake in Fright,’ with a relatively modulated Nicolas Cage as an expat Aussie (sans accent) who goes home to find his childhood beach colonized by aggro influencers. Recommended.” Yes please.

Neon Is All In on Osgood Perkins

Neon, the indie production company and distributor behind the American releases of “Triangle of Sadness” and “Anatomy of a Fall,” has taken a keen interest in filmmaker Osgood Perkins, and is already handling the release this summer of his next film “Longlegs” (starring, of course, Cage). And out of Cannes the company has picked up two new Perkins projects.

On Saturday it announced acquisition of domestic rights to “The Monkey,” a new film based on the 1980 Stephen King short story, originally published in Gallery magazine and collected in his bestselling “Skeleton Crew” collection. The film stars Theo James, Tatiana Maslany, Elijah Wood, Rohan Campbell and Sarah Levy. One of the producers is none other than horror mastermind James Wan.

The official synopsis for the film: “When twin brothers Hal and Bill (Played by Theo James in later years, Christian Convery plays the younger twins) discover their father’s old monkey toy in the attic, a series of gruesome deaths starts occurring all around them. The brothers decide to throw the monkey away and move on with their lives, growing apart over the years. But when the mysterious deaths begin again, the brothers must reunite to find a way to destroy the monkey for good before it takes the lives of everyone close to them.”

But that’s not all! Earlier this week, Neon acquired worldwide rights and launched sales on Perkins’ “Keeper,” also starring Maslany and Rossif Sutherland, which has yet to go into production. “Keeper” “follows a couple as they escape for a romantic anniversary weekend at a secluded cabin. When Malcolm (Sutherland) suddenly returns to the city, Liz (Maslany) finds herself isolated and in the presence of an unspeakable evil that unveils the cabin’s horrifying secrets.”

Perkins is one of the most exciting genre filmmakers working today, the son of actor Anthony Perkins and the creator of outstanding horror films like “The Blackcoat’s Daughter” and the criminally underrated “Gretel & Hansel.”

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