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Indian actress Sonam Kapoor and Spanish tv presenter and model Judit Mascot (right), pose as they arrive for the screening of the film ‘The Homesman’ at the 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 18. (AFP)
Hollywood goes dark at Cannes Iran actress’s fest kiss sparks ire back home

CANNES, France, May 19, (Agencies): Canadian David Cronenberg presented a director’s take on a Hollywood infected by taboo sex and backstabbing, plus a few ghosts, while Tommy Lee Jones turned the Western around for a perilous eastward trek with madwomen at Cannes on Sunday. Jones’s “The Homesman” and Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars” screened the same day that Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford and other cast members from “The Expendables 3” rode in tanks in the Mediterranean seaside town, lending star power to the festival . “Crash” and “The Fly” director Cronenberg’s look behind the tinsel of Hollywood was the second competition film shown on the fifth day of the 12-day festival, giving it a heavily North American flavour. One critic for a major trade publication, who did not want to be quoted by name before a review appeared in print, said Cronenberg’s film was “very disappointing and very uneven”. It stars “Twilight” idol Robert Pattinson as a Hollywood wannabe working as a chauffeur and Mia Wasikowska as a schizophrenic.

The Hollywood Reporter trade publication called Jones’s film “an absorbing, melancholy look at the hard lot of women in the Old West”. It co-stars Jones and two-time Oscar best-actress winner Hilary Swank as a team escorting the madwomen. The Cannes awards, including the top Palme d’Or prize for best picture at the world’s most prestigious film festival, will be given on May 24. Of the main competition films shown since the festival opened on Wednesday, Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “Winter Sleep” and British director Mike Leigh’s “Mr Turner” are tied with the highest rankings in a compilation of opinions of international critics by Screen International magazine. Both get ratings of 3.6 stars out of a possible 4. “Maps to the Stars”, with a screenplay by Los Angeles writer and actor Bruce Wagner, features a cast of twisted characters. They include a child actor recovering from a drug habit, his schizophrenic sister, their ambitious parents who have a dark secret, and a has-been actress who is desperate to re-create a role played by her mother, who died in a fire.

Ghosts of the actress’s mother, a drowned child and a girl who died in hospital shortly after a visit from the child actor give the film a supernatural patina, suggesting that Hollywood is not just a city of dreams but of nightmares. Little more can be revealed that would not be a spoiler. Based on a novel by Glendon Swarthout, “The Homesman” includes the usual gunfights and hostile Indians, though at a press conference Jones rejected the idea that the portrayal of native Americans was a “stereotype”. The people playing the Indians were “all native Americans, they were all of Pueblo descent”, Jones said. Even the costumes they wore were thoroughly researched to help them look like the hostile Pawnees they portray in the movie. “I’m not ashamed of the fact that they were considered by our characters to be potentially homicidal. We were not bending the truth at all or stereotyping anybody,” he said. What is unusual is the stark portrayal of the extreme hardships faced by young women trying to survive, raise families and cope with extreme weather and disease. One of the madwomen had three babies die of diphtheria.

Nebraska, where the movie is set, was “not a really inviting place for a woman of the Victorian era”, Jones said. Asked what it was like acting and directing, Jones said: “As the director I can tell you I did everything I tell myself to do and as an actor I listen very carefully.” Swank plays Mary Bee Cuddy, an unmarried woman whose farm is successful but who cannot find a husband and agrees to lead the wagon trip to take the madwomen east with Jones. She said the role showed how resourceful frontier women had to be. “We’re talking about a time that was extreme in every way,” Swank said. “It was a hard, hard time, a hard place to live — the elements, the idea of doing it alone, the idea of wanting a partner to share in it, someone to love, someone to have her back.” Conditions on location in New Mexico during the winter drove home for her how hard life had been, Swank said. “When it was cold it was freezing, when it was windy you had sand in your nose and your ears and your mouth.”

Iranian actress Leila Hatami on Sunday angered authorities in Tehran by kissing the Cannes Film Festival’s president on the cheek, an act seen as affront to the “chastity” of the Islamic republic’s women. A photograph carried by Iranian media shows Hatami kissing Gilles Jacob at the opening of this year’s festival.
“Those who attend intentional events should take heed of the credibility and chastity of Iranians, so that a bad image of Iranian women will not be demonstrated to the world,” Deputy Culture Minister Hossein Noushabadi said, quoted by the website of state broadcaster IRIB. “Iranian woman is the symbol of chastity and innocence,” he said. Hatami’s “inappropriate presence” at the festival was “not in line with our religious beliefs”. Born into a family with a background in cinema, Hatami gained worldwide fame for her role in Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation,” which won the 2012 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
She is on the jury this year at the annual Cannes festival in southern France but lives in Iran. According to Iran’s interpretation of Islamic (sharia) law, in place since the 1979 revolution, a woman is not allowed to have physical contact with a man outside her family.

Two films inspired by the missing Malaysian Airlines’ flight MH370 are being touted to buyers at the Cannes Film Festival, barely two months after the plane vanished with 239 people on board. Potential buyers will get a sneak preview of “A Dark Reflection” by Fact Not Fiction Films at a “screening” on Monday, according to a full page advertisement in industry trade journal The Hollywood Reporter. “What Happened on Flight 313?” reads the advertisement which appeared on Sunday and shows a woman silhouetted at the end of a runway.
The runway lights glow behind her while overhead a passenger jet looms in the darkness lit by two harsh white lights. Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared on March 8.

Air and sea searches over vast stretches of the Indian Ocean have failed to find any sign of the plane.
Meanwhile, a half-page advertisement in the Reporter’s Cannes edition last Thursday publicised another similar film. The advertisement for “The Vanishing Act” featured a plane rising out of the clouds under the caption “The untold story of the missing Malaysian plane”. A 90-second teaser trailer showing terrified passengers and a gun being brandished was shot over six days in Bombay, Variety said in a report. It is being promoted by Indian film director Rupesh Paul, the man behind movie “Kamasutra 3D”, and was presented to buyers in Cannes on Saturday. Paul, who denied the film was insensitive so soon after the disappearance, said he began work on the project after being contacted by a Malaysian journalist who said he had a theory about what had happened. He then spent 20 days working on a screenplay using the journalist’s idea for the ending, the report added.

The film-maker said he was confident he could make the movie work even if the wreckage of the plane was found. People had suggested to him that his investment would be wasted if the plane was found and the explanation put forward by his film turned out to be incorrect, he said. “That’s the biggest challenge I’m facing.... Everyone in the world, they want to know what happened,” he was quoted as saying. In addition to being the world’s biggest film festival, Cannes is also a huge film market and each year attracts over 10,000 buyers and sellers from around the world. It was not known whether the “screening” of “A Dark Reflection” would be of a full or part-completed film, or another trailer.

The Associated Press is all over the Cannes Film Festival — from its glitzy premieres to the celeb parties and quirky moments in between. Here’s what reporters have seen and heard:

Look of the day: Hilary Swank
It was a coup for Donatella Versace: Hilary Swank was brilliant in white on the Cannes red carpet Sunday for the premiere of “The Homesman,” with a silk one-shoulder gown from Atelier Versace, twinned with a 1000-watt smile. The killer dress came from the Italian house’s couture line and was gathered at the waist and draped at the back. Setting the look off, she wore Chopard earrings in white gold set with oval-shaped tanzanites, opals and triangle-cut 2-carat diamonds. It was one of the most beautiful styles seen all festival.

‘Expendables’ boost Nigerian girls
The “Bring Back Our Girls” message has made its way to the Cannes red carpet for the second night in a row. This time, it was the cast of “The Expendables 3” — which includes Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Jason Statham, and Wesley Snipes — who each held up signs bearing the message. The phrase refers to the worldwide effort to bring home more than 250 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by the extremist Islamic group Boko Haram a month ago. Despite a multinational effort, they have yet to be recovered. Salma Hayek brought the message to the red carpet on Saturday night.

Jones premieres ‘The Homesman’
In Westerns, women are usually bit players, relegated to fleeting domestic scenes before the men set out on adventure. On Sunday at the Cannes Film Festival, Tommy Lee Jones premiered a Western from a more female perspective. His “The Homesman” is about a single woman farmer (Hilary Swank) on the Nebraska plains during Westward expansion. Called “bossy” by suitors, the strong-willed Mary Bee Cuddy volunteers to take three women who have grown crazy on the desolate landscape to Iowa. She enlists an outlaw, played by Jones, to help on the weekslong journey. Cuddy and the women are generally treated as mere cargo in the race West — which Jones said he considers historical roots to sexism today.

DSK film party pokes fun at scandal
Abel Ferrara’s movie “Welcome to New York,” inspired by the sex scandal involving the former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has been grabbing headlines, and a secretive party to celebrate it here created even more of a buzz. The theme for Saturday’s celebration — hosted at Nikki Beach on the Croisette — mirrored the film’s lurid subject matter. Ferrara partied with guests who donned white bath robes, and party bags came with complementary S&M whips, handcuffs, condoms and even tablets labeled “Viagra.” The film, screened before the party started, stars Gerard Depardieu. He bares all to play unrepentant sex-addict Mr. Devereaux, a man who handles billions of dollars a day and commits a sexual assault on a hotel maid.

A party fit for the capitol
It was like a night in Panem as the already lavish Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc was transformed into an extravagant party that mimicked those thrown in the fictional capitol of the “Hunger Games” series. Saturday night’s event was to promote the future release of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1,” the second-to-last installment of the blockbuster apocalyptic series. Stars Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Julianne Moore and Donald Sutherland were among those who attended the event in d’Antibes, a short distance away from Cannes.

Quickquote: John woo
“Other than the love story, this film also displays the power of life. Through their stories, you can see that life is still beautiful. There’s still hope to life. If you persevere, you will see the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s an important theme (of the film). So I was very happy to be back at the set.” — John Woo on his new film “The Crossing,” which is his return to film after battling cancer.

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