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The Cannes Film Festival has a reputation for choosing slight-to-major disappointments for its opening night -- think back on such flat party-starters as "Robin Hood," "Blindness," "My Blueberry Nights," "The Da Vinci Code" and "Hollywood Ending," if indeed you care to remember them at all. But the odds have improved lately: two recent Cannes curtain-raisers (and eventual Best Picture nominees), "Up" and "Midnight in Paris," salvaged the slot's reputation sufficiently that the news of a major auteur's latest opening this year's fest needn't sound alarm bells.
That auteur, as most Cannes-watchers correctly speculated, is Wes Anderson, whose "Moonrise Kingdom" was confirmed yesterday as the film that will kick things off on May 16. Given that the film is opening in French theaters on the very same day -- and in the US only nine days later -- it was an inevitable choice, though it's worth noting that this is Anderson's first film to play the Croisette. (His last live-action feature, 2007's "The Darjeeling Limited," premiered at Venice, marking his European-major debut.)
I can't really imagine many modern blockbuster filmmakers who would be a match for James Cameron just on a comparison of filmmaking skills, but I can think of even fewer who could stand up against him when it comes to real-world fortitude.
Sure, it's easy to be an adventurer when you're rich, but only in the sense that you actually have the resources to make your wildest dreams come true. Money doesn't make it any easier to face the fear that comes with doing something truly dangerous, and anyone who writes off what Cameron accomplishes when he's in world adventurer mode is not being honest about what it is that he does.
For example, this past week, Cameron broke a world record for depth diving in a submersible that he helped develop, and it sounds like it was amazing. I'm even more excited to see what happens when he travels to the Challenger Deep in the western Pacific, and what sort of footage he brings back from it.
My last interview this week for Disney's "John Carter" is with the man charged to finally bring this 100-year-old character to life on the big screen, Andrew Stanton.
First, let me just say that anyone whose favorite film is "Lawrence Of Arabia" is okay by me, and especially when you can see that so clearly in the film they've made. I'm not sure I ever would have made the connection between that film and the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs. It feels natural when you see how Stanton does it, though, and that was just one of the things we discussed when we sat down at the Boulders resort in Carefree, Arizona, to talk about his movie.
Stanton is a great spokesman for his film, and I feel like the Pixar team that's been part of the company from the start is the contemporary equivalent of the group of filmmakers in the '70s who helped create the blockbuster in the first place. There was that explosion of creativity that came from guys like Lucas and Spielberg and De Palma and Scorsese and that entire peer group, and watching how their work evolved over the decades since that first amazing wave of films has been impressive. The Pixar team is now starting to move into live-action, and seeing how they maintain their voice, I'm starting to believe there's nothing these guys can't do.
A quick review of tonight's "Awake" coming up just as soon as I give you a bag of sugar and a spoon...
Final four! As we learn from Angela Coathanger, this week's client is New York designer Nanette Lepore. She's based in the New York fashion district, which is dying a horrible death because it's so damn expensive to make clothing in the U.S. I think this is a much bigger and more complex issue than can be tackled by "Project Runway All Stars," but kudos to the show for trying to bring it up, I guess. Next week we will commit two minutes to the national debt and another minute to how Congress really works. Ah yes, "Project Runway" is "Schoolhouse Rock" for the 21s century.
Paul Williams is a survivor.
The notion that the greatest challenge he's overcome in his lifetime is himself is just one of the things that makes Steve Kessler's documentary "Paul Williams Still Alive" such a pleasure and a revelation. I've been familiar with the work of Paul Williams my whole life, and in many cases, I wasn't even aware when I was first introduced to his work that it was his.
When the Muppets sang "Movin' Right Along" or "The Rainbow Connection" in "The Muppet Movie," or when Jodie Foster sang "My Name Is Tallulah" in "Bugsy Malone," I didn't know who wrote those songs. I just knew that they were burned into my brain right away. When I heard Karen Carpenter sing "Rainy Days and Mondays" or "We've Only Just Begun" on the radio, I didn't even think of the songwriter. I just heard the story she was telling and the heartbreak that she wore like a badge.
Elizabeth Olsen emerged with one of last season’s most notable performances in the psychological meditation on identity, community and occultism: “Martha Marcy May Marlene.” She had a strong presence in the critics’ circuit and many felt she ought to have been granted an Oscar nod. An aspect of the intrigue surrounding Olsen’s debut is, of course, her familial connection to the industry.
Her older sisters, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who began their careers before they even had the power of speech, have long been famous, essentially, for being famous. The twins have been associated with the dramatic spectrum of celebrity for years. Unthinkable wealth (they are said to have net worth of upwards of $120 million dollars and preside over a billion-dollar fashion empire) is countered with a near constant onslaught by a press corps in search of the details of their private lives.
March Madness for college basketball is almost here, and the science of bracketology is filtering its way into all sorts of corners of the pop culture universe. Grantland is running a 32-person bracket to determine the greatest "Wire" character ever (though both "Wire" fan Mike Schur and The Bunk himself have raised objections to the way it's gone). Vulture is asking experts to help determine the greatest TV drama of the last 25 years (today it was "The X-Files" vs. "The West Wing").
For the third year in a row, Hulu is running its Best in Show competition, in which TV fans get to vote on a bracket of 32 current series. And for the second year in a row, I'm serving as the special guest judge, but in a different capacity from last year.
We are exactly one week away from the return of "Community" to NBC's primetime lineup, as the show starts all over again in its old Thursday at 8 timeslot on March 15. (Earlier that day, Hulu should be posting the archived stream of the "Community" PaleyFest panel I moderated, though I've already seen excerpts floating around on YouTube.) But since the show remains not on the air this week, it's time for one final installment in my weekly series on why I've missed the show during its absence.
There wasn't much doubt which "Idol" contestant would be my Iron-Clad Lock To Not Be Eliminated This Week pick for this recap's image. Jessica Sanchez isn't going anywhere and probably not for a long, long, long time. If "Idol" could get an ethnically intriguing teenage girl to end the show's White Guys With Guitars winning streak, there would be great behind-the-scenes joy.
But we're a long way from worrying about this season's winner. In fact, we're a solid hour from meeting the season's first loser, so click through for the full recap...