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Cannes 2024: Kevin Costner’s epic sprawl, Julianne Moore’s return and Kermit’s green coat

Cannes Diary: First three-hour instalment of Costner’s old-school western is confounding; Kinds of Kindness may be Yorgos Lanthimos’s weakest film

Julianne Moore back in the Croisette

Julianne Moore has returned to the Croisette a decade after she won the best actress statuette for David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars. Speaking at a Kering Women in Cinema event, she saluted Sydney Sweeney, her Echo Valley costar, for blazing a trail on both sides of the camera, as the producer and star of Immaculate and Anyone But You.

“It’s wonderful,” said Moore. “I think that expectations have changed about what’s possible for women to achieve. Certainly, when I was Sydney’s age, that’s not something I ever considered.” Moore and Sweeney will play a mother and daughter in Echo Valley, the new Apple-backed project from Mare of Easttown creator Brad Ingelsby.

Five Muppety facts we learned from Ron Howard’s charming Jim Henson documentary

  • Jim Henson grew his trademark beard because his Christian Scientist mom disapproved of acne medications.
  • The head of Rowlf, the piano-playing dog, was fashioned from a basketball.
  • The original Kermit was sewn from an old green coat belonging to Jim Henson’s mother; early Kermits were often female depending on the wig.
  • Working with a young Frank Oz and an extended team, Jim Henson often paid the bills with fantastically violent commercials. His Wilkins and Wontkins advertisements, once thought lost, feature Muppet clubbings and shootings.
  • Orson Welles was The Muppets’ biggest fan; introducing Henson and Frank Oz on his 1970s TV show, the Citizen Kane director describes The Muppets as TV’s greatest innovation.

Greta Gerwig is president of the jury

Greta Gerwig is the first American female film-maker to be president of the festival’s jury and her fashion choices have, in predictably tedious manner, attracted much comment. In Cannes 77′s gushing opening ceremony, Camille Cottin described the Barbie director as having “changed the world with three films”. For an alarming 48 hours, wellwishers and Reddit fashionistas hoped that Gerwig could change into a nice frock instead. Her Maison Margiela dress gave rise to particularly vocal opinions.

But she hasn’t put a foot wrong in fashionistas’ eyes since stepping out in Jean Paul Gaultier by Simone Rocha SS24 worn to the Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga after-party.There’s almost a week of glad rags to come. But can she grab more fashion headlines than Kevin Costner’s new moustache? So much Marty Whelan energy.


Moi Aussi (Me Too)

In 1996, 24-year-old actor Judith Godrèche attended the Cannes Festival for the premiere of her film Ridicule, when Harvey Weinstein invited her to discuss a possible Oscar campaign. When he tried to assault her sexually, she ran. Last February she filed official complaints against director Benoît Jacquot and Jacques Doillon. (They have denied her allegations.) She also set up an email for ordinary women to talk about their abuse experiences. Within a week, 500 women got in touch. More than 1,000 women contributed to Godrèche’s 17-minute short film, Me Too, which screened last week at Cannes’ Cinéma de la plage.

“I am very proud to share this moment with you,” she told the assembled, many of whom were participants in the project. “Very proud to be here, at the Cannes film festival, this place which anchors films forever in the history of cinema. In this place where the biggest stars, people that everyone admires, climb the steps.” Rumours abound that a list naming abusers in the French film industry will be published during the festival. That may still happen. On the ground there has been noticeable (possibly actionable) Me Too-related graffiti.

Review: Horizon – An American Saga

Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1
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Director: Kevin Costner
Cert: None
Starring: Kevin Costner, Sienna Miller, Sam Worthington, Jena Malone, Owen Crow Shoe, Tatanka Means, Ella Hunt, Tim Guinee, Giovanni Ribisi, Danny Huston, Michael Angarano, Abbey Lee, Luke Wilson, Michael Rooker, Will Patton
Running Time: 3 hrs

The first three-hour instalment of Kevin Costner’s old school western is confounding. An epic sprawl shot in gorgeous, golden hues across various frontiers in Wyoming, Montana and Kansas, the proposed nine-to-12 hour project is undermined by the same long form versus film length tussles that pockmarked Ridley Scott’s Napoleon. It’s simultaneously crowded and truncated. An opening manhunt – or more accurately womanhunt – for a mysterious shooter who takes off with her baby is swiftly eclipsed by competing narrative threads. It lingers in the mind only because of Dale Dickie’s formidable scowling against the snowscape as the chasing posse rides out. A thrilling, if politically retrograde Apache attack during a hoedown introduces Sienna Miller’s pioneer and her winsome daughter.

Elsewhere, Luke Wilson valiantly attempts to ration supplies and wrangle a couple of feckless Britons on beleaguered wagon trail. And then there’s Dashing Kev. Remember when Kevin used to multitask as writer, director, occasional theme song singer, and romantic hero? He’s back! Here, he’s introduced as a stranger in a mining town. His very appearance sends a young, extremely attractive (and professionally available) lady in paroxysms of ecstasy. It coalesces into uneven storytelling, but with an old hand like Costner in the saddle, one feels the best is yet to come.

Review: Kinds of Kindness

Kinds of Kindness
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Director: Yorgos Lantimos
Cert: None
Genre: Drama
Starring: Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, Emma Stone, Margaret Qualley, Hong Chau, Joe Alwyn, Mamoudou Athie, Hunter Schafer
Running Time: 2 hrs 45 mins

The longest and weakest film from Yorgos Lanthimos is not really a film at all. A triptych that recalls the uneven horror portmanteaux of the 1960s and 1970s, only the first instalment resembles the director’s earlier, funnier ones.

There are shades of Olivia Colman’s Queen Anne and the Dogtooth patriarch in Willem Dafoe’s Raymond, an ill-defined chief executive who demands that his hapless employee Robert (Jesse Plemons) obeys an extensive list of psychosexual demands, including secretly feeding his wife abortifacients. Everything falls apart when Robert rebels against a (second) request to cause an automobile accident. Desperate pleading ensues.

Sadly, the tedious second and third doodles – running at about an hour each – form a scribble of try-hard oddities. Back-of-an-envelope ideas? There are so many plot holes and inconsistencies here, it must have been the back of a doily.

Willem Dafoe and Hong Chau weep into a well as the leaders of a cult seeking eternal life. A policeman (Plemons, again) reminisces at a dinner party about his missing (presumed dead) wife by watching the couple swapping porn videos they made. In case Joe Alwyn hasn’t suffered enough recently, he’s cast as an (effectively creepy) marital date rapist.

More disturbingly, on three separate occasions, the brutalised corpses of women are used as a punchline.

Say what you will about Francis Ford Coppola’s messy Megalopolis; it’s never as tedious as this.

Review: The Substance

The Substance
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Director: Coralie Forgeat
Cert: None
Genre: Horror Comedy
Starring: Demi Moore, Margaret Qualley, Denis Quaid
Running Time: 2 hrs 20 mins

Elephant Man prosthetics; geysers of blood; festering wounds. Director Coralie Fargeat follows up her gory 2017 rape-reprisal thriller, Revenge, with this outrageous comic body-horror, pitched somewhere between Sunset Blvd and Brian Yuzna’s cult classic, Society.

Demi Moore is tremendous as Elizabeth Sparkle, an ageing Hollywood exercise video guru indecorously edged off the airways by Dennis Quaid’s dirtbag TV executive. A chance encounter with a young medic leads Elizabeth to a mysterious alleyway to pick up the cellular-altering medication of the title.

The Substance allows her to birth Margaret Qualley’s Sue, who takes over Elizabeth’s exercise empire. The instructions are clear: the women must share their existence on a week-on, week-off basis. The striving, self-involved Sue soon has other plans.

Making the most of the gauzy Los Angeles light and weaponised male gaze, Forgeat and cinematographer Benjamin Kracun frame every fragmented body part with soft porn lighting and scathing feminist intent.

Just when you think that Qualley couldn’t look more like a character from Benny Benassi’s infamous Satisfaction video, she gets a scene with a lump hammer.

If you’re squeamish about spinal taps, blackening fingernails, tooth-pulling to the roots, or randomly decaying body parts, this may be too wild a ride. The film’s whooping 13-minute standing ovation, however, suggests there’s enough levity and savage wit to keep a huge crowd onside. Betting folks are already looking at Demi for best actress or maybe even the Palme d’Or for best film. Deservedly the most popular competition title thus far.