Great actresses of past and present

By    Ioan Lazar in Cannes

Cannes Festival has never missed glamour and the fact that it can combine the great show promoting value in the first place remains one of its mysteries, explaining the irresistible attraction for the public, but especially felt by the great filmmakers of the world, as well as by the cinematography critics and journalists.
A look on one day’s agenda becomes inevitable, a day taken almost randomly. Let us take Tuesday, May 20, as it is closer.
The morning was occupied by the movie made by Dardenne brothers starring Marion Cotillard. Produced with only EUR 7 million, Two Days, One Night is the fifth association between the Belgian directors and the actress. Through its dramatic and emotional manner in which it depicts the suffering and hope of the character played, a working woman threatened by unemployment, trying over a weekend to persuade her fellow workers to give up a bonus of EUR 1,000 so that she will not lose her job, the actress proves her class again. The press conference in the afternoon revealed other aspects of this fruitful association. It is not only the movie as a whole that deserves the jury’s attention, but also the main star.
Filmmaker Zhang Yimou and his favourite actress Gong Li return to the festival after a ten year gap, when they were present outside the competition as well. Although the famous filmmaker received major awards in Venice and Berlin, he has never got a Palme d’Or at Cannes, although in my opinion he would have deserved it for the movie “To Live (1994)” which, admittedly, won the Grand Jury Prize and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. The movie had a screening for the press and a gala screening towards midnight, under the floodlights of the legendary stairs with pink carpet and the eyes of a numerous public, which hailed the event.
At 7:45 at Soixantieme, venerable Sophia Loren (photo) was applauded for a long time both at her arrival and departure, an actress who played in two movies screened in her presence. The first was a short movie, the Human Voice, directed by her son, Eduardo Ponti, a movie adapting a remarkable theatre play of Jean Cocteau. The second, a feature, Marriage Italian-Style, by Vittorio de Sica, gave the opportunity to watch her playing along another stellar figure of the post-war years, Marcello Mastroianni. A remarkable acting feat and homage paid to an artist still in good shape, although past 80 years. Produced by her husband Carlo Ponti, the movie is a successful cooperation between the French and Italian studios.
The movie I have just got out from, The Search by Michel Hazanavicius, brings to the attention of the festival guests two major names of actresses from different generations, Berenice Bejo (Carole) and Annette Bening (Helen). We were awed in the movie The Artist by a quite spectacular cinema genre, the American comedy, but the filmmaker leads us now to Chechnya in the war environment. A lesson of filmmaking, but also one of interpretation. A tough and not so cheap movie (EUR 22 million), well received internationally and with high earnings by this moment. The Search can be deemed a remote remake of “Les anges marques” by Fred Zinneman in 1948.

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