“Candy-wrapper music” hits sweet spot in Cannes “Youth” movie

21 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Michael Caine on Elderly Roles and Why He Snubbed Cannes After ‘Alfie’.

CANNES, France — Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth,” having its premiere at the on Wednesday night, stars Michael Caine as Fred Ballinger, an aging composer on vacation at a Swiss resort.Paolo Sorrentino’s new movie set in a Swiss sanatorium is a diverting, minor work, tweaked up with funny ideas and images and visually as stylish as ever.Michael Caine, looking natty in a blue jacket, open-neck shirt and trademark oversized specs, is talking to the Cannes press about the Queen, and the day in 2000 when he became Sir Michael Caine for his contributions to British cinema. “She doesn’t say much but when she knighted me she said, ‘I have a feeling you have been doing what you have been doing for a very long time.’ I almost said: ‘And so have you.’ But then I thought: ‘Keep your mouth shut, Michael, you’re about to lose your knighthood … or get beheaded.” Caine is 82.

There are brilliant flourishes here that could only have come from Sorrentino: superb swooping camera moves, grotesque faces and angular perspectives, and it always watchable. Retired composer Fred Ballinger (Caine) and film director Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) discuss old flames, their children, and the activities of the assortment of guests holidaying in Switzerland.

Caine cut to the point. “The only alternative to playing elderly people is playing dead people,” the 82-year-old actor said. “So I picked elderly people.” “Youth” is in competition for the Palme d’Or here. But it’s beset with Sorrentino’s occasional fanboy weakness for pop-star cameos — Paloma Faith appears here, playing herself and not earning her keep.

Caine, in the title role as a compulsive womanizer, appeared in a photo at the time surrounded by models, backsides to the camera, with the film’s title written on their buttocks. Youth has a wan eloquence and elegance, though freighted with sentimentality and a strangely unearned and uninteresting macho-geriatric regret for lost time, lost film projects, lost love and all those beautiful women that you never got to sleep with.

The title has literary resonances with Conrad and Tolstoy, but the youth evoked is mostly that of young women and young women’s bodies, whose allure never fades for men as they get older. I would have done it for nothing, but I didn’t tell the producers that.” Sorrentino, the Italian director who won the best foreign film Oscar last year for The Great Beauty, has created a tender, bubbly movie that has some of the melancholy and surreal whimsy that recalls Sorrentino’s countryman Federico Fellini.

Caine, whether wandering the hills with Keitel, swimming with Miss Universe or helping young violinists improve their style, gives his best performance in decades. Caine, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in real life, said he had once been seated next to her at a dinner, where she asked him if he knew any jokes. “I said, ‘None that I could tell you,’” Mr.

The role is a beautiful showcase for Caine’s wryly sensitive disposition, and a welcome reminder that he can do much more than serve as a trusted advisor to the stars of Batman and Interstellar. Caine tells his distraught and recently separated daughter Lena (Rachel Weisz): “Music is all I understand, you don’t need words and experience to understand it, it just is.” The same could be said about the structure of this filmic symphony. There is also an LA movie actor Boyle (Paul Dano), another sufferer from that popular condition: self-congratulatory cynicism, who is preparing for a certain historical role, and astonishes everyone at the spa by appearing one morning in full costume and makeup. He leads an ensemble cast of the other characters in the spa-hotel, who include Fred’s daughter assistant (Rachel Weisz), a dissatisfied hipster movie star (Paul Dano), a Miss Universe (Madalina Diana Ghenea) who skinny-dips in the hot tub and an obese former South American soccer star.

There has already been much comment online to the effect that Caine is playing the kind of role that might otherwise have gone to Sorrentino’s longtime collaborator Toni Servillo, and it’s true that Caine’s air of sticken ennui does remind you of Servillo. Caine on the need to keep working. “For me this movie called ‘Youth’ says something that I very much agree with: that age is a question of attitude,” she said. “You remain young and vital in your spirit when you have passion in your life and I do and the film does.” “Youth” is Mr.

There are a series of musical interludes with songs ranging from pop classics to opera with Palamo Faith, Mark Kozelek and Sumi Jo all playing themselves. Sorrentino’s first film since “The Great Beauty” won the Oscar for foreign language film last year, and his second English-language film (after “This Must Be the Place” in 2011).

When the action cuts to memories and fantasies of Venice, where Fred conducted an orchestra, the film suddenly comes alive with power and movement: there is a stunning tableau of St Mark’s Square underwater. The producer wrote back, explaining that he hadn’t wanted Caine for the lover role but for the larger role of a father. “I then realized that I wasn’t going to get the girl anymore, but I would get the parts. Even a very quick scene with Jane Fonda losing her temper on a plane frees things up a bit: but mostly we are drifting around the handsome facilities and grounds of this sumptuous but weirdly soulless open prison with its massages and its heated pools. It is an idea which is more terrifying than piquant: more disturbing, arguably, than anything Mastroianni’s director faced in 8 ½ — though he himself had youth more or less on his side.

This is France of course, the home of auteur cinema, which dictates that films are a representation of the director, and never does it appear to be truer than here. Keitel as “a pair of strained artists approaching 80 and moaning about their dwindling prospects,” the film gave the actors “their best material in years.” In a plot twist reminiscent of “Birdman,” Paul Dano plays Jimmy Tree, an actor trying to live down a role in an action film. Twelve year olds come up to me in the street and ask for my autograph, but they don’t know my real name.” When he describes his feelings about the movie’s R-rated European poster, you can still hear the Cockney twang of a regretful Alfie, half a century later: “Us two old guys in swimming pool looking at a beautiful girl with no clothes. Most bizarre are the fictional representations of real-life characters who infatuate him, including surreal musings on Diego Maradona, Hitler, a levitating Buddhist and a veiled Arab woman.

Fonda said she had wrestled with the same issue. “ ‘Barbarella,’” she said, referring to the 1968 science-fiction cult classic. “It stuck to me and I have been conflicted, that’s all I have to say.” The film seemed to split the audience between boos and cheers at the end of it’s Cannes screening, but for my money it is the standout of the festival thus far.

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