Cannes: Sicario lifts the silence on drug violence

20 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

2015 Cannes Film Festival Dress Code Drama: Women Reportedly Turned Away From Premieres for Wearing Flats.

CANNES, France — Along with film stars and other top actors and directors in the industry, Cannes Film Festival red carpet premieres tend to bring out the random celebrity that makes you wonder why they’re there.

Many are criticising the festival after Screen International reported that several middle-aged women were refused entry to Sunday’s premiere of Todd Haynes’ lesbian romance Carol for wearing flats. “Everyone should wear flats, to be honest, at the best of times” said Blunt, who was there to premiere the Mexican drug war thriller Sicario. “You kind of think that there’s these new waves of equality.” Director Denis Villeneuve joked that he and his male stars, Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin, would wear heels to the evening premiere of Sicario in protest. She proves this in the terrifying opening scene: an FBI raid on a Mexican drug cartel lair near Phoenix, Ariz., reveals a house of horrors, with dozens of bodies of kidnapped and executed victims packed into the walls. The industry newspaper described a group of women in their 50s getting turned away from the premiere of Carol for not being properly, er, heeled for the event. Her cool efficiency in the raid, and in previous kidnapping cases, draws the attention of cynical and tight-lipped U.S government operatives, who want her to volunteer to assist them in a bold plan to cross the U.S. We shouldn’t wear high heels anymore,” Blunt quipped, according to Variety. “That’s just my point of view—I prefer to wear Converse sneakers.” Senna director Asif Kapadia even tweeted that his wife had initially been denied entry to a premiere over her footwear (she was eventually allowed in).

The volunteering aspect is crucial, Macer soon learns, because very little of what she’s being asked to do seems to jibe with correct police procedure or the rule of law. While Cannes director Thierry Fremaux tweeted that the heelgate rumors were wholly “unfounded,” ScreenDaily reported that festival officials confirmed that it is “obligatory for all women to wear high-heels to red-carpet screenings.” Oy. The dust-up is particularly awkward for Cannes because this year’s festival has been marked by considerable discussion about gender equality in the movie industry.

Needless to say, it’s 2015: Women should be allowed to attend formal events in flats if they so choose. (Maybe the precedent would be different if it were obligatory for men to totter down the carpet in four-inch stilettos.) While we enjoy seeing daring heels on leading ladies, it wouldn’t be as fun to fawn over those shoes if we had to think of them as, well, a festival requirement. And she’ll have to work while surrounded by arrogant and patronizing males, among them smirking Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), who seems to enjoy killing way too much, and taciturn Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), a former Mexican prosecutor of no last name who now apparently works as a freelance fixer on both sides of the border.

None of this sits well with Macer, who is appalled by how her new associates empty their machine guns into two carloads of men they suspect to be a threat. At the same time, she grudgingly agrees with Graver that his unorthodox methods hit the cartels faster and harder than the lawful ones used by the FBI, which has been reduced to the role of janitor, cleaning up after rising acts of cross-border carnage instead of stopping them.

Macer’s abhorrence of gunplay and insistence on due process makes her seem almost Canadian, which helps explain why the grey-bearded Villeneuve, 47, a Montrealer originally from a small town near Trois-Rivières, Que., felt so attracted to the story. The shadows and deceptions of Sicario skilfully expand on Villeneuve’s continuing fascination with the intersection of humanity’s lighter and darker sides, which he explored in the Oscar-nominated Incendies in 2010 and also in his recent films Prisoners and Enemy.

Mexico has violent drug cartels because there are willing buyers of illegal drugs just across the U.S. border, “and as a North American I know that I share a part of the responsibility for that,” Villeneuve said. He agreed with a journalist’s suggestion that Sicario may rekindle debate about the use of violence and deception to fight terror, often under a mantra that “the end justifies the means.” A similar debate erupted several years ago over Zero Dark Thirty, a film that bears comparison to Sicario, and one that many claimed seemed to endorse the use of torture as an anti-terror tool. “I think it’s true that we’re living in a period of time where grey zones are more blurred than ever. What, I’m tough because I have a gun?” And speaking of misconceptions, Blunt’s co-star Brolin half-jokingly commented how Villeneuve, who is obviously loved by his actors (“He was Tom Sawyer to my Huckleberry Finn,” Del Toro rhapsodized), isn’t the humble collaborator he pretends to be on the set. DOLAN ON THE RISE: Another Quebec filmmaker having a great Cannes fest is Villeneuve’s friend and fellow Montrealer Xavier Dolan, who sits on the nine-member jury led by the Coen Bros. that will determine which films get the Palme d’Or and other prizes at Sunday’s awards ceremony.

Dolan goes straight from Cannes to begin work on his latest film, the dysfunctional family drama It’s Only the End of the World, starring Marion Cotillard, Vincent Cassel, Léa Seydoux and Nathalie Baye.

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