THE DIRECTORS VIDEO ESSAY SERIES: BY COLE SMITHEY

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

 

YASUJURO OZU : THE HUMAN PERSPECTIVE

STEVEN SPIELBERG: POPULIST

AKIRA KUROSAWA: PIONEER

TAKESHI KITANO: RENAISSANCE MAN

SOFIA COPPOLA: AUTEUR

 ROBERT ALTMAN: SATIRIST

 JIM JARMUSCH: OUTLIER

 SAM PECKINPAH: LIBERATOR

 KEN LOACH: SOCIAL REALIST

 JOE CARNAHAN: THE BEST-KEPT SECRET

 CATHERINE BREILLAT: TRANSGRESSOR

 WERNER HERZOG: MENSCH

DAVID FINCHER: MODERNIST

WILLIAM FRIEDKIN: THE MUSCLE

JOHN CASSAVETES: INDIE ICON

PAUL VERHOEVEN: REBEL

LARS VON TRIER: PROVOCATEUR

QUENTIN TARANTINO: MAVERICK

 ALFRED HITCHCOCK: MASTER OF SUSPENSE

 LUIS BUNUEL: FETISHIST

June 23, 2018

Brie Larson Shills For Positive Film Reviews From Minorities

Brie — the Monster — Larson

Recently, actress/director Brie Larson used her award acceptance speech (for the Crystal Award for Excellence in Film at the Women In Film + Lucy Awards event) to put forth an ideological agenda intended to push racial and sexual equality among film critics — Rotten Tomatoes’ “Top Critics” specifically.

Affirmative-action comes to film review aggregation. It wasn’t clear whether Larson was attacking Rotten Tomatoes or the corporate media outlets that garner the aggregate film review website’s coveted “Top Critics” designation, but it was clear that she isn’t keen on white male film critics, or even necessarily female film critics for that matter.

Drama

With heavy sighs Larson quoted stats from a report titled “Critic’s Choice?” by USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative under founder and director Stacy L. Smith.

Larson stated, “67 percent of the Top Critics reviewing the 100 highest grossing movies in 2017 were white males, less than a quarter were white women, and less ten percent were unrepresented men, only 2.5 percent of those Top Critics were women of color.”

The authors of Smith’s report propose several solutions for groups that work with or educate critics. Most notably, they offer a set of target inclusion goals for the field.

Smith said, “Groups should think of the phrase 30/30/20/20 — this is the U.S. population breakdown for white males, white females, underrepresented males and underrepresented females.”

“This report reveals the absence of women of color working as reviewers — especially on movies built around female and underrepresented leads.” 

Know that the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative has multiple corporate partners including, but not limited to, Google, Epix, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Walt Disney. You couldn’t get much closer to Hollywood than USC if you tried. “Tainted by industry involvement” rolls off the lips so easily in this context. 

Rotten Tomatoes “Top Critics” (full disclosure, I am not on that lofty list) is an elite group favored by a system that grandfathers in critics hired to write for old-school media outlets such as Newsday, The Washington Post, or the Village Voice. Jane Doe might never have written a film review in her life, but as soon as she gets hired by the Arizona Republic to write about movies, she wins the coveted crown of Top Critic on Rotten Tomatoes. La dee da.  

This is important to know considering that, in her speech, Larson illogically reached out to minority [would-be] bloggers whose chances at becoming a Rotten Tomatoes “Top Critic” is considerably less than the already thorny task of being admitted as a Rotten Tomatoes critic in the first place. Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t typically recognize independent blogs.

Larson said, “We [Hollywood] are expanding to make films that better reflect people that [sic] buy movie tickets, but they are not allowed enough chances to read public discourse on these films by the people that these films were made for.” 

Captain-marvel-brie-larson

Larson seems to have a blind spot for the blockbuster Marvel superhero franchise movies she’s currently involved with as the first female “Captain Marvel,” since that saturated market caters to lowest common denominator movie audiences rather than to the minority-made independent films that Larson uses to mask her actual intention. Evidently, this is what Larson means when she refers to "films that better reflect people that [sic] buy movie tickets." Cough. 

“It really sucks that reviews matter, but reviews matter. Good reviews out of festivals give small independent films a fighting chance to be bought and seen. Good reviews help films gross money, good reviews slingshot films into awards contenders. A good review can change your life; it changed mine.”

Larson clearly wants “good” (positive) reviews for every movie she makes, and she wants those reviews to come from young, (ostensibly under or unemployed) female, minority audiences who she thinks don’t know any better. Larson blatantly shows just how dumb she considers minorities to be. In Brie Larson’s mind, negative reviews are for suckers. Evidently, harnessing Rotten Tomatoes’ algorithmic groupthink for that all-important 100% mark looms large in a movie industry attempting to manufacture [non]critical opinion.

The intent here seems to be to force a utopic vision of critical equality down the nation’s throat via Rotten Tomatoes. Nevermind that in this utopic vision, critical thought is the bane of its foundation since Larson’s emphasis is on positive reviews equalling to that precious 100% Rotten Tomatoes score that distributors can then use in advertising. Really. 

Me Brie

Larson comes across as tone-deaf to the fact that the number of rent-paying film critic jobs in this country probably falls well beneath 200 positions. In effect, Brie Larson is trolling for free, young, untrained, uneducated, labor (in the guise of independent bloggers), who she imagines will miraculously be anointed as Top Critics on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s strange that Larson doesn’t prioritize the safety of American immigrants and black people being hunted like animals in this country. Larson’s social posturing all about her livelihood, not theirs. 

As has always been the case throughout history, there needs to be more minority critical voices expressing values and ideas that challenge the status quo — that really do challenge the status quo (think John Waters's "Multiple Maniacs" in 1970). Think David Lynch with "Eraserhead" in 1977.

It is clear that challenging the status quo is not what Brie Larson or Stacy L. Smith are encouraging or promoting, quite the opposite. Larson and Smith represent the worst aspects of the status quo because they mask their capitalist motives with a false plea for human equality, the last thing that either of these duplicitous women want for themselves, or for the world. 

Brie Larson didn’t spare the insults. “I do not need a 40-year-old white dude to tell me what didn’t work for him about “A Wrinkle In Time,” it wasn’t made for him. I wanna know what that film meant to women of color, to biracial women, to teen women of color, to teens that are biracial.”

Justin-chang

As Justin Chang pointed out in his brilliant piece for the LA Times on this issue, “Who is this movie for?” is an inherently limiting question” that “leads to ridiculous generalizations.” The result of “writing off men [critics] as a gender is hard to do without projecting a similarly dim view of women.” Yep.

Chang went on to say, “Above all, “Who is this movie for?” rules out the possibility of sympathetic imagination, the ability to empathize with a perspective other than one’s own, as the chief impulse behind artistic depiction and appreciation. We negate the possibility of sympathetic imagination when we assume that someone’s particular affinity for a work of art will be dictated in advance by specifics of race, gender and age. It’s not that those specifics aren’t factors. It’s that some have a tendency to mistake factors for absolutes.” 

It seems that Brie Larson doesn’t know the first thing about film criticism. I didn’t “need” a 55-year-old white lady (namely Pauline Kael) to tell me what "didn’t work" for her regarding Bernardo Bertolucci’s “1900” (my favorite film of all time), but I can re-read Kael’s negative review of that film over and over because her writing and perspective is so rich. Passion. Pure passion. You want to know what makes a great film critic like Justin Chang or Pauline Kael so great? Passion. You either have it or you don't. If you want to be a film critic then you've got to dirty but keep it immaculately clean the whole time. Hunter S. Thompson, I salute you brother. 

I get a serious intellectual and emotional kick out of reading Pauline Kael tear my favorite movie apart. That's entertainment. And, let me tell you I got my money's worth.

Any criticism of art is about resonance, not redundancy. I’d be bored stiff reading a film review that patronized me the way Brie Larson’s idea of film criticism portends. I already have my own opinions, I don’t want to be told what I already think or know. I'm grown up enough to know that different people will have different opinions than my own. So what? That's how we prove our respect for one another. 

Larson exploited the #MeToo movement to smear white male film critics with the same dung used on such reprehensible examples such as Donald Trump, and Harvey Weinstein. Ms. Larson made a point to sniffle for dramatic effect and roll her eyes while reeling off statistics about the disproportionate number of white male critics as opposed to “people of color;” meanwhile Stanislavsky rolled over in his grave. Method acting be damned, this was ham acting at its worst.

“Am I saying that I hate white dudes?” “No (complete with snotty vocal fry), I’m not.” Except, she was; Brie Larson was very clearly stating that she hates “white dudes.”

This is exclusion, not inclusion, territory. Larson isn’t promoting independent thought, far from it. We learn from Larson’s speech that now movies are made for specific classes, if not nationalities, of audiences. White males are not invited to the party.

Larson put a fine point on it. “And, for the third time, I don’t hate white dudes.” 

Believe me, Brie Larson, we “white dudes” get just how much you hate us. You don’t need to deny it anymore. Clearly, Brie Larson has an issue with older white men. All the more reason for Stacy L. Smith to use Larson as a Trojan Horse to smuggle through a pork-barrel ideology designed to push out professional film critics (i.e. film historians) engaging in the demands of the job, which intrinsically prioritizes criticizing faults and flaws of any movie as based on years of experience working in the medium. Larson’s speech (ostensibly authored by Smith) humble shames cheap or free minority labor to do their bidding, namely writing positive film reviews at the expense of professional integrity. It’s as though they [Smith and Larson] were shilling for good Yelp reviews.   

Still, the immediate net effect of Larson’s war on critical thought has been superficially positive so far, if you don’t count the potential effect it will have on film critic jobs currently held by “white dudes over 40.” The Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival have pledged that 20 percent of their press credentials be given to underrepresented journalists and critics. There is, however, no small amount of irony in the fact that The Toronto Film Festival famously and frequently charges journalists to attend. Then there’s the fact of a journalist having to bankroll flight and hotel bookings before setting out to complete a workload of writing (if done well) that would make a college student cramming for exams look lazy by comparison. 

From a critical perspective, Brie Larson’s speech was ignorant, preachy, and cynical. It was ageist, racist, and sexist. Larson delivered her frequently patronizing lines like a petulant spoiled child talking above her education level. The actress went so far as to break the forth wall to pat herself on the back during the speech for positive reviews of her own film “The Room.” Larson lacked charisma. The social themes that Larson equated to human equality lacked the necessary humanitarian foundation that she pretended to imbue. She could not conceal the capitalist subtext simmering beneath the surface of her awkward argument. The speech was unwatchable for its pathological loathing of “white” men.

You can easily extrapolate that 10 years from now, another version of Brie Larson will come along to bemoan how he or she doesn’t need 30-year-old woman of color to tell them what didn’t work for them regarding a movie that wasn’t made for them. These are treacherous waters.  

I don’t “need” to be berated by rich white women for doing the work that my passions lead me to do, namely working as a film critic. I consider myself lucky to be able to constantly study, celebrate, and criticize the medium of Global Cinema for its universality of the human condition. I take umbrage when someone goes out of their way to insult and diminish me as a professional and as a human being based on my race and age. I give Brie Larson and Stacy L. Smith a grade of F for attempting to subvert the nature of Cinema as something to be segregated rather than embraced by all.    

May 19, 2018

CANNES 2018 AWARDS COMPLETE

COMPETITION

SHOPLIFTERS

Palme d’Or: “Shoplifters,” Hirokazu Kore-eda

Grand Prix: BlacKkKlansman,” Spike Lee

Director: Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”

Actor: Marcello Fonte, ”Dogman”

Actress: Samal Yeslyamova, “Ayka”

Jury Prize: Nadine Labaki, “Capernaum”

Screenplay — TIE: Alice Rohrwacher, “Happy as Lazzaro” AND Jafar Panahi, Nader Saeivar, “3 Faces”

Special Palme d’Or: Jean-Luc Godard

OTHER PRIZES

Girls

Camera d’Or: “Girl,” Lukas Dhont

Short Films Palme d’Or: “All These Creatures,” Charles Williams

Short Films Special Mention: “On the Border,” Shujun Wei

Golden Eye Documentary Prize: TBA

Ecumenical Jury Prize: “Capernaum,” Nadine Labaki

Ecumenical Jury Special Mention: “BlacKkKlansman,” Spike Lee

Queer Palm: “Girl,” Lukas Dhont

UN CERTAIN REGARD

Border

Un Certain Regard Award: Ali Abbasi, “Border”

Best Director: Sergei Loznitsa, “Donbass”

Best Performance: Victor Polster, “Girl”

Best Screenplay: Meryem Benm’Barek, “Sofia”

Special Jury Prize: João Salaviza & Renée Nader Messora, “The Dead and the Others”

DIRECTORS’ FORTNIGHT

Climax

Art Cinema Award: “Climax” (Gaspar Noé)

Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers Prize: “The Trouble With You” (Pierre Salvadori)

Europa Cinemas Label: “Lucia’s Grace (Gianni Zanasi)

Illy Short Film Award: “Skip Day” (Patrick Bresnan, Ivete Lucas)

CRITICS’ WEEK

Diamantino

Grand Prize: “Diamantino” (Gabriel Abrantes, Daniel Schmidt)

Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers Prize: “Woman at War” (Benedikt Erlingsson)

GAN Foundation Award for Distribution: “Sir”

Louis Roederer Foundation Rising Star Award: Felix Maritaud, “Sauvage.”

Short Film: “Hector Malot – The Last Day Of The Year” (Jacqueline Lentzou)

FIPRESCI

Burning-Lee-Chang-dong

Competition: “Burning,” (Lee Chang-dong)

Un Certain Regard: “Girl,” (Lukas Dhont)

Directors’ Fortnight/Critics’ Week: “One Day” (Zsófa Szilagyi)

CINÉFONDATION

Electric-lion

First Prize: “The Summer of the Electric Lion,” Diego Céspedes

Second Prize — TIE: “Calendar,” Igor Poplauhin AND “The Storms in Our Blood,” Shen Di

Third Prize: “Inanimate,” Lucia Bulgheroni

May 18, 2018

Un Certain Regard 2018 Prizes — CANNES 2018

opening

Un Certain Regard winners 2018 © C. Bouilland/ FDC

Un Certain Regard 2018 presented 18 films in competition. 6 of them were first films. The Opening film was DONBASS by Sergei Loznitsa.
Under the presidency of Benicio Del Toro (Puerto Rican-American actor), the Jury was comprised of Annemarie Jacir (Palestinian director and writer), Kantemir Balagov (Russian director), Virginie Ledoyen (French actress) and Julie Huntsinger (American executive director, Telluride Film Festival).

“We feel that out of 2000 films considered by the Festival, the 18 we saw in UN CERTAIN REGARD – from Argentina to China – were all in their own way winners. Over the past 10 days, we were extremely impressed by the high quality of the work presented, but in the end we were the most moved by the following 5 films.

—The Jury

“UN CERTAIN REGARD” PRIZE

GRÄNS(BORDER) by Ali ABBASI

PRIZE FOR BEST SCREENPLAY

SOFIA by Meryem BENM’BAREK

PRIZE FOR BEST PERFORMANCE

Victor POLSTER for GIRL by Lukas DHONT

PRIZE FOR BEST DIRECTOR

Sergei Loznitsa for DONBASS

JURY SPECIAL PRIZE

CHUVA É CANTORIA NA ALDEIA DOS MORTOS
(The Dead and The Others)

by João SALAVIZA and Renée NADER MESSORA

There Are So Many Words Worse Than Motherfu*ker

Director Spike Lee, speaking at Cannes, denounced Donald Trump as a “motherfucker” because he failed to denounce the Nazis in Charlottesville who murdered a peaceful protestor. Considering that Trump has done even worse things, one wonders what Lee would say about those crimes against racial justice.

—Ted Rall

 

April 19, 2018

Updated Selection Line-up of the 71st Festival de Cannes

Cannes Update

UN COUTEAU DANS LE CŒUR (KNIFE + HEART)   by the French Yann Gonzalez starring Vanessa Paradis.

AYKA by the Russian Sergey Dvortsevoy, director of Tulpan, winner of the Prize Un Certain Regard in 2008.

These two films by Yann Gonzalez and Sergey Dvortsevoy are both directors’ second feature. It will be their first time in Competition.

AHLAT AGACI (THE WILD PEAR TREE)  by the Turkish Nuri Bilge Ceylan, winner of the Palme d’or 2014 for Winter Sleep.

Out of Competition

Festival President Pierre Lescure and his board of directors will welcome back the Danish director Lars von Trier, winner of the 2000 Palme d’or, to the Official Selection. His new film will be screened Out of Competition.

THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT by Lars von Trier starring Matt Dillon and Uma Thurman.

Un Certain Regard

MUERE, MONSTRUO, MUERE (MEURS, MONSTRE, MEURS) by the Argentinean Alejandro Fadel.

CHUVA E CANTORIA NA ALDEIA DOS MORTOS (THE DEAD AND THE OTHERS) by the Portugese João Salaviza and the Brasilian Renée Nader Messora.

DONBASS by the Ukranian Sergey Loznitsa which will open Un Certain Regard 2018 on Wednesday May 9.

Special Screening

The animated film: ANOTHER DAY OF LIFE by Damian Nenow and Raul De La Fuente.

Midnight Screenings

Whitney_houston

WHITNEY, a documentary by the Scottish Kevin Macdonald, about the life of the singer Whitney Houston.

FAHRENHEIT 451 by the American Ramin Bahrani with Sofia Boutella, Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon. It’s the second adaptation of the novel by Ray Bradbury, after the one made by François Truffaut.

Closing Film

In 2018, the Festival de Cannes renews with the Closing film tradition:
 THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE by the British Terry Gilliam, with Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce and Olga Kurylenko.

Jonathan Pryce

The screening will take place on Saturday May 19 after the Closing ceremony and the film will be released in France on the same day.


The Festival de Cannes would like to offer heartfelt thanks to all the artists, producers, distributors and sellers who suggested films. In total, 1,906 feature films were viewed by the various selection committees.

April 18, 2018

Jury of the 71st Festival de Cannes

Jury of the 71st Festival de Cannes

Jury of the 71st Festival de Cannes © RR

Facing a renewed Competition which presents filmmakers who will compete for the first time, the Jury of the next edition of the Festival de Cannes (8-19 May 2018) invites 5 women, 4 men, 7 nationalities and 5 continents under the presidency of Cate Blanchett.

The Jury will reveal his prize list on Saturday, May 19 during the Closing Ceremony.

THE JURY 2018

Cate Blanchett – President
(Australian actress, producer)

Chang Chen
(Chinese Actor)

Ava DuVernay
(American writer, director, producer)

Robert Guédiguian
(French director, writer, producer)

Khadja Nin
(Burundian songwriter, composer, singer)

Léa Seydoux
(French actress)

Kristen Stewart
(American actress)

Denis Villeneuve
(Canadian director, writer)

Andrey Zvyagintsev
(Russian director, writer)

Chang Chen – Chinese Actor
Chang Chen made his film debut in the late Edward Yang’s A Brighter Summer Day. He rose to fame in the Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000. His film credits include Wong Kar Wai's Happy Together (1997), 2046 (2004), The Grandmaster (2013), Hou Hsiao-hsien's Three Times (2005) and The Assassin (2015), Tian Zhuangzhuang’s The Go Master (2006) John Woo’s Red Cliff (2008-2009), The Last Supper directed by Lu Chuan (2012). In 2017, he returned for Yang Lu’s film Brotherhood of Blades II and recently played in Forever young by Fangfang Li.

Ava DuVernay - American Writer, Director, Producer
Nominated for the Academy Award and Golden Globe and winner of the BAFTA and EMMY, Ava DuVernay is a writer, director, producer and film distributor known for the historical drama Selma (2014), the criminal justice documentary 13TH (2016) and the recent Disney’s cinematic adaptation of the classic children’s novel A wrinkle in Time. Winner of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival's Best Director Prize for her film Middle of Nowhere, DuVernay amplifies the work of people of color and women directors through her film collective ARRAY.

Robert Guédiguian – French Director, writer, producer
The work of Robert Guédiguian, an activist filmmaker, celebrates the city of Marseille where he grew up. Acclaimed by critics when he first started directing in the 80s, he met public success with Marius and Jeannette, which won the Prix Louis-Delluc in 1997. His film credits include Marie-Jo et ses deux amours (2002) Le Promeneur du Champ de Mars (2004), Le Voyage en Arménie (2007), Lady Jane (2008), L’armée du crime (2009)The Snows of Kilimanjaro (2011). His latest film in date, The House by the Sea (2017), received enthusiastic response from critics and audience.

Khadja Nin – Burundian Songwriter, composer, singer
Youngest of a family of eight Khadja Nin studied music at an early age, before leaving Africa to go to Europe. Her albums are a mix of occidental popmusic, African and afro-cuban rhythms. She gained wide recognition and success with « Sambolera Mayi Son ». “Ya…” (“From me to you”) is a wonderful tribute to Mandela and the video of her song “Mama” was directed by Jeanne Moreau. International Artist, she became a Unicef and ACP Observatory on Migration Good Will Ambassador. She was awarded the Prize “Prix de l’Action Feminine” by the African Women’s League in 2016. She has been committed to support ordinary heroes.

Léa Seydoux – French Actress
Rising to fame with Christophe Honoré's The Beautiful Person in 2008, Léa Seydoux is an award-winning actress, notably the Palme d’or for Abdelatif Kechiche's Blue is the Warmest Colour in 2013. She successfully alternates between author and mainstream films. Her film credits include Rebecca Zlotowski's Dear Prudence and Grand Central, Benoît Jacquot's FarewellMy Queen and Diary of a Chambermaid, Bertrand Bonello's Saint Laurent, Sam Mendes' Spectre, Yorgos Lanthimos' The Lobster and Xavier Dolan's It’s Only the End of the World.

Kristen Stewart – American Actress
Kristen Stewart has been playing roles since an early age and received widespread recognition in 2008 for The Twilight Saga film series (2008–12). Her film credit includes Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), Equals by Drake Doremus (2015), Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ang Lee (2016), and several Festival de Cannes Selections On the Road by Walter Salles (2012), Clouds of Sils Maria (2014) and Personal Shopper (2016) both by Olivier Assayas (2014) as well as Café Society by Woody Allen. She directed her first short film Come Swim in 2017.

Denis Villeneuve – Canadian director, writer
Internationally renowned and recently two-time Academy Award winner for Blade Runner 2049, Denis Villeneuve made his debut at the National Film Board of Canada in the early 90's. His first feature, Un 32 août sur terre (1998) was invited to Cannes. He returned there with Next Floor (2008), Polytechnique (2009) and the Oscar nominated Sicario (2015). In 2010 Incendies was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. In 2017, Arrival was nominated for 8 Oscars and 9 BAFTAs, including best movie and best director.

Andreï Zvyagintsev – Russian Director, writer
Multi-award winning filmmaker Andreï Zvyagintsev has already become one of the most respected directors in Russian and international cinema. He directed his first feature film in 2003 The Return which won him a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. He has continued to write and direct award-winning feature films The Banishment (2007), Elena(2011) and Leviathan (2014). His most recent film Loveless won the Jury Prize at the Festival de Cannes 2017, and was among the nominees at the Golden Globe and 90thAcademy Awards.

April 12, 2018

CANNES 2018: FULL LIST OF FILMS

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 11.26.22 AM

Official Selection

In Competition
Everybody Knows (dir: Asghar Farhadi) – opening film
At War (dir: Stéphane Brizé)
Dogman (dir: Matteo Garrone)
Le Livre d’Image (dir: Jean-Luc Godard)
Asako I & II (dir: Ryusuke Hamaguchi)
Sorry Angel (dir: Christophe Honoré)
Girls of the Sun (dir: Eva Husson)
Ash Is Purest White (dir: Jia Zhang-Ke)
Shoplifters (dir: Hirokazu Kore-eda)
Capernaum (dir: Nadine Labaki)
Burning (dir: Lee Chang-Dong)
BlacKKKlansman (dir: Spike Lee)
Under the Silver Lake (dir: David Robert Mitchell)
Three Faces (dir: Jafar Panahi)
Cold War (dir: Pawel Pawlikowski)
Lazzaro Felice (dir: Alice Rohrwacher)
Yomeddine (dir: AB Shawky)
Leto (L’Été) (dir: Kirill Serebrennikov)

Un Certain Regard
Angel Face (dir: Vanessa Filho)
Border (dir: Ali Abbasi)
El Angel (dir: Luis Ortega)
Euphoria (dir: Valeria Golino)
Friend (dir: Wanuri Kahiu)
The Gentle Indifference of the World (dir: Adilkhan Yerzhanov)
Girl (dir: Lukas Dhont)
The Harvesters (dir: Etienne Kallos)
In My Room (dir: Ulrich Köhler)
Little Tickles (dir: Andréa Bescond & Eric Métayer)
My Favorite Fabric (dir: Gaya Jiji)
On Your Knees, Guys (Sextape) (dir: Antoine Desrosières)
Sofia (dir: Meyem Benm’Barek)

Out of competition
Solo: A Star Wars Story (dir: Ron Howard)
Le Grand Bain (dir: Gilles Lellouche)
Little Tickles (dir: Andréa Bescond & Eric Métayer)
Long Day’s Journey Into Night (dir: Bi Gan)

Midnight screenings
Arctic (dir: Joe Penna)
The Spy Gone North (dir: Yoon Jong-Bing)

Special screenings
10 Years in Thailand (dir: Aditya Assarat, Wisit Sasanatieng, Chulayarnon Sriphol & Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
The State Against Mandela and the Others (dir: Nicolas Champeaux & Gilles Porte)
O Grande Circo Mistico (dir: Carlo Diegues)
Dead Souls (dir: Wang Bing)
To the Four Winds (dir: Michel Toesca)
La Traversée (dir: Romain Goupil)
Pope Francis: A Man of His Word (dir: Wim Wenders)

The Cannes Film Festival runs from May 6 through 19.

March 06, 2018

Divide and Conquer — Why Does the U.S. Hate Peace?

Give peace a chance, the song urges.  Rall

But the United States won’t have it.

Olympic diplomacy seems to be working on the Korean peninsula. After a pair of South Korean envoys visited Pyongyang, they issued a promising communiqué. “The North Korean side clearly stated its willingness to denuclearize,” the statement said. Considering that the Korean crisis and a derpy emergency management official had Hawaiians jumping down manholes a few months ago, this news comes as a relief.

Then comes the rub. The South Korean statement continued: “[North Korea] made it clear that it would have no reason to keep nuclear weapons if the military threat to the North was eliminated and its security guaranteed [my emphasis].”

In other words, the DPRK is saying — reasonably — we’ll get rid of our nukes but only if you promise not to invade us. That guarantee would have to be issued by two countries: South Korea and the United States.

This would directly contradict long-standing U.S. foreign policy, which clearly and repeatedly states that the use of military force is always on the table when we don’t get our way in an international dispute.

Kim Jong-On has good reasons to be afraid of us. In a speech to the UN President Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea. President George W. Bush declared them a member of the “Axis of Evil”; we invaded and currently occupy Iraq, one of the two other supposed Evildoers. After deposing and enabling the execution of Iraq’s president. Last week Bush’s UN ambassador John Bolton published a legal argument for nuking North Korea without provocation.

Believe it or not, this is the soft side of U.S. foreign policy.

For decades South Korea has tried to deescalate its relationship with the North, not infrequently expressing its desire to end formal hostilities, which legally never ended after the Korean War, and move toward the long-term goal of a united Korea under a single government. And for decades the United States has stood in the way, awkwardly trying to look reasonable as it opposes peace. “We do not seek to accelerate reunification,” a State Department spokesman said recently.

To say the least.

“South-North talks are inextricably related to North Korea-United States relations,” South Korean President Kim Dae Jung said in 2001, after Bush canceled dialogue with the North. The South, dependent on more than 20,000 U.S. troops stationed along its northern border, was forced to suspend reunification talks too.

The Reagan Administration pressured its South Korean ally to break off reunification talks in 1985.

Nixon did the same thing in 1974. After Nixon’s resignation later that year, President Gerald Ford opposed a UN resolution to demilitarize the border by withdrawing U.S. troops.

Even Mr. Reasonable, Barack Obama, refused to listen to South Koreans who want peace (and to visit long-lost relatives in North Korea). Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, Obama threatened to loose the dogs of war: “The United States of America will maintain the strongest military the world has ever known, bar none, always. That is what we do.” What Obama would not do was allow North and South Korea to sit down and work out their differences. Before talks, Obama said, North Korea would have to denuclearize. After which, of course, there would be no need for talks because, hey, regime change is fun!

Why, a sane person might ask at this point, would U.S. policymakers want to risk World War III over two countries that repeatedly say they want to make peace and get back together?

For my money, a 2007 analysis by the geopolitical thinktank Stratfor comes closest to explaining what’s really going on inside the Beltway: “The basic global situation can be described simply. The United States has overwhelming power. It is using that power to try to prevent the emergence of any competing powers. It is therefore constantly engaged in interventions on a political, economic and military level. The rest of the world is seeking to limit and control the United States. No nation can do it alone, and therefore there is a constant attempt to create coalitions to contain the United States. So far, these coalitions have tended to fail, because potential members can be leveraged out of the coalition by American threats or incentives.”

The U.S. is the Great Global Disruptor. “As powers emerge, the United States follows a three-stage program. First, provide aid to weaker powers to contain and undermine emerging hegemons. Second, create more formal arrangements with these powers. Finally, if necessary, send relatively small numbers of U.S. troops to Eurasia to block major powers and destabilize regions.” For example, Iran is the emerging hegemon in the Middle East. The U.S. undermines Iran with trade sanctions, props up rivals like Saudi Arabia with aid, and deploys U.S. troops next door in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Similarly the U.S. keeps China off-balance by propping up Taiwan and setting up new U.S. bases in the region. We play India against Pakistan, Europe against Russia.

A united Korea would create a new power center, potentially a new economic rival, to the U.S. in the Pacific Rim. So the U.S. uses threats (“totally destroy”) against the North and incentivizes the South (free border security).

It would almost be funny if it wasn’t so sick. Here’s to the day the two Koreas see through us.

(Ted Rall’s (Twitter: @tedrall) brand-new book is “Meet the Deplorables: Infiltrating Trump America,” co-written with Harmon Leon. His next book will be “Francis: The People’s Pope,” the latest in his series of graphic novel-format biographies. Publication date is March 13, 2018. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

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