CANNES WINNERS ANNOUNCED
Austrian Director Michael Haneke, who is not unfamiliar with film-festival acclaim, has earned the top Palme d'Or prize at the 62nd annual Cannes Film Festival. His entry, The White Ribbon, had received qualified raves from film critics attending the festival. Xan Brooks of Britain's Guardian wrote that "if the picture finally does not quite achieve the level of a masterpiece, this may be down to the fact that I've always found Haneke to be a cold, stern and aloof director; the creator of films that I can admire but never love." That opinion of his work appeared to be reflected by the fact that until now, Haneke had always been an also-ran in the Cannes contest. He had won the Grand Prix in 2001 for The Piano Teacher and Best Director in 2005 for Caché, but he has never been able to take home the golden palm award. Commercial success has also eluded him. When he remade his German-language Funny Games in English last year with Naomi Watts and Tim Roth in the starring roles, the New York Times's A.O. Scott observed, "His scrupulously constructed, skillfully made films, many of which have won prizes at leading international festivals, are excruciatingly suspenseful and also, more often than not, clammy and repellent." It grossed only $1.29 million. The White Ribbon was picked up by Sony Classics on the first day of the festival for an undisclosed amount.
CANNES MOVIES: THE COLOR OF THE CARPET
Two films that were mostly savaged by critics at the Cannes Film Festival nevertheless earned their stars awards for their performances. Austrian actor Christoph Waltz won the prize for best actor for his role as a brilliantly mad, Jew-hunting Nazi in Quentin Tarantino's World War II thriller Inglourious Basterds. And Charlotte Gainsbourg received the best actress honor for his performance in Lars von Trier's Antichrist, which the London Telegraph described as "the most shocking film in the history of the Cannes Film Festival." Likewise the winner of the director award went to Philippine filmmaker Brilliante Mendoza, whose movie Kinatay was described by the New York Times as a "grisly, widely loathed shocker." The second-place award for best film, called the Grand Prix, went to French director Jacques Audiard's A Prophet, while the third-place award, called the Jury Prize, went to two films, Fish Tank, from Britain's Andrea Arnold, and Thirst, from South Korea's Park Chan-Wook. Both blood-soaked films had received mostly negative reviews. (The BBC observed Sunday that critics attending the festival "needed a stomach made of tungsten steel to watch some of the violent competition films.") Samson and Delilah, from the indigenous Australian filmmaker Warwick Thornton about two troubled Aboriginal teens in the Outback, won the Camera d'Or for first-time directors. And China's Feng Mei received the Best Screenplay award for Spring Fever, which had also been widely disparaged by critics.
HUGE WEEKEND FOR MUSEUM, TERMINATOR
Although it had been widely predicted that the Night at the Museum and Terminator sequels would run a tight race at the box office this weekend, the Ben Stiller comedy sprinted far ahead of the virtually Arnold-less sci-fi flick. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian took in $53.5 million, its studio, 20th Century Fox, estimated on Sunday, while Terminator Salvation earned $43 million. (Daily Variety later estimated that the four-day holiday total for Museum would be $70 million and $53.83 million for Terminator.) The Ben Stiller comedy ran far ahead of the $30.4 million with which the original Night at the Museum debuted in 2006. But the Terminator movie sold far fewer tickets that 2003's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, which took in $44 million when tickets were less expensive. However, Warner Bros. pointed out that the latest entry in the Terminator franchise opened on Thursday, when it took in $13.4 million, bring the movie's four-day gross to $56.4 million. The real tight race of the weekend was waged for third place -- between Star Trek and Angels & Demons, with the Enterprise enterprise apparently winning out with about $22 million to the church thriller's $21.4 million.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo:
1. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, $53.5 million; 2. Terminator Salvation, $43 million; 3. Star Trek, $22 million; 4. Angels & Demons, $21.4 million; 5. Dance Flick, $11.1 million; 6. X-Men Origins: Wolverine, $7.8 million; 7. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, $3.7 million; 8. Obsessed, $2 million; 9. Monsters vs Aliens, $1.3 million; 10. 17 Again, $1 million.
MOVIE REVIEWS: DANCE FLICK
The latest comedy from the Wayans brothers (well, actually younger cousins, too), Dance Flick, has received mostly mixed reviews. While Carrie Rickey of the Philadelphia Inquirer calls it a "gigglefest," John Anderson of Newsday describes it as "cluelessly crude." And while Jennie Punter in the Toronto Globe and Mail hails it as "an entertaining, moderately irreverent comedy that launches the silly movie season on a sure foot," Kyle Smith in the New York Post dismisses it as a "grade-school parody." Grabbing a dance metaphor, USA Today's Claudia Puig comments that it "occasionally hits its mark with nimble execution. But too often it stumbles clumsily into bad taste." That's not necessarily a bad thing, writes Stephen Holden in the New York Times. "The cramming together of so much potentially offensive humor has a reverse effect. In a watchdog culture where candid remarks and clothing choices are continually weighed on the Internet as to whether so-and-so or such-and-such is going too far, Dance Flick exhales the rank humidity accumulated in a climate of obsessive caution. Its belly laughs leave you feeling liberated and not guilty; I repeat, not guilty."
SHATNER STILL HOPING TO RETURN AS KIRK
William Shatner, who produced his own YouTube video to discuss his unhappiness over not being cast in the latest Star Trek movie, says he has not seen it yet. But in a telephone interview with the Australian Associated Press, Shatner said, "I'm looking forward to [seeing] it. I hear it is wonderful and it has received some wonderful reviews." Asked whether he would like to be cast in a sequel, he replied, "I would be delighted to be in it."