Gay erotic thriller ‘Stranger by the Lake’ is Cannes’ Queer Palm winner
Writer-director Alain Guiraudie’s gay erotic thriller Stranger by the Lake / L’inconnu du lac has won the 2013 Queer Palm handed out to Cannes Film Festival movies featuring gay, lesbian, bi, tri, multi, transgender, etc. characters. Stranger by the Lake was screened in the Un Certain Regard sidebar.
Set near an idyllic lake where hot-and-heavy gay cruising takes place during the summer season, Guiraudie’s sexually charged thriller revolves around Franck (Pierre de Ladonchamps), a young man who falls in lust with brawny suspected murderer Michel (Christophe Paou). Strand Releasing will handle the distribution of Stranger by the Lake in North America.
‘Stranger by the Lake’: Mixing explicit sex with explicit love
As quoted by Agence France Presse, Alain Guiraudie explained the (purportedly) graphic sex scenes in Stranger by the Lake as a cinematic union of romantic love and sex. “I wanted to mix the two,” said Guiraudie. “I wasn’t looking to have beautiful love scenes interrupted by pornographic vignettes. I wanted to mix all that, so that it all goes together, that the sex be beautiful.”
That in 2013 people are still (or pretend to be) shocked by graphic on-screen sex, whether gay or hetero or both, says a lot more about early 21st century prudishness and emotional retardation than about either Stranger by the Lake or Abdellatif Kechiche’s potential Palme d’Or winner Blue Is the Warmest Color / La vie d’Adèle, starring Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos. Kechiche’s latest effort offers what has been described – possibly by someone with no access to a computer, on-demand programming, or a DVD store – as “the most explosively graphic lesbian sex in recent memory.”
Something else that’s positive about Stranger by the Lake: whatever its sociopolitical intentions, if any, Alain Guiraudie’s film shows that, for better or for worse, there’s much more in gay men’s minds and lives than the desire of becoming accepted into mainstream society’s traditional institutions.
Now, I should add that gay marriage became law in France just this past week. A few days later, Christian far-right figure Dominique Venner, formerly a member of the nationalist terrorist group OAS, shot himself dead in protest at Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral. Organized by France’s far-right Christians, an anti-gay marriage march is in the works.
‘Stranger by the Lake’ cast
Besides Pierre de Ladonchamps (TV’s L’amour en jeu; The Rebel, Louise Michel) as the man in lust and Christophe Paou (The Chef, Happy End) as the dangerous object of his desire, Stranger by the Lake features Patrick d’Assumçao, Jérôme Chappatte, Mathieu Vervisch, Gilbert Traina, Emmanuel Daumas, Sébastien Badachaoui, and Gilles Guérin. Sylvie Pialat, the late filmmaker Maurice Pialat’s companion and, with him, co-screenwriter of 1987 Palme d’Or winner Under the Sun of Satan, produced Stranger by the Lake through Les Films du Worso.
Queer Palm winners
The nasty-sounding Queer Palm – surely the French could have come up with a better word than the English-language “queer” – is not sponsored by the Cannes Film Festival itself; it was created by journalist Franck Finance-Madureira in 2010. This year’s Queer Palm jury was headed by Portuguese filmmaker João Pedro Rodrigues, of the erotic psychological drama O Fantasma.
Besides Blue Is the Warmest Color, another gay-themed film bypassed by the 2013 Queer Palm jury was Steven Soderbergh’s high-profile Behind the Candelabra, starring Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his lover-chauffeur Scott Thorson.
Other Queer Palm contenders were Arielle Dombasle’s Opium, with Dombasle, Niels Schneider, Julie Depardieu, and veteran Marisa Berenson; Chloé Robichaud’s Sarah Would Rather Run / Sarah préfère la course, with Sophie Desmarais; Anurag Kashyap, Djbakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Karan Johar’s omnibus Bollywood celebration Bombay Talkies; Yann Gonzales’ You and the Night / Les Rencontres d’après minuit, also featuring Niels Schneider, and in which a young couple and their transvestite maid get ready for an orgy with guests that include Eric Cantona, Alain Delon Jr., and Béatrice Dalle; and Guillaume Gallienne’s comedy Me, Myself and Mum / Les Garçons et Guillaume à table!
Previous Queer Palm winners were the following: Gregg Araki’s Kaboom, with Thomas Dekker; Oliver Hermanus’ South African dramaBeauty, with Deon Lotz and Charlie Keegan; and Xavier Dolan’s eventual Canadian Screen Award nomineeLaurence Anyways, with Melvil Poupaud and Suzanne Clément.
The 2013 Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or and other official awards will be announced at the closing ceremony tomorrow.
Pierre de Ladonchamps, Christophe Paou in the gay erotic thriller Stranger by the Lake image: Les Films du Worso.
Jerry Lewis ‘Max Rose’: Cannes Standing Ovation for ‘disastrous’ comeback
Jerry Lewis and Charles Chaplin both made comedies. What else do they have in common? One possible answer: Claire Bloom, Chaplin’s Limelight “discovery” (Bloom had already been featured in the 1948 British drama The Blind Goddess) and Lewis’ leading lady in Max Rose. (Image: Jerry Lewis in Max Rose.)
Jerry Lewis’ first movie since Funny Bones (1995), Max Rose was screened yesterday at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. Written and directed by Daniel Noah, whose previous directorial effort was the little-seen 2001 thriller Twelve, Max Rose stars the 87-year-old Lewis in the title role: a former jazz pianist who, following the death of his wife (Claire Bloom), discovers that his marriage may have been less than ideally monogamous.
Jerry Lewis’ ‘best script in 40 years’?
At the 2013 Cannes press conference, Jerry Lewis called Max Rose the “best script I read in 40 years,” explaining that it’s “marvelous” because “it’s about elderly people who’ve been thrown away.”
Anyhow, Variety reviewer Rob Nelson was unimpressed with Max Rose, deriding it as “a sappy sudser in which every stage of grief overstays its welcome. … Only the most undiscriminating senior audiences – or the most irrationally charitable of Lewis fans – will find much to appreciate in a would-be weepie that runs under 90 minutes but feels twice as long.”
Equally unimpressed was Hey You Guys‘ Craig Skinner, writing: “As the titular Max Rose Lewis is reasonably adequate, playing the thinly written character with a hint of melancholy and a lot of curmudgeonly behavior … .” Overall, however, Max Rose marks “a disastrous return to the screen for Lewis … but one which received a lengthy standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival. Despite the fact that a number of those clapping had quite obviously dozed off during the film.”
Jerry Lewis vs. ‘female comedians’
Apparently, more interesting than watching Jerry Lewis in Max Rose was watching – and listening to – him at Cannes’ Max Rose press conference. Shortly after Lewis’ arrival, Skinner recounts, festival director Thierry Fremaux asked the veteran Hollywood star if there was anything he wanted to say about Max Rose. As a response, Lewis yelled: “No! I got here at 10 after 1, you putz!” Unfortunately, Fremaux’s reaction went unrecorded.
Regarding woman comedians, Lewis, who grew up at a time when Irene Dunne, Carole Lombard, Jean Arthur, Rosalind Russell, and Claudette Colbert were starring in various sorts of movie comedies, expounded: “I can’t see women doing that. It bothers me. I cannot sit and watch a lady diminish her qualities to the lowest common denominator. I just can’t do that.” Additionally, he remarked that his favorite “female comedian” is Cary Grant. (Note: In French, this was translated as Lewis’ “favorite actress [comedienne].”) Luckily, it seems that no one bothered to ask Lewis questions about gays or his falling out with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Also of note, Lewis told the crowd at the press conference that “no one will ever see [his 1972 movie The Day the Clown Cried] because I’m embarrassed at the poor work. It was bad.” But really, could The Day the Clown Cried be any worse than The Nutty Professor, The Errand Boy, The Patsy, or Three on a Couch?
At least Jerry Lewis gets some points for his reply to a silly question about “the difference” between American humor and (monolithic?) European humor: “No difference. American humor is no different from other humor. Humor is humor.”
And he had kind things to say about working with Claire Bloom. More points for him.
‘Max Rose’ cast + no release date
Max Rose features original music by 81-year-old veteran composer Michel Legrand (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Atlantic City, Yentl). Besides Jerry Lewis, the film’s cast includes Kevin Pollak, Kerry Bishé, Fred Willard, Illeana Douglas, Jacob Young, Lee Weaver, Mort Sahl, and veteran Dean Stockwell (Anchors Aweigh, Blue Velvet).
So far, no release dates have been announced for Max Rose.
Jerry Lewis Max Rose photo: Lightstream Pictures.
Pussy Riot & Uri Geller: Sheffield Doc/Fest line-up
The United Kingdom’s Sheffield Doc/Fest 2013 kicks off on June 12, featuring 27 World Premieres. Topics range from “psychic spy” Uri Geller (Uri Geller and Vikram Jayanti’s The Secret Life of Uri Geller – Psychic Spy) to shale mining (Lech Kowalski’s Drill Baby Drill), from the science behind Planet Earth’s fast-approaching climactic armageddon (David Sington and Simon Lamb’s Thin Ice: The Inside Story of Climate Science) to the life and times of international professional thieves (Havana Marking’s Smash & Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers). Below are a few Sheffield Doc/Fest 2013 highlights.
Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin’s Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer follows the Pussy Riot trial in which three of the band’s members stood accused of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” following a performance staged at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior – the group attacked the link between the leaders of Russia’s Orthodox Church and Vladimir Putin’s de facto dictatorship – which evolved into the protest music video “Punk Prayer - Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!”
According to the Sheffield Doc/Fest 2013 notes, Lerner and Pozdorovkin obtained “astonishing access to the legal system, including the courtroom, where the girls murmur from within the confines of a glass cage at the sometimes farcical mayhem around them.” Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer is described as “a truly compelling immersion into the clash between a generation determined to challenge an oppressive status quo, with those who are equally determined to maintain it.” Needless to say, you don’t have to live in Vladimir Putin’s Russia to relate to Pussy Riot’s plight.
Musical director Jarvis Cocker and director Martin Wallace’s The Big Melt “takes viewers on a music and film journey using one hundred years of film from the BFI archives into to the soul of a nation [that’s the UK], bringing to life the ghosts of our past, taking us into the belly of our industrial heritage.” According to the Sheffield Doc/Fest website, after watching (and listening to) The Big Melt, “you will never look at a fork in the same way again.”
Plagiarism, Evangelical Christians, Michael Palin
Lucy Walker’s The Crash Reel tells the story of U.S. snowboarder Kevin Pearce’s recovery following a near fatal sporting accident; Toby Amies’ The Man Whose Mind Exploded documents the life of Brighton resident Drako Zarhazar, who suffers from a disorder that prevents him from creating new memories; and Robert Stone’s Pandora’s Promise raises the issue that nuclear power may be Planet Earth’s salvation.
A few more: Oscar winner Roger Williams’ God Loves Uganda offers a disturbing depiction of American evangelical Christians exporting their radical dogma to the central African nation; John Murray and Emer Reynolds’ Cuba Missile Crisis documentary Here Was Cuba features new footage from the 1962 madness that almost sent Planet Earth over the abyss; and, the title says it all, Samantha Grant’s A Fragile Trust: Plagiarism, Power, and Jayson Blair at the New York Times focuses on Jayson Blair’s plagiarism scandal that became another of the revered New York Times’ “rock bottom” episodes.
Sheffield Doc/Fest guests include editor and sound designer Walter Murch (Fred Zinnemann’s Julia, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather: Part III, Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient); This American Life host and producer Ira Glass; and former Monty Python member and world traveler Michael Palin.