Trump Biopic Hits Cannes Film Festival

Kevin Costner and Sienna Miller premiered their Western "Horizon: An American Saga" at the festival. Sameer Al-Doumy / AFP
Kevin Costner and Sienna Miller premiered their Western "Horizon: An American Saga" at the festival. Sameer Al-Doumy / AFP
TT

Trump Biopic Hits Cannes Film Festival

Kevin Costner and Sienna Miller premiered their Western "Horizon: An American Saga" at the festival. Sameer Al-Doumy / AFP
Kevin Costner and Sienna Miller premiered their Western "Horizon: An American Saga" at the festival. Sameer Al-Doumy / AFP

A Donald Trump biopic and the latest dark creation by David Cronenberg premiere in Cannes on Monday as the world-famous film festival reaches its midway point.
"Emilia Perez", a musical about a narco boss having a sex change, is the audacious frontrunner so far, after 11 of the 22 entries for the top prize Palme d'Or have been seen, said AFP.
The festival -- considered the film industry's foremost get-together -- concludes with its award ceremony on Saturday, with "Barbie" director Greta Gerwig heading the jury.
But two more buzzy entries arrive on Monday.
"The Apprentice" is a biopic of Trump's formative years from Iranian-born director Ali Abbasi -- bound to stir up controversy in an election year for the United States.
It stars Sebastian Stan, best-known for playing the Winter Soldier in Marvel films, though he also won best actor at this year's Berlin Film Festival and widespread acclaim for his part as rocker Tommy Lee in series "Pam and Tommy".
Later, Cronenberg -- director of many body-horror classics like "The Fly", "Crash" and "Videodrome" -- returns to the Cote d'Azur festival with "The Shrouds".
Billed as his most personal film yet, it tells the story of a widowed businessman (Vincent Cassell) who invents a machine to monitor the dead in their graves.
It was partly inspired by the death in 2017 of Cronenberg's wife of 43 years.
"I don't really think of art as therapy," the Canadian director told Variety. "Grief is forever, as far as I'm concerned. It doesn't go away. You can have some distance from it, but I didn't experience any catharsis making the movie."
Among entries to score well with critics during the first week was "Bird", a gritty but sweet and fantastical tale about a young girl in working-class England from director Andrea Arnold.
"Kinds of Kindness", the latest bizarro team-up between Emma Stone and Yorgos Lanthimos, featured some ultra-dark comedy moments, including a thumb-and-cauliflower dinner.
"Megalopolis", the decades-in-the-making epic from Francis Ford Coppola, has perhaps been the most divisive entry, with some reviewers finding it a profound end-of-life work of philosophy, and others a barely comprehensible mess.
But the one to beat so far is "Emilia Perez", which has won a lot of acclaim for stars Zoe Saldana, Selena Gomez and trans actor Karla Sofia Gascon in the title role, as well as its risk-taking French director, Jacques Audiard, who already has a Palme d'Or under his belt.
Sagas
The festival has also seen glitzy out-of-competition launches for two Hollywood blockbusters that fancy themselves as "sagas".
The action-packed "Furiosa: a Mad Max Saga" received largely strong reviews, while Kevin Costner returned to his favorite Western genre with the three-hour "Horizon: An American Saga", just the first of four mooted chapters.
Like Coppola, Costner put millions of his own fortune into the decades-long passion project.
"At a certain moment I just said OK, I'm going to do this myself. And so I mortgaged property, I raised the money," he told AFP at the festival.
The early reviews were decidedly mixed, with The Hollywood Reporter deriding it as a "clumsy slog".
But Costner says he is unconcerned about losing his money.
"If they take it away from me, I still have my movie. I still have my integrity. I still listened to my heart," he said.



R.E.M. Delivers Surprise Performance at Songwriting Gala 

Rock band R.E.M Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe and Bill Berry attend the 2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductions and gala in New York City, US, June 13, 2024. (Reuters)
Rock band R.E.M Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe and Bill Berry attend the 2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductions and gala in New York City, US, June 13, 2024. (Reuters)
TT

R.E.M. Delivers Surprise Performance at Songwriting Gala 

Rock band R.E.M Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe and Bill Berry attend the 2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductions and gala in New York City, US, June 13, 2024. (Reuters)
Rock band R.E.M Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe and Bill Berry attend the 2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductions and gala in New York City, US, June 13, 2024. (Reuters)

R.E.M. performed onstage together for the first time in well over a decade Thursday, reuniting to play their classic "Losing My Religion" as they were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Michael Stipe, Peter Buck and Mike Mills broke up in 2011, and the last time all four members played onstage together -- Bill Berry left in 1997 -- was in 2007.

But entrance into the who's who of music that is the prestigious songwriting pantheon got the band back together.

"Songwriting is the very foundation of why we came together in the first place," lead vocalist Michael Stipe told AFP. "We're really proud."

The band was inducted by Jason Isbell, who performed a cover of R.E.M's "It's The End of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" at the event.

"R.E.M. was greater than the sum of its parts. R.E.M. moved like a single instrument," Isbell said.

The Songwriters Hall of Fame celebrates its inductees with a festive dinner and intimate concert instead of a televised event.

Kevin Bacon and his brother Michael -- the duo known as The Bacon Brothers -- opened the show with a foot-stomping rendition of "Footloose," the Oscar-nominated title track of the hit 1984 film of the same name.

Bacon starred in the movie -- but Dean Pitchford wrote it and much of its music, and was among the elite group inducted Thursday.

The writer of many hit films and musical tracks, Pitchford thanked the adoring audience "for hearing all these years, and above all, thank you for listening to me."

Trey Anastasio of Phish inducted Steely Dan, while chairman of the Songwriters Hall of Fame Nile Rodgers -- the beloved co-founder of Chic -- bestowed SZA with a special award for songwriters "at an apex in their careers."

It's "just beyond all of my wildest dreams," SZA said, before performing an acoustic rendition of "Snooze."

Rodgers took his moment onstage to emphasize that "there would be no music industry if there were no songs," specifically calling out streaming platform Spotify to "acknowledge and make a point of songwriters being your priority."

- Hip hop, country, and Oscar royalty -

None other than Missy Elliott had the crowd on its feet as she inducted Timbaland into the coveted class.

"In hip hop, there was certain ways that hip hop music sounds -- Timbaland... literally changed the cadence," she said, adding that the producer, rapper and singer whose hits include "Give It To Me" was a master at marrying sensibilities of rap and R&B.

"Thank you for giving me a seat at the table," Timbaland said in a lengthy acceptance speech, before conducting a house band through a medley of his hits and those he produced for the likes of Elliott, Justin Timberlake and Beyonce.

Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban performed in honor of Hillary Lindsey, a Nashville songwriting star who's written for artists including Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Shakira.

And Diane Warren -- the songwriter who's earned 15 Oscar nominations, including for "Because You Loved Me" performed by Celine Dion and Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" -- received the night's highest honor, the Johnny Mercer award.

She, like all of the inductees, said being honored by her peers was particularly special.

"It's songwriters -- what's cooler than that?" she said.