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'Foxcatcher' A Standout At Cannes Film Festival


Let's check in now with film critic Kenneth Turan. He's on the line from the south of France to talk about some of the standouts at this year's Cannes Film Festival. Good morning.


MONTAGNE: So I gather, Ken, that one movie debuting at Cannes is already getting Oscar buzz.

TURAN: Yes, it seems a little early for Oscar buzz, but, in fact, that's true. The film is "Foxcatcher." It's directed by Bennett Miller, who did "Capote" and "Moneyball." This film is based on a true story. This is about a man named John Du Pont, an enormously wealthy individual, who decided to become the sponsor of the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team and about his involvement with two of the wrestlers - both Gold medal winners - played by Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum.

But a lot of the talk is about the man who plays John Du Pont, which is Steve Carrell who is mostly known for his comedy stuff for "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," for "The Office." And this is a straight, dramatic role. If you did not recognize his voice, you would not know this was Steve Carrell. It's really quite a remarkable performance.

MONTAGNE: Right. And another aspect of "Foxcatcher" that's being talked about is its financing. Tell us about that.

TURAN: Yes, this is a woman named Megan Ellison who has financed a number of very interesting films that, like, no one else would finance, films like "American Hustle," like "Her," like "Zero Dark Thirty." This is the kind of independent financing that is kind of a dream for many filmmakers who make interesting films, but they can't convince the money people to go ahead with it.

MONTAGNE: And Megan Ellison, what's interesting about her, is first, she's in her 20s, and she's the daughter of billionaire Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle. So she has the money and she obviously has this taste.

TURAN: Yeah. And, you know, she puts her money where her mouth is. You know, she has to disregard conventional wisdom. And I'm sure she has advisors who tell she's out of her mind. But she's been very successful.

MONTAGNE: And also at Cannes, British director Mike Leigh - probably best known for the movie "Secrets and Lies" - he has new movie.

TURAN: Yes. It's called "Mr. Turner." It's about a big chunk of the life of the British painter JMW Turner, a great painter of light and water and ships, one of the great British painters of all time. And, you know, Mike Leigh is known for these intense character studies, for making people really come alive on screen.

And he uses one of his regular actors, Timothy Spall. And you really feel like Turner is a person you know, a man you might talk to your friends about, a cranky person, an unusual person, but a great genius who was just devoted to his work. It's a remarkable performance, and really one of the most admired films here.

MONTAGNE: And let's just sneak in one more question, very quickly: What else coming out of Cannes is worth seeing?

TURAN: Well, there's a film that's actually opening in a week or so called "The Rover." This is a new film by David Michod, who people might remember from "Animal Kingdom" a few years back. It's a film set in the future, after not an apocalypse like "Mad Max," but an economic collapse. So the world feels very much like our world, but still it's very despairing, it's very bleak, it's very hostile.

And you have a man played by Guy Pearce, whose car has been stolen. This is really the last person in the world whose car you want to steal. His character goes after the bad guys, and it's just a completely riveting experience

MONTAGNE: Ken, thanks very much.

TURAN: Thank you, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Enjoy the rest of your time in Cannes.

Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Kenneth Turan is the film critic for the Los Angeles Times and NPR's Morning Edition, as well as the director of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. He has been a staff writer for the Washington Post and TV Guide, and served as the Times' book review editor.