News Column

Seen and heard at the Cannes Film Festival

May 19, 2013

YellowBrix

By The Associated Press

CANNES, France - Associated Press journalists open their notebooks at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival:

A DIFFERENT TUNE FOR TIMBERLAKE

In the Coen brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis," Justin Timberlake sings music set to a very different beat than "Suit and Tie."

Timberlake plays a bearded pop folkie in the film, which was to premiere Sunday night at the Cannes Film Festival, about the music scene of early 1960s Greenwich Village. Oscar Isaac stars as a more serious but less successful folk musician than Timberlake's smiley Jim Berkey.

Speaking to reporters Sunday, Timberlake called Berkey "part of the transition that is sort of the underbelly of the time." The film summons the period of New York folk just before Bob Dylan arrived in the early '60.

"Obviously, it's on the surface, a different style from the music that I make in real life," said Timberlake. "But listen, man. I grew up in Tennessee, the home of the blues, the birthplace of rock `n' roll - Memphis - and a lot of country music. So my first musical lessons were given to me by my grandfather an old Gibson guitar. He taught me how to fingerpick."

Timberlake helped write the music to the film's most comical song, "Please, Mr. Kennedy," which he sings with Isaac and Adam Driver of "Girls." The oft-repeated chorus goes: "Please, Mr. Kennedy, don't shoot me into outer space."

Timberlake got reflective about the curious mix of talent, luck and timing that goes into a music act breaking out. In contrast to the success Timberlake has had in music and acting, the characters of "Llewyn Davis" are those for whom things never click.

"I've been in the right place and met the wrong people, and I've been in the wrong place and met the right people," the former boy band singer said. "Usually, the second one ends up being the thing that can catapult someone's career."

Timberlake suggested disregarding how one's work is received.

"There's a lot of analysis now, a lot of analytics on what might be success and what might be failure," he said. "I don't know that I would measure the success or failure of it by how it's perceived because once it's done, it's sort of out there. You have to let it live in the ether."

- Jake Coyle, http://twitter.com/jake-coyle

Young British actor George MacKay is making a splash at Cannes - literally, amid the weekend's torrential downpours - with his compelling central performance in mythic maritime drama "For Those In Peril."

Set in a fishing town on the stark Scottish coast, Paul Wright's debut feature stars 21-year-old MacKay as sole survivor of a boat accident that killed five others, including his elder brother. MacKay carries the intense and poetic film as a young man struggling to cope with loss, even as his survival alienates him from his bereaved neighbors.

"You got our film and our weather, too," MacKay joked, sitting in a wind-whipped beachside cafe during interviews for the film in Cannes.

Playing in Cannes' Critics' Week competition, the movie has garnered strong reviews for its exploration of guilt, masculinity and mythology.

It's a mature and meaty role for MacKay, who got his movie start aged 10 as one of the Lost Boys in P.J. Hogan's 2003 adaptation of "Peter Pan," shot at Warner Bros' studios on Australia's Gold Coast.

"It was mad. They built a pirate ship - it was extraordinary. I think, the fact that we were 10, I don't think we realized how ridiculous the scale (was)," said MacKay, who also appeared alongside Clive Owen in 2009 family drama "The Boys Are Back."

"For Those in Peril" was a much smaller-scale operation, shot over six weeks in a small town in northeast Scotland - and, for several key sequences, in the cold North Sea.

The boundlessly enthusiastic MacKay says even the frigid water scenes were made bearable by "lots of cups of tea ... lots of towels, lots of food."

"We were kept safe," he said. "We were out in the middle of the ocean doing it and we had the water safety guys come - very dramatic - shooting across in their little (boat), whack you out and wrap you in towels. It was all good."

And the town had a bonus: "Best fish and chips you've ever had."

-Jill Lawless, http://Twitter.com/JillLawless

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