For a tale full of blood and sexual tension, Lizzie is awfully dull

Read on: The A.V. Club.

Is Lizzie a tragic love story ? A proto-feminist statement? A slow-burn historical drama? A lurid tale of sex and murder? It’s all of those things, and none of them at the same time. It’s a film that’s very deliberate in its choices, but doesn’t seem t…

Cannes Report, Day 4: Sales Market Heats Up, ‘355’ Sparks Bidding War, Jean-Luc Godard Is Back

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Most thought this would be a slow Cannes Film Festival, but we’re already on day four and movies have been bought, there’s a bidding war going on, and well, Jean-Luc Godard is back to mess with our heads.

Saban Films picked up the rights to two movies in the last two days, while Bleecker Street and Netflix (the latter of which backed out of submitting any films for the competition) have also emerged as players in the market.

Jessica Chastain’s female spy thriller “355” sparked a heated bidding war, with Universal emerging as the victor in an eight-figure deal.

Also Read: Cannes Report, Day 3: Women Rule, ‘Cold War’ Hailed as ‘Best Film’ Yet

Meanwhile, everyone else is still trying to get that one selfie on the red carpet despite a no-selfie policy — or get another glimpse at jury president Cate Blanchett.

See what everyone talked about during the fourth day at Cannes:

Acquisitions, Acquisitions

May 11 saw the acquisitions of quite a heap of films. Neon acquired the troll love story “Border” following its world premiere at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section, while Bleecker Street picked up the rights to Mads Mikkelsen’s survival drama “Arctic.” The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday night.

Saban Films bought the rights to Keanu Reeves’ “Siberia,” a thriller by director Matthew Ross in the market that also stars Ana Ularu and Molly Ringwald.

Also Read: Netflix Buys Animated Film ‘Next Gen’ for $30 Million

In what might be the biggest deal so far at Cannes, Netflix picked up the worldwide rights, excluding China, to the animated film “Next Gen” for $30 million.

Netflix pulled out of submitting films to this year’s festival after organizers implemented a new rule that bans any films that don’t have theatrical distribution in France. The streaming company had the option to screen films out of competition — but passed.

Speaking of Saban Films…

Saban Films sure is spending money this year. At the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, Saban bought the North American rights to Craig William Macneill’s “Lizzie,” in partnership with Roadside Attractions.

The distributor has been busy at Cannes as well, having bought Gerard Butler’s “Keepers” on Thursday and Reeves’ “Siberia” on Friday. Saban came to conquer Cannes, that’s for sure.

Jessica Chastain’s ‘355’ Bidding War

Everyone wanted a piece of “355,” Jessica Chastain’s female all-star spy thriller that will also star Lupita Nyong’o, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz and Fan Bingbing. Simon Kinberg (“X-Men; Dark Phoenix”) will direct.

Early Saturday, Universal announced it had acquired U.S. distribution rights to “355” in what the studio said was “a competitive situation” — i.e., a bidding war — believed to be worth eight figures.

Also Read: Cannes Report, Day 2: ‘Rafiki’ Makes History, ‘Don Quixote’ Scores Legal Victory

Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘The Image Book’ Debuts

Jean-Luc Godard’s newest film “The Image Book” debuted on Friday at Cannes, and early reviews are as jumbled and convoluted as the film itself seems to be.

“THE IMAGE BOOK: who f—in’ knows,” wrote one critic, while another said, “What do you want me to say?”

TheWrap’s Steve Pond wrote in his review: “‘The Image Book’ requires stamina, or more accurately surrender. (A section of the Grand Theatre Lumiere balcony devoted to press had at least a dozen walkouts during the film.)”

See some tweets about the film below.

THE IMAGE BOOK: who fuckin knows. But here are some nonverbal reviews from those seated near me!

– girl next to me covered ears for long stretches
-man two over checked phone 50, 60, and 65 minutes in
-guy in front of me buzzsaw snored for full minute before someone woke him up

— Charles Bramesco (@intothecrevasse) May 11, 2018

THE IMAGE BOOK: Jean-Luc Godard’s collection of images about trains, war, Arab nations & more – from movies & real footage – w/ narration from Godard, sudden bursts of music & long silences. Some will love, some not, I feel like it will work best as the museum exhibit #Cannes2018

— Alicia Malone (@aliciamalone) May 11, 2018

THE IMAGE BOOK: Godard lays out all possibilities of cinema on display in 90 minutes. Now please start making your movie ffs. #cannes2018

— Ken Adams (@TaybackX) May 11, 2018

Just saw THE IMAGE BOOK by JLG. More bellowing at crappy resolution footage from 1950s films and of various imperialist atrocities. What do you want me to say? #cannes2018

— ????Donald Clarke???? (@DonaldClarke63) May 11, 2018

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‘Lizzie’ Film Review: Chloë Sevigny Makes the Infamous Killer a Rebel with a Cause

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

A lesbian spin on the legendary Lizzie Borden murder case is nothing new — Ed McBain posited the notion in a 1984 novel — but the stylish and haunting “Lizzie” paints a provocative portrait of a woman driven by passions and left with few options in a society that gave her little agency.

We come to know Borden’s inner turmoil, not only by her periodic “spells” but also in the way that the camera captures a bewitching Chloë Sevigny. She’s often off-center in the frame, or reflected in mirrors, or out of focus in the foreground as she imagines what’s happening far behind her.

Screenwriter Bryce Kass (“Outlaw Prophet: Warren Jeffs”) and director Craig William Macneill (2015’s “The Boy”), like everyone else who has tackled this story, are left to their own conjectures and theories as to the how and the why behind the murder of Borden’s father and stepmother, but they’ve turned the puzzle pieces into a haunting, horrifying romance.

Also Read: Sundance 2018 Lineup: Lizzie Borden, Oscar Wilde, Jane Fonda and a lot of Lakeith Stanfield

Six months before Andrew Borden (Jamey Sheridan) and his wife Abby (Fiona Shaw) faced that fatal ax — and despite the famous rhyme, each received far fewer than 40 blows — housemaid Bridget Sullivan (Kristen Stewart) reports for duty. While most of the household refers to her as “Maggie” (the generic name given to all Irish servants, much as all Pullman porters once answered to “George”), Lizzie (Sevigny) immediately calls her by her given name.

Right away, there’s an electricity between them; as Lizzie reaches out to adjust one of Bridget’s hairpins, it’s clear that there’s already a connection. The unmarried Lizzie tests her father’s patience with her willfulness, daring to go to the theater unescorted and constantly questioning his authority. (Being “sent away” for her infractions is a constant threat being dangled over her.) Andrew’s a monster — he visits Bridget’s room in the middle of the night to rape her on multiple occasions — and he’s upset over a series of anonymous threatening notes that have come to the house.

Also Read: TheWrap Presents Live Interviews, Photos at the Acura Studio At Sundance 2018

When those notes compel Andrew to name his late wife’s ne’er-do-well brother John Morse (Denis O’Hare) as the executor of his will, putting him in charge of the financial well-being of Lizzie and her also-unmarried older sister Emma (Kim Dickens), Lizzie is furious. When she catches him in Bridget’s room, she breaks a mirror and spreads the glass on the floor in barefoot Andrew’s path. And on a hot day in August, Andrew and Abby will die in a murder that we see Lizzie commit, even though the courts never found her guilty.

Cinematographer Noah Greenberg (“Most Beautiful Island”) paints a captivating picture, from the aforementioned off-kilter framing of Lizzie to a sudden burst of hand-held camera when she tears through the house looking for jewelry she can pawn as a way to escape from her father. Greenberg also works with an astonishingly broad array of options within natural light. (Andrew Borden was infamous for being a penny-pincher when it came to illuminating his own house.)

When Lizzie hears Andrew in Bridget’s room, she clutches a single candle, and the light illuminates her Botticelli curls with Caravaggio-like menace. By the time she’s wielding the hatchet, Lizzie has become both avenging angel and mad warrior, both slasher and final girl, both Salome and the executioner of John the Baptist.

Watch Video: Robert Redford Says #MeToo Will Help Women in Hollywood

Between the camerawork and the subtle performances, “Lizzie” could very easily have been a silent film while still telling its story as effectively. But Kass’ dialogue is terrific, from Lizzie and Bridget’s tentative (then passionate) courtship to the sick burn Lizzie delivers to Andrew when he calls her “an abomination” for her affair with the maid.

Sevigny and Stewart are intensely affecting as women of different stations who are both nonetheless choked by the demands of the patriarchy; they also create a palpable erotic tension, particularly early on when Bridget is buttoning up Lizzie’s blouse for dinner. Their performances are powerfully supported by the extraordinary ensemble, which also includes Jeff Perry (“Scandal”) as the family attorney.

There has been a long and rich cinematic history of women who kill, in films ranging from “Thelma and Louise” to “La Cérémonie” to “Sister, My Sister” to “Butterfly Kiss” to “Monster.” Sometimes the two are lovers, sometimes one or both of them is a domestic, but in almost all cases, they are driven to murder to stay ahead of a world that would just as soon snuff them out first. With “Lizzie,” Lizzie Borden and Bridget Sullivan join their fierce, blood-stained ranks.

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