Today in Cannes Hell: Gwyneth Paltrow's Breast, Critic Riots and a Word with Charlie Kaufman

With the minor exception of missing out on Jim Toback's documentary on Mike Tyson (which will screen here this fall anyway — we can wait), the only regret we have so far about sitting out the Cannes Film Festival is our absence at the mini-riot that preceded the press screening of director James Gray's drama Two Lovers, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow. That's when we're at our best, as were Lou Lumenick and the "major U.S. film critic" (*cough* Manohla Dargis *cough*) who apparently exclaimed, "I'm not going to wait an hour for f—-ing James Gray" before an ensuing screening delay, shoving match and seating free-for-all.

Like his resilient cousins in the roach family, Roger Friedman naturally outlasted the meltdown and later delivered his sterling, tasteful review, "Gwyneth Paltrow Bares a Breast in Film":

You don't really think of Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow as the racy type. But in her new film, Two Lovers, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival Monday night, she quite surprisingly bares a single breast. The shot is, shall we say, head-on into the camera. And it's for more than a couple of seconds. This is no wardrobe malfunction. It's on purpose. (To paraphrase a great Seinfeld quote: "They're real ... and they're spectacular!")
Of course, this moment — it's the left breast, by the way — is meant to be part of the story; it's exactly what her manipulative character would do to land her man, in this case a character played by Joaquin Phoenix. In Two Lovers, Phoenix plays a mentally jumbled lonely guy who tries to juggle romances with both Paltrow's selfish car crash of a mistress and Vinessa Shaw's girl next door.

Thank you, Roger — back to the hospital, now. Other viewers including Anne Thompson, Glenn Kenny and even Jeffrey Wells (who, mere months after notoriously requesting nude stills of Shaw from 3:10 to Yuma director James Mangold, thinks she's miscast here) managed entire reviews without mentioning the nudity, expressing admiration for the film overall. It's still looking for US distribution, which we hear films featuring Oscar-winning actresses' breasts are highly likely to find.

Also seeking a buyer is Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut Synecdoche, New York. The film stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as a theater director creating "the ultimate play: a city within a city within a warehouse," according to The Hollywood Reporter's interview Monday with Kaufman — who would like to object to his reputation as a recluse, damn it:


The first thing people will say to me in interviews is that you don't do interviews and I'll say "Well, I'm sitting here talking to you!" I don't particularly like to be photographed and I don't like to talk about my personal life — that doesn't make me a recluse. My feeling is that my work speaks about my life in ways that are very generous. ... I live a regular mundane life in Los Angeles. Don't know what else to say except I'm not here cowering in a corner. I don't have a veil over my head. I don't say "I vant to be alone."

Got it! Now that that's settled, perhaps Kaufman and his backers at Sidney Kimmel Pictures might want to answer Anne Thompson's fantastic question: Why the nervous rush to screen it for impatient buyers before its premiere on May 23? "If they had the goods," she writes, "the sellers would hang tough and force the buyers to just stick around and wait." It's still inconclusive to those of us stranded on this side of the Atlantic, but a new batch of clips featuring an aged Hoffman, a tattooed Michelle Williams and the word "urologist" used as a punchline has us smelling a hit. Happy selling, gang.

UPDATE: Our hunch-dar appears to have betrayed us; we've heard from Manohla Dargis herself that she was not the angry critic who fled the Two Lovers scene. We regret the misread; these blind items just get harder and harder!

[Photo: Getty Images]