It may be Cannes, but small screen get­ting good re­cep­tion

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Jake Coyle

CANNES, France — The an­nual Cannes fes­ti­val on the French Riviera is the grand­est plat­form in the world for the high­est am­bi­tions of film, a place where the art form is wor­shipped with wild pas­sion and ador­ing rev­er­ence. Movies are pro­jected pristinely in re­gal theatres, where they’re greeted by the world’s cinephiles with fever­ish ex­cite­ment.

But even at this bas­tion of the big screen, di­rec­tor af­ter di­rec­tor has come through preach­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties of the small screen. Up and down the Croisette, talk of TV’s as­cen­dance is ram­pant.

“The way that things are mov­ing be­cause of the fi­nanc­ing of films, tele­vi­sion has al­most be­come where a lot of peo­ple seek cre­ativ­ity,” said Dan­ish di­rec­tor Ni­co­las Wind­ing Refn, who pre­miered at the fes­ti­val his Bangkok noir Only God For­gives, star­ring Ryan Gosling. “It’s opened up a whole new arena.”

Dan­ish TV’s cur­rent qual­ity has spread in­ter­na­tion­ally (in­clud­ing The Killing, which was re­made in Amer­ica). Refn, the di­rec­tor of Drive, is work­ing on his tele­vi­sion de­but, a ver­sion of the 1969 French science-fic­tion film Bar­barella for France’s Canal Plus.

Refn said that in the past 10 years, TV has lev­elled the field, cre­atively, and is now “some­times much more sat­is­fy­ing than any­thing around.”

“I love tele­vi­sion,” he said. “I love the size of it. I love to touch them. I like to watch them. I love the re­mote con­trol. I love the power of the re­mote con­trol. I love ev­ery­thing about the tele­vi­sion.”

One of this year’s most no­table films in com­pe­ti­tion won’t even be re­leased the­atri­cally in the U.S.: Steven Soder­bergh’s Lib­er­ace melo­drama Be­hind the Can­de­labra (see Brad Oswald’s re­view, page G4). Hol­ly­wood stu­dios passed on the film, which stars Michael Dou­glas and Matt Da­mon, sug­gest­ing that it was too gay to play at the box of­fice. HBO picked up the US$23-mil­lion film and will air it Sun­day.

Soder­bergh, long con­sid­ered one of Amer­ica’s finest film­mak­ing tal­ents, is step­ping away from moviemak­ing, but is en­thu­si­as­ti­cally mov­ing into tele­vi­sion. He’ll re­port­edly make a 10-episode se­ries about a turn-of-the-cen­tury New York hos­pi­tal, star­ring Clive Owen. (Soder­bergh also pro­duced the 2003 Wash­ing­ton, D.C., drama K Street.)

“There’s a lot of great stuff be­ing made,” said Soder­bergh. “You can go nar­row and deep, and I like that. And this is all ( So­pra­nos cre­ator) David Chase. He sin­gle­hand­edly re­built the land­scape. Any­thing that’s on now that’s any good is stand­ing on his shoul­ders.”

“I don’t hear any­body talk­ing about movies the way they talk about TV right now,” said Soder­bergh.

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