What's Playing At Cannes

19 hours ago
Originally published on May 16, 2018 8:53 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Here's a bit of news that, quite honestly, I was not expecting to say this morning. Chewbacca...

(SOUNDBITE OF WOOKIE CALL)

GREENE: ...Was working the red carpet last night at the Cannes Film Festival in southern France. Yes, the famous furry "Star Wars" sidekick. Han Solo was there as well. This is all because the movie "Solo," the latest installment in the "Star Wars" franchise, had a big screening. And film critic Kenneth Turan was there.

Really hard gig, Kenny, to be checking out this wonderful movie...

(LAUGHTER)

GREENE: ...In southern France.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: Well, you know, someone has to do it, David.

GREENE: Yeah. Is it weird? I mean, is there something that feels unusual for a "Star Wars" film to be screening at Cannes?

TURAN: Well, you know, Cannes tries to be all things to all people. It's very highbrow art in its competition. But it loves to have stars - even furry ones - on the red carpet.

GREENE: (Laughter) Yeah.

TURAN: So you know, that's why they brought "Solo: A Star Wars Story" here.

GREENE: Well, I'm a "Star Wars" nut, and I have been waiting for this film for months. And I want to ask you every single detail about it, which I know I shouldn't do...

TURAN: (Laughter).

GREENE: ...Because you don't want to give too much away. But I mean, in general, how is it? Was - I want it to be great. So was it great?

TURAN: I don't know if I'd call it great, but I enjoyed it. It's very enjoyable. I mean, I think the more you are a "Star Wars" fan, the more it will work for you. I mean, the best thing about it is Alden Ehrenreich, who plays the young Han Solo.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY")

ALDEN EHRENREICH: (As Han Solo) I'm going to be a pilot - best in the galaxy.

TURAN: He's a terrific young actor. He's perfect for the part. And it's just fun to watch him. And, you know, this is the origin story of Han Solo. You find out how he got his name. You find out how he met Chewie. All this stuff is revealed, so it's fun.

GREENE: Many questions answered. OK, good.

Strange for someone other than Harrison Ford to be playing that role?

TURAN: You know, you'd think so. But this kid is such a good young actor that he actually makes you think, well, it's OK.

GREENE: OK. That's reassuring.

So another film that's getting a whole lot of attention there, it sounds like, is a new movie from Spike Lee.

TURAN: Yes, it's called "BlacKkKlansman." Unlike the "Star Wars" film, it's in competition, so it might win something. It's based on a true story of a man named Ron Stallworth who, in the 1970s, was a police officer in Colorado. He's a African-American guy who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan using the phone and using a white detective when a personal appearance was necessary.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BLACKKKLANSMAN")

JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON: (As Ron Stallworth) We'll established contact over the phone. We'll need a white officer to play me when they meet face-to-face.

TURAN: And it's just - it's energized the festival. It's funny. It's disturbing. It's emotional. It's really, you know, as good a film as Spike Lee has made in years.

GREENE: Wow, that sounds like a great movie if you can use that many different adjectives to describe it.

What else has captured your attention there?

TURAN: You know, there's a kind of parallel section called the Directors' Fortnight. And there's a film there called "Birds Of Passage" that I really liked. It's co-directed by a Colombian director named Ciro Guerra, who did "Embrace Of The Serpent" - was an Oscar-nominated film several years ago. It's a genre film. It's a drug war film. But it's a drug war film the way "The Godfather" was.

It's about family. It's about culture. It's set in Colombia in an indigenous area. It's about how the drug trade impacted a family, impacted a culture. All the dialogue is in this indigenous language. It's a very unusual film. It's very beautiful to look at. This guy is a major director, and it's a pleasure to see his latest film.

GREENE: OK. Well, thanks for catching up with us. And may the force be with you there in Cannes, Kenny.

TURAN: (Laughter) Thank you, David. I'll do my best.

GREENE: All right. Kenneth Turan - he reviews movies for us at MORNING EDITION and also for the Los Angeles Times.

(SOUNDBITE OF JACOO'S "LONGING") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.