This apparently was art, not pornography. The Cannes jury headed by Steven Spielberg took the unprecedented step of insisting that the movie's two stars be included as Palme award recipients. New York magazine's Vulture blog cooed that these awards were the festival's "Most Pleasant Progressive Surprise."
In a review, Jada Yuan at Vulture reported that heavy buzz surrounded "the intensely erotic, incredibly realistic, quite lengthy, and almost certainly unsimulated sex scenes" by actresses Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux. She timed one scene at 10 minutes and reported, "Walkouts began around minute nine. That turned into spontaneous applause (and relieved laughter) when the women climaxed and finished a minute later."
Richard Porton of the Daily Beast saw the Cannes honors as a wonderful contrast with right-wingers and Catholics protesting a new gay marriage law in the Paris streets. "For much of the media, this odd juxtaposition of right-wing venom toward gay marriage and cinephilic celebration of same-sex passion exemplifies the split in contemporary France between a liberal, secular majority and a retrograde minority opposed to redefining an institution they consider sacred."
As often happens, allegedly artistic judgments about cinematic achievements are strongly seasoned by the secular-left politics of moviemakers and their constant desire to "push the envelope" and banish the "retrograde." At least the allegedly venomous right-wingers can enjoy how the leftists fight among themselves, cinephilically, of course.
Porton was troubled that so many female critics like Manohla Dargis of The New York Times were unhappy with the honors for "Blue" because its sex scenes made it a "voyeuristic exercise." Porton didn't want the film's fans to be dismissed as a perverted male "raincoat brigade" at the porno house. One woman told Porton in explicit, but metaphorical terms that she could see the male director's privates on the screen.
This prompted Porton to add the detail that the woman might have confused "Blue" with Amat Escalante's film "Heli," which boasted "a now-notorious 'penis on fire' torture scene. ... To almost everyone's surprise, Escalante won the Best Director prize."
The biggest loser in this filth festival was reported to be Michael Douglas, who won no acting award for playing Liberace in the film "Behind the Candelabra," which is airing only on HBO in America and movie screens in jaded Europe.
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