Two great films a day keep the madness at bay
What an introduction. If today is anything to go by, this fortnight will be incredible.
Arrived yesterday afternoon on a delayed train, having made friends with the locals in my coach and read a lot of my book. Felt wired, exhausted and thrilled to be thrust suddenly into the sunlight and craziness of Opening Day at Cannes. In fact, apparently it will get even madder as the week goes on. Coming from a country of 4+ million people (spread out over a big space), the crowds take some getting used to, and quite where all the Johnny-Come-Latelies are going to fit, I don’t know.
I picked up my press-kit from the very obliging crew manning the exceedingly well-organised booths inside the Palais du Festival, and the first thrill is that my press category is actually three rungs up the ladder! No orange for me – I am a charming pale blue. You wear your pass round your neck at all times, and there is an abundance of security guards who stop you at every entrance, read your badge carefully, then wave you through. It’s hard not to feel a little bit privileged and important, especially this afternoon when I queued momentarily (and erroneously, as it turned out) for the Woody Allen documentary, only to be delivered from the line of disappointed punters who were told “it’s full” and sent straight up the stairs because I am Press. How my head will fit into the plane on the way home, I do not know. Let alone in my local supermarket.
I have a tiny locker, just big enough to be crammed full of press materials and festival information each day, and where I intend to store my flat shoes when I have to wear heels to anything serious. The Kiwi in me was momentarily concerned about recycling, as much of the gumf gets chucked, but thankfully today I found a massive dumpster denoted for paper. Into it I cheerfully threw the Xavier Dolan booklet, as I make no bones about my dislike of his pictures. I know he is talented and clever (ie. precocious) but I don’t enjoy his work, and I will not be seeing Lawrence Anyways. I am sure it will go on to win a prize and I will lose favour with liberal, arthouse cinema goers across the land. Well, tant pis.
Most importantly, thanks to very little sleep in Paris and a full-on day yesterday, I slept brilliantly but woke conveniently at 6:30am, got up and made it into town in time to stand in many wrong places until I was directed to the line where the press enter the Grand Theatre Lumiere. This is where the special screenings take place each evening (ie. where the famous people step off the red carpet) but each morning those of us with badges vie for a seat to see that night’s flick. This morning was the best possible introduction to any film festival, with Jacques Audiard’s incredible Rust & Bone. I will review it in due course, and with any luck we’ll get it for the NZFF, but suffice it to say I was entranced by the leads (Marion Cotillard – whom I admit to criticising for being “in everything” but I now take that back because she’s so bloody marvellous I wouldn’t mind seeing her in everything) and Matthias Schoenaerts (who I’d seen before in Black Book but is largely unknown and will be massive after this film). Anyway, I wept twice and loved every moment.
Then a spot of lunch in the British Pavilion, chatted to a couple of short filmmakers over from Somerset, then trotted off to see the Woody Allen doco. This was the feature length theatrical version, but NZ’s recent World Cinema Showcase recently screened the 2-part TV version (all three and half hours of it). I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time, and it was lovely to be reminded of Woody’s considerable talents as a comic and actor, prior to the scandal, the dip in quality movies, and then the return to form with last year’s Cannes winner Midnight in Paris.
The film’s director came out front and said a few words, at which point you realise that “you’re in Cannes, baby”, and then a funny thing: I was seated behind this chap with a big head and boofy hair, muttering to myself “He’d better slump in his seat, otherwise I may have to say something” when suddenly he was introduced to the audience as Brett Ratner, exec producer (…of such works as X-Men and Prison Break..!). NOW I know where I am.
Well, more of the same tomorrow, no doubt. Until then…