Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cannes, France

Friends: As so often happens, the road fulfills a need I might have. I found a pair of brand new quite stylish pants with price tag still attached just before I arrived at Julie's house twelve days ago. They were a tad tight in the waist, but I knew I'd be slimmed down for them to fit by the time I arrived in Cannes.

I had brought along only one pair of long pants this year, somewhat of a risk if it was rainy and cold, preventing me from using my shorts as a backup if my long pants got wet or soiled. For just the second time in my seven years of attending Cannes, I had to bike the three-and-a-half miles from the campground to the theaters in the rain this morning. The weather continues to be topsy-turvy, perhaps thanks to all the volcanic ash in the air. Both Milos Stehlik and Patrick McGavin, friends from Chicago and festival regulars, said their flights were delayed, though they have arrived in ample time before the movies begin tomorrow.

Snow has fallen on southern cities in France that sometimes don't even get snow in the winter. But the most perverse meteorological event was a ten-meter tsunami-type wave that hit Cannes eight days ago, closing the thirty mile stretch of road between Nice and Cannes and wiping out restaurants along the beach. Never before has Cannes been hit by such a wave.

Bull-dozers are still regrooming the sand. The festival puts up dozens of tents along the beach. It would have been a "catastrophe" of the first order if the wave had hit during the festival. A large screen is erected right at the water's edge for night-time screenings, the lone movie venue of the festival the public has access to. That would have been plowed up onto the Croisette, the mile long road that runs along the beach and has French historical landmark status.

With the inclement weather I've had to spend most of today inside perusing the festival schedule that I picked up at eight this morning rather than out along the Croisette as I'd prefer. I'm just a little over half way through the brief summaries of the 1400 films on tap, and have yet to find a bicycling film. The closest thing to it is an Italian comedy with a picture of a man straddling a bike. How much he rides it remains to be seen. But there is a Spanish-Mexican documentary, "Weapons of Mass Addiction," tracing the doom the automobile has inflicted on mankind--over one million deaths a year, and pollution that creates even more deaths. It plays just once, tomorrow. I will be there.

With the festival just gearing up tomorrow and none of the four competitive categories playing films there are just 60 films to choose from, less than a quarter of what it will be like starting Thursday. So Julie and I have a relatively easy time of lining up our films. Julie intends to tag along with me at first before she gets her bearings. She is agreeable to starting out with a documentary on gospel singing followed by a documentary retracing an epic drive in 1968 from California to the tip of South American by a couple of surfing and climbing bums who went on to found North Face and Patagonia. Then it will be a Depardieu film, one of at least three in the program.

It is impossible to resist at least the start of "Suck," a Canadian horror comedy with Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper and Malcolm McDowell. The anti-car documentary plays in the theater next door half an hour after it starts. Then we have the option of a movie about an ex-black panther or Kristin Scott Thomas as a vengeful French business woman. We'll end the night with "Bitter Feast," one of quite a few kidnapping movies. The victim in this movie is a "notoriously snarky food critic." He is held by a TV chef who makes him cook seemingly easy items to perfection. Larry Fesendon is among the cast.

We'll pass on a Jim Belushi suburban comedy about an all-boy escort service and a Michael Madsen thriller.

Later, George


estifallen said...

Hope your weather improves George, getting excited to hear about these movies!

Yonder Vittles said...

PediLove - a pedicab-centered love story shot in New York by a Chicago filmmaker - is set to screen at Cannes this year. The filmmaker, Jay Schroeder(sp?), is a member of the Odd Obsession Chicago orbit. I have not been able to nail down any concrete details about the film as Jay is in France and online information about the film is scant. Good luck finding the film, and say hello to the rest of the cinematheque rats for me.

JeffOYB said...

Hey, have you ever read "The Rider" by Tim Krabbe? It's a 150 page story about a 150 km race...the Tour de Mont Aigoual. Krabbe was a reporter and a chess buff who became a bike racer at age 30. It seems like a true-to-life tale. This race is set in the Cevennes. !!! I thought of you and Craig. I just finished it. No spoilers!

JeffOYB said...

Say, whatever became of you using a digicam and uploading pics to your blog? Seems like it'd be easier than typing text. Heck, you could even make vids or vid-clips. It could all work together. Maybe it's a time-thing and you like leaving the imagery to the filmmakers? :)

Stan said...

How about mounting a webcam on your handlebars, so we can enjoy the ride too?

Yonder Vittles said...

I enjoy the current format of the blog. The writing, concise and rich with detail, is a breath of fresh air amidst the rubbish heap of digital pics and low-res digital video available on the internet. If you wish to find images of the French countryside, numerous volumes of brilliant photography are available at the library. This blog is a valuable resource because it provides a unique interpretation for the reader of the landscapes and peoples George encounters on his bicycle.