Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cannes Day Six

Ralph and I were having our first fest pow-wow with film scholar extraordinaire Gary, one of the director's of the Telluride Film Fest, outside the Bunuel Theater after a screening of "Me and Me Dad," a documentary on John Boorman by his daughter, when a young man in a tuxedo recruited us back into the theater to contribute to an audience for a trailer for the latest Bond picture with the latest Bond girl in attendance.  We looked at our watches and told him we had fifteen minutes to spare before our next screening. 

Gary, Ralph and I had also been talking with the Scottish director of a documentary on Jack Cardiff that had played at Telluride and Chicago and River Run and quite a few festivals last year.  He had helped with the Boorman documentary.  He and I ended up sitting next to each other as we awaited the trailer.  He raved how much he loved being at Telluride.  He said that when he interviewed Scorsese and Terry Gilliam for his documentary they both had told him how lucky he would be if his film were invited to Telluride and what an exceptional experience that would be. 

He said they hadn't exaggerated in the least.  His first day at Telluride he found himself in conversation with Peter Weir and couldn't believe his good fortune being among so many significant directors.    I told him he ought to try to make it back next year for the 40th anniversary of Telluride, as it would be an extra day long and many of the guest directors from previous fests would be in attendance.  He immediately took out his phone and made a notation to give that high priority for 2013.

Gary had all sorts of recommendations of films for Ralph and I to see.  He said he had met with Boorman in London before Cannes at an annual get-together the Telluride directors have with English film-makers.  It is no wonder they are so well-connected and put on the best film  festival in the world. 

After fifteen minutes there was no grand entrance from the Bond girl, so Ralph, Gary and I had to get to our next movie.  For Gary it was a press screening for Ken Loach's latest film before it screens tomorrow in the Palais and for Ralph and I it was "White Elephant" at the Debussy next door for our ten pm Un Certain Regard screening.  Gary had seen it earlier and said one critic said the movie was ten hours too short, as there was so much more he would have liked developed in this rich story of a Buenos Aries slum.  It had the gritty realism that Ralph and I most appreciate. The film-maker truly knew his material.  It becomes our favorite for the best in Un Certain Regard. 

The title of Alan Resnais's Competition entry, "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" sums it up.    Resnais's film made a nice start to the day.  It was a gathering of  notable French actors including Picoli and Amalric, playing themselves, gathered at the bequest of a theater director friend who had died to watch a film of one of his plays that a group wished to stage.  He wanted their opinion.  They gathered to mourn as well as to celebrate his work.  This made for a quaint and diverting premise.

"My Joan of Arc" is one of a couple of  French travel documentaries in the festival.  This one was by a young Canadian woman who ventured to France to retrace an eleven-day horseback ride Joan of Arc took to deliver a message to the King of France in 1429 that he ought to go to war against the English.  This combined my interest in France and history and travel and suited me very well. 

I also received a history lesson from "The Third Half," a Macedonian feature of a true story about a Macedonian soccer team and its Jewish coach during the Nazi era--combining two elements of  quite a few films in the market, soccer and the Nazis.  The coach was forced to wear a yellow star and forbidden from coaching as they approached the championship game.  One of the star players has a Jewish girl friend.  The Jews are in the process of being rounded up and sent to forced labor camps in Bulgaria.  The film ends at a Macedonian Holocaust museum. 

Another film with a message was "Harodim" with Peter Fonda playing the US mastermind of the downing of New York's Trade Towers on 9/11.  This film validates the arguments of all those who go for that conspiracy theory.

And I squeezed in "Code 37, The Movie" to make it my second seven film day after six films a day the first four days.  Ralph had seen this Belgian feature about an attractive woman who heads a vice squad on Day One and recommended it.  Even Belgians "multi-task," a phrase that seems to be a favorite of screenwriters these days.

So the festival is half way over.  I've seen 38 films, but only six in Competition.  I have lots of catching up to do and two exceptional films to look forward to based on Ralph's tastes which are quite similar to mine--"Beyond the Hills" and "The Hunt."  So far my favorite film is "Rust and Bones." It is very good, though no quite great.  Ralph has a higher echelon pass than mine, allowing him access to Palais invitations, the reason why he has seen more Competition films than I have.  But there are extra end of the festival screenings of all the Competition films this year on Thursday and Friday along with the usual Sunday slate, so I'm confident of catching up with all of them. And by neglecting them now, I've been able to see films of a subject matter that I wouldn't otherwise have been able to see.  No regrets.

No comments: