Sunday, May 25, 2014

Day Twelve

It may have been wind-down Sunday, but people were still lining up an hour or more early for a final film they were determined to see.  There was no great need, other than for the Godard film, as that was the only of my final six that played to a packed audience, drawing a crowd seething with that Cannes semi-desperate, must-see frenzy.  One even had to fight through the throngs pushing into the theater to grab a pair of 3D glasses.

Ralph and I put the over/under on the number of people who would walk out at fifty, although Ralph said it might be left up to me to make the count as he anticipated he'd be among those fleeing even though it was a mere 71 minutes long.  But Ralph endured and only about ten percent of the 300-seat theater left starting at after about half an hour when they'd had enough of the dialogue-free series of random scenes and images and pronouncements (Hitler came to power in 1933, the year television was invented by a Russian...What is man?...What is war?).  At least it was fast-paced and enlivened with music and 3D images poking out of the screen. It included occasional nudity and a dog and nature footage with brightly-colored foliage.  Bike lovers were rewarded with a scene from The Tour de France of a lone rider on a mountain stage climbing through a narrow gap of throngs of fans.  What meaning it had was beyond me, as were the other two bicycle images, one of a parked bike and another of a guy passing through an urban parking lot.  I'm not enough of a Godard scholar to comment on the significance of the bicycle in his oeuvre.

Our final day of cinema had begun at nine at the Debussy with "Turist," the only of the Un Certain Regard films to play in one of the larger theaters on this repeat weekend.  This Swedish film taking place at a ski resort was pronounced the second best film of its category by the Un Certain Regard jury.  It would be a natural for the Telluride Film Festival if it isn't deemed too dark by its directors.  A family of four on a six-day holiday in the Alps is brushed by an avalanche as they are eating lunch.  The father flees as it approaches while the mother stays to protect their two small children.  The mother is so mystified by her husband's behavior she can't mention it until that evening when they are having dinner with friends.  He denies abandoning them.  Over the coming days their marriage begins to unravel as they continue to grapple with this traumatic event.

My third film of the day also won an award--David Cronenberg's "Map of the Stars" for Julianne Moore's performance as a tortured famous Hollywood actress.  She calls her personal assistant, played by Mia Wasikowska, her "chore whore," some of the barbed wit that has won this film some favor. It is one of three Competition films with a person of wealth and a lackey.  The other far superior films were those by Ceylan and Assayas.  Like "Mommy" it features a slur-spewing kid, though their hate-filled venom doesn't match that of the teacher in "Whiplash."  If cinema is a mirror to the world we live in, it may be even worse than one realizes.  

The plot of this indictment of Hollywood was almost as idiotic as that of Egoyan's film. Cronenberg put an embarrassing minimum of effort into his script.   It was questionable whether it should have been recognized with any award, especially when there were other most worthy female performances--Cotillard, Swank and Binoche. Not even a Lance Armstrong mention could win me over.  It is said of someone who messed up that he needn't worry.  He need only "fess up, go on Oprah, do the whole Lance Armstrong thing."

Fellow Canadian Ryan Gosling also dreadfully fumbled with his directorial debut "Lost River,"  a surreal account of a family losing their house in a run-down neighborhood that might have been Detroit.  The festival was willing to program this for his being the star in Competition films the past two years and despite his use of that disclaimer "pardon my French" after one of his characters uses the f-word.

No complaints though for Wim Wenders noteworthy documentary in 2D this time of Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado that also won an award from the Un Certain Regard jury.   Wenders travels the world to many of the isolated places he photographed whole narrating his fascinating life story giving up his promising career as a World Bank economist to devote himself to photography.

There was no Closing Night film this year, though the one I concluded with could have easily qualified if it had been a little more artful, rather than just a solid, straight-forward telling of a true story that took place just thirty miles down the coast at Nice.  "In the Name of My Daughter" by Andre Techine and starring Catherine Deneuve and the latest young French star Adele Haenel, who also starred in the Director's Fortnight winner "Les Combattantes," is the story of a young woman who disappeared thirty years ago and her mother reopening the case to bring murder charges against her daughter's lover.  

Ralph somewhat regretted he had opted to see a South Korean violence strewn thriller, partially because it had a shorter running time, as his final film.  We had a nice festival rehash at a pizza restaurant that he frequented nearly every day.  It was another fine two weeks we both felt privileged to experience.  The films were great and so was our accommodations and camaraderie.  We were virtually prepared to put down a deposit the very next day.

Now its film withdrawal time.  We'll both do it through the bicycle.  My immediate destination is Toulouse to scout out the final two stages of The Tour de France before the peloton is transported back to Paris for its finale on the Champs Élysées.  Ralph will be taking the TGV back to Paris to retrieve his super light-weight bike.  He may take the train back to Avignon or Toulouse himself for a foray into the Pyrenees.  He travels without panniers, just a small bag, staying in hotels rather than camping, so our styles our too mismatched to ride together except for a possible short spell.  If we don't meet up again here, it will have to wait until Telluride  come August.  But I at least have the joy of meeting up with Janina in three weeks in the UK before The Tour starts in Leeds.


Bill Burns said...

Hey now, George! Bill from KC here. We last communicated when you were still in the states on your most recent Carnegie visits.

I looked at Google Earth's bicycle route from Cannes to Toulouse, and see that (if you're going anywhere near their route), you may be passing through Aix-en-Provence. If you do, and you haven't checked it out, there are a couple movie theatres there, as well as an English bookshop in town. I was introduced to them when I got stuck there with my then-13yo son while chasing the TdF to Digne Les Bains in 2008.

We had taken the TGV from Paris to Aix hoping to catch a bus to Digne, but we missed the bus by 10 mins due to a late arrival. It was about 8pm and most of the vendors were closed or closing up at the (very beautiful) train station. Our French is very minimal, and the locals were loathe to speak English to us, but we managed to bump into an older gentleman, a businessman meeting his son at the station. He spoke decent English and was kind enough to hail a cab for us to take into town. We stayed at the Hotel St. Christoph (!!) which was the first place we saw. It was very nice, but as you may imagine, pricey. Directly across the street on the main drag there is the Cezanne theatre (French) and another theatre almost adjacent, which showed some English films.

We got up the next morning and headed for the theatre looking to kill some time while pondering our next move. We ended up attending the first matinee showing of Kung Fu Panda, in French at the English film theatre. We were two of only four people in the movie. The other two people were a young couple who noticed we were speaking English and started a conversation afterward.

Turns out they were two young Mormon kids, French, from Marseilles, up to Aix for the Saturday to meet a friend who ran a McDonald's style fast food restaurant in town and to wander the stalls during their Saturday farmer's market.

They had been to Utah (of course) a couple times before, and said they like to practice their English. They didn't proselytize us at all, but just showed around the town a bit.

It was still early in the day, so we grabbed lunch at their friend's restaurant, and when they heard my son's penchant for the very elusive Dr. Pepper (he hadn't had any since arriving in country several days earlier, and was craving it), they pointed us to the English bookshop around the corner. We walked a few blocks down and voila! There was a bookshop, just opening up for the day, and they had a little English/American grocery in there, with a mini-fridge, containing exactly 12 mini DPs! My son was thrilled. We cleaned them out.

The couple kindly helped us in renting a car (we were traveling sans bicycles...I was sad; but son is not much for riding), and then they led us out of town, pointing us to the road to Digne.

We got to Digne just minutes after the riders had passed...sigh. So, we decided to head for Alpe d'Huez, since they'd be arriving in four days, and we figured we'd have enough time to get there, even making a short detour in Lyons. Well, that's another story.

Tailwinds on your way to Toulouse!

Bill in KC

Bill Burns said...

Ok, I'm getting ahead of myself. The detour to Lyons was after l'Alpe, and immediately before heading for Paris (with another detour over to Geneva for a night and half a day before the finale on the Champs.

george christensen said...

Bill: I will be passing through Aix as I did with Andrew a year ago. I've got a couple of books I finished that I'll try and trade at the book store. Thanks.

Where were you on L'Alpe d'Huez in 2008? I was just beyond Dutch Corner.

Regards, g