Monday, May 22, 2006

Cannes #3

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Hello From Cannes. Day Three.

Yesterday, I'd planned a whole day of screenings for today beginning at 10am. However, a very late night last night was the reason for my 1PM wake-up call today. After "breakfast" and the beach, it was close to 4PM by the time I hit the Croisette. Ce la'Vie.

Volver Movie Stills: Penelope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Due´┐Żas, Pedro Almodovar
Pedro Almodovar's Volver

And yes, I know that's probably not spelled right. But at this point, I've butchered the French language so badly, I have no more shame.

Anyway, my pal Nia and I were excited to catch an afternoon screening of Pedro Almodovar's latest, Volver, starring Penelope Cruz and Carmen Maura. It's classic Almodovar with all his quirky trademarks. In Spanish with English subtitles, the story has its share of twists and turns following three generations of women in one family dealing with abusive husbands, economic issues, and supernatural sightings. It's wonderfully all over the map. I have to say, this has to be one of Penelope's best performances--if not the best. She is always too dry for me. Here, she EMOTES, and the audience loves her for it.

After the screening, we grabbed cheap Chinese food. With three days of pasta, pizza, croissants and creams literally under our belts, all we wanted was something different. Home-made egg rolls did the trick.

We then split up. Nia saw Claire Simon's Ca Brule. I went to check out the market premiere of We Do Not Exist by Herve Pierre Gustave. In this brash bit of film, the director plays the lead role of a 39-year-old porn star who wants to radically change his life. As he enters his new mainstream world, he is rejected at every turn--personally and professionally. But his strong will leads him to a tolerant, tattooed punk rock beauty and a better sense of himself. This flick, in French with English subtitles, was bizarre and hard to watch at times. But there were some nice moments. Still, I don't know if I'd recommend it.

I then headed over to Plage Mace, a massive outdoor movie screen propped up on gleaming silver pillars in the ocean. You watch from the sand on sling back beach chairs provided by the fest. You can also grab a complimentary blanket to get cozy. Very cool to watch a film under the stars with the waves hitting the shore and these oversized images in front of you. Loved the experience, even if the film--Electroma--left a little to be desired.

On my way back to the hotel, I passed the frenzy of the red carpet for the traditional "Climbing of the Stairs." This is the media and fan circus that takes place for all premieres scheduled in the Grand Theatre Lumiere. It's the visual that most of us envision when we think of Cannes. Starlets in evening gowns and handsome gents in tuxedos waving to throngs of international press on those red carpeted steps.

Tonight, the premiere was of X-Men The Last Stand. I tried to make my way through the hysterical crowds as quickly as possible. On my way, I THINK I saw Sam Jackson and Elijah Wood. But just in case either is in Santa Monica sipping lattes on Montana, don't hold me to it.

XMEN is one of several big studio films that have overtaken the Croisette with monstrous billboards. The best boards I've seen though are Dreamgirls (ok, maybe I'm a bit biased) and Miami Vice. That Miami Vice one is at the entrance of the Carlton and is fabulous. Jamie Foxx looks excellent--bald, sunglasses, simmering. The images of him and Colin Farrell are in this cool blueish, green tint. You know Michael Mann is sick with his stuff. I'm looking forward to that one strictly due to that damn board at Cannes.

While here, I've learned that this whole scene is really all about perception and buzz-building. And if in between the heavy creme pasta and the many, many parties you can catch some films, more power to ya. I did my best to break away for the swank and the bling, and am happy with what I saw film-wise. After writing and directing my first short, Saturday Night Life, and screening it here at Cannes, I now understand that each and every film--regardless of its critical or audience reception--is an accomplishment. It's harder for me to slam the films I don't love and easier to praise something when it goes even a little right. Making a film ain't easy and the first-hand experience has definitely made me a kinder critic.

Well, tomorrow, I head out. I'm glad I "did" Cannes. It's definitely a fest that's worth the pilgrimage.

--AMD, Cannes 05-22-06.