2006 Cannes Film Festival | Day 2

Our man in Cannes – Pete Timmerman – takes you on a daily journey to the world’s most glamorous film festival. Your tux is optional, Pete’s is not.


18 May 2006, 5 :30 PM

Just a few minutes after finishing writing my Cannes diary entry yesterday I left the press room and went to go get in line for Paris, Je T’aime, but realized that I had the wrong day. My internal calendar is out of whack because The Da Vinci Code screened the day before the festival started, so I was thinking Paris, Je T’aime’s public screening was last night, where, in fact, the only film that screens on opening night is the opening night film (imagine that), which in this case was The Da Vinci Code. I’m just glad that I didn’t stand in line for an hour before I figured out my mistake.

This minor screw up in yesterday’s schedule has caused all kinds of headaches for today’s schedule that I’m still trying to get sorted out. I saw The Wind That Shakes the Barley as planned this morning at 8:30 AM, but then I had a whole bunch of choices. Barley let out at about 10:40 AM, and the first public screening of Paris, Je T’aime was about a two minute walk away, in Salle Debussy. Also, that sweet looking animated film about porn, Princess, was down maybe a ten minute walk away at the Noga Hilton, the headquarters for the Director’s Fortnight. The problem is that I wanted to see both movies quite a bit, and both were screening again tonight, right on top of the two press screenings of the Richard Linklater film that is in competition, Fast Food Nation (A Scanner Darkly is also showing here, but out of competition). I decided to scamper down to the Noga Hilton and check out Princess, because it would be the night screening of Paris, Je T’aime that the talent would be at, and if I got into the first screening of Fast Food Nation (at 5:00 PM in the Debussy), which was unlikely, I’d be able to see everything I wanted to see just fine.

Princess was really awful. It’s the type of film, like Spun or Snatch, that is made with enough style to get a following of uneducated douche bags who think it’s a masterpiece, when in fact it is a piece of shit. The “Princess” of the title is an ex-porn star who died before the events of the movie, left a young daughter behind, and whose porn bosses invoked the ire of her brother, who felt she was being exploited. So, the brother lays claim to her daughter and goes out and violently kills everyone related to Princess’ porn career. This would all work and would probably be wildly entertaining except that the director plays it all very straight-faced and acts as if killing porn moguls violently in front of small children actually is the nice, respectable thing to do. It’s very heavy-handed and preachily anti-porn, and, as a result, insulting and moronic. The whole “violence is good and porn is bad” thesis is so over the top the director had to have recognized his craziness, but he just didn’t really curb it at all. It’s a shame, too, because he and his crew have a real talent for weird, Bill Plympton-doing-anime type of animation (although it lacks the ability to really evoke real-looking emotions in its characters’ faces, which is necessary for a drama that is this forced and ridiculous).

The next screening I was interested in was the press screening of Gyorgy Palfi’s Taxidermia, which was in Salle Bazin at 1:00 PM. Taxidermia is in the Un Certain Regard sidebar, which films always press screen in Bazin and public screen in Debussy, and past years’ experience has found that, whenever possible, it is better to see the public screenings of the film rather than the press, because I get into them easier (see Paris, Je T’aime above). Even so, I didn’t have anything else to do, really, while Taxidermia was having its press screening, and while it looks like I’ll also be free during its public screening tomorrow, it’s better to get it out of the way while you can than to leave it for the next day and have something big and important come up in the meantime that keeps you from it. So, I saw the press screening of Taxidermia. You might recall that I mentioned yesterday that it is the second film from the Hungarian dude who made Hukkle, a sort-of experimental sort-of masterpiece from a few years back. Well, Taxidermia is even better. It follows three generations of a family, the oldest being a compulsive masturbator, the middle a competitive eater, and the youngest a taxidermist. All kinds of sick stuff follows (imagine a Troma film made by a Hungarian arthouse director), including a very unusual cockfight, some very realistic-looking post-eating competition barfing, a pair of beheadings, etc. Since Hukkle got a surprisingly decent release in the American market (it’s on DVD now and not entirely hard to find), here’s hoping that Taxidermia will find its way to you soon, as well.

I had about an hour to kill in between Taxidermia and when I needed to get in line for the 5:00 Fast Food Nation, so I went back to where I’m staying and ate some food really quick. By the time I made it back out in front of the Debussy to get in line for Nation, there were already a few people in line, and this was 75 minutes before the screening’s start time (it’s rare that I’m not the first person in line about an hour before the film). As I expected, I did not get in. What this means is that I will see Paris, Je T’aime as scheduled at 8:00 PM, which ends at 10:00 PM barring any late starts or anything, and then run to Bazin for the 10:00 screening of Fast Food Nation (Bazin is only a minute or two’s walk away from Debussy), and lose two hours of sleep tonight as a result. There’s a good chance I won’t get into it, either, in which case I can catch a screening of it on Sunday in Bazin, which is open to the public and would be crazy since Bazin is a small room with no space for a line, but whatever. Barring that, the film will screen one last time on closing weekend, where I am sure to get in without a problem. Hopefully it’ll work out to where I can see it tonight after Paris, Je T’aime (which, if I were to miss tonight, I may not get another chance to see), because that will save me a lot of hassle in the days to come.

It was announced maybe a week ago or so (late, anyway) that Clerks 2, Kevin Smith’s follow-up to his now 12-year-old breakout debut, would be premiering here out of competition. It doesn’t screen for the public until a week from tomorrow at 12:30 AM at the Debussy, and doesn’t screen for the press at all. I imagine I will have no trouble at all getting into the screening, but it seems odd that it isn’t even screening for the press…

The billboard situation in Cannes is interesting because, generally speaking, the ads are for films that are going into production, rather than for completed films that are or are about to be released. Anyway, there are a few around town for a film called My Blueberry Nights, which stars Norah Jones (yes, that Norah Jones) and is scheduled to start filming this summer. The director? Wong Kar-wai, the president of the jury this year and one of my favorite modern directors. I have since read a little about the film, and it seems that he has actually committed to a schedule this time around, so it might not be five years before we get to see it, as it was for In the Mood for Love and 2046. Also, if you’re interested, he is still in development for The Lady from Shanghai (starring Nicole Kidman) and another movie with Tony Leung whose name presently escapes me.

Tomorrow morning I’m seeing the new Almodovar, Volver, in the Lumiere, which is nice because if you’re press and you show up early enough you’re guaranteed a seat, unlike at the Debussy or Bazin. I haven’t gotten past that on tomorrow’s schedule yet, so I don’t know what else is yet to come. Oh, actually, the new William Friedkin, Bug, is screening in the Director’s Fortnight tomorrow, so I’m sure I’ll see that, too. Aside from that, I think my day is more or less up for grabs.

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