Cannes Diary 2007 | 5.17.07

cannes2007Seeing as how I am a fan of all three of these filmmakers, and also since for once I am trying to see less movies than I have in years past (so I don’t, you know, die), it seemed worth it to at least send of the request and await the inevitable rejection (note that just because I received the invitation to request an interview by no means means that I will actually get said interview).

 

 

 

 

Cannes Diary 2007 | Pete Timmermann

May 17, 2007

1:30 p.m.

redballoon

[Editor's Note: Pete just informed us that today he had an interview with director Wong Kar-wai and Norah Jones of My Blueberry Nights. A preview of the interview will be posted tomorrow as part of Pete's on-site coverage of Cannes 2007.] 

In the three other years that I have attended the Cannes Film Festival, I have failed to interview anyone, despite the fact that it seems like here would be an ideal time and place to do it, seeing as how the whole festival is an orgy of press, filmmakers, PR reps, etc. It hasn’t ever quite worked out, though, because Cannes is second only to the Olympics in terms of worldwide media coverage, which means that there are thousands of journalists here that are more important than I am, at least in the PR peoples’ eyes. That and it interferes with seeing as many movies as I want to see even so much as trying to schedule an interview, and then, if the interview went through, that’s all the more movies I’d miss. Since I don’t stand much of a chance in the first place of getting the interviews I want, most of the time this results in my not even trying, and me settling for press conferences (when I can get into them) instead. (This is only a gloss on how hard the whole interviewing people situation is here—I’ve failed to mention that I also don’t have a cell phone while I’m here and can only check my email about once daily, if I’m lucky, and also that usually very large international PR firms handle most of the movies here, and often try to sell package deals to journalists, meaning that they will only let them interview the person the journalist wants to interview if they also agree to interviewing a lot of other people that they don’t necessarily want to interview and likely can’t even do anything with the interview when it is completed… There is tons of stuff like this.) But anyway, this year a few days prior to the festival, I was contacted by a rep of The Weinstein Company wanting to know if I’d like to interview anyone from My Blueberry Nights, Sicko (the Michael Moore film, which is playing here out of competition), or Death Proof (the extended version of Quentin Tarantino’s part of Grindhouse that is playing in competition here). Seeing as how I am a fan of all three of these filmmakers, and also since for once I am trying to see less movies than I have in years past (so I don’t, you know, die), it seemed worth it to at least send of the request and await the inevitable rejection (note that just because I received the invitation to request an interview by no means means that I will actually get said interview). Much to my surprise, I found out yesterday that I’ve been invited to a roundtable with Wong Kar-wai at 5:55 p.m. today on the beach in front of the Noga Hilton (the hotel in whose basement the Director’s Fortnight films screen). It now seems considerably less unsatisfactory that I was shut out of the press conference to My Blueberry Nights yesterday (it filled up with more important journalists before I could get in).

After writing yesterday’s festival diary entry I went back to my room and took an unnecessary nap, and then saw the Romanian film Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days. All that I knew about it going in was that it was an abortion drama set during the country’s Communist rule. I wasn’t entirely excited to see it (as much as I love abortion dramas, especially ones concerning illegal abortions as this one does), but it sounded like it could be okay. It starts off really slow, and it almost completely lost me to the world of daydreaming at first. About a half an hour in the abortionist shows up, though, and it gets a lot better from there.

I saw Vera Drake with my mom in a near sold-out auditorium at Plaza Frontenac right after Imelda Staunton was nominated for Best Actress for the film. We were surrounded by the usual Frontenac mix of old ladies (it was a Sunday afternoon, as I recall), and to get a rise out of my mother I joked loudly that I hoped that there would be a couple of grisly abortion scenes in the movie, maybe involving coat hangers or Staunton in steel-toed boots running around kicking people or something. And while Vera Drake wound up not delivering on that front, 4M3W&2D does, and not just for shock value, either—it’s actually in the service of the story, which makes it all the better. After that initial half hour or so, 4 Months proved to be a very solid film that I thoroughly enjoyed, and will probably be this year’s equivalent to last year’s Red Road for me in terms of nice surprises.

This morning I saw the new Hou Hsiao-hsien film, The Flight of the Red Balloon, which stars Juliette Binoche and is his first French language film (Hou is Taiwanese). While Hou is one of my favorite international filmmakers (you might recall that I named his film Three Times as the best film of 2006), his work is sort of spotty with me, and it is not a given that I will like everything that he puts out. The film he made immediately prior to Three Times, Café Lumiere, was generally well-regarded by film critics, but I thought it was kind of dull and it generally left me cold, despite having some redeeming qualities and growing in stature in my mind after having seen it. The Flight of the Red Balloon is the same—I found it a little too slow and dry and boring, but there were certainly things about it that I liked, and I imagine that over time I will convince myself that I liked it, when I really didn’t (or not the first time, at least).control

Due to the surprise wkw interview, my schedule for the rest of the day is up in the air and generally in a state of disarray. Aside from Red Balloon there is another Un Certain Regard film screening today that I would see if I had a lighter schedule, Water Lilies, but I’m going to have to let that one go. Two films of higher priority are the Russian competition film The Banishment (it is always very high priority for me to see all of the films in competition here) and the opening night film down at the Director’s Fortnight, Control, which is Anton Corbijn’s docudrama about Ian Curtis, the lead singer of Joy Division. The problem is, the screenings are all overlapping one another, and it seems pretty likely at this point that I’ll have to choose between seeing either The Banishment or Control, and won’t be able to pull off both. There’s a screening of Control at 7 p.m. (which is two hours long) and then one of The Banishment at 10 p.m. (which is two and a half hours long), so depending on how long the wkw roundtable lasts I might be able to sneak over to the 7, which would be right across the street, and then after that is over run down to the Palais to see the 10 of The Banishment in Salle Bazin, but this all seems kind of unlikely, because even if the roundtable doesn’t last very long the line for Control will be pretty ridiculous. I have yet to work out where and when both The Banishment and Control will be screened later (and if The Banishment will have English subtitles when it does, which is not a given), so maybe it will all still work out. If I have to choose between them, though, I’m sure I will regret having missed the one that I decided against. Oh well; I guess this is a pretty good problem to have.│Pete Timmermann

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