Cannes Diary 2007 | 5.21.07

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This morning was the press screening of the new Gus Van Sant film, Paranoid Park, which is about a young skateboarder who accidentally kills a security guard and then decides not to tell anyone. As it sounds, the film plays very much like how Van Sant tackling a Larry Clark movie would be.

paranoid

 

May 21, 2007
12:15 p.m.

My last screening of the night last night was Ulrich Seidl’s Import/Export, and Austrian production about a Ukranian woman who winds up in Austria and an Austrian man who winds up in the Ukraine (the two never meet). The film has funny moments—there was a particularly memorable scene early on in the film where the Ukranian girl struggles through her first day for an internet porn site that kept pretty much the entire audience in their seat for the remainder of the film’s 135-minute running time, if only to see what other crazy stuff the director might pull (tons of people always walk out of the press screenings at Cannes, especially if the film is long, and no matter if it is good or well-received). Really, though, it wound up being too long and without enough of a plot or unifying themes to keep me happy, and was also kind of unpleasantly misanthropic, which is an odd thing, as I tend to like movies that can be labeled as misanthropic.

This morning was the press screening of the new Gus Van Sant film, Paranoid Park, which is about a young skateboarder who accidentally kills a security guard and then decides not to tell anyone. As it sounds, the film plays very much like how Van Sant tackling a Larry Clark movie would be. I have an odd tendency to not like Van Sant’s films the first time that I see them (Drugstore Cowboy and To Die For being the two exceptions; I loved those from the start), but then slowly coming to like them over the next few months or years. As is not surprising due to my history with him, I didn’t particularly care for Paranoid Park, but we’ll see if that feeling holds up.

Paranoid Park let out at about 10:05 a.m. (it would have been about ten minutes sooner, but they had problems with the projector partway through the movie that made for an impromptu intermission), and at 10:45 in Lumiere was the press screening of A Mighty Heart, the Michael Winterbottom film about Daniel Pearl which stars Angelina Jolie. I don’t like Jolie, but I do like Winterbottom and the Pearl story is an interesting one, so I’d like to see the movie, but didn’t in favor of going to the press conference for Paranoid Park; A Mighty Heart opens in the States in about a month, anyway, so it isn’t like I’m going to have to wait for long. Chris Doyle, Wong Kar-wai’s longtime cinematographer (who did not, incidentally, shoot My Blueberry Nights, but has worked on every other Wong film since 1989), was the D.P. on Paranoid Park, and he took part in the press conference. I’d never seen him speak before but he’s always very interesting in interviews, and, while he (and the rest of the members of the press conference) took a backseat to Gus for most of the questions, he did have a lot of interesting things to say. One of the more curious of his answers to a question, and which hadn’t occurred to me before, is that compared to how a lot of television shows and made-for-tv movies are shot in letterbox format (1.85:1) these days, there has been a return for filmmakers to shoot in the traditional silent frame of 1.33:1, as he does here (and Gus did with D.P. Harris Savides in Elephant and Last Days), and was also done in some other wide-ish releases like Wordplay last year. (Actually, to clarify, Paranoid Park is shot in 1.37:1, which is the “after sound” format, meaning that there’s a little more space on the film where the strip of sound usually goes, that was not accounted for during the silent period when 1.33:1 was the norm.) Another, non-Chris Doyle-related piece of information from the press conference that I thought was interesting was that while Paranoid Park has been getting a lot of pre-screening press for having been cast through MySpace, none of the three leads in the film were actually cast from MySpace at all (and only one ofploy them even admitted to having a MySpace page whatsoever). So much for that media blitz on the cool new way to cast films looking for young, non-professional actors.

I need to leave the press room now to run down to the Noga Hilton to see the Director’s Fortnight screening of Ploy, the new Pen-ek Ratanaruang film (he’s the guy who made Last Life in the Universe a few years back). I hope it’s good—I’ve been missing good Asian cinema from this year’s fest, and Cannes is usually the one place where I can count on seeing some. After that I’m going to go to the new Abel Ferrara, Go Go Tales, and after that is the press screening of Death Proof, in its extended cut—the running time listed in the festival program is nearly 45 minutes longer than its running time as a part of Grindhouse. Also, I don’t know what to expect re: how crowded the press screening will be. Will people not show up because they already saw it, or will a ton of people show up because it is a Tarantino film in a previously unseen version? If I don’t get into the 7 of it at Debussy, I can probably get into the 10 at Bazin, so I guess I’ll play it by ear.│Pete Timmermann

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