Cannes Diary 2007 | 5.26.07

cannes2007Practically everyone carries a bag (especially members of the press), so not having a bag lets you breeze past the inevitably long line to get your bag checked, which often means the difference between a decent seat and an awful seat, missing the first few minutes of a movie, etc. So, I wear a coat. Mine currently has a film of sweat all over the inside of it, and it is gross.




May 26, 2007

1:30 p.m.

One of the many things I do while at Cannes is read—I read the trades (there are four dailies that I try to keep up with while I’m here), I carry a book around with me everywhere I go (I usually get through two 400-ish page books per film festival, but I’ve been off pace so far this year; I started Catch-22 at the beginning of the festival and am still reading it, although I’m going to finish it tomorrow or so), I go online and read festival dispatches from film critics I like (Roger Ebert’s is sorely missed this year), etc.. What’s funny is that between the trades, blogs, and dispatches, there are always tons of easily spottable factual errors, misspelled names, etc., in regard to the films showing at Cannes, presumably because the turnaround time on the pieces is so short and because everyone’s brain is so fried. Since I don’t carry my press notes around with me (it is very beneficial to not have a bag of any sort while you’re here, but that’s a different story), I’m sure that my festival diary is rife with errors such as these. The most glaring one of my own that I’ve caught so far was that yesterday I said I was off to see a Japanese movie called The Haunted Forest, but it is actually called The Mourning Forest (at least I didn’t call it The Hidden Fortress, which also briefly popped in my head when I was trying to recall the English translation of the title, which is listed in the festival program as Mogari no Mori).

So anyway, yeah, I saw The Mourning Forest yesterday, which is a Japanese film that mostly concerns a man and a woman wandering through a beautiful forest while the man mourns—“mogari” is Japanese for the period of mourning one goes through after the death of a loved one. The film as a whole didn’t do a whole lot for me, but it was shot beautifully and relatively short (99 minutes), so I had no problem and wasn’t too squirmy, despite its late placement in the festival.

I was going to write this festival entry later today, but when I got out of the last film I saw, Denys Arcand’s The Age of Ignorance, I found that it was raining for the first time of the festival. It is about a 15 minute walk for me from the Palais to the place that I’m staying, so I figured I’d wait out the rain and finish this thing up. Generally it rains two or three of the days during the festival, but never too hard or too long, so it’s odd that now, on the second-to-last day, it is raining for the first time. Practically everyone here, regular people and film critics alike (myself included), have agreed that this year’s festival has been the best one in years, and I’m sure that the lack of rain has helped most people’s opinions and spirits (a lot of time you have to wait outside for hours without cover, so unprepared-for rain can really ruin people’s days, especially since you’re required to dress nicely sometimes). I like the rain, though, and it has been far too hot here this year—I’m one of those people that complains that it is too hot if it is 75 degrees outside, and this year most days have been about 85. Couple this with the fact that I wear a coat everywhere (which goes back to the not carrying a bag thing—I’ll explain in a minute) and have to run around in the sun like a maniac, and so-called “nice” weather makes me unhappy.

Without getting into it too much, the reason why I wear a coat but refuse to carry a bag is because, even though I do without press notes (for the purposes of the daily festival diary, anyway; I refer to them when doing my official, final wrap-up), you have to carry a lot of stuff around with you. For example, there are five festival programs that are brochure-sized and are pretty much obligatory to have with you at all times, and it’s also a good idea to maybe bring a pack of gum and your badge and notepad and other stuff that you can’t stuff all in your pockets, but perhaps in the pockets of a coat. When entering the Palais at any point, you get wanded by a metal detector and if you have a bag, the bag gets searched. Practically everyone carries a bag (especially members of the press), so not having a bag lets you breeze past the inevitably long line to get your bag checked, which often means the difference between a decent seat and an awful seat, missing the first few minutes of a movie, etc. So, I wear a coat. Mine currently has a film of sweat all over the inside of it, and it is gross.

The final in competition film screened this morning, Emir Kusturica’s Promise Me This. Kusturica is one of those filmmakers that I can pretty safely assume I’ll like whatever he comes out with, and Promise Me This is no exception. In fact, Promise is probably his best film since 1995’s Underground, which remains the best work he’s ever done (it won the Palme d’Or here the year it came out). It’s very typical Kusturica—rollicking, farcical, goofy; filled with elaborate set pieces and with an obscenely long running time—and it serves it well that pretty much all of the other competition films have been pretty somber (minus, perhaps, Persepolis). When the end credits are ready to roll, instead of the usual “The End” or “End,” Kusturica puts “Happy End” on the screen, and a happy end it was indeed to a great festival and a great slate of competition titles.

Of course, I still had the closing night film to see (which is playing out of competition, as the closing night films usually do), which was the aforementioned The Age of Innocence. Arcand was last here in Cannes in 2003 with The Barbarian Invasions, which I liked a lot, as I have all of Arcand’s other films that I’ve seen (I haven’t seen very many, though). Innocence has some funny scenes, but gets pretty annoying and all feels like it has been done before (it’s about an average, middle-aged man who is coming to find out that he hates his life), and I generally thought that it was stupid. However, its final reel or so is nice and fresh and makes Arcand’s poor choices in the rest of the film a little more palatable.

The Age of Innocence will be the last film of the festival that I am seeing for the first time. Tomorrow all that they are doing is rescreening the films that showed in competition, and if I’m feeling motivated and if the lines aren’t too harsh, I might revisit My Blueberry Nights and/or No Country For Old Men (it’s worth noting that for whatever reason they don’t put English subtitles on non-English films on the day that they rescreen everything, so I’m restricted to seeing English language films). The awards ceremony is tomorrow night, and I had planned on making tomorrow’s festival diary entry the last, but the awards are late and the press room will close soon after they are over, and so I’m going to make this the last entry of Cannes 2007. If you’re interested in seeing who won the awards, you can go to, and while you’re there, you can check out the embarrassingly bad poster they have this year (which they don’t allow to be reprinted in venues such as this one), which is all over the place here for obvious reasons. Also, keep your eye out for my official Cannes wrap-up here in a week or two, which I promise will be a lot more coherent and disciplined and actually about the movies and not about how tired I am. So, I’ll close out this final entry with a breakdown of the star ratings I’d give each film (it’s on the Roger Ebert scale of 0-4 stars, so the fact that nothing got below one star is a sign that there were no really awful films, and not that one star was the lowest rating that I would give), and then, if I were on the jury, who or what I’d vote for to win the various awards (note, too, that the jury tends to spread the awards out, giving no more than one award to a film, but I’m not going to pay attention to this rule; also, I’m including Zodiac despite not having seen it here, because it is in competition):

  • The Age of Ignorance **
  • Alexandra *
  • The Banishment *1/2
  • Blind Mountain ***1/2
  • Boarding Gate *
  • Breath **1/2
  • Control ****
  • Death Proof ****
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly ***1/2
  • The Edge of Heaven **
  • The Flight of the Red Balloon *
  • Four Months, Three Weeks, and Two Days ***1/2
  • Go Go Tales *1/2
  • Import/Export **1/2
  • Love Songs **
  • The Man From London **
  • Mister Lonely *1/2
  • The Mourning Forest **
  • My Blueberry Nights ***1/2
  • No Country For Old Men ****
  • Ocean’s Thirteen ***
  • An Old Mistress **1/2
  • Paranoid Park **
  • Persepolis ***
  • Pleasure Factory **1/2
  • Ploy ***
  • Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead **1/2
  • Promise Me This ***1/2
  • Psalms *1/2
  • Secret Sunshine ****
  • Sicko ***1/2
  • Silent Light **
  • The State of the World *1/2
  • To Each His Own Cinema ***
  • The Unseeable *1/2
  • We Own the Night *1/2
  • Zodiac ***1/2
  • Palme d’Or: No Country For Old Men
  • Grand Prix (second prize, despite its literal translation): Secret Sunshine
  • Jury Prize: Death Proof
  • Best Actor: Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men
  • Best Actress: Jeon Do-yeon, Secret Sunshine
  • Best Director: Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

│Pete Timmermann

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