Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Just another manic monday...

I've spent the last week recovering from my latest trip and it seems that nothing much is going on except that I found out that my bad colesterol is back down to where it should be. So I've given up my diet for a while and will start again soon.

This week is the ABA book fair, which is going to have lots of schmoozing and also the Brooklyn International Film Festival, which is somthing I'll check out.

The Dutch are going to vote on the EU constitution and that's probably going to kill it. Just as well, it was 300 pages long and was basically a beaurocratic protection plan. The Dutch don't like giving all their money to Slovakia and Portugual and that would probably make the whole thing permenant.

I've got anywhere from one to three screenings today...I'm bushed and it's only nine in the morning. I think I should have some red bull...

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Saturday morning

So here I am at the Monaco grand prix, I got into the nosebleed section and managed to get all the way down to the expensive area near the media center, who won't let me in with only my NYC press credentials, the question is why anyone would get a thrill out of watching misshapen cars go around a track, even if it's around the Quay at Monte Carlo. Boring!

What makes everything worse is that the nosebleed seats cost forty euros, and the bleachers cost almost two hundred. I know people who pay more in rent every month than what the regular tickets cost.

Tomarrow is all sold out, so there must be something to this...

So while we're waiting to sneak into one of the expensive seats, here's the last batch of reviews from Cannes:

This is the last batch of reviews from Cannes. We've got the Monte Carlo Grand Prix auto race this morning, and no films to see. So here they are:

Operetta Tanukigoten (Princess Raccoon) Japan

Written and Directed
by Seijun Suzuk

So what is the weirdest movie of the year? A trippy multicultural musical romp done in front of a blue screen to have a very strange and artistic background where characters in traditional kabuki dress sing calypso music and rap?

You can't get weirder than that!

According to the opening expostion, it's a terrible idea for people and raccoons [biological note: Japanese raccoons are not related to American raccoons, one is a species of dog and one is, well a raccoon] to fall in love. But it's the thirteenth month of the year, and anything could happen.

The evil and vain Lord Azuchi Momoyama(Mikijiro Hira) is the most narcissistic man in all Japan. He thinks he's the fairest of them all, that is until his devout Catholic witch, the Old Maid Virgen(Saori Yuki) says that his son Amechiyo (Odagiri Jô) is actually better looking, so he Azuchi sends his son into the forest with a ninja to…yeah, they probably stole it from “Snow White” but there are no seven dwarves….here he meets Princess Tanuki (Zhang Ziyi) a Chinese princess of the raccoon dogs who's generally disguised as a human.

They fall in love. They sing and dance. There's a quest for the frog of heaven. We don't know what's going on half the time. The plot is thin and the music generally inappropriate. It's hilarious! The melodrama is insane and the choreography is actually pretty good, as is the acting and the singing.

I don't think that this'll ever see release in the North American market as no one will know what to do with this thing. It's the most inscrutable of films. Weird.

The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada (USA)

Directed by
Tommy Lee Jones

Guillermo Arriaga, who penned the screenplays for “Amores Perros” and “24 Grams” is a Mexican who doesn't like the US border patrol. In fact, he thinks the idea that the US has a right to defend it's own borders is offensive, and he wrote a script about it. Then he gave it to Tommy Lee Jones who's starring and directing.

Melquiades Estrada(Julio César Cedillo) is an illegal immigrant who works on a cattle ranch in Southwest Texas. He's made friends with his boss, Pete Perkins(Tommy Lee Jones), a bit of a nutcase who likes to commit adultery with some of the local married ladies, mostly Rachel(Melissa Leo), who 's a waitress at the local bistro.

Into this area come Mike(Barry Pepper) and Lou Ann Norton(January Jones), a young couple who's moving there involuntarily. He's with the border patrol and has to go catch illegal aliens trying to run the border. He's good at his job, and that makes some of his coworkers mad, them being Hispanic and all. We then start going back and forth in time between the time Mike and Lu Ann arrive and the time Malquiades' body is found, and we learn in the meantime that Mike had accidentally done it. After all, he had no choice, Malquiades was shooting at coyotes in his direction. Pete wants justice, but since there's no real evidence to convict or even indict Mike, Sheriff Belmont(Dwight Yoakam) says there's nothing to be done, so he buries the body in a local cemetery and that, it seems is that…but no.

Pete decided to kidnap Mike, tie up Lou Ann, and force Mike to dig the body up and accompany him to Mexico, to the place where Malquiedes asked to be put in the ground.

This is a nasty film. One of the most brutal I've seen this year, and we've had some real buisers. The body is shown in an advanced state of decay, Mike gets bitten by a rattle snake and gets the crap beat out of him, and the whole thing goes overlong on the quest through the exotic western desert.

This, despite the brutality and diversions [two of the most boring sex scenes this year], this is well worth a look. It seems that Mr. Jones knows how to direct himself.

Chromophobia (UK)

Written and Directed
by Martha Fiennes

Just because you're rich doesn't mean you're happy. This is true for pretty much everywhere in the world. What appears to be an extremely expensive ranch house in Southern California is, in fact in the suburbs of London, and Marcus(Damian Lewis) and Iona Aylesbury(Kristin Scott Thomas) live here with their son Orlando in upper class splender. These aren't the famous upper-class twits from the Monty Python sketches, no, these are intelligent people of the kind you meet in Woody Allen films.

Marcus is a lawyer, and when we meet him he's just being made partner. This, is great financially, but he has to work longer hours than ever, making Iona suspect that he's having an affair with his secretary, which he's not.

While walking to lunch our hero meets up with his old band-mate Trent(Ben Chaplin), who works for the London tabloids and can't get his exposé on he environment published. What they want is dirt about celebrities, the British being madder about then we in the states are. That or a political scandal, which is what Mark is going to inadvertently provide. So Trent begins to stick to Mark like glue, going to visit Marks parents(Ian Holm and Harriet Walter) and the like, and secretly taping Mark's rantings…

They have other problems too. Their best friend Stephen the gay art dealer (Ralph Fiennes) was beaten nearly to death in his own apartement by some kids he befreiended and the cops discovered a quicktime movie of Orlando stripping off his shirt and dancing….is this innocent?

Then there's the question as to where the relationship between social worker Colin(Rhys Ifans) and prostitute Gloria Ramiriz de Arroyo (Penélope Cruz) fits into all this. She's got cancer and a kid, and she doesn't want to give it up until the very last minute.

The acting is really good and the story is compelling. We aren't sure who to root for, as every one of the main character is actually rather nice and we don't want to see them hurt, but they do, and badly.

This is a compelling film. Funny and smart, it's well worth a look.

Friday, May 20, 2005


So here we are not exactly the last day of the festival, but the last day for me. There were three films viewd today, Chromophobia, Princess Racoon and The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada .

I'll get to the reviews later, for Princess Racoon is one of the weirdest films I've seen in years and definately the weirdest I've seen here at Cannes. Melquiades Estrada is as brutal a film as you can get and still be an 'R" and I'm not sure about Chromophobia yet.

Tomarrow, they're repeating all the films from one of the sidebars tomarrow and the official films on Sunday, but I'm going to fly home then and that'll be just fine with me. I'll try to get the reviews up either tomarrow or at the airport on Sunday. This has been one hell of an experience.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


I missed it again! I discovered that there was an extra screening of this movie I missed twice today and when I got there the line was halfway down the hall. Most of the people didn't get in and by the time they said that it was full I had missed the other screening. I thought I was getting lucky as I managed three other films I'd missed.

That's life, I guess. After all this time I've finally got the blog thing to work perfectly. The outside temperature's back where it should be after going down into the low fifties. This is supposed to be the subtropics in MAY for crissake!

So here are two of the reviews I was going to put up in the morning:

Free Zone (Israel)

Written and Directed
by Amos Gitai

Just west of the border with Iraq is the area of Jordan known as the “Free Zone.” This piece of desert is sparcely inhabited and is tax free, hence the name. The special status is thus perfect to sell used cars for use all over the middle east.

Rebecca(Nathalie Portman) has just left her husband and grabs a taxi for the airport. She wants to leave Israel in order to forget the wreck of her marriage, but she gets into the wrong cab, for Hanna(Hanna Laslo), has a mission. To cross from Israel to the Free Zone and get thirty grand from “the American” who’s her husband’s business partner.

So Hanna offers to take Rebecca with her, why we don’t know. First there’s a slight amount of trouble at the Israeli/Jordanian border, then they get lost, but this is a good place for some interesting flashback action where we see the two protagonist’s back-stories. While the relationship between Rebecca and her husband(Markram Khoury) doesn’t ring exactly true, the one between Hanna and her husband Moshe(Uri Klauzner) most certainly does and is quite moving.

Finally getting to where they’re going, quite late, in fact, the pair meets up with
Leila(Hiam Abbass), who’s supposed to be the American’s assistant. She and Hanna argue about the money owed, and finally she agrees to take them to see the American.

What happens next is unexpected and actually quite interesting. This is not a geat film, but an extremely good one and the whole thing is quite moving in parts.

Why Portman is brilliant in everything she does except “Star Wars” isn’t exactly a mystery. I blame George Lucas. In the meantime, check this out if it ever gets to America.

Don't Come Knockin' (USA/Germany)

Directed by
Wim Wenders

Back in the ’60s, a young man named Sam Shepherd wanted to be a movie star, but no one would hire him as he wasn’t that good an actor. So he decided to start writing his own plays in order to give himself a showcase.

Well, he could indeed write. Very well, in fact. Stuff like “True West” are today considered classics. Then after getting confirmed as one of the best playwrights of his time, he got his big acting break in “The Right Stuff” back in 1983. Following that he made a few movie appearances, but his “Marlborough Man” persona wore out rather quickly and his career as a matinee idol quickly fizzled.

This was, in a perverse way, a really good thing, as it forced him back to his typewriter and go back to what he’s doing best, Writing.

So a few plays and years later, he and his friend, director Wim Wenders, got together and talked. Wenders’ last couple of films had been flops [his last one was really lousy], and he was in great need of a comeback before his reputation as a genius would begin to fade. A Shepherd-Wenders collaboration would be just the thing to get the two back on top.

The ploy seems to have worked.

In this thing Shepherd has cast himself as one Howard Spence, a Clint Eastwood-type, whose off-screen life has been one screw-up after another. Sex, drug busts, walking off the set, beating up fellow jet passengers. It’s surprising that he even gets work any more. But when we meet him, he has, and he’s just fled the on-location set on a horse into the great southwestern desert.

The Director(George Kennedy) is livid, as are the rest of the cast and crew, not to mention the insurance company, which has guaranteed the completion of the film for $35 million. With all that money on the line, it’s clear to see that they’re going to try to bring him back to work. This job goes to their number one tracker, The mysterious Mr. Sutter (Tim Roth).

But our hero doesn’t want to be found, and he makes his way to Salt Lake City, where he contacts Howard's Mother(Eva Marie Saint) in Nevada. Howard and Mom haven’t seen each other in thirty years, but she’s glad to see him anyway, despite the fact that he’s acting like an ass.

She asks him about his son in Butte, Montana and he doesn’t know what she’s talking about. He hadn’t a clue that he had impregnated anyone. But he thinks about it for a bit and remembers. Curious, he takes his late father’s very old ’57 Chevy and heads northeast to the Big Sky Country. Meanwhile…

Sky’s(Sarah Polley) mother has just died. She has apparently some connection with our hero, probably she’s the love child that Mom had been talking about. Maybe she’s another one. We don’t figure that out until near the end. So she heads over to Butte too, impelled by an unknown force.

In Butte, the chase, if that’s what it is, begins to change direction, so to speak, for our hero has found Doreen(Jessica Lange), the child’s mother, extremely quickly, and she points out the son he never knew. But Earl (Gabriel Mann) doesn’t want to hear about it and although his Amber (Fairuza Balk) thinks it’s a hoot.

Family relationships is a Shepherd specialty, and this shows his genius to it’s full extent. Gabriel Mann is a wonder. He comes out of nowhere and takes over the screen. The scenes between him and Shepard are full of the emotional electricity that made Shepard famous in the first place.

This is something to see. A perfect independent film to be sure.

Thursday morning, between screenings.

One of the more pathetic phenomenon that I've noticed here in Cannes is the begging. They don't sell tickets here, they give people "cinephile" cards that permit them to beg for extra tickets and then get into the theaters. For this privilage, you have to write an essay. Trading tickets can get a bit dicey, as I mentioned yesterday when someone tried to grab my ticket to a certain screening.

We also had the shorts program where the master's theses of a number of student filmmakers were on display. Some of them were actually quite good.

Starting today the market begins to wind down, and it ends tomarrow. The day after the screenings will end and all that is left is the ceremony, which I won't be attending asI don't own a tux and I've got a doctor's appointment in New York on monday. In the meantime, I've got two and a half more days of this stuff....here are three more reviews:

Peindre Or Faire L'Amour (France)

Written and Directed by Arnaud
and Jean-Marie Larrieu

To translate to the English: To Paint or Make Love? Ah that's a question. Of course the choice is a false one, as the painting we're talking about is a picture on a canvas and not with a roller and latex. This doesn't matter as you're not going to get a chance to see it anyway.

The reason is that it stinks, and stinky French cinema almost never goes over to the left side of the Atlantic. Be grateful about that when munching on your freedom fries.

Madeleine (Sabine Azema) is a retired real estate agent living somewhere in rural France with her equally retired husband William (Daniel Auteuil). She's outside painting a pasture when all of a sudden Adam (Sergi Lopez) shows up. Now this guy is a blind philosopher, as well as the town's mayor, and he worms his way into Madeline's good graces, and she invites him to dinner, so he and his wife
Eva(Amira Casar) come over, the foursome hit it off, and then the two guests return the favor. So far it's cute.

Then Adam and Eva's house burns down and so does the whole movie. Madeleine and William are soon jealous that their guests don't really want to spend all their time with them. A&E realize this and soon they do some wife swapping and then everyone's even more bummed out as the guests decide on the spur of the moment to flee to the South Pacific.

There's a happy ending, but this is sooooooo bloody dumb that even fans of French cinema will wretch. How this got into the Cannes Competition is a mystery. I guess that something had to come in last and they wanted to be nice to the other competitors.

La Petite Jerusalem (France)

Written and Directed
by Karin Albou

Laura(Fanny Valette) is a college student in France and she's studying philosophy. Her hero seems to be Immanuel Kant, and she strives to master herself. Her family are ultraorthodox Jews and don't really like anything as secular as that. What her mother(Sonia Tahar) really wants is for her to drop out and marry a nice Jewish doctor. Some things are universal, but Laura's mom is a bit on the witchy side, casting spells and putting talismans under Laura's bed.

Our heroine also lives with her older sister Mathilde(Elsa Zylberstein) and brother in law Ariel( Bruno Todeschini) and their many children. Even after being very fertile, she doesn't know much about sex, and this drives Ariel to have an affair with an unseen blonde. This drives Laura further away from religion, a move that finally leads her to have a fling with Djamel(Hédi Tillette de Clermont Tonnerre), an Algerian writer who's there illegally and is also Muslim.

What's interesting here is the disdain for Jewish tradition on the part of auteur Albou, and the scenes of synagogues getting burned to the ground and Ariel getting beaten up because of his yalmika.

It's also interesting that when we get to meet Djamel's family, they're even more backward and prejudiced than Laura's! I guess the fact that it's “evenhanded” in this way got it into one of the major sidebars here at Cannes.

Not worth it at all.

The President's Last Bang (South Korea)

Written and Directed
by Im Sang-soo

If you're going to overthrow the government you've got to have a plan, especially if you're one of the top people in the government. It just won't do if you blow away the president and then hand it over to a nonplussed and ignorant VP. You have to get control after the actual act, because if you don't, you'll get sent to jail for life or worse, executed.

The year is 1979, and Park Chung-He(Song Jae-ho) has been President since he over threw the nation's founder in 1961. At this point he's a corrupt old coot, who's minions are a bunch of violent thugs who don't really care how the nation feels about anything as long as they get their money and women.

This night the President has invited a few of his top aides to dinner and the Korean CIA safe-house including the KCIA director Kim (Baik Yoon-shik) and the bafoonish security chief Cha (Jeong Won-joong), who treats Kim and his top aide Ju-gwajang(Han Seokgyu) like dirt. Some time during the early part of the dinner, Kim gets fed up with everything and tells Ju, on the spur of the moment, that he's going to kill the president and Cha and bring democracy to South Korea.

Just there like that. Ju and Kim quickly get a few aides who just happened to be there, and within a few minutes everything is in place. President Park and his aides are listening to a popular singer(Kim Yoon-ah) and her ditzy best friend(Cho Eun-ji) who'd been dragooned into the gig when all of a sudden…BANG!!!!

What happens after the assassination is actually more interesting than the events leading up to it. This was an important bit of South Korean history and it was one of those stories that had to be told.

Needless to say, when this film came out in South Korea early this year, it had the same impact as Oliver Stone's “JFK,” and the version shown here is unexpurgiated. That said, everything except the title is very, very good. The performances are wonderful Biak is mesmerizing as the conflicted patriot who despite years of being an oppressor decides to go for it. Han is even better showing a really nuanced performance, and the rest of the cast, most of whom I can't find the names of anywhere, show a range from slapstick to tragedy.

It would be nice to see this here in the States….

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

wednesday morning

One of the things the good people here in Cannes like to do is issue far more tickets to their screenings than there are seats. There are two results to this, (three if you count that it fights that occur when someone wants to trade and the other person doesn't) the first is the theater is always full, and the second is that lots of people can't get in and walk away really mad. That is what happened to me a couple of times yesterday. Once for The Child and once for the market screening of Dundgeons and Dragons IV or V (I'm not sure which).

This resulted in my seeing two unscheduled films, an Israeli documentery reviewed below and a reallly old film by a guy named Robert Bresson called Les Anges Les Peche. It's about a convent that recruits ex-convicts and involves a young saint and a murderer whom she befriends. It's really silly melodrama. I've always wanted to see "Killer Nuns in Prison" or something like that, but this is as close as I'll ever get. I saw a poster in the market area for a film who's name I can't recall, but the tag line is "God is REAL and He's coming to KILL you!!!"

After I got out of the nun picture, I decided to have my one meal of the day (I'm on a diet) at a local bistro, BIG mistake. A small green salad and a diet Coke® cost ten bucks. I'd have gone to a sandwich place on the beach, where the fare is slightly cheaper, but the heavens opened up and we got at least two inches of rain. The subtropics in the middle of may and it's freezing out...shee'yit!

Now for the reviews:

Avenge But One of My Two Eyes (Israel)

Written and Directed
by Avi Mograbi

This is a documentary about suicide and it's place in modern-day Israeli ideology and as a part of the Israeli/Palestinian problem. Filmmaker Avi Mograbi has long been one of those anti-Israel Israelis who despite all the evidence to the contrary, still thought that diologue with Arafat and his evil minions would lead to something. HA!

Basically, what it is, is on the one hand a phone conversation between Mograbi and a Palestinian/Christian friend of his discussing how life isn't worth living under the current situation [this was 2002, at the height of the Palestinian war of aggression known as the 'Al-Aqsa Intifada']. We don't really know where this is leading, but the conversation is interspaced with scenes from guides telling tourists the story of the siege of Massada, which is where the Jewish revolt against Roman oppression finally ended with the mass suicide/murder of the Jewish freedom fighters in 73 AD. Then he goes over to the Israeli army checkpoints in the West Bank, where Palestinians are forced to wait for hours in front of roadblocks.

More humiliating than having to wait, is of course is being forced to by inferior Jews. Even worse, when this was filmed a couple of years ago, the Palestinians under Arafat had declared full-scale war on the Jews. We don't see that part, as this is more propaganda than anything else.

Also highlighted, and this is where the title comes from his the story of Samson, hero Judge of Israel in the late second millennium BC, he of the magical dreadlocks that gave him super-strength, and how he brought the Temple of Moloch in Gaza down, killing himself and thousands of Phillistines.

Basically what Mograbi is saying is that if it was okay for Samson and the Zealots of Masada to off themselves, then it's okay for Palestinians of little brain to strap bombs on their bellies and blow themselves up in the middle of restaurants and schools. It's a tribute to the government of Israel and the National TV network that the government PAID for this piece of crap. Genuine freedom of speech is rare.

Broken Flowers

Written and Directed
by Jim Jarmusch

Bill Murray, has in recent years, perfected a certain character. Well aware, but half asleep, he wanders through the world trying to make sense of it all. He's gotten an Oscar® nomination for playing it, and it's always rather fascinating to watch.

Jim Jamrusch is an occasional genius, who's films range from the useless to the utterly brilliant. This is a match made in heaven that has born fruit before, in “Coffee and Cigarettes”.

During the opening credits we follow a pink envelope as it travels from the hand of a mysterious person through the entire US postal system, until it winds up in the front hall of one Don Johnston(Murray), whom we meet getting dumped on by his girlfriend(Julie Delpy), while nosey sitcom neighbor Winston(Jeffrey Wright) calls to invite him for fine Ethiopian coffee.

While discussing life, our hero opens the letter at last, which says that he has a nineteen year old son who's off on a voyage to find his unknown father. Being a laid-back kind'a guy, he's more than happy to wait for the fellow to drop by, but Winston is a big fan of mystery novels and TV shows and thinks himself a bit of a sleuth himself. This is an old fashioned mystery presenting itself in real life.

He convinces Don to go on a preemptive quest to find out who the mysterious mother is. To do this, Don has to visit all the girlfriends he was going out with in 1986, and ask them point blank. Winston has made all the arrangements, all he has to do is foot the bill and go.

So off he goes. These are four very different women. The first, Laura(Sharon Stone), is a widow with a teenaged daughter(Alexis Dziena) who likes to go around in the nude. Dora(Frances Conroy) is a real estate broker who's married to her business partner(Christopher MacDonald) and is ultra-straight and living in a house that looks like something out of “House and Garden.” Carmen(Jessica Lange) is an “animal communicator” who claims to be to be a latter-day Dr. Doolittle. Then there's Penny(Tilda Swinton), who lives out in the middle of nowhere and is the only one of the four who isn't happy to see Don after all these years.

Does Don find his son? That would be telling, and while this isn't one of the most compelling movies of the year, but it's one chock full of really winning performances, and is definitely worth a bargain matinee.

There are a number of market screenings of films that I've seen in some small (and large) film festivals in the last few months and this would be a good place to place a couple of reviews:

The Baxter

Written and Directed
by Michael Showalter

The title of the film is a made-up word. It's the guy who loses the girl in just about every romantic comedy made in the US over the past few dozen years. You know, Gloriana is about to marry Baxter, but the love of her life Toby has just returned from Darkest Africa to sweep her off her feet. Poor Baxter always gets dumped at the alter…and we feel good about it!

So this is the story of one such baxter, who's name is Elliot Sherman(Michael Showalter). Elliot is an accountant [aren't they all?] and in the course of his duties, he meets two women, Cecil Mills(Michelle Williams) a mousy temp, and the glamorous Caroline Swann(Elizabeth Banks), who unexpectedly falls in love with Elliot, and soon they're engaged.

But as expected in these things, Caroline's been holding a torch for one Bradley Lake(Justin Theroux), who shows up just as scheduled. Brad has to be stopped, but what is someone as klutzy as Elliot to do?

He accidentally meets up with Cecil again, and it seems that they're soulmates, but as luck would have it, she's got a boyfriend too(Paul Rudd). So, is Elliot going to be the baxter yet again?

The good thing about this is that most of the jokes work. Showalter can act all right, but this is bascally a one man show, and he manages to pull it off. Ms. Williams is adorable, and in the basically thankless role of Caroline, Liz Banks does a quite professional job. What's surprising is Justin Theroux, who's actually hilarious. This is definitely worth a matinee.


Directed by
Christian Alvart

One of the reasons that most foreign nations hate America is that for some reason we love our serial killers. There are serial killer movies galore coming out of the 'States and this leads the less intelligent to imagine that the land of the free and home of the brave is just chock full of them.

Other countries have them too, y'know and this is gem is a good reminder of this important fact.

Michel Martens(Wotan Wilke Moehring) is mostly a farmer, but in his little town somewhere in rural Germany, needs a part time cop,and he's it. There was a murder of a teenaged girl a few years back, and the locals are getting pissed off at our hero for not only not finding the fiend, but expecting that one of them would do such a thing.

But things are looking up. The Berlin police have found and arrested the suspect(André Hennicke), and it looks like they've got their man. Michel is informed and he travels to Berlin to meet the fellow. He's like a low class Hannibal Lector, and he's not talking until with anyone but him.

Back in the boonies, everyone is thrilled. Michal's wife(Ulrike Krumbiegl) and son(Hans Hoeng) are really happy for a brief amount of time, but the case is taking too much of Michal's time and the son is having problems in school, becoming slightly antisocial.

The villain makes insinuations about the boy. Could it be that the kid might have had a hand in the girl's murder? This is actually a really cool flick, which, sadly won't get wide release on our side of the Atlantic any time soon.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Tuesday ten-forty in the morning

An inordinate amount of time yesterday was devoted to fighting. A woman tried to steal my ticket to the one of the screenings, and during Joyeux Noël, just as the characters were getting their most saccarine, two Frenchmen in the audience got into a shouting match. Everybody in the theater cracked up.

I just got out of the Jim Jarmush's latest film, JBroken Flowers.J Bill Murry has finally gotten it right. So far I've not been invited to any more parties and the one I was going to go to yesterday wouldn't let anyone in who hadn't been to the screening of a documentery on James Dean...oh well, now for the latest batch of reviews::

Joyeux Noël (France/Germany/UK)

Written and Directed
by Christian Carion

In the winter of 1914, during the first Christmas of the First World War, a minor miracle happened. The troops from both sides put down their weapons and came together to celebrate the holiday. This is one of the most famous incidents to come out of the entire war.

The film begins with schoolchildren reciting poems advocating genocide and worse, while the main characters, a famous German tenor named Nikolaus Sprink(Benno Furmann), a Jewish lawyer named Zimmermann(Joachim Bissmeier), a couple of brothers from Scotland(Steven Robertson and Robin Laing) and a French artist(Guillaume Canet), who's father's a general(Bernard Le Coq) are all drafted into their various armies.

We see a really good recreation of life in the trenches, as the men cower in their trenches taking potshots at each other. Blood and everything, it's rather chilling.

Then, back in Berlin, the famous soprano Anna Sorensen(Diane Kruger) has an idea. The best way to see her lover Nick is to organize a concert for Crown Prince Wilhelm(Thomas Schmauser) who's at the rear of the fighting. That way she could do a duet with her love, who's now a Private in the trenches.

The ploy works, and Nick bravely brandishing a Christmas tree, walks into no man's land, singing to the tune of bagpipes piped by Scotsman. Soon the officers come out and negotiate a quickie 30-hour truce and fraternizing with the enemy becomes the watchword of the day.

Soon everybody is palling around and taking down each other's addresses, playing soccer and listening to Nick and Anna's arias and Father Palmer(Gary Lewis) celebrate mass. The problem is that if the high brass finds out, there'd be hell to pay, and there is. But we see that it was all worth it.

Despite all the blood, this is a family movie, full of the Christmas spirit before it became commercialized. With a few cuts here and there to make it good for TV it might make a holiday classic.

It's well worth a look.

A History of Violence (USA)

Directed by
David Cronenberg

Tom Stall(Viggo Mortensen) seems to have it all. He's married to a beautiful, intelligent wife named Edie(Maria Bello) and two children named Jack(Ashton Holmes) and Sarah(Heidi Hayes) who all live in a sweet little town in Indiana, where Tom owns a small resturaunt and Edie is the public defender. It's all very sweet indeed, but as we saw in the prologue, two villain s (Stephen McHattie and Greg Bryk) are coming from elsewhere to ruin this blissful state of affairs.

Tom's bistro is robbed and Tom manages to kill them both in the choreography David Cronenberg is famous for. This makes him a local hero and momentary TV star, which inspires young Jack to fight back against the bullies that make his life hell. But this momentary fame has it's down side…

Enter crime boss Carl Fogarty(Ed Harris) and some of his soldiers. They enter the place and accuse Tom of being the notorious Philadelphia gangster Joey Cusak who had famously ripped open Fogerty's eye and left a really nasty scar a couple of decades before. He's also told that “Joey's” older brother an underboss named
Richie(William Hurt) wants to see him. Is it a case of mistaken identity? What will the local Sheriff (Peter MacNeill) do about it?

That's the big question. It seems that Tom's quite the martial artist, and this leads the family to the truth. But the question remains, what Edie going to do about it?

For us “Lord of the Rings” fans, Viggo Mortensen is one of the best actors around, and it's really nice to see him in what's going to be his post-“Rings” breakout role. His acting is brilliant. We see the inner turmoil of him and his family, and their reactions to the news of the truth. Bello gives an almost as powerful a performance and Ashton Holmes has quite a future in front of him. John Hurt, who's making a bit of a comeback here, is also good.

When this comes out sometime in either the summer or the fall this is going to be a real hit. This is Cronenburg's best and most nuanced movie in quite a few years.

See it.

Manderlay (Denmark)

Written and Directed
by Lars von Trier

Fear and hatred of what you don't understand is a common enough story. That's what starts wars on occasion. They make movies about it too, and this is one of them, for you see, Lars Von Trier doesn't understand America and therefore he fears and hates it.

I'm not saying this lightly. Von Trier's hatred of America has shown brightly in his films “Dancer in the Dark” and much more in “Dogville,” shows the USA to be a bleak land inhabited by monsters, and irredeemable mess which should rightly be destroyed. His idea of the country is a cartoon based on the most violent of American movies and biased news reports [you think Fox is bad…hoo!]

The fear and loathing from the “Axis of Envu” drives Von Trier, and this is why his four [including the upcoming 'USA-Land of Opportunities', which comes out next year] latest films obsess on the subject. When he says “I'm not anti-American” He's lying. No doubt about it.

When we last left Grace(Bryce Dallas Howard), her father (Willem Dafoe) and his army of gansters, they'd just left the smoldering remains of the teensy village of Dogville, and were on their way to Denver, Colorado, where Dad was the local godfather. Someone else got the job in the week or so in the meantime, and the gang, Grace in tow, heads for greener pastures, and so they head south, to Alabama, where while stopping for some unknown reason, a black woman bursts forth from a gate and announces that Timothy(Isaach de Bankole), one of the slaves is getting whipped, and could she help.

Now when I first heard of this scene when “Dogville” first came out, I was appalled. How could Van Trier even think that slavery was still going on in the 1930s American south, even with all the injustices that were going on there at the time? Well, he wasn't as dumb as all that, and Grace decides to borrow some of her dad's gangster underlings and “invade” the Manderlay plantation in order to bring democracy and the like…her father thinks better of it but agrees. He predicts that the former slaves will be forced to sign contracts endenturing them for life and they'll be indebted to a company store forever. When this indeed happens, Grace starts a revolution from above.

The owner of the place(Lauren Bacall) is on her deathbed, and informs our heroine of how the plantation works, she's appalled of course and imposes a new regime based on socialist and democratic principles, also she forces the remaining whites
(Jeremy Davies, Chloë Sevigny and some others) to indenture themselves to her until such times until they “learn their lesson.”

The plantation undergoes it's ups and downs, Grace and others make some awful mistakes, and in the end everyone seems better off, or do they? In the penultimate scene, Wilhelm(Danny Glover), the elder negro, explains why slavery was better.

This is clearly an allegory of the War in Iraq, pining for the days of Saddam or maybe even Hitler is what seems to be going on here.

The fact that it's so well done makes it even worse. Evil, evil film.!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Monday morning

Well, this is officially the halfway point of the festival for me and I just got out of the screening of Manderlay Lars Von Trier hates America with a passion and the film turns out be an allegory about Iraq. Apparently he thinks that the Iraqis wanted to be oppressed by Saddam after all...now to some reviews of other films:

JThe King (USA)

Directed by
James Marsh

I don't know where the name Elvis came from . But I do know that it's one of those names which it's a crime to give to a baby. Sort of like naming a boy Sue or Jessica. There's only one real Elvis and that was the king, which is why they named this picture with the title it's got. That said, this Elvis(Gael Garcia Bernal) isn't exactly a king, he's more like something else.

What he is is the illegitimate son of a Texas preacher named David Sandow(William Hurt) who, as to be expected, has a wife(Laura Harring), and two kids, a son(Paul Dano) and daughter(Pell James).

The first reaction by David is horror. He doesn't want to face the past from the bad old days before he found God. He's more into the future of son Paul, who wants to follow in his father's footsteps and to fight the evils of Darwinism, and the well being of his parishioners.

But Elvis is not to be denied. He first seduces daughter Malerie and soon they're at it thick and fast, no one knowing except Elvis that they're brother and sister. Paul sees that there's something going on and confronts our protagonist, who promptly kills him. Mom and Dad are distraught. Elvis confesses to Malerie, and she's surprisingly okay with it.

Elvis moves in to take Paul's place after weeks being wracked with guilt, invites him in. This is not a pretty picture at all.

What makes this tragedy work so well is the acting. Bernal is angelic as the villain, Ms. James and Mr. Dino have futures ahead of them and William Hurt is always brilliant. That being said, this is one of the creepiest movies of the year so far, and those in the “bible belt” are going to be horrified by it.

The perversity of this film is something to behold.

Caché (France)

Written and Directed
by Michael Haneke

This film is one long tease. There might be a solution, and it's hinted at, but Director Haneke makes the possibilities so ambiguous that one can't be sure as exactly who done what. It's really frustrating.

Geroges(Daniel Auteuil) and his wife Anne( Juliette Binoche) live with their son Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky) in an expensive neighborhood in Paris. Life is good, with our hero hosting an intellectual TV show while his misses is an editor with a major publisher. You're typical lower-upper class family.

Then they start receiving tapes of the front of the house. They rightly suspect a stalker, but since it's only a person unknown videotaping the house from a public area, the police refuse to investigate. This both ticks them off and starts making them miserable. Who might be doing this? Might it be a deranged fan? A disgruntled author? A jilted lover perhaps?

They try to keep it quiet, but friends Pierre(Daniel Duval) and Mathilde(Nathalie Richard) find out during dinner. Pierrot gets postcards from the person in school. Georges' boss(Bernard Le Coq) gets a videotape too. It's all very disconcerting. The acting is terrific and the one can cut the tension with a knife. So far so good.

The thing begins to go wrong when Haneke decides to posit a possible solution. The stalker sends a tape of Georges' old house. This brings on a visit to his mother, and nightmares of an Algerian boy his parents were planning to adopt but he had underhandedly gotten rid of when he was six. Might the grown-up Majid(Maurice Benichou) be plotting revenge after all these years? Should Georges be held accountable for something he did as a little boy? Should a little boy be held accountable for the Algerian War of the 1950s and '60s? A trip to visit his mother(Annie Giradot) doesn't help anything.

The lead-up to the climax is rather infuriating. Pierre makes a pass at Anne, who is ticked off at her husband for keeping Mejid a secret. Pierrot runs away for a bit. Everybody begins to run raw. Majid and his son proclaim their innocence until the end and beyond. Only the violent climax is jarring. I'm told that this is a typical Michael Haneke film. I'm not going to become a fan.

Election (China)

Directed by
Johnny To

Every other year or so, one of the bigger Hong Kong Triads elects a new godfather. This might make for gripping drama don'cha think?

The two candidates for the top spot are Lok(Simon Yam), an easygoing, fatherly stay-at-home type, and Big D(Tony Leung Ka Fai), a very flamboyant sociopath, just what a good gangster can be. Both badly want the job, and, being gangsters, would kill to get it. This where the fun begins.

At first we see the electioneering Big D shows his macho by beating people up and spreading loads of samolions around while Lok tries gentle persuasion and intelligent discussion. Triad elders Uncle Teng(Wong Tin Lam) and Uncle Cocky(Tam Ping Man) decide that intelligence is better than muscle for the top spot, and go for Lok. The rest of the bunch goes along. Big D isn't very happy about the result, but then there's a twist…

It seems that for the official inauguration ceremony, a sacred scepter, more than a century old [the triads gave up on restoring the Ming dynasty about that time and decided to turn into organized crime families]. Trouble is, the scepter is in China and a certain Big Head(Lam Suet) has it in safe keeping. If Big D can get his hands on the thing he can stage a coup and take over the triad. So the Chase is on!

This is where it gets really violent. The cops arrest everybody and beat some of the gangsters up while using their influence to get the two uncles to talk sense into Big D. This doesn't work very well. Meanwhile, the two groups of henchmen race to find the scepter. There's a really cool martial arts fight between two guys Kun(Lam Ka Tung and Louis Koo) who're on the same side. It's a really funny scene. Then there's the ending, which is a bit of a surprise and extremely violent.

Crime doesn't usually pay, but WOW!

This has my vote for the Palme d'Or. One hell of an interesting film

Where the Truth Lies (Canada)

Written and Directed
by Atom Egoyan

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis famously broke up back in the 1950s and didn't speak to each other for over 20 years. Then they didn't speak for another twelve.
I mention this only because Atom Egoyan's latest film is basically a parody of their relationship all nicely bundled up in a murder mystery. A very high concept idea.

When Karen O'Connor(Alison Lohman) was a little girl, she had polio. This was the favorite charity of bigshot comedians Lanny Morris (Kevin Bacon) and Vince Collins(Colin Firth) who had an annual telethon, which would last during the entire memorial day weekend. It was 1960 when little Karen appeared and would be forever grateful, but it's 1972 and she's now a writer, hired to ghost Vince's memoirs, which just had to include the great mystery surrounding their breakup,.,

Just who was Maureen O'Flaherty(Rachel Blanchard) and why was she found dead in Vince and Lanny's suite's bathtub just days before Karen's brush with fame?
Cutting back and forth between 1972 and 1960, Karen plays Nancy Drew while managing to partake in sex and drugs with the former stars while exposing them for the scumbags they were.

The obvious suspects were of course Vince and Lanny. But it could have been suicide, or it could have been the butler(David Hayman) or the gangster who owned the hotel(Beau Starr) or someone else entirely. It's basically you're standard everyday murder mystery, which would have been rather boring if not for the fantastic performances by Bacon and Firth, who are brilliant here.

This isn't a typical Egoyan flick, and most of them are really depressing tales of death and despair, and there's plenty of that to. But the sex and drugs element is new and so is the humor. Atom has very little of that usually.

It's worth a bargain matinee.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


So here we are, rapidly approaching the halfway point of the festival. The only movie star I've actually seen up close is Pauly Shore, but more about that later. There were no free parties today, which is a bit of a bummer, but I did get into four movies, which is much better than yesterday, in fact most of the movies I saw were first scheduled for yesterday.

I still can't get over how expensive everything is. What makes it worse is that all the locals think so as well, especially in Cannes, where just for the festival, price gouging has become a major sport. At least when it comes to the restaurants, which is why I limited myself to a tuna salad sandwich. That cost about six buck with a coke. This makes New York look like Dubuque.

As to the movies, we've got a bit of a backlog:

Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang (USA)

Written and Directed
by Shane Black

The cool thing about this film is that it's fun to watch shiny, happy people shooting at each other for little reason. This is a murder mystery as well as a lessen in Story Structure®. We begin at one of those glitzy Hollywood parties that we never get invited to, when we hear the voice of one Harry Lockhart(Robert Downey Jr.) explaining the situation of how he got there and then…oh yeah, there's what appears to be a gratuitous flashback to a scene in 1980, it means something, but we aren't told till about a third of the picture is over.

Nonwithstanding, it seems that our Harry is a small time crook who somehow got a free trip to LaLaland while escaping the police, He's to play a private eye in Harlan Dexter's(Corbin Bernsen) latest action thriller and is to be given lessons from the aptly named Gay Perry(Val Kilmer), whom we first meet while saving our hero from being beaten up by some guy who was harassing the really beauteous Harmony Faith Lane(Michelle Monaghan), who we discover was Harry's best friend in childhood, thus explaining the opening flashback.

The next night, Harry and Perry are on a stakeout, when…an unidentified body is thrown in the river…This and other bodies are found and disposed of in the course of the picture, and as it turns out that one of these was at one point the sister of Ms. Lane, we've got all sorts of sexual hijinks, hence the title of the film.

This is one heck of a ride. Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. are, when they're sober and motivated, two of our best actors around and this is one of those times. I've never heard of Ms. Monaghan before, but she's sexy and georgious and can act just as good as the two leads. Black's script is fast and funny, which explains why this has all the great buzz.

This is one heck of a film and is gonna make a mint.

Sangre (Blood)

Written and Directed
By Amat Escalante

Diego(Cirilo Recio) is a sad sack security guard working for the Mexican government. He and his wife Blanca(Laura Saldana) live in a run-down apartment in Mexico city and lead a very boring life indeed. They fight, shag and watch TV. Before going to bed or eating. That's pretty much the first two-thirds of the film right there.

There is a bit of a twist, however. Diego has a daughter, Karina(Claudia Orozco), from a previous marrage. She wants to move in, but Blanca won't have it. She hates anything or anyone that reminds Diego of his previous existence. So…there's not much that goes on here either until near the end. But even with this we're bored to tears. I myself had a tough time staying awake.

You'll probably never see this, which is just as well

Last Days (USA)

Directed by
Gus Van Sant

Let's talk about the problem of the pointless film. This is when a director decides to do something profound and pretty much comes up with nothing. This is the case for this thing.

This is loosly based on the life of Kurt Cobain, a person of brilliance who died to young. Now Cortney Love refuses to have a cinematic treatment of the actual incendents, so what Van Sant has done is to change Kurt's name to Blake.

Blake(Michael Pitt) doesn't have that many lines, and when he speaks we can't exactly understand what he's saying, but that doesn't really matter because the film doesn't really say anything anyway.

Blake runs around a decaying castle somewhere in the Northwest while his record company sends Detective Ricky Jay to find him. Jay doesn't because the people who are staying with him (Lucas Haas and Asia Argento) won't let him.

They don't do all that much except screw and babble about nothing much.

This is a complete waste of time and how the hell this got into the Cannes film festival is a bit of a mystery.

When it comes to the States, it is best to ignore it.

Lemming (France)

Written and Directed
by Dominik Moll

Alain(Laurent Lucas) and Benedicte( Charlotte Gainsbourg) are what you might call a pair of French yuppies. They've just moved into a brand new house and are beginning to get used to the situation when the sink starts to overflow. The reason is that they find a strangely colored rodent dead in the drain. This, we are surprised to learn is the title character. With a title like that, one would think that it was a metaphor or something. Nope. It's the Twilight Zone.

In order to get ahead with this career as a researcher in an electronics firm Al invites his boss Richard(Andre Dussollier) and wife Alice(Charlotte Rampling) to dinner. This is when we discover that this is a comedy, as Alice is a very bitter pill who doesn't like to pull her punches. She insults our heroes and Richard takes her home.

Later the next day, Alice tries to seduce Al. Then she goes over to the house again to have a nap and commit suicide. Then it gets really weird.

Moll and co-writer Gilles Marchand have made a very weird movie indeed. It veers violently from comedy to drama and back, and the relationships between the various characters borders on the truly interesting.

Laurent Lucas manages to give a really good performance as a person in meltdown and Charotte Rampling, who hasn't been seen in years in the States, is even better. Completely hilarious.

I'm not really sure if this'll make it to the states, but if it does, it might be something to see.

Now Back to Pauly Shore.... Nothing really happened except that he was there after the screening of his latest epic: Pauly Shore is Dead, which came out direct to video last January. It had to because no distributer in his/her right mind would take that piece of shit. This despite the fact that he managed to get most of the B and C-listers to make an appearence. This is basically Shore's homage to himself...so much for that.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

This is actually working...wow!

I've been trying to get this up for the better part of two days and I've finally got it working!

Okay, there's so much to talk about and so little time before my next screening, so I'm going to have to make this fast:

First the parties: I went to two of them so far. The first was given by Dreamworks for the new Wallace and Gromit movie, and they had a really good buffet. I managed to talk to one of the co-directors and he told me that the extremely troubled Tortoise and the Hare was back on track, which is very good indeed as it started production about five years ago and was supposed to have been out last year.

Did I mention the buffet? Good.

The second one was yesterday. It was run for the AFI, and while the company was just as good the food was definately not. Just ordourves and not very good ones at that. I discovered that those moldy old business cards that I thought I had run out of ages ago actually were useful. There are lots and lots of people trying to buy and sell product and I might be able to get into some of the more interesting-looking market screenings.

The theme of this year's market is "horror" and there are plenty of them this year. One poster had the tag line "God is alive and he's coming to KILL YOU!!!" Really cool. I've got a screening in fifteen minutes and may not make it....wish me luck.

this thing isn't working very well:::

I couldn't Get anything up yesterday for som reason More later

Thursday, May 12, 2005

day two

So here we are, after spending the last hour or so getting this stuff up through the wi fi system on my comptuter. So I had to cut and paste via email and some other stuff. Bummer, but I managed to do it.

I didn't see all that much today, as I attended the Dreamworks Wallace and Gromit presentation, the one with the free lunch, and I missed quite a few screenings I wasn't really keen on seeing anyway.

I checked out a few of the offices the studios had for the market and that was rather interesting as a few of them were showing trailers for mostly bad product. But for the most part everyone was rather nice. I've got five minutes to get out of here, so forthwith are a couple of reviews...

Match Point (USA/UK)

Written and Directed
by Woody Allen

It seems that our friend Woody has given up on New York. His latest film takes
place in England. There’s no reason for this, so it must be the grosses on his
last few pictures.

Chris Wilton(Jonathan Rhys Meyers) has just gotten a job as a tennis pro at an
exclusive country club in London. Here he meets one Tom Hewett(Matthew Goode)
and they hit it off immediately. Tom introduces Chris to not only the good life,
but his family as well. He likes them and they like him. The parents(Brian Cox
and Penelope Wilton) are rather nice, and soon Chris is shagging Tom’s sister
Chloe(Emily Mortimer) and is almost immediately part of the family [they’re
married halfway through the film].

He likes Chloe all right, but he really has his eyes on Tom’s fiancée Nola
Rice(Scarlett Johansson), who’s beautiful, vivacious, and everything Chris

Tom’s mother hates Nola, and soon the engagement is off. This gives Chris the
go-ahead to start an affair. Then there’s the pregnancy, and everything
threatens everything that our hero is built over the years, his job, his place
in society, you name it.

There’s psychic damage to Chris for sure, This is not one of Allen’s comedies,
but those occasional tragedies, which tends to blot his filmography from time to

This isn’t a bad film. In fact, it’s one of Allen’s best movies in quite a
while. The thing that makes all the best actors hanker to be in one of these
films is that he knows what he’s doing and is a pleasure to work with.

The ending is a bit of a shocker. He’s done pretty much the same thing as
“Crimes and Misdemeanors” and that was one of his best ever. At the moment,
this film doesn’t have a distributer in the United States, which is something

But I doubt Woody’s going to defect any time soon.

Kilometre Zero (Iran)

Directed by
Hiner Saleem

It’s strange to see a film supporting the American side in the Iraqi war, but
Kurdish filmmaker Hiner Saleem’s tale about the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, is
about as close to explaining the neocon’s point of view as any film I’ve seen in
many a year.

We meet Ako (Nazmi Kirik) and his wife (Belcim Bigin).in the spring of 2003.
They’re in Paris and Bush has just ordered the invasion of that country. The
radio tells the story of the massive demonstrations against the military
action, but the reporter quotes a Kurdish leader who says “America may be
imperialist, but nobody else is liberating us, we’d prefer the Swiss or the
French, but they wouldn’t come.”

Flashback to 1988 Ako and his wife are living in Iraqi Kurdistan and Saddam’s
men are looking to draft recruits for the Iran-Iraq war. The Sunni Arabs are all
portrayed as thugs as scared or comical Kurds are humiliated before being sent
to the front. On of them is .., who longs to be maimed as it’s the only way to
go home quickly without being killed.

The reason they got him is that his wife won’t leave her father, who’s the only
Kurd treated unsympathetically by the director. So our hero is stuck in the war,
that is until he’s given an assignment by the upper ranks. A martyr has died and
he has to escort it back home.

So Ako and an Arab taxi driver(Robert Alazraki) head off north to Kurdistan. On
the way, they argue, fight, placate the police, and ultimately abandon their
cargo. There’s a happy ending, except for the unseen family of the corpse.

This is a better-than-average flick, but not a great one. There’s pathos here
and the relationship between two fellows who hate each other’s guts for
political reasons is an interesting one.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

the early afternoon

Getting into the screenings was actually rather easy.

Our first screening since my last post was a French film called "Lemming," a supernatural thriller of sorts about a nasty woman who commits suicide and takes over the body of a young bride in order to kill her husband....and yes, it has lemmings in it. No metaphforical titles here!

Next was a Mexican film called "Sangre" which is among the most boring films of the 21st century to date. This guy has a clinging wife and they mostly watch television and go to work. She beats him up sometimes and is jealous of her stepdaughter, who winds up dying...it was reallz hard work to stay awake....more details later...

I went to the market, which is a trade show and got a whole bunch of flyers, which would be much better if I didn't have so little space....

It's about frigging time!!!

I've been trying to log on to this damn thing for the better part of an hour now and I'm quite pissed off....but now that I'm here I might as well get started.

First let's talk about the colors of the badges. This is extremely important, as it shows status and availablity of access to the screenings and press confrences. I've got a blue one, which is the second worst you can get. The reason for this is because this is my first time and I maybe didn't bribe the right people. I dunno. There are several types of press badges:

White: Highest access, you can get anywhere with no trouble and get to look down at the people with the pink badges.

Pink With a yellow dot: Almost highest access, you can get in anywhere with no trouble.

Pink without anything. If there aren't enough pink with yellow people you can get into the press screenings and others.

Blue with yellow dot: same as regular pink, but the pinks get in first.

Blue without anything: You get the picture...we're way down the list.

Yellow: You're fucked. You and/or your company have just wasted lots of money because by the time they let you in, most of the time there won't be any room left anyway.

Right now Im on the varanda of the American pavillion, which is on the beach and has an expensive resturaunt. The Wai-fi is free, and that's a blessing as the people at Orange communications sometimes charge ten euros for their allegedly free service at their internet cafe in the main building.Cute, huh?

The area's really nice, but everything's really expensive. The euro's worth just under a buck and a half, and buys about 75¢ worth of goods. Disgusting.That's why I've got to find out how to get into all the receptions, as they serve free food.

Oh, yeah, I forgot. It costs twenty five bucks to get a membership for the American Pavillion, and this is the first year for doing that. Just my luck.

The festival begins with the gala opening of George Lucas' latest Star Wars picture, and this might just be a good place for the review:

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Written and Directed
by George Lucas

There's a term in the world of internet movie criticism called the “spoiler.” This means that someone tells the reader how the movie ends, or some plot point that will ruin any surprise that the film has to offer. One of the most famous of these is the iconic moment in “The Empire Strikes Back” where Darth Vader reveals the secret of Luke Skywalker's paternity to that young apprentice Jedi.

The reason I mention this is because there aren't any in this movie. We've known from that moment a quarter century ago what this movie was going to be about. How and why would Anikan Skywalker turn into Darth Vader. It's all been leading to that from the moment George Lucas announced there was going to be a prequel trilogy even before the original sequel was made. This is the point of the whole thing [aside from selling tickets and tchotchkies] for crying out loud. The question is is will it be any good, considering that most of parts I and II weren't.

Well, Georgie redeems himself here.

Supreme Chancellor Palpatine(Ian McDiarmid) has been kidnapped by the evil droid General Greevious and Sith lord Count Dooku(Christopher Lee), for the moment we're to forget that the kidnappers and kidnappee are secretly in league with each other, so we can just sit back and enjoy

Obi-Wan Kenobi(Ewan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker(Hayden Christensen) zooming around the lower ionesphere playing this really nifty video game before crashing on the dock of the mothership. They, with R2D2 in tow, go forward into the breach, and giving everyone in the audience a rollicking good time as they battle moronic droids and other assorted baddies.

Anakin isn't evil yet, he refuses to leave Obi-wan to his fate, but things are happening and happening fast. Our hero is still secretly to the beauteous ex-queen and senator Padmé Amidala Naberrie(Natalie Portman), and the secret must be kept as Jedi knights, for some reason, have to remain celibate, and so do unmarried lady senators. Why this is doesn't matter. What matters is that Luke and Leia are in her nether regions, and in order for the cycle to come full circle…that's the problem when when you start in the middle, she has to die and they live.

Now between the fight scenes, we've got (ugh!) politics. On the one hand, we've got Where Obi-Wan, Yoda (voice of Frank Oz), Mace Windu(Samuel L. Jackson) and the rest are conspiring against what they seem is the threat of Chancellor Palpitane getting too much power, and their dislike of poor Anikan, who's been having prophetic dreams about Padmé dying in childbirth [for some reason, in the futuristic universe, they don't have caesarian sections]

The Jedi screw up really badly, dissing Anikin and asking him to spy on Palpitane for them…their lack trust fortells their doom. Boy do they get doomed!

From here on out, it's sort of like “The Passion of the Christ" completely pre-ordained, and almost completely engrossing. We know what's going to happen, but we root anyway and hope that somehow ol' George has lied to us and there's a happy ending. But no…

You're going to see it anyway, so get it over with and wait to see the whole six episodes on DVD this Xmas.

Now to find the market....

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Cannes, France late afternoon

Well, I finally got here. I had trouble with the electric plug and the train system. But, while it'll be more expensive than planned, this is gonna be really cool.

We start officially tomarrow

Amsterdam, Holland 9:30 local time

It's cold here in Europe. My connection, which wasn't actually a connection but a hope, left early. That''s right early. Ten minutes early, so I have a six hour layover in Amsterdam, which isn't so bad, but all the really good stuff like the marijuana bars and the whorehouses are closed at this hour, and to make things worse, it's in the forties and I'm dressed for the south of France.

It's the middle of MAY for crissake!

I haven't been here for about a decade, and the place seems pretty much the same, except that all the prices are in euros and with the exchange rate as it is, it's all extremely expensive as the prices here are on par with New York on $=€ one on one, which it ain't.

The only thing good about the euro is that you can compare prices throughout the eurozone, so I could see how expensive Cannes is. But that's for later...

The thing is is that I've only got a few hours here in Amsterdam and with everything good opening up late, I'm not going to get much done but blog...

The train to and from the airport costs €6, and I had a heck of a time getting a ticket. My credit card doesn't work in the machines and getting change for a €20 bill was a real bitch. Then the lockers didn't work and a bunch of Canadians and I spent the better part of an hour looking for the ones that did.

I hope things'll get better once I get to France.

Monday, May 09, 2005

This is in the New issue of Film Festival Today!

I wrote it, so I can put in in the blog here, we're going to have the blog linked at their site. So we'll see what happens to that there. Here 'tis:

Imagine. It is spring on the French Riviera. You’re sitting on an ermine-lined deck chair Onassis’ personal battleship/yacht, while shiny, happy people with bank accounts greater than many impoverished third-world countries cavort around you. The Hilton sisters trot on by to sit on your lap while you gently feed one of them a large helping of beluga caviar and she, in return puts her full champagne glass to your lips and grabs a-hold of your…

There’s Cannes, and then there’s everything else. The global apex of the film festival circuit. Glamour central, where the beautiful people come to try out what they learned in arrogance school. There may be plenty of parties in Park City and Toronto, but this is on another level entirely. It’s a circus unlike anywhere else in the world. Totally unique.

The idea for the festival itself goes back to 1939, where Jean Renior’s "Grand Illusion" lost the "Mussolini Cup" (now called the Golden Lion) at the Venice film festival to two fascist propaganda films. The French, being French, were incensed!!!!! They stormed out of the festival in a huff and plotted revenge. [To be fair, the British and the Americans also withdrew in protest]

This came in the form of a similar festival, run by the Action Artistique Française, which chose the city of Cannes as it’s venue, because the city council was willing to put up the francs for a hall dedicated to the event. But there were problems. Hitler was mad, and on the very day the first Cannes festival opened, he invaded Poland, and pretty much everything in Europe turned to shit for the next five years.

Take Two: It’s September 1946, and World War II was over. the French Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Education have decided that one way to revive World culture in the French mold would be to start the aborted Cannes Film Festival. Everybody who was anybody was there, and the whole shebang was a howling success.

The next year it was taken over by France’s National Centre for Cinema, who’s idea of having a competition where everybody got prizes, wasn’t very popular. The 1948 and ’50 fests were cancelled due to lack of interest.

But the festival started getting it’s act together in the early 1950s. The competition was made truly competitive, the festival itself was moved from September to May in order to get more premiers. It was announced that Simone Sylva’s and Bridgette Bardot’s mammary glands were on display at the beach. Wow!!!!

The press and the tourists loved it all, and Cannes was becoming a genuine landmark.. In 1960, a few producers decided to have an informal film market to trade and sell ideas and properties at the festival, the next year it was an official part, and over the next twenty years the festival would grow exponentially.

Aside from the failed Revolution of May 1968, which forced the cancellation of most of the festival, it’s been clear sailing ever since.

In the fifty-nine years since the festival started for real, pretty much every genre of films has been shown, every major movie star highlighted and parties of every flavor thrown. This year should be no different.

This year’s festival, like most of it’s recent predecessors, is in fact a series of festivals and the market, each of which is run by a different group:

1) The Competition: This is the "official" festival. Hundreds of filmmakers are competing for the coveted [and I mean COVETED] Palm d’Or and lesser awards. This is thing everybody looks for.

2) The Market: This is the mother of all trade shows. Hundreds of films are screened here and the governments of Europe, the British Commonwealth and Hollywood make deal after deal. This is why half the people show up.

3) Director’s Fortnight: The French Directors Guild shows a bunch of films that it thinks worthy by many an up and coming director. Some of the better stuff nobody’s heard of winds up here.

4) Critic’s Week: The Critic’s Union has it’s own competition, in which new directors compete for valuable prizes. It’s winners include Bernardo Bertolucci and Kevin Smith.

5) The Out-Of Competition: Hooray for Hollywood!!!! Those bigass Hollywood films that everyone wants to see but aren’t considered "artsy" enough. This year we’ve got "Star Wars: Return of the Sith" opening things up, then Woody Allen's latest

Then you have the parties. Getting into the parties is difficult, as…well, parties are ALWAYS difficult to get into at these kind of affairs. Getting on to Onassis’ battleship/yacht is always a bitch…

Eight in the Morning, Eastern Standard Time

So here we are, sitting in the same seat as always, basically hanging out in front of my computer surfing the web and not getting much done that's constructive. The morning will be filled with the usual chores, boring as all hell, but this stuff has to be done. Fortunately I did my laundry over the weekend. I hate doing laundry.

The afternoon will be different, of course. Around 3:30 in the afternoon we begin our journey east. First to Kennedy airport and then to Amsterdam international airport, where if I'm lucky, I'll be able to get on the connecting flight to Nice, France.

If I don't, there's a six-hour layover. I guess I can go to Amsterdam itself and get myself a toke, but with the price of marijuana what it is, maybe something else might would be better.

The object of all this travel is the Cannes Film Festival in the beautious Côte d'Azur, where the temperatures in the mid to upper 80s and the elite hang out to do business. They do that here too, but I generally don't get invited.

So who knows what's going to happen. This is going to be a real experience.

Friday, May 06, 2005

the friday before...

For some reason blogspot isn't mac friendly. I'm not really sure why. They said that they'd get it done some months ago, and since I've been away it they haven't actually done anything about it. Since this is supposed to bean internet thing which is supposed to be "everything friendly" one would think that the damn thing would work, but I guess not.

I'm still getting a bit lazy about writing those reviews for the Tribeca Film Festival. I guess because I was so tired going back and forth in the cold and rain like that. But what can ya do?

This is a second test of the system. I guess that if anyone's reading this, it would be nice to leave some comments.

Monday, May 02, 2005

back from the dead

okay, we're back for a test of the first new blog in months. We're going to do the Cannes film festival and since this is a week before we fly to France we might as well do a test.

So here it is:


Testingone two three