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Posts published in “How I Survived Cannes”

How I Survived the 62nd Cannes Film Festival – Episode III

You’ve been anxiously waiting for this post since 4 days ago, and now here we are.

I give you:

Episode III: Revenge of the Films
The following takes place between Thursday, May 21, and Sunday, May 24 2009.

Thursday 21:
After such an exciting night, I sleep during the morning.
In the afternoon, I enjoy a delicious beverage at the American Pavilion.
I then go to the Salle du Soixantième to see Alain Resnais’ Les Herbes Folles.

I unfortunately haven’t seen much of Resnais’ work, but his latest movie was at the very least fun to watch.
Later that evening, I witness a drunkard swimming in a fountain.

Friday 22:
Yet again, I wake up very early to go see Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. I’m even lucky enough to be seated near the middle of the Grand Palais to witness this amazing movie.

As many of you know, this was Heath Ledger’s last film as he died during production and therefore unfortunately didn’t get to finish all his scenes.
What I didn’t know however was how much of said scenes had he not completed.
Turns out, he had finished almost all his scenes. The only ones missing were the “magical” ones so to speak.
The transitions between the “magical” elements of the story and the real world are therefore seamless, and if one didn’t know of the tragedy going on behind the scenes, then one might not have guessed that the change of actor wasn’t planned beforehand.
What I’m trying to convey through this complex sentence is that the end product is great.
Heath Ledger’s introduction in the movie though is…creepy, to say the least.

After that, I hang out a bit inside the Grand Palais to see the press conference for Imaginarium.
Then, it is time to see future-Palme d’Or winner, Haneke’s Das Weiße Band.

Bottom line: a very undeserving movie to win the coveted prize.
The story is about a remote village in Germany set just before the first World War. Strange events are happening involving the children.
When reading this, you kinda expect a cross between The Village and The Damned, or at least something that will keep you awake for 2 hours and 20 minutes.
Guess again.
First, virtually nothing happens in the span of 144 minutes. There’s like two deaths at the beginning of the movie, and that’s it.
Second, when I mean nothing is happening, I also mean that the dialogue could fit in 3 pages.
And last but not least, don’t expect any answers to any of the questions raised in the movie.
Yeah, Huppert definitely was the one that forced the Palme d’Or on Haneke.
Later that evening, I went back to the Grand Palais to see Elia Suleiman’s The Time That Remains.

Although clearly biased(especially in the first part), the movie had some great visuals and was fairly entertaining.
After that, the day was pretty much over.

Saturday 23:
The clock is ticking away…

Not much tangible action is happening this day, besides me seeing Gaspar Noé’s latest movie, Enter the Void.
The first 90 minutes are absolutely stunning. The visuals and the storytelling of this movie are absolutely mesmerizing, I would even dare say ground-breaking in some ways. The last part of the movie however is strange, too long, and a bit disappointing.

I then go see Isabel Coixet’s Map of the Sounds of Tokyo which, despite my sleepiness, was quite enjoyable.

I’m also enjoying the magnificent scenery while I still can.

Sunday 24:
Here it is, my last day in Cannes.
I finally get to see Audiard’s A Prophet.
The selection this year was so poor that as soon as a good movie comes, everyone starts to drool.
Nonetheless, the movie is indeed pretty good.

Meanwhile, the streets are pretty much empty.
More or less everyone is gone.
I’ve heard that around 50 000 people come each year just for the Festival.

And now, time to take the train.
Goodbye Cannes.

Overall, a great experience. I invite everyone to try doing the Festival at least once in her/his own life.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming…

How I Survived the 62nd Cannes Film Festival – Episode II

And the Cannes (true) story continues

…as well as the awesomeness.

Episode II: Attack of the Celebrities
The following takes place between Monday, May 18, and Wednesday, May 20 2009.

Monday 18:
Not much happening on that day.
Except sleep.
I miss both Ken Loach’s Looking for Eric and Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist at the Grand Palais though.

Tuesday 19:
Another early wake-up at around 6AM to go see Almodóvar’s Broken Embraces.

The Grand Palais seems at first pretty empty, but since I don’t have a ticket for the early screening, I wait as usual in the last-minute access line.
Turns out, lots of peeps with tickets were waiting until the last minute to enter the theatre, so it gets pretty full pretty quick.
Fortunately, I learn that at every 8:30AM screening, a second one occurs at the Salle du Soixantième (The Soixantième Theatre) around 9AM. Although it was gonna change for the next days, at that time not a lot of people knew about that second screening, so I successfully enter the Salle du Soixantième.

I should point out at this time that there are about 6 different “main” theatres for the Cannes festival. The first is obviously the biggest, the Grand Théâtre Lumière. After that, it’s all relatively small theatres, albeit the Debussy Theatre, which is more or less a miniature Grand Palais, followed by Buñuel Theatre. The Salle du Soixantième is a classic theatre which can old 300 or so people and in my opinion is the best after the Grand Palais if you can get a good middle seat.
As for Embraces, the movie was good, certainly one of Almodovar’s best in my opinion. Surprisingly, Penélope Cruz has a small role in it.
Speaking of, poor Penélope Cruz is sick with the flu (not that flu) so chances are she’s not going to the Broken Embraces party. We decide not to go to it.
In the afternoon, I head again to the Salle du Soixantième, waiting in line to see the controversial Antichrist.
The story is of a couple that retires to a cabin in the middle of a forest after the death of their newborn son.
A lot has been said about this movie.
One thing you cannot deny is that the movie contains very graphic images of “torture”, but let’s just say, it’s not at all like Hostel.
At. All.
At least here you can make sense why Lars von Trier chose those specific “torture” elements. Arguably some parts were deliberately put there to shock the Cannes audience (the third shot of the movie is a slow-mo penetration), and the graphic images are pretty much over-done, but still, unlike some movies, the atrocious actions have their reasons to be regarding the characters’ psyche.
Apart from that, the photography is absolutely magnificent. I especially loved the prologue and epilogue, as well as the first chapter (the movie is divided in four).
Moving on to a few hours after a lengthy discussion, I get a ticket for Marco Bellocchio’s Vincere at the Grand Palais.
When you get a ticket for a Grand Palais screening, one thing you will do is walk up the red carpet. If you time well your entrance, you might run in with some famous people (although that’s a pretty hazardous way of entering a theatre).
Anyway, I do walk up on the red carpet like I did for Bak-Jwi, and since I have nothing better to do, I take this wonderful picture on top of the stairs:

I then enter the theatre, take my place and watch the live red-carpet feed and the entrance of the Cannes jury, including Isabelle Huppert and Robin Wright Penn.

The cast and crew enters, standing ovation, and then the movie begins.
Vincere tells the story of Mussolini’s secret lover, Ida Dalser, and their son Albino. Ida is played beautifully by Giovanna Mezzogiorno (whom I was rooting for to get the best actress prize — but didn’t get since Huppert was heading the jury). Riccardo Giagni’s score is absolutely brilliant. Overall, one of the best movie in the competition. A shame it didn’t get anything.
For a better and more complete review of this great film, I suggest you head on to here.
Yet again afterwards, we rush to the buses to not miss the last one of the night.

Wednesday 20:
The day everyone has been waiting for: Inglourious Basterds day.
Similarly to Broken Embraces, I expect a second screening around 9AM at the Salle du Soixantième. I arrive at 6:40AM in front of the empty gates.

Unsurprisingly, I’m first.
And so I wait, and wait, and wait.
Until it is time for us to enter the theatre, but, oh wait!
A horde of journalists come barging in out of nowhere, having freshly arrived mere minutes before the beginning of the screening.
And they get to enter before us!
No harm done for me as the first 10 people in line also get to enter, and since I’m first…
Regarding the movie itself, expect a review in the next few days if I’m not too lazy (“Because we love making movies!”).
But suffice it to say, 2h40 is too long.
Also, Christoph Waltz so deserved the best actor award he got.
Lots of unimportant stuff happens on that day, but what you’ve been surely waiting for is the night part of the story.
By that I obviously mean the private Inglourious Basterds party.
Now, to enter, you needed to be on a special list.
We successfully enter the magnificent beach party, this thing is huge! There are like 5 places to be with the piano lounge, the dance-floor, the beach, the dock, etc.

br />I would say 200 or so (“important”) people were here, perhaps more, including (from who I saw) the Weinstein brothers, Oliver Stone, Wilem Daffoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg with Yvan Attal, etc.

Obviously the whole cast of Inglourious Basterds was here, and I mean everyone, such as Diane Kruger, Christoph Waltz, Samm Levine, BJ Novak (with whom I make small talk), and of course Brad Pitt (who left pretty early the party).

The dance floor is epic, Quentin Tarantino is completely drunk and is dancing some kind of weird tribal-like dance…with ice cubes. Go figure.
While I’m live-twiterring, I look up for a sec and who’s 5 inches from me? Joshua Jackson. I then realise he’s here because he’s with (the sublime) Diane Kruger.
Well, I’m not gonna spend 10 hours telling you every second of this epic party.
I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

End of Episode II.

On the final part of our epic Cannes story, Episode III, you will learn the truth about Thursday (spoiler alert: nothing much happened that day), Friday, where I see both Terry Gilliam and his Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, as well as Haneke’s Das Weisse Band (future Palme d’Or winner) and Suleiman’s The Time That Remains, Saturday, with Gaspar Noé’s magical Enter the Void, and my last Sunday in Cannes in which I finally got to see Audiard’s A Prophet.

How I Survived the 62nd Cannes Film Festival – Episode I

Time to tell you guys about my fabulous time at Cannes only a week ago during the 62nd Film Festival.
Glamour, parties, celebrities, beaches, yachts, red carpets, premieres, photocalls, and, uhm, movies?
That doesn’t really sum up completely the whole shebang.
A day-by-day account of what happened “over there” is more appropriate, don’t you agree?
Lots of pictures ahead as well, so if your bandwidth/ISP can’t handle the epicness, I apologize for your failure.

Episode I: The Sleep Deprivation Menace
The following takes place between Thursday, May 14, and Sunday, May 17 2009.

Thursday 14:
The least interesting day to be honest.
You already saw my last blog post before my departure.
After that, it was time to take the TGV (I had barely packed my suitcase in time).

I arrive in Cannes too late to get my badge (around 9PM) so I go home and prepare for the next day.
Yeah I know, riveting story.

Friday 15:
Early wake-up call (6AM).
There’s gonna be a lot of those during the 10 days.
I go pick-up a friend at the train station and use that precious time to get my epic pass and Cannes bag containing everything relevant like the all-important official screenings guide and so on.

Bonus point, a free Contrex Natural Mineral Water is included.
Not that I’m on a diet or anything.

I then head to the American Pavilion to get my own badge to go that afternoon to the one-on-one with Francis Ford Coppolla.

Very interesting stuff is being said there, unfortunately I don’t have my notepad with me so can’t note down what the man is saying. If I find a review of the event though, I’ll post it here.
Moving on to a few hours afterwards, I narrowly miss Michel Gondry’s new movie, l’Epine dans le Coeur.
Around 8PM, I stand in line in the pouring rain to go see Park Chan-Wook’s Bak-Jwi, hopeful that I’ll be handed a last-minute ticket.

And I am!
I run inside the theatre despite the rain.
My first movie in Cannes, and it’s great! Of course, not even close to Oldboy, but still a good movie (and one of the best this year).
As for the actual cinema experience, pretty fun how it goes (at least regarding the Grand Palais/Théâtre Lumière).
Basically in the cinema there’s projected onto the screen the live red carpet feed and you follow who enters. Once the crew arrives, no one else is allowed inside the theatre. Meanwhile, you still follow live their entrance as they arrive inside the theatre you’re in and a standing ovation occurs just before the movie.
Then the following happens, and the movie begins.

Once the movie ends, all bets are off as to what the public’s reaction will be.
Fortunately for Chan-Wook this time around, everyone is won over by this beautiful vampire tale.
And no, Twilight isn’t involved.
By the time I get back to the apartment, it’s past 3AM. Time to get some sleep.

Saturday 16:
Not much is happening during the day as I’m mostly sleeping (no one woke me up!).
Because of this, I miss what will become one of the most talked-about movie for the coveted Palme d’Or: Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet.
I also miss Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock.
What I do not miss however, is the first of a series of private villa party.

Yup, we successfully get inside the private Audiard party situated in a beautiful villa (with bonfires!) where loads of French TV personalities are present, as well as a completely drunk Edouard Baer (this year’s Cannes ceremony host), french-kissing everything that goes.

I also cannot resist the free buffet.
We were on the list for the Taking Woodstock party but ultimately didn’t go as the echos we had of the party weren’t good ones.
The night is so young that the Audiard fiesta finishes around 4AM.

Sunday 17:
Again a long day begins.
I hang out again most of my morning at the American Pavilion bar, which has a beautiful view on the beach.
And by beautiful view on the beach, I mean it is on the beach.

I then try to go see Taking Woodstock, but the passage is blocked because Agora‘s crew is about to come out of the photo-call, meaning I’m gonna see Alejandro Amenábar and Rachel Weisz as they pass inches from me.
I again miss Taking Woodstock unfortunately.
Later that afternoon, I get to see Johnnie To’s Vengeance, starring non other than Johnny Haliday.
I know it’s not really supposed to be a comedy, but man was that movie hilarious.
After this funny little bit, I get tickets for Agora at the Grand Palais (out of competition).
One of the movies I really want to see and I get tickets, yeah!

I’ve heard lots of negative remarks about the movie. Personally, I loved it. It might be very long for some, but I didn’t look at my watch unlike certain people.
The movie is first set in 390 A.D. in Alexandria (there are really two halves to this story, set several years apart). Even though the story is apparently focused on Weisz’s character, Hypatia (an atheist), the core of the movie comes from the clashes between the religions, and the bloody rise of Christianity. There is also some science in this, given that Hypathia is trying to understand how/why the world turns (more or less literally).
If you find the story boring, at least you’ll be able to appreciate the magnificent decors and the jaw-dropping reconstruction of Alexandria.

Given its length, and the fact that it started around 10:30PM, the movie ends pretty late, so we quickly go home via the last bus (1:45AM).

End of Episode I.

On Episode II of our Cannes journey, I will tell you all about Monday, containing some well-deserved sleep, Tuesday, with Pedro Almodóvar’s Broken Embraces, Lars von Trier’s Antichrist, and Marco Bellocchio’s Vincere, as well as Wednesday, with Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.
Both the movie, and the very-private party.