Second Annual Edition: If I’d Been Tweeting from Cannes…

  • Share
  • Read Later
Valery Hache / AFP / Getty Images

An employee workd to fix a giant official poster of the 65th Cannes' film festival featuring late Marilyn Monroe on May 14, 2012 on the facade of the Festivals' palace in Cannes, France.

…it’d be a miracle, since I have no Twitter account, no smart phone and no desire to instantly embarrass myself in front of my dozens of followers.

***

Exactly 140 characters — nailed it. I’m king of the Twitterverse!
***

But with 40,000 visitors every mid-May, the world’s largest annual convention is host to many more than 140 characters.

***

And I don’t mean just eccentric stars promoting their movies, like Sacha Baron Cohen in Dictator drag getting oiled down by Elisabetta Canalis on a yacht within paparazzi camera range. Or a testy crusader like Sean Penn, here to raise money for Haitian relief, who at a press conference blamed “the whole f—ing world” for neglecting that ravaged Caribbean nation.

***

I mean the orange-haired boys hawking newspapers outside the Grand Palais, the tattooed motorcyclists speeding down the rue d’Antibes, the tall young actress-type on the arm of her squat, supercentenarian mogul-type. And since the official evening screenings require formal wear, the hundreds of Cannes fans who line the red-carpeted steps of the Palais are treated to a nighty haute-couture show of starlets in grand gowns, susceptible to the occasional wardrobe malfunction.

***

Much missed among Cannes’ characters: the French mother-daughter duo of “Leopard Ladies” who for 30 years paraded the Croisette in black-spotted orange bathing suits. Not missed: the army of urchins who, while distracting you by begging for a handout, would swipe your purse.

***

Critics, of course, aren’t characters; we’re colorless. (Come back to Cannes, Rex Reed!) We make news only when we make noise: when the lights go down at the beginning of an official screening, and someone shouts out, “Raooooul!” (a ritual of at least 20 years’ duration); and at the film’s end, when the more vocal members of our fraternity register their opinions by applauding or booing.

***

The audible reaction isn’t exactly a plebiscite — most critics shuffle out quietly — but it gives some indication of the communal mood, and a possible clue to next Sunday’s Palmarès, the closing ceremony at which the prizes are announced.

***

Actually, no it doesn’t. The critics don’t choose the winners — the Palme d’Or (top award), the Grand Jury Prize (second place), the Jury Prize (third) and the citations for best actor and actress — from among the 22 features in the Competition. That’s the job of the nine-member jury, headed this year by Italian actor-auteur Nanni Moretti and comprising directors Andrea Arnold, Alexander Payne and Raoul Peck, actors Hiam Abbass, Emmanuelle Devos, Diane Kruger and Ewan McGregor and fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier.

***

Because the Jury membership changes 100 percent every year, handicappers should have little data for predicting awards. The one advantage critics have is that we’ve seen all the movies the Jury has. And the festival, regardless of the Jury’s composition, does have its favorites.

***

One is Michael Haneke, whose last three films here have won important prizes, including the Palme d’Or for The White Ribbon three years ago. His new film, Amour, details the last few months spent together by a couple in their 80s, played by Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva. Either one could be a favorite for an acting award, but the festival hierarchy discourages the Jury from giving multiple prizes to a single film.

***

Another strong contender is Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone, the story of an aimless ex-con taking care of a woman who has lost her legs. (It has essentially the same plot as the French megahit comedy Intouchables, opening this weekend in the U.S.; the Audiard has fewer laughs.)

***

Marion Cotillard, as the paraplegic, could cop a Best Actress scroll to place next to her Oscar for La vie en rose. And the film could win the Grand Jury Prize, as Audiard’s A Prophet did in 2009. But that would mean the same directors would receive the same awards they did three years ago.

***

Some swamis are picking Brad Pitt, the mob enforcer in the crime drama Killing Them Softly, seeing as Pitt, a reliably luminous presence at Cannes, might have won last year for The Tree of Life if dark horse Jean Dujardin hadn’t snagged Best Actor for The Artist. Pitt is by far the best thing in the movie, and… a trophy for this handsome, gifted, risk-taking, socially responsible star. Why not?

***

Other Best Actor possibilities: Mads Mikkelsen as the teacher accused of child molestation in Thomas Winterberg’s The Hunt, Tom Hardy in John Hillcoat’s moonshine Western Lawless and — a tantalizing long shot — Aniello Arena as the Big Brother hopeful in Matteo Garrone’s Reality. In that case, the winner would be absent, or rather incarcerated. I imagine the announcement from the stage: “Mr. Arena could not be here tonight because he’s in an Italian jail, reportedly on a murder rap.”

***

This is just the ninth of Cannes’ 12 days. There remain three evenings of screenings, with six Competition films for the Jury to see, so further debate on the awards is pointless. (A reminder from my spouse: All movie awards are pointless.) What the professional filmmakers, businessmen and critics might agree on is that the 2012 fortnight has been mostly dreary — cinematically and meteorologically.

***

This year’s festival, though opening a week later than usual, was unseasonably cold and soggy. On Sunday, for the first time in my long memory, the temperature never got as high as 60 (15 Celsius). And we endured a steady rain for four days.

***

You say, So what? The people who come here are not on a chain gang, or lifeguards in a typhoon. We’re watching movies in some of the most comfortable auditoriums in the world — the Lumière, Debussy and Bazin theaters inside the Palais.

***

Ah, but those of us for whom the festival represents an annual pilgrimage to the Mecca of movies have come to believe that beautiful weather — cloudless skies, temperature in the 70s, a caressing Côte d’Azur breeze — is as much our birthright as good films and fine, inexpensive wines.

***

Traditionally, my only complaint here is that sometimes I can’t file my stories from the large terrace of our room in the beloved Hotel Splendid — with its view through the plane trees of the basin where yachts the size of Air Force One are parked — because the sun’s crystal clarity obscures the screen of my MacBrook Pro. It’s hard out here for a pimp… I mean, a Cannes chronicler.

***

The prolonged torrent put a damper on the beach parties where movie company execs schmooze with stars and journalists. Retail and restaurant businesses suffered. The seven-inch heels of the six-foot supermodels who are more numerous here than on Fashion Star sank into the soft grass in the little park outside the Cosy Bar across from the Palais.

***

Finally, yesterday, a return to the beatific norm: sunny skies and warmer temperatures. Mary and I had lunch on our terrace for the first time in a week. Last night the outdoor tables at the dozens of small restaurants near the Grand Palais were clogged with merry diners, their siege over, their sacred pleasure to eat under the stars restored — like children liberated from school for playtime, or of citizens of Oz after a brief ordeal in Kansas.

***
That’ll do it from the Emerald City for this year’s Tweets for the Tweet. Say, does the Mars candy company have a Twitter account, named Twix and Tweets? And what is a hashtag anyway?
0 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest