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POSTCARD FROM CANNES – DAY ELEVEN

Saturday, May 26
By Jimmy Thomson


As we move towards the business end of the Canned Film Festival – the part where someone gets a gong and everyone else says they were robbed – two movies seem to be edging ahead of the others in the contest for the coveted Palm d’Or. The Coen brothers’ blood-soaked crime thriller No Country For Old Men is as accomplished a piece as they’ve ever made but might suffer from a feeling that they are just too good for their own good. Their closest rival for the trophy is the Romanian effort, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. Directed by Cristian Mungiu it is set at the fag end of the communist era when two students are shamelessly exploited when one goes to have an illegal abortion. Neither could be accused of being thigh-slapping comedies but it may be the Coens’ black humour versus European bleak empathy that decides the prize. David Fincher’s Zodiac and Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park are also thought to be in the running but stronger rivals may be The Edge of Heaven by festival favourite Fatih Akin and Persepolis, an animation by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud based on Satrapi’s graphic novels about an Iranian girl’s conflicting love of family, country and freedom. The jury is, as they say, still out.

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The last word on the party scene is that Julian Lennon’s bash for Greenpeace and his movie Whale Dreamers was the most fun. Mini tents ringed a covered dance floor down by the beach while a local covers band boogied away. Young Mr Lennon resisted the opportunity to join them on stage – at least while I was there. Drinks, usually free, were a stunning $12 for a glass of wine or mineral water, rising steeply for spirits and cocktails but it was all in a good cause. The Oceans 13 event further down the beach was less fun, even with George Clooney and his boys (Brad and Mat) apparently showing up, but disappointment of the week was the Golden Compass which was expensive, spectacular but lifeless.

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The soundtrack for this morning was (in this brain, at least) Beth Orton singing “standing in the central reservation in last night’s party dress.” Cannes seemed all partied-out, the traders were packing up, the movie choices were dwindling and the central reservation – full only a few days ago with earnest critics and reporters rushing to their next screening – was now filled with the same suspects hurtling along, apparently propelled by their wheelie cases, taking in their last interviews en route to the airport. By nightfall, the locals seemed to have reclaimed La Croisette. Sunday, all the films in competition will be screened one after the other but all eyes will be on the prize ... and home.

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A couple of little snippets popped up in today’s interviews for We Own The Night. According to Joaquin Pheonix, Robert Duvall talks incessantly about food when he’s on set, to distract himself and the crew from the fact that he’s about to start acting. Certainly, in at least three of the five interviews he gave today, he opened the chats by talking about Greek food and how Melbourne has some of the best in the world. Duvall is planning to direct a movie about the Texas law officers who guard the US border with Mexico against illegal immigrants. He says they are tired of being the front line for Iowa. Director James Gray says that when he was younger he honestly thought he was the best director in the English language. Then he saw the initial assembly of his first feature, Little Odessa, and thought it was the worst film he’d ever seen. He says he is still affected by memories of his crippling disappointment to this day. Joaquin Pheonix warned us not to take movie publicity too seriously. For instance, when The Village came out, the press kit said he had gone and slept alone in the woods to overcome his fear of darkness. In fact, says the Walk The Line star, he was sneaking out to see his girlfriend and invented the story when he bumped into director M. Night Shyamalan.

Wish you were here ...

Published May 27, 2007

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Joaquin Phoenix, Robert Duval, Eva Mendez and writer/director James Gray (plus a couple of producers).
Hear the Press conference for Competition entry
We Own The Night - audio file



Eva Mendez with the snappy paparazzi

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