CANNES 2009: MAY 19 POSTCARD
By Jimmy Thomson.
Forget the bluster and bombast about the “big guns” being out for this year’s
Cannes film festival, at 62 years old, the doyenne of the movie festival circuit
is starting to look her age.
Jimmy Thomson and Sydney filmmaker Chris Ramos unwind at the Le Petit Majestic (Ramos' film is screening in the Short Film Corner)
If by big guns you mean two directors trying to regain some credibility, a
couple of Disney animations forcing us into 3D specs and Brad Pitt, who comes
here so regularly they probably keep his bar tab open at the Hotel Du Cap, then
that may be true.
But the fact is the crowds are smaller, the stars are fewer, the parties are
tending towards parsimonious and the successes are more modest too.
Our own Samson & Delilah received a well deserved standing ovation at its gala
screening the other night while English director Ken Loach’s Looking For Eric –
featuring former Manchester United genius Eric Cantona – is the feel-good hit of
the festival so far, creating a whole new genre of gritty (magic) realism.
The good news for your humble journo is that the queues are shorter then they
have been for years but the word from the Market is that there have never been
so many movies for sale with so few buyers buying.
"The credit crunch has come to Cannes with a
The credit crunch has come to Cannes with a vengeance. One estimate is that
attendances are 30 percent down but with many of the big name movie studios
pre-empting that by not bringing A-listers to Cannes, the competition for the
few decent interviews going is as ferocious as ever.
With locally based publicists’ budgets cut – they have to buy interview slots
for journalists servicing their markets – there are as few as one interview for
smaller territories like Australia.
Add to that the fact that movies like Bright Star won’t give any interviews to
Australian journalists while newspapers are cutting back their freelance budgets
and the days of the intrepid freelancer doing the festival circuit in the hope
of selling a few features here and there may be well and truly over.
"But it’s not all doom and gloom"
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Disney’s next 3D ‘mo-cap’ (that’s the
buzzword for motion capture) extravaganza A Christmas Carol was launched with
the first sumptuous lunch of the Festival, a two-scene preview, a free copy of
the Dickens novel ... and another sumptuous lunch.
Jim Carrey plays Ebeneezer Scrooge at various stages of his life, plus all four
ghosts, while Colin Firth’s fading Mr Darcy mojo relegates him to the role of
his crumpled nephew Fred. It’s weird to see digital renderings that look like
the real actors who play them – with their facial expressions faithfully
recorded then caricatured - but the 3D really does work.
Whether this gets people off their sofas and into the cinemas – as Disney
clearly hopes - remains to be seen.
The film everyone is trying to see – but the Press is being kept away from – is
Middle Men, George (Midnight Run) Gallo’s true story of the two unemployed
stoner geniuses who devised a way for people to anonymously pay for porn on the
Internet, changing the world almost literally overnight and becoming
multi-multi-millionaires in the process.
Luke Wilson plays the “everyman” accountant who mistakenly thinks he can get in,
make some money and get out while Kevin (Usual Suspects) Pollak plays the CIA
man who asks the porn pioneers’ help in tracking terrorists, some of whom, when
not planning the destruction of the Great Satan of the USA, had an (un)healthy
appetite for cyber-girls. Anyway, the 10 minute sizzle reel looks sensational.
Actor-comedian Pollak also took the opportunity to tell us about his new online
chat show www.kevinpollakchatshow.com in which he gives fellow performers more
than the 10 minutes they’d get on Letterman to talk about their work and their
"Other interesting moments"
Other interesting moments included the first glimpse of a chick-flick-action-Bollylite
romantic thriller called Kites, which could be the ultimate date movie with
six-packs and exploding cars in equal measure. Then there were the leg-crossing
scenes in Lars Von Trier’s horror two-hander Antichrist when Willem Dafoe and
Charlotte Gainsbourg stop playing nice.
The Making of Plus One is a low-budget improvised mockumentary romp, filmed in
Cannes last year - about the production of a movie that’s been sold on the
premise that Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett will co-star (without actually
asking them). It’s charming and has moments of true comedy without being
entirely convincing. The stunt to publicise the new Disney 3D animation Up saw
the scale model of the flying house almost get blown away on the sea breezes.
And Jim Carrey goofed it up (when does he not?) making snowballs out of fake
snow on La Croisette in 30 degree heat.
Now we’re hanging out for the unveiling of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious
Basterds with the YouTube preview promising we haven’t seen war till we’ve seen
it through Tarantino’s eyes.
But it will take more than ultra-violence and a shouty Brad Pitt to overwhelm
the simple power of the human spirit portrayed so compellingly in Samson &
Delilah and Looking For Eric.
Wish you (or some stars) were here ...
Published May 19, 2009
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Former heartthrob singer Charles Aznavour the voice of grumpy Carl in the French version of the opening film UP, with the boy who voiced Russel in French (Jimmy Thompson pic)
CANNES 09 WINNERS
BRIGHT STAR - OR NOT?
Looking for Eric director Ken Loach and Eric Cantona
Looking for Eric
While journalists inside wait to see the first glimpses of the 3D version of A Christmas Carol, pictures of Jim Carrey and other stars arriving outside the Carlton Hotel are beamed on to the screen.
Jim Carrey tossing fake Cannes snow
Samson & Delilah