Waking with a start, my tired eyes struggled to focus. Wait, where am I? I asked myself, and… am I late for something? The room slowly came into view, and I remembered with a smile that I was in Cannes for the film festival, my second time here. Glancing at my two sleeping festival friends in the bed next to me (Rita and Nadia, we’ve shared apartments in a few different places around the world now… OK don’t get creepy with those thoughts) I crawled out of bed and saw that, as per usual, I had woken up five minutes before my alarm was due to go off. How do I do that? And… What a shame, because my alarm is Rick Ross’ Hustlin and I feel like a boogie.
I had planned to see the first film of the Official Competition, ‘Jeune et Jolie’ at 8:30am, but getting my press accreditation took longer than expected so I had to skip it. As the smiling volunteer handed me my pass, I was relieved to see the pink hue, though less relieved about how round my face looks in the photo. It must be stretched. Only explanation. If you are press and want to see the best films at Cannes, you have to get a coveted Rose badge. It’s a hierarchy here, and being a Rose allows you into all the screenings and press conferences first. I pity the Blues and Oranges of this world, and secretly enjoy feeling slightly superior as I walk past them. Side note: I have done nothing in this world to justify feeling superior.
Rushing through the rain I sat in a café with a pain au chocolat and café crème, musing about my lack of guilt eating such things in France (they use good products, so it must be healthy), and planning out my busy schedule of film watching and interviews. Yeah yeah, I know, tough life for me.
My first screening of the festival was Sofia Coppola’s ‘The Bling Ring’. It’s based on true events about a group of high school students who robbed the homes of celebrities like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. The most familiar face in the cast is Emma Watson, doing a very spot-on Valley Girl accent (“I wanna raawb”), but the rest of the kids are relative newcomers. As she did with her previous films, Sofia creates a mood rather than focusing on story or characters. In ‘Lost In Translation’ she gave us a feeling of jetlag and displacement, here it’s a dream-like sense of self-obsession and greed. The characters’ fixation with becoming famous and owning shiny things is almost sickening to watch because it’s just so true to today’s culture. With reality TV stars like Kim Kardashian and Lauren Conrad becoming famous for, well, living, it’s easy to imagine many teenagers today feeling like they also deserve to be famous and have all the latest things. ‘The Bling Ring’ was funnier than expected (intentional?), though the acting was a little over the top, which sometimes made it seem like a spoof. There were missed opportunities for Sofia to go harder with satire, but she doesn’t inject a point of view into the film. I stayed for the credits collecting my thoughts and listening to Frank Ocean’s ‘Super Rich Kids’ when I noticed a familiar name… Aussie Nash Edgerton, who apparently was the Stunt Coordinator. Which I imagine mainly involved a lot of jumping of high fences. Also spotted on my way out of the theatre: David and Margaret, chatting with a group of people about the film. I tried to listen in, and was almost caught, saved only by the Alicia-sized column close-by.
After staring longingly at a Nutella crepe but making a positive choice with salad (ugh) I headed to the press conference for ‘The Bling Ring’. Inside the cast and Sofia spoke about how the world has changed in the past few years in terms of celebrity culture. Sofia said it’s a world very different to the celebrity one she grew up in (unsaid: her family has actual talent) and Emma Watson compared magazines to comic books, with readers creating their own narratives from the photos. Emma also spoke about how she is “Not running away from Harry Potter, I’m proud of what I did. Now I’m lucky to be working with so many different people.” She certainly is not Hermoine in this film! I’ll have my chance to sit down with Sofia, Emma and the cast tomorrow.
Another cast I’ll be talking to is the one from ‘Fruitvale Station’, which was my second film of the day. It premiered to critical acclaim at Sundance earlier this year, and after finally getting to see it I COMPLETELY understand why. Michael B Jordan is incredible in his role, playing real life shooting victim Oscar Grant. In 2009 in Oakland, California, Oscar was accidentally shot by a police officer, who allegedly wanted to tase him, but pulled out his gun instead. The film starts with real iphone footage from the event, which director Ryan Coogler uses to build an overwhelming feeling of tension and dread for the rest of the film. We get to know, and like, Oscar the day before the shooting; all the while knowing what will eventually come. It’s heartbreaking, touching, but also quite funny, plus doesn’t try to glorify Oscar for manipulative reasons – you see his good and bad sides.
Here’s hoping, I thought as I set my alarm for way too early o’clock, the Oscar buzz continues for the excellent film about Oscar… Goodnight.