I kind of like the person I am in France. Here, I am direct. I am ‘un journaliste pour l’emission sur le cinema’. I am confident. That's mainly due to the fact that my limited French (enough to get by and nod blankly through conversations) forces me to speak in demands. Table for two! I want a croissant! I'm a journalist for a TV show about cinema! (I've never been quite so sure of myself in my life) The bill! I'm cold! I'm really into rap music! I can't quite remember how to say that last one, but a few years ago I spent a month in Paris and was determined to learn, and use, a new French phrase everyday, which I would say to a surprised and frightened man at the local patisserie. Here in Cannes of course everyone speaks English, especially when I persist in my obvious tourist French. I'll only switch to English to ask how to say something… "How do you say, holy hell it looks like it is about to storm?!"
I never got my answer, and within ten minutes it went from beautiful sun to sideways rain, and everyone scurried off to take shelter. I was running from one side of the Croisette, the street that runs alongside the beach, to the other, going from interviews with the cast of ‘The Bling Ring’ to interviews with the cast of ‘Fruitvale Station’ and back again, my look slowly deteriorating from done up to disheveled chic, ending somewhere in drowned ratsville.
At the press junket for ‘The Bling Ring’ I chatted to the cast about the irony of doing a big splashy Cannes premiere for this film. They all agreed that there is something strange about doing publicity and looking perfect in designer clothes for a movie about kids being obsessed with celebrity, perfection and material things. Emma Watson was just delightful as always, she said she was never tempted to take anything from Paris Hilton’s house, and no, Alicia, it doesn’t matter if Paris wouldn’t notice.
Meanwhile, over at the interviews for ‘Fruitvale Station’, everyone was blown away by the ten minute standing ovation they received at the screening the night before. In Cannes, things can go either way. If an audience hates it, they enjoy some very vocal booing (instead of simply walking out early like at other festivals) if they love it, like ‘Fruitvale Station’, they will stay, sitting silently through the credits, then get to their feet and erupt in applause at the end. That is my favorite moment of any film festival. To be there in a screening with the cast, and watch the reaction on their faces as the crowd keeps on clapping… that is incredible. I joked with director Ryan Cooger and Octavia Spencer about how, if there was a film made about their last 24 hours, it would be totally normal, right? They were so excited and surprised by the reaction, it was infectious. Forget franchises and big blockbusters… this is what cinema is all about. Films that have been made with blood, sweat, passion and tears. Films that move you and you can’t shake, even a full day later. “Here’s to more Oscar buzz for the film about Oscar!” I said to Michael B Jordan, who gave me a high five and said he was going to use that one from now on. (Look out for these interviews soon on Foxtel Movie Show in Australia!)
The interviews ran long so I couldn’t get to any actual screenings, but I went along to The Weinstein Company’s 2013 Presentation. There they rolled out the stars, like Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, Naomie Harris and the ‘Fruitvale’ cast, to show 2-5 minutes of their upcoming movies. And from what I saw, they are really pushing for the 2014 Academy Awards, with plenty of star driven dramas, a couple of edgy movies and a good few biopics.
We saw a trailer for ‘The Butler’, which you can watch online. This is the one with Forest Whitaker playing a real life White House butler, and an all-star cast playing former presidents Then there was a clip from ‘Aint Them Bodies Saints’ with Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck as outlaws (Rooney produced the film, Harvey Weinstein said she is “as good in the edit room as she is on screen”, and Rooney declined to reply, she’s shy). We saw a trailer for ‘August Osage Country’, based on a play by Tracy Letts and produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov. The cast list for this one reads like an Oscar nominee list – Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Ewan McGregor, Abigail Breslin, Juliette Lewis, Chris Cooper, Sam Shepard, Dermot Mulroney and… Benedict Cumberbatch!
‘Salinger’ is a fantastic looking mystery documentary, about the reclusive author JD Salinger and what happened to him after he wrote ‘The Catcher In The Rye’. The trailer looks very dramatic and full of big names from the literary world. James Gray’s ‘The Immigrant’ is playing at the festival next week, it’s a period drama and we saw a quick clip showing a rage-filled Joaquin Phoenix scaring Marion Cotillard. I’ll be speaking to Marion and James hopefully next week; kind of relieved it won’t be Joaquin… that guy scares me! About 5 minutes of ‘Grace of Monaco’ was shown, with Cannes jury member Nicole Kidman as Princess Grace Kelly. It’s a biopic, about the time when Grace wanted to star in ‘Marnie’ for Hitchcock, but it clashed with the “greatest role of her life”… being the Princess of Monaco. Nicole has altered her voice for the film, and looks beautiful during the long, languishing slow zooms. From the little I saw, it feels like an old school movie, the score all strings and dramatic orchestral music underneath it all.
We saw a brief clip from ‘Only God Forgives’ which I CANNOT wait to see here next week. Once again Ryan is completely silent. I half expected a spoon of cereal to come from one of the sides of the frame. Kristen Scott Thomas was not silent, this is a role unlike any we’ve seen her in, all shocking crude dialogue and American accent. I’ll give you my thoughts on the film when I see it! There was an uplifting trailer for ‘One Chance’ a film based on British Got Talent winner Paul Potts, he of the unassuming face who busted out some brilliant Opera. The trailer for ‘Fruitvale Station’ was shown, then lastly, a trailer to a film that just screams Oscar… ‘Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom’. As the title suggests, this is a biopic of Nelson Mandela’s life, starring Idris Elba, and had me yelling “WHY has it taken this long for this to be made??” on the inside. It’s a perfect story for a movie – inspiring, sad, a true journey. Producer Anant Singh spoke briefly and said it has taken him years to get it going.
Mark my words, I thought, as I headed out into the cool night… people will be talking about Idris Elba and ‘Mandela’ come say… March next year.