May 28, 2012

A Farewell to Cannes

I find this title fitting, especially after seeing Hemingway and Gellhorn. I'm currently sitting in my bed, the one at my house, evaluating the incredible experience that just happened to me.

But first, let me share with you my experience earlier in the day. Gary, Ari, Hayley and I shared a cab to the airport. We got there and realized this was our last opportunity to make it to Longchamp for our sisters and moms. We ran from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1, only to discover that we needed to go back to Terminal 2, where our flight was leaving from. I felt so bad for Gary and Ari. Anyway, we got to the store only to find the most horrible, minuscule collection of bags I had ever seen. And none for Jenna. Sad days.

It was soon time to board the plane. We stood up, only to find ourselves standing behind Tye Sheridan aka Ellis aka the star of Mud, the Jeff Nichols film starring Matthew McCounaghey and Reese Witherspoon. He was with his family and we talked to him for 20 minutes. First of all, we were thrilled to finally be able to tell him about our anger at his not being the first actor listed in the end credits. That was something we had wanted to say and were thrilled to have said it. Then we went on talking about the actual process he went through during filming. He told us that he was schooled on set in Arkansas rather than in his home of Texas, over three hours away. His mom, who was so sweet, told us that it was a huge strain on the family, but that it was worth it for her son to be able to live out his dream, especially because he really is such a talented kid. The conversation continued all the way to the plane, until Alec Baldwin swooped him and snatched him away from us. Oh well. The price of being on the cusp of celebrity.

On the plane, Hayley and I sat next to each other in the aisle and window, respectively, with Gary just across the aisle, which was very exciting.  I watched a few movies (finally seeing The Muppets, which I adored) and had a very pleasant flight, as Hayley and I spread all over each other.

We landed, I got picked up after saying bye, and now, here I am, sitting in bed, thinking over all that I have learned.

May 27, 2012

Cannes, Day 12: Tears from Above

Waking up to bid Sharon adieu was not a fun experience, but alas, one that needed to be done. We parted ways, leaving three of us to fend for ourselves.

So we did what we always do- see a movie. This time it was Holy Motors, which had premiered earlier int he competition to rave reviews. Gary actually told us that he expected it to win the Palme, which, after seeing Amour, was a statement I took with skepticism. We waited outside the Debussy for a bit, and once we were let in, were shoved up to the balcony. Fortunately for us, we were able to snag the first row, providing us with a comfortable foot rest.

I was tired, and was concerned that I would fall asleep during the film. I had not slept in any film except for 15 minutes of Pas Tenebras Lux, so I really wanted to keep up with myself. Fortunately, the movie kept me engaged the entire time, and ultimately became my favorite movie - the one I hoped would win the Palme. I also decided that no matter what, this film has to be one of the two I write about in my final paper.  Read more about the movie here.

After the movie, the torrential downpour began. It must have been my own sadness falling down, each drop that hit my head was one that I felt inside. But still, Hayley and I tried to run some errands. Longchamp - fail. Poster tube - fail. "Oh, what is life?" we lamented to one another.

We got back and the thunder began. We decided not to try and beg for the closing ceremonies. As hard as we had worked, drenching my tux was not worth the 25 minute ceremony. So we just sat and relaxed and cried (internally, of course). Then it was time for Arthur to leave. Even more sadness.

Hayley and I had wanted to go to this restaurant for dinner that was recommended to us by a friend, and, luckily, the rain had cleared up. Unfortunately, there was a giant stop sign in front of the restaurant in the form of the owner, who told us that there was no way we would be eating there without a reservation.

Ultimately, it was for the best, as we  ended up eating with Nicola, Peter, Takara, Ari, Gary and Deedee. We had a great meal at the place we ate the first night, with a full conversation that ended up being a nice way to close the program.

We talked about the winners of the festival - we all agreed that it was fair for Amour to win the Palme, as it was my second favorite film. We were also all thrilled that Beasts of the Southern Wild won the Camera d'Or, as we were all thoroughly impressed by the incredible technique and storytelling of the film. Lastly, I was  excited that my prediction that Mads Mikkelsen would win Best Actor for The Hunt was correct.

After that, Gary and Takara and I went to a bar, where we hung out until 2. It was a great night to say goodbye, but it still couldn't stop the sinking feeling in my heart that this once in a lifetime opportunity was over.

May 26, 2012

Cannes, Day 11: The Day Arthur Became King

Day 11 of Cannes began with the first of our impending goodbyes as Rawson and Zoe bid us adieu as they returned to the Big Apple. Rawson joined Hayley, Sharon, and I for a farewell breakfast before catching his 11:00 cab to the airport.

But the show must go on, and on we went into town in an effort to capture some posters for ourselves, because they had been out of stock every time we tried. We stopped in a gift shop where the guy tried to overprice us and wouldn't show us the merchandise. We walked out in a rage, only to discover that the Official Boutique still did not have a shipment in! So we went away, prepared to try again that afternoon, as per the clerk's suggestion.

But then the shining sun (which we had anticipated to be hidden behind a mask of clouds) got even brighter after Arthur told us that we were cordially invited aboard his dad's colleague's brother-in-law's boat. We booked it back to the college and put on our swimsuits. We had to get on this boat. It was one of the things we had wanted to do while in Cannes, and we were in shock that it was really happening.

We walked over to the pier, stopping at a little food stand that ended up being amazing, much to our surprise. It looked shabby, so we had always avoided it: a prime example of judging a book by its cover. Alas.

So we hopped onto the boat with the guy and his 3 friends. They were so friendly and nice to us, and we got to talking about the film festival and what our favorite movies are. It was very refreshing to talk to someone who came to the festival for business but still took advantage of and valued the artistic integrity of the films.

The ride was beautiful. Clear, blue sea for miles. We weaved through the luxury yachts around us, making our way to the myriad of boats parked between these two islands. We parked, and I took off my shirt, ready to enter the water. I dipped in a toe and it was damn cold. But I wanted to go in. So I stepped back and leapt. The guys started laughing at me, telling me I was crazy, but Hayley quickly followed suit. After a bit of hesitancy, Arthur and Sharon jumped in as well into the super salty sea.

After some hanging out, a bit of wine, and some great conversation, we headed back into shore. It was a wonderful afternoon, and we were all on such a high as we breezed into the port. We got off the boat and ran to the poster shop. Success was ours! We were thrilled. But we didn't have much time if we wanted to get into the premiere of Mud, so we sprinted back and changed faster than a speeding bullet. We hurried back (Arthur didn't come, as he had seen the movie in the morning) and began to beg our asses off.

Luck came quickly (shocking) and Hayley and I managed to snag an Orchestra ticket each, while I also got Sharon a balcony. I have this natural gift for getting tickets. It's a skill.

We got some soft serve ice cream. Mint Chip!!! And Hayley finally got her soft serve chocolate banana. She loves banana flavored things. Loves. Anyway, we walked up the red carpet (12th time) and sat in our seats. To our excitement, Hayley and I were both by the aisle that the director and cast walk down! We were so excited to see Jeff Nichols walk in, followed by Matthew McCounaughey and Reese Witherspoon. The movie was really good - not amazing - just very, very good. Read more about that here.

The standing o lasted for quite some time, and the boys who were the leads were brought to tears. Heart-wrenching. They walked out, and we followed, meeting Arthur outside the palais.

Now, as if Arthur hadn't already done so enough for us today, he surprised us with invitations to a closed party (open bar) hosted by Schweppes. We grabbed dinner at this wonderful little restaurant and ran over to meet the person who was letting us in at 10:30. We walked inside and were the first people there, so we waited a bit, and suddenly, the party was hopping. The drinks were great, the beach was open, and we were so excited to be there. Thank you Arthur Cohen.

We had a great time, but Hayley and Sharon wanted to go at around 1:30. Arthur and I stayed a bit later, before rushing to McDonald's to grab some food. We headed back and prepared to crash after a great evening. Arthur went to bed, and I was getting ready, but then Whit came into the room and told me that people were going to the beach, so I went with him and Jaycee. We hung out there for awhile, listening to music and talking, before heading back in. My head hit the pillow, my eyes closed, and I was out like a light.

May 25, 2012

Cannes, Day 10: 10 on 10

I woke up this morning in a daze from the after party from the night before. I turned to the clock and saw that it was 8:30 and released a heavy groan. But I figured, hey, might as well check out the ticket portal, and I managed to snag an orchestra seat for the HBO produced Hemingway and Gellhorn at the nighttime premiere. With that, I went back to bed, sporadically woken up by people passing through the room until I finally managed to get up to play pool with Rawson before our meeting at noon.

The meeting was very helpful in fleshing out thoughts about the final paper and serving as a forum for any discussion about the festival as a whole. Sandwiches were served and all. We then left, having to go pick up the tickets and needing food. We ended up going to this amazing natural gelato place called Amorino, which apparently has a location in NYC (a dangerous tidbit of information). Arthur's cousin came as well, which was great.

Then Hayley, Sharon and I decided to try the McDonald's. Arthur said that the nuggets were way better here and real chicken. I never eat fast food so this was a big deal for me. As it would turn out, Arthur spoke in the truest form of bullshit. The nuggets were the same! But we powered through, went back to our rooms to nap, and then got ready for the premiere.

We managed to snag tickets for Cosmopolis in all of five minutes, but it was raining so we sprinted inside. It was our tenth red carpet on day ten. Pretty cool, right?

The film itself was very eh, but Sharon had a great time sitting right behind Alexander Payne and Ewan McGregor! Read about the film here.

We then ran and got food (Arthur and Rawson went back) and went back for the premiere of Hemingway and Gellhorn. I got pretty close to the cast this time. The film was enjoyable - very TV movie - and there were some major flaws, but it was interesting at the very least. Read more about that here.

We got back, and now I'm ready to call it a night. We are having breakfast fairly early tomorrow to say goodbye to Rawson! I can't believe I have only two days left...

Cannes, Day 9: My Date with Nicole

Today was an incredible day, star-studded and full of... very interesting films. I woke up in the morning and immediately opted to check my ticket portal, and to my excitement, I discovered that Post Tenebras Lux had available invitations! I couldn't have been more excited, so without even considering whether or not I wanted to see the film, I snatched up a ticket to be picked up later.

Rawson and I had a quick breakfast before we made our way to the Salle du 60 in order to see the 11:00 showing of On the Road, the adaptation of the beat novel by Jack Kerouac. It was a 2 hour and 40 minute movie, so we were well aware that we wanted to be in this theater, with its comfortable seats and extra leg room, rather than sit through the premiere the night before. I stopped into the ticketing room to pick up the one I had reserved, which was quite an exciting experience. I felt so important.

We sat in line for awhile, under the harsh, beating, unforgiving Mediterranean sun. Fortunately, I remembered to lotion. Hayley and Sharon arrived to meet us, and had remembered to pick up a copy of Screen. We made our way into the screening and proceeded to sit through a faithful and fairly well-done adaptation of the book that went on forty minutes too long, which I'll tell you more about in my review.

After, we stopped to see if more tickets for the premiere of The Paperboy were available. They weren't. So we grabbed some lunch and headed back. I needed to change into my tux early in order to be ready for The Paperboy after Post Tenebras Lux.

We were running a bit late, so we sprinted to the Lumiere. I was uncomfortably sweaty, but the cool theater quickly remedied that. The film was odd, confusing, beautiful, and... I'm not really sure what to make of it. Here are my thoughts, but I may need to re-evaluate them soon.

We then began begging for The Paperboy. I was with Rawson in the orchestra, and we quickly found tickets for Sharon, Arthur, and Hayley, although Sharon was in serious panic mode. But we knew we would get in, especially after one of the members of the jury, Raoul Peck, wished us luck with our begging. The tickets that flew into our hands were no surprise. We shmoozed for a bit, took some pictures, and I got a mint chip soft serve cone (yum!). We then went inside. Rawson and I were able to go in immediately, and walked the red carpet with our faces plastered on the jumbotron (according to others. We weren't paying attention). Unfortunately, the others did not get into the main theater, but were able to see the film in the Bazin.

Then, the magic happened. Rawson and I got aisle seats, so when the cast and director arrived, they walked right by us. John Cusack smiled directly at me (which Rawson can confirm via video). The rest of the cast filed suit - Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, John Cusack, Macy Gray, and of course, the statuesque Nicole Kidman, one of my favorite actresses with looks that I can only imagine are what the Greeks used to imagine Aphrodite.

The film itself was very good, with stellar performances by everyone, particularly Kidman, which you can read more about here. The applause was enormous, lasting for almost twenty minutes. The cast walked by us again on their way out, and when Nicole walked by, I said, "You were amazing." She smiled at me and said, "Thank you." My heart dropped and I was on cloud nine. In fact, I'm still not fully prepared to write the review because the experience of the premiere was so incredible.

We left with our usual crew and went back to dinner at the place from the night before. We had a great time, but everyone was exhausted, except for me. So when they all opted to go home, I met up with Zoe, and the two of us managed to go to the after party for the film! As we entered, we brushed shoulders with an exiting Reese Witherspoon and her husband. The celebrities had left, but we had a great time with the copious amounts of free food and the most delectably dry champagne. After a full night of fun and conversation, we parted ways, and I collapsed on my bed after a thoroughly fulfilling day.

May 24, 2012

Cannes, Day 8: I Can Barely Recognize the Sun

Today was a day that we decided would be film free, a day of sun, beach, and the pure, unadulterated outdoors. And by pure, unadulterated, I mean highly commercialized and crowded beaches, but either way that was simply the way it had to be. We needed to rejuvenate after seeing 20 films.

So when I woke up, Rawson and I grabbed a quick breakfast before joining the rest of our group for a meeting with Jeff Berg, the head of ICM. We discussed the rise of digital media and the affect it will have on the industry as well as the way that film and television has to be reinterpreted in a constantly shifting world. While I found that valuable, as it quickly became clear that this discussion is THE current discussion pervading the industry,what I found most valuable was his reassurance that the liberal arts background I am getting at Penn is what his company seeks in new employees. Maybe I will get a job after all!

After the meeting, Hayley, Sharon and I ran straight to the beach and spread out, soaking in some rays (heavily screened, of course). We hung out there for awhile until Rawson and Arthur later joined us, at which point Arthur finally gave me the courage to submerge myself in the frigid water. Once I was in, it was thoroughly refreshing, although the purple under my fingernails indicated minor frostbite. We swam for awhile and then went back to warm up.

Next on our list was Haagen Dazs, in an effort to provide Hayley with her very first Mint Chip Dazzler, something I hold near and dear to my heart. Unfortunately, we got there only to realize that they didn't have mint, and, even worse, they seemed to have specials that served ice cream in... moderation. It was far beyond my comprehension, but Rawson and I got this amazing cookie thing so I was content.

We got back, and Arthur and I beached a bit more while everyone else went inside. Then we showered, changed, etc. in preparation for dinner. We found this amazing hole in the wall on our favorite cobblestone street, in what was probably our best dinner yet. For an appetizer I had an upside down apple tart with seared foie gras. Yes, you read right. I was in heaven. Being the generous soul I am, I let everyone try a bite. Arthur loves foie gras and died a little bit. For the others (Hayley, Sharon, Rawson), who had never tasted it before, it was a jaw-dropping experience.

Next I got a full sea bass, head included, followed by a chocolate mousse. And we had a giant bottle of rose. A perfect dinner. We left, trying to go to a screening, but we failed, alas. On our way back, we played foosball, at which Sharon and I kicked Arthur and Rawson's asses, much to our surprise. After, we went back and played some ping pong. Arthur, despite his claims at being a nationally ranked player in France, still failed miserably against me (as did Rawson), but the two of them had an excellent, highly competitive match. Arthur won by the skin of his teeth.

The three of us tried to watch Kill Bill, Vol. 1 and got through quite a bit of it before Rawson announced that it was bedtime. He has yet to see the Crazy 88, so I'm excited for him to experience that, as Arthur and I have both seen the movie around 3 trillion times. I think we should have finished the movie, so I'll just say to Rawson, "Silly rabbit. Trix are for. Kids."

May 23, 2012

Sharon's Blog

If you haven't done so yet, check out my friend Sharon's blog for a humorous recap of every day, with occasional commentary by Hayley Brooks. She also has fully detailed accounts of our trip to Nice. Check it out!

Killing Them Softly

The Angels' Share

Cannes, Day 7: Pathetic Fallacy is such a real thing.

Today, we really wanted to see some in competition films, aka Brad Pitt was going to be at the premiere of his new movie Killing Them Softly at 7, so we (Sharon) had to get in. We started off our morning with another in competition film called The Angels' Share, which was tense, but still fun and lighthearted. While I really liked the movie and had a very enjoyable viewing experience, it was definitely not one of the best films around. In the context of the series of small depressions that most films create every day, however, we all loved it. Read my full review here.

Then, it was sushi time. And the sun had come out! My mood had changed after the film from down to up and the sun only reinforced that jubliance, hence the title of my blog. The sushi was odd, but very good, although I have never encountered such slow service at a sushi place. Then again, the fact that my stomach was eating itself probably contributed to the slowing of time. After, we had gelato. I had four scoops. It was wonderful.

Rawson and I returned to change, and eventually Hayley came back as well. As we questioned Arthur about his claim to being a national ping pong champion, Hayley emerged, looking great for Brad. We made our way over, and I was all set to beg, when I got a phone call from Sharon saying that we had gotten all the tickets. It was awesome. Rawson, Sharon, Hayley and I spent some time taking pictures, which was great because we all looked fantastic. Then, it was time to walk the red carpet.

We showed them our tickets and stepped onto the red carpet. We looked around and paused. Oh hey P. Diddy! Yeah, we were casually walking the red carpet with him. Not necessarily my celebrity of choice, but still very cool.

We got inside the theater and Brad emerged from his car. First, let me say that people had camped out all day in order to see this man, who looked awful with his long hair and beard. Whatever happened to the Brad of Thelma and Louise? He milked the crowd for awhile. Sharon thought it was nice of him to acknowledge his fans. I thought it was self-indulgent and narcissistic, and that it detracted from the rest of the stars of the film. Angelina wasn't with him. I thought Sharon was going to cry. But when he entered the theater, she still took pictures of him on the jumbo tron. When we looked at the picture, however, we realized that the one person in the background we could see was none other than our very own Hayley Brooks.

The film turned out to be very mediocre. A full on disappointment, especially after having very high expectations. Read the full review here.

After, we met up with Zoe (who was also in the screening) for dinner, which was really fun. We laughed and talked and I had a bit of whisky because that was about 50% of The Angels' Share so I felt an obligation. We walked out, and saw that there were fireworks across the street, so we watched those for some time, until the smoke and residue filled up the entire city. No longer so pleasant.

When we got back, we changed and Arthur, Rawson, Sharon, Hayley and I went to the beach and hung out there for an hour. There's nothing better than night beaching with friends, having the waves crashing around us as we stare into the lights of Cannes. What a way to end the night.

In Another Country


You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet

Cannes, Day 6: Tears on Tears

Day 6 of the festival was not one to particularly remember, except for a single film that blew me away.

The morning began with a nice little fruit salad from the place across the street and a walk over to the palais in order to see one of the in competition films, You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet!. Due to the exclamation mark, I made the (fair) assumption that it would be a rather upbeat and exciting movie. I was wrong.

Most people fell asleep or walked out of the film (aka all my friends except for me, Takara, and Ari). I could understand their point. It was rather boring, but at the very least I could appreciate its very meta aspirations. Alas, it was somewhat painful to sit through, but you can read my full review here.

After the screening, we ran over to the Salle du 60 (which was no longer blown away) to meet Rawson and Arthur because they had left the earlier screening 20 minutes before it ended. We got there and stood in the drizzle as we waited for Amour

The movie was unbelievable - definitely the best in competition film I have seen to date, although it has received far less publicity than many of the American films (damned celebrity culture!). I was crying for literally an hour and a half of the 2 hour movie. After, Rawson told me that the entire time he wanted to ask me if I wanted to leave, but wasn't sure if that was rude. Here is my full review of the film.

After, we grabbed a quick lunch and returned to the Lumiere in order to beg for tickets to In Another Country, which starred the lovely French actress Isabelle Huppert, who was also a supporting cast member in Amour. The movie was fine, but didn't really have much of a point, which you can read about here.

What was most exciting about seeing the film was that after, we were right next to Isabelle, and to see the French fawn over her was a truly fun experience, as she is a great actress who deserves fame, not as a member of the cult of celebrity, but rather as an acknowledgment of her breadth and talent.

We went back after the film to change, but Hayley and I ended up taking a two hour nap. We met up with Zoe for a 9 o'clock dinner reservation, which was really fun. Arthur had to leave early to go to another reservation at a club. Dinner was delicious and affordable, for Cannes at least. After, a few of us tried to meet Arthur at the club, which may as well have been situated in Timbuktu, only to discover that we were way underdressed. Can't these clubs make up their minds about dress codes? At least the walk was beautiful.

We took a cab back to the hotel and crashed. Hayley slept in my extra bed and we pillow talked for awhile. A great end to a great day.

Jagten (The Hunt)

Thomas Vinterberg has not made his return to Cannes since 1998, after his classic film Festen (The Celebration aka Dogme #1) won the Jury Prize. However, Jagten (The Hunt) marks his triumphant return to the festival.

This stirring drama tells the story of Lucas, portrayed by the brilliant Mads Mikkelsen, a man whose life is devoted to the children he teaches at the local school. He is a man beloved by his community, although he is dealing with the recent departure of his wife, and the son she took with her. He is beginning to re-establish his life, however, finding a new girlfriend named Nadja (Aexandra Rapaport) and finding support from his best friend Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen).

Yet his simple life cannot continue for much longer, as Klara (the adorable Annika Wedderkopp), Theo's young daughter who is one of his students, develops a crush. She attempts to kiss Lucas, who quickly stops her, much to her chagrin. After seeing a profane picture on her brother's iPad, she comes up with a lie that will change Lucas' life forever.

A witch hunt ensues, in which Lucas must fight for his life in order to prove his innocence against little Klara's claims. Even as we are aware of his innocence, the lie spreads through the village and takes over everyone around him. Although Klara is quick in her attempt to retract her lie, her mother, Agnes (Anne Louise Hassing), and the school principal, Grethe (Susse Wold), essentially force Klara to believe that her lie was the truth.

Thus, the film explores the mind of a child, far more malleable and impressionable than the community perceives it to be, so that when other children begin forming their own accusations, we are aware that it is only through the pressure of the adults, seeking some sort of sick, twisted truth that the children begin to believe that they actually were molested. Meanwhile, the mass hysteria continues to build as Lucas becomes an exile. He is constantly harassed and assaulted, his life driven to shambles.

The film was shot in a traditional, social realist manner with mostly diegetic sounds, on location sets and natural lighting, adding to the tension and fear that the film creates. Each moment adds to the fear of mass hysteria, and the realism makes this film extremely believable. Such a tragic existence could happen to anyone, and that is the scariest thing of all.

There was no extra trimmings on this film. Everything was written to build the drama without anything to detract from the purpose of this story. Vinterberg took the downfall of a man and wrapped it in packaging so honest and pure that the narrative created its own tension, without anything to force conflict.

The acting in this film was fantastic, with Mikkelsen leading the way. He captured the pain and confusion of a man falsely accused of such action with a subtlety that made his character the most honest of them all. Wedderkopp also took on a challenging role, which presents an issue such a young girl should not necessarily be made aware of, yet she took the role with poise. Her confusion and distress at the damage she caused, as well as her confusion about the truth played across her face and she captured naivete perfectly.

Overall, the film was amazing, one of my favorite at Cannes. With stunning direction, an extremely tightly woven plot, and incredible acting, I have to give this film an A.

Cannes, Day 5: Water, Water, Everywhere.

Today was a rather melancholy, single film day.

We woke up rather early to go see Thomas Vinterberg's film The Hunt, another one of the many in competition films we have seen so far. It was wonderfully done, full of tension, drama, and excellent acting. Definitely one of the best competition films we have seen. Read my full review here.

We then got in line to see another film, until Hayley and I got a text from a producer we had met while begging for tickets the very first night. He wanted to have lunch with us! So we booked ourselves over to the Majestic, where we met with him while sipping some Perrier. I was an incredibly interesting experience to hear the trajectory his career took over the course of his life and how he finally ended up in film. He essentially gave us a lesson on Producing 101, explaining to us the different facets of production and how to become a successful producer. He then proceeded to tell us in full detail the careers of many of his favorite producers, explaining to us that we need to understand those we wish to emulate.

2 hours later (yes, the meeting lasted two hours, which was incredibly nice of him), we ran over to meet everyone else through a torrential downpour in winds that should be classified as a tropical storm at the very least. I wanted to go to a screening at the Salle du 60, but apparently the tent "blew up" according to one of the guards. That freaked me out for a bit, until he explained the wind "wooshed" and the tent went "clap."  Mildly different to be blown over than to be blown up.

So we went back to the rooms and decided to have an inside evening, which was so much fun for all of us. A few sing-alongs later, it was bedtime. Here in Cannes, we were able to find fun, even as rain poured from a gray sky.

May 21, 2012

The We and the I

Michel Gondry’s latest foray into film delves headfirst into the urban jungle, contained within a single bus ride home on the last day of school. Through a variety of characters weaving their stories together to create a more complete inner city high school experience, Gondry explores themes of sexuality, young love, insecurities, and bullying.

When I first saw this film, I was left with a confusing, bitter taste in my mouth. The acting was astonishingly tragic, enough to distract from message of the film. While well-shot within the confines of the bus, fluidly transitioning from character to character, there was a lack of strict narrative, instead serving as a vehicle for a series of closely related anecdotes to be loosely connected. While I may have liked parts of it, such as the dynamic between Laidychou and her friend as they fought over her birthday party, or Teresa’s constant search for acceptance by Michael and his co-conspirators – the bullies of the class, it was hard to keep focused through what felt like sloppy storytelling. I also questioned the validity of the narrative, wondering where Gondry gathered these ideas.

Cannes, Day 4: (Red Carpet)^3

Each day just seems to get more and more exciting, doesn't it?

This morning began with a venture to a little theater called the Star with Takara in order to see Michel Gondry's new film, The We and the I. After several missed turns and a few drops of rain, we found the theater, only to be told to return in an hour. We sat in a cafe, in which I wrote a review while eating an omelette as Takara sipped her coffee.

We went to the movie, and although they tried to turn us away (they didn't understand what the passes meant), we got in thanks to the help of one of the producers. The film was interesting, attempting to explore the urbanscape within the confines of a single bus, but I am still unsure of my final feelings about it. Read my review here.

We got out of the screening but had to sprint back to the college in order to make a group meeting with Gregory Quinn, the head of corporate development for Caribbean Cinema, a large exhibition company in the caribbean. We sprinted so fast in fact, that Takara's legs came out from under her while in the middle of a conversation. I turned to see why she wasn't responding and found her on the ground. Don't worry, though. She was fine.

We made it to the talk, which was very interesting, focusing on what it takes to run movie theaters, where the revenue comes from, and how the industry is changing. There was a particularly strong focus on the shift from traditional 35 mm film to digital, and how shifting patterns are leading to challenges within exhibition.

After that, we hung out for  a little bit before getting changed to go to the premieres. It was tux time, and I was ready, prepared to go to three premieres.

The first was Lawless, which I was concerned about making because it was in high demand with such a star-studded cast. I began begging early, and Sharon and I shared our initial frustrations. That is, until some guy walked up to me and handed me a ticket, simply saying "You're a lucky guy." And I thought to myself, he's so right.

Sharon found a ticket as well (Hayley had already gone in with some older gentleman), and so the two of us walked up the steps of the red carpet into the balcony. That was red carpet #1. The film itself was very average, and you can read my review here.

Next up was The Sapphires, an Australian film telling the story of four Aboriginal girls who sing for the US Army during the Vietnam War. Magically, Takara had already gotten us all tickets for that and for Dracula, which was playing at 12:30 (although Zoe got me mine!), so we were set. We got nutella/banana paninis, except for Rawson who said no to the bananas (damned allergies), and made our way inside. Of course Hayley didn't finish hers in time, so I ate half.

The movie was very fun and light and I really enjoyed it, although I can only think of it as a lesser Dreamgirls. You can read my full review here, but it was a really nice break from most of the other movies I have been seeing.

Last on the list was Dracula 3D. We already had our tickets so we just swooped into the line. We walked the red carpet for the third time, went inside and picked up our ridiculous 3D glasses. The cast and director were there, of course, as in the other two screenings, but we were initially disappointed by the failure of the film to deliver the promised 3D. Then the lights turned on and we discovered that there were technical difficulties. The screening resumed, in an... interesting reinterpretation of the classic. Here's that review.

Most people in our group left as the movie started. It was, after all, a 12:30 AM screening. Takara and I walked home and discussed the film, at which point I got a nosebleed. Apparently I was experiencing the gory movie in 5D the whole time and didn't even know it. By then it was now. 3:30 in the morning, so I'm off to bed. Tomorrow I have to catch up on actually writing some of these reviews.

May 19, 2012


Celebrity culture pervades the media, and an unhealthy obsession with them has displaced the news and issues that affect global culture. In Reality, Matteo Garrone explores how the obsession with becoming a part of the cult of celebrity has become a part of our society, and how the unrealistic dreams that reality television presents to those with celebrity aspirations can turn tragic.

The film begins with an introduction to the family at a wedding, and their obsession with Enzo, a winner of the TV show Big Brother. For the American audience, it is important to understand the impact the show has in other countries. While our reality stars stem from The Bachelor or Jersey Shore, stars around the world emerge from Big Brother, and are often respected and idolized by the audience. When Enzo is constantly taken away by helicopter, it may be difficult for many Americans to believe. So, when Enzo emerges at the wedding as the surprise special guest, everyone is thrilled, particularly when our protagonist, the funny and kind-hearted Luciano (Aniello Arena), emerges as one of his many characters, playing off of Enzo’s fame with humor.


A single mistake triggers a cascade of events in a small, unremarkable cul-de-sac in Rufus Norris' first feature film, a departure from his past experience with the stage. The film is emotionally engaging, traumatizing, and horrific, but without the believability it requires to make an excellent film.

The challenge with Broken is that, while 11-year old, diabetic Skunk (first-time actress Eloise Laurence) serves as the protagonist of the film, she is unable to juggle the myriad of sub-plots that pervade the film, so much so, in fact, that it becomes nearly impossible to discern which plot is the primary.

Skunk (Eloise Laurence) with her father (Tim Roth).

So imagine that we solely follow Skunk, as she, with a heavy hand, helps us weave the plot together. The film begins with one of several flashback sequences in which someone is getting beaten up, only to reveal the motivations for the beatings after, a technique that worked well once, but grew tiresome by the end. Anyway, the film begins with Mr. Oswald (Rory Kinnear), the brutish neighbor from next door beating up crazy Rick (Robert Emms), after one of his daughters, Susan (Rosalie-Kosky-Hensman) lies to her father that Rick had raped her after she is caught with a condom. Although he is proven innocent, he snaps and must be institutionalized.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Benh Zeitlin's first feature film is not a safe dip into a father-daughter relationship, but is rather a full-on foray into the tumult of their love for one another, framed in the hostile environment of the Bathtub, a region of the Louisiana Bayou that they call home.

The film takes place at a time when the Bathtub is in danger. The residents call it home, but after a horrible storm, the residents are forced by the government to flee. Quvenzhane Wallis plays Hushpuppy, the daughter who is often left on her own to explore her world, forced to cook and fend for herself as her father, Wink (Dwight Henry), goes off on his own. Hushpuppy is precocious, adorable and adventurous who, through voiceover, constantly tells us how she interprets the universe. Much of what she has learned comes from her father, whose beliefs are heavily rooted in his faith in his home and the concept that

Throughout the film, we learn about Hushpuppy's past and how her mother left her as a baby. She constantly seeks out a figure to care for her and treat her with love, often hearing her mother's voice in her head. Yet, she remains independent, and always prepared to take care of herself.

May 18, 2012

Cannes, Day 3: A Day of Directors

Day 3 of Cannes was perhaps my most exciting yet - a day of interactions with cast and crew! After getting back and blogging late the night before, I could barely lift myself out of bed in preparation for the first Un Certain Regard film of the day, Beasts of the Southern Wild, but thanks to the help of my roommates, I was able lift myself up and make it into the line of the premiere.

We entered the theater, unaware that this was the official screening and that the entire cast and director were present. This was the first major feature of director Behn Zeitlin, and after the buzz about the film at Sundance, I could feel the tension in the air. What would be the consensus?

The lights dimmed and the movie began. The emotional journey it took me through was astounding and magical, with incredible performances all around. Read my full review of this amazing movie here.

The incredible cast and director of Beasts of the Southern Wild.

The applause was thundering. For ten minutes everyone clapped their hands raw, gazing at the director, cast, and ridiculously talented little girl who captured our hearts. As we walked out of the theater, I found myself standing 2 feet away from them. My hands shook at the immense talent in front of me, but I racked up my courage, approached Behn Zeitlin, took his hand, and said, "That was incredible. You've made an amazing film." He smiled and said, "Thank you. I really appreciate that." Today, we discovered that Fox Searchlight picked up the film, easily the best film I've seen here, if not in recent years.

Baad el Mawkeaa (After the Battle)

This Egyptian drama takes place during the course of the Egyptian Revolution in Tahrir last year, telling the story of a middle-class, female advertising executive named Reem (Menna Shalaby) and her interactions with a lower class man names Mahmoud (Bassed Samra) – a horse rider in a small village by the pyramids whose business has died because of a lack of tourism. The film explores the conflict between two ideologies as the woman attempts to bring he liberal opinions to the small town and inspire them to join the revolution.

Mahmoud had been knocked down and stoned during the Tahrir riots after riding in and attempting to quell the riots with a stick. He is the joke of his town, constantly teased by friends and shamed to the point of his children getting beaten. He takes out his frustration on his wife (Nahed el Sebai), a subservient woman who, throughout the course of her interactions with Reem, grows increasingly resilient and involved in the revolution.

Meanwhile, Reem cannot understand why the townspeople do not support the revolution, and tries to show them how they can lift themselves from poverty. She is a hyper liberal character, and director Yousry Nasralleh has no qualms about showing her as an extreme. She is constantly yelling, and her anger rises to the point that her likability is constantly diminished.

De rouille et d'os (Rust and Bone)

If you think that romance should stem from meshing personalities and a loving spark, think again. Rust and Bone tells the story of a couple whose friendship is based on tragedy and recovery, of loss, and in the case of Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts), pure, unadulterated apathy.

The film begins where another one should end, with Ali taking his young son Sam away from his mother, who had been trafficking drugs through the innocent boy. He’s just the type of stand-up guy any girl wants to take home to her parents – living on the streets, scavenging garbage for food, stealing cameras out of stores. He shows an initial affection for Sam in these beginning montages, but everything changes when he has his sister, (Corinne Masiero), take him in. She is a cashier in a grocery store, her husband is a truck driver. They can barely make ends meet and supplement their income by taking care of dogs.

Ali eventually takes on a series of odd jobs all related to his past as a boxer and kickboxer, and it is while on duty as a bouncer that he meets Stephanie (Marion Cotillard), saving her from an abusive man and driving her home. We expect sparks to fly, but the only sparks that truly fly are the ones of anger from her eyes when he calls her a slut, showing off all them legs. They get back to her boyfriend, who is a huge ass, but learn that she is an orca trainer.

Her face lights up as we see her performing with the orcas to Katy Perry’s firework, until, one goes beserk and breaks the stand, bites off her legs, and leaves her to die. Except she’s Marion so she can’t die. Instead, she wakes up in the hospital to find herself legless and in a deep depression. Eventually, she finds herself calling Ali.

May 17, 2012

Cannes, Day 2: A Bit Rusty, but Ready for More

Today we set our alarms for 6:30. Yes, folks, you heard me right. I was out the door by 7 AM. A feat for me, but I can proudly attribute that to my dedication to the festival and getting in every possible screening.

Hayley, Sharon, Rawson, Arthur, Takara, Jaycee, Ari and I all sat outside waiting for tickets for the 8:30 screening of the Main Competition French film De rouille et d'os (Rust and Bone), a film by Jacques Audiard starring the wonderful Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts set to premiere later that night. Cotillard has already established herself as one of the top A-list actresses in the US and, with an Academy Award under her belt - a true force to be reckoned with. Schoenarts is Belgian and relatively unknown, but after this film, he can expect to find success.

I sat on the side, mournfully wasting away in my exhaustion, while Sharon, high on caffeine, rapidly grabbed three invitations to the screening and passed one to me. We begged for a bit, but ultimately surrendered, although everyone eventually got in via last minute access.

I'm so grateful that I remembered my glasses, because I would not have been able to read the subtitles without them. Here is a link to my review of the movie, which was bound to make a splash in France, where nationalism pervades the industry.

May 16, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom begins with a series of pans across the home of Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) depicting her daily activities with her brothers and her parents, Walt (Bill Murray) and Laura (Frances McDormand). We see Suzy looking at the world through binoculars, which she describes as her special power, as she can see things in greater detail. We then cut to the camp of Khaki Scouts run by the overzealous, hyper meticulous, Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton), where we learn of the disappearance of orphan Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman), the least popular member of the camp.

Sam, as it turns out, had met Suzy, and after a correspondence, the pair decided to run away together. A series of events ensues that leads the Sheriff of the town (Bruce Willis) to lead a search party that encompasses everyone from the other Khaki Scouts to the parents to Scout Master Ward. Oh, and Tilda Swinton plays a character just named Social Services, which really tickled my fancy.

Cannes, Day 1: Begging in Tuxedoes

This morning began with a delicious pastry from a little place just down the road along the beach with two other members of the trip, Rawson and Arthur. We could hardly contain our excitement for the day ahead and the start of what was sure to be an incredible festival. Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson's new film was all set to open and all of us were determined to find our way into one of the two screenings that evening.

We had a meeting with Nicola at noon, in which he described the access that our passes provided us, which is pretty high, considering we are essentially the least relevant people at the festival (according to some). After the meeting, a group of us walked with Nicola into town and picked up the last of the free bags, after which we ran to the MonoPrix, a dollar store type of shebang, in order to pick up white boards to help us in all of our begging needs. Of course, I made the immediate decision that Hayley and I needed to have multicolored pens. Only 4 more euros, but totally worth it.

We split into pairs, and Hayley and I began our trek out into the glamorous lobbies of the hotels housing the film elite. We were a bit confused at first, unsure of how to approach the people casually lounging about, so we decided to casually browse the free Variety magazines on the table. After summoning our courage, we began to approach people, asking them if they knew of any extra tickets lying about. I got to give out my awesome Rear Window inspired business cards.

 While we were unsuccessful in our search, we met a nice artist who invited us to his art show next Thursday, some wonderful producers from Brisbane, and a sound producer from Montreal. Some people were very cold, leading to the following encounter with what we had perceived to be a nice older couple.

Hayley: Hi! I'm Hayley and this is my friend Adam! We were wondering if you knew of any tickets for tonight that were lying around?
Me: We're students from the US, and we're here on a program where we get to go to the film festival!
Man (with some sort of accent): That's very nice.
Hayley: Yeah, it's really exciting. What are you doing here?
Man: Well, I am trying to buy a movie from this woman.
Hayley: Oh, I'm so sorry! I didn't want to interrupt!
Man: Yes. Please don't do that .

So... that was mildly awkward.

May 15, 2012

Preface to the 65th Cannes Film Festival: Blow Shit Up

*NOTE: I wrote this while falling asleep so please ignore mistakes. This will be revisited when I awake tomorrow.

Today I began my journey into the 65th Cannes Film Festival: the Prelude. The festival begins tomorrow night, but with our passes, we were able to get a taste of what’s to come. For those of you unaware, I am taking part in the fabulous Penn-in-Cannes program. For one credit, I get to take part in this amazing festival in the experience of a lifetime. Unless it's not, which would be ideal. I'd like for this lifestyle to be on repeat.

We woke up this morning to a beautiful day, filled with sun and glamour as we began our tour of Cannes. The city is lined with the ritziest shops, a sharp contrast to the more touristy Nice, and much more reminiscent of our trip to Monte Carlo (for more on our trip to Nice and Monte Carlo, read my friend Sharon’s blog). Nicola, my advisor and one of the leaders of the trip, had given us our passes earlier in the morning, so we were prepped and ready to take advantage of the day.

The main festival area was a myriad of white tents rising against the sky, only matched by the sails and yachts just behind it. Little flags decked the tents, representing each country that was there, but they were only in the preliminary stages.

Hayley, Sharon, Jaycee, Chris, Takara, Ari and I approached the main entrance of the pavilion, unsure of what to expect. We presented our passes, and after a brisk wanding were allowed to go inside. And yes, our jaws dropped at the sight of images of the festival plastered around the room.