09 February, 2010

Back-B-Log: 1990: Cannes - Dread And Victory (IV Wild Thing)

[From the 2nd and final issue of the Tuesday Express/American Voyeur Paris/Cannes Issue! 1990]
IV
Saturday, May 19th: Wild Thing
I'm not about to give up. The press screening for 'Wild At Heart' is at 8:30 this morning. There's no way that everyone is going to be there after all the late night action. The sun is strong, it gives everything a rigid edge, I'm toned and energized as I stride from the train station. There were only two trains that could have gotten me here on time, and I ran for the second. I'm in by 7:40. There's no one in front of the Palais yet.

The Film Societe offices are closed, and I weigh the wisdom of giving up on the Lynch and sticking with this more assured way of at least getting into something. In one of the windows a dozen monitors are set up as an advertisement for European Cable, each tuned to a different channel, some of which are giving Festival coverage. I learn of the deaths of both Jim Henson and Sammy Davis Jr. (I flash on the day at College a few years back, when I thought I had heard a rumour that Henson had died of a virus - deja vu?).

I return to the steps of the Palais. A crowd has started to form. With some bravado I join the crowd in line and wait. After listening to the conversations going on around me, I start to chat up a few of the Americans. One of them, Joan Cohen, develops some film festival for, of all places, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She works for the Broward County film commission, whose offices are in LA. She's sort of a fortiesish slim overtanned Jewish maiden aunt, with what anti-feminists look on as a hobby-career. I mention that my parents live down there half the year; on hearing she's looking for indie productions, I go so far as to tell her about "Ramblin' Gal". I stop short of trying to sell it to her, but I promise her the information on how to contact the Person's. She tells me that you get the tickets to the official screenings at the Unifrance desk in the Grand Palais, but I don't have the credentials for it. It also turns out that she has an extra ticket to this morning's screening.

She starts ransacking her handbag for it. I try not to show my nervousness. An American couple have joined in the conversation, one of them thinks she misplaced her ticket, can she have the extra one. Joan says its been promised to me, and she's not sure she can find it. Almost at once, both women find their missing tickets. Wheww!

Joan hands me the ticket. Selection officielle. I experience an ungodly rush of endorphins. I remain calm, keeping the party to myself. This is it!

I am horribly and unbearably impatient. When are they going to let us in? They wouldn't start the film precisely on time without letting everyone in? How inefficient the French are, that would be just like them. I'm so tense I don't even look for famous people.

We're going in. WOW! Apparently the tickets designate whether you're on the floor or in the balcony. I'm in the balcony, more prestigious, but less to my taste, who's complaining. I find a seat, they are filling up at an amazing rate. I scan the audience. I have that half-awake mid-morning lustful-hope, it would be the crowning achievement if some ravishing Lynch fan were to sit by me, and there are plenty here, but, Ok, so I get some strange looking Europeans, fine, I'll be able to watch the film better. OHMIGODIMHERE WOW!

Wild At Heart. The film washes over me. Lynch's over-the-top strangeness, violence and sex, with sprinklings of incoherent allusions to Elvis and Wizard of Oz. I enjoyed immensely, but I'd really have to see it again to tell you whether I liked it (the more I think about it, the more I like it). And this is a REAL audience, a congregation of the church of mine own, they applaud before it starts, they stop talking and only make mostly group responses (I was one of the few people guffawing at the Wizard of Oz stuff), and they cheered and applauded enthusiastically at the end. No celebs showed up, they are to go to the screening this evening, but that doesn't matter, we're here for the MOVIE.

Afterwards, although in a contented, sated daze, my instinct manuevers me as quickly as possible past the security, to get my Day card, and straight down to the Unifrance line. I can't actually get tickets here, but maybe I can talk someone into giving me one of theirs, it worked once already. And magically, again, I'm standing next to two American women, thirtysomething New Yorkers, one manages one of the major art house cinemas, is basically here to shop for films, and the other just finished an MA at NYU film school, is trying to flog her school project to distributors, and get money to produce her next. They both seem glad to talk to someone who is here because they love film, they seem tired of the industry, show-the-"product" people. One of them has a few extra tickets to the screening of Cyrano De Bergerac which starts momentarily (a bunch of her friends desperate to get a break from the festival drove to Monte Carlo, and aren't making it back). I weigh the opportunities, take the ticket, stay here and hope to get something better, when we make it to the beginning of the line, I also hear that there's going to be a 'Wild At Heart' Press Conference in about an hour.

The way the ticket system works is that you apply for a certain number of tickets for each of the screenings ahead of time. Depending on your status in the pecking order, Industry, Market, or Press, you may or not get what you want. All the REALLY important people are just given theirs outright.

I opt for Cyrano. I probably couldn't BS my way into the press conference, there's nothing much else that I want to specifically see. So why not, by the time I get out, it'll be just about time to get in touch with Barrett who's been trying to introduce me to some PR girl all week because we're both film buffs (sure, I'll bite).

Cyrano was excellent, one of Depardieu's best, and a real surprise given that I'd seen him in mostly inarticulate roles previously. The adaptation captures both the literary zeal of the character as well as injecting some enjoyable swashbuckling. I later find out that Anthony Burgess did the verse translation for the subtitles.

I wander around the Palais again, picking up souvenirs like a tourist. Things are definitely winding down, only half the booths seem open. I contemplate asking for or stealing film posters, one for 'Comic-Book Confidential' with examples of various cartoonists, and one for some dutch film the poster was done by one of their better graphic artists. Moral and practical reasons prevail... how would I transport them? I buy the T-shirt with this year's Festival Poster on it. I buy the official program (an outrageous 120 francs). I buy a pin.

Meeting Barrett at the boat, she finally introduces Angela, the American PR film-buff she wants to fob me off on romantically. O.K. by me, Angela is very cute: petite, sleek short dark hair, and a Lynch fan to boot (I'd never met a woman who not only liked, but loved Blue Velvet), but unfortunately, Barrett has failed in her well meaning research again, Angela is meeting her BOYFRIEND down in Italy in a few days. On top of this Barrett has arranged to meet up with some Navy guys on leave, who she takes a perhaps sisterly interest in being a Navy brat herself.

There are four Navy guys, two pairs of buddies from different ships, they seem alright. They are good old boys, but without the clich├ęd patina that exudes from many of the military I've met. They all seem to be chasing Barrett in a surprisingly mellow, laid back fashion (considering that they've been at sea for three months). We troop about the harbour, passing Karreem Abdul Jabbar, the second and last famous person I saw that week. Angela is going to the big gala screening of Wild At Heart that night, I balk at asking her to get me in (what would I wear, do I want to see it twice in the same day?). She does offer to get me into one of the films her company is promoting. We all split up 'til later.

American Pavilion - I'm trying to leave Joan Cohen a message to get her hooked up with Carl Person - returning her favour. I barely recognize her as she comes to the desk while I'm writing it. She thanks me and goes on her way. I look for materials and food to scrounge, then I go to L'Ambassades to the screening that Angela gets me into.

The film is called 'The 4th Reich' it is pretty much at TV movie level, but it is interesting because it tells about the foiled Nazi coup attempt during WWII in South Africa, which adds to my pitiably small store of historical knowledge of South Africa.

Finally grabbing my first meal of the day (Quick, again), I chat up a trio of Scandinavians, who oddly hold English as the common language between them. I then meet up again with Barrett and the navy guys. We go to an open air bar attached to a condo where the Screen International people are hanging out, they disdain the American Navy personnel, and while I had been interested in getting to know a bit more about the film journo scene, their pretentious black garbed artsyfartsiness goes a long way to putting me off. We sit there for quite a while as its getting dark drinking our beers and rum and cokes.

I'm waiting for Angela to show up again, having fixated mildly, and wanting to discuss the Lynch with her, she's the only person I've talked to since I got here who seems interested in movies the same way I am. Even to most of those who are interested in the films themselves, its just commerce. The journo's are modishly blase, they don't mention the films, just the stories, or the pictures they're doing, they don't talk about the content, they talk about the work. Gossip here is all money related, who's backing whom. The film reviews in the dailies here seem as much interested in appraising a movie's marketability as itself. No one talks about what films they've seen, they drop which parties they've been to what execs they've met. I've seen no celebrities here because they aren't really here, they are just part of the product... producers and their money are the real matin-fuckin-ay idols.

Angela appears modestly dressed to the nines, just being at the gala showing of Wild at Heart, I'm somewhat awed, she has been to the promised land.

The evening degenerates from here. We walk down one end of the Croissette to find a bar near the Carlton where we're supposed to be meeting yet another navy guy. It becomes like a long march after that we troop all the way over to the other side of town, wandering up into the old port, a hilly area, with great Saturdaynightlife. Along the way we lose Barrett and one of the guys, we spend too much time looking for them and finally sit down to eat at a pizza place by the docks, the fugitives show up while we're just on our drinks, and tear us away from the restaurant. After much more walking and drinking, Angela and I peel off for dinner at a place called Cannibal Pizza.

The rest of the staff of her company have left town, she is alone in the apartment they've rented. I beg a place to crash because its too late to catch a train back to Juan Les Pins. She takes me in. I fight the urge to make a pass at her which I don't think would be a welcomed response to her generosity (she's mentioned her boyfriend just once too often). Exhausted and fed I collapse happily onto the bed, thinking irrelevant thoughts of a pretty film buff in the next bedroom. Frustration and contentment merge in a quiet pleasant buzz as I fall asleep.

[to be continued in V Retreat and Victory...]

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