By Kimberly Gadette (doddleNEWS)
Having attended the world’s most celebrated film festival for two years in a row, I can only claim to be slightly seasoned on all things Cannes. But that certainly doesn’t stop me from reflecting on the differences between 2011’s Festival #64 and this year’s Festival #65:
– First, the face of Faye Dunaway on every Cannes festival poster (2011) vs. the face of Marilyn Monroe (2012): Dunaway, still acting today, showed up in person last year. Monroe, long absent from our world, never made it to Cannes. In the photos, with both actresses’ eyes looking down, Dunaway appears removed and self-involved while Monroe looks vibrant and amused, a woman-child thrilled with her surprise birthday cake. And yet … it is the happy Monroe who haunts us, a painful reminder of fleeting beauty and mortality everywhere we look. Perhaps it’s more than mere coincidence that this year’s top award of the Palme d’Or went to Amour – a film addressing those very issues. As I’d mentioned in my review, Michael Haneke’s movie examines every wrinkle on the face of once-beautiful actors Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant … providing us with a sober meta thread that is inescapable. Just like the omniscient poster of Marilyn herself.
– The weather misbehaved even more than the underperforming films (as mentioned below). The mild sunny skies of 2011 gave way to 2012’s glowering clouds, portentous in their warnings of upcoming rainstorms. So much for the first Sunday’s parties on the beach.
– On a personal upside to the downside, whatever the weather, the sweeping 180-degree view of the Bay of Cannes from my little studio, seven floors up with a roomy terrace, was breathtaking. [All pictures of the bay, 4th row of the gallery below, were taken from this vantage point.] Clouds, gloom, sunrise, sunset, midnight, twilight, you name it, it was all good. Before I arrived, I’d only hoped the studio was half as decent as it looked from the pictures and description online … and what a thrill to find that the reality trumped the description! Even if some movies were less than desirable, the panorama filling my full-size, sliding glass windows got a resounding 5 stars.
– Speaking of undesirable films: this year’s crop came in a paltry second to 2011’s. I often found myself muttering, “How in the hell did this film get into the competition?” Such personal favorites in 2011 included: The Artist, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Melancholia, The Skin That I Live In, This Must be the Place, Drive and The Tree of Life. As for this year, I enjoyed Amour, Rust and Bone, Killing Them Softly and Mud. Hmmm. No comparison … even though, obviously, I’m making one.
Even such esteemed lions as Alain Resnais, David Cronenberg, Ken Loach and Bernardo Bertolucci proffered up their latest efforts — which received little, if any, fanfare. (While Loach’s The Angels’ Share snapped up a Jury Prize, I remained unimpressed.)
– Another disappointment: No scandals. Darn. The Cannes Festival officials may want to rethink the ban on bad-boy Lars von Trier Nazi. Rather than insane Nazi screeds, the slightest of ripples occurred in reaction to Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy, in which a slutty Ann Margret-esque Nicole Kidman urinates on Zac Efron’s face. This is buzz-worthy? Didn’t past scandals such as the reaction to The Brown Bunny, Robert Mitchum, Brigitte Bardot and Borat teach us anything at all?
But some traditions happily remain intact. Such as:
– The aggressive booing at the end of any film, usually from the upper reaches of the balcony;
– The iconic trailer that opens every screening at Cannes, its melodious tune playing under a ballet of flying red steps, rising from below the sea up to the heavens. Scattered applause always occurs, as well as flashes going off as avid moviegoers attempt to snap pictures of the screen;
– Street artists of every size, shape and talent, or lack thereof. This year, even Pinocchio showed up to perform. And as you’ll see from the 3rd row of the gallery pictures below, I’m, um, not lying …
– The gelati, the cafes, the wine, the cheese, the fresh produce markets and La Pizza, familiarly referred to as “the critics’ commissary” (last row of gallery, middle shot). The fresh-baked everything. Begging the question: How do all those petite French women manage to squeeze into their size zero clothes?
– And even with jet lag, day-into-night travel time, and officious Cannes guards who avidly search one’s bag for contraband water bottles; even with high prices and snippy service; even for the crush of fans that rival anything in the States … even with it all, Cannes remains the untouchable jewel of film fests anywhere.
– The last tradition: I continue to dream about returning over and over again.
(Words can only do so much; photos continue to be worth a thousand words. For a taste of what the Cannes’ 65th Film Festival looked like up close and personal, check out the snaps from yours truly below:)