Critic's Diary: Troy Boys Storm Cannes
The young man in front of me in line to collect press credentials for the 57th Cannes Film Festival had obviously figured out the best way to beat the traffic gridlock that paralyzes this French Riviera beach town every year at this time: He had a shiny silver, portable kick-scooter dangling from a strap on his shoulder.
Traffic is only one of the difficulties facing the entertainment industry insiders, journalists and movie fans who come to Cannes for the festival. One must also deal with lines to get in to see films, high prices (the exchange rate for the dollar is particularly lousy this year), and gleeful gouging by local merchants and hotels. Plus, even though you're in a town filled with great restaurants, you have to subsist on a stale sandwich and apple bought and scarfed down during 15-minute breaks between screenings.
But enough complaining. I'm actually lucky this year, having moved up in the status of my press credential from "blue" to "rouge." The color system represents the hierarchical ranking of press here. Big shots who work for major newspapers and write reams of copy about the festival (think Roger Ebert) have white badges, which allow them into all screenings.
Holders of rouge badges, which are just a step below white, have easy access to all press screenings and many of the public screenings. Lower down the pecking order are those with press badges marked blue (what I had last year) or yellow (the 18-year-old fan running his own movie Web site). They have to wait like supplicants in a crowded line until about five minutes before screening time, and then are admitted only if there are seats left.
The movies at Cannes this year run the gamut from Khakestar-O-Khak – a languorous film from Afghanistan about an old man and his grandson that is unlikely to see the light of screens in U.S. megaplexes – to Troy, which screened out of competition (meaning it's ineligible for prizes) but attracted huge press attention because Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom and most of the rest of the cast showed up for the opening. (As did Jennifer Aniston, who was on husband Pitt's arm as they strolled the red carpet at the Palais, where all the big movies are shown.) Fun fact: Troy's French title is Troie.
The hot tickets for films from America, besides Shrek 2, are expected to be Fahrenheit 911, the new documentary by the always controversial Michael Moore, which takes on the Bush administration of Sept. 11, and The Assassination of Richard Nixon, a drama in which Sean Penn stars as a would-be Presidential shooter in 1974.
It is not unusual to see four or five films a day here (it is also not unusual, between jet lag and seeing so many movies, to drift off briefly if a movie is a particularly slow-moving example of art house pretentiousness). One always goes in hoping for a masterpiece. One is often disappointed.
On the seven films I have seen in the first two days: Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar's Bad Education is a compelling film noir about a youth abused by a priest who eventually gets revenge; Consequences of Love is an intriguing Italian drama about a man who lives in a hotel and observes life around him; Bienvenue en Suisse is an amusing Swiss sex farce that makes relentless fun of the Swiss for their obsession with punctuality and against littering; and Mondovino is a too long but nonetheless fascinating documentary by American director Jonathan Nossiter about how the global wine industry is being changed by the emergence of giant monopolies and consultants.
On Newsstands Now
- The Little Couple: A New Mom's Fight to Live
- Remembering Nelson Mandela
- Princess Kate's Style Secret!
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine