the child finally let loose in the sweetshop; 57 varieties of celluloid unspooling from dawn to dusk with no one to caution against over indulgence.
Prior to the Festival, events appeared to be conspiring to undermine the credibility of the event altogether; firstly. there was the threat ofterrorist reprisals in the wake ofthe Libyan bombing. the ‘domino‘ effect ofthat threat was the boycott by frightened American stars and finally a certain unhealthy cloud from Chernobyl was reported to be drifting towards the South of France. Ultimately the combination ofsuch worries was unsubstantiated by actuality; many films impressed. the sun shone. the French were out in force. the British triumphed and the only people to lament the American absence were the Fleet Street gossip columnists.
Over the years Cannes has acquired a reputation for being organised in a slightly chaotic and haphazard way. 90% ofthe time everything ran smoothly but the other 10% ofthe time left much to be desired with bureaux of misinformation and innumerable undesirable obstacles for the serious scribe to traverse. Why announce a press conference with Robert De Niro when David Puttnam reveals that the actor was rehearsing a play in New York and was never scheduled to make an appearance in Cannes? The Festival attracts around 3000 journalists and a degree ! ofoverload is inevitable but it did I seem that nobody was exempt from the need to own a pass to gain admission to the most unprepossessing edifice. Observer critic Philip French was in Cannes to act as a member of the international judging panel and he too encountered problems gaining access to the Palais des Festivals. ‘1 did say “I. the Jury".‘ he quipped.
Spillane film.‘ Test Tube Teens
With thousands ofjournalists roaming around the sundrcnched Festival town everybody winds up interviewing everybody else. On the first day even this humble scribe was stopped by one British television crew and wafﬂed with newfound insight about the American absence and potential prizewinners.
The main hotels along the seafront are all festooned with hoardings for the year's forthcoming releases. The heart sank at a parade of unoriginality heralded by Superman 1V. Psycho 3 and the James Bond silver anniversary production Living Daylights. Fortunately the films in the main competition provided more edifying viewing.
The Festival began with Roman Polanski‘s long-awaited swashbuckler Pirates starring a feisty Walter Matthau as a salty rogue. roving the seven seas in search of a coveted golden throne. Polanski had
Ewisaged his film as a romp in the
BThe List 30 May—12June
Being at the Cannes Film Festival for the first time conjures up an image of
‘but they thought it was some Mickey
With British films making their presence felt at the most influential film showcase, Allan Hunter went to see the wares on view this year.
spirit ofchildhood adventure yarns like Errol Flynn's The Adventures of Robin Hood. The end result is
closest to the director‘s earlier The Fearless Vampire Killers and is waterlogged by a surfeit ofgoonish humour. Polanski felt that there had never been a great swashbuckler. Pirates lacks the exuberance. wit or zest to fulfil his requirements but is still entertaining with Matthau on fine form as a one-legged Cockney.
The Festival divides into several sections. Aside from the twenty or so films in the official competition there are further selections in the Director‘s Fortnight. the (‘ertain Regard section and the indiscriminate mass of the market place where any film that has advanced beyond a scripting stage is bought. sold or completely ignored. The more piquant titles in this section included Fat Boy (ioes Nulzoit/ and Test Tube Teens in the Year 2000.
The official slate encompassed the good. the bad and the ugly with a coincidental emphasis on
1 individuals' unorthodox routes to
the attainment ofcomfort and joy through true love. Nagisa Oshima's Max. Mon Amour found Charlotte Rampling unsatisfied by the affections of husband. son or lover and seeking solace in the company of a caring chimpanzee. Marco Ferreri‘s I Love You presented Christophe Lambert with the perfect soulmate in a talking key-ring that dutifully responded to his whistle with the title words. On paper both films intrigued but the reality was work ofsuch ludicrous vacuity that one ran with open arms to the romantic wisdom of Woody Allen's witty maypole Hannah and Her Sisters which will receive a Royal Premiere in Edinburgh during the (‘ommonwealth (iames.
Many of the films at (‘annes from Steven Spielberg's sentimental The ('olour I’urp/e to Martin Scorsese‘s
brilliant black comedy After Hours and Andrei Konchalovsky‘s terse Runaway Train are scheduled to
1 open in Scotland over the coming
months and Will be covered in full on these pages.
Neil Jordan's Mona Lisa was one ofthe most impressive films on display. Bob Hoskins plays an ex-con hired as a chauffeur to a beautiful black prostitute. His attachment to the woman and an old-fashioned sense of morality compel him to liberate another prostitute from the clutches of underworld boss Michael Cainc. However. nothing conforms to George's naive and anachronistic view of the world; in the seedy milieu of London‘s viceland the notion of white knights riding to the rescue of distressed damsels has lost all validity.
Hoskins has always been a reliably good actor but his work in Mona Lisa is a deeply moving. exemplary display ofemotional honesty. The Best Actor Award could not have gone to a more deserving performance.
The British managed to trump the ace of Mona Lisa with Tlte Mission. a flawed but staggering epic that coolly puts the case against the horrors of colonialism and the universality of man’s inhumanity to man. The film will evolve further before it opens in October but one must commend Chris Menges' stunning camerawork and the dazzling acuity of Ray McAnaly‘s central performance as the cardinal sent to determine the fate ofa Jesuit mission in 18th century South America.
The Mission received the top prize of the Golden Palm in the face ofstiff competition from Andrei Tarkovsky‘s The Sacrifice a gloomy. inaccessible tract about the contemporary crises of faith that found much favour with the heavyweight critics.
The limitations ofspace prevent
detailed consideration ofall the films
seen at Cannes but one should mention the performances ofJudy Davis in the Australian I). H. Lawrence adaptation Kangaroo and Graciela Borges in the touching Poor Butter/7y. the delightfully deadpan Jim Jarmusch beatnik comedy Down By Law with Tom Waits and the assured debut feature of Spike Lee She's (iotta Have It. The latter two films should both be shown at this year's Edinburgh Film
Festival in August alongside the likes '
of Mona Lisa. ()ne film that won't be shown at Edinburgh is The Mission. co-producer David Puttnam says it's just not possible.
Cannes ‘86 also paid homage to Orson Welles. Simone Signoret. Roberto Rossellini and our own Michael Powell was honoured by the entire British film community.
With a kaleidoscope of images and memories still rattling around the mind and tickling the palate. (‘annes more than justifies its reputation as the film world's greatest show on earth. Preparations are now underway for next year’s 40th birthday celebrations and one lowly correspondent has already begun saving for the return visit.