Outside the Palais de Festival. the main centre for Cannes official screenings. two middle-aged men in dowdy overcoats forlornly sport sandwich boards that proclaim Jesus [.21 Paix. At the same time a bevy of bimbettes a few metres away hold up placards touting a tacky effort called The Man Who ( ‘oultl Satisfy Women. While every day sees premieres for the undoubted masters and masters-to-be of world cinema. one overhears a conversation running between a pair of two-bit American producers: "l'his movie is going to be a classic. people will be watching (‘huek Norris in twenty years time.’
Where the furious and the frivolous rub shoulders on the sea-front: welcome to the 42nd Festival International de Film. Its two weeks ofartistic and cultural mayhem call to mind Edinburgh‘s annual August binge. except that l.eith just ain't La (‘t‘ite d'Azure.
At first. it‘s entirely bewildering for the critic losing his ('annes virginity. You soon get to realise that even if you work your butt off and watch screenings from the earliest 8.30am slot to the latest midnight shows. you can only see a tiny proportion of what's on offer. As well as two films in competition in each day in the official section. which ranges from Denys Arcand‘s Jesus of .llontreal to Spike Lee‘s Do The Right Thing: there's also the slightly tnore left field programme called Un (‘ertain Regard. which includes lan Sellar‘s Venus Peter (shot in the Scottish islands last autumn); and the sixteen movies chosen by the Societe des Realisateurs de Film for the Directors‘ Fortnight. where Atom (Family Viewing) [igoyams Speaking Parts will he premiered. Beyond that there‘s also a survey of global film-making in the French (‘ritics‘ Week and a look at current home-grown production in the Perspectives de (‘inema Francais. At the end of two weeks the jury. headed this year by Wim Wenders and including luminaries like Hector Babenco. Sally Fields and Kryzyspops Kieslowski will hand out the Palme d‘Or for best competition entry. the (‘amera d’Or for the best first film. and the Special Jury Prize for work ofoutstanding artistic merit. which Kieslowski‘s A Short Film A bout Killing won last year.
However. that's only the official. arty side ofthings. The Market section. where production companies from the four corners of the globe come to hawk their wares and sell distribution rights in as many territories as possible. makes the ('annes fortnight ofcrucial importance for commercial cinema. Thus the town‘s local cinemas found their multiple screens filled each day from morn till night with the entire spectrum of celluloid products that ranges from reputable work from the likes of David Hare to the tackiest of American exploitation. There are fun titles galore like Mutant ()n The Bounty. Walk a Die Baby and Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator. but barely the inspiration to match the poster artwork.
With various suites in all the big hotels (the Majestic. the Carlton. the
On the hotline from the blanched beaches and
movie-mania mayhem of Cannes Film Festival. our man
s an ungentle breaking-in to
international mediadom among the hacks and hawkers. and manages some i
Trevor Johnston receive
‘I I" J lg.
Grand etc) as well as the underground bunker beneath the Palais given over to the Market traders. the place is full ofthe sound
ningling with the stars.
TOP N02 New Your Stories trilogy premiered at Cannes
301mm: Lawrence of Arabia - the original, uncut version.
ofdeals being made. And ofcourse, Cannes is a hotbed for projects being set up. scripts being ditched. star names being signed. In one case there is even a film being made here. As part of a gross promotional stunt Marylyn (‘hambers will be filming topless scenes on the beach for her latest epic Party Girls I] and the slavering hordes from the press have been invited to the tent.
Occasionally. one wonders just what a poor starlet is to do these days. With the beaches spread with acres of frazzling flesh. it must be hard to make an impact by merely taking your clothes off. You‘d probably get more attention by stalking the (‘roisette in a rubber suit like the deeply deformed star of The Toxic A venger I I ( '()l ' Goo Eyes is Back ."). but it‘s surely more pleasant airing your anatomy than sweating underhuex.
'l‘he do-anything-for-a-buck brigade certainly keep the paparazzi occupied through the duller moments of the day. but all the cameras are really waiting for is the presence of true stardom. And there‘s been a certain amount of that with Meryl Streep. Rob Lowe. McNulty. Rosanna Arquette. Roy Scheider. Joan (‘ollins and Rod Steiger among some of the faces spotted during the first week. The entrances to the big hotels are choked with fans waiting to catch a glimpse of their idols gliding past in black limos. but for real fan mania the throngs ofgaping. gawping punters outside the nightly glitzy premieres is a reminder that Nathanael West's I)ay ofthe Locusts is barely an exaggeration of the fevered adulation created by movie hysteria at its height.
Barely organised chaos is more the description for the official Festival press conferences with the stars. on the other hand. Meryl Streep looked quite intimidated. poor thing. by the image-ravenous onslaught of the photographers before she got down to answering questions on A ( 'ry In The Dark. Communication with non-English or French-speaking artists has proved a problem. with Italian director Attore Scola‘s session rendered virtually useless by the lack ofa translator. and Youki Kueio. the Japanese star of the Jim J armusch's excellent Mystery Train bravely informing us ‘I want you know me very strange girl‘. Tell it like it is. Youki.
Moans like this aside. the fortnight is a virtual multiple-orgasm for the dedicated cine~fans. Leaving behind the obvious pleasures of the (‘roisette (four or five screenings a day might seem a curious inversion of priorities to some) it's the closest a film buff will come to dying and going to heaven. Sitting under a parasol on the sea front talking with long time hero director John Frankenheimer ( The Manchurian ( 'arulitlate). this particular child of the ﬂea-pit allowed himselfthe mildest but most satisfying smile of contentment.
Watch out next issue fora rundown on the films screened here and coming your way in the near and the not-so-near future.
12The List 19 May— 1 June 1989