amn— Available in Cannes
Alan Morrison reports on the 48th International Festival of Film in Cannes.
Surf. sea. starlets with unrealistically sculptured bodies — why Pamela Anderson had never been to Cannes before is a bit of a mystery. because it‘s surely a borne from home for the Hayward: star.
Pam sent tabloid hacks and photographers into a pushing-shoving frenzy that would have graced the fields of the Rugby World Cup when she and bad boy hubby Tommy Lee rolled into town to promote her feature debut Burl) Wire.
Burl) ll'ire wasn't in the Official Festival Competition. It wasn't screening Out Of Competition. It wasn‘t in the Market. where the world's buyers and distributors view thousands of potential cinema and video releases. Barl) ll’ire isn‘t even made yet. but a big media splash. with PolyGram chief Michael Kuhn on hand to announce a $20 million budget. is enough to get the journos salivating. That and the thought of Pam in the tight black leather dress she's almost wearing. If Cannes were chicken. you‘d be offered more breast than leg.
All week. anyone walking up and down The Croisettc. the seafront promenade that runs the length of the Riviera town. had been bornbasted by Pam's pouting lips and the tag line ‘Don‘t Call Me Babel‘. Once upon a time. you could have been sure that the huge hoardings lining the road would feature most of the films that had been selected for the Competition section. Now. market forces dictate that the best spaces go to the biggest spender and so it's not a visual sense of the Cannes Film Festival that hits the cinema-goer on the way to his or her next screening. but an in-your-face assault by the big American movies coming our way this summer.
A prime site was taken at the prestigious Carlton Hotel for Mel Gibson‘s William Wallace epic Brave/rear! (recently opening in the US with a running time of three hours). The ad blurb rambled on about the Scots taking to the battleﬁeld in 131-1 to ‘win their freedom — forever’. Given
L.___--._ .. .,__ 18 The List Z-IS Jun 1995
Almodovar star Bossy de Palma may not have ha a film in the Festival,
but why not join in the fun anyway?
that Wallace was well dead by Bannockburn and that you don’t have to be Alex Saltnond to query the claim about Scotland‘s continuing independence. this is the kind of upfront marketing strategy that can backfire badly.
There was. of course. an array of Scottish talent to be seen on screen. albeit rarely playing Scotsrnen. Tom Conti was a Spaniard in Goran Paskaljevic‘s popular .S'o/neborly Else is America: Douglas Henshall (seen in Down Among The Big Boys and Lips/[ck On Your Collar) was the archetypical aristocratic English bastard in Philip Haas‘s observational take on Victorian class conflict. Angels And Inserts; while fellow Lipstick star Ewan McGregor was a drug-dealing London bum in amiany upbeat British surf movie Blue Juice.
Elsewhere. producer John McGrath and his Edinburgh-based Freeway Films were able to bask in some of the
‘The thought of Pamela Anderson in the tight black leather dress that she’s almost wearing is enough to get the journos salivating. If Cannes were chicken, you’d be offered more breast than leg.’
glory that met (.‘hristopher Hampton‘s elegant study of the key characters in the Bloomsbury group. C(ll’l'lllglrm. John Hannah. still hot from Four
history and political ideologies are passionately. intelligently and accessiny debated. It is his most balanced and emotional film. a masterpiece.
Others agreed. and Land Aiul Freedom shared the International Critics‘ Prize with Theo Angelopolous‘s Balkan epic Ulysses 's (Iaze. Given that Cannes piles the awards onto Loach each time he visits. and that Land Aiul I-‘reerloin received , an almost unheard—of standing ovation at its premiere. the biggest surprise of the Festival was its omission from the main awards given out by a jury headed
i by actress Jeanne Moreau. The coveted Palrne D'Or went instead to
Uiulergrouiul. Emir (’Iime ()f'l‘lre Gypsies) Kusturica's absurdly comic marathon about former and present Yugoslavia.
Before the Festival started. several of the national newspapers here were hanging the drum about how well British cinema was represented in the Official Competition and its satellite strands. ()n the closing night. this translated into prizes for Jonathan Pryce (Best Actor for his minutely
' observed portrait of l.ytton Strachey in
Carriirgron). Helen Mirren (Best Actress for The Mail/less (2/ King (Ieorge) and Christopher Hampton
i (Best Screenplay for Carling/on). The
ll’eililings Am] A l-‘uneral. again took on i
a role as a young gay Scotsman in
.‘llarlagasr‘ar Ski/I. Chris Newby‘s follow-up to Aiu'lroress. and Paul Lavert y was the fiery. red-bearded ‘Jimrny'. the Scottish member of an international militia group fighting in the Spanish Civil War in Ken Loach‘s Land Aiul I-reedoin.
In ten days of concentrated viewing. no film moved me more than Land Aiul l-‘reeilom. It tells the story of an initially naive unemployed Liverpudlian (Baekbeal‘s [an Hart) who joins the
militia. then is swayed by the more
organised approach of the International Brigade. only to see the hidden agenda of Stalinisrn with his own eyes. and so return to the militia and his revolutionary principles. Loach alternates action scenes and enserrrble dialogue with long passages where
French clawed back. however. as
Kassovitz took the Best Director for La Haine. a bleak look at unemployed minorities in a run-down Parisian housing estate.
There had been a fair deal of grumbling throughout about the standard of films in competition. with the only real buzz film of the Festival turning out to be Brian Singer‘s stylish modern noir. The Usual .S'us/ier'ls -— one of a handful of American films invited by Cannes Director Gilles Jacob to screen Out Of Competition (thereby. one assumes. keeping the US contingent in the main bash to an acceptable number).
Personally. I was much more impressed by Gary Fleder's feature debut -- another contemporary take on gangster fatalisrn Things '1}: Do In Denver When You 're l)(’(l(l.
()ther favourites included Larry Clark‘s controversial and wrist- slashineg downbeat look at early teen sex ‘n‘ drugs ’n' alcohol abuse. Kit/s; Jim Jarmusch‘s languid. black-and-
Sharon Stone in Festival closer. The Quick And The Dead white. existential western. Dead Man (despite the boos and jeers that greeted its press screening); Phillip Ridley's frightening blend of fairytale and anti-
1 religious fundarnentalisrn. The Passion
(If/)(lr/x'ly Noon; l)es/u'riulu. Rolicn
3 Rodriguez’s high-speed sequel to 15/ ' A’Iarute/ri. starring Antonio Banderas‘.
and Robert Lepage‘s beautiful. multi- layered l.e (‘mr/essionnal. which uses the legacy of Hitchcock's l Confess as a
1 key element in a Quebec City native's = search for identity.
In the end. with a few notable
exceptions. Cannes “)5 was a year of
I English language dominance. American . Xavier Beauvois‘s N'Oublie l’as lii \iis ; Mourir won the Jury Prize and Mathieu
independents strengthened their hold on the world scene. and the Brits claimed back some respect. There are those who see Cannes as up-market black-tie glamour: there are some who thrive on
. the opportunity to uncover an . unexpected gem: there are others who see only the sleaze of the exploitation
video companies down in the market‘s
- basement. Cannes is all these things
because cinema is all these things. In the year that Cannes celebrated the
Centenary of Cinema with a
retrospective of John Ford. I too headed off into the sunset as the film credits rolled. ()n the outskirts of town. just at the roundabout for the motorway to Nice and the airport. there‘s a new monument commemorating the end of
‘ World War ll —- a large stone hand in a
‘V For Victory" Winston Churchill
salute. Glancing at it over my shoulder
~ and seeing it from reverse angle — l
' had the suspicion that maybe it served a
' double function. bearing the people of
; Cannes‘s fond farewell to the hordes that descend annually for the best and worst the big screen has to offer.
earrington brought the prizes back to Britain