In Cannes you often get the sense that everyone else is doing something that you’re not. God forbid you should choose badly. So this morning I skipped the Jerry Seinfeld Bee Movie stunt at the Carlton (Dade Hayes got to see him fly on a cable from the top of the hotel to the Carlton Beach in a bee suit; apparently he likes bungee jumping) to see Triangle, a Hong Kong action flick directed by not one but three directors: Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam and Johnny To. How could I resist?
I rush down the Croisette to the small Bazin screening room convinced I’ll be shut out but there are plenty of seats. Hmmm. The movie starts out fine, but I have trouble figuring out its POV on the characters. None of them are likeable. What is their motivation? It keeps changing. The woman of the piece morphs from slightly jealous and anxious about her philandering husband to some kind of angel/devil. The final setpiece is fantastic. Finally you see three friends united, and a man who loves his troubled wife. But people keep getting seriously injured and then walking away, like a Roadrunner cartoon.
So I went to the press conference to see what was going on. It turns out that Tsui directed the first part, Lam the second, and To the third. They had no script. They couldn’t interfere with the others. They passed the baton, and changed their points of view as they went along. Actor Simon Lam kept saying–their Mandarin was translated by an interpreter into French, and by another interpreter into English on headsets–“I had to be tolerant.” Then he admitted he was lost half the time. It reminded me of Steven Soderbergh’s The Good German. The directors were having a fine time with this experiment. But they weren’t thinking about the audience. They’ve been friends for 30 years and nobody had to take responsibility for this fine mess.
The high point of the day was an AMC video interview at the Noga Beach with Jude Law and Norah Jones for AMC’s Inside Cannes video reports. Jones was tiny, open-faced and tres gentile. Nothing she has ever done in the music world prepared her for the work she had to do in Cannes, the red carpet paparazzi madness, the endless press. (Harvey Weinstein was on hand.) Law was shrewdly charming; he knows what he’s doing. Their love for Wong Kar Wai was palpable. This was the first time in Cannes for both. Law said he was saving it for the 60th. “We’re Cannes virgins!” they chimed. The kissing scene took an entire day to shoot.
I talked to Wong Kar Wai, too, who is tall, elegant and articulate. Sound is as important to him as image and he actually went back to each of the cities (NY, Las Vegas, Memphis) after principal photography to record sound there to add to the mix. Both Norah and Jude supplied music ideas for the soundtrack. The reason he believed Jones could carry the movie was the timbre and quality of her voice. (The reaction to the movie has been decidedly mixed. I suspect that it’s a chick flick, and will do modest smart-house business in the States. Jones has a following, and women like Law.)
I stopped by the Grand on my way out and saw Toronto Fest director Noah Cowan meeting with a bevy of agents from Endeavor. I met a woman from Pathe International who continued to fan the buzz on Julian Schnabel’s French The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which is apparently very moving. Distribs are eagerly circling. There will be a bidding war on that one. Are audiences willing to go to an accessiblly marketed foreign language film? Some think so. According to Picturehouse, the just-released Pan’s Labyrinth DVD, which was heavily marketed and supplied to retailers as a possible crossover, is flying off the shelves.
I flitted through Odd Lot Entertainment and Lionsgate’s Carlton Cote party to celebrate Frank Miller’s directing debut on his film adaptation of Will Eisner’s The Spirit. I hung out with Miller Wednesday night at the Grand after I finished my Michael Moore column. He’s in good fettle (what’s not to like?) post-300 and was eager to get to work on The Spirit. He’s going to find a happy medium between the style of 300 and Sin City, he said, black and white with color for emotion. There will be Red. He’s designing a very 40s world. And he has some great casting ideas for the women of the piece, and is hoping to convince Samuel Jackson and Bob Hoskins to get on board. The Spirit will be an unknown. Like the comic book artist he is, Miller plans to storyboard and plan very carefully–and will call his Sin City co-director Bob Rodriguez for answers if need be.
Then I went down to the Carlton Beach for the Focus Features party. I paid my respects to Focus execs James Schamus and John Lyons, who was talking to WMA agent Mike Simpson, said hi to Christine Vachon and director Tom Kalin (Savage Grace) and high-tailed it down the Rue d’Antibes (stopping into a pharmacie to buy bandaids for my poor feet) to check out an early press screening of something the rest of the fest will see on Saturday. En route I ran into my fellow blogger Glenn Kenny (Premiere.com) waiting patiently in a huge line at the Ian
Stuart Curtis movie Control, the opening night film for Directors Fortnight (The Quinzaine).
I took a pleasant twilight walk up the quiet back streets of Cannes to the restaurant La Cave for a yummy French meal with some industry pals. Word is good on the Roumanian film Four Months, Three weeks and Two Days, a heart-rending abortion drama that critics and festiival programmers love but which is compared in grimness to The Death of Mr. Lazarescu. Thus it might not get a proper stateside release. (UPDATE: It as picked up by IFC FIlms.) The buzz on the Coens’ No Country for Old Men (Scott Rudin’s Paramount Vantage/Miramax co-production) is building to a roar off the high praise it got from an early screening for New York Film Fest programmers. It’s in the league of Miller’s Crossing, folks say. Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park has some interest but will likely play young.
My gang ended up at the Majestic terrace, where Moore was having a confab with PR advisor Chris Lehane and a bevy of Weinstein Co. marketing and PR people. He’s in for it.
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]