Sunday I chose David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” to be released in November, over Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” which does not yet have a distributor. It’s pretty much delightful, in the comedic, kinetic Russell vein that has in my mind echoes of Preston Sturges: an accumulation of interesting characters that speak in original voices. Bradley Cooper is convincing and for once not pouring on the charm, Robert De Niro and Jackie Weaver are believable as man and wife, and a dark-haired Jennifer Lawrence is almost as deadpan as Veronica Lake. I liked it, so shoot me.
Afterwards I fully intended to go see the documentary about revolutionary atrocities in Indonesia, “The Act of Killing,” which Werner Herzog called “powerful, surreal, and frightening,” but I duck into “A Royal Affair,” a rather flaccid costume drama set in 18th century pre-Enlightenment Denmark, starring Mads Mikkelsen, here considerably less interesting than I’ve found him elsewhere. I only intend to stay for half-an-hour, but somehow I stick around, out of inertia or stupidity or forgetting to check my watch or fear of power and surreality.
Speaking of surreality, the two most surreal moments I’ve experienced at this year’s festival: riding up in the escalator to see Kaurismaki’s “Road North” in the Bell Lightbox the day before yesterday and seeing a heavily-bodyguarded-and-entouraged Snoop Dogg, here with a documentary winsomely titled “How to Make Money Selling Drugs,” being escorted to the bathroom – alas, the escalator carried me out of range before I could grab my camera. And yesterday, while in line for “Cloud Atlas,” watching as the orange-t-shirted volunteers linked arms and made a human chain that again separated Snoop Dog – or Snoop Lion, as he says he should be addressed when he’s a reggae artist rather than a rapper – from the common folk. Never seen that one before.
Afterwards I’m striding purposefully towards the Bell Lightbox to see Olivier Assayas’ Master Class, in which he “discusses his favorite films and influences and engages in a in-depth discussion about his latest film, “Something in the Air.” Luckily I pass Jonathan Rosenbaum and some of his auteurist pals as I exit the theater, because they tell me the Master Class has been cancelled, as Assayas had to stay in Venice to receive the screenplay award for his film. I turn around and join the guys in line for Brian De Palma’s so-far-distributorless “Passion.” I am surprised that every seat in the 392-capacity theater is full.
“Passion” is based on Alain Corneau’s “Love Crime,” aka “Crime d’Amour,” starring Ludovine Sagnier and Kristin Scott Thomas, but considerably changed – more sexual and stylized, shot à la Hitchcock. Rachel MacAdams is one game and sly girl, but I continue to be baffled by the opaque Noomi Rapace – I think directors have confused her with her star turn in the European “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” In “Prometheus” I was stunned by the clearly-visible thick impasto layers of makeup caked on her face, a well as her lack of connection with any of the other actors in the film. She continues to seem bland and impassive here, her broad cheekbones rendering her face as impassive as a Mayan mask.
My options seem limited for the fourth slot of the day. I slide into a mildly amusing documentary, “The Secret Disco Revolution,” which posits the theory that disco was not merely the hedonistic soundtrack to sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll, but a revolutionary movement promoting women, homosexuals, and blacks. Irresistibly delicious disco footage is interspersed with talking heads (including my erstwhile “Voice” colleagues Vince Aletti and the always-amusing Michael Musto) and the authors of such serious critical tomes as “Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture,” Alice Echols (the two-volume Random House edition of “Remembrance of Things Past” clearly visible over her right shoulder), and “Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco,” Peter Shapiro. Alas, director Jamie Kastner has also felt the need to shoot clumsy footage of a disco-attired gay guy, blonde women, and black man, as sort of a linking device, positing them as a seditionary cell. It’s nice when K.C. of K.C. and the Sunshine Band denies any political meaning in Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” preferring the message of his own “Shake your Booty.”
After getting shut out of "Midnight's Children," my first this festival, I walk a few blocks to the venerable, excellent, and inexpensive Le Paradis bistro, where they have foie de veau on the menu, as well as bavette, coq au vin, and the delightfully-named blaff à la Martiniquaise, but I am caught by the veal sweetbreads in a port wine sauce – superb, and only $19, washed down with a house Riesling. Le Paradis is the kind of neighborhood bistro that has not only disappeared from NY, LA, and SF, it’s also damned hard to find in Paris these days.
My hosts return home after seeing the same screening of “Midnight’s Children” I couldn’t get into (and attending the afterparty I was not invited to). Score: one positive, two negative.