Cannes Film Festival Diary: Le Dernier Jour

Cannes Film Festival Diary: Le Dernier Jour

Carey Mulligan is an oyster.” So said a French photographer
outside a cafe on the rue Hoch. Five of us were sitting around, with Christine
in the middle, which is to say that everyone knew her; the photographer was a
colleague from Paris, and was just coming from the red carpet at the Palais. He
shoots conflict zones normally, but the red carpet pays, especially in Cannes.

The photographer was particularly happy about a shot he got
of Nicole Kidman french-kissing her husband Keith Urban. Someone asked him if
he yells at the celebrities the way some photographers do. “Sometimes you have
to,” he said. “ It’s so that they look at you.” Much more saleable.

And that’s where Carey Mulligan came in. “She’s an oyster,
she gives you nothing.” He makes a face, to give an idea of what Carey Mulligan
looks like as an oyster.  She is not
smiling; she is impassive; she is closed. In fact she looks a little like her
character in “Inside Llewyn Davis.”

I asked him if he felt she owed the photographers something.
“No,” he said, “but yes, she’s participating in a photo shoot at Cannes; if she
didn’t want to, that would be one thing.” Perhaps she simply doesn’t have the
personality for it, I suggested. 

The others were waiting on an invite to the Weinstein party,
but I had to go back to my room and write. 
Not to be completely out-partied, I said, “I’m going to have my own
party,” and pulled the slip of paper out of my jacket pocket. It had been put
under my door earlier in the day, when I was lying on my bed; I didn’t get up
at the time because I assumed it was a receipt from my landlady, whom I’d paid
earlier. But when I left to meet the group for dinner, I picked it up and read:
“Room 8170A. Open the door.”

“That’s hot!” said Julia. Indeed, I had had all sorts of
lurid thoughts of someone waiting for me in some form of readiness…for some
form of activity. But what, exactly? Now all I could think of was Carey
Mulligan as an oyster.

***

By this point in the festival, the morning screenings are
beginning to look like a George Romero casting call. After four hours of sleep,
I settled into my seat at the Lumiere hoping that the blood about to flow in
Takashi Miike’s “Shield of Straw” would provide a boost along the lines of
Lance Armstrong preparing for the Tour de France. And to a certain extent, it
did. This über-moralizing tale follows a small group of police officers
assigned to protect an alleged killer of a young girl as he is moved from one
part of the country to Tokyo. The twist is that the girl’s billionaire
grandfather on his death bed offers a prize of 1 billion yen to kill the
suspect. Even those who try and fail will be paid 1 million. This causes untold
people to go absolutely bonkers in an attempt to kill the young man, who turns
out to be an actual perverted lunatic. (When he breaks free momentarily, he
happens to see the legs of a young girl sleeping and goes for it.) But nothing
perverts like money, and cops are just as susceptible, so things get
interesting. Massive vehicular chase scenes, examples of betrayal and honesty
and integrity and bravery, personal tragedies, sappiness and more moralizing
than you can shake a samurai sword at, “Shield of Straw” would be welcome
respite on a long flight or at home in flu season. Worth schlepping to after
four hours of sleep? Perhaps, if only to see the way, in Miike’s world, people
go from perfectly, normally calm to shrieking, can’t-put-the-huge-butcher-knife-down
FRENZY in one second flat. Corny as all of this is, I didn’t fall asleep.

***

Best restaurant name in Cannes: Wasabi d’Azur.

***

According to the City of Cannes, during its twelve days the
festival generates 200 million euros worth of business, 3,160 jobs, and 88,342 overnight stays in hotels (15% of annual hotel stays). These figures
probably do not reflect private-home rentals, which are booming.

***

Alas, my time in Cannes was over. I tidied up the room, took
one last look at the sea-life toilet seat, closed the door and began to put the
key’s in Madame C’s mailbox, when I realized that I needed the magnetic key
thing to get out of the main gate. So I called her phone, and she said she’d be
right down.

While walking me to the gate, she said, “Didn’t you get my
note?”

I was just about to say, “Madame C! That was you?” when she
added, “with the code to the gate?”

“Ah,” I said, a bit crestfallen, “you mean the code 8170A?”
She nodded, smiling. “Ah,” I said again. “I thought it was a woman, you know,
in chains or something…”

As I pulled my suitcase down the Boulevard Strasbourg, I
thought I could hear Madame C still cackling. Either that or it was a seagull.

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Comments

Julia Chasman

I really enjoyed your reportage from the festival — well done!

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