Cannes 2014: Jonny's blog (part 1)

Posted on May 23, 2014 by Jonny Courtney

Categories: Festival Reports

Tuesday

And so to Cannes…after a trip on the Gatwick Express (which seems to use the word in the loosest sense) and a delayed flight/lost sunglasses, I arrive for my first time at the famous festival…very excited!

The Palais at Cannes
The Palais

I’m met by ICO’er and Cannes veteran Simon Ward, who gives me a comprehensive tour of the Palais complex. It’s all a tad overwhelming and a lot to take in, but Simon makes a great tour guide despite his sleep deprivation caused by endless films and meetings!

After a great dinner in the old town, myself and Sarah Bourne make a move to queue for actor / writer / director / musician / office-favourite Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut Lost River. My hopes of seeing it/him are soon dashed when we see what Sarah tells me is one of the longest queues at Cannes! Clearly his popularity extends beyond the walls of Kenilworth House…

Cinema de la Plage
Cinema de la Plage

Disappointed but undeterred to experience my first Cannes film, we head to the Cinema de la Plage for an outdoor screening of Walter Hill’s classic The Warriors. The film has certainly dated, but works brilliantly for this type of screening and the new print looks stunning. My viewing experience is considerably enhanced by Sarah’s fit of giggles at some of the outfits on show in the film, it’s hard to believe these guys even looked tough in ’79!

After this it’s off to the Petit Majestic, a great bar behind the Croisette where the patrons spill out onto the surrounding streets. Very reasonably priced compared to a lot of places here…all the Cannes fun without the Cannes prices?

Wednesday

I’m thinking I probably should have prioritised sleep over soaking in the Cannes nightlife, so it’s with tired eyes that I squint into the morning sun whilst queuing to see Wang Chao’s (Day and Night, Luxury CarFantasia. Unfortunately the film does little to wake me up with its incredibly slow pacing and minimal happenings! It’s solidly made and seems reasonably well received by the Cannes crowd, but it lacks the bite of Jia Zhangke’s recent A Touch of Sin, which dealt with similar themes of Chinese economic hardship in far a more dynamic way. Zhangke’s actually sat a couple of rows in front of me, which makes it twice in as many weeks we’ve shared an auditorium, hope people don’t start to talk!

Fantasia screening
Wang Chao’s Fantasia screening at Cannes

After lunch and finding out where to get free, much needed coffee, it’s time for a second go at getting into Lost River. This time I get in the queue two hours before screen time, and there are already 100 or so people in front of me. Clearly the previous night’s press reaction has done little to dampen the excitement.

Ryan Gosling
Ryan Gosling promotes his directorial debut Lost River

The film certainly wears its influences on its sleeve (Lynch, Refn, Noe) and the narrative isn’t the strongest, but it looks exquisite, with several scenes and images that will stay with me long after. The excellent cast offer some memorable performances (Matt Smith in particular), although I felt Gosling shared the screen time out amongst them too much. It would be good to see Christina Hendricks carry a film soon as she certainly has the talent. The plot is kind of crazy, but I found it refreshing to see such ambition in a first film, and can’t help but think the press onslaught wouldn’t have happened had a different director made this film…

A text from the ICO’s resident Ghibli expert Sarah Bourne convinces me to head down the seafront to the Marriott Hotel, where the latest from Studio Ghibli’s Isao Takahata (director of Grave of the Fireflies, Pom Poko and Only Yesterday) The Tale of Princess Kaguya, is screening. It’s charming and odd in equal measures, based on a Japanese folk tale that doesn’t all translate perfectly. The charcoal drawing-style animation is quite a departure from recent Ghibli output, but looks beautiful and made me feel like we were delving inside a children’s story book.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya
Isao Takahata’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya

The pacing is a little off and the story felt stretched, with a considerable sag in the middle and it’s hard to see this repeating the commercial success of the big Ghibli films – or even Miyazaki’s latest, The Wind Rises – but Ghibli fans will gobble it up as there’s still a lot to love here.

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