Thursday, May 15, 2008

Day One

Thursday, May 15, 2008
Cannes, France

It seems a bit strange to go to sunniest France, 300 plus days a year, to do little more day after day than sit in the dark.

Of course, things are neither quite so bright (mostly rain forecast) nor so dark, given what happens inside the dark.  What happens in the dark in the seaside town of Cannes is the Cannes Film Festival--the 61st, in fact--the most celebrated and glitzed of all international film fests.  Four thousand journalists invade, and I'm imitating one.  And there are many more folks here, the industry hordes, supposedly around ten thousand, who do the hyping, dealing, and partying. Journalists watch.  At least the ordinary ones do.  There are a select few--the likes of Turan, Ebert, Scott, Denby--whose comments can make or break a film, and they, of course, get to hobnob and party with the glitter.

Sometimes lost in the tinsel of the twelve days of hype and red-carpet star parade is the product, the movies themselves, assembled from around the world, usually the best work of the best directors, submitted early, and selected by an official jury (Sean Penn is this year's chair) to compete for the grand prize Palme d'Or.  About twenty-five films are in the running, and quite a list it is, a banner year indeed, although that always depends on one's taste in movies.  

There's much to like, at least in prospect.  The honor of opening the Festival went to Fernando Meirelles' Blindness, an apocalyptic tale of a world gone blind, literally so.  Meirelles is stunning with nightmare, first in City of God (2002) and then in the film version of John LeCarre's The Constant Gardener (2005).  The new film ends, so says the blurb, with some sort of redemption.

And there are many more promising offerings, films by Win Wenders, Walter Salles, Atom Egoyan, Woody Allen, and the Dardenne brothers.  Steven Soderberg comes with two films on Che Guevara, posing the big riddle of why exactly.  Clint Eastwood has a new film as well, Changeling, and Steven Spielberg has brought his new Indiana Jones installment.

As the saying goes, we shall see.

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