By Marilyn Ferdinand
I always awaken very early on my first morning in Cannes, just at dawn, and pull on my jeans and a sweater to walk down by the old port for a cup of coffee at the all-night cafe.
OK, so that’s not what I do on my first morning at Cannes. That’s what Roger Ebert does. Good old, Roger. He has so many memories of Cannes. I do not. I’ve never been to that fabled festival. I’ve never met jury member/critic Pauline Kael or Ken Hartford, the film “butcher” who sells movies by the pound. I’ve never gazed on the sands of the Cote d’Azur or met the original Cannes Man, bon vivant Jacques D’Azur. That last name can’t be a coincidence, can it? But then people are constantly reinventing themselves in, at, and through the movies, especially at a circus like Cannes.
Since I started covering film festivals four years ago, I’ve learned a bit about the agony and the ecstasy of these ocular orgies. There are never enough hours in the day or enough cans of Red Bull to sustain one over the long haul. The much-touted films often are not nearly as interesting or satisfying as the films one decides to see based on personal interest, unless the two happily coincide. But I have to wonder if all the Cannes hype might not sweep me away from my sensible sleep schedule and misgivings about some of the films over which more experienced observers are frothing their café au lait. Who knows, I might have been tempted to brave Antichrist. It’s so much better to be psychologically tortured in the company of chic French speakers, n’est-ce pas?
Sadly, the festival ain’t what it used to be, or so the old timers say. Cannes is so much bigger, shinier, more corporatized, less devil-may-care, they say. Maybe that’s the reason Tim Burton is heading up the jury—an attempt to put the zany back in the festival. Quite possibly a loose grouping of fan boys will descend on the resort town, perhaps dressed like Johnny Depp in Alice in Wonderland or Sweeney Todd, to outrage and entertain the jaded sophisticates of festivals past.
All I do know for sure is that the Oscars are over, and now it’s on to the next landmark of the cinephile calendar. Soon we’ll know which films will be in competition, and the entire blogosphere will be buzzing with predictions. I’m not one for speculation; I’m all about the experience.
One day . . . you wait and see. l
*With thanks to Lee Dorsey and The Pointer Sisters