A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Every May, there is an atmospheric disturbance in Southern France when thousands of movie industry egos gather for the Cannes Film Festival. (Apparently, you can see Quentin Tarantino’s from space.) Despite stiff competition from Sundance, Toronto and even a couple of Online efforts, Cannes is still the Big Kahuna of film festivals. It’s that magical place where Cordon Bleu sophistication meets Barnum & Bailey marketing, and this year is no exception.
In a marketing move worthy of Miley Cyrus, Cate Blanchett is promoting her new movie, Carol, with a combination of sly smiles and salacious answers. In a Variety interview, Cate casually confessed to having had many “relationships” with women. The titillation went viral. What a coincidence of timing!
There’s a secret law in France that ever major motion picture has got to have Gerard Depardieu in it. The guy is something and when he’s not renouncing his citizenship (again!) or taking a whiz in the corner of an airplane, he can act the pants off anybody — and frequently does. Take a look at the guy: he’s definitely channelling Marlon Brando. Either that or he ate him!
It’s very subtle, but the Germans have never been all that welcome at Cannes. For example, rumour has it that the official Cannes website still doesn’t have a German translation. Either way, German films have won the Palme d’Or only twice in 70 years, and many Deutschland directors don’t bother screening their movies there. Personally, I think, despite all the EU/we’re-all-friends-now rhetoric, the French are still pissed about those swastikas on the Eiffel Tour.
Oddly enough, the whole Cannes Film Festival experience is basically a feminist no-fly zone. Like it or not, Cannes remains an unrepentant phallocracy. Every once in a while, a woman gets thrown a directorial bone, but, in essence, the girls are there for window dressing and the Red Carpet. It’s pretty much dresses and diamonds for the ladies while the guys get on with the serious business of film making. It might be 2015 everywhere else in the world, but for two weeks in May, nobody told the French.
When you collect a bunch of monumental male egos who wrap their women in jewelry, you’re going to attract your fair share of criminals. Ever since Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief in 1955, Cannes gets robbed with amazing regularity. This year, a couple of guys with guns robbed Cartier the day before the festival began — the total haul was about €17 million. However, for straight audacity, in 2013, a single crook (whom the French actually called The Pink Panther) made off with €140 million in jewelry from the Carlton hotel. And, just to complete the Inspector Clouseau storyline, neither the jewelry nor the thief has ever been heard of again.
And finally, as the celebrities gather to eat, drink and watch each others’ movies, they generally leave their worthy causes at home. At Cannes, there’s never much mention of the starving multitudes. One thing about the French: they realize it’s totally déclassé to start yipping about the downtrodden when you’re toting a swag bag with enough crap in it to feed an African village for the rest of the century.