If this year’s Cannes Film Festival had been rated, it would have pulled an NC-17. At the start of what promised to be a very sedate festival, the two contenders for the coveted Palme d’Or seemed to be Kryzystof Kieslowski’s cerebral Red and Zhang Yimou’s tragic saga of the Cultural Revolution, To Live. But by prize night, the American gunslinger Pulp Fiction had blown its competition away, becoming the first American movie to capture the Palme d’Or in three years. Pulp Fiction was among several daring movies that may be trimmed before they’re shown Stateside — though given its acclaim, the odds are improving that Disney-owned Miramax will release the still-unrated 2 1/2-hour cut intact. Insists director Quentin Tarantino, “I’m not worried about the (ratings board)” or even about its possible reaction to a shot of gangster Ving Rhames being raped. “It’s pretty subtle,” he says. “Compared to Deliverance, it’s minor.”
Miramax cochairman Harvey Weinstein says another Cannes selection, the bloody French bodice ripper Queen Margot, which reportedly cost $35 million, will face some trims, especially in the ultra-gory St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre sequence. Also likely to undergo more editing is Disney’s racy thriller Color of Night; the 10 steamy minutes Cinergi chairman Andy Vajna showed at Cannes included several frontal exposures of stars Bruce Willis and Jane March, and sparked the festival’s rudest question — from a Philadelphia radio correspondent who asked Willis, “Do you feel guilty for taking so much money for making s— like that?” (“I’ll bet you sat up all night thinking up that a–hole question,” Willis lobbed back.)
Later, at a wind-tossed dinner party on Vajna’s three-deck yacht, Willis (visiting Cannes for the first time) insisted that such confrontations don’t faze him. “You can’t put 400 complete strangers in a room and expect them all to like what you do,” he says. Nor does he mind revealing his body, which he also shows to good effect in Pulp Fiction. “I welcome those things. It’s part of my job. I don’t set any limits.”
One movie that will rate an R, hopes producer Peter Hoffman, is the sequel to 9 1/2 Weeks. Hoffman met the press with his star, Mickey Rourke, who sported gold designer shades and spoke candidly of his up-and-down career. “Nine years ago I was a bit out there,” he said. “I said a lot of stupid things. I took acting very seriously and considered myself good at it. Now I see it’s a business. If I straighten out, maybe the studios will hire me again.”
Rourke was also busy promoting two Westerns, the completed rodeo picture F.T.W. (F— the World) and the still-to-shoot John Wesley Harding Outlaw, which fellow renegade Dennis Hopper may direct. “It’s not going to be like Wyatt Earp,” Rourke promised. “Costner, that’s like vanilla ice cream, brother — that’s mediocrity, if you’re talking about acting ability.” At Cannes, film criticism, hype, and hubris are alive and well — and sometimes indistinguishable.