It was bound to happen. At just about every film festival, just about every journalist is shut out of at least one screening. Well, this journalist got the ’ole heave-ho tonight at the premiere screening of Control, famed photographer Anton Corbijn’s feature directorial debut about the late, great, tragic Joy Division singer, Ian Curtis. Oh, I was so close! There I was, standing in line outside the Noga Hilton theater with some Miramax friends, ready to be anointed the next group to pass the velvet rope and claim our seats in the house, when a self-important bouncer uttered the fatal words: “C’est complet, messieurs, ’dames.” (That’s French for “Get lost, suckahs!”) Merde! Foiled again.
Ah, well. One shutout does not a ruined festival make, especially on just the second day. And especially when said day has included chatting with Javier Bardem. After downing my afternoon caffeine, I rang up the Spanish superstar at his home in Madrid for a pre-Cannes chat about all the awesome-looking projects he has coming out this year. He gamely answered questions about Goya’s Ghosts, directed by Milos Forman; Love in the Time of Cholera, from Mike Newell; and No Country for Old Men, brought to you by the dynamic duo known as the Coen brothers. An adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel, No Country is in competition here in Cannes, and man-oh-man is it enjoying some serious pre-premiere buzz. People lucky enough to have seen it already have compared it to the bros’ terrific debut, Blood Simple. That’s some high praise, wouldn’t you say? I will be so bold as to argue that Bardem never, ever disappoints on screen. But will this movie live up to the hype? I promise a full report following tomorrow night’s screening.
As you’ve undoubtedly heard, there’s one much-anticipated film thathasn’t met expectations. That’d be Wong Kar-Wai’s English-languagedebut, My Blueberry Nights. Now, I count Wong as one of my favorite filmmakers of all time. A poster of In the Mood for Love hangs over my desk in my EW office. And I consider the scenes in Chungking Expressin which Tony Leung consoles the soggy dishtowel and mushy soap amongthe most wonderful things ever created on celluloid. So I really wantedto love this movie, which stars Norah Jones (left, at the premiere) asa lovelorn New Yorker who eats a lot of blueberry pie under theadmiring eye of Jude Law (at right), then heads west, where sheencounters an alcoholic cop with a heart of gold (David Strathairn) anda card shark who drives a Jaguar (Natalie Portman). It pains me to sayit, PopWatchers, but I did not fall head-over-heels in love with thismovie. And I can’t say my fellow audience members seemed to feeldifferently. Remember, this is a festival where crowds are known toapplaud till their hands chafe — that is, if they aren’t too busybooing and hissing. In yesterday’s afternoon screening, the only realsign of life was the snoring coming from the seat behind me. (And no,the culprit was not my partner in crime Dan Fierman. He napped quietly, if you must know.)
At Cannes, it isn’t all about screenings. It isn’t even all aboutpartying. (No, really!) There are also the seemingly random “mediaevents” during which filmmakers,stars, studios, and whoever managed toscore a free ride to the Riviera in May talk up their upcomingprojects. This afternoon, Frank Miller was in the hot seat. At theswank Hotel Ritz Carlton, the comic book guru held court to a room ofsleep-deprived, underfed, over-champagned journalists, talking about Will Eisner’s The Spirit.Which, if you’re into graphic novels and stuff (I’m not), you’ll knowis a Really Big Deal. Anyway, after some studio heads and producersbragged that Spirit could be as big as 300 (which was,after all, based on Miller’s graphic novel), Miller made his entranceclad in all black, save for a blood-red tie. He geeked out for a timerevealing his plans for writing and directing Spirit.Pretty cool, pretty cool. But by the time he got to the part where heasked us to imagine being in a dark alley in which we encounter astranger who grabs our wrists and shows us that there’s no hope in lifein the big city, I seriously wanted to bolt. Did I mention the lightswere dimmed and I’d had a glass of champagne on an empty stomach?
But on to tomorrow. There’s No Country for Old Men. (Hi, Javier!) There’s the Leonardo DiCaprio global warming doc, The 11th Hour. There’s the Julianne Moore drama, Savage Grace.And last but certainly not least, PopWatchers, there’s the “excitingmedia opportunity” with Jessica Simpson. Yep, thefamous-for-no-apparent-reason starlet is here to pimp her next flick,called — wait for it — Major Movie Star.
That’s scarier than any dark alley.