I am blue.
Which is a good thing to be at Cannes, since the Bleu press pass is reasonably well-respected and gets you into just about anything you want to see. The trick is you have to wait in line while the Rose and Blanc press go in ahead of you – and if they all decide they want to see the same screening, the Bleus are pretty much screwed.
See, the holders of the Blanc card get to swan into just about any screening they want as soon as the doors open, with no waiting in line or pleading with the polite but resolute staffers turning you away. It’s much the same for the Rose crowd, and in fact I can discern no practical difference between the two. The Blancs probably get to take an extra piece of chocolate at the Nespresso cafe on the second floor of the Palais.
But I hold the Bleu card, and so I not only do not get that second piece of chocolate, but I was unable to attend the press screening for Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, even though I arrived a good half-hour before the scheduled start time – and even though the Lumiere auditorium holds 2300 people and there aren’t 2300 accredited press at Cannes. (I probably should have turned up earlier, but I’d been assured admittance wouldn’t be a problem, and I wanted to catch the first screening of Wong Kar Wai’s Ashes Of Time Redux, which I discuss below.)
Anyhow, as the polite but resolute staffer holding the “Ferme” sign explained, “Everyone wants Indee”. And those of us who are Bleus will try to catch him tomorrow afternoon at the repeat screening at the Salle des Soixantième, which holds just 400 souls and will therefore be a total madhouse. Weather permitting, I plan to camp out two hours in advance with my laptop and a panini. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll catch it when I get back home. It’ll be the exact same movie, after all.
Getting shut out of Indiana Jones wasn’t all bad, though; I used the time to gear down a little, grabbing a quick and dirty (and deeply satisfying) Chinese food lunch with a friend and then going to see Il Etait Une Fois ... Lawrence Of Arabia, a French television documentary about David Lean’s 1962 masterpiece playing here in honour of the director’s centenary, along with a restored presentation of This Happy Breed.
Yeah, Anne Kunvari’s doc is really just a super-sized DVD supplement, but since Lawrence is one of my very favourite films, it was sheer pleasure to spend an hour watching archival footage of Lean – who died in 1991 – and a contemporary interview, in French, with Omar Sharif. Conspicuous by his absence was Peter O’Toole, who’s seen only in clips from the film and the occasional candid still, but I suppose he had his reasons.
Due to a couple of social engagements – which, I swear, were also opportunities to strengthen industry contacts and talk up movies I admire, like Joanna Hogg’s excellent British drama Unrelated, which isn’t in the festival proper but is trying to land distributors in the movie mega-mall that is the Marché du Film 2008 – I only saw two other movies today, bringing my total count to 20.
Come to think of it, I’m not sure I can even count Ashes Of Time Redux as a new feature. It’s really just a souped-up reissue of Wong’s 1994 Ashes Of Time, a post-modern take on Chinese action movies that remains a cockeyed classic of sorts. Various distribution quirks – and the rather enthusiastic nature of Hong Kong film pirates – have released a number of alternate versions of the film into the world. As Wong says in the film’s press notes, Redux aims “to rectify this situation, we decided to revisit this project and create the definitive version.”
Advances in digital mastering technology mean that the film can now be brighter (and louder) than ever before; if you’ve only seen Ashes Of Time projected in a scratchy old 35mm print, this new version is an eye-opener. I guess I’ve been lucky in my DVD choices, though, since I didn’t really notice much of a difference in the film itself. Redux has a listed running time of 93 minutes; the U.S. DVD release clocks in at 95; and the Hong Kong disc claims to run 99. (People today were wondering about a two-hour cut, though that may only be a result of an erroneous listing in the press book.)
I also saw Matteo Garrone’s Gomorrah, an energetic but slightly exhausting multi-character indictment of thug life that finds the mob’s corroding influence working at every level of Italian society. Based on Roberto Saviano’s damning book, it’s sort of a Mediterranean City Of God – if not as stylish or as structured as that film, and so overstuffed with characters that the weaker storylines start to feel like distractions from the more urgent threads. Not a bad movie by any means, but there’s certainly a tighter, more effective film inside the one they screened this morning.
Cannes fun fact: for all the obsession with celebrities and gossip, there is not a single person here who cares about Ashlee Simpson marrying Pete Wentz over the weekend.