A film-packed day preceded by a literally packed early bus trip, almost as worse as being trapped in a tin of tuna, featuring Somebody Who Forgot To Wash – the smell and all. Thankfully, I got into Behind The Candelabra all right sans the stink, and I’m happy to report that the Grand Theatre Lumiére smells rosy with Steven Soderbergh’s terrific, hilarious, magnificently judged Liberace biopic. It’s a grandstanding blast, and garnered the loudest applause I’ve heard in the festival so far. Michael Douglas, who’s never been this damn good since Wall Street (god knows how long ago that was), milks Liberace with zingy one-liners, fabulous innuendos and show-making flamboyance more grandiose than a flamingo. Matt Damon is extremely good, too, but the it’s Soderbergh that makes the proceedings bouncy and full of joie de vivre despite a familiar tale. He’ll be missed in the world of cinema.
Ready for Liberace. The man in front me obviously isn’t. I assume he’s nodded off already.
Cheerfully, I leaped into Claire Denis’s dark revenge drama Les Salauds (Bastards), away from the Côte d’Azur heat outside. It’s the first film I truly despised in Cannes. I’ve gathered some people liked it (Denis’ fans, I imagine), but what I saw was an opaque, convoluted, unfocussed attempt at mixing revenge narrative with extra-marital drama and commentary on human trafficking that feels neither refreshing nor enlightening. Plus it’s told in a muddled, what-the-fuck-is-happening for art pretension’s sake. Although I prefer the downbeat, tragic conclusion, it’s still not enough to convince me, as I feel nothing for the characters. Bum-noted for Denis, then.
Bastards was followed a more spirited dramedy about a financially-crippled bourgeouis clan, Un Château en Italie (A Castle in Italy) by first time director Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (Carla Bruni’s older sister). Just because rich people have problems, too, so this film follows the myriad mischiefs these middle-class people are upto. There were moments of sprightly Woody Allen-esque comedy, especially the klutzy, pregnancy-obsessed heroine begging Louis Garrell to impregnate her (Who in the world doesn’t want to get impregnated by Louis Garrell?) – but unfortunately Tedeschi couldn’t shore her film above mere mediocrity.
This young man is befuddled at the lack of queue outside Salle de Soixantiéme.
But before I ambled back home to prepare for next day’s big show, Nicholas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives (I’ll be damned if I don’t get in to this film), I nipped at the Cinéma de la Plage (or Cinema on the Beach, for our less-French acquainted fellows) to check out Steven Spielberg’s Jaws – which makes for a rather excellent experience, despite having a bunch of Californians huddled behind me, recounting the entire plot of Jaws in megaphone-level volume (just in case the entire world don’t know the plot of Jaws) and reminiscing tales of how Jaws terrified/transformed/affected their childhood. If there was a law that allows people to throw mega- irritating kids out into the open sea in France, I would have done it without a hesitation.
Just as I was considering the thought, I got distracted by a fireworks display blazing the Cannes night sky. It was a spectacular sight, and a genuinely giddy experience – although they didn’t pause Jaws for about 10 minutes as the fireworks went on, meaning everyone was gaping at the pyrotechnics and completely missed the scene where kids were mauled by a shark in the open water.