The Cannes Film Festival has finally ended and I don’t know about you but I’m completely clueless about any of the films that were screened other than the bombastic Gatsby adaptation and the critically more successful bio-fiction about Liberace. I did outfit a few clients for the festival and consider myself extremely fortunate that they were all working more or less behind the scenes, selling films and handling press, rather than navigating the endless red carpet events.
A couple of things happen to me when the Cannes Film Festival rolls around and I’m not attending that year. The first is I feel myself flushing pink with the sense memory of too much cheap rosé consumed, both in wine and champagne form. I get a flash hangover, too, and become groggy for the two-week duration of the Festival whenever I read the relentless updates streaming from industry press.
I’ve chronicled some of my adventures there before, and the upshot is I’m really more of a Berlinale type than a Cannes fan.
by James Killough
As an Eastcoaster, the minute Labor Day ends, you think summer is finished. Your mind prepares for siege mentality against the onslaught of that horrible cold and wet. “Winter is coming,” is the Stark family motto in Game of Thrones. That sense of doom is, of course, ridiculous if you’re living in Southern California. We’ll get a light dip in temperature somewhere at the beginning of December, and it will rain a bit, maybe a total of twenty days between then and the end for February. Winter will never really come.
The LA equivalent of the February Blues, which make the winter-weary on the East Coast and in Europe suicidal with ‘seasonal affective disorder’ (an ailment invented by pharmaceutical companies if there ever was one, just as Valentines Day was conjured by Hallmark), is something called June Gloom, when this city is overcast until it burns off at midday. I heard one buxom bunny say to another while they were heading into pilates class earlier this summer, “I’m just so totally bummed this morning. Must be, like, June Gloom or something.” Then it burns off by, like, 1 p.m., along with your death wish, and there’s just nothing left to be unhappy about. La-la-la.
by James Killough
Our token Str8 contributor Eric Baker was clearly trying to brown nose and suck up to the Gheys — never something to do literally unless you’re in prison and have run out of cigarettes/need protection — by bemoaning the fact Beginners wasn’t playing in a mall near him in Jersey, so he couldn’t review it, much as he was apparently aching to see it. Beginners stars Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer as a son coming to terms with his father coming out at some ungodly age, like eighty-five or something. It has chatty indie quirky feel-good Sundance Festival flick written all over it, which means I’m likely to hate it. I’d rather spend my $13.50 at the Arclight Hollywood getting value for money with the new Harry Potter.
One should never forget that the Sundance Festival was started by Robert Redford as a showcase for indie American films because they weren’t getting into the Cannes Film Festival. Not even into the sidebars at Cannes. With good reason.
by James Killough
It would not be wrong to describe Terrence Malick’s Cannes Palme D’Or-winner The Tree Of Life as a two-hour-fifteen-minute ad for a fictitious Calvin Klein “Existence” perfume, brought to you in part by the Museum of Natural History, the Pritzker Architecture Prize, and the Episcopal Diocese of Waco, Texas.
Tree is for lovers of films with no conventional plot like Baraka and Godfrey Reggio’s Qatsi series. In other words, smoke a hefty spliff, stack up on the muchie rations and prepared to murmur “wow.”
I wasn’t in Cannes this year, and per my earlier post it is unlikely I would have seen the rest of the films in competition even if I had been, but I can understand why awarding the Palme D’Or to this caused so much controversy. It’s beautiful, yes, but it is not great cinema by my standards. And this is coming from a huge Terrence Malick fan. It isn’t even intellectually stimulating from an esoteric spirituality point of view. But, after all those years in India and with the Sufis, I’m really jaded that way.
by James Tuttle
I’m going to tell you about an HGTV show that I would love to like. It’s called Secrets From a Stylist. I know that I complained about HGTV’s programming a couple of weeks ago, when constant airings of House Hunters were beginning to erode my mental state. I’ve since stopped automatically tuning to HGTV when I sit down after a long day of dressing my girls or playing my ponies but this show is already in our DVR queue. It pops up every Saturday night like clockwork and I just watched the most recent episode.
The premise of the show is really quite good. Perky stylist Emily Henderson analyses the style of each member of the homeowner couple with an interesting multiple choice test, designs their room for one person’s style, then layers on the other person’s style to create a perfect blend in which the inhabitants can live happily ever after. What could go wrong?
In the beginning, I felt very close to this show. I’d watched Emily win the Design Star competition over that very cute gay guy, Dan Vickery, whom I couldn’t watch without thinking whether or not he had a corrected cleft palate. We need more cute, well-adjusted gays on TV to show America that we’re not always wearing leather halters or snorting cocaine on dance floors lit from below while listening to Gloria Gaynor or Cher but, in spite of all that, I actually rooted for Emily.
THE KILLOUGH CHRONICLES | THE INDIA FILES
by James Killough
Flipping mindlessly, sleepily through the chattering polyglot channels of Indian TV last night in my hotel room, I landed on a station that screens Hollywood films, the kind I would never ordinarily watch, i.e., the majority of films that are made. Ivan Reitman’s My Super Ex-Girlfriend was on. Wow, what a crock of shit. Unwatchable. I cannot imagine how Uma Thurman must have made it through a single day of shooting that clownish cack without taking her eye off her mortgage payments.
During a showdown between Uma Thurman’s ex-girlfriend character and Anna Faris’s current girlfriend character, the word “bitch” was bleeped so as not to offend sensitive Indian ears. The subtitles, which translated American into standard English, substituted “bitch” with “witch.” That blip of stringent censorship helps to understand why studios are so relentlessly inclined toward making nothing more rattling than a PG-13 film. Even the anodyne The King’s Speech has been modified to take out the whole “fuck” sequence with a view to broadening the film’s marketability, as if an Oscar sweep weren’t enough. As a result, it has made over four hundred million worldwide, and will continuing pumping money for years to come.
by James Killough
Tomorrow is the opening of the Cannes Film Festival, the Olympic Games of film, as I like to call it, except the participants in the real Olympics don’t drink and drug nearly as much as they do at Cannes — well, not with fun drugs, at least. I have it on good authority that Lynne Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin is absolutely brilliant and the one to beat. Based on a Lionel Shriver book that was so harrowing I couldn’t finish it, Kevin features a score by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, and is about a teen who massacres a bunch of students and teachers at his high school, as seen through the eyes of his mother.
The mother is played by Tilda Swinton, whom I met for the first time a few years ago at the sixtieth anniversary of the festival. I can’t imagine better casting for that role. The person who gave me the sneak review about Kevin said he felt like taking a shower afterwards, always a good sign that a grisly film has hit its mark. I loved both of Ramsay’s earlier films, Ratcatcher and Morvern Callar. A former photographer, Ramsay has a way with composition and silence that is worthy of a Roger Ebert adjective like “electrifying.”