How to Cover Cannes From the Comfort of Your Own Home

None of the folks for whom I write are daft enough to semd me to the Croisette in May. They know that I'd just dash into the nearest police station and demand political asylum. Yeah, I know, Sarkozy isn't much better than Dubya, but I like the idea of the French Riviera as a sanctuary. Who wouldn't? (Although if I were really going to move there, I'd live in Frejus, a charming town in which the B.W. and I spent a week a couple of years ago -- fewer tourists, but the same lovely sun and sea.)

So I'm not at the Cannes Film Festival, as usual. That doesn't mean, of course, that I'm not interested. After all, this week's Cannes winner will probably be next fall's New York Film Fest "centerpiece." My two main sources of information on the event are the New York Times reports from Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott -- a huge upgrade from previous Times film critics going all the way back to the distant days when you could count on Roger Greenspun for some real insight -- and my friend and fellow Ira voter Michael Giltz, who blogs from Cannes for The Advocate. (Would you believe the entire purpose of this post was to alert you to Michael's blog, which you can find here? Well, not entirely.)

One learns quickly how to read the critical tea leaves in other people's cups. I listen regularly to the Guardian's Film Weekly podcast, mainly because they frequently have interesting interviews with European film folks who don't turn up on these shores. But when co-hosts Jason Solomons and Xan Brooks gushed over the new Fernando Mireilles film, Blindness, something in their febrile tones warned me not to expect much. I wasn't particularly impressed with City of God, which struck me as a visually disorganized mess and one of those DeMillean morality plays that is in love with everything it purports to denounce. I missed The Constant Gardener. But I had a distinct uneasiness about the new film; like Michael G., I have severe misgivings about the adaptability of Saramago's great novel, and nothing in Mireilles's track record suggest the kind of restraint necessary to make literary allegory translate to film. So when Solomons and Brooks gushed about the film's ostensibly "vivid" visual style, I could hear the warning signs for blocks. I been to that party before, baby, and the hangover lasted for weeks. Not surprisingly, Michael, Dargis and Scott all found the film shrill and otiose.

Of course, I'll suspend judgment until I see it for myself. Mr. G and I have been known to disagree. (Just compare our ten-best lists sometime when you have nothing -- and I mean nothing -- better to do.) But I have to admit that the prejudicial weathervanes are all flying in the same direction.

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On a lighter, non-film note, I draw your attention to an item from the BBC: "Mozambique Cops 'Too Fat to Run.'" Makes me want another donut. And I guess "lighter note" was a rather inappropriate choice of words.





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