Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Hello from Cannes!

The 66th Cannes Film Festival is aloft.

Wed, May 15, 2013, 23:10


And we’re off. Today I finally saw an austere realist picture in which — literally, not figuratively — a puppy actually gets strangled to death. We’ve been waiting for this for years and it’s finally here. I will offer a full, less facetious review of Amat Escalante’s Heli in Friday’s paper. You’ll also get to hear about Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, which I am seeing tomorrow.

Anyway, the 66th Cannes Film Festival has kicked off and I am here to tell you all about it. As you can see, the Palais is, this year, adorned with that rather lovely image of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Paul’s ankle socks are everywhere in town and I’m sure he would have appreciated the tribute. The president of this year’s jury is Steven Spielberg and that director is one of many film professionals that feature in a series of cartoons that adorn the public areas of the Palais des Festivals.

The man himself looked reasonably comfortable as he sloshed through the rain towards the premiere of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. Yes, that’s right. It really is properly belting it down here. All kinds of dampeners have been put on the opening film. The girls in flapper dresses all looked distinctly uncomfortable. Then there was the issue with the somewhat flaccid reviews in the United States. It hardly needs to be said that the indomitable Australian remained, well, indomitable. Why wouldn’t he? The picture has performed significantly better than expected in the US. Just look at the figures, he didn’t quite say.

The atmosphere this year is expectant rather than energised. Last year, the programme swelled with films from top-level auteurs. There aren’t quite so many of those around this year. But eyes are still peeled for the latest from the Coens, Steven Soderbergh, Asghar Farhadi and Nicolas Winding Refn. What am I talking about? It all sounds great.

The crowds milling up the staircase beneath the Salle Buñuel are very crowd-like. This is taken from the space where we all gather to collect bumf in our boxes. It looks a bit like a jungle. As you can see.