Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

Positively un-Cannes-y

Hello there, everybody! Greetings from Cannes! It’s great to be reporting to you once again about the great film festival going on here in Cannes.

Wait a minute… What am I talking about? I never go to the film festival in Cannes. How did I get here? Something’s not right. None of this feels real. I think I am having another one of those dreams. You know, the kind I had last Christmas. The kind I generally have after I have stayed up too late drinking scotch and eating Spanish sausage, while surfing the satellite channels.

Dream or not, things look really strange here. Some 140 years ago a 24-year-old French poet named Stéphane Mallarmé published a poem that climaxed with the memorable line: Je suis hanté. L’Azur! l’Azur! l’Azur! l’Azur! Well, right now I am screaming, The Crimson! The Crimson! The Crimson! This is the reddest carpet I have ever seen in my life. It is burning my eyes, it is so red. What kind of dye do they use to make it so red in a way that should be considered a crime against nature?

Wait, now there is something really, really big and green on the carpet. I mean, really really big and really really green. Oh my goodness, it’s Angelina Jolie, and her dress is really really green. And she is huge. She is so huge she looks like she is ten months pregnant with triplets. She is so huge I can’t even see Brad Pitt next to her. Oh, wait, Brad Pitt isn’t next to her. He isn’t even there. He wasn’t allowed to come on the really bright red carpet. He had to stay back at the chalet and mind their 13 children. She’s here for that Kung Fu Panda movie, but she’s also here for an even more important movie.

And look! There’s Woody Allen! What’s he doing here? He never goes to Cannes. Wait, I forgot, he does go to Cannes now. Ever since he realized that France was the last place in the world to cop on to him, he’s been coming here with new movies. And look, he’s with Mia Farrow’s daughter. And he’s got Penelope Cruz with him as well, and she is absolutely gorgeous. How does a woman get to be so absolutely gorgeous? She’s starring in his new movie. It’s called Vicky Cristina Valencia Madrid Sevilla Barcelona or something like that. I can’t wait to see it because it has Penélope Cruz in it. Okay, that’s shallow, but you can’t blame me. I’m only having a dream.

Oh… my… gosh… there are Steven Spielberg and George Lucas and Harrison Ford standing there together. Can you imagine what their aggregate net worth must be? If somebody dropped a bomb on the red carpet right now, half of the Free World’s net worth would be wiped out in an instant. They must be here for some sort of grand retrospective of all their past triumphs. No, wait, I remember now, they have a new movie. It’s called Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Raiders of the Temple of the Last Crystal Skull or something like that. It’s so hard to focus your mind when you’re dreaming.

Oh, look, it’s Catherine Denueve! You know, I don’t think she even left here after last year’s festival. I think she just stayed here and waited for the next one. Or else they just stuck her in a storeroom with all the other props until it was time to wheel her out again. Anyway, she looks great.

My eyes have had all they can take of this crimson color burning my retinas. I have to get out of here. I need to go find some parties. Oh, look over there on the grass. It’s the BBC’s Mark Kermode. He’s filming a video for his blog. He’s going on and on about how he hates Cannes and how miserable it is for him to be here and about all the bad things that have happened to him at past festivals in Cannes. Hey, Mark! Here’s a tip. Forget the camera and go see some movies!

Oh, hey, there’s Kenneth Turan. He’s on the phone with National Public Radio. He’s got a big smirk on his face because he got to see that Indiana Jones movie hours before billions of people all around the planet will get to see it. Well done, Ken! You’re a really cool dude!

Oh, this looks like a nice hotel, and there seems to be a really swanky party going on inside. I wonder if they would let me in. Okay, that didn’t work. I’ll just walk around the back into the garden. Oh, look it’s The New York Times’s A.O. Scott (no relation). He’s grousing about how he got into that swanky party because he had An Invitation but then no one would talk to him because he wasn’t recognizable enough and so he went out into the garden for a stroll and now the Mafioso-like security men will not let him back into the hotel. And he needs to use the toilet really really bad. Bummer, A.O.

Okay, time to get back to the Grand Palais. Well, looky there. I know that guy. It’s Clint Eastwood. I’m going to go up to him and say, “Go ahead. Make my day” or maybe “Do you feel lucky, punk? Do ya?” I bet he’ll think that’s really funny and clever. Oh wait, he’s busy. Spike Lee is talking to him, and Spike looks really ticked off. And Clint’s just blowing him off, like some little annoying gnat. Now’s my chance. Oh wait, now he’s busy talking to Sean Penn. Oh, that’s right, he directed Sean in Mystic River, which is the only time Sean has won an Oscar. I bet Sean is really grateful to Clint for that. Oh, jeez! I just thought of something. Sean is the president of the jury this year at the Cannes festival. And Clint has a movie in competition. You don’t suppose…?

Nah, that would be dishonest. But, for the record, I would be totally okay with it if there were a fix. Clint’s movie deserves the Palme d’Or. Now I haven’t actually seen Clint’s movie, but I know for a fact that it deserves the Palme d’Or. How could I possibly know? Boy, you are sure slow for an awake person reading something written by a guy having a dream. I know because Clint’s movie is Changeling, the one that Angelina Jolie stars in. Besides that panda one, I mean. (I hope he had a really really wide lens to film her!) The French keep insisting on calling it L’Échange, which I guess sort of makes sense since, well, they are French. But they’ve managed to hoodwink at least one English-speaking journalist, from the UK Times, who actually wrote that the title had been changed from The Changeling to L’Échange, thereby compounding the confusion to adding a definite article that makes the film sound like a 1980 George C. Scott supernatural thriller.

Anyway, Changeling (without the The) deserves to win, for one thing, because it has a one-word (repeat, one-word) title and isn’t as hard to remember as those movies by Woody Allen and Steven Spielberg. And, more to the point, it was written by J. Michael Straczynski, who is better known to us Babylon 5 fans as, well, God. Between him and me and Clint Eastwood and Sean Penn, we’ll get that Babylon 5 motion picture made yet!

Boy, the brightness of this crimson carpet is really starting to give me a headache. I’m starting to see why these professional critics are always whining and whinging about having to come to Cannes. I need to get out of here. But how? Maybe if I close my eyes and click my ruby red slippers together three times and keep saying, “There is no place like home,” and maybe that will get me out of here. There’s no place like home… There’s no place like home…

Oh, jeez, this is worse. Where am I? I’m in a big auditorium full of screaming people and all kinds of outrageous performers singing their hearts out on stage. Is this the American Idol final? No, it’s worse than that. I’m in Belgrade, and this is the Eurovision Song Contest. And this dream keeps getting weirder and weirder. In this wacky dream, my adopted country Ireland has opted not to send a serious musical act to compete but instead has sent a turkey puppet. What kind of fevered imagination could come up with that?

Help! How do I make this stop? I will try my ruby red slippers one more time. Maybe, with a bit of luck, this time I will wind up at the Seattle International Film Festival. Wish me luck.

-S.L., 22 May 2008

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