Film Scouts Diaries

1996 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
Diary #9 - May 14, Day 6

by Henri Béhar

May 14, 1996

CANNES -- Elbowed my way into the "Trainspotting" screening (not quite "Clockwork Orange", thank you), then into the party. The whole cast was there, as well as half of Cannes and most of the music people that happened to be in the area. Actor Martin Landau, of Bela Lugosi-"Ed Wood" fame, was seen chatting with Mick Jagger, whom the French referred to as "Michel Jajay"--"to respect his privacy"... Saw the sun rise on the Mediterranean, quick breakfast, on with the day.


Joel (and Ethan) Coen's "Fargo" a major hit with the Europeans. "Welcome back to the nose-picking brats" is the general tone of the reviews. At the press conference, actress Frances McDormand recalls the last time she came to Cannes with Ken Loach's "Hidden Agenda" (she played an American investigating covert operations in Ireland) and the fight that erupted *among* journalists--Brits vs. Irish, left-wing vs. right. "That was *fun*," she muses.

Steve Buscemi is asked about his character which most, in the film, describe as "funny-looking, in a general sort of way."

"When Joel approached me to play the role, I asked him whether he wanted me to, you know, have a funny hairdo, or a crooked nose, or something. It soon became obvious he wanted me just as I was. What can you do? I just did a photo session with Helmut Newton; he said he loved my vampire teeth. What can you do? You *embrace* it!"


But today is Al Pacino Day. More than 600 journalists, and no less than 35 television crew have gathered in the cavernous Salon des Ambassadeurs. It's standing room only and that is if you manage to squeeze into the room (about 200 people are left outside). At the Festival to show "Looking For Richard," his first film as a director, Pacino is staying at the prestigious Hotel du Cap, in Cap d'Antibes (10 minutes by boat, 45 by car, what with traffic jams and all). That, I'll never understand. If you come to Cannes, why not enjoy the Cannes experience fully? Why stay in a (glorious, mind you) place where all you see is studio executives, lawyers, agents, venture capitalists and the like? Might as well stay at the Beverly Hills Hotel and satellite yourself in.

Anyway, the "Richard" Pacino is "Looking for" is Shakespeare's Richard III. The Bard has always been Pacino's passion, he never understood why American actors were paralyzed by him, never understood why American audiences resisted it. He himself played Richard-the-hump ("My kingdom for a horse") off- and on-Broadway. So he had the idea to gather a bunch of American actors to discuss, rehearse, play "Richard III", lacing it all with interviews on the street, conversations with Vanessa Redgrave, Sir John Gielgud and a slew of "experts" and historians. In a strange way, it's as free-wheeling as the Lets-put-on-a-show movies produced by the MGM of yore. Embarking for the adventure are such people as Winona Ryder, Alec Baldwin, F. Murray Abraham and Kevin Spacey. The film is funny, deep, hammy, incredibly but not threateningly intelligent.

Pacino walks into the press conference room surrounded by an army of humongous bodyguards. He is relieved the film was finally shown, delighted it was well-received. He plays the crowd like an elderly statesman. The first question elicits a twelve-minute response in which he tells of his love of Shakespeare, how he always thought the Bard talked to *us* in no uncertain terms, that there was no such thing as "too many words". Then without missing a beat, he says to the moderator, "Stop me or I'll keep talking till I drop."

The press meet lasted twice as long as usual, it could have lasted longer.

Somehow, at the end of the press conference, I was embarked in the group that rushed Pacino to the elevator. Embarked? More like lifted by a bodyguard twice the size of the Chrysler Building and literally flown to the elevator. If you've never experienced watching your feet kicking a mile above the ground, you don't know what spooky is.

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