Film Scouts Diaries

1997 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
Day 6: Scatterbrained

by Henri Béhar

CANNES, Monday, May 12th -- Scatterbrained today. The 50th anniversary weekend was too dense. Ricard-Pernod treated the entire population to aperitifs. The Fanfare De La Garde Republicaine - France's foremost military band - gave a concert then they rode up and down the Croisette. Splendid animals. The horses, I mean.

Was it Saturday or Sunday? There was also the Canal Plus party at the Marché Forville (Canal Plus *slumming?!!*) and the hip MTV party for Beavis and Butthead on one of the beaches on the Croisette. The two brats don't travel well. Still, the party was a mob scene.

The weekend's 'must' (pun intended) was the official 50th Anniversary dinner, hosted by Cartier. The famous jewellers went whole hog: red carpeting and drapings lined the immense Pavilion, the furniture was creamy beige, the chandeliers baroque and gold. All Cartier colors, natch. Everybody who was anybody - local, national or imported - wore Cartier jewelry. Liv and daughter Lynn Ulmann showed anyone who asked (or didn't) the Palm of Palms awarded a few hours ago to Ingmar Bergman. Lauren Bacall kissed Johnny Depp under Kate Moss' quizzical gaze. Terence Stamp, impeccably serene, chatted with John Hurt, his co-star in Stephen Frears' "The Hit" some years ago. Matthew Modine spent time with David Lynch (you mean Abel Ferrara wasn't enough?). And Sylvester Stallone, sporting rose-colored spectacles (literally), amicably conversed with Italian superstar Gina Lollobrigida whose Empire-cut pearled-up frock pushed her, ahem, balcony up to her multi-layered false eyelashes. One hadn't seen such a casting coup since the MGM legendary lunch which had corralled all the stars under contract with the studio that boasted "more stars than heaven."

What else happened this weekend?

The Spice Girls, an all-female singing group from Great-Britain, land in Cannes to announce their film debut. "Spice Girls: The Movie" will be a mixture of thriller, comedy, action-adventure and musical. Since Madonna flaunted her Jean-Paul Gaultier 'bullet'-bustier in 1991, it's amazing how many rock stars have come to Cannes to tout this or that project. A few days ago, it was Michael Jackson. Now we hear that Mick Jagger will do the Cannes-Cannes for "Bent"....

For his next "Rambo" - the 4th of the series - Sylvester Stallone is losing the weight that James Mangold had asked him to put on for "Copland". We sympathize.

Sunday night, as he was getting into a limo after the "End of Violence" screening, Wim Wenders was attacked by two unknowns (had they seen the movie?) The filmmaker ran after his aggressors. They fled on a motorcycle. We sympathize.

Luc Besson's "The Fifth Element" is a major hit both in France and in the United States, where it made $6 million in one day. Do we sympathize? No, we envy.

Michelangelo Antonioni will "Two Telegrams" in Los Angeles. To comply with the insurance company's demands, Atom Egoyan is going to sub for the master. Antonioni's just-in-case assistant, so to speak. Applause.

Is it Cannes-Festival or Cannes-nursery? Isabelle Adjani, Demi Moore, Kim Basinger, they all came with their kids. Under the Jury Presidentessa's gentle prodding, the Sofitel Palace had set up a day-care center. How practical!

There was also a diplomatic incident. We heard this morning that Daniel Bergman, son of director Ingmar, and Sven Nyqvist, one of the best cinematographers in the world, were *personae non gratae* at the Palm of Palms ceremony. The Swedish delegation swear they received a *very* limited number of invitations. Puh-lease!

Love in Cannes comes in all shapes and forms. In "Kiss", a Canadian film produced by John Pozer, necrophilia is the flavor. In "Murmurs of Youth" from Taiwan, love happens between girls. In "Love and Death on Long Island," a quite happily married British writer (John Hurt) falls head-over-heels for an American sitcom actor played by the very blue-eyed, very pink-and-white complexioned Jason Priestly, of "Beverly Hills 90210" fame. Alan Berliner's "Ma Vie En Rose" is a story of a young boy who wishes he were a girl. Seven-year-old Ludovic wears jewelry and makeup and dresses created, he fancies, by his school chums. He also wants to marry his little friend, Jerome - who is not against the idea, really; it just depends on what kind of girl Ludovic is going to be. It is not often such subjects are dealt with in films. The comedic tone lightens it all up (perhaps a bit too much), but George Du Fresne as Ludovic is superb. Zhang Huan's "East Palace West Palace" is the first Chinese movie to deal openly with homosexuality in Beijing. One of the main characters is actually a cop in charge of surveiling the to-ing and fro-ing in the local public garden bushes. The Chinese government demanded that the film be taken off the program, the festival kept it in. Beijing, therefore, has denied an exit visa to Zhang Yimou's "Keep Cool" and threatened to withdraw the director's passport. (Zhang Yimou is presently shooting in Italy an adaptation of "Turandot.")

Director Ang Lee has always been fascinated by family stories, be it in Taipei ("The Wedding Banquet," "Eat Drink Man Woman") or in olde England ("Sense and Sensibility"). A variation of the same theme, "The Ice Storm" takes place in New Canaan, Connecticut, in 1973, when hippie chic was in and so was wife-swapping. It will take the storm of the title and a traumatic incident for Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline (the parents) as well as Christina Ricci, an adolescent discovering sex and power (more accurately power through sex) to come together and find their true identity both as individuals and as a family.

Darkly and gleefully precocious in "The Addams Family", Christina Ricci surprises everybody with her bleached out hair. A good 6' tall, with an distinctively patrician face, Sigourney Weaver admits giving her character the 1970's Jane Fonda look - tousled hair, bangs and multi-tiered earrings. "For me," she says at the press conference, "the 70's were a very strange, very jangly period. That's why I insisted on wearing dancing earrings and about 36 bracelets. The sound guys hated me. Even when I didn't move, I jangled. But that seemed to me to be very much in keeping with my character."

Kenneth Branagh's "Hamlet." The 4-hour version is coming out in Paris almost the same day as it is presented in Cannes. A 2-hour version is due for release two weeks later. Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet), Kate Winslet (Ophelia) and Charlton Heston (the King of Actors) are here. But not Julie Christie (Hamlet's mother Gertrude). Did she choose not to come? Was she not invited? Anyway, it was rather fun to see Heston / Moses / Ben Hur rub elbows with Branagh, the hero - past, present and future - of all of Shakespeare's plays. The man who is on first-name basis with God and the man who would like to be.

On our plate today, "The Eel", by Japanese master filmmaker Shohei Imamura. It's an insult to go see an Imamura when one is not completely ready to give it its undivided attention. So I decide to play hooky. Wanna bet the film will get the Golden Palm?

Professional iconoclast and radio host no. 1 in the United States, Howard Stern comes to Cannes. Schizophrenia. On the one hand, he is here to promote his film "Private Parts," in which he tries to give a gentler image of himself. On the other hand, "Rah-rah - I'll wreak havoc, I'll come surrounded with women more naked than the French have ever seen." He came, we saw. Cheerleaders. Pom-pom girls. Despite Geena Davis' incredibly long legs and Howard Stern's 7' feet-plus stature, the New Line Party was dull. Shall we go?

Wait a minute. Who is this smashing pair of dark eyes? As actress Shelley Winters, unexpectedly demure, wrote in her memoirs, "Wind blowing in the trees, waves crashing on the sand..." Where were you the first days? When are you leaving?"

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