Film-Festivaling in Toronto and Venice

September 2nd, 2012 by Ran

Film festivals are great. I haven’t been to many, but I had a great time in those that I have gone to. I find them to be a great form of tourism. You have a great selection of films; you have enough time in town and meet enough people to get informed about good places to eat; the town itself becomes a really happening place, with tons of live music, exhibitions, parties and the like. So there’s lots to do even if you don’t want to watch three movies a day like me (you should watch at least two… hell, do what you want, I don’t care. But don’t come crying to me if you miss the best film ever). When you have such quality cities like Venice and Toronto hosting so many quality movies, you really can’t lose (except for your sense of reality sometimes, but it passes). By the way, I do expect something for this improvised advertising, so be in touch Venice and Toronto’s tourism offices. In short, I highly recommend you go to either or both of these two great festivals. And if you go, I have a couple of tips for you:

a. Hurry, because the Biennale in Venice has already begun.

b. Go see these promising films:

Venice

1. The Master (2012)

Paul Thomas Anderson returns after a five-year break, with a period drama telling the story of a veteran soldier (Joaquin Phoenix) getting involved with a charismatic preacher of a cult (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Only by mentioning his last offering, There Will Be Blood, you understand why this is a highly anticipated movie.

2. Passion (2012)

passion

If you’re gonna see PTA’s comeback, it’s only right you go see Brian De Palma’s new film as well. It’s a thriller (and a remake of the French film Crime d’amour) about a vengeful businesswoman. BDP also lay low for five years… I wonder if any paparazzi caught the two directors together. BDP with ATP, it has a nice ring to it.

3. To the Wonder (2012)

Ben and Rachel

The always intriguing, mysterious Terrence Malick has decided to pick up the slack of the two former slacker directors, and comes back with a second movie in as many years. This romantic drama, starring Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams and Javier Bardem, has already caused a stir when the enigmatic cinematographer cut out the roles of Rachel Weisz, Barry Pepper, Amanda Peet and Michael Sheen (by no order of importance, except for Weisz). I usually find his films more interesting than bloated, so I would go watch it, and it’s a romantic drama, so probably not as philosophical (I will not be held responsible if wrong).

4. Après mai (2012)

somethingintheair.top_

Olivier Assayas is another intriguing director. With such diverse films like Clean, Irma Vep, Demolover and Carlos under the French director’s name, you can bet that his tale of a teenager’s life during the tumultuous 70s in France will get an original take.

5. The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012)

The-Reluctant-Fundamental-008

If you’ve seen Monsoon Wedding or Salaam Bombay, you know you’d like to check out Mira Nair’s new film (even if Kate Hudson stars in it). It tells the story of a Pakistani man working on Wall Street, and torn between his homeland on one side and his greed and ambition on the other.

Toronto

1. Beyond the Hills (2012)

Christian Mungiu, who collected the Palme d’or at Cannes with 4 Months, 3 week, an 2 Days comes to Toronto with his latest film, a period piece about friendship, clergy and the oppression of women. It has already won a couple of awards at this year’s Cannes festival, so although you know it’s gonna be bleak and depressing, you know you gotta see it.

2. In Another Country (2012)

French veteran actress Isabelle Huppert always has interesting choices in films. Her latest is by Korean director Sang-soo Hong, whose style is always interesting (see Hahaha). The fact that Huppert plays three different characters sounds suited to this French chameleon’s style, so you know you’re in for an acting tour de force.

3. Looper (2012)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt cannot seem to stop acting. The Third Rock from the Sun alumni is working like an actor possessed these days, surpassed only by Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender. Here he stars alongside Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt in a time traveling thriller that looks like 12 Monkeys meets Inception. Here’s hoping.

4. The Company You Keep (2012)

Was there a threesome on Director’s Island for the past five years, and nobody told me? Robert Redford is another heavyweight director coming back after a fiver with a thriller. This one’s starring Shia LaBeouf, Anna Kendrick and a plethora of great actors. Any questions? Didn’t think so…

5. Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)

I’m kinda reluctant to write ‘Bill Murray playing President FDR’, because this is enough to make you wanna see this movie, and that will make me feel kinda redundant. What the hell, I don’t care. For those who still have doubts I will add that this is a romantic comedy. Everybody thinks of Roosevelt as a romantic figure, so I’m surprised this is the first comedy about him.

Other prominent films showing in these two festivals are Kim Ki-Duk’s Pieta, Takeshi Kitano’s Outrage Beyond, Ramin Bahrani’s At Any Price, Michael Winterbottom’s Everyday, and Michael Haneke’s Amour. Enjoy!

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The Best of the Venice & Toronto Film Festivals

August 31st, 2010 by May

The Venice and Toronto film festivals are approaching. Once again we’re wondering: Which will be the best, stand-out films of the two festivals? We enlisted the help of the Movie Genome to choose the best titles of all time and predict the best titles for this year:

Venice Film Festival (September 1-11, 2010)

1.
In the Past: The Dancer Upstairs,
a 2002 Venice entry by John Malkovich.

Upcoming: Black Swan, by Darren Aronofsky
John Malkovich’s first feature as a director was a tense, atmospheric, political, indie thriller, in which the main female lead was a ballet dancer. And what do you know, Aronofsky’s new entry is an atmospheric, tense, psychological thriller about ballerinas!!! Well, nothing is too strange when it comes to Aronofsky.

The impressive cast includes Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel and Winona Ryder, and the trailer reveals a world very different from the one we imagine when we think about ballet.

2.
In the Past: Lost in Translation,
a 2003 Venice & Toronto entry by Sofia Coppola.

Upcoming: Somewhere, by Sofia Coppola
It’s not a big deal to recommend a new entry from a beloved director, but Sofia is also back in dealing with the themes of actors’ life and introspection. The trailer for Somewhere also tries to deliver an Lost in Translation-type atmospheric mood.

It seems you either love Sofia Coppola’s films or you highly dislike them. Personally, I really love them. But this time Sofia may have crafted a consensual movie (and not in a bad sense)… Somewhere tells the story of a typical womanizer – Hollywood actor, (Stephen Dorff) receiving an unexpected visit from his 11-year-old daughter, played by Elle Fanning (yes, the sister). (Will the Dakota siblings create a more quality dynasty then the Baldwins and the Culkins…?)

3.
In the past: Paradise Now
, a 2005 Toronto entry, by Hany Abu-Assad.

Upcoming: Miral, by Julian Schnabel
Paradise now was a very controversial take on the Arab-Israeli conflict, made by a Palestinian director. Miral seems to be the same, only by a Jewish director.

After the exemplary The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, the expectations for Schnabel’s next feature sky-rocketed. He chose to create a film that will no doubt arouse controversy, about a Palestinian girl in an orphanage at the beginning of the first Arab-Israeli uprising in the 80s. The fact that the Palestinian girl is played by Indian actress Freida Pinto also raised some brows… It will be interesting to see what comes of this sensitive subject.

4.
In the past: The Brothers Grimm,
a 2005 Venice Entry, by Terry Gilliam

Upcoming: The Tempest, by Julie Taymor
The Brothers Grimm was a disappointing fantastic, stylized, offbeat tale involving wizards and myths. But since I like this combination of themes, one of the films I’ve personally waited the longest for was chosen as Venice’s closing film – Julie Taymor’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.

Taymor has created amazingly stylized and rich-looking films in past years (for example Titus and Frida). Although a trailer has not yet been released, the few images combined with the rich imagination of Shakespeare’s play assure us this film won’t lower the standards.

5.
In the past: Walk the Line, a 2005 Toronto entry, by James Mangold

Upcoming: I’m still Here, by Casey Affleck
In October 2008, acclaimed actor Joaquin Phoenix gave a captivating performance as singer Jonny Cash in Walk the Line – then announced he was quitting acting to become a hip-hop artist. The film industry was puzzled: Was it an elaborate joke, or a mental breakdown? Or was it really his wish to explore different artistic directions?

Casey Affleck followed Phoenix for a year after this announcement and his new documentary (or maybe mockumentary?) promises to reveal the truth behind this intriguing actor.

Toronto Film Festival (September 9-19 2010):

1.
In the past: 3 Extremes
, a 2004 Venice entry, by Fruit Chan, Park Chan-Wook and Takashi Miike

Upcoming: Hereafter, by Clint Eastwood
3 Extremes was a supernatural thriller-horror flick that contained 3 different segments, directed by some of Asia’s most acclaimed directors. Now we have a new movie by one of USA’s most acclaimed directors, Clint Eastwood. While this is always a source of interest, Hereafter is not the usual Eastwood material. It contains supernatural elements (of afterlife and spirituality) and is also a multiple stories thriller. Although in Eastwood’s case, the stories eventually connect and the mood will probably be much more atmospheric and less scary

2.
In the past: Encounters at the End of the World
, a 2007 Toronto entry, by Werner Herzog

Upcoming: 127 Hours, by Danny Boyle
Survival, isolation and forces of nature? Werner Herzog and Danny Boyle include plenty of these in the films mentioned, although Herzog’s film is a documentary and Boyle’s film is fictional (though based on a true story). 127 Hours tells the true story of a mountain climber trapped in an isolated canyon and his efforts to survive.

This is Danny Boyle’s first project after his amazing and unexpected success with Slumdog Millionaire – the big winner of the 2008 award season that picked up no less than 8 Academy Awards.

3.
In the past: The Son’s Room
, a 2001 Toronto entry, by Nanni Moretti

Upcoming: Rabbit Hole, by John Cameron Mitchell
Moretti’s acclaimed film tells the story of a family learning to deal with the death of their son. Now an almost identical story comes to the screen, this time at the hands of a very different director. In 2001, John Cameron Mitchell directed what has become one of the greatest cult films of the 21st century – Hedwig and the Angry Inch. He gained many fans who have been waiting anxiously to see what he would create next… This was another small-scale indie production called Shortbus. Now for the first time Mitchell is undertaking a major feature with stars like Nicole Kidman (who passed up a role in the new Woody Allen film for this) and Aaron Eckhart. It will be interesting to see if, despite the big names, the low-budget, controversial spirit remains.

4.
In the past: North Country
, a 2005 Toronto entry, by Niki Caro

Upcoming: Conviction, by Tony Goldwyn
Every year needs its story of lower-class people who decide to fight against the system and right wrongs: we had North Country, Erin Brockovich, Silkwood and so on. Here’s this year’s version (a rare case in which I find a film interesting not because of the director, but rather because of the cast): it includes Juliette Lewis, Sam Rockwell, Minnie Driver and above all Hilary Swank in a leading role that simply screams Oscar. The movie is based on the true story of Betty Anne Waters, an unemployed single mother who goes to law school in order to represent her brother, who is wrongfully accused of murder.

5.
In the past: Walk on Water
, a 2004 Toronto entry by Eytan Fox

Upcoming: The Debt, by John Madden
The Debt is actually a remake of an Israeli movie from 2007 of the same name. This “upgraded” remake stars big names like Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington and Tom Wilkinson, and the trailer seems appropriately suspenseful and intriguing. It tells the story of 3 Mossad (secret service) agents on a mission to capture and kill a notorious Nazi war criminal – much like another successful Israeli feature of recent years, Walk on Water, which deals with the exact same issue albeit in a different tone.

If you have any other recommendations for these festivals, comment and let us know!

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Gene 5: My First Film Festival

August 17th, 2010 by Guest

Want to submit your own Gene 5 piece? More info at the end of the post.

Coral Russell is a self confessed movie junkie. She loves using movies, technology, music, arts, and plain old curiosity when it comes to teaching or learning a new language at English as a New Language. Connect with her on Jinni here.

I wrote about my plans to attend the The Plaza Classic Film Festival in El Paso, TX on August 5- 15, 2010 in a previous post. Here’s a follow-up describing my actual experiences at the festival, including my final impressions of the five films I set out to watch. Warning: A few (mild) spoilers ahead.

1. Picnic (1955)

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this movie since I knew nothing about it – was it a romance, a tragedy, a comedy?  It ended up being a romance – the pretty girl runs away with the hunky boy – and a comedy.  It’s pretty darn funny!  One-liners run through the whole film and make it thoroughly entertaining.  It’s sexy, even by today’s over-the-top standards, and I love the way Hal calls Madge “baby.”  Hal’s character and the acting is a little awkward – for example, the way he grips his ripped-up shirt when an older woman mauls him. Though it does give the character “innocence,” as my mother put it.  It was a treat for Nick Clooney to come out and introduce the movie as one of his favorites, and to have my mother with me, who first saw it when she was twelve.  If you love classics, you’ll love this movie.

2. Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

…because hell won’t have her!  At least that’s what I said after seeing this classic. The title is actually taken from Hamlet.  This film noir was good even though it was out-of-character.  Technicolor made all the outdoor scenes rich, as if you could step right into Jacinto, Behind the Moon, or Bar Harbor.  Gene Tierney was just as gorgeous and fit the settings perfectly, using it to hide her sociopath ways. “Ellen will win, Ellen always wins.”  “Sometimes truth is wicked.”  “There’s nothing wrong with Ellen, It’s just that she loves too much.”  You’ll have to experience this thriller for yourself to see if, indeed, Ellen always wins…

3. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

“I see no point in living if I can’t be beautiful.”  Well, now I know why Miyazaki is revered.  Even though I’ve seen a couple of his other films, this one is my favorite so far.  I’m lucky to have been able to see this on the big screen with my daughter.  After the whirlwind hour-and-forty-minute movie, I confess I teared up a little at the end.  My daughter loved it, laughed out loud, described it as a romantic comedy and at the end declared that we must buy this movie to see again.  But like Howl’s Moving Castle, some of the best anime is not just for kids. One could carry on many layers of conversation about the themes of love, friendship, freedom, following your heart, forgiveness and believing in yourself that the movie covers with a wonderful sense of humor.

4. Cat People (1942)

Peter Bogdanovich introducing Touch of Evil

“Even as fog continues to lie in the valleys, so does ancient sin cling to the low places, the depressions in the world consciousness.” – The Anatomy of Atavism – Dr. Louis Judd

For a low-budget, sixty-eight year old film, this still packs quite a punch.  Simone Simon, playing Irena Dubrovna, with her light Serbian accent, diminutive stature and cat-like grace makes you feel sympathy for her as she loses her struggle with the dark forces turning her into a killer.  The first real glimpse of the “monster” lurking inside her is when she sticks her hand in a bird cage, presumably to pet her canary, but quickly her face and hand movements mimic that of a cat playing with its prey.  The psychiatrist she turns to for help opines, “There is in some cases a psychic need to loose evil upon the world, and all of us carry within us a desire for death.”  Add the layering of menacing sounds on top of ordinary ones and suggestive images and sounds, and you have a classic horror movie that influenced the genre for years.

5. Sleeping Beauty (1959)

My last movie review should have been Murder, My Sweet, but an unexpected job interview interfered.  I picked this Walt Disney classic to replace it because it took the Plaza Classic Film Festival three years to convince Disney to let them screen a film (any film!). Disney told them at the last minute they could show it on Sunday at 1:30pm. People flew in from nearby states to see the screening, since it’s so rare for Disney to release one of their films.  The place was packed!  Over 2000 seats were filled for this 1959 film that took a decade to put together because of the hand-inked cells. Just one background scene took seven to ten days to paint.  The Plaza Theater also showed off its new “Dawn til Dusk” light show over the ceiling of the theater. Ijust love happy endings!

About the Plaza Theater

The Plaza Theater has a wonderful rags to riches story.  It originally opened in 1930 and was nicknamed the Showplace of the Southwest.  It was built during the Great Depression when $0.35 a seat was hard to come by.  The introduction of drive-ins in the 1940s, TV in the 1950s, and El Paso’s growth in the 1970s all took its toll on the theater.  The Dallas-based Interstate Theaters gave up and closed the doors. The Dipp family bought it in 1973, but were only able to keep it open for a couple more years. When the wrecking ball threatened to turn the Plaza Theater into a parking lot, a “Save the Plaza” committee was formed to rally the community to support restoring it.  They succeeded, but ran into numerous road blocks for nearly 30 years before the grand re-opening in 2007.

The theater has been restored to its original splendor with state-of-the-art performance capabilities, not only for cinema but also theater, Broadway shows, opera, ballet, symphonies and public speakers.  The place is amazing and one-of-a-kind.  I love the downtown area and all the work that is going into making it a cultural hubbub for El Paso, TX.  The Plaza Classic Film Festival was my first chance to experience the new and improved downtown area and it was worth the trip.

What’s your favorite gene (search term) on Jinni? Is there one, or several combined, that especially expresses your tastes – or your life? Email us at bloggers@jinni.com with a piece about your favorite gene and the 5 movies or shows that express it for you (200-500 words; or you can present your ideas in images/video), and we’ll publish our Gene 5 selections on a rolling basis.

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Gene 5: Classics to See on the Big Screen

July 28th, 2010 by Guest

Want to submit your own Gene 5 piece? More info at the end of the post.

Coral Russell is a self confessed movie junkie.  She loves using movies, technology, music, arts, and plain old curiosity when it comes to teaching or learning a new language at English as a New Language. Connect with her on Jinni here.

For the first time in my life, I’m going to a film festival! The Plaza Classic Film Festival in El Paso, TX August 5- 15, 2010 is touted as being one of the largest of it’s kind in the world. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and with over 60 films to choose from, I’m going to pick five that I haven’t seen before and see what Jinni has to say about them.

1. Picnic (1955) with  William Holden and Kim Novak

I have a soft spot for movies from the 50s and this one features a handsome drifter who interacts with five women in a small Kansas town over Labor Day Weekend.  Sounds simple, yet scandalous.  This was adapted from a play, so it’s “talky” and the “slow paced” – which to me means good dialog and character development.

2. Leave Her to Heaven (1945) with Gene Tierney and Cornel Wilde

Is there such a thing as loving too much?  How can that be, unless it involves, perhaps… murder?  The setting is Maine and I just can’t picture that as a place for hot, obsessive romance, but maybe I’m missing something.

3. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) Anime movie by Hayao Miyazaki.

This movie is a classic in the sense that it is one of the highest grossing films in Japanese history, from one of the most famous Japanese anime movie directors and highly recommended by critics as “insanely creative.”  I’ve seen several of his other films and I’m not going to miss the opportunity to see this on the big screen!

4. Cat People (1942) Irena Dubrovna and Oliver Reed

Something goes horribly wrong in a young couple’s marriage when the young bride fears she will turn into an animal if she becomes too “aroused.”  When the young husband seeks comfort in another woman’s arms, someone’s going to get owned.  A psychological thriller that single-handedly saved RKO from going belly up.

5. Murder, My Sweet (1944) with Dick Powell and Claire Trevor

Film noir at its best, with detective Phillip Marlowe being seduced, beaten up, and drugged all in the line of duty.

These movies are easily available via companies like Netflix, but thanks to film festivals and a few movie theaters around the country, it’s a real treat to be able to see them on the big screen again.  There are 10 films in all I’m planning to see at the Plaza Classic Film Festival.  I’ve already seen most of the movies on the schedule.  Does this mean I watch too many movies?  Nah!

What’s your favorite gene (search term) on Jinni? Is there one, or several combined, that especially expresses your tastes – or your life? Email us at bloggers@jinni.com with a piece about your favorite gene and the 5 movies or shows that express it for you (200-500 words; or you can present your ideas in images/video), and we’ll publish our Gene 5 selections on a rolling basis.

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How Americanization Changed Cannes

May 11th, 2010 by Ami

It’s time for the world’s biggest, fanciest, most glamorous event to take place yet again.

No, I’m not talking about Eyjafjallajokull’s volcanic ash cloud shutting down Western Europe again this week.

If this great force of nature shows mercy, then it’s time for the Cannes Film Festival to take place for the 63rd time starting May 12th.

It’s also time to ask several important (and less important) questions about this event:

Is the festival’s prestige limited to its film-loving fans, or does it have real box-office impact?

Cannes is the most popular film festival. Filmmakers fight to win a screening for their titles, American studios muscle their titles in too. Now let’s see, have you heard of – The Child? Elephant? Rosetta? Taste of Cherry? Underground? Lemming? Vatel? I’m also pretty sure that not many have heard of The Son’s Room, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Blindness or Fanfan la Tulipe. What they all have in common is that they barely made it to the box office in the US, and earned just a few thousands or millions worldwide.

However, I’m sure most of you know Up, Fahrenheit 9/11 and The Da Vinci Code. These all either opened or won at the festival, but I’m quite sure most people didn’t know this, and would have heard about them anyway. The last group of titles includes Moulin Rouge, Dancer in the Dark, The Pianist, Hollywood Ending, and Bad Education. They all did relatively okay at the box office, both in the US and worldwide, but considering they were directed by familiar directors like Baz Luhrmann, Lars von Trier, Roman Polanski, Woody Allen and Pedro Almodovar, I’m not sure Cannes contributed that much to their results. And I only listed Golden Palm winners or Festival openers.

So who benefits box office-wise from the festival? Probably titles like The White Ribbon, The Class, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days or Secret & Lies, which gained exposure or a large boost from their participation. Ultimately, all those big names and guests allow the truly arthouse or small, unknown titles to stand out and win attention.

Why does Cannes have so many mainstream US screenings anyway?

This year Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe‘s new adaptation of Robin Hood will open the festival. To me, it is another surprising and hard-to-understand decision. Aside from the fact that Scott is having a hard time being weaned from Gladiator (the trailer looks as if Maximus decided to play Robin), why is there such a predominance of big US production in Cannes? I mentioned Up, Fahrenheit 9/11, and The Da Vinci Code. You can throw in Troy, Shrek, Indiana Jones 4, Kung Fu Panda, What Just Happened, Ocean’s 13, Sicko, Clerks II, Over the Hedge, X-Men 3, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, The Matrix Reloaded and 007′s Die Another Day. And this is a very partial list, from recent years, of titles from the formal competitive selections. Is this a European festival or a marketing platform for major US releases? Can’t the Europeans do without the USAid?

A look at several festivals from the early 60s show that US titles were screened mostly in competitive selections, that there weren’t many anyway, and that out-of-competition special screenings were few, so the visibility of big studio productions was minimal. I guess relying on the powerful names of European creators from the golden age of the 50s and 60s can’t keep the festival relevant these days. And so studio productions are screened to attract the crowds, to launch campaigns, and to allow the small, unknown titles mentioned in the former paragraph to bloom. How does the infamous French pride coexist with all that? I guess when they want, or have to, they manage. Even speaking English if necessary…

Why do they always put the English subtitles in the small box below the screen, below the French subtitles, when most viewers do not read or speak French?

I guess it’s one of their ways to preserve their infamous pride, as mentioned above…

Why does Godard keep making films?

This year he will present Film Socialisme. The man is nearing his 80th birthday and keeps making films. And they are not good. Didn’t he notice that the 60s are over, and because his name still appears in almost every second festival, the artistic directors have to bring Shrek and Up to balance things out and make sure audiences will attend? With all the respect to the man and his cinematic contribution, and I do respect it, some people need to know when to retire in order not to disgrace their youth.

Will Tim Burton contribute to an original win, or did he divorce originality a long time ago?

Will he contribute to an original win this year, hopefully a bit more communicative than the originality of last year’s winner (The White Ribbon) or previous ones? The following video is a bit discouraging on this subject (and rather explains Alice), but let’s hope he’ll find time to help earn an award for something like Big Fish, for example.

By the way, Tim, will you do something about your hair?

Probably not, but in case you decide to surprise us, the Croisette (Cannes’ famous seaside promenade) and its surrounding do offer some good hair salons, in which they even speak English. Try this one, it is even spread worldwide, so you will not have to get used to a new salon when you travel elsewhere. Or in the worst case, head to beautiful old Antibes, to The Cutting Shop. Here’s their pricing for men.

Why are there no semi-naked wannabe starlets on the Croisette anymore?

Tim, while heading out to the Croisette on the way to the salon, you’ll be disappointed to notice that there are no herds of photographers hiding a wannabe actress who has decided to bare her skills to potential talent agents. Where have they all gone? The answer is probably ***inpublic.com, and the like.

How do you get tickets to the famous porn party?

Let’s face it. Almost any male who attends Cannes fantasizes about this party, despite knowing that the chances he will get in are about the same as winning the lottery. So Tim, don’t stroll the Croisette waiting for someone to shove an invitation into your hands. Actually, I don’t have a clue how to get one. You always meet someone who says he knows someone who can get invitations, and it ends up with you and the other sucker waiting in the street where the party is held, watching plastic-like women get out of limos (first their breasts, or sometimes after the rest of their bodies), escorted by very big guys who you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark ally, quickly disappearing inside. Ahhhh… disgusting!

And despite all that, why do I miss attending this event so much…?

I went to Cannes four times as a film buyer in the early 2000s, and I miss it a lot. Yes, I guess it’s not what it used to be in the 50s, 60s and even 70s. Yes, there are other great festivals. But something about this overcrowded event works. First, the setting. The beautiful Croisette, the beautiful little streets leading to and from it and the beautiful countryside dotted with old villages all around.

Then there are the stars. You don’t need to do much to bump into one. They are all over, in hotels, cafes, the streets, and of course the screenings and parties. Nice to see that Schwarzenegger is not as big as he seems, that Cameron Diaz looks just as great in reality, to eat dinner at the same restaurant with Scorsese, to talk to Ewan McGregor in a cafe, to take a picture with the breathtaking Aishwarya Rai, and so on. Speaking of parties and receptions, there are plenty: small or big, private or not. In clubs, on rooftops, in fancy hotels or amazing villas. Food and drinks are free, and they prove that it is feasible to party and work – not sure though that some of the deals you close after such nights, are reliable… People-wise, it is a great feeling of a small global village, united by a love for movies, and so it’s fun to hang out in groups of people who are often an ensemble of four and even five continents.

Last, and most important, the reason we all gathered for – the movies. Hundreds and thousands of screenings (to those that also attend the film market), from early morning to late at night, of all the kinds, spread all over town. If it is going to see a competition title in the Palais Des Festivals, in which case you must wear a tux, or to a midnight screening in a small cinema of a little-known title that turns out to be a gem. (I remember going to see The Eye – the original Asian version – with no expectations, dead tired, and in no time finding myself in a packed cinema, at the edge of my seat, jumping with fright every now and then – knowing it was a good title, but disappointed that I couldn’t buy it as it wouldn’t work in my territory.) To sum it up, these twelve days or so made me feel like I was living in a movie, a feeling I didn’t experience in quite the same way in any other festival.

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