Cannes 2012 Blog: Festivals, Rain, Experiences & Film Critic Friends
by Alex Billington
May 23, 2012
Why do I go to film festivals? It's a good question, but perhaps not, because it really has a simple answer: I love film. I love cinema. I love movies. There isn't much required beyond that; it's enough motivation for me to make this small French town—Cannes—my home for two weeks. What day is it? I have no idea. I think we've passed the halfway point, but I don't know how many days I've been here and how many are left. Well, actually, I think there are four days left, it ends on Sunday. And I have three more 8:30AM screenings in a row coming up. Brutal (I've already used that word!) but amazing. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
In all actuality, we have already passed the midway point. The 65th Festival de Cannes, or Cannes Film Festival 2012, kicked off last Wednesday with the world premiere of Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom (my review) and it concludes this coming Sunday, after 12 days of films, films and more films. I may try and catch the Jaws restoration screening tonight or tomorrow, as well as a classic James Bond film on the beach (before it starts raining again). Over the last 8 days so far, I've seen about 16 films, averaging around 2 per day. It's honestly tough for me to get out and see more than that (with the schedule, too) and anyone who has been here covering the fest knows how tiring it is. Especially with the rain we've had the last few days.
For me, film festivals are about discovery and the experience more than anything. Sure, I can watch films anywhere. At home on my TV, on my laptop, on my iPad, on the airplane, in a movie theater (let's not forget that one), but it's festivals where you sometimes get the chance to see something you'll never see anywhere else. Whether it is just a big screen showing of a Bond film on a beach, or whether it's a wacky, experimental feature that is so out-of-this-world it won't ever be released in the US. Those experiences, the opportunities, they are what I'm here for. And they're why I come here and write about this fest, so that one day hopefully one of you will come here and have your own unforgettable experiences. To make this film fest your own.
I tweeted the other day how wonderful it is walking the quiet, empty streets at 7:30AM (see my photo) to be one of the first inside the Grand Lumiere theatre every morning for the 8:30AM screenings. Every moment I spend here, whether it's in a theatre, talking with friends and meeting new friends, walking the streets, eating dinner, sitting on the beach, is exhilarating and unforgettable. There are some films I'd like to forget, but that's just the reality. Even the bad films I see, or even the films I don't like, are part of this experience. Even Haneke's Amour, which I am now infamous for disliking, was part of that experience, and although I'll get plenty of flack for it, I'm happy that I was even brave enough to go see it, at 8:30AM, to give it a chance.
I'm also here for the people. I have been spending a lot of my screenings sitting with Eric Lavallee from IONCinema, Brad Brevet of RopeofSilicon and Kevin Jagernauth of The Playlist, three great guys with all around strong opinions. I just had coffee with some new friends from MovieZine.se and spend a lot of time hanging out with Raffi and Dan from The Film Stage, too. There's a certain kind of film lover that makes the long trek to Cannes, and I love this group. I love discussing, arguing, chatting, fighting over films; even if we disagree, there is a kind of respect between us. More than anything we just love films, as an art form, as something to talk about, and admire. Why else would we all be here waking up at 7AM every day?
Cannes is normally a charming, sunny little town that becomes a cinema haven. This year's fest started out beautifully (you can see my Instagram photos here) but the last few days have been raining. It wasn't until today when the rain finally stopped and the sun started to shine again. It was honestly a bit dreary when the rain was coming down, and I stood for almost an hour outside in line underneath an umbrella to get into Abbas Kiarostami's Like Someone in Love (my review) but it was worth it, since that film has since become one of my favorites. Who knows if I would've ever seen it in the US, given it a chance or not, but I braved the cold and rain to see it here in Cannes, and look how it turned out. That is why I love festivals.
Here's my current complete list of films that I've seen here at Cannes Film Festival so far. I've been ranking on indieWire's Criticwire as well, and updating photos/opinions via twitter @firstshowing as often as I can. I'll continue to keep you updated with more during these last few days. Here's my Cannes 2012 list:
1. Moonrise Kingdom (dir. Wes Anderson) - Liked It
2. Rust & Bone (dir. Jacques Audiard) - Loved It
3. The We and the I (dir. Michel Gondry) - Hated It
4. Beasts of the Southern Wild (dir. Benh Zeitlin) - Loved It
5. Laurence Anyways (dir. Xavier Dolan) - Loved It
6. Lawless (dir. John Hillcoat) - Loved It
7. Antiviral (dir. Brandon Cronenberg) - Liked It
8. The Hunt (dir. Thomas Vinterberg) - Hated It
9. Amour (dir. Michael Haneke) - Hated It
10. Like Someone in Love (dir. Abbas Kiarostami) - Loved It
11. Room 237 (dir. Rodney Ascher) - Loved It
12. No (dir. Pablo Larraín) - Liked It
13. Killing Them Softly (dir. Andrew Dominik) - Liked It
14. On the Road (dir. Walter Salles) - Just Okay
15. Sightseers (dir. Ben Wheatley) - Liked It
16. Post Tenebras Lux (dir. Carlos Reygadas) - Liked It
Reader Feedback - 7 Comments
ALEX! MAKE SURE TO CHECK "ELEFANTE BLANCO" (White Elephant). It's REALLY GREAT!
Lucas Rios on May 23, 2012
So you are not a critic, Alec, as you answer someone in another post? Of course you are, and as good or as bad as any (please rememeber with me how great films were ignored by the critics establisment when they were out), and your readeres will sometimes agree and sometimes not, as with any other critic. Your truth as a critic is your honesty, so please, continue to express yourself as always, even if all the critics of Cannes think a movie is a "chef d'ouvre" and you think it's boring. Enjoy the festival, and as a movie lover, remember Hitchcock, Grace Kelly and Cary Crant when you pass in front of the Carlton. Go inside (it´s beautiful) and to the beach infront of it and feel for a moment as an european jewelry thief. A bien tot!
JM on May 23, 2012
Sorry Alex, I typed C instead of its neighbour X!
JM on May 23, 2012
Alex, how did you go about attending Cannes? Did you just put up the cash yourself, or did someone at First Showing pay your way? I went to Cannes five years ago (wow! can't believe it's been five years), and it's the best experience I ever had. Of course, the lineup wasn't bad (No Country for Old Men, Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Persepolis, etc.). I've been dying to go back myself.
Guestman on May 23, 2012
How is it having press credentials? Any interviews or back stage glimpses at the fest you care to share?
peloquin on May 23, 2012
I dream of one day going to Cannes,can't imagine anything better
Dave on May 24, 2012
Sorry, new comments are no longer allowed.