Peter Greenaway has been declared the most unpopular film director here,
and there are people lobbying against his film being brought to America -
or anywhere else. Of course, Bernardo Bertolucci doesn't have such a hot
rep either, and he hasn't yet arrived, so Greenaway may even lose the one
title he's got.
After yelling at journalist Peter Brunette, who asked a question about the
use of nudity in "The Pillow Book", Greenaway would not stop. With an
arrogance that only an insufferable Brit can summon, he humiliated the poor
man, only later to have to admit that he, the one and only Greenaway, had
made a film full of Chinese ideograms - but he doesn't know any Chinese or
Japanese. He had experts, he claimed. "Who'd work for him? And how
long?" quipped Peter Brunette.
To top off such bad behavior, Greenaway then refused to meet some actors
from today's big film, "Breaking the Waves", by Lars von Trier
"Zentropa" and "The Hospital"). One of these actors, Udo Kier, has a much
longer career than Greenaway and is a mensch, but Greenaway wanted nothing
to do with Lars von Trier or his actors. Good grief, Gerti, lighten up, we
Then another exciting, packed Miramax screening took place tonight.
Executives and the press sat cheek by jowl (the execs have jowls, so figure
it out yourself) for Chinese director Chen Kaige's "Temptress
a lavish story of pre-Communist China where all the men slink around like
Christopher Walken with a cigarette holder, the Chinese women are exquisite
passion-flowers, and opium is the family's drug of choice.
When a daughter is made head of the family - because her brother is an
opiated zombie - the first thing she does is turn all the concubines and
wives of her father and grandfather out of the house. Her reason?
"There's nothing for them to do here anymore." People giggled, but not
very loudly, because the Miramax people were watching us watch the movie,
and we were all on our best behavior.
But as it proceeds, "Temptress Moon" gets into a kind of "Gone With the
Wind" love story, and it's the perfect moment for one of them to say,
"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a dim-sum." Instead, some woman threw
herself off a balcony (on screen, not from the theater). But its best
moment was the opening scene, in which a father explains to this pretty
little Chinese girl the joys of opium, and gasps smoke into her face. In
the next scene, she's racing around pulling the tablecloths out from under
the bingo cards at a party, so I guess her parents may have started her too
"Temptress Moon" and another Miramax film today had this drug defense in
common. "Train Spotting" is Danny Boyle's movie about kids who'd rather do
heroin than anything else, and the movie spends a lot of time explaining
what a helluva lotta fun it truly is. It takes place in Edinburgh among
working class kids with no future. It's a huge hit in the U.K. - really
big! It's hard to imagine it playing in the USA, though. Who's going to
say, oh yeah, let's show this pro-heroin movie. Even if the hero does skip
out in the end to start a new life (after showing the virtual impossibility
of that), its defense of heroin's pleasures is going to get a whole lotta
Drugs were big today - so what did I do? Drank a little champagne at the
yacht party and took an aspirin to ease the pain of the noisy music in
"Train Spotting." The drug of choice at Cannes is, of course, movie stars.
People just can't get enough of them, but I didn't see a single one all
day long. Hard to believe, but four movies and a party and Chinese food
with some fellow scribes soaked up the day (like a piece of crusty bread
dunked in one of the bowls of coffee they serve here in the south of
I did see lots of old friends today - the veteran Cannes-combers - the
circuit of critics from Los Angeles to Berlin, Edinburgh to Argentina, a
few film directors who are not too pretentious to go out and go to somebody
else's movie (Paul Cox, Alejandro Agresti, Robert Altman), the people who
buy the films and take them back to their own countries for the public to
ask "Where did they find this one?" and people from the Museum of Modern
Art and festivals of New York, Toronto, London, L.A., San Francisco, San
Sebastian, Venice, Berlin, etc, etc.
Truth to tell, what really constitutes the core of this festival are about
200 regulars whose jobs are connected to seeing lots and lots of movies,
making snap judgements and moving on to the next phase or festival. The
stars? They twinkle, sometimes never to be seen again. We Capistrano
swallow-types share lots of strange and wonderful memories. Today, I ran
into David Stratton, who was once a Variety colleague and Director of the
Sydney Film Festival, but most important he's an old friend with whom I
knocked around in Yugoslavia in 1977 looking for roasted piglet and finding
a movie showing "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" in Serbo-Croatian. We've grown
older, the world's grown worse, but civil war has not broken out in Cannes
- yet - so we're as young as the movies will let us be.
Wait! I just saw a star! It's either Steve Buscemi or a gas station
attendant. No, it's Steve - and he's so nice! Aw, shucks. A rare day at
Cannes thrown back into banality. Yo, Steve, tell us what your next
project will be - and how do you like the beer on the Riviera? Back to the
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