Cannes 2021: Down with the brooch and the stars

Opera singer


Left, clockwise: Leos Carax, Farhana Bodi, Bong Joon Ho, Spike Lee. Photo-collage by Observer via Getty Images

CANNES – Is the Cannes Film Festival really taking place? Take it from Bong Joon Ho, Pedro Almodóvar, Jodie Foster and Spike Lee. They all joined the director of the Oscar and Palme d’Or Parasite to officially give the green light to the opening ceremonies on Tuesday. “openAlmodovar said. “Open, Foster said. “YeoldaBong said. And Spike, in his most fluid Brooklyner, blew up: “OPENNNNNNN!

As a global pandemic begins to recede amid hot spots and nagging variations, as Japan tightens restrictions for its upcoming Olympics, Cannes is hosting a large international gathering with more than 28,000 registered globetrotting participants. And the seaside resort of the Riviera could do well. The theaters are at capacity, the attendees are dutifully masked, and the one thing that rivals all the applause are sighs of relief.

That and the sound of spitting. Many, many Americans mostly spit. Because the United States does not have a standardized national database of its Pfizer, Moderna and J&J recipients, France will not recognize this fragile CDC card with its handwritten double jab dates. Only people vaccinated within the EU are allowed to skip the test. The French government has therefore funded a free COVID-19 test center that processes saliva tests within six hours. If any Yankees want to enter the headquarters in Cannes, the sprawling convention center known as the Palais des Festivals, they must show a QR code that links to negative test results from the past 48 hours.

The festival experience is now completely dematerialized and everyone is permanently connected to their smartphone.

QR codes are the rule this year. E-tickets, E-Covid tests, E-everything. The festival experience is now completely dematerialized and everyone is permanently connected to their smartphone. The queues of badge holders in Cannes, usually serpentine behemoths that traditionally form up to two hours before each screening, are pre-pandemic history. In its place is a streamlined process of guaranteed seats that must be reserved online. Now, festival-goers enter theaters with very little expectation or worry.

It was surprisingly stress-free except for the first few days when the website regularly crashed due to overwhelming demand. Starting at 7 a.m., when new blocks of tickets were released, the whole city would refresh and recharge on their respective browsers, and continue to do so until dark. Thanks to the diligence of the invisible Gallic computer scientists, the whole operation seems – we emphasize seems-to operate smoothly at last.

The opening night movie was from Amazon Studios Annette, an eccentric musical composed by the intrepid alternative rock band Sparks (who hang out with the newly released Edgar Wright The Sparks Brothers documentary celebrating the duo’s five decades). Amazon funded French director Leos Carax’s Feverish Vision, a dark fairy tale starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard as a married couple whose volcanic passions lead to jealousy, tragedy, spasms of violence and the birth of a baby puppet. The critical reaction has been kaleidoscopic, although industry trade International ScreenAccording to the critics’ poll, the competition film is currently leading the race for the Palme d’Or.

“So… can we start?” Carax asks himself in the opening minutes of the film, prompting Sparks to turn his lyrics into a recitative prologue where all the cast members come out of an LA recording studio across the street and walk the sidewalk chanting. the song. This is a single outlet, fourth wall Steadicam shot that breaks the wall and is absolutely electric. And that sets the tone for the rest of the wildly expressionist film, which oscillates between fantasy and film noir, naturalism and pure myth. All set to music, of course, with Cotillard and Driver mostly singing themselves.

“I wish I could speak French like Jodie Foster.” – Spike Lee

Cotillard, like Ann Defrasnoux, a sensitive opera singer with an irresistible sense of fate, plays her role elegantly. But it’s Driver who fully engages in the role of Henry McHenry, a raging stand-up comedian who berates his audience with pugilistic intensity, clad in a bathrobe and boxers and swinging his mic like a lasso – or a noose, since he wraps it around his neck and pretends to suffocate to death. Funny? Not really. His show, “Ape of God,” is more of a meta performance than a rib-tickling hilarity, and Carax uses Sparks’ music to make it a call and response between the tortured artist and his devoted audience.

Ann and Henry’s romance ignites the tabloids, which call them “Beauty and the Bastard” while scrutinizing their unlikely attraction. “We love each other so much,” they sing over and over, in an extended, very nude sex scene that has Driver’s face tucked into Cotillard’s crotch, girdling lines between pussy licks.

Pregnancy ensues, as well as the birth of their daughter Annette, who is a wooden doll. It’s Carax’s boldest choice, and the puppet show is magical when it’s not deeply scary. Henry, eager to push the boundaries on his show, fakes a tickle to death from his wife, which makes his audience turn on him and leads to professional suicide. And that leads to alcohol, festering resentment towards Ann, poor choices on a storm-battered yacht, and the eventual exploitation of Annette’s innate and ethereal talents.

Will this story of an angry white man and the women he mistreats appeal to the Cannes jury, led by Lee and a predominantly female group that includes Maggie Gyllenhaal? Time will tell us. But it was a fitting gonzo kick-off to a woozy opening ceremony night that also featured Almodóvar awarding Foster an honorary Palme d’Or. “It’s good to go out!” Foster said in impeccably fluent French, a language she learned from a young age.

“I wish I could speak French like Jodie Foster,” said Lee, wearing a hot pink double-breasted suit, matching rose-colored glasses and red-white-and-blue Air Jordans. He then joked with the black-tie crowd about going to Paris and walking the Champs-Elysees. “The Chomps-Aleezes, “he said.” You know where it is? You know? You don’t know.

It doesn’t matter. Foster said it best when she summed up the unlikely Cannes awakening. “The cinema still goes on. ”

The 74th edition of the Cannes Film Festival takes place from July 6 to July 17, 2021.

On the ground at Cannes 2021, where spitting and stars reign