Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Cannes: Face-rape, Henri and colourism

I had half planned to attend the 60th Cannes Film Festival which starts today, then thought better of it. Just glancing at the line-up of foreign films in competition for the Palme d’Or this year makes me feel dyslexic – how suburban of me! – and you should see the Un Certain Regard selection titles: pure drunken Scrabble. But I’m being silly: Cannes is truly international even if the same old directors pop up almost every year – Almodovar, Tarantino, Catherine Breillat, the Coens, Wong Kar Wai, Alexandr Sokurov, Ken Loach et al, et al. The alphas will not permit themselves to be neglected.

In any given year of the many years I attended Cannes habitually, I rarely saw more than three or four competition films. I would get reports from the early morning screenings on whether it was worth spending my midnights in auditorium gloom for the repeat showing. “Thumpers” were to be avoided: throughout these one would hear the thump of sprung seats flipping back as critics made premature exits in disgust. Imagine being a thumper director amidst that din. My preference then (and now) was for the parties, the clubs and crazy antics of Hot d’Or – the porn fest nearby along the Cote d’Azur.

One year a friend of mine was face-raped by a porn star after foolishly going back to his hotel: he agreed not to come in her mouth during the gobble but he did. I spent about three days sorting that crisis out.

Cannes can’t abide racism but your success or failure as a reporting journalist there depends on your colour – that is, the colour of your badge to signify status. From memory, a white badge bestowed aristocratic privilege and hoisted you out of lengthy queues to screenings and pressers. Pink was upper class, and blue a bit sad - hello the Press Association. With the yellow you might as well top up your tan on the beach for all the access you get. As for the pink with a yellow dot – I think that’s a recent elitest subtlety, but I forget.

In any case, the movie production companies select the journalists for access to stars according to media status and territorial quotas - whatever your colour. One year I was so determined to interview Emma Thompson I stole a New Zealander’s identity: NZ is a little under represented. The patronising cow was happy to field my questions even though I sound nothing like a New Zealander: it was sufficient that I was sold to her as an ambassador for that region.

By day, my preference was for the Marché du Film – the market – where you could glimpse the movie goodies planned for next year at national stalls. Great for finding stories and bumping into producers and directors. Some people stalk their quarry. I lie in wait, like a tunnel spider.

The man who epitomises Cannes for me is an exotic called Henri Behar: he has moderated the press conferences for years and is endearingly strict in a number of different languages. I should say he was once beautiful. Before each conference he languidly strolls in, trailing nicotine smoke; an exhibition of velvety camp. He may smile at familiar faces among the seated journalists, he may just scribble notes for the introduction of the talent; or may tap the microphones and light another cigarette. He was always quite fearless – he once put down a truculent Russell Crowe with the words “Welcome to Dr Russell and Mr Crowe ….” Even the Aussie bastard laughed.

He knows everyone in Hollywood and without. He is treated by the A-listers as a kind of celluloid guru. Google him and Le Monde comes up, yet I’ve seen little of his published writings: what little has not impressed. One suspects his genius is of the social variety: he’s part of that small select tribe who film festival-hop. Some call it work. Even on the Croisette he proves to be elusive – doubtless a narcoanalyst could part him from a million celebrity secrets. John Blake should hunt that little chap down – Henri’s English is perfect.

Oh, you wanted me to make a comparative study of tous les cinemas du monde at Cannes, did you? Don’t be daft. I may attend Cannes' 61st.

5 comments:

Duralex said...

<< One year a friend of mine was face-raped by a porn star after foolishly going back to his hotel: he agreed not to come in her mouth during the gobble but he did. I spent about three days sorting that crisis out. >>

Oh, my f*g god, what a traumatic experience indeed ! ;-)
Your friend is a looney. If the porn star was Rocco Siffredi, his sperm was truly worth solid gold. She (or he ?) should have kept it in a precious bottle and then sold it on e-Bay. That's certainly what a smart french blowjober would have done !

<< By day, my preference was for the Marche du Film >>

You mean "Marché", don't you ?

<< Google him and Le Monde comes up, yet I’ve seen little of his published writings: what little has not impressed. >>

Henri Béhar is quite a famous french movie critic. I think he once was the correspondent of the prestigious newspaper Le Monde in New York.

Arcati said...

Thanks for the correction - the accent goes AWOL if I write in Word for some reason. The face rape victim was female.

I advised her that the police would be unsympathetic because of the situation of the assault and her newspaper would never send her to Cannes again if they found out. So it was very tricky and problematic. In the end she resigned herself to a painful learning curve.

Behar writes widely on movies but his true talent is his persona - I'm surprised he doesn't have a high profile in the curiously dull world of movie criticism.

Duralex said...

<< I advised her that the police would be unsympathetic because of the situation of the assault >>

Ahem... did she seriously intend to go to the police ? Thank God she didn't, otherwise her story would have entertained the french police officers for decades. :-)

<< In the end she resigned herself to a painful learning curve. >>

Better for her to learn the fine art of blowjobing. That would get her out of trouble.

Arcati said...

Her bj skills are well honed, but at the vital moment the porn star held her head down and half choked her. Her choice of bj'ee was perhaps unwise.

Duralex said...

<< but at the vital moment the porn star held her head down and half choked her. >>

Porn stars have a reputation to maintain, you know. But she still could give him a hard bite. Er, no, not a good idea : in that case he'd have called the police and successfully sued her for damaging his professional tool. Ah, well, only another porn star can suck a porn star's cock, I presume.