Tonight’s La Pizza dinner in Cannes was attended by yours truly, Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Eugene Hernandez (who very graciously and much to everyone’s surprise picked up the check on behalf of FSLC), Deadline‘s Pete Hammond, Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn and Dana Harris, Washington Post critic Ann Hornaday, Variety‘s Peter Debruge (directly across from me) and Justin Chang, Toronto Star critic Peter Howell and Movie City News contributor Jake Howell, among others. That’s Weinstein Co. publicity president Dani Weinstein (dark hair, white pants, dark top) who strolls up to the table and chats with Hammond.
Wednesday, 5.14 update: Johar Bendjelloul, the brother of deceased documentary director Malik Bendjelloul, whose body was found yesterday in Stockholm, has reportedly told Aftonbladet, a Swedish newspaper, that Malik’s death was due to suicide. He added that his brother had “struggled with depression.”
Earlier: During the January 2012 Sundance Film Festival I chatted with Searching for Sugar Man director Malik Bendjelloul, although I’ve forgotten exactly under what circumstance. (It wasn’t during an interview but a social event of some kind.) I remember very clearly that he was a very nice, open and likable guy. 13 months later Sugar Man won the Best Feature Documentary Oscar, and Bendjelloul (along with producer Simon Chinn) strode to the mike and offered a gracious thanks. And now, 15 months after that triumph, the 36 year-old Bendjelloul has been found dead in Stockholm. No cause of death has been reported, but “local police told the newspaper Expressen that it was not being treated as suspicious.” Well, I’m suspicious. 36 year-old guys don’t just keel over. Obviously something happened. Condolences to friends, colleagues, admirers.
This is the fourth year I’ve stayed in a third-floor apartment at 7 rue Jean Mero, located in the heart of Cannes’ old section, so I kinda know the neighborhood a bit. And I’m telling you that the city engineers have all but ruined rue Meynadier, which parallels rue Felix Faure, by installing overly bright bulbs in the hanging street lamps. Why kill the charm of nightfall? To help women and older people feel safer, I’m guessing. There used to be this thing called darkness that would settle down and take over when the sun went down. It existed for many, many centuries and somehow people coped with it. And then 21st Century zombies came along and decided to get rid of it. Rue Meynadier used to be a nice shadowy little street — I was there, I know — but that’s gone now. The powers-that-be have flooded it with something that almost looks like indoor mall lighting.
If you think any visiting journalist or critic is excited about seeing Olivier Dahan‘s Grace of Monaco tomorrow morning, think again. This trouble-plagued historical drama is certainly among the most unexciting if not unwelcome openers in the history of the Cannes Film Festival. In an interview with Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn, Cannes topper Thierry Fremaux admits that “of course we said no to great filmmakers….we have seen 1,800 movies for the selection, which means 1,740 times we say ‘no.'” And yet he said “yes” to Grace of Effing Monaco and, for that matter, Nicholas Winding Refn‘s Only God Forgives, which played last year?
Fremaux has also seemingly undermined the credibility of an explanation offered last month by Fox Searchlight’s Stephen Gilula about why Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu‘s Birdman isn’t playing the Cannes Film Festival, i.e., because it “won’t complete post production until late May or early June.” In Kohn’s article Fremaux says Fox Searchlight flat out “declin[ed] to submit” Birdman and therefore “decided to bypass” Cannes. That sounds to me like he’s saying Gilula was fibbing.
H.R. Giger‘s groundbreaking production design for Ridley Scott‘s Alien (’79) was organic and porous and oozy…giant rib-cage interiors and moist reptilian leather and gloopy saliva drippings. I don’t know or care which way Giger personally swung but his work was fairly gay and throbbing and meat-lockerish. In one fell swoop Giger erased all those smooth antisceptic sci-fi space-travel imaginings that began with the Flash Gordon serials and The Day The Earth Stood Still and Forbidden Planet and….sorry, I fell asleep. No disrespect or anything. I was lying on the bad as I wrote this on the iPhone and I dropped off…sorry. In his own glistening meat-and-bone way Giger’s realm was almost certainly influenced by the paintings of Francis Bacon, whether he copped to it or not. (Ditto Tim Palen‘s Guts.)