CANNES — At the start of Cannes, I was overwhelmed by all of the articles and books giving advice on everything from how to find gap financing to locating reliable Croisette dogwalkers.
These Cannes “dos and don’ts” are sometimes helpful, but coming out of the fest, I can confidently give you a few more instructive lessons based on this year’s activities. These are this year’s Cannes “dids and didn’ts”:
- Joel Silver, Warner Bros and their handsome cast did launch “The Matrix: Reloaded” with a bang that resounded across the Cote d’Azur and helped propel huge global grosses.
- The Wachowski brothers, however, didn’t fly in to face the frenzied fans and press. They need to get a grip and remember their name is Wachowski, not Kieslowski. Latter always made it to Cannes to get grubby with the sunbaked hoi-polloi. The Wachowskis are the guys who made a couple of cool films and sure, they’ve got a billion-dollar franchise to complete, but aren’t these the two hottest filmmakers in Hollywood? Can’t they get away from their homework and dress up in Cannes for a couple of days?
- Arnold Schwarzenegger did hit town and light up the Carlton Terrace to promote “T3.” From the MTV party to the press grillings and photo ops, Arnie was as tireless and indefatigible as any Terminator and a reminder to stars with half his hits that this is how to make your career last longer than your last blockbuster’s running time.
- But Sony didn’t deliver the goods, switching the announced screening of a “T3” promo reel from 20 minutes to seven minutes, to hasta la vista. That move was a monumental dud that put a dent in plans to roll the pic out of Cannes and conquer the world. There’s nothing like changing the game plan in front of 5,000 journos.
- Colin Callender and his HBO Films gang did deliver on the promise made at last year’s Cannes. He said they’d make movies for bigscreens, give filmmakers creative control and win accolades. And voila! A year later he had Gus Van Sant’s terrific “Elephant” in competition and “American Splendor,” the latest success from HBO Independent Prods., in the fest.
- Gilles Jacob and Thierry Fremaux did deliver the 56th Cannes with dignity and panache and Mother Nature did provide the best weather in memory.
- Unfortunately, thanks to the vicissitudes of global art film production the official competition didn’t deliver much in the way of standouts. This year it looks like the smiling man on the Lido has the lucky hand and Venice is poised to rake in all of the films that weren’t ready for Cannes.
- The U.K. filmmaking contingent did hustle, sell and promote some 16 films in the market, of which a neat half-dozen were burning up the beachside with sales and kudos. “Calendar Girls,” the “Bright Young Things” promo, “The Mother,” “Kiss of Life” and “Young Adam” were chalking up sales and reviews were strong to rapturous.
- But the U.K. press probably didn’t appreciate these strides and will likely try to take the sparkle off the champagne.
Here’s to more Cannes-do spirit next year.