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Cannes Daily Round-Up: Day 1

Steven S.K. Hao ’18:

For ardent fans of film, making the trip to the annual Cannes Film Festival has the air of a religious pilgrimage—a sort of cinematic mecca nestled on the beachy shores of southern France. I say this, of course, at the risk of sounding overly sentimental, but I trust that few who have had a chance to behold the affair in all of its pomp and circumstance will find reason to dissent.

At about 2 in the afternoon, I arrive at the Palais des Festivals—a sprawling waterfront convention complex and the home of the Cannes Film Festival. By then, the festivities are already in full swing—Woody Allen’s “Café Society,” the opening film of this year’s festival, had made its first press screening at 10 in the morning, and reviews are already pouring in. Walking along the beachfront, I make my way past rows of classy brasseries and brand-name retailers before arriving at my apartment. Even during the day—and an overcast one at that—the otherworldly razzmatazz of Cannes is undeniable.

Upon ridding myself of my baggage, I quickly proceed to registration. I am handed my press badge—the key to Cannes—before queuing up for the afternoon re-screening of “Café Society.” I am almost an hour early, but I have been told that such measures are more than necessary: Not all journalists are equal at Cannes, and the yellowish hue of my own badge betrays my unenviable membership in the lowest rung of the press hierarchy. Mercifully, I am allowed entrance, and as I take my seat among a sea of critics, I have lost all semblance of composure. Fidgeting in my seat like a schoolboy, I am giddy with excitement. Cannes, here I come.

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Read more in Steven’s review of “Café Society”: “The result is a charming and enjoyable, if thoroughly unspectacular, ode to the Golden Age of American cinema—one that teases at a return to form for Allen but ultimately falls just short.”

After the screening, I linger for a while, hoping to gawk at some of the industry’s best as they stride up the red carpet toward the official evening premiere of Woody Allen’s film. Alas, it is not to be—far more prepared media crews have set up long in advance, armed with stepladders and crane-like apparatuses. I manage to take a photo of the back of Justin Timberlake’s head and call it a day.

Read Steven's review of "Money Monster": "'Money Monster' is a largely unambitious film that does little new. What it does do, however, it does reasonably well."

Tianxing V. Lan ’18:

My train from Paris arrives at 7:30 p.m., and I manage to complete my registration two minutes before the press office closes at 8 p.m. Without eating dinner or surveying my apartment, I leave my suitcase in luggage storage and immediately head to the evening screening of Romanian auteur Cristi Puiu’s three-hour-long “Sieranevada.”

Yes, the first in competition film shown in this year’s festival runs three hours long. As if the length is not daunting enough, the slow-paced realist family drama is almost solely composed of stationary long takes. Even for the journalists at Cannes—some of the greatest film connoisseurs in the world—it proves a challenging watch. A number of audience members leave halfway through the screening or keep checking the time on their phones; by the film’s conclusion, the theater is half-full. Those who do stay to the end, though, give the film a warm round of applause.

Read more in Vincent’s review of “Sieranevada”: “Maybe the film does provide a salve to all the problems in the world: ‘You’ll be surprised by how calm people get after their bellies are full, and how quickly you forget about 9/11 after you get laid.’”


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