Friday May 25th 2012
As Cannes draws to a close, the conversation turns to the various trends that have emerged during this year’s festival. Over the last fortnight, we’ve seen multiple films on the theme of illness, several takes on the financial crisis, and no shortage of appearances from Matthew McConaughey. But by far my favourite Cannes fashion has been the steady eroticisation of former child stars.
We’ve had Zac Efron on the receiving end of a golden shower in The Paperboy, Kristen Stewart giving simultaneous handjobs in On The Road — hell, you can’t even walk down the Croisette without Selena Gomez’s cleavage looming over you on the massive sales poster for Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers. Today, with the unveiling of David Cronenberg’s much-hyped Don DiLillo adaptation Cosmopolis, Robert Pattinson joins the club.
Fucking his way through most of the movie, R-Pattz plays 28-year-old billionaire Eric Packer — a sort of nihilistic Zuckerberg, unable to comprehend the power of money despite his seemingly boundless supply of it. He wants a haircut, and so takes his vulgar white limo across Manhattan (through apocalyptic riots that go almost unmentioned) to his childhood barber. Cronenberg’s impressive ensemble cast — including Paul Giamatti, Jay Baruchel and Juliette Binoche — are used sparingly, appearing in only one scene each. But that’s not to say that they’re wasted…
‘Wordy’ doesn’t do justice to Cosmopolis, which is only 108 minutes long but must have had a 300 page script. Pattinson and his entourage converse constantly, whether they’re trading stocks, casually fucking or talking shop during a prostate examination. By spelling out the film’s message in a series of bold, unequivocal monologues, Cronenberg sees to it that his socio-political subtext is anything but, inevitably inviting comparisons to Andrew Dominik’s slightly inferior (but equally blunt) recession parable Killing Them Softly. In fact, the only thing that is played subtly is the action — beyond the brief moments of adrenaline exploited in the film’s deceptive 30-second teaser trailer, there’s very little ‘going on’ at all.
All in all, it’s a stimulating, provocative and unashamedly pompous film, about as proud of itself as Cronenberg Jnr.’s recent debut was. But unlike that movie, it’s just about important enough to be self-important.
For various reasons too convoluted and tedious to get into here, the next film I saw also became my last of Cannes 2012. An intimate tale of two Bronx graffiti artists struggling to make dolla on a lazy summer’s day, Gimme the Loot is the first film from native New Yorker Adam Leon, and that’s exactly what it feels like. Like fellow directorial debuts Do the Right Thing and Kids, Leon’s film bleeds NYC all over its charmingly lackadaisical narrative. Think The Wackness, minus the period affectation.
Sadly I’ll miss most of the official Cannes prize givings, which inexplicably take place this Sunday after nine tenths of the attending press have gone home and moved on with their lives. I did, however, witness the presentation of the prestigious Palm Dog, handed out each year ‘in recognition of the cinematic talents of man’s best friend’, during one of the campiest awards ceremonies known to man. There were sing-a-longs, ‘bitch’ innuendos aplenty, and a bemused-looking jury of such A-list critical names as Peter Bradshaw, Kate Muir and Robbie Collin.
The commemorative collar eventually went to Smurf and Gad, the two terriers from Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers. Wheatley himself was there to collect the prize on their behalf, along with stars Alice Lowe and Steve Oram. Oh, and this woman:
After that, all that remained was to pack my bag and make for the airport (after briefly attending a gay party DJed by Lee Daniels, but I’ll tell you about that another time). It’s been a fun ten days, filled with twenty films (precisely the tally I achieved last year) and countless more ineffectual queues. My return to London is sure to bring with it a decrease in high art consumption, but maybe I can remedy that tomorrow night with the only cultural event classier than the Cannes Film Festival…