Cannes so far: mostly supermarkets

Tuesday May 10th 2011

As you may have gauged from the minimal amount of activity taking place on here at the moment, I am now situated in Cannes. Along with a small group of carefully selected friends (Malick, Von Trier, all the usual faces), I’m staying in the small caravan pictured above, a couple of miles from the Croisette. It may not have the breathtaking views of the Weinsteins’ penthouse suite, but it has got a bottle opener, some wonky patio furniture and fairly reliable WiFi access within a 5-minute walk.

And, you know, it’s not this:

We arrived on Sunday morning and spent most of that day in a hazy half-asleep stupor. All the shops were closed for a French national holiday so we scrounged together a few odds and ends from the one available supermarket, ate some pasta and fell asleep at 9pm.

Monday was more productive.

We decided to do ‘the big shop’ so that once the festival starts (Wednesday) we won’t have so much to buy. Resisting the urge to pick up a box of Choco Pillows (I CAN SEE YOUR CHOCO PILLOWS! EVERYONE WILL!), we instead focused on the three essentials: bread, cheese and extremely low-cost alcohol. We had no trouble in that area:

5 gallons of wine – €5.

All the products in French supermarkets seem to be essentially the same basic materials but with gratuitously different packaging. All the beer is in little 250ml bottles (some in those little medicinal-shaped bottles that New York hipsters drink Red Stripe out of) while soft drinks come in beer cans:

It’s a madness. What next? Biscuits in wine bottles? Milk in tubes? Choco Pillows?

We unloaded our purchases into our now pleasingly plentiful fridge (Nutella in the side compartment, Snickers in the chilla) and headed out into the magical world of Cannes, which is still a relatively quiet magical world compared to what I’m told to expect come Wednesday. Nonetheless, the Croisette is abuzz with preparatory fiddling, from workmen laying down the carpet on the big famous staircase to the hourly arrival of new posters flaunting major studio offerings from the next six months… and Zookeeper.

I don’t know… you travel 800 miles and it’s still less than 24 hours before Kevin James is all up in your grill. Elsewhere, a pair of giant pirate boots were being erected on a pier, presumably as part of some kind of massive Jack Sparrow (the fourth Pirates film has its premiere here in a few days time). It’s hard to make out in this photo, but the look on the workmens’ faces said ‘Jack Sparrow simply doesn’t work as a lead protagonist’.

Of course, if there’s one thing I constantly expect to see, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, national holiday or no national holiday, it’s our good old friend Vitamin Water. And they weren’t about to let me down this time…

Seriously, is nowhere safe from the wrath of nauseating sugar water? I mean, there’s an obviously irony in the desperate attempts of Stella Artois to buddy up to the festival and hopelessly reinforce their ‘sophisticated’ image, but at least you can drink a Stella without retching up your own guts in the process.

We’d forgotten to bring suntan lotion and our pale bodies were getting funny looks from the ludicrously tanned locals, so we ducked into a French HMV-a-like called FNAC to peruse the exciting region-specific goodies on offer. They had the biggest TV I’ve ever seen in my life, which was playing a Pulp Fiction blu-ray in the early afternoon like it was no thang.

Abandoning Vince and Mia, we went upstairs to the ‘disque’ section and starting seeking out rarities. I was particularly interested in locating the French blu-ray of Enter the Void (which contains both cuts of the movie in HD, unlike our pathetic standard definition theatrical cut DVD) and MK2’s Lost Highway and Fire Walk With Me blus, both the sole HD versions of said movies.

I found Lost Highway in the end, but it was €33 (€33!) so I reluctantly resolved to check out when I got home and leave the precious disc in its cyan-drenched display stand.

It wasn’t a totally wasted journey though – we had all sorts of fun exploring the idiosyncrasies of French home entertainment packaging. Check out what the third Twilight movie is called over here:

About sums it up.

And correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m almost certain the UK version of awful American Pie spin-off movie Beta Camp didn’t have such flagrantly visible nipples on the cover:

Eventually we decided it was probably a bit of a shame to spend all of our spare time in an over-priced Blu-ray outlet, so we popped down to the beach for a quick paddle. It was lovely:

Still, it’s no 161-minute cut of Enter the Void in blistering 1080p.

The festival begins tomorrow with the world premiere of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. I’m not sure whether or not I’ll be seeing it because it’s hard to get into and I couldn’t possibly care less, but either way I’ll keep you updated.

Au revoir les enfants! x