Cannes

Photographers try to snap photos of stars on the red carpet at the Palais

In this Cannes Blog, I include some photos from my first day in Cannes, give some commentary about my experiences thus far, and provide a mini review of Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood.

Cannes

I arrived in Cannes on Tuesday, and was met at the train station by Eric from Ioncinema (a great site for independent/foreign film coverage).  As it turns out, our apartment is only a few blocks away from the Palais, the central venue for the entire film festival.  If you’ve ever seen photos of the big red carpet with the building covered with Cannes banners, this is the building I’m talking about.

Cannes

The apartment is small but nice. I’m sleeping on a pull out couch in the living room, and I’m currently typing this on a table on our small porch. So far I’m loving this small French touristy city and its beautiful oceanside views.

Cannes

The more I talk to other critics about this year’s line-up, the more I have come to realize that, for me, this year’s Cannes is more about the artist than the art. I’m more excited about the filmmakers who have new films at the year’s festival than the films themselves. I can’t wait to see the new films from Woody Allen, Ridley Scott, Oliver Stone, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Gregg Araki, Jean-Luc Godard, Doug Liman, Mike Leigh, and Ken Loach, although I’m less excited about the films they have directed.

cannesbadge

I stopped by the press office and was surprised that I got a pink colored badge. From what I gather, the levels of press at Cannes are almost as complex as the plots of the films in competition at the festival. While other festivals like Sundance and Toronto offer different levels of press badges, most everyone is grouped into the same category. Cannes awards journalists different colored badges based on readership and a variety of different factors. The color of your badge gives you access to better seats and shorter lines.

Cannes

White is the highest grade badge — it grants critics like Roger Ebert access to public screenings/premieres, and gives priority access to press screenings over anyone else. Someone with a white badge can show up 20 minutes before a screening and get in before the guy with a blue badge that has been waiting in line for two hours. You can see some of the line queues in the photo above. I’ve been told I’m lucky to have a pink badge on my first year, although I’m not really sure what it all means. I’m just happy to be able to see films.

Robin Hood

And speaking of seeing films, the first movie I screened at the Cannes Film Festival was Ridley Scott‘s Robin Hood.

One thing that might surprise some readers, is that every film at the Cannes Film Festival is subtitled. Some films from other countries are even subtitled in two languages, French on screen, and English projected underneath the screen. Robin Hood was presented in English, but subtitled in French.

After hearing not-so-positive buzz for the film over the past month, I’ve lowered my expectations — which is probably a good thing. The film attempts to tell “the real story of Robin Hood,” but it turns out that the more “fictionalized” accounts are ultimately a lot more entertaining.

Robin Hood isn’t even really an adaptation, but more like a prequel to the story you’ve seen and read before. It is like Batman Begins, but if Christopher Nolan instead ended the film with Bruce Wayne returning to Gotham and deciding to become a vigilante. It is that first act expanded into a two hour and twenty minute movie, which is essentially set-up for a sequel that will probably never ever be made. Robin Hood only steals from the rich and gives to the poor once in the entire film, and it happens 75 minutes into the movie.

The film has good intentions, and the story is great in concept, but the movie is rather dull. The dramatic scenes don’t live up to the beautiful and epic visuals created in the establishing shots. I would like to see a film about the world we see in these big expansive shots, and not the one we see in the stage sets in between. The few action sequences are presented in shakycam doc-style, which never seems like a natural choice for a historical period epic. The film does have slight moments of brilliance, and really picks up after the first hour when you finally become invested in the characters and story.

The project originally began as a script called Nottingham which portrayed “a more sympathetic Sheriff of Nottingham and less virtuous Robin Hood, who become involved in a love triangle with Maid Marian.” The project later had Russell Crowe playing both Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham. The story had Hood taking Nottingham’s identity after witnessing his death during a battle early in the film. Instead of a prequel, I would much rather seen a new take of the story — although I’m not sure how this concept would have panned out.

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