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POSTCARD FROM CANNES 2007 – DAY SIX

Monday, May 21
By Jimmy Thomson


Embarrassment all round at the press conference for Gus Van Sant’s new skier movie (OK, skateboard film, if you must be so last century) Paranoid Park. In the opening question, the moderator said he was astonished that this movie was one of the first to be cast using MySpace. So were the three young actors present. Although some of the younger cast members were found on the internet, two of the three present had attended cattle call auditions and the other sent in a tape. But nice idea, nonetheless.
On the topic of Van Sant’s use of young talent, he seemed to be saying that it was often better to use young people who hadn’t yet been schooled into pre-programmed responses to script, character and story. Which will be a blow for all the parents who have spent a fortune making their kids picture perfect in the hope that the next audition will be their Willie Wonka gold ticket to Hollywood. But If the director of such diverse movies as Drugstore Cowboy and Good Will Hunting (via As Good As It Gets) is to be believed, it seems the best way is to let them hang around skate parks and shopping malls ... and get a page on MySpace. Who knew?

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Confession time – I haven’t bumped into one famous person on my wanderings around Cannes. I’m told that’s because all the big stars stay at the Hotel Du Cap in Antibes and only venture into Cannes under the tightest of security. Even so, it would be nice to look up from your morning cappuccino trade knowing smiles with, say, Michael Moore or Angelina Jolie. Still there’s five days and the Oceans 13 launch to go, so all is not yet lost.

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There was a poignant but edgy moment in the middle of the A Mighty Heart press conference when an American journalist asked Mariane Pearl for her forgiveness for asking the recently widowed journalist if she had seen the video of her husband Daniel Pearl’s beheading. The question and her response is now a pivotal point in the movie. Mariane smiled and said “I accept your apology”. That would be a qualified “no”, then.

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The new Quentin Tarantino move Death Proof, the better half of the schlock flop double Grindhouse ( the other, discarded, half having been made by his friend Roberto Rodriguez), is basically just two extended car chases. The premise behind the blood-soaked romp is a re-creation of 50s B movies (right down to the bad edits, lack of continuity, worn film and varying qualities – it even goes from black and white to colour in one scene). The philosophy behind it is sexist verging on misogynistic and Tarantino’s whole “enfant terrible” act is wearing a bit thin. “A criminal waste of talent frittered away on vanity projects,” said one critic after tonight’s screening. At least Australia gets a couple of brief mentions. New Zealand stuntwoman Zoe Bell playing herself, makes the point that she’s NOT an Aussie and a movie billboard that’s trashed in one car sequence is advertising Wolf Creek. The backpacker murder movie’s star John Jarrett will surely see that as a hint to keep waiting for that call from QT who once hailed him as Australia’s best actor.

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Nicole Kidman may never know how close she came to a horrible end during the shooting of the huge new fantasy movie The Golden Compass. Director Chris Weitz (In Good Company, About A Boy) had to travel 1000 miles north of Norway, well into the Arctic Circle, for many of the shots for the $170 million production that could be the big movie for Christmas 2007. There, he filmed among the stunning glaciers, icy mountains, snow-covered rugged plains … and polar bears. But he drew the line at taking his stars, including Kidman, Daniel Craig and Craig’s squeeze in the last Bond movie, Eva Green, up there. “I don’t think we would like to take actors to the places where I would like to shoot,” he told film fans at the Cannes Film Festival today. “It’s beautiful country, but very very rough. Everywhere we walked, we had to have a man with a gun in the party, otherwise we might be eaten by the polar bears. Risks like that to actors are not easily insurable by a studio.” Happily, however, Weitz saw no polar bears killed in the course of making his movie which, if successful, could become the first of a trilogy of the Philip Pullman’s classics. Asked if he shot any bears, he replied, with a grin, “With a gun, no.”

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Paranoid Park

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