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CANNES: THE UNDERSIDE - 6

DAY 6: I'm so sick of getting pushed.
I'm so sick of getting pushed, says Nick Roddick as we continue his subversive columns from the daily editions of Moving Pictures at the Cannes film festival & market; an irreverent, insightful, sometimes cynical and always entertaining take on what Cannes is really – really! – like, in preparation for this year’s event in May.

I've been pushed by young guys with cool shirts and blue badges. I've been pushed by little old ladies with rock-iron perms and knitted twin-sets. I've been pushed by guys so old they shouldn't be out alone.

I've been pushed by cops who do it in that special way cops have of getting you to go where they want you to go while simultaneously trying to needle you. How do they communicate "Just try and take a swing at me, sucker, and I'll have you in the van faster than you can say 'But my high level pink media accreditation card's got a yellow dot on it'" - and all that just by grabbing hold of your elbow?

I've been pushed by bouncers on the doors of parties I'd been invited to but somehow the invite didn't really mean "Please come!" (you know what I'm talking about). What the invite really meant was: "You're not even important enough to me to come in and pay for your own drink. In fact, why don't you just stand in the street and let a trapped motorist run over your foot? And, if you're really lucky, I'll send someone over to give you your very own push."

"They're the worst"

I've been pushed by young girls with the kind of tans you don't get having jobs wearing the kind of clothes you don't save up for. They're the worst: they give you a radiantly insincere smile and if you don't get out of the way absolutely pronto the smile turns to one of those sulking-brat pouts followed by a swift and lethal sideways movement of the elbow. And don't even think about reacting because just behind is some lunk with a shaved head and a neck like a knuckle of pork who's going to do more than just push you.

The only place I haven't been pushed - straight up - is getting in to the Palais. Those guys (and their female companions with the little scanner things that never, ever seem to find any metal) are just total pussycats this year. I mean, come on: this needs to be said. They even wish you 'Bonne projection' which is nice of them and chance would be a fine thing. But that's not their fault.

They smile and say hello and they're friendly and I'd take my hat off to them if some bastard hadn't nicked it. They're doing their job and they're doing it well and I bet they're f***ing sick of getting pushed, too.

Push capital of the universe, though, is the Salle Bazin. Whoever decided this was a good place to hold press screenings for competition films is almost certainly sitting in front of a monitor somewhere watching thrice-a-day CCTV footage of the mayhem as those who have patiently stood in line get caught in an irresistible pincer movement from a bunch of people (I could suggest a few nationalities, but I'm trying really, really hard not to be xenophobic this year) who do what is quite probably the most self-righteous bloody push I've ever been caught in.

What is it about film critics? I mean, we're not, in the normal run of things, the planet's coolest people. In real life, we slink around with our shoulder bags looking for the food. But put us en masse in Cannes and we become like warthogs at a waterhole, terrified someone is going to slurp it all up before we get in there.

I've been pushed by professionals - you know they're professionals because they say "Excusez-moi, Monsieur" and give you a contrite smile and, next time you look, your cell-phone is gone - and I've been pushed by amateurs who push me when there's nowhere to go so I just kind of rebound and push them in to someone on the other side who's not as nice as me.

"some serious pushing in my time"

Even then, I don't mean to push back. I used to: I've done some serious pushing in my time, most memorably in the year they shut the main doors of the Palais - I can't remember if it was security or building works or someone had just lost the key - and we all had to go in and out through some little door down by where they park the TV trucks. And then there was that Finnish guy outside the Petit Carlton…

But I don't push back these days, any more than I drive door-handle-to-door-handle with the guy who is trying to cut in on me at the lights. Maybe I got nicer, maybe I got older. Maybe I just know that, in the pushing hierarchy, I have one of life's (lowly) blue cards.

And besides, I have this nice page to whinge on. Now I'll push off.

Published April 3, 2003
First published in Moving Pictures, May 21, 2002

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Cannes The Underside 7


NICK RODDICK

Nick Roddick taught film and theatre at Trinity College, Dublin; the University of Manchester; and California State University, Long Beach, before becoming a journalist in the early eighties. He was Films Editor of Stills Magazine in London from 1983-4 and Editor of Cinema Papers in Australia from 1985-6. From 1987-88, he was Editor of weekly trade paper Screen International and, in 1990, founding Editor of Moving Pictures International. Since 1993, he has been Editor of Preview, a bi-monthly magazine on films in production. He is author of several books on the British and American cinema, and currently runs Split Screen, a Brighton-based publishing and consultancy company specialising in the international film and television business.


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