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CANNES: THE UNDERSIDE –10

Day 10: Marlowe hated floaters.
To mentally prepare you for the coming Cannes film festival (May 14 – 25), we have published Nick Roddick’s subversive columns from the daily editions of Moving Pictures at the 2002 Cannes film festival & market, an irreverent, insightful, sometimes cynical and always entertaining take on what Cannes is really – really! – like. This concludes the series; we hope you found it stimulating. 


This one still looked almost alive in his once-expensive suit. The single red-and-white trainer stood out in strange contrast. I guess the fishes got the other, thought Marlowe.

The guy looked kind of peaceful, as though he had been swimming in the sea and had somehow floated face-down onto the beach and fallen asleep.

But the guy wasn't alive, hadn't been alive for a day, maybe more, Marlowe reckoned. He looked around at the limos and the little dogs walking all along the boardwalk. Nice place to live, he thought, firing up a Lucky. But, when it came to dying, all places were the same. God, he hated the Festival beat: too much money, too much greed.

Turning the body over in the sand, Marlowe grimaced as the man's dead hand swung back across his chest. And then he saw it: a small, black notebook, covered in seaweed which slipped out of the floater's grip and fell at Marlowe's feet. Like the guy was trying to give me a present, he thought sourly.

'Diary of a Dream' it said on the cover, carefully written in white correction fluid. Reluctantly, Marlowe folded out a copy of Screen International and, using it as a cushion, sat down on the sand. Wondering whom he was going to charge 125-a-day-plus-expenses on this one, Marlowe started to read. The notebook was single-spaced in small, neat writing which got progressively messier as it continued. There were almost 100 pages. Christ on a Poggia, thought Marlowe, who was adapting fast to life in the Old Country, it's War and Peace…

"This is the best day of my life,"

"This is the best day of my life," began the diary. "I've finally done it: quit my job at the agency and cleared the decks to write. I feel elated and also a little scared. This has been inside for me so long that putting in on the page, freeing it from within as it were, is like…"

Marlowe snorted in disgust and flicked forward several pages to where four Fedex slips were neatly pasted in. "…finally done it: resolved Joe's dilemma and ended on an upbeat note. Now it's up to the producers. Fly well, my dream."

The dense spacing suddenly stopped and there were a series of single line entries: "Nothing today." "Still nothing," "Called Fedex and they confirmed delivery." "F*** these bastards." Similar, increasingly desperate comments filled the next page, ending with: "These are the guys that made that film with Bob Hoskins and they won't return my calls."

Marlowe turned on a little further, noting a series of very dark, sinister squiggles. And then…

"Finally! I'm back on track. I have a meeting with the Film Council's Deputy Assistant Script Assessment Officer (Scripts Beginning With D) in six and half weeks time. She says she's read the script and she really likes it but there are some things she needs to talk to me about. I knew quality would finally rise to the surface. Thank God for New Labour and its enlightened policy of cultural promotion. Now I can relax. Maybe a weekend in Ibiza…"

Here the Diary stopped. Marlowe stared up the beach, trying not to look at the topless sunbathers who were so clearly trying not to be looked at. The Dream was drawing him in. But the next page came as a shock.

"How can he not be believable …?"

"She wants me to go on a scriptwriters course. They'll pay, she says. She says my central character has a flaw, isn't believable. But he's real: he's me! How can he not be believable …?"

Marlowe had a few ideas but was getting bored with this (as am I) and decided to go and see a film by the Dardennes brothers. He'd always wanted to know the correct way to make a mortice-and-tenon joint.

To be continued*
* If Gilles Jacob can do this, so can I.

Published May 1, 2003
First published in Moving Pictures May 24, 2002

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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 Film 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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