“Carey Mulligan is an oyster.” So said a French photographer outside a cafe on the rue Hoch. Five of us were sitting around, with Christine in the middle, which is to say that everyone knew her; the photographer was a colleague from Paris, and was just coming from the red carpet at the Palais. He shoots conflict zones normally, but the red carpet pays, especially in Cannes.
The photographer was particularly happy about a shot he got of Nicole Kidman french-kissing her husband Keith Urban. Someone asked him if he yells at the celebrities the way some photographers do. “Sometimes you have to,” he said. “ It’s so that they look at you.” Much more saleable.
And that’s where Carey Mulligan came in. “She’s an oyster, she gives you nothing.” He makes a face, to give an idea of what Carey Mulligan looks like as an oyster. She is not smiling; she is impassive; she is closed. In fact she looks a little like her character in “Inside Llewyn Davis.”
I asked him if he felt she owed the photographers something. “No,” he said, “but yes, she’s participating in a photo shoot at Cannes; if she didn’t want to, that would be one thing.” Perhaps she simply doesn’t have the personality for it, I suggested.
The others were waiting on an invite to the Weinstein party, but I had to go back to my room and write. Not to be completely out-partied, I said, “I’m going to have my own party,” and pulled the slip of paper out of my jacket pocket. It had been put under my door earlier in the day, when I was lying on my bed; I didn’t get up at the time because I assumed it was a receipt from my landlady, whom I’d paid earlier. But when I left to meet the group for dinner, I picked it up and read: “Room 8170A. Open the door.”
“That’s hot!” said Julia. Indeed, I had had all sorts of lurid thoughts of someone waiting for me in some form of readiness...for some form of activity. But what, exactly? Now all I could think of was Carey Mulligan as an oyster.
By this point in the festival, the morning screenings are beginning to look like a George Romero casting call. After four hours of sleep, I settled into my seat at the Lumiere hoping that the blood about to flow in Takashi Miike’s “Shield of Straw” would provide a boost along the lines of Lance Armstrong preparing for the Tour de France. And to a certain extent, it did. This über-moralizing tale follows a small group of police officers assigned to protect an alleged killer of a young girl as he is moved from one part of the country to Tokyo. The twist is that the girl’s billionaire grandfather on his death bed offers a prize of 1 billion yen to kill the suspect. Even those who try and fail will be paid 1 million. This causes untold people to go absolutely bonkers in an attempt to kill the young man, who turns out to be an actual perverted lunatic. (When he breaks free momentarily, he happens to see the legs of a young girl sleeping and goes for it.) But nothing perverts like money, and cops are just as susceptible, so things get interesting. Massive vehicular chase scenes, examples of betrayal and honesty and integrity and bravery, personal tragedies, sappiness and more moralizing than you can shake a samurai sword at, “Shield of Straw” would be welcome respite on a long flight or at home in flu season. Worth schlepping to after four hours of sleep? Perhaps, if only to see the way, in Miike’s world, people go from perfectly, normally calm to shrieking, can’t-put-the-huge-butcher-knife-down FRENZY in one second flat. Corny as all of this is, I didn’t fall asleep.
Best restaurant name in Cannes: Wasabi d’Azur.
According to the City of Cannes, during its twelve days the festival generates 200 million euros worth of business, 3,160 jobs, and 88,342 overnight stays in hotels (15% of annual hotel stays). These figures probably do not reflect private-home rentals, which are booming.
Alas, my time in Cannes was over. I tidied up the room, took one last look at the sea-life toilet seat, closed the door and began to put the key’s in Madame C’s mailbox, when I realized that I needed the magnetic key thing to get out of the main gate. So I called her phone, and she said she’d be right down.
While walking me to the gate, she said, “Didn’t you get my note?”
I was just about to say, “Madame C! That was you?” when she added, “with the code to the gate?”
“Ah,” I said, a bit crestfallen, “you mean the code 8170A?” She nodded, smiling. “Ah,” I said again. “I thought it was a woman, you know, in chains or something...”
As I pulled my suitcase down the Boulevard Strasbourg, I thought I could hear Madame C still cackling. Either that or it was a seagull.