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Cannes Virgin Diary #1: Berkeley Grad Hits Critics Week

Photo of Ryan Lattanzio By Ryan Lattanzio | TOH! May 18, 2012 at 7:12PM

Cannes is a crazy place for a first-timer. There's the dicey wi-fi to contend with. The 7 AM queues of pushy cinephiles waiting outside the Grand Theatre. The possibility of not getting into a screening because you don't have the clout. The nagging urge to nod off during a film at the behest of jet-lag.
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Cannes

Cannes is a crazy place for a first-timer. There's the dicey wi-fi to contend with. The 7 AM queues of pushy cinephiles waiting outside the Grand Theatre. The possibility of not getting into a screening because you don't have the clout. The nagging urge to nod off during a film at the behest of jet-lag. And, of course, there's the secondhand smoke, which seems to take the place of oxygen. But I'm loving all of it.

Just a few days ago, I graduated from Berkeley and jumped on a red-eye mere hours later. Three days in, and I already feel like I belong in Cannes, that I've always been here, that perhaps Cannes, too, has always wanted me to be here. Thanks to the San Francisco Film Society — in my hometown of the Bay Area — the French Consulate in SF, the French American Cultural Society and Semaine de la Critique, I was sent to the festival as a jury member and critic. And thanks to all of them, I've had no time to let the existential malaise of the post-undergrad sink in.

Since my arrival, I've managed to catch five films. I've seen three of the entries in Semaine de la Critique, for which I am a juror, and two from the main competition. My night on the 16th kicked off with Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom." I went in expecting to hate it, because I've never been much of an Anderson nut, and I suppose I did for the first hour. I slogged through it: the mannered milieu of Anderson's kitschy fantasia, the stilted dialogue and characters flatter than paper. But then, Anderson knocked it out of the park. I was astonished by the final sequence, certainly the director's biggest set piece yet, when a wild storm — as playfully augured by Bob Balaban's narration — brings all the characters together and doles out their fates. It might have been my contact lenses, dry from hours of sleeping on the plane, but I left the theater teary-eyed. I'm ready to say that, in spite of my initial reservations, this is his best film since "The Royal Tenenbaums."

The next day I crawled out of my jet-lag stupor for the 8:30 AM screening of Jacques Autiard's "Rust and Bone." Again, not a film I loved at first. It smacks of a bad compilation of Darren Aronofsky (the visceral, almost body-horrific obsession with the human form) and Alejandro González Iñárritu (the contrived, incident-packed melodrama and navel-gazing broad strokes about "human connection") at their worst. But I haven't stopped thinking about the film since. Marion Cotillard is a wonder, and never have I loved Katy Perry's pop song "Firework" so much.

This article is related to: Cannes Film Festival, Festivals, Festivals


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.