I've been in Cannes long enough that the billboards have changed seasons: The MTV ads that made me feel welcome were swapped out for Gigi Hadid in a bikini and today, Marion Cotillard reclining on a purse. It's time to go home.
I'm going to miss Cannes. Here, even a trip to the grocery store is magical. Monoprix, the two-story everything store with clothing on Level 1 and food on Level 2, has an entire aisle of pudding. At the register, the checkout girl gasped: A ladybug was on my on package of palm-sized heads of lettuce. I couldn't force it to live forever among the tins of foie gras, so I slowly carried the lettuce, as steady as a ring on a pillow, through the wine, down the escalator, past the nail polish, and out the sliding doors, where I set the ladybug free on a palm tree.
I'm going to miss the movie lovers who beg for tickets outside the theaters holding handmade signs — the more plaintively crayoned, the better. You'll see a 16-year-old in a tuxedo silently pleading for an invite on a sheet of notebook paper next to a colorful cat lady begging, "Cannes I haz a invitation plzzz?" Alas, I only saw hope rewarded once, and it was cruel: A man handed a single ticket to a teenager with a date. The boy looked at his girlfriend. She tried to smile. They went around the corner to confer, and I never saw who went inside.
I won't miss the brazen line-cutting by international rogues emboldened by knowing you couldn't be sure which language to use to tell them to piss off. (Russian? Portuguese? Ah, fuck it.) And I won't miss the crazy barricades that changed places every day so you were never sure where you'd be able to cross the street (here, or four blocks away?) or the salmon run of 100 people in heels trying to squeeze through a small opening. But I will miss one of the reasons they were there: the crazy fans who staked out land to scream for actors. I got obsessed with the blog Côté Fangirl and its militaresque breakdown of how to get a selfie with a star. (And I'll miss running its French through Google Translate for lines like, "There, motherfuckers surprise, Gael García Bernal landed and somehow, one of us recognized him when he was not like big that the car behind which he was.")
While the jury deliberated their awards on Saturday afternoon, a murder of film critics hopped a train to visit a 16th-century chapel redecorated in 1957 by avant-garde artist/filmmaker Jean Cocteau, who directed perhaps the best-ever version of Beauty and the Beast. The interior was chalk white with thick black dotted lines, all faces and eyeballs. It looked like a sublime version of the doodling notes I penciled in fourth grade. On one wall he'd painted the strangled ghost of Judas, tongue drooling from his mouth. Except Cocteau modeled Judas's face on his frenemy, Picasso.
We got back in time to run straight to the midnight premiere of Mel Gibson's Blood Father, a violent, bleached-out revenge flick that should have been more fun. The entire red carpet was ballgowns and tuxes, but we were still in sneakers; somehow I squeaked through being the only woman in jeans. Gibson's gray mane shone under the lights. From inside the theater, we could watch his progression past the flashbulbs. The people loved him. He spent a while posing with his cast at the top of the stairs. Finally he made it to the entrance and we all spun around to watch him come inside. Too soon. He turned around and ran all the way back to grab the arm of his date, a gorgeous, goth-ish brunette who looked about the age of his daughter in the film. The paparazzi went wild. If only the movie had been as thrilling.
The next day, the jury — which included Mad Max director George Miller, Kristen Dunst, Mads Mikkelsen, Vanessa Paradis, and Donald Sutherland — announced their winners. Everyone hated their picks. The press room booed.
On to the Lobster D'Or, an annual dinner where film obsessives make up their own sarcastic awards like the special citation for Still Got It (But Never Had It) — think The Razzies with an absurd mound of burrata the size of a cantaloupe. The grand prize went to a movie no one had bothered to watch. We ordered more wine and our final night carried on.
Maybe a movie's safest if it comes to Cannes and no one sees it at all. That was the strategy for Robert Rodriguez and star John Malkovich, who shot a sci-fi short called 100 Years — The Movie You Will Never See and then locked it in a safe. The safe had its own room at the Hotel Majestic sponsored by Louis XIII cognac, and to see it you had to endure a 20-minute talk about the history of brandy. I was convinced to drink more brandy. Then, finally, I was ushered into a stark black room lined with très futuristique blue neon and shown the safe. From the screenshots on the wall of Malkovich running in neo-samurai robes with a gorgeous young Asian actress, it didn't look like a movie I'd want to see anyway. Not that I ever could: Only selected celebrities — Martin Scorsese, Katy Perry, Leonardo DiCaprio — have been given engraved metal tickets, each the size of a candy bar and personally made out to their TBD descendants. (Start spawning, DiCaprio!)
Film as we know it is barely 100 years old. That's when directors like D.W. Griffith began to realize this new technology could do more than churn out short punch line sketches — it could build whole worlds and invite audiences to share their dream. In the century since, fabulous madhouses like Cannes have arisen to show off the best of what the cinema can do. I wonder what movies will look like in 2116 when 100 Years — The Movie You Will Never See makes its festival debut. I just want to science out how to be there to find out whether DiCaprio's grandson boos.