Cannes report: the scariest moment yet

No, it’s not the scenes of torture-porn mutilation in Lars von Trier’s Antichrist, although that experience is destined to stand apart as its own historic high/low in Cannes shock cinema. People are still talking and tsk-ing the day after the first screening, especially now that the director announced at a press conference this morning,"I am the best film director in the world."

But you can always close your eyes, or skip the movie altogether. What do you do, though, when someone in the row behind you in a crowded theater starts hacking and coughing like a one-woman Swine Flu Doomsday Machine? My seatmates and I cowered and covered our faces with fresh copies of Variety at our first movie of the day at 9 a.m., strangers bound together by love of movies and fear of death a la Croisette.  Truth is,  I had shrugged on the flight from JFK to France when required to fill out a form listing my seat number, hotel info, and, like, next of kin in the event of fever. Now, not so funny.

And now I can’t stop thinking of everything else that’s famously,
traditionally scary at this most phantasmagorical of film festivals.
For instance: the way stone-faced, gray-haired guards, uniformly clad
in white shirts and tan suits borrowed from the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Collection, shake their index fingers from side to side and growl "desolee"
– "sorry" — while barring journalists with lesser credentials from
entering one door or another. Or the way aggressive TV crews from
around the world, all of them toting weapon-sized video cameras capable
of bonking passers-by in the head, crowd the auditorium exits after
every big screening, waylaying stunned critics to elicit instant
reactions. Not to mention the way those journalists exiting the
theaters switch on their cell phones instantly, as if gasping
for the oxygen of feeling needed. Oh, and of course, there’s the way
sweet, bony, little old French ladies with walnut-colored skin,
Miami-colored hair, and travel-pillow-sized dogs patrol the streets of
sweet, bony, little old Cannes. Had I thought to hire one of them
as a bodyguard last year, my wallet wouldn’t have been picked.

Ah, but then, I wouldn’t have this story to tell.

The 9 a.m. movie, by the way, was I Killed My Mother, a
pleasurably stylish, impressionistic, and astute gay coming-of-age
story, all the more impressive because it’s a first feature from
20-year-old teen-ripe Montreal actor Xavier Dolan. He also stars, with
great panache. The movie ought to find a following among those who
cover their mouths with their sleeves when they cough.

More from the Cannes Film Festival:
Lars von Trier’s Antichrist: "The closest film to a scream"
Roger Ebert, A Prophet, and a trend that ought to end
Taking Woodstock = Peace and Love and Demitri Martin
Bright Star and the Scottish charms of Paul Schneider
At Cannes: Up, Tetro, and lots of balloons

And now I can’t stop thinking of everything else that’s famously,traditionally scary at this most phantasmagorical of film festivals.For instance: the way stone-faced, gray-haired guards, uniformly cladin white shirts and tan suits borrowed from the Mahmoud AhmadinejadCollection, shake their index fingers from side to side and growl "desolee"– "sorry" — while barring journalists with lesser credentials fromentering one door or another. Or the way aggressive TV crews fromaround the world, all of them toting weapon-sized video cameras capableof bonking passers-by in the head, crowd the auditorium exits afterevery big screening, waylaying stunned critics to elicit instantreactions. Not to mention the way those journalists exiting thetheaters switch on their cell phones instantly, as if gaspingfor the oxygen of feeling needed. Oh, and of course, there’s the waysweet, bony, little old French ladies with walnut-colored skin,Miami-colored hair, and travel-pillow-sized dogs patrol the streets ofsweet, bony, little old Cannes. Had I thought to hire one of themas a bodyguard last year, my wallet wouldn’t have been picked.

Ah, but then, I wouldn’t have this story to tell.

The 9 a.m. movie, by the way, was I Killed My Mother, apleasurably stylish, impressionistic, and astute gay coming-of-agestory, all the more impressive because it’s a first feature from20-year-old teen-ripe Montreal actor Xavier Dolan. He also stars, withgreat panache. The movie ought to find a following among those whocover their mouths with their sleeves when they cough.

More from the Cannes Film Festival:
Lars von Trier’s Antichrist: "The closest film to a scream"
Roger Ebert, A Prophet, and a trend that ought to end
Taking Woodstock = Peace and Love and Demitri Martin
Bright Star and the Scottish charms of Paul Schneider
At Cannes: Up, Tetro, and lots of balloons

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