By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
Shot in 1999, Henry Jaglom’s Festival in Cannes follows a miscellany of industry hopefuls, some seasoned, some newly minted, wheeling and dealing during the world’s premier film festival. The most engaging stories are those that involve the renowned French actress Anouk Aimée playing, well, a renowned French actress, Millie Marquand, whose favors are being courted by an actress and would-be writer-director named Alice Palmer (Greta Scacchi), a pair of radically dissimilar producers — one a Hollywood powerhouse, Rick Yorkin (Ron Silver), the other a no-name shnorrer, Kaz Naiman (Zack Norman) — and Millie’s estranged longtime lover, Viktor Kovner, a director and unrepentant scoundrel played by Maximilian Schell. Whenever these five actors are onscreen, Festival in Cannes is passable, at times even pleasant, viewing, despite Jaglom’s clumsy technique. Aimée and Schell, both of whom could entrance with a phone-book recitation, are naturals in front of the camera, while Silver and Norman, playing both sides of the scumbag coin, are each quite funny. It’s particularly nice to see Scacchi, who seems to be wearing not a lick of makeup, playing a woman, not a fantasy — particularly nice given the antediluvian tendencies of Jaglom’s usual onscreen sexual politics.
Here, the worst beneficiary of those tendencies is newcomer Jenny Gabrielle, who plays a young American actress named Blue who, we’re told repeatedly, is the festival’s overnight sensation. It’s embarrassing, not least of which because Jaglom’s young actress is herself less than sensational. Equally embarrassing, although intentionally and entertainingly so, is a party scene in which Viktor finds himself in a photo op with none other than William Shatner. (Afterward, the bewildered director asks his girlfriend, “Who was that man?”) That scene and a seemingly impromptu encounter with Faye Dunaway, as well as the scenes with Millie and her various suitors, catch nicely the flavor of Cannes in all its glamour and desperation. The problem is everything else. This isn’t a terrible film by any means, but it’s also far from being a realized work. Jaglom has said that he “writes” his films in the editing room, but for Festival in Cannes he must have been using a crayon — shots ricochet off one another like bumper cars, sometimes, you suspect, to obscure scenes that didn’t play out successfully in front of the camera. The sound and the cinematography are worse still: No movie shot in the south of France, in that radiant summer light, should look this murky.
BIG BAD LOVE | Directed by ARLISS HOWARD | Written by ARLISS and JAMES HOWARD | Based on the short-story collection by LARRY BROWN | Produced by DEBRA WINGER | Released by IFC | At the Nuart
FESTIVAL IN CANNES | Written and directed by HENRY JAGLOM Produced by JOHN GOLDSTONE | Released by Paramount Classics At Landmark Fine Arts
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