Festival in Cannes (2001)

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 95:57
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Henry Jaglom
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Anouk Aimée
Greta Scacchi
Maximilian Schell
Ron Silver
Zack Norman
Peter Bogdanovich
Jenny Gabrielle
Alex Craig Mann
Camilla Campanale
Kim Kolarich
Rachel Bailit
Vernon Dobtcheff
Pamela Shaw
Case ?
RPI Rental Music Gaili Schoen


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     I adored this movie. It's a visceral, Machiavellian ride with the deal makers and breakers in the Hollywood system.

     Set in the heat and lush decadence of the Cannes Film Festival in 1999, we meet Alice Palmer (Greta Scacchi), an acclaimed actress who now wishes to make her directing debut. She and her writer girlfriends are conferring al fresco when they are invaded by the fast talking Kaz Naiman (Zack Norman) who is, apparently, a film financier. He assures Alice that with a few "minor" script changes (plot, setting & characters - that's all), he'll be able to acquire the funds for the project. In spite of her reservations, particularly in changing the lead character from a Mid Western to a French woman, Alice agrees to meet Millie Marquand (Anouk Aimée), a stylish, elegant character actress attempting to revive her career well after the first bloom of youth has faded for her. The two women's sensibilities are deeply in sync and their rapport builds Millie's interest in the project, and Alice's confidence that she can adapt the script to accommodate this remarkable actress. The only problem is that Millie has also agreed to listen to the pitch of Hollywood mogul Rick Yorkin (Ron Silver) for a part in a Tom Hanks blockbuster. Therein lies her dilemma - accept a lead role in a small film that enchants her, or a small role in a huge film as a purely commercial decision. Millie turns to her erstwhile philandering but utterly "charmant" husband, Victor (Maximilian Schell) for advice. As a director of art films himself, his advice vacillates according to the offers he himself receives.

     The plot becomes horribly tangled as the two projects cross over each other in deals, double deals, treachery and deceit. Will either of the films actually get made, and if so, who will star in them? As this film pointedly makes clear, it's a miracle that any films get made in such a chaotic and ego stroking world. It's a ludicrous environment where Versace clad, oh-so-casual participants bandy about telephone number dollar figures with practiced nonchalance. "It's movie money, not real money" says Rick. All the players in this outrageous charade are a triumph of style over substance, who try to ignore the reality that every new project can make or break them, and that most of them are living one gig away from ruin and oblivion.

     Writer/Director Henry Jaglom has given us an utterly absorbing piece with his insistence on a cinema veritae style, and his choice of actors who are truly capable of naturalistic performances. Scacchi, Aimée, Schell, Silver and Norman are all absolutely convincing in their portrayals, bringing a fresh, unrehearsed feeling to the piece. The setting of Cannes at Festival time is exquisitely decadent, and is delivered with all the anticipation and energy that no doubt would exist at awards time. It's a lot of fun spotting all the hoardings and billboards touting the films of '99 - like Entrapment, Anywhere But Here and Midsummer Night's Dream to name a few. So many Hollywood and movie making phenomena are explored, from the overnight success story to the treachery and dishonesty and abject viciousness of the movie making culture. Employing largely hand held camera techniques, the vision jots and jolts the viewer right into the frame, creating a feeling that we are invisible witnesses to these people's lives. The relationship between Millie and Victor is particularly moving in this sense - the scene where they discuss which part she should take is so intimate and warm that it seems inconceivable that this is not a genuine discussion between two people who know and love each other very well. It appears that Jaglom resisted the temptation to overproduce this film. One gets the impression that he captured as few takes as possible of each scene in order to maintain the freshness of the performances - likewise, it appears that he provided ample room for each performer to ad lib their dialogue, resulting in a very authentic atmosphere.

     Festival in Cannes is an absolute treat. The time just evaporated watching this intriguing and wryly funny piece of cinema. The performances are superb, the plot is as twisted as an Ed Wood epic, the pacing is natural and relaxed and the production's technical delivery fully supports the story. Highly recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The transfer of this film is actually pretty bad, but just pretend that it is part of the "handmade" feel of the presentation, and plough through regardless - the story and performances are truly worth it.

     The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

     It is a soft picture overall with very flat contrast. Grain levels are frequently very high and there is low level noise present. Through the softness, there is actually a reasonable amount of detail, including shadow detail but it is by no means a crisp print.

     The colours were actually pretty good - a little drab in places, but skin tones were generally accurately rendered.

     There was evidence of aliasing throughout the print, and what I would describe as an NTSC jitter in pan shots. Occasionally halation occurred and there was also the presence of motion blur throughout. Film artefacts also prevailed throughout the presentation, with dust spots the major culprits.

     There were no subtitles presented.

     This disc is single layered and single sided, with no layer change to contend with.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio track was highly problematic.

     There is one audio track - English Dolby Digital 2.0.

     The dialogue was very tinny and shrill, and competed throughout with the ambient sound. There were times when the soundtrack was quite distorted, with a considerable amount of popping and hissing. Audio sync was also slightly out of time, but fortunately, not so severely that it completely distracts.

     The musical score by Gaili Schoen was a wonderfully witty and cheeky adjunct to the film. Cheesy little French numbers and vintage music flowed through like a muse. It was a shame that the soundtrack did not do justice to either the music or the dialogue.

     The surround channels and subwoofer were completely inactive, resulting in a very flat, one dimensional soundscape.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     There are no extras on this disc.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Both versions appear to be identical. Your local region is therefore the winner.

Summary

     I'd say you'd be very safe swimming at any beach in Cannes during Festival Time - all the sharks are on land making movie deals!

     This film is as heady as drinking champagne in the sun, and equally as lethal. Director Henry Jaglom has provided us with a wicked little delicacy of treachery, deceit and unmitigated egos. Yes, the transfer is bad, but just pretend that it was a technical decision to make it feel "handmade" and certainly don't let it stop you from enjoying this Machiavellian cautionary tale. Highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Saturday, January 03, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
SpeakersTeac 5.1 integrated system

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