Let's see what's going on at Cannes. Spike Lee is mad, Hollywood's not buying anything, pandas are doing kung fu and Tommy Lee Jones is starring in a movie named after a Dolly Parton song. Sounds like a typical day in France to me.
- First up: Spike Lee, one of the few directors working today who, for good and bad, still has his own immediately identifiable style, took the Coens and Dirty Harry to task for their most recent movies. He chides the Coens, his former NYU classmates, for taking death too lightly. "Look, I love the Coen brothers; we all studied at NYU. But they treat life like a joke. Ha ha ha. A joke. It's like, 'Look how they killed that guy! Look how blood squirts out the side of his head!' I see things different than that." Spike, if Javier Bardem wants to be cast in your next film, RUN.
And after trying his hand at the genre that got Clint Eastwood his last two Oscar nominations, the man who would be Mookie tossed a verbal trash can at the windows of Flags of Our Fathers and Letters to Iwo Jima. "Clint Eastwood made two films about Iwo Jima that ran for more than four hours total and there was not one Negro actor on the screen," says Spike. Personally, I've always been against casting minorities as tokens simply because you don't have any in your movie. Unless there's a dramatic place for them, or a logical reason, you really shouldn't put them there. Color-blind casting is a different matter, however. I understand Spike's agitation, but I think his displeasure is better served by the new war movie he made, Miracle at St. Anna. After all, a famous director once said the best way to critique a movie is to make another one. Plus, I'm notorious for picking out the token black people in my movies and TV and being irritated about it. I swear Franklin in the Peanuts strip always looked like he was saying "Jesus! Either give me a personality or send my ass back to the 'hood."
- In other news: Kung Fu Panda co-star Angelina Jolie is in Cannes for both Panda and Changeling, her child kidnap movie directed by Clint Eastwood. The latter is in contention and has been creating far less buzz than Jolie being enceinte. Meanwhile, Eastwood's co-star, Tommy Lee Jones, is starring in Islands in the Stream, a movie whose title forces that Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers song into my head for the remainder of the day. Despite having Jones, the film is without a distributor at Cannes. Whether the film is good or bad seems to have little relevance on why it hasn't been picked up.
- The Hollywood Reporter says that despite some indie conversation pieces and movies by prominent directors being screened at Cannes, the Hollywood studios aren't buying. Movies that were sure to be swept up, with stars like Gwyneth Paltrow, still remain without distributors. Are the studios trying to save money, or are they just plain cheap, opting to wait until the price goes down to buy? I guess they don't have a layaway department at Cannes. One exec in Europe told THR "I tell [the studio buyers]: get some balls -- your companies are all going down the toilet, maybe now's the time to get some films before it all collapses" What a way to get somebody to buy your wares! Making them question their machismo? It works for Porsche.