Not wishing to be too spoiler-tastic, but anyone reading this who has seen one particular movie at Cannes 2011 will understand to what the title of this blog refers. For anyone else, simply suffice to say that a baffled consideration of sea and sand culture from a unrelentingly pale and pasty Englishman is what lies at the heart of this final blog post from the bestest film festival in the whole of France-land.
The film festival done and dusted, the final hours are ticking down on my personal Cannes clock, triggering the proverbial cocktail of emotions within. Sadness at the closure of a fabulous fortnight of movie-watching. Joy at the prospect of having evenings that need not be booked up with the writing of a review of the last-but-six film I've watched, and can be instead employed getting thrashed on FIFA by smug 11-year-olds (er, over the now-resuscitated Playstation Network. I don't invite 'em round my house).
Sadness at no longing being able to use “Oh well, I'm in France,” as an excuse for stuffing my face with pastries in the morning. Joy at the prospect of getting my grubby paws on a full pint of beer, and a cup of tea which doesn't taste like it's had half a bottle of detergent fired into it. Sadness at bidding ta-ta to a balconied property in a perpetually sun-drenched town. Joy at the prospect of no longer whacking my knee on the bed in the apartment where I've been staying.
Which leads on to my final experienced emotion – a lingering perplexity at how the jutting edge of said bed has managed to be precisely the right height to inflict maximum agony on the underside of my kneecap, with each blow having unfailingly caused me to crumple in paroxysms of pain, as if on the receiving end of a studs-up challenge from Lee Cattermole.
It will also be a relief to get back to something approaching normality, after the oft-brilliant, but occasionally asphyxiating intensity of the festival. For it is a fact that folk involved with the movie biz A) can often lack a sense of self-irony, acting like snappy kids who've not been fed, and B) loads of them walk really, really, really slowly, mainly due to them trying to send emails on their Blackberrys whilst they pound the pavement, an act of multi-tasking which is sadly too sophisticated for the majority of them.
Although any prior complaints I've had about the rudeness of certain members of the press corps (and by gum, I've had a few) will in future by tempered by being viewed through the prism of my experience waiting to get in to The Skin I Live In screening on Thursday afternoon.
There, under a blazing summer sun, I found myself queuing with a large number of ticket-holders, rather than just those journos who gain access via their various coloured badges, and boy oh boy, if they weren't an angry bunch. One guy in particular took such umbrage at a woman he thought, nay, was convinced, utterly convinced, was trying to shove in front of him that he embarked on a long-winded rant against her (in French, so sadly not just the subtleties but the entire meaning was lost on me), before giving her a little shove as he went in, just to let her know who was the boss.
Did I say 'boss'? I meant 'colossal loser'.
There are small places of sanctuary from the festival madness. For example, while on the famed Boulevard de la Croisette, the vast majority of the beach is occupied by white tents which function as restaurants-cum-nightclubs, often they being linked by name to the major hotels on the concrete bit of the same street – the Martinez, the Majestic, the Carlton – there is one notable spot (not quite big enough to call a stretch) which remains pure in its sandiness, it not suffering the indignity of having a wooden dancefloor dumped atop it, and then being boogied on by money-obsessed douche nozzles in suit jackets and jeans which cost an extra hundred Euros by virtue of them having teensy little rips in them.
Even this section is not spared the Dionysian excesses of the festival, mind, with it having not been uncommon to spy a partied-out body or two resting there as I've made my way to one of the early morning screenings. All, I'm sure, managed to get up and walk away at some juncture after I saw them, although with the guy pictured below, who is submerged so deep as to almost qualify as lying in a shallow grave, there remains some doubt in my mind as to whether that exit was unaided.
Mixing it with the tan-hungry masses, fighting for a quarter-foot of beach-space, is not really my scene nor my idea of fun. Yet there is enjoyment to be gleaned from this particular stretch of sand, even for a nine-stone weakling like myself. Obviously not from any strutting or bathing – rather, for the duration of the festival, a movie is exhibited there each night on a big screen. And while some of the selections this year have been as baffling as a Maths A-level paper translated into Mandarin (the three-and-a-half hour cut of Das Boot? Really?), on Saturday night just gone I was able to catch the wonderful documentary Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel.
Directed by Alex Stapleton, and having screened as part of the Cannes Classics strand earlier in the fortnight, the film is an utter joy as it runs through the career of the first gentleman of teenage schlock. Featuring interviews with Corman himself, and many of his past collaborators, including Martin Scorsese, Jack Nicholson, Joe Dante, Ron Howard and Peter Bogdanovich, it features fabulous anecdote after fabulous anecdote (Bogdanovich trying to help out in a fight scene on 1966's The Wild Angels and getting a pasting from some genuine bikers, an actor playing two roles in Corman's debut, Five Guns West, and being required to kill himself in the movie's climax).
There is also footage galore from the enormous Corman oeuvre – from the trundling alien traffic cone of It Conquered the World, to the Poe adaptations which represented Corman's own artistic highpoints as director, as well as some making-of scenes from the latest Corman production, Dinoshark. The whole thing is tremendous fun, a fascinating Hollywood story, and also worth seeing to learn that, in the early '80s, Corman alumnus and future Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme looked EXACTLY THE SAME as Kevin Smith. Uncanny.
Roaming further afield, away from the Palais, there are the rugged walls of the old town up on the hill, and there is also the beach around the corner from where the Boulevard de la Croisette ends, at which point Cannes turns from movie Mecca into just another French seaside town, the Armani and Dolce & Gabbana stores giving way to those shops which sell novelty inflatables (for use in the sea, I hasten to add, not for anything kinkier). And it was at one such store I spotted someone whose appearance on the Cote d'Azur has, inexplicably, gone completely unheralded by the major press outlets.
Yes, after all the recent chatter about Arnold Schwarzenegger's love-child, the one borne to him a decade ago by a member of his household staff, I can exclusively reveal that the erstwhile Terminator has another errant nipper running around, and this one has been out and about in Cannes over the course of the last two weeks. Even more remarkable than this fact, however, is that the wee one seems to have been spawned from a union with one of Hollywood's most venerable and beloved stars.
Uh-huh, Bambi, who shot to global fame in the tear-jerking Disney classic of the same name. I managed to grab an exclusive photo of this newest example of Tinseltown royalty, and here it is.
Oh sure, the kid's mostly resembles her mom. But check out those biceps! The Arnold of Pumping Iron lives again.
To be honest, exciting as that encounter was, it is rare to catch sight of a festival-goer on that particular stretch of the Cannes seafront. There the local youngsters hold sway, with the shift in power being represented by a pronounced amendment in the dominant sartorial taste amongst the young men. You see, while the chaps loitering round the Palais des Festivals have primarily sported a style which might be referred to as 'yacht club cock' – loafers, shorts skimming high enough up the thigh to promise/threaten a glimpse of bollock should the wearer sit down, perhaps even a blazer to cap off the whole idiotic ensemble – the local teenage boys, the strutters and the poseurs, prefer the 'Cristiano Ronaldo chic' look – tight T-shirts, hair gelled to within an inch of its life, gold chains, surly look of contempt twitching on the lips.
For the whole two weeks I've felt we could be in for a Quadrophenia-style beach-fight between the two factions. The sods versus the cockers, if you will. But it has yet to come to pass, and time, I fear, may have run out, at least for this year, just as it now has done for me.