Wot, no kitsch?

Sheila Johnston finds an alarming dearth of vulgarity at Cannes

This year, Cannes hitches itself to the French celebrations of the centenary of cinema, an occasion that has inspired what, by general agreement, is the kitschiest festival poster in years: a seascape composed of classic movie stills with a gurgling baby crawling out of the waves to herald the new century. Otherwise, though, the town seems a bit short of the glorious Cannes vulgarity we know and love. No giant inflatable Arnold Schwarzenegger bobbing in the bay (sorely missed), no big names to launch the revelries: the opening night film, The City of Lost Children, starred a galaxy of special effects and little else. The unseasonably horrible weather - wet, cold - means that any starlet dumb enough to take her bra off is more likely to get pneumonia than the female lead in the new Jean-Claude van Damme movie. Thanks to M Chirac, the franc is worth a king's ransom, which is somewhat cramping the style of the carousers: for the price of a demi-pression on the Croisette, you could practically make a low-budget movie.

A brisk dash of glamour was supplied by Jeanne Moreau who introduced the jury she will lead this year. Here, too, the press conference was unusually serious. The producer Norma Heyman, who was to have represented Britain, had resigned on the grounds that her next project involved several people with films in competition. There was talk of loss of integrity, all firmly quashed by Moreau (who herself has plans to work with Merchant- Ivory, competing here with Jefferson in Paris). What, she said, would be the point of a jury with no connections with cinema? There was further talk of truth and politics, and of whether cinema can change the world. A couple of things became clear: Madame la Presidente will be a force to conjure with. And this year's Pulp Fiction will be unlikely to carry off the Palme d'Or.

Not that there are many likely contenders. Most of the American genre films are tucked away in midnight screenings: the competition menu includes apartheid and famine in Africa, opium wars in China, revolution in Paris, Civil War in Spain, totalitarianism in Burma and Bulgaria, bloody conflict in Yugoslavia and HIV-positive teenagers in America. Two French entries are called Hatred and (another Aids-themed movie) Don't Forget You Are Going to Die. Where, we all wondered, was the light relief?

The Directors' Fortnight kicked off with Le Confessionel, a first film by the French-Canadian theatre director Robert Lepage. It's that diciest of ventures, an homage to Hitchcock - a modern riff on I Confess set, like that film, in Quebec City. Lepage acquits himself honourably although the complex plotlines and themes don't quite resonate as they should.

Back in competition, Waati, from Africa, deserves a little attention. It has been eight years since Yeelen, the last work by its director, Souleymane Cisse, a reminder of the huge difficulties confronting Third World film- makers and, perhaps, an explanation of why Waati went wrong. It seems as if, after all the wait, Cisse had wanted to cram everything into this ambitious, pan-Continental story about a young woman who grows up in South Africaand confronts social deprivation on the fringes on Timbuktu, in Mali. A schematic, sometimes naive screenplay stocked with vicious white racists and noble blacks is studded with flashes of startling lyrical brilliance.

No great finds yet, then, but the heavy hitters, including Ken Loach, Zhang Yimou, and Emir Kusterica, come next week.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
Crime watch: Cara Delevingne and Daniel Brühl in ‘The Face of an Angel’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
music Malik left the Asian leg of the band's world tour after being signed off with stress last week
News
Author J.K. Rowling attends photocall ahead of her reading from 'The Casual Vacancy' at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on September 27, 2012 in London, England.
peopleNot the first time the author has defended Dumbledore's sexuality
News
‘The Late Late Show’ presenter James Corden is joined by Mila Kunis and Tom Hanks for his first night as host
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
photography
News
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
people
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
News
Brooke Magnanti believes her reputation has been damaged by the claim
books
Arts and Entertainment
A large fire has broken out in London's historic Battersea Arts Centre
art
Arts and Entertainment
Orla Brady as Anne Meredith, MyAnna Buring as Elizabeth Quinn and Joanna Vanderham as Katherine McVitie in Banished
tvReview: Despite the gritty setting, this drama is as fluffy and soppy as a soap opera
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and co-director Richard Glatzer, standing, on the set during the filming of ‘Still Alice’ in New York
film
Arts and Entertainment
Great British Sewing Bee finalist Matt Chapple
tvReview: He wowed the judges with an avant garde dress
Arts and Entertainment
Driven to the edge: 'Top Gear' producer Oisin Tymon is said to have had a row with Clarkson
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Nazi officer Matthias Schoenaerts embarks on an affair with married French woman Michelle Williams in 'Suite Francaise'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Prime movers: Caitriona Balfe (centre) and the cast of Outlander
TV
News
Feasting with panthers: Keynes
books
Arts and Entertainment
Strung out: Mumford & Sons
music
Arts and Entertainment
Avant-garde: Bjork
music
Arts and Entertainment
Despite a decade of reform, prosecutions and convictions of rape has remained consistently low
arts + entsAcademic and author Joanna Bourke in warning to arts world
Arts and Entertainment
Electro Velvet, made up of Alex Larke and Bianca Nicholas, will represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015
music
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss