Raygunesque #1

Art & Culture

Tim Murray has worked in and around the film and video industry for more than 20 years, predominantly as a trade journalist, and has written for everyone from Screen to Faith Fanzine. He's also organised screening programmes at Horse Meat Disco and is currently writing and publishing his own trade newsletter and website The Raygun.

We're very honoured that he's joining the pages of Ransom Note.

His new fortnightly(ish) piece will feature everything from video nasties, VHS, some film and DVD-related tomfoolery, interviews, soundtrack-related stuff and, of course, his two main loves of punk rock and acid house.

The opening edition sees an examination of this year's Cannes… read on.



I've been going to Cannes on and off for some years now and I've done it in almost every way imaginable: on my own steam, as a guest of major Hollywood film studios, of independent arthouse companies, as a journalist and as a representative of other companies. I've gone up the red carpet at the giant cinema in Palais in full black tie regalia, glancing up at the jumbotron and then seeing myself up on the screen (probably with scores of star-watchers thinking "what's that fat baldie doing in the way? Who asked him here?"). I’ve watched films that you can't even believe have been made in tiny uncomfortable screening rooms. I've been to big premieres and I've seen absolute stinkers, I've seen restored classics you're happy to watch time and time again and I've seen more seen films you'll never want to watch again. Heck I've even been some years and not seen any films at all. I've travelled in limos up the Croisette, I've also stood in the rain waiting for a cab. I've sat and had cocktails on the private members' clubs decamped from Soho for the duration and I've watched football with a bunch of British distributors in that dodgy English pub up near he station. I've been to parties on the front attended by top Hollywood names, seen someone I was with grossly insult a Hollywood mogul and surprisingly keep their job and I've been unceremoniously uninvited from a very select event at the swish Hotel du Cap. I've danced while swigging from a bottle of champagne at the MTV party at Pierre Cardin's villa up in the hills, while I've also been refused entry to parties I've been trying to blag my way into. I've also seen a horse fall over once, as a relative told me after I'd spent too long acting flash over where I'd been and what I'd seen.

One of the few things I've learnt (along with, of course, never complaining – you're on a free trip, so just be grateful and lap it up), is that the Cannes Film Festival is always the same. And it's always different too. Cannes 2014 was a flying visit fr me this year, also hampered by a French air traffic controllers' strike. But here's five things I learnt this year:

1. Everyone's a producer.

I know a fair few people down at the market, what amazed even me is just how many of them are currently producing films. Everyone's got a project and they're putting together that the final piece if the jigsaw. These projects and jigsaws take literally years to put together and can be picked apart in seconds. I actually met a director this year whose project had not only been completed, but also, amazingly, picked up for release by a major studio. What's more the flick, Last Showing, sounds ace. This, how ever, is the rarity. "You know what?" I remarked in passing. "I've never really wanted to produce or direct or even write a film. "Why not?" my companion asked. "It takes ages and it just looks really boring." Everyone's a producer because anyone can be one. All you need to do is get a business card printed and, hey presto, you can hand it out and tell everyone you're working on putting a project together. But beware an ordinary Joe in sports jacket, jeans and casual shirt; I adhere to the old punk rock theory – if you need to call yourself a punk, it's unlikely you are one.

2. Stop fucking moaning

Last year and the year before were too wet. You got soaked going between screenings. This year was too hot. But you were in screenings. So you couldn't get to enjoy the sun. The quality of the films weren't good enough. There were too many good films on offer, you couldn't see them all. You had to watch six films a day. You didn't get to see enough films. You were a bit tired. You were jaded. The films you liked were too expensive to acquire. Cannes is not as good as it used to be. It's full of idiots. I don't know, you'd think people paid for this out of their own pockets or something. Try getting a real job if you don't like it.

3. Critics are the worst

Now, I didn't see the Grace Of Monaco film, so I can't say exactly how it was. But it was probably as shit as everyone says. But the sight of assorted critics queuing up to give the barely breathing body of the film a kicking was frankly embarrassing. Retweeting each other's snide remarks, all tying to outdo each other, going further than you really believe, just to get a rise from your pals. And boy, can they complain. And boy, can they tweet. How many films they've seen, their ever-changing favourites. You couldn't move in the market, where films are brought by international distributors, for journalists walking around taking snaps of B-movies they could later post on their websites/in their pages laughing, sneering and making snide remarks about films they deem unworthy and below them. (One even got a photo credit on his paper's website.)

4. That Nick Cave film is really good

If you're only going to see one film at Cannes, make sure it's a good 'un. So, luckily enough, when we trooped along to a midday screening of 20,000 Days On Earth, a documentary about the Bad Seed, Grinderman and former Birthday Party frontman that doesn't follow the standard conventions, our journey was more than worthwhile. And yes, we only saw one film. Hundreds being screened, some multiple times, and we only saw one. An old mate we bumped into was there for his seventh Festival in the bounce. He didn't even need the fingers on one hand to count the number of films he's seen – yet to break his duck. Next year I'm planning to flog T-shirts bearing the legend My Partner/Boss/Parent/Colleague/I (delete as applicable) Went To Cannes And Didn't See One Lousy Film. Pre-orders taken soon.

5. There's still loads of money sloshing around

Sure, there are plenty of concerns about the future of the film business, but fucking hell, there's still oodles of dough being invested. Or wasted. There were a record number of theatrical releases in 2013. The DVD and Blu-ray schedules are still packed. And a stroll down the Croisette sees a near obscene amount of money being spent. Oh, look, there's the latest Hollywood blockbuster taking over the front of the Martinez, there's a tank taking a gaggle of A-listers up and down the front to launch their newest film. It's lavish, it's crass, it's over the top. And we'll be back next year.

And in case you can’t be bothered to read all the acres of guff that have
been penned about Cannes, you can easily construct your own film festival
feature using the following key phrases.

Only in Cannes…
Impossibly overpriced alcohol in hotel
No Cannes do/Cannes do attitude
Up early for the first screening of the day
Beyond the red carpet
Cannes audiences booed heartily
Unhelpful French security staff
Away from the glitz and the glamour
Deep into the bowels of the film market
Where the real business is done
Impossibly overpriced drinks
€20 for a sandwich
Feeling rather frazzled after three hours' sleep
Harvey Weinstein
Feeling frazzled after seeing xx films in xx days
If it's Godard it must be Thursday
Running between screenings
How to survive Cannes
Press conferences where French journalists ask all the wrong questions
Not found a UK distributor yet
Not got a confirmed release date yet
UK distributors pay attention and sign this film
Let’s all laugh at some film titles we think are beneath us
Back to back screenings
Queuing for the Coen brothers screening
My top five from the festival
Manic media scrum
My top five from the festival so far
My tips to win the Palme D’Or
Revised tips after the Palme D’Or was announced so it looks like I know what I’m on about
Where the real deals are done
Cannes hangover
Only in Cannes

Tim Murray

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