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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Cannes: All Access
Cannes: All Access
Genius Products // Unrated // May 22, 2007
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted June 18, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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Although it seems as if bigger and bigger films are being given the spotlight there, Cannes does remain one of the film industry's biggest events. Every year in May (since the 1930's), films from around the world are showcased at the festival, with some hoping to find distribution and others looking to win the coveted Palm D'Or award, the festival's highest honor.

"Cannes: All Access" is a 79-minute whirlwind tour of the festival's history, which probably isn't enough time to cover Cannes all that well, but that doesn't keep film critic (Time Magazine) Richard Schickel from trying to, anyways. The film starts off in the present day at Cannes, where Sharon Stone discusses how wonderful the festival is, and how everyone is on their best behavior: "...Everyone acts like its the Hollywood they dreamed of, instead of the Hollywood that is."

The front of the film focuses on the "experience", as folks like Samuel L. Jackson, Chloe Sevigney, Sydney Pollack and others chat about some of their fond memories of the festival, as well as some of the pros and cons of the glamourous experience. One critic discusses how his friends and family don't realize that his visit is for work, not hitting the beach with celebrities. Shots of the area provide a good perspective of the kind of scope of the festival and how it takes over the area, with one shot even showing a Thankfilm banner hanging off what appears to be a hotel balcony.

Shortly into the picture, we get a discussion of the festival's "card system", where different cards allow festivalgoers different access to the festival, and those who are at the lowest level "yellow card" have to do a lot of convincing to try and talk their way past the security guard to get in to see the more popular screenings. Harvey Weinstein (former head of Miramax and now Weinstein Company) talks about sneaking into a screening "Brooklyn-style" with Bob Weinstein in the early days of Miramax - about 40 minutes in, they find themselves about to be tossed when Sean Connery tells the usher to "leave those kids alone."

The recollections of the early days of the festival (as well as footage) are enjoyable to see, as it provides a good glimpse into the more intimate early days of the festival versus the kind of heavily-sponsored, press-heavy event of today. Film historian David Robinson talks about missing his screening of "The Cranes Are Flying" and catching a different showing with a small crowd of three or four. When the lights came up, Robinson turned around to find that the other members of the audience included Pablo Picasso. There's also much discussion of the female nudity that isn't seen much anymore (Ron Howard and Brian Grazer sit on the beach and look around as Howard jokingly expresses his disappointment that there's not more skin on show.)

The documentary offers much discussion of what's changed, and many believe that the explosion and increased technological abilities of the press, whose main desire is not to cover the small film, but to catch an interview with celebrities. One critic discusses being asked years ago if he wanted to interview Jack Nicholson. Did he need to schedule? No, just go up to his room and ask questions. Now, reporters get just a few minutes as they're shuttled through.

The remainder of the documentary turns even more interesting, as we get a look at the marketplace at Cannes and hear more about how films are bought and sold, as well as how films attract financing here. We also hear from some of the festival's behind-the-scenes staff, such as the main projectionist and the piano player at the Hotel Martinez. We also learn more about the juries, which change every year and now include more glam figures than ever before.

"Cannes: All Access" is, when it's all said and done, mainly a talking heads doc. However, as it goes along, it quickly starts to feel less promotional ("Cannes is so amazing!") and starts to get deeper, offering more interesting tales of present and past Cannes, as well as more behind-the-scenes information. Overall, I thought the documentary started off a little ordinary, but got better as it went along.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Cannes: All Access" is presented by Genius Home Entertainment in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation appears to have been shot on video and looks just fine: the picture is reasonably clear throughout, although never crystal clear. No edge enhancement or artifacting are noticed though, and colors remained natural.

SOUND: Crisp, clear stereo soundtrack.

EXTRAS: Interview with Richard Schickel, alternate ending ("The Party's Over"), beach montage, "Ribbon Cutting at American Pavilion" extended scene and 10 minutes of deleted scenes, including more from: Sydney Pollack, Harvey Weinstein, Peter Bart and more.

Final Thoughts: Overall, I thought "Cannes: All Access" started off a little ordinary, but got better as it went along. The DVD offers fine audio/video quality, as well as a few minor extras. A rental for those interested, as it has limited repeat-viewing value.
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