So, I have absolutely no idea what makes a film worthy of screening at Cannes. Your market badge entitles you to a certain number of red carpet screenings. There's no special hijinks involved, you just have to sign onto the website with your badge number at the exact time a given screening goes up for grabs, and spend your points, and if you're online in, say, the first 7 minutes, you'll probably get a shiny holograph end ticket.
So, I'm here in Cannes, with my tuxedo and all; no way I'm not going up that red carpet at least once, right?
Thing is, most of the films selected for red carpet screenings sound not fun at all. I can't remember the premise of ONLY GOD FORGIVES, but you can guess it's not a Kate Hudson vehicle. And my old UCLA classmate Alexander Payne has a movie about a son traveling with his father, who has dementia. It's the tragic sequel to AS GOOD AS IT GETS; I think it's called IT'S ALL DOWNHILL FROM HERE. Okay, that last sentence I made up. But you get the idea.
So WARO NO TAKE (STRAW SHIELD) is about a team of cops tasked with bringing a giggling psychopath child rapist/murderer 1200km across Japan to Tokyo. Obstacle: a multibillionaire whose granddaughter he murdered has offered a billion yen to whoever takes the guy out. So potentially, anyone they meet could be an assassin. And many of them are. And cops have been bought. And as teammates die over the course of the mission, they themselves will begin to question why good cops are dying to preserve a giggling child murderer who is destined for the noose anyway.
So, this sounds like a good premise for a John Woo movie, right? And, therefore, exactly the sort of movie that gets programmed at Fantasia, and not at Cannes. I mean, it's got good guys and bad guys, and a plot, right?
Goes to show, I have no idea what gets something programmed at Cannes. The movie is exactly as cheesy and on-the-nose as it sounds. Linear narrative, lots of yelling, looooooots of expository dialog, fair amount of blood. And at least five conversations among the teammates about, "why don't we just shoot him and take the money, instead of letting good cops die to preserve the life of a scumbag" (the actual word used in the subtitles). Until I was asking myself, "yeah, why don't you?"
The answer is, apparently, that honor and duty are important to Japanese people. I know, right. Who knew?
And then, tacked-on happy ending.
The only thing I can figure is, a cheesy cop story with a heavy-handed theme is okay for Cannes so long as it is Not Actually Fun.
Bear in mind, of course, any number of my friends saw the movie and liked it. So there you go.
An odd thing about the red carpet is that they will not actually let you exit the theatre via the red carpet. You have to get on line to exit the Palais. And that takes some time. No idea why, but the French do not seem to be too good at managing crowds. The other day I was in the worst river of human traffic I've ever been in, just trying to get up the Croisette to the Scandinavia Terrace. The cops blocked the street to traffic, prioritizing cars. So there you go.