U2 IN A TUXEDO
EXCLUSIVE REPORT FROM CANNES
An inordinate number of people can now say they have seen U2 while wearing a tuxedo. The Irish lads played a semi-impromptu show on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, right before attending the midnight premiere of "U2 in 3D." The open secret spread across La Croisette, resulting in a pulsing throng gathered to see if the rumors were true. At midnight it did not look like any sort of concert was in the works, until the roadies wheeled out Mullen's drum kit, and the crowd roared. The guitar cases and mike stands confirmed the gig. Oddly, the PA system was playing U2 tracks. The band's arrival was shown on the huge TV screens. Bono and his mates jumped out of the Renault limo, swaggered up the red carpet, and the dozens of camera flashes bled into a single long burst. The patient crowd lining the streets and thrust up against the barriers were rewarded with one of the better free concerts ever. Although the setlist consisted of only "Vertigo" and "Where the Streets Have No Name" it was a memorable show. I was able to finesse my way past "le securite" to gain entry to the screening of "U2 in 3D." We were given Bono-like 3D glasses, and before the lights went down the band was introduced as they strolled to their seats in the theatre. This was probably one of the few times when Bono, The Edge, Clayton and Mullen would be able to see themselves with a crowd, in the same way as the crowd.
The 3D technology is far better than the red and green lens science of yesteryear, no more worrying about tilting your head and going off axis. No sense of vertigo (other than when the song of the same name is played) while watching the film. Shot at a huge show in Buenos Aires, the performance is larger than life. The onstage imagery is not the sensory overload of the ZooTV tour, but when coupled with the effectiveness of 3D and the sweeping camera shots, the cinematic effect is mesmerizing. Inevitably powerful were "With or Without You" and "Where the Streets Have No Name." In fact, those two songs were the highlights, and interesting that they both emanate from the era of U2's ill-fated initial cinema excursion "Rattle and Hum." The 3D vertical shots from the camera hovering just above the band were the best: the fleet-fingered Edge on his fretbaord or keyboard, Bono breaking the fourth wall. "Bullet the Blue Sky" roared with feedback and a surprising choice of "The Fly" were also well played. The cut we saw was less than an hour, but the producers promise another half hour when the film is released theatrically later this year. In fact, the buzz in Cannes is that filmmakers are moving toward 3D as a means to improve the theatrical experience and deter video piracy.
The film's audience was clearly bummed that no encore was offered, but provided the obvious standing ovation as the lights came up. Slipping out of the auditorium ahead of the crowd, I conveniently found myself at the top of the red carpet. As The Edge and Bono led the crowd out of the venue, I was in sufficient proximity to offer up a few words of congrats amidst some handshakes. "It looked real good," said I. "Yes," said Bono while deigning to shake my hand, "but it sounded like shite!" Sadly, no time to ask my single question as the scrum of paparazzi and punters descended: what does it feel like to watch yourself as a member of the audience?
"No Country for Old Men" is the latest from Joel and Ethan Coen. Based on the Cormac McCarthy novel and starring Tommy Lee Jones, it is three-quarters of a great movie. Complex, dark and wry the long two hour film works at its own slow pace. The astute editing is by the Coen brothers, notwithstanding credits to the contrary. Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin round out the three-way plot, the former a purely evil soul. Set in a bleached Texas border county in the 1980 (although looking about five years earlier), the story revolves around a drug deal gone wrong and a well-intentioned Brolin who stumbles across the cash. The effects of the war in Vietnam are a subtext of the plot. The violence is rather relentless and inventive, the dialogue is pithy but the plot is too clever by half. Certainly, the brothers Coen attained their goal of evoking much discussion after the film, and into the next day about who ended up with what just desserts.
Michael Moore's largesse included playing to his French audience in "Sicko," which decries the American health care system while praising that of France. Conveniently ignored in the film is the downside of Franco-flavored socialism: the stagnant economy, the lack of incentive for enterprising folks. But Moore and long-time fan Harvey Weinstein were enjoying more than a few chuckles awaiting their car at the back of the Majestic Hotel. Speaking of things larger than life, Quentin Tarantino seems to have spent a lot of time in the editing room with his last film…he has gained lots of weight.
The throngs of film fans remained enamored of the superb ocean breezes, balmy blue skies and eccentricity that bubbles more dryly than the copious champagne.