How to Not Quite Succeed in Cannes Business Despite Really Trying: An Illustrated Guide

A Cannes-style queue has a curious shape. It's not really a line at all, but more of a funnel -- you can stay at the end for ages, while unassumingly pushy types creep forward from the sides in a barely discernible kind of Brownian movement. The festival staff -- no-nonsense guys in matching taupe suits, notorious for being cranky -- try to stem the pushing from the front, but have no control over how it happens from the back. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, or at least about 20, here's a visual aid:


That explains why I didn't get into the hot-ticket press conference for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The proceedings are broadcast on monitors outside the press-conference room and around the Palais, but the sound is extremely low, and only the French translation comes through. So I have no idea what Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz or Rob Marshall had to say about the mildly diverting yet ultimately exhausting galleon-size vehicle that is Pirates IV. I can tell you that Depp, as I saw him on the monitor during the photo call, and briefly in person as he entered the press conference, looked vaguely annoyed or at least moderately indifferent, as actors often do at these things. They apparently don't like any of this business any more than we do, though admittedly they make a lot more money off it.

Also at the press conference were Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane and a comely young actress, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, who plays a mermaid in the film. A shy-looking brunette, with just-bitten lips, she looked coltishly charming during the photo call. The Euro-journo wags standing around me, also waiting to gain entrance to the press conference -- they were German, I think, with a limited French vocabulary, as you will see -- thought so too. Two of them repeated gossip that Depp had had an affair with the actress during the filming of Pirates; they gazed at her image on the video monitor near us, but couldn't remember her name. "Something something-something, in French," one offered helpfully. "Sophie le Fromage," suggested another. "Sophie le Fromage et Champagne," said a third.

If she's le fromage et le Champagne, what does that make Johnny Depp?

Not long after this exchange, Depp came into view, amid calls of "Johnee! Johnee!" from the photographers. But from now on, I will always think of him by the name bestowed upon him by my fellow press-conference shut-outs: Forever more, he will be my Jean Luc Baguette.

Read more of Stephanie Zacharek's Cannes 2011 coverage here.


  • Des says:

    Stephanie - just wanted you to know how much I love these little vignettes of Cannes. Reviews are welcome but these are special. I'd have spent all my time hogging baguettes et le fromage et le champagne (of the human variety or n0t - I'm terribly easy to please, merci!) if I were you, so thanks for the dispatches!
    PS - Jean Luc Baguette may have been cheesed off, but that's an improvement on his Tourist days.

  • Jake says:

    Stephanie, you have hit something I have studied around the world: queues. They have everything to do with culture. In third world countries, there is no line, just a group vying for the attention of whoever is in charge. In Germany or America there is law and order and a strong sense of first come first served. In France its not first come first served, it's who "deserves" to go first.
    Let's hope your reviews someday have this level of astute observation instead contrarianism for the sake of being contrary.

  • You really know how to pay someone a compliment.

  • jake says:

    Point well taken and I do feel bad about the little backhand at the end of that comment, but it is how I feel having read her reviews. She's not Armond White, she just leans that way. It's like those people who never progressed past the age of 15 where being "different" was more important than being reasonable or rational.
    Wait. I'm in a hole digging away, aren't I?
    Je suis tre desole, madame Zacharek.