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French director Resnais ponders success at Cannes
Wed May 20, 2009 11:55am EDT
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By James Mackenzie
CANNES, France (Reuters) - Alain Resnais, the venerable French director of arthouse classics like "L'annee derniere a Marienbad," would do more to bring in the crowds -- if only he knew the formula.
Declaring himself "too lazy" to spice up his famously cerebral films with blood and thunder, the 86-year-old director, who brought "Hiroshima mon Amour" to the Cannes film festival 50 years ago, nonetheless said he always hoped to win audiences.
"If I knew that by putting the camera a bit more to the right or a bit more to the left, moving it about or fixing it in place, there would be more people watching it, I would do it straight away," he said after a press screening of his film "Les herbes folles" (Wild Grass) at the Cannes festival.
"But it's completely unpredictable."
"So all I look for is 'Will the film I'm directing produce emotions...and will it be enough for the viewer not to want to walk out of the cinema?'" he said.
Resnais' demanding explorations of memory and loss and his radical experiments in avant garde narration have never betrayed much concern for commercial success, despite his ironical assurances on Wednesday.
His latest film, a gently absurdist comedy about a man who finds a wallet, contrasts sharply with the bloodthirsty tone of other films in competition such as Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" or Lars von Trier's "Antichrist."
Based on a novel by French writer Christian Gailly, "Les herbes folles" stars Andre Dussollier as a man intrigued by a woman played by Sabine Azema, who combines a passion for flying with her profession as a dentist.
PAYING THE RENT
White-haired and in dark glasses against the glaring lights of the Cannes press room, Resnais looked every inch the icon of Left Bank cinephiles but said he made films because "I have never found any other way of earning money and paying my rent."
He expressed some understanding for the bloodshed seen in the work of younger directors, which he said was "perhaps proof that we're clearer about things and we realize more the savagery and carnage the human race is capable of."
But he held out no prospect of joining in the trend himself.
"I am not going to tell you: 'Watch out, in my next film, there will be lots and lots of blood and I am going to go even further in violence'," he said.
"That wouldn't work. I'm too lazy and indolent by nature."
His past history with Cannes, however, is marked by several incidents that illustrate the political punch in his films. Continued...
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