It may be Cannes, but small screen getting good reception
CANNES, France — The annual Cannes festival on the French Riviera is the grandest platform in the world for the highest ambitions of film, a place where the art form is worshipped with wild passion and adoring reverence. Movies are projected pristinely in regal theatres, where they’re greeted by the world’s cinephiles with feverish excitement.
But even at this bastion of the big screen, director after director has come through preaching the opportunities of the small screen. Up and down the Croisette, talk of TV’s ascendance is rampant.
“The way that things are moving because of the financing of films, television has almost become where a lot of people seek creativity,” said Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, who premiered at the festival his Bangkok noir Only God Forgives, starring Ryan Gosling. “It’s opened up a whole new arena.”
Danish TV’s current quality has spread internationally (including The Killing, which was remade in America). Refn, the director of Drive, is working on his television debut, a version of the 1969 French science-fiction film Barbarella for France’s Canal Plus.
Refn said that in the past 10 years, TV has levelled the field, creatively, and is now “sometimes much more satisfying than anything around.”
“I love television,” he said. “I love the size of it. I love to touch them. I like to watch them. I love the remote control. I love the power of the remote control. I love everything about the television.”
One of this year’s most notable films in competition won’t even be released theatrically in the U.S.: Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace melodrama Behind the Candelabra (see Brad Oswald’s review, page G4). Hollywood studios passed on the film, which stars Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, suggesting that it was too gay to play at the box office. HBO picked up the US$23-million film and will air it Sunday.
Soderbergh, long considered one of America’s finest filmmaking talents, is stepping away from moviemaking, but is enthusiastically moving into television. He’ll reportedly make a 10-episode series about a turn-of-the-century New York hospital, starring Clive Owen. (Soderbergh also produced the 2003 Washington, D.C., drama K Street.)
“There’s a lot of great stuff being made,” said Soderbergh. “You can go narrow and deep, and I like that. And this is all ( Sopranos creator) David Chase. He singlehandedly rebuilt the landscape. Anything that’s on now that’s any good is standing on his shoulders.”
“I don’t hear anybody talking about movies the way they talk about TV right now,” said Soderbergh.