CAPSULE: This 1996 film is set somewhere between fiction and film industry reality. A legendary (and notorious) Hollywood producer turns a nobody into the talk of the Cannes Film Festival. Though some of the bits are funny, this is a film that would probably work for an insider in ways that might go right past an outsider. With a full slate of celebrity actors in cameo roles this romp is an education behind the scenes in how film deals are made. There is something of an eye-opening lesson here in the sorry state of filmmaking and why films are not better than they are. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10
Producer Sy Lerner (played by Seymour Cassel) is famous throughout Hollywood, but there is only one thing he can do that film actors and executives would like, and he just did that. Sy Lerner has died. All his debts are forgiven just because people are just happy to be rid of the guy. His protégé Frank Rhinoslavsky (Francesco Quinn) remembers Sy and how at Cannes Sy took him from being a New York City cab driver and turned him into the toast of the Cannes Film Festival on rumor and hype alone.
Frank is visiting Cannes and sleeping on the beach when (with a nod to MY FAIR LADY) the despicable producer Sy Lerner bets one of his few friends that he can make anyone the star of the film festival. The friend picks Frank as the most unpromising candidate around. To prove his point Sy transforms Frank with the right clothing and grooming so that he looks the part of a successful new writer--new name Frank Rhino. Then he goes about trying to make a non-existent script supposedly written by Frank and using hype turn it and Frank into the hottest properties at Cannes. Sy hypes and sells these properties going around to a host of real people--many actors the viewer will recognize, some people from behind the camera who will be a little less familiar.
Perhaps the film might have worked better if Sy had had a more varied and amusing set of tricks. In fact, Sy's approach is mostly to bluff by saying that the supposed script is already being lauded all over the festival and to cite other people who have been fooled by his bluff. The people Sy convinces are people like Dennis Hopper, Johnny Depp, Benicio del Toro, John Malkovich, Dennis Hopper, and James Brolin--and the rest of an impressive set of cameos. Twenty-five of these parts are listed in the IMDB. It is likely that many of the cameo sequences resulted from director Richard Martini roaming the festival, running into stars, recruiting them for cameo roles, and shooting their scenes right there. But how many fans would recognize Harvey Weinstein or Menahem Golan?
One suspects that much of the humor here may go right past viewers not in the film industry itself. Four writers are listed: Deric Haddad, director Richard Martini, Irwin Rappaport, and Susan Shapiro. Each probably bringing his own set of stories from within the system. That makes the feel of the film a little uneven. Certainly the cameos work that way. For that matter Sy Lerner is probably based on someone or multiple filmmakers real, though perhaps Roger Corman seems the closest.
CANNES MAN is not a great film and some comedies show more of the inner workings of the film industry. I recommend Christopher Guest's THE BIG PICTURE, though Robert Altman's THE PLAYER is probably the best received. CANNES MAN may pitch more humor than most viewers will catch, but there is more than enough to make the film worth the watch. I rate CANNES MAN a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10. CANNES MAN was released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 1, 2011, from the Cinema Libre Studio.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115818/
What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/cannes_man/
Mark R. Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright 2011 Mark R. Leeper