our man in cannes.

film critic and indie nerd sukhdev sandhu makes a top five list straight from the trenches

1) grumpy italian critics.
old men (and women) with their trousers hitched up to their armpits and their hippo cheeks covered with three weeks of stubble. they talk and masticate all the way through the films, grumble if anyone presumes to ask if they’ll remove their shopping bags from the seat next to them, and shush violently if another person, even twenty rows away, commits the cardinal sin of coughing. they’ve been here forever, and – gloriously, cheerlessly – will be here forever.

2) soap actors, provenance unknown.
cannes is a place where the stars effulge, hollywood reveals its dazzle-halo, and a thousand bold-face names set ten thousand cameras into clicking, flashing overload. and then there’s the english pavilion, where a bunch of public-school chancers talk up their latest projects (always, always about black kids keeping it real and doing dodgy deals with triads and gypsies in east london), and you find someone trying to cadge a fag off you, someone quite sad and desperate-looking and wearing last year’s designer white jeans and they’re talking about their new production company and the blacks-and-gypsies thriller they’re working on and their their face seems a bit familiar and then you remember – it’s what’s-his-name off what’s-that-soap that used to be on was-it-channel-5?

3) ‘c’mon, ref!’
every so often, you’re in a bar with some friends talking about great actors today and why there aren’t any, and then someone mentions malcolm mcdowell. where has he gone? is he alive? or has he gone to that place in the sky where the people are so nice they won’t mention his roles in mummy: tomb of the pharaoh, dinotopia: quest for the ruby sunstone or the neogenic nightmare: chapter 10 episode of the tv version of spider-man? where is malcolm? what does he do?
I had an insight the other evening when I went to the american pavilion to watch the milan v man united game screened live. yes, the american pavilion; not the english one – because clearly it belongs to such a cinephile nation brimming with world-class auteurs that it couldn’t spare any time to show a game that so many people were desperate to see. there, two yards from me, was the great malcolm mcdowell, still blessed with cheekbones so sharp they could cut through titanium, and with a menace that would make you think twice before approaching him for directions on a dark night. men and women were coming up to him to say hello, grab a kiss, tell him how much they liked his films. mainly, and with great courtesy, he waved them away; they were getting in the way of the scream.
throughout the evening, he was up on his feet, shouting ‘c’mon ref!’, ‘no, fucking way!’, ‘shoot it, gerrard!’ his disappointment at the end was overwhelming. so maybe that’s what malcolm mcdowell has been doing the last few years: not jacking up, not becoming an la-real-estate mogul, but just watching the telly, and, sometimes, shouting at it when his team’s not doing well.

4) monoprix
everything in cannes is priced up. a thimbleful of water will set you back a bundle of euros. all the stores seem to sell are sweaty, overpriced baguette stores and cosmetics. unless, of course, they’re the designer-clothes boutiques where you sell out hundreds of quid for a piece of crumpled fabric bearing a print so loud and so hideous you’d rather attach yourself to a pile of bricks and jump into the ocean rather than be seen dead wearing them. and, unless, they’ve been taken over by packs of americans trust-fund chancers and students getting some ‘industry experience’, but who mainly sit around updating their facebook entries on their wi-fi laptops, and admiring each others tattoos.
and then there’s monoprix: it’s like woolworth’s, but better. great juices, cheap staples, a food hall whose prawn-heavy offerings easily rivals marks and spencer, fancy floral prints at bargain prices. now that lidl’s finally taking over in england, breaking up the high street monopoly of asda and tesco’s, it’d be great if monoprix would go international too. even if its name sounds like a saint etienne album title.

5) champagne
goes down well with everything, I’ve discovered.