Two men at an Andre Balasz properties hotel step inside an elevator decorated in a gawdy baroque style. One says to the other, “so, Bob, can you tell me about that new John Cameron Mitchell film?” The other responds, “well, Malik, think Romeo and Juliet crossed with ‘Avatar’ meets ‘Hedwig and the angry inch.’ This encounter, one of the subterfuges my mind comes up, sometimes, to help me soldier on with the writing, could stand in as the pitch of “How to talk to girls at parties,” a wickedly-funny new movie by John Cameron Mitchell.
Romeo is played by Enn, a British punk from Croydon and Juliet is Zan, a young woman from outer space. The film was adapted from a short story by Neil Gaiman. Croydon in the seventies: punk youths swarm the live show venues. Enn (a new actor by the name of Alex Sharp) bikes around the neighborhood with his friends and takes in a live show by the Dyscords, a band managed by Queen Bodicea (Nicole Kidman), a composite of Siouxsie and Cruella Devil. Later, Enn and friends bike over to an after-hour party. Right away, they notice that something’s off with the other guests. They wear latex of different hues and break into ritualistic flash mobs. Among all the strange plastikmen is Zan (Elle Fanning), an angelic-looking martian who he becomes infatuated with.
I’m a fan of John Cameron Mitchell’s work. His very presence on earth is a good thing for humankind. I remember interviewing him in New York City in 2006 for Anthem magazine, he wore a Black Flag T-shirt cut off at the shoulders. John Cameron Mitchell, who used to host the IFC film series “Escape from Hollywood,” hasn’t been to Cannes in over a decade. The last time he was here with a film was 2006, the film was “Shortbus.”
Which floor please?
Ali Naderzad is at the 70th Cannes Festival during May 17-27, 2017.