Entertainment behind the scenes
The first film has been shown at Cannes and it is already a hit, which will come as welcome relief in the general climate of economic crisis that has surrounded the start of the festival.
Disney/Pixar’s “Up”, the story of retired balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen, thrown together with a keen but clumsy boy scout called Russell, has been hailed as “arguably the funniest Pixar effort ever” by The Hollywood Reporter and as a “tremendous film” by Britain’s The Guardian newspaper.
Director Pete Docter said he was inspired by film-makers of an earlier era like Frank Capra and “Up’s” debt to old movies is obvious.
Three dimensional digital effects give a remarkable visual depth to the adventure of the gruff old widower and the zealous young stowaway who float away to South America in a house borne aloft under a string of balloons. As the pair swing precariously through the clouds above the jungle green or flee a bounding pack of dogs, the 3D effects add a dazzling dimension to the tale. But beneath it all, the film is an old fashioned story of love and redemption in the classic Hollywood manner that would have done the old master proud. “Walt Disney always said that for every laugh there has to be a tear,” said producer and Pixar boss John Lasseter. Many a tear certainly seemed to be creeping out from under the special 3D goggles at the press screening and it was faintly disconcerting to see so many hardened reporters blubbing silently away as the credits rolled.
The Cannes film festival lineup just announced has a familiar ring to it, with several past winners vying for that nice gold-coloured leaf grandly called the Palme d’Or in 2009. Quentin Tarantino (who won in 1994) unveils the oddly spelled “Inglourious Basterds”, his World War Two caper starring Brad Pitt. Ken Loach (2006) and Jane Campion (1993) are also in the running in the main competition lineup as is Lars von Trier (2000).
Grabbing just as much limelight on the French Riviera, though, will be Terry Gilliam and his “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”, the late Heath Ledger’s last movie with stars Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell stepping in to complete his role.
Safely back in the UK it’s time to bid farewell to another Cannes film festival. It’s the kind of event that you get excited about before, are fed up with while it is happening, never want to experience again by the end, and then long for a few months down the line. Does that make it like many marriages?
Unlike some of the miserable, grim and ultra-serious movies that Cannes likes to showcase, this year’s festival had a more Hollywood-style ending. After a competition of 22 films that started well, then deteriorated markedly, the 12-day festival was saved at the death by “Entre les Murs”, a stirring drama set in the classrooms of a tough Parisian high school.
As a mere reporter, it is not often I get to mix with the rich and famous on the red carpet. But I got a rare chance this week when the organisers of the annual amfAR AIDS charity bash asked me and a few other reporters along to cover their star-studded event just outside Cannes.
After waiting an hour in a traffic jam just outside Mougins, where the giant marquee for 700 dinner guests is put up, the short walk along the packed red carpet to the entrance felt almost as long. Rows of reporters, including several colleagues, shouted out to just about everyone except me, or so it seemed. When one cameraman I know did finally acknowledge my presence, it was not to take a picture of me but to ask if I would take a picture of him. With a sigh and a smile, I did.
Heading into the final weekend at the Cannes film festival, Sean “Diddy” Combs hits town, and writer Charlie Kaufman (“Adaptation”) has made his directorial debut with “Synechdoche, New York.” That’s prounounced sin-ek-duh-kee.
What exactly makes a Cannes film? If you scroll down the Fan Fare blog, you may see a comment on our “‘Indiana Jones’ avoids critical mauling, but…” posting that ponders why such a big event Hollywood movie would play at a festival like Cannes that is known for more art-oriented cinema.
I cannot tell you what Cannes festival programmers think, but I can tell you that in 15 years of writing about movies and 10 years of covering festivals, that type of comment generally has several answers. Festival directors often say big Hollywood movies bring big Hollywood stars, which can draw attention both to the festival and the art films that may not otherwise be seen. Moreover, what’s a festival for, if not to bring a wide variety of movies to the people who are attending.
Spoiler alert: We give away one detail of Woody Allen’s new movie, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” so if you don’t want to know, don’t read on. But it’s too irresistible to keep hidden, and soon somebody will spill it.
For months, ”Vicky Cristina Barcelona” has been shrouded in mystery. What it is about? Woody, shooting in Spain and not New York? Were co-stars Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz romantically involved during the shoot? Are they still?