Hollywood's love-hate relationship with Cannes
May 10, 2007 - 8:22:45 AM

Los Angeles, May 10 - Travel agents are hopping, stylists are going crazy and plastic surgeons are sharpening their scalpels in anticipation. The high and mighty of Hollywood are set to decamp en masse to the Cannes Film Festival for another annual session of partying, paparazzi-dodging, film watching and deal making.

This year's line-up, both in and out of competition, reflects the continuing love-hate relationship between the US and international film industries.

At a time when the international box office is overtaking the US domestic market in financial clout, Hollywood will have a bigger presence than ever at what is widely regarded as the world's most prestigious film festival. At the same time, Hollywood insists that it remains the financial and artistic centre of the film world.

Thus fleets of private jets will be shuttling between Los Angeles and the Cote d'Azur ferrying the rich and famous of the film world to a life of old world glamour and new world business dealing.

'The Hollywood-Cannes romance is in full bloom,' notes industry bible Variety. 'The festival benefits from the presence of Hollywood stars, while the major studios get a high-profile international bow for their pics.'

It can be a double-edged sword of course. Last year, 'The Da Vinci Code' got a cool reception at Cannes and went on to under whelm at box offices around the world. Other films like 'Marie Antoinette' and 'The Lady-killers' also failed to benefit from the high profile.

Nevertheless, a cosmopolitan line-up of Hollywood movies is scheduled to grace Cannes. Wong Kar Wai's 'My Blueberry Nights' is a road movie set in the US, directed by a Chinese auteur, financed by a French company and starring a mix of British and US actors.

'Blueberry Nights' is singer Norah Jones' acting debut and also stars Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Rachel Weisz.

Gus Van Sant marks his third turn at Cannes with 'Paranoid Park', while James Gray returns for the second time with a film starring Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg and Eva Mendes, 'We Own the Night'.

Quentin Tarantino will return to the festival with his B-movi tribute 'Death Proof', hoping to repeat his success in 1994 when he won the top prize for 'Pulp Fiction'.

Other past winners making a return are Joel and Ethan Coen who won the Palme d'Or in 1991 for 'Barton Fink'. They are in the competition with 'No Country for Old Men', starring Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones and Woody Harrelson in a crime thriller about hunters who stumble on dead bodies, cash and drugs on a trip near the Mexican border.

David Fincher, the director of 'Alien', 'Fight Club' and 'The Panic Room' is also hoping to nab the top prize with 'Zodiac', a serial killer thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Cloe Sevigny and Robert Downey Jr.

Some of the top Hollywood talent will be in Cannes to attend screenings of their movies out of competition.

Crime caper 'Ocean's Thirteen' will have its premiere there attended by an all-star cast led by George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Another one to watch out for is Michael Winterbottom's 'A Mighty Heart', starring Angelina Jolie as the wife of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal journalist executed by extremists in Pakistan.

Also certain to make waves is Michael Moore's US healthcare documentary, 'Sicko'. Other documentaries include 'U2 3D', a concert film about the Irish super group, the nearly 15-hour opus 'The War', which will be shown in its entirety, and the Leonardo DiCaprio-produced environmental treatise 11th Hour.

Commenting on the US-heavy Cannes line-up, artistic director Thierry Fremaux said: 'I belong to a generation of cinephiles for whom loving cinema means loving American cinema, and I've the feeling this is going to be a great year for American films, both auteur and mainstream.

'We want to show that American cinema is full of energy and is regenerating it, and also that so-called genre films like Tarantino's and Fincher's have true artistic ambition,' he said.

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