Eastwood joins dark films among Cannes favorites

Tue May 20, 2008 5:24pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

CANNES, France (Reuters) - An animated documentary about Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon and a courageous attempt to portray the Naples mafia were among the frontrunners for top honors as the Cannes film festival hit halfway.

Film goers were generally impressed with the quality of the competition movies screened so far, although some said the main line-up lacked the punch of a standout contender.

That may have come on Tuesday with veteran actor and director Clint Eastwood, whose movie starring Angelina Jolie won warm applause after its press screening.

Originally titled "The Changeling," there was some confusion at the news conference about the English title for the 1920s drama, as production notes called it "The Exchange."

"Usually at this stage we would have seen more absolute stinkers," said film critic and author Mark Cousins, who is at his 18th Cannes festival. "For me it's a rather high standard."

Among his favorites for the Palme d'Or, which goes to the jury's choice of best film, is "Waltz With Bashir," director Ari Folman's attempt to piece together buried memories of the 1982 massacre of Palestinians in Beirut's Sabra and Shatila camps.

Italy's "Gomorra" was hailed for its bravery in depicting the brutal world of the Camorra crime network in Naples.

It is based on the best-selling account of the group by journalist Roberto Saviano, who has been living under police protection for the past two years.   Continued...

<p>U.S. director Clint Eastwood (C) walks with his wife Dina as cast member Angelina Jolie (L) and actor Brad Pitt walk on the red carpet after the screening of "The Exchange" at the 61st Cannes Film Festival May 20, 2008. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard</p>