Cannes critics cool as film competition nears end

Fri May 23, 2008 1:46pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

CANNES, France (Reuters) - A lack of memorable movies means the 2008 Cannes film festival has scored poorly among many critics, who argue that after a solid start the main competition faded.

Star power was sustained, however, with the red carpet attracting big names like Madonna, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Clint Eastwood, Penelope Cruz, Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford and sports stars Mike Tyson and Diego Maradona.

With two out of 22 films in the main competition this year yet to screen, critics and journalists who have been through 10 days of movies, news conferences, interviews and parties struggled to come up with many highlights.

The competition closes on Sunday evening when the nine-member jury headed by Sean Penn hands out the awards, culminating in the coveted Palme d'Or for best picture.

"Even before the halfway mark, the general mood has been one of disappointment," said Jay Weissberg, a critic with trade publication Variety.

"Coming off another weak Berlin festival, there is a sense that 2008 is not going to be the best year for films."

He and several others highlighted "Waltz With Bashir" as a potential winner of the top prize.

The animated documentary was seen as an innovative way of exploring an Israeli draftee's memories of the 1982 massacre of Palestinians living in Beirut's Sabra and Shatila camps.   Continued...

<p>French director Philippe Garrel (C) raises his fist as he arrives on the red carpet with cast members Clementine Poidatz (L), Laura Smet (2nd L) and his son Louis Garrel (3rd L), who waves before the screening of "La Frontiere de l'Aube" at the 61st Cannes Film Festival May 22, 2008. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard</p>