Buzz in short supply at Cannes

Fri May 21, 2010 12:06am EDT
 
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By Elizabeth Guider

CANNES (Hollywood Reporter) - Some of the films were way too long, business was way too flat, the stars on the red carpet were predictably thin, and everybody's attention span is getting ever shorter.

That pretty much sums up the 63rd Cannes Film Festival, not to mention the fact that it took way too much effort for many travelers to get here, courtesy of that ever-shifting volcanic ash cloud.

There was a fractured edge to the proceedings because buyers, sellers, producers and filmmakers remain wearied by a recession that hasn't yet dissipated; if anything, it's worsened across southern Europe. The Brits seemed distracted by their own faltering economy and by trying to figure out what their new coalition government has in store for them. The Germans, once a reliable fest mainstay, fielded few entrants in the sections and generally played things low profile.

Cannes also lacked a proper scandale. No film was roundly booed or yanked; no one caused a ruckus.

One also could sense the muted tone in that there were very few stunts on the beach or over-the-top signage blanketing the hotels. There were parties aplenty -- including the chock-a-block market opening, complete with Chinese fireworks over the Mediterranean, and Vanity Fair's exclusive do at the Hotel du Cap -- but none really was for the record books.

Not that the event didn't have its cinematic charms. In its effort to balance art and commerce, organizers managed to provide a little something for everyone, even if no one on the Croisette seemed irrationally exuberant about anything.

Universal's "Robin Hood," Fox's "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" and Woody Allen's "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" upped the ante with glitzy red-carpet and media appearances by Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Michael Douglas, Naomi Watts, Allen and Oliver Stone. The press of flesh to get a glimpse was as thick and rabid as it is any year, and the general audience (if there is such a thing in Cannes) seemed more appreciative of these three Hollywood concoctions than did, say, the hardened media corps.

An old hand at these things, Douglas, with his streaked silver hair and suave manners, played the matinee idol to the hilt; Josh Brolin also got into the swing of it, doing double duty in the Stone and Allen pictures.   Continued...