Woody Allen film charms Cannes, Lady Gaga surprises

Wed May 11, 2011 5:45pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White and Nick Vinocur

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Woody Allen delighted the crowds at the start of the Cannes film festival on Wednesday with "Midnight In Paris," in which Owen Wilson travels back in time and meets the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso.

There was laughter and applause from famously fussy Cannes critics at the press screening, which opened 11 days of red carpets, media interviews, lounging on luxury yachts and late night partying in the glamorous Riviera resort.

In a testament to the festival's pulling power, Hollywood stars Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman, Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas twirled and smiled for a legion of tuxedo-wearing photographers on the red carpet leading to the festival palace.

Hayek, in town to promote her film "Puss in Boots," held their attention for the longest with a cream-colored floor-length dress and sideswept hairdo.

Gleaming yachts packed the harbor around the giant cinema complex, the rich and famous filled the five-star hotels and organizers hoped the 2011 festival lives up to this year's unusually high expectations.

Blockbusters "Kung Fu Panda 2" starring Angelina Jolie and "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" with Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz both launch in Cannes, as studios return en masse after avoiding the notoriously costly trip to France due to the financial crisis over the past couple of years.

And De Niro is in town as head of this year's jury. "For me to see 20 movies in this amount of time is unusual and it's kind of a bit of a vacation, because I can focus on the films, (and) don't have any distractions that I normally would have in my everyday life, so this is a terrific thing for me," he said.

Adding to the star power, pop diva Lady Gaga gave a "surprise" concert on the palm-lined waterfront wearing a two-toned hairstyle, matador-like bodice and spotted tights as fans screamed from behind the barricades.   Continued...