Glamour, art, politics collide at classic Cannes

Fri May 6, 2011 11:10am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - The Cannes film festival is gearing up for what critics say should be a vintage year, with Hollywood stars out in force, revered directors there in droves and political controversy thrown into the mix.

The world's biggest cinema showcase has suffered from studio cost-cutting and lackluster lineups in recent years, but news that Terrence Malick's eagerly awaited "The Tree of Life" is in the main competition has cinephiles licking their lips.

Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Sean Penn, Mel Gibson, French First Lady Carla Bruni and jury president Robert De Niro are among big names expected to walk the red carpet and hit the French Riviera party circuit.

And in addition to Malick, movie lovers can admire the latest works from Pedro Almodovar, two-time Cannes winners the Dardenne brothers, previous Palme d'Or laureates Lars Von Trier and Nanni Moretti and Japan's prolific director Takashi Miike.

"It's the strongest lineup in ages," said Mark Cousins, a film critic and regular Cannes attendee.

"It's the Malick that most excites. Some film makers make films about their home town, or their country, but Terrence Malick makes films about what it's like to be alive."

The Tree of Life stars Pitt and Penn in a family saga set in the Midwest during the 1950s. The long wait for its arrival, and a trailer featuring mysterious cosmic scenes, have raised expectations for what is only Malick's fifth feature.

Penn also appears in Italian director Paolo Sorrentino's in-competition "This Must Be The Place," in which he portrays a retired rock star who sets out to find his father's executioner, an ex-Nazi war criminal living in the United States.   Continued...

<p>Brad Pitt and Laramie Eppler in a scene from 'The Tree of Life' from director Terrence Malick. REUTERS/Fox Searchlight</p>