Fri, May 09, 2008 - Page 16 News List

Despite reduced slate, Hollywood adds star power to Cannes

Even the French film festival can’t do without a good old-fashioned helping of American star magnetism, and this year the big guns are out in force

By Andy Goldberg  /  DPA, LOS ANGELES

The president of the jury Sean Penn, center, and jury members of the 61st edition of the Cannes International Film Festival.

PHOTO: AFP

It may embody the epitome of European chic, but even the Cannes Film Festival can’t do without a good old-fashioned helping of American star power.

This year the US contribution will be one of the lightest in recent memory, but the Hollywood movies that will screen in and out of competition are still likely to dominate festival headlines and the packs of paparazzi.

Leading the cavalry charge is a legendary film franchise, made by a legendary director, and featuring a legendary star. That movie is of course Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by George Lucas, based on his story idea.

This is the fourth in the Indie Jones series but the first in 19 years. Apart from the iconic Harrison Ford in the title role the cast includes Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent and to add youth appeal, Shia LaBeouf. The Cannes showing will be the movie’s world premiere, followed by a US release on May 22.

Another Hollywood power-house sure to wow Cannes audiences is Clint Eastwood. The former action movie film star, who rose to fame as the star of Italian director Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns, has always bridged the usually opposing values of being an American icon and a European-style idol.

He returns to the French Riviera to compete at Cannes for a fifth time with the thriller The Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie and John Malkovich in the story of a kidnapping set in the 1920s. The glamorous backdrop of that era will be further enhanced by the starring role of Jolie, who is expected to attend with husband Brad Pitt.

Jolie also has another good reason for attending. She is one of the voice stars of the eagerly awaited film Kung Fu Panda, an animated martial arts themed comedy, that also features the voices of Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Black and Lucy Liu. The story of a lowly panda plucked from his job at a family noodle store to take on an evil overlord, the movie is a more a homage to martial arts films than a parody, and will be screened out of competition.

More serious fare will be offered by Steven Soderbergh — who will screen two related movies about the late Latin revolutionary Che Guevara as a single entry in the festival.

The Argentine focuses on the Cuban revolution, from the moment Fidel Castro, Guevara and other revolutionaries landed on the Caribbean island, until they toppled the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista two years later.

The second movie, Guerrilla, will focus on the years following the Cuban revolution, beginning with Che’s trip to the UN head-quarters in New York in 1964, until his death in the Bolivian mountains in 1967. Benicio del Toro plays Che in both movies — that will take over four hours to screen in their conjoined version.

The other American film in the slimmed down 22-picture main competition is the non-traditional horror film, Synecdoche, New York, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Michelle Williams, Samantha Morton and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

The movie marks the directing debut of Charlie Kaufman, a writer whose screenplay credits include the off-kilter critical favorites Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Woody Allen will also be screening an out-of-competition movie. His sexy drama Vicky Cristina Barcelona will debut at Cannes, starring Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson and Javier Bardem, who reportedly appear in a threesome sex scene together.

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