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Archive for Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Cannes plans Hollywood-heavy lineup

Film fest offering ‘popular auteur films’ to lure back bored attendees

May 12, 2004

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— There'll be no boring brown bunnies this time at the Cannes Film Festival, which has tossed in ogres, zombies, Greek warriors, assassins galore and a potty-mouthed Santa Claus to make up for last year's dreary offerings.

A year ago, Vincent Gallo's inert drama "The Brown Bunny," featuring the filmmaker driving in silence for minutes at a time, came to symbolize a dull slate of movies at the world's most prestigious film festival.

Organizers of the 57th Cannes fest, which opens today and runs through May 23, made sure to spice up the mix and hopefully stifle the yawns. Big summer flicks such as the animated ogre sequel "Shrek 2" and Brad Pitt's ancient Greece saga "Troy" are using Cannes to launch their theatrical releases.

The schedule is heavy on movies from edgy filmmakers, among them Pedro Almodovar's "Bad Education," which opens the festival tonight, Jean-Luc Godard's "Notre Musique" (Our Music), Wong Kar-Wai's "2046" and Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," the director's assault on President Bush's handling of the 9-11 attacks.

Hollywood movies already out in the United States are at Cannes as a springboard for overseas release, including the zombie fest "Dawn of the Dead," the Coen brothers' crime comedy "The Ladykillers" and Billy Bob Thornton's foul-mouthed "Bad Santa."

Cannes also is presenting the assassin vengeance tale "Kill Bill -- Vol. 2" from festival jury head Quentin Tarantino, who won the top honor at Cannes in 1994 for "Pulp Fiction."

Gilles Jacob, festival president, said organizers this year renewed their efforts to select "popular auteur films, or, if you prefer, intelligent popular films."

That populist approach can create fresh headaches for Cannes planners, with snooty critics complaining that Hollywood and commercial movies sometimes overrun more artistic choices.

"As always, the difficulty comes in respecting the balance, and that's what we're trying to do," Jacob said. "The idea is to appeal to the tastes of as many media as possible, as many professionals, as many movie-goers, though it's a given that you never know in advance what movie will have the most success with the representatives of a given country or a particular profession. ... That's why the idea of maximum diversity is so difficult to reach, but we attained it, I hope."

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