France loves ‘Indiana Jones’
But there are still lotsof nerves at Cannes fest
CANNES, France—“ Tres bien.” That is the first review after the first public screening of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull at the Cannes FilmFestival.
It came from 12-year-old Pablo Schmit as he exited the theater Sunday.
His mother, Cecile Alcais, 38, translated: “It’s very good.”
Then she said: “But Harrison Ford is too old now. Harrison is the hero, but he may be too old. (My son) prefers the young guy.” That would be Shia LaBeouf, who plays Jones’ sidekick, Mutt.
The best part for Pablo, though: “He’s going to tell all his friends he was the first French boy to see the film,” his mother said. “He’s very happy.”
And so should be the Indiana Jones filmmakers. Cannes can be a dangerous place to open. Cannes festivalgoers — largely a mix of journalists, critics and industry executives — are a notoriously tough crowd. They tend to boo.
There were no boos at the end of the first Indy screening but instead a round of applause.
The tension surrounding the Indiana Jones screening plays out throughout the festival, just below its glamorous surface, for any film making its debut. Movie veterans, newcomers, established box-office draws and perennial Oscar contenders alike describe an intense anxiety.
At the opening night premiere of Blindness, an apocalyptic drama about a world where everyone loses their sight, Julianne Moore turned to co-star Gael Garcia Bernal and said, “I’m about to swallowmy tongue, I’msonervous.”
“Being on the red carpet, it’s opening night, a big deal, and having not seen the filmall sort ofmademe a little nervous,” she said the next morning. Word-ofmouth on Blindness was mild, and the reviews were good, though not great — overall, a plus for the film. Nonetheless, Moore was enthusiastic once it was over.
“Is it more exciting than a regular New York premiere? Hell, yeah!” she says. “It feels like really high stakes here. It feels like a big deal. My parents know about the Cannes Film Festival. And I used to make the joke that my parents didn’t know the difference between Mark Harmon and Kevin Costner.”
During the day, crowds flocked around the historic (and heavily guarded) Hotel Carlton, the heart of celebrity activity. Fans aimtheir camcorders hoping to catch a glimpse of Angelina Jolie slipping in for interviews, but they are just as happy to see Michael Moore as he announces his plans for a Fahrenheit 9/11 follow-up.
The nearly century-old symbol of European elegance this week is festooned with kitschy ads for Get Smart and Hancock and a giant, temporary entryway designedlikeaMayan temple fromIndiana Jones. It’s the hotel where Cary Grant romanced Grace Kelly in Alfred Hitchcock’s to Catch a Thief (1955), and where Kelly was staying when she met her future husband, Prince Rainier III of nearbyMonaco.
It’s also where a young George Lucas made the deal for his Star Wars script while showing his first film, 1971’s THX 1138.
“I came as a poor, destitute film student,” Lucas recalls. “Everybody had turned American Graffiti down, but I talked to the head ofUnited Artists here, and so I said, ‘I’ve got thismovie, I’d really like to pitch it.’ So I pitched it to him, and he said ‘OK, we’ll do it. Or at least, we’ll give you the $10 to write the script.’ He said, ‘Do you have any other films?’ I said, ‘Well, I’ve got this space opera thing, it’s kind of an action adventurefilm . . . .’ Hesaid, ‘OK, we’llmakea deal for that, too.’ Just like that!” Other studios ultimately made both films, but that conversation on the third floor of the Carlton started it all.
Some celebrities came to Cannes this year with nothing to promote but a cause. U2’s Bono loaned his star power to the debut of The Third Wave, an Australian filmabout the tsunami in Sri Lanka three years ago. The singer was accompanied by the festival’s bad-boy, feature-film jury president Sean Penn, who has grabbed headlines for puffing cigarettes indoors in an act of defiance against a recent French ban.
Meanwhile, on the edge of town Friday night, the ultra-exclusive Restaurant Tetou played host to stars and moviemaking power brokers. Among them: Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Allen and Karen Allen.
Each came to Cannes for a different reason: Karen Allen was relaxing after reprising her role as Marion Ravenwood in Indiana Jones. Allen brought Vicky Cristina Barcelona, a romantic comedy starring Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem as entangled lovers in Spain. And Joneswas recruiting investors for a film adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s last novel, Islands in the Stream, which he hopes to perform in and direct fromhis own screenplay.
One filmmaker arrived with low expectations and came away with memories he said will last a lifetime. Mark Osborne co-directed the animated Kung Fu Panda and said he expected the hardline Cannes audience to jeer the children’s film. Osborne said it felt like a dreamwhen themovie got a rousing response at the black-tie premiere, with his idol, Lucas, in the audience.
“Everyone’s standing up. I’m looking around at all these smiling faces, and the entire balcony is leaning over, applauding and smiling. That is burned in my mind,” he said. “I was here back in ’99 with a stop-motion animation short called More. Itwasnothing like this. I remember being up in the balcony and people yelling at the screen and getting up in the middle and walking out.” This time, he adds: “I was just happy to not get booed.”
Spain to France: Woody Allen signs autographs at the Vicky Cristina Barcelona premiere.
‘Kingdom’ keepers: George Lucas, left, Steven Spielberg, Karen Allen, Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf and Cate Blanchett.
Smiling faces: Cannes jury president Sean Penn, left, and U2’s Bono arrive for the premiere of The ThirdWave, a filmabout the deadly tsunami.