Day 1: The Cannes Film Festival kicks off with Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" and with the dominant presence of Harvey Weinstein
This is the first of TheWrap's daily roundups of news 'n' notes from the 2012 Cannes Film Festival …
The 65th installment of Cannes kicked off on Wednesday – and if there's little chance of equaling the widespread acclaim directed at the 64th festival, hope springs eternal on the Croisette from filmmakers and distributors hoping for a launch like the one "The Artist" got last year, or at least a couple of good reviews and a small bidding war.
The opening-night film, though, doesn't need a buyer: Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" is set to be released by Focus Features, which is also screening it for stateside critics on the same day it debuts in the South of France.
The film stars Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis and Edward Norton – and according to an interview with Anderson in the Hollywood Reporter, "it's a romance between two 12-year-olds in 1965." (Newbie actors Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward play the kids in question.)
Anderson says he's honored to be included in the main competition at Cannes, particularly since the film's marketing plan was always based on a Cannes launch. As for the opening-night pressure, he's far more matter-of-fact about it than last year's opening-night director, Woody Allen, who described the event as a hellish night of red carpets he didn't look forward to walking, photos he'd rather weren't taken and ovations he'd just as soon not receive.
"I don't really have to do anything," says Anderson. "As far as I'm told I have to walk up the staircase and then sit and watch the movie."
According to Xan Brooks at the Guardian, though, that staircase isn't what is used to be. In a piece about the snobbishness of Cannes, he interviews Eve Jackson, the culture editor at the French news site France 24. The stairs outside the Palais, Jackson insists, were recently rebuilt: "They made them even steeper. This was to give the impression that the guests are ascending to movie heaven."
If it's heaven, Anne Thompson suggests that Harvey Weinstein is this year's god – or, to use less lofty and more secular language, the festival's biggest power player. "The French have never more adored the indie powerhouse, who scored five Oscars for 'The Artist' last year, including Best Picture and Actor," she wrote.
This year, she adds, the Weinstein Company is already dominating the festival, having acquired John Hillcoat's "Lawless" (right), Andrew Dominik's "Killing Me Softly," Dustin Hoffman's "Quartet" and Wayne Blair's "The Sapphires," with its eyes (and pocketbook) set on James Gray's "Low Life" as well.
Meanwhile, Thompson's former indieWIRE colleague Eugene Hernandez, now at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, sets himself a task: "If I could catch only ten of the 70+ new feature films screening over the next two weeks in France, which ones would I watch?" He skips the Cronenberg and the Dominik and the Resnais, and goes for Wes Anderson, Walter Salles, Michel Gondry and this top five: "Post Tenebras Lux" (Carlos Reygadas), "Reality" (Matteo Garrone), "The Paperboy" (Lee Daniels), "Mekong Hotel" (Apichatpong Weerasethakul) and "Laurence Anyways" (Xavier Dolan).
And if some of those films prove to be eminently worthy but get passed when it comes time for Nanni Moretti's jury to hand out awards, In Contention's Guy Lodge has a consoling slideshow: "Top 10 Cannes Film Festival Losers." By this he means great films that left the Croisette empty-handed.
The list includes Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing," Lars von Trier's "Dogville," Luis Bunuel's "The Exterminating Angel," Curtis Hanson's "L.A. Confidential," Alfred Hitchcock's "Notorious" and Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge!" The most egregiously overlooked film of all? Lodge says it's Krszyztof Kieslowski's "Three Colors: Red."
Finally, as the worldwide press descends upon Cannes, it's always fun to see Jeff Wells complain. Wells, whose gripes about locale and wi-fi and such are always a staple and sometimes a highlight of his film-festival coverage, gives a blow-by-blow description of his trip from Germany. The only snafu is that he went straight from the bus depot to the Palais to pick up his credential, only to learn that they wouldn't let him into the Palais with his luggage. I've never been to Cannes – why do I know that they don't allow luggage into the Palais, and longtime visitor Jeff doesn't?
TheWrap will offer extensive coverage of Cannes throughout the festival. Stay up-to-date at our Report From Cannes column.