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Festival in Cannes

Starring Anouk Aimee, Greta Scacchi, Maximillian Schell and Ron Silver; Zack Norman and introducing Jenny Gabrielle
Written and Directed by Henry Jaglom

IN SHORT: Not our style. [Rated PG-13 due to brief strong language. 99 minutes]

Festival in Cannes is the second of writer/director Henry Jaglom's thirteen films we've sat through (Venice Venice was first). Jaglom has a gift for coming up with stories and excels at creating believable relationships. He would do well to concentrate on his strengths. His style seems to be: shoot lots of footage in exotic locations and then drop a half formed story into the setting, allowing the cast to improvise as much as possible. This method is more fitting for a grad student than a fully formed pro. Jaglom is further hampered this time out by setting his film at the seaside French location famous for its film festival. Being near the sea means that waves are constantly crashing in the soundtrack background. Because of this dialog from different takes is cut together to make clear sounding sentences. In this case the word by word edits are pieced together so horribly that watching Festival in Cannes was as painful as some of the intrinsically awful flicks that see first dark at these festivals. We used to work as a sound man. We know of what we hear and we heard a lousy bit of work that completely blocked out ability to comment fully on the story, which is a simple one of mismatched couples finding love against the background of the Festival in Cannes.

The Cannes Film Festival is the most famous of all the festivals. Distributors come looking for finished product to buy. Producers come looking for scripts that are ready for production. Writers come looking to sell their scripts and actors come because that's what they do. The new films are screened. Those lucky enough to have a ticket to the right screening get to see tomorrow's superstar long before those of us in Anytown, USA do. This film is about all those types and how what passes for work degenerates into romantic love.

At the center of this film are Millie Marguand (Anouk Aimée), actress and ex-wife of the aging and famed producer Viktor Kovner (Maximillian Schell), and famed actress Alice Palmer (Greta Scacchi), now writing an otherwise uncommercial script that Palmer hopes will be her first project as a director. Sticking his nose into her business is Kaz Naiman (Zack Norman) an enthusiastic, pushy first time producer who raises $3 millions with a single phone call and makes the connection to the star of Palmer's dreams, the aforementioned Ms. Marguand. The problem is, Kaz needs to make his film by the end of the year (for tax reasons) and Millie's potential commitment to this indieflick causes major headaches for long time and incredibly successful producer/director Rick Yorkin (Ron Silver). Yorkin wants Millie for a bit part in his next film, which stars Tom Hanks and a prominent but disposable French actress.

There's another story about the "next big thing," an actress named Blue (Jenny Gabrielle) with no personality or star quality whatsoever. Blue wanders around Cannes, in the opening scenes, in a daze -- she hasn't grasped that it is her face on the billboards -- and that daze doesn't fade much as she falls into Yorkin's circle of influence and for Yorkin's ambitious assistant, Barry (Alex Craig Mann).

All the major characters have the ever-important secret to hide. What is remarkable about Jaglom's writing is that the story doesn't fall back on the well worn idea of "what happens when the secret comes to light?". None of the secrets in Festival in Cannes squirm to light and all of the relationships evolve in a perfectly normal manner. That is something that is unique in most films coming from independent sources and something we enjoy seeing. We're putting the rating at a level that reflects that, because our training in Sound puts us in a unique group that would writhe in pain while watching this film. Making a list of problems would mean nothing to you; that there are huge hunks of travel-loge type footage that interfere with the story -- they're supposed to add color and give you a sense of Cannes, but they don't -- is where the deductions come into play.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Festival in Cannes, he would have paid . . .


Pay-per-view level because this is one movie that requires a teevee screen, so you can get up and walk away (or hit the fast forward button) when it shifts into travel-logue mode.

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