CANNES 2000: Miramax Back in Action, French Competitor, and Camera d'Or Race
Miramax is back to its old tricks again. After remaining relatively dormant in the acquisitions game at recent festivals, the indie studio made a splash the first day of the 53rd Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday with its reported acquisition of Roland Joffe's opening night film, "Vatel," which brought its stars Uma Thurman, Gerard Depardieu, Julian Sands and Tim Roth to the Grand Palais on Tuesday night. Contrary to popular opinion, Miramax's Harvey Weinstein called the film, according to Variety, "an example of the finest in filmmaking." But one veteran critic called it "one of the worst movies ever" after hearing news of the pick-up. Some industry-ites ponder the sale as a political one, a way to make Miramax allies with the film's French powerhouse company, Gaumont.
Miramax also made another surprising alliance, it was announced on Thursday, with Artisan Entertainment, the swiftly rising distributor of "The Blair Witch Project," marking the first-time the two companies have ever worked together. They have joined forces to co-produce and distribute the sequel to the successful 1987 Patrick Swayze hit "Dirty Dancing." A 50/50 venture, Artisan will retain domestic rights, while Miramax controls international rights. In Artisan's announcement, Co-CEO Amir Malin said the deal is in keeping with the company's willingness to "keeping an eye towards lucrative alliances that will ultimately benefit the bottom line."
Fortunately, with little consideration given to the bottom line, German-born, French-based director Dominik Moll unveiled his intriguing domestic thriller "Harry: He is Here to Help" (Harry, Un Ami Qui Vous Veut du Bien," on Thursday night, screening in the Competition. Filled with a spine-tingling sense of tension for the first hour, the film follows repressed family man Michel (Laurent Lucas, "The New Eve," "Pola X"), along with his wife Claire (Mathilde Seigner, "Hometown Blue," "Time Regained") and their three infant daughters as they head to their remote summer home in the countryside. At a pitstop in a gas station bathroom, Michel meets the strangely smiling Harry (Sergi Lopez, "Western," "An Affair of Love") a childhood classmate who comes along to the vacation home with his plum, voluptuous fiancé, Plum (Sophie Guillemin, "L'Ennui").
Early moments of the film feel like French master Claude Chabrol's handy-work or Moll's admittedly favorite director, Alfred Hitchcock