By Eugene Hernandez | Indiewire May 12, 2010 at 3:57AM
Each day at the Cannes Film Festival (May 12 - 23), indieWIRE is publishing a frequently updated dispatch from France. All times listed are local French time.
10:56 PM: Cannes Around The Web - While indieWIRE's Cannes team most certainly aims to be an optimal resource for those of you checking out coverage of the fest, there are other folks offering worthy takes on the ongoings as well. As day one comes to a close, the invaluable Roger Ebert has his first blog entry from his umpteenth trip to the fest, while Cannes first timers Guy Lodge (of In Contention) and Sasha Stone (of Awards Daily), also offer early musings from the Croisette, with Lodge oogling the poster for "Tournee" and Stone offering a diary of her day on the Croisette. Cinematical's Joe Utichi, meanwhile, offers his 10 best bets for the fest, while The Huffington Post's Michael Giltz kicks off coverage of what he calls a "promising" edition of the fest with some video from the scene. "Promising" doesn't seem like a word the The Los Angeles Times's Kenneth Turan might call Cannes 2010, though. His story says that "the selection overall does not have a palpable air of excitement about it." [Peter Knegt]
10:45 PM: Thompson on "Robin Hood" - Anne Thompson offers her take on the premiere of Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood" as Cannes opens:
"With Ridley Scott recovering from knee surgery, that left Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett and Imagine’s Brian Grazer to field the press conference for the 63rd Cannes opener, Robin Hood.
The movie played okay at the press screening this morning. No seat slapping, booing, or cheering. Judging from early reviews and the folks I’ve spoken to, it’s one of those good-not-great reactions, which given its substantial cost—and whatever the “real” figure is, the movie is hugely expensive—this movie is doomed." [More at Thompson on Hollywood]
6:44 PM: Help Wanted - Outside the Palais now, young French folks, dressed up in their absolute best, are pounding the pavement hoping someone, anyone, will hear their pleas.
Kids with signs and even a young woman riding on a friend's shoulders are begging for a last minute ticket to the Cannes' opening night gala that is about to begin right now. In the spirit of the story of Robin Hood, will someone steal a ticket from a rich patron and hand it over to one of the poor kids pleading for a seat?
No such luck, so far, but the hopeful kids were getting the attention of the media who were snapping their photos and interviewing them about their ticket searches.
Next door to the Lumiere Theater, journalists and critics are filing in for the first competition screening of the Fest, Mathieu Almaric's "Tournee." [Eugene Hernandez]
6:20 PM: Rounding Up News From the Marche - Lots of smaller news items and slate announcements from the first day of the Marche du Cannes have made the rounds on indieWIRE's iW NOW blog. A quick summary: Boutique sales outfit Recreation announced that it will be handling the International and domestic sales of Alistair Banks Griffin’s Directors’ Fortnight (Quinzaine des Realisateurs) entry, "Two Gates of Sleep"; Foresight set their slate for the Marche, including "Universal Solider IV," Patrick Dempsey-starrer "Flypaper," and "The Ledge," starring Terrance Howard, Liv Tyler, and Patrick Wilson; New York-based Locomotive Distribution is attending Cannes for the first time this year, and announced a slate including the Ray Winstone-starring British caper “The Hot Potato,” Nancy Kwon doc “To Whom It May Concern,” and Tribeca title “Snowmen," and Kathy Bates starrer “Temple of Venus"; Peace Arch Entertainment will be selling "Wild Oats" in the Marche, with Shirley MacLaine, Maria Bello, Christina Ricci, John Corbett and Bill Pullman all attached to star; ID Films announced a deal with Grindstone Entertainment Group LLC for the feature film ‘Ecstasy of Gold," in which it will be released in the US by Lionsgate Home Entertainment; and last but perhaps not least, Media 8 Entertainment announced that Kurt Russell is attached to play the lead in “Undying” (formerly known as “Reaper”), a supernatural thriller that they are selling in the market. [Peter Knegt]
4:55 PM: Cannes Goes Queer - Nearly 25 years after Berlin did it, Cannes has finally gone queer: For this year's fest, a jury will hand out the "Queer Palm," an award given to the best LGBT film at the festival. The award will be handed out next Saturday, May 22nd. Heading into the fest, Xavier Dolan, Cam Archer, and Gregg Araki's new films all seem like good candidates. [Peter Knegt]
2:40 PM: Meet the Jury - "We are all sensitive to calling ourselves judges," Cannes jury president Tim Burton said a few minutes ago here at the festival, flanked by his fellow jury members Albert Barbera, Kate Beckinsale, Emmanuel Carrere, Alexandre Desplat, Victor Erice, Shekhar Kapur, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, and Benicio del Toro.
Asked whether its hard to judge or be judged, Burton added, "We all bring a sensitivity...we want to view every film with a generosity. We're constantly being judged, we'll be judged as judges. I think this is the harder part, but we are going to make the best of it."
"It's an opportunity for all of us to see what's going on in the world of cinema," Burton elaborated, a few moments later, of the jury opportunity. "The element of surprise is something that you are always looking for in film. We will be surprised." [Eugene Hernandez]
1:31 PM: Crowe's Show - It's official, director Ridley Scott is not on hand for the opening night Cannes Film Festival debut of his latest, "Robin Hood." He's apparently sidelined with an injury and is currently healing.
Repping the film at a press conference happening right now here in Cannes are leads Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett along with producer Brian Grazer.
Given the origins of the project, which was driven by actor Russell Crowe, it actually seemed appropriate that he was the lead spokesperson for the film.
"We took a very arrogant perspective," Crowe said of the decision to re-visit such a often told story as the tale of Robin Hood. "Do you think its time to re-work "Robin Hood," Crowe asked Grazer. The producer, well known for his work with Ron Howard, quickly signed on.
"I got the script from Russell," Grazer said, "I wanted to be part of supporting Russell's vision."
After the press conference, Crowe and Blanchett made their way to NBC's local set for the Today show and a live interview with host Matt Lauer that is being beamed back to the States (ahead of the film's opening in U.S. theaters this Friday. [Eugene Hernandez]
11:28 AM: Indie Shake-up -- Calling it an "Earthquake in the US Distribution Landscape," Sydney Levine (on her new SydneysBuzz blog here at indieWIRE) surveys a shock that went through the industry this week with word that Bob Berney had suddenly left Apparition, a company he formed just last year with Bill Pohlad. The new distribution outfit was unveiled in Cannes last year with Jane Campion's "Bright Star." This year Berney is en route to the festival facing questions about his reasons for leaving Apparition so quickly and inquiries about his plans for the future. Even within the past week it seemed like business as usual at Apparition for those inside and outside the company. Word is that staff were preparing to head to Cannes when they got word of Berney's exit, calling into question their own travel plans.
Industry insiders, critics and others from the American industry typically gather at long tables upstairs at La Pizza for communal dinners on the eve of the festival, this year's gatherings included teams from Focus International, The Weinstein Company, IM Global and a mix of folks from indieWIRE and affiliated sites and colleagues. Everyone was talking about the Berney departure.
Bob and Jeanne Berney confirmed yesterday that that will be here in Cannes for the Festival this week, but there's no news on their affiliation. Speculation (among those who haven't spoken with Berney about the matter) currently involves an imagined alliance with Newmarket where Berney once released films including "Memento" and Donnie Darko." Notably, the company, now owned by Exclusive Media Group, just yesterday announced a VOD, DVD and TV output deal with Lions Gate. The Newmarket arm of Exclusive Media Group (which also owns Exclusive Films, Hammer Films, and Exclusive Film Distribution) plans to release 6 - 8 "director-driven" movies each year.
Whether or not he's eyeing Exclusive and Newmarket, there's certainly more to come on the Berney saga. But, will the story be told this week here in Cannes? [Eugene Hernandez]
11:14 AM: Guide to Cannes -- The Cannes Film Festival plays out in a rather systematic way each day for 12 days. Setting the stage for the event as it gets underway today, indieWIRE has published a day by day guide to the 2010 Festival de Cannes featuring links to individual film pages for each festival selection, including photos, trailers, clips and ultimately film critic’s grades as part of our criticWIRE survey of fest films. [More in indieWIRE's Guide to Cannes]
10:19 AM: Early Word on "Robin Hood" -- While the 63rd Festival de Cannes won't formally open until tonight's gala screening at the Lumiere Theater inside the Palais des Festivals, the event effectively began just a few minutes ago with the start of festival's first screening. Over at the large Debussy theater, the first showing of Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood" kicked-off at the top of the hour.
New to the indieWIRE Network, longtime Variety critic Todd McCarthy launched his new site earlier this week, Todd McCarthy's Deep Focus, with an early review of the Cannes opening night entry. His take was hardly positive:
"A conjectural “origins” story about the career birth of England’s legendary people’s outlaw, Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood” is neither as good as the director’s personal best period epic, “Gladiator,” nor a match for Hollywood’s most memorable previous accounts of the beneficent bandit of Sherwood Forest (it is, however, superior to the Kevin Costner entry two decades back, which I at the time dubbed “Robin of Wood”). Earthy, rugged and earnestly advanced in quasi-plausible historical terms, this grandly produced picture can be regarded as something of a tangential sequel to Scott’s ambitious “Kingdom of Heaven,” with Richard the Lionheart as the connective thread. After several pictures dedicated to documenting his increasing girth, it’s reassuring to see Russell Crowe back in fighting form, but the villains here chart new territory in one-dimensionality, the essential storyline is bereft of surprise and the picture ends where most Robin Hood tales—sensibly, as it turns out—begin." [More at Todd McCarthy's Deep Focus]