From 'Gatsby' to Gosling, a preview of Cannes
This film image released by HBO shows Michael Douglas, right, as Liberace, and Matt Damon, as Scott Thorson in a scene from "Behind the Candalabra," a film being shown at the Cannes Film Festival. (AP Photo/HBO, Claudette Barius)
For even those most accustomed to the frenzy of celebrity, the Cannes Film Festival can be a disorienting experience.
For 12 days every year, the French Rivera resort town turns into one giant seaside swirl of glamour, high art and backroom deal-making. Like some sun-drenched phantasm, all of cinema comes alive in Cannes: its serious ambitions, bottom-line commerce and crass spectacle.
"Every time I go to Cannes, it feels like I'm entering the helicopter scene in 'La Dolce Vita,'" says Leonardo DiCaprio. "It's an insane experience. The entire town is turned into a red carpet. Every hotel is a premiere. But at the same time, it is the mecca for the world to celebrate filmmaking and bold filmmaking."
This year's Cannes, the 66th, kicks off Wednesday with Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby," a 3-D extravaganza starring DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire. In many ways, the movie's lavish, star-powered decadence epitomizes Cannes.
But by the time Luhrmann and his cast stroll down the Croisette, "The Great Gatsby" will have already opened in North America. Such a move by the widely respected Cannes artistic director Terry Fremaux has suggested to some perhaps a modicum of atypical desperation to lure a big, flashy film with some artistic ambitions (not always an easy thing to find these days). But it also highlights Cannes' loyalty to its favorites: Luhrmann's debut, "Strictly Ballroom," premiered at Cannes, and his "Moulin Rouge" was also a fest opener.
Cannes remains the grandest platform for filmmakers who want to be considered among the world's elite. For studios, it's an opportunity to globally promote some of their most prized films. This year, there's a finely curated buffet of both varieties.
Several films expected to have a big presence come Oscar season will premiere at Cannes, including Alexander Payne's "Nebraska," a film starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte as a father-son pair on a road trip. And few can top Ryan Gosling as a star attraction: His second collaboration with Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn ("Drive"), the Bangkok noir "Only God Forgives," promises to be one of the most thrillingly violent films at the festival.
This film publicity image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, left, and Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in a scene from "The Great Gatsby." The film will be shown at the Cannes Film Festival running from May 15 to May 26. (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures, Daniel Smith)
Much of the world's attention will be focused on the 20 films competing for the prestigious Palme d'Or, which last year went to Michael Hanekes "Amour," also a best-picture nominee at the Oscars.