CANNES -- It was difficult to believe, considering the mega-hype over Indiana Jones, the near-riot to get into the press screening and a throng of 3,000 hysterical fans who later went nutzoid over Harrison Ford & co. in the streets before the star-studded gala, but there is plenty of non-Indy action here.
Among other highlights from the Cannes Film Festival weekend, Woody Allen's new Spanish comedy, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, made a splash.
I mean that poetically, and literally in the pouring rain, on Saturday night. With Javier Bardem indulging in sexcapades with Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall, this is Allen's funniest movie since Mighty Aphrodite (1995).
By Sunday, Sun Media overheard Harvey Weinstein, avuncular head of the Weinstein Company, telling Allen how excited he is over the reaction: "Woody, they're going wild about it!" Weinstein smells a hit.
"I can't believe what is happening with the movie, it is so exciting," enthuses Barcelona co-star Cruz, who indulges in an on-screen menage-a-trois with Bardem (her real-life boyfriend, although she is reluctant to discuss that) and Johansson (as an American tourist seduced by Spain, then by Bardem).
Cruz says she was shocked at how "peculiar" it was to meet Allen for casting. "I went in there for two minutes and he was very, very sweet. After I came out, in three minutes, I called my agents and they said: 'Oh my God, you were there for such a long time!'
"And they were not joking. When I did my investigations with other actors, it is true, the meetings are very short. He just wants to see. He says he needs 10 seconds. He had already seen Volver and he knew what he was looking for. He just wants to see ... I don't know ... an energy thing."
Allen, 72, admits he does not like to socialize with actors -- or anyone else. "I don't like to meet people in general. I can't handle it well. So, when actors come in, they're nervous, they want the job and I have the job to dispense. You know, it's a terrible position. I don't feel comfortable doing it."
Allen admits, as soon as he sees an actor in person, "I have nothing else to say to them. Anything else would be artificially protracting the meeting. So I say: 'Thanks for coming,' and I try to fake it for another two seconds. And then they go."
WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
Allen thinks it is a waste of time to hype movies, even though he missed a day of shooting in New York on his next movie (an untitled comedy starring Larry David) to be in Cannes.
"My own feeling is that promoting a film does not help it. They spend money to bring us to Cannes. But me sitting around on television -- saying, 'This film is great; this film was such a challenge to do in Barcelona, to work in another language and all this!' -- it's all nonsense. Nobody cares about that.
"There is some pre-conscious thing in the mind where (audiences) decide whether they are going to go to your film or not. They decide on your past films, on the smell of the film, on Penelope, on what they intuitively think the film is about. It is some process you can't explain. But me sitting here ... it's all talk and wasted money."
Rebecca Hall, daughter of British theatre legend Peter Hall, plays an American in Barcelona and is cited as the break-out star. But she got soaked at the gala.
"There was something about standing there in an enormous gown and doing the whole glamour thing and all these photographers are taking your picture and it's pelting with rain. That is the kind of leveling irony that makes me really appreciate what is real here."
Clint Eastwood is changing the title of his new period drama to The Exchange. It was called Changeling. Angelina Jolie stars as a mother whose son goes missing in L.A. in 1928 and she finds herself confronting corrupt cops. Based on a true story, the film debuts today in Cannes competition.
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