Cannes Film Festival
The Latest Film and Celebrity News

William Booth
Washington Post Stafff Writer
Friday, May 26, 2006 12:30 PM

The 59th annual Cannes Film Festival winds down this weekend. Washington Post staff writer William Booth has been covering the scene all week long, from the boos that met Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette" to the buzz surrounding filmmaker Pedro Almodovar.

Booth was online Friday, May 26, at 11:30 a.m. ET, live from Cannes, to discuss all the movie news from the site of this celebrated international film festival.

Full Coverage of Cannes Film Festival

A transcript follows.

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William Booth: Welcome all. I'm here in the lobby of the Carlton Hotel on the seaside boulevard at the Cannes Film Festival (stealing their wifi connection) and ready to go.

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Washington, D.C.: Marie Antoinette was booed? There seems to be a lot of hype around it, both in France and here. Is it really that bad, or were expectations just too high?

William Booth: True. During the morning screening, attended by seveal thousand press and critics, there was sustained hissing and booing. Was it really that bad? Nope. The reviews, though, are decidedly mixed. It is a very different kind of historical epic -- with pop mustic from Bow Wow Wow (I Want Candy) and Adam Ant. The colors are bubble gum pinks and blues. But I have to say, Sophia's strength here may not be dialog or narrative. Cool to look at, but empty headed? Maybe just like Marie.

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Herndon, Va.: Mr. B: Do the "starlets" still try to get publicity by posing semi-nude, or is that part of the "good old days"?

William Booth: Herndon, you perve.. But my professional obligation forced me to scan the beach (sans binoculars) and I did not see but a few ladies in the all natural. But skin? Lots of it.

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Washington, D.C.: Apparently "Southland Tales" was met with pretty negative reviews at Cannes. However, J. Hoberman of "The Village Voice" praised it, and I generally consider him a pretty tough critic. Did you see it? If so, what did you think? And what have you been hearing about it from your Cannes colleagues?

William Booth: Yup. Richard Kelly's "Southland Tales" was generally viewed as a mess of a movie. He has a lot of fans from his Donnie Darko film, and there were high hopes for this. I'd have to say it was the most poorly reviewed movie in competition, but still -- he might pull it off. I spoke with Kelly yesterday and he appears resigned to cutting his 2 hour and 40 minute movie back to a more coherent and slender vehicle for his ideas about terrorism, the Patriot Act and alternative energy -- oh, and porn.

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Bethesda, Md.: Did you catch either of the Richard Linklater movies -- "Fast Food Nation" or "A Scanner Darkly"? What did you think of them? Am particularly curious about the reception for "Scanner," with the weird animation that we saw in Linklater's "Waking Life."

William Booth: I did see FFN. Linklater does an interesting thing here. He takes the best-selling non-fiction book and writes a fictional screenplay, with interconnecting characters, to present themes from the book. It's a wee bit preachy and talking in some parts, but there is compellng narratives about the lives of the Mexicans who enter the country illegally and end up in the slaughter houses of Colorado.

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Washington, D.C.: How does this festival compare to previous ones? Is there a more exciting vibe or does it seem more low-key? Seems like we have been reading about a lot of negative reactions to the films (though maybe that's just the reaction to the high-profile American movies).

William Booth: This is my first Cannes, so take this with a grain of salt. The more experienced pros (like the team from Variety) say that this is not a vintage year. There is no film that is just rocking people's socks off. There are favs, of course, but no real consensus breakout. And your observation about American films holds true -- there's been some backlash. Like with the Da Vinci Code. Sophia Coppola. Linklater. And Richard Kelly. But even among the international entries, nothing has killed.

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Washington, D.C.: I read that a new, multilingual film called (I think) "Babel," by the Mexican director who made "Amores Perros," is a major hit at Cannes. Did you like it? And what do you think of the timing? -- there seems to be no lag-time at all with current events, coinciding as it does with the latest debates here about English as the official language of the US, and anti-immigrant sentiment.

William Booth: You got that right. Babel is probably in the top three. Its by director Alejandro Gonzalez Inaritu. It takes place in a "babel" of languages and is very contempo in subject re: immigrants, borders, terrorism.

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Los Angeles, Ca.: What is the best movie you've seen at Cannes so far?

William Booth: Probably Volver from Almodovar. Also liked Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes the Barley. Its about the Irish republican movment of the 1920s.

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Fortaleza, Brazil: Vowed I wasn't going to, but got bored and the price was right, so saw "Da Vinci Code." Overall, I'd describe it as pretty thin gruel, and at times just plain silly. The two lead actors were pretty weak, at least in this film. There were some interesting characters and action, but mainly in extensive flashbacks. The film also had an awful lot of talking, with characters explaning what had happened in the past. Not a very suspenseful film. Not a very good film. Yawn.

William Booth: It did not wow them at Cannes either. But I hear its made a gazillion dollars.

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Detroit, Mich.: Is Sofia upset?

William Booth: Sophia? Hard to tell. She seemed a bit stunned to hear that the mob booed at the morning screening. She decided to spin it that it was a reaction by the French to her gall at tackling Marie Antoinette. Though perhaps, they just didnt like the movie -- or more subtle, they were disappointed.

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William Booth: Thanks all for the smart questions and stay tuned. We're still here and filing. The festival ends Sunday.

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