Cannes Lifts Off – but the world’s most glamorous film festival tones down the glitz

Pixar’s 3D animation Up opens the Cannes Film Festival

The 62nd Cannes Film Festival lifts off today with the world premiere of Pixar’s Up, but as the red carpets are rolled out, reports are circulating that the Festival’s trademark glitz has been toned down from blinding to merely squint-worthy thanks to the growing recession. Vanity Fair has put the kybosh on its lavish party and luxury yacht owners are feeling the pinch with charters at an all-time low.

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Shock! Horror! Is it possible that this year, the Festival might have to content itself with being solely about the films and the people who make them? Have no fear. Even with belts being tightened, we’re still promised some serious red-carpet action with the likes of Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz on hand to dazzle. And if the films are to be the main attraction, as luck would have it, there’s a feast of the great, the good, the innovative and the intriguingly obscure to take up any celebrity slack.

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Pixar’s 3-D cartoon masterpiece Up is tonight’s opening gala, while the premiere of Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, featuring Heath Ledger’s final performance, also pops up in the fortnight. Neither movie is in competition for the coveted Palme d’Or but there’s no shortage of star attractions jostling for attention from the jury, which is being headed this year by veteran French actress Isabelle Huppert (only the fourth woman to get the post in six decades).

Huppert’s certainly got her work cut out for her picking a winner from a line-up that includes Quentin Tarantino’s star-studded war story  Inglourious Basterds with the young Mr Pitt (that’s not my atrocious spelling btw, it’s Quentin’s), Ken Loach’s football-crazy offering Looking for Eric with the venerable Mr Cantona and Ang Lee’s  flower power chronicle Taking Woodstock. And if that isn’t enough to get the jury members (and film buffs) chattering there’s also work by arthouse favourites Micheal Haneke, Pedro Almodovar and promising young Brit Andrea Arnold.

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So frankly, the recession can take a flying leap, because the film world’s movers and shakers are set to provide more than enough glamour — and even some pretty good movies — to keep Cannes at the top of its game. 

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