`Cannes' skewers movie life

MovieReview

April 26, 2002|By Michael Sragow | Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

SUN SCORE

** 1/2 (two and one-half stars)

Festival in Cannes pleasantly meanders around a group of people who pitch projects and pitch woo on the Riviera. It depicts the Cannes Film Festival as a sort of concentrated summer camp for movie folk, who blur personal and professional dreams while wistful French songs pepper the soundtrack and waves musically lap onto cabana-laden shores.

Big-studio executive Ron Silver, actress-turned-indie-director Greta Scacchi, fading movie star Anouk Aimee and tattered auteur Maximilian Schell yearn for various combinations of love, artistic liberty and the pursuit of happiness while staying in the movie game or becoming part of it.

Writer-director Henry Jaglom's jabber-thons (Sitting Ducks, Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?) usually have the narrative drive of limp noodles. Festival in Cannes is no exception, but by laying several limp noodles out all at once, and cajoling a superb cast into treading those noodles like balance beams while drinking in the festival's alternately hopeful and anxious atmosphere, he has come up with a charming time-killer.

Silver does a certain kind of real-world canniness -- and is able to offset that with a disarming directness -- better than anyone else around. Schell is just as skilled at conveying the deep blarney, or whatever the Germanic word for blarney is, of an over-the-hill artiste. Scacchi is more spontaneous and touching here than she ever was as an arthouse sex object; you believe her character has turned to directing to do something worthwhile and to leave the performer's world of endless waiting. And Aimee is what the French call "an icon of the cinema," an incurable romantic, beautiful even when she's ravaged.

The others, including the abrasive Zack Norman as a would-be promoter and a bunch of green up-and-comers as green up-and-comers, are less appealing. But Peter Bogdanovich etches a telling brief caricature of a possibly talented, definitely jaded director. And even if Jaglom's roster of ne'er-do-wells and may-do-wells don't so much develop as simply change position, that seems OK -- by the end, you hardly think of them as characters, but as amiable company.

Festival in Cannes

Starring Ron Silver, Greta Scacchi, Maximilian Schell, Anouk Aimee, Zack Norman

Directed by Henry Jaglom

Rated PG-13

Released by Paramount Classics

Running time 99 minutes

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