Critics underwhelmed by lacklustre Cannes

A lack of memorable movies means the 2008 Cannes film festival is unlikely to live long in the minds of critics, who argue that after a solid start the main competition faded.

Star power was sustained, however, with the red carpet attracting big names such as Madonna, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Clint Eastwood, Penelope Cruz, Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford and sports stars Mike Tyson and Diego Maradona.

With three out of 22 films in the main competition yet to screen, critics and journalists who have been through 10 gruelling days of screenings, press conferences, interviews and parties struggled to come up with many highlights.

The competition closes tomorrow when the nine-member jury headed by Sean Penn hands out the awards, culminating in the Palme d’Or for best picture.

“Even before the halfway mark, the mood has been one of disappointment,” said Jay Weissberg, critic with trade paper Variety.

“Coming off a weak Berlin festival, there is a sense that 2008 won’t be the best year for films.”

He and several others highlighted Waltz With Bashir as a potential winner of the top prize.

The animated documentary was seen as an innovative way of exploring an Israeli draftee’s memories of the 1982 massacre of Palestinians living in Beirut’s Sabra and Shatila camps.

Other leading contenders included Clint Eastwood and Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, underlining how Cannes seeks to unite mainstream cinema with smaller-budget, independent film making.

Eastwood’s The Exchange, features Angelina Jolie as a 1920s mother who loses her son and comes up against a corrupt LA police force and a child killer as she searches for the truth.

Probably more than any other movie in Cannes The Exchange has sparked early Oscar buzz, although many critics were underwhelmed.


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