International News Roundup: Pattinson And Kanye Rock Cannes; Twitter's Olympic Boycott
At this year's Cannes International Film Festival, Robert Pattinson, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and Brad Pitt rocked the Croisette; Alex Baldwin trashed-talked Harvey Weinstein and the wet weather didn't put a damper on business. Here's The Hollywood Reporter's look back at the biggest scandals, deals and, yes, films, at this year's Cannes as well as the other media stories making headlines across the world this week.
PATTINSON TALKS UP 'COSMOPOLIS'
Competing with Kanye and Kardashian on the hype stakes was Robert Pattinson, who took a major step away from the Twilight franchise that made him a global star with the starring role in David Cronenberg's Cannes Competition film Cosmopolis. The British actor said he before the Cosmopolis shoot, he spent two weeks in his hotel room, "worrying and confusing myself" about whether he was up to role, in which he plays a 28-year-old billionaire asset manager who embarks on his limousine on an odyssey through Manhattan. According to our reviewer, he missed the mark. THR's Todd McCarthy believes Cosmopolis "will attract some Robert Pattinson fans but will be widely met with audience indifference."
KANYE AND KARDASHIAN ROCK CANNES
Kanye West further extended the term muli-talent with the seven-screen Cannes premiere of his short film Cruel Summer. The 30-minute drama about a car thief and a beautiful, blind Arabic woman used multiple cameras to provide different angles on each scene. West's new girlfriend Kim Kardashian attended the premiere, along with West's Watch the Throne collaborator Jay-Z.
BALDWIN TRASH-TALKS HARVEY
The war of words between industry heavyweights Alec Baldwin and Harvey Weinstein briefly became the talk of Cannes after renowned hothead Baldwin lashed out at the Oscar-winning producer, calling him a "douche bag" and worse.
Baldwin was peeved that Weinstein opted out of participating in Seduced and Abandoned, the documentary he was shooting in Cannes with director James Toback.
But a week is a long time in Cannes and by the end of the fest, the 30 Rock star and the Django Unchained producer had buried the hatchet with Baldwin formally apologizing to Weinstein at Cannes' affAR fund raiser.
SEAN PENN TRASH-TALKS THE MEDIA
Sean Pean, however, did not hold back. At a press conference in Cannes to publicize fundraising for Haitian charities, including his own, the actor and activist blasted the media and his fellow celebrities for forgetting about the humanitarian crisis in Haiti. Penn also called on President Obama to meet with Haiti's newly-elected president.
BRAD PITT SAYS NEW FILM DOES NOT TRASH OBAMA
Brad Pitt, in contrast, went on the defensive, fielding questions at the Cannes press conference that his new gangster film Killing Them Softly, was a veiled attack on the policies of President Obama.
Andrew Dominik's movie about small-time gangsters is set during the 2008 financial crisis and specifically references Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. But Pitt said it should not be read as a negative ad against the President.
THR's reviewer praised the film as "tight, absorbing and entertainingly performed" but though Dominik overreaches with his political message.
CRITICS TALK UP CANNES OSCAR BUZZ
Before Cannes even wrapped up, the bloggerati was looking beyond the Palm d'Or to the Oscar chances for this year's festival entries.
Michael Haneke’s Amour looks strong in the best foreign language film category, Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard's affecting work in Jacques Audiard’s Rust & Bone could nab her a second Academy statuette and many are buzzing about the performance of her Rust & Bone co-star Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts.
CANNES CASTING CALLS
The unseasonably wet weather at Cannes this year did not dampen business at the Marche du Film, Cannes' film market, which was marked by an explosion of new projects and deals.
Some of the bigger and more interesting projects announced during Cannes included: Gerard Butler joining action pic White House Taken, the first film to fall under a newly announced $100 million co-financing and co-production deal struck between Millennium Films and West Coast Film Partners; Icon U.K. Group joining Lee Daniels' The Butler starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, about the life of Eugene Allen, a White House butler who served eight American presidents; Rupert Everett taking on Oscar Wilde in his directorial debut, The Happy Prince, a comedic biopic on Wilde's final days which will star Everett as the legendary Irish writer and playwright and Colin Firth as his friend and confidant Reginald "Reggie" Turner; and Natalie Portman joining the Lynne Ramsay-directed Western Jane Got A Gun as star and producer.
Jules Stewart, the mother of Twilight star Kristen Stewart (in Cannes for Walter Salles' Competition entry On The Road) also made her directorial debut with K-11, a look at the secure unit of the L.A. County jail for transgender, homosexual and transexual inmates, which had its market debut in Cannes.
And in the ripped-from-the-headlines category of filmmaking, new multiplatform entertainment studio BiteSize Entertainment announced it was planning a feature film based on the story of Rebekah Brooks, the former CEO of News Corp.'s U.K. newspaper unit that is at the center of the phone hacking scandal.
U.S. PICK UPS
It wasn't a stellar festival for new discoveries but U.S. distributors did nab a handful of new titles for domestic release. Some of the bigger deals included: The Weinstein Co. picking up Australian musical The Sapphires;
Sony Pictures Worldwide grabbing North American rights to the dark comedy Revenge for Jolly! and the Ethan Hawke sci-fi action thriller Predestination; Entertainment One buying North American rights to Norwegian action-adventure Escape from Roar Uthaug, the director of the Cold Prey horror franchise; and Sony Pictures Classics saying yes to the Chilean political drama No, starring Gael Garcia Bernal, which premiered in Cannes' Directors’ Fortnight. The film, from director Pablo Larrain, tells the true story of the advertising campaign designed to overthrow Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.
BERLUSCONI CHARGES DISMISSED
Far from the Croisette, media and politics remained strange bedfellows in Italy, where the country's top appeals court upheld a ruling clearing former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of all charges in a tax fraud and embezzlement in connection with the Mediaset television and cinema empire he controls. Berlusconi was charged with embezzling as much as $45 million and avoiding up to $11 million in unpaid tax over a four-year period.
BELA TARR SHUTS PRODUCTION COMPANY
In Hungary, acclaimed director Bela Tarr announced he would shut down his production company at the end of the month, indirectly blaming reforms to the country's film financing laws for it's demise. Tarr's production company produced festival favorites including Berlin Grand Jury prize winner The Turin Horse (2011).
TWITTER SHUTS DOWN OLYMPIC PROTESTORS
Acting on behalf of the London Olympics Organizing Committee, Twitter cracked down on activist group Space Hijackers. Twitter temporally suspended Space Hijackers' Twitter account, after the Olympic committee complained about the group's unauthorized use of a redesigned version of the Olympic logo. Space Hijackers were using their Twitter account to protest the 2012 Olympic Games. Twitter unlocked the group's account late this week, giving them 48 hours to comply with Twitter's rules or face permanent suspension.
FACEBOOK FLOATS, FALLS
And finally, the whole world watched as Facebook stock, after hitting a $104 billion evaluation following last week's IPO, struggled to stay buoyant. Facebook shares tumbled 11 percent on their second day of trading and on Tuesday (May 22), Wall Street regulators began an investigation into suspicions that banks underwriting Facebook - including main underwriter Morgan Stanley - had selectively shared information about the company with select clients, instead of the general public.
Meanwhile, Hollywood looks on, hopeful of the opportunities provided by Marc Zuckerberg's social media giant for effective, affordable marketing of movies.