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Eastwood, Gray pluck emotional strings

Old-style Hollywood was very much on display Tuesday as the wraps came off two In Competition films from the U.S. — "Changeling" and "Two Lovers" — and the principals were paraded out to talk about their movies.

What's old-style about Clint Eastwood is that, like some of the masters from the golden age, he's now in the enviable position of getting just about anything made that he takes a shine to. And James Gray, albeit of a younger generation, doggedly adheres to a similarly old-fashioned concept of storytelling rather than succumbing to digital delirium.

While their films are both strong emotional dramas, of a kind increasingly rare in Hollywood, the helmers handled the lobbed questions during their respective press conferences in quite distinctive ways: Eastwood was laconic and laid-back, Gray more impassioned and garrulous.

Most of the questions for Eastwood, Angelina Jolie and screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski had to do with the historical accuracy of the late 1920s period.

Eastwood and Straczynski pointed out how closely they adhered to the actual events surrounding the series of child killings in the area at the time, the corruption that was festering in the L.A. police department and the oppressive condescension toward women, especially uppity ones.

It's still unclear whether the title will remain "Changeling" or be changed to "The Exchange." Jolie confessed affection for the French translation "l'Echange," which appeared on the print shown here.

As for Gray, he used his news conference to spell out his criticism of American moviemaking. With their addiction to popcorn movies, he argued, the studios in the past three decades have essentially imposed on the public "a bogus fast-food reading of life."

"Americans were once amazing storytellers," Gray went on, "but the big-business takeover of the movie industry has changed that."

Still, Gray, who also managed to inject Jacques Lacan, Federico Fellini and "paisan" into the discussion, admitted that he himself has been fortunate with his past two films and is here in Cannes for the second year in a row with a movie. (partialdiff)
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