Fest parties a far cry from years past


CANNES -- When it comes to parties, the 60th Festival de Cannes has started more with a whimper than a bang.

Lousy music, stingy portions and long lines are par for the course at any Cannes. But this year the bad party quota has reached a new low. Halfway through, there have been virtually no blowout soirees.

The festival party circuit started on a down note with the opening-night "dinner" for "My Blueberry Nights" ending up being a cocktail party with finger food.

It got worse.

Conspicuous by their absence were the MTV party and the once-legendary Filmax party, which are now nothing but a fond memory.

While several parties had some of the elements to make a good bash -- great food at the Soho House party, fun talent at the Universal/Focus Three Amigos event, impressive, if earsplitting music at the Finish "Lordi" bash -- no one party was able to put it all together.

Even the "Savage Grace" event at the top of the Noga Hilton on Friday, which started out classy and cool, ended abruptly when the crowd shuffled out to catch the film's premiere.

The lowlight was probably the Hong Kong Film party, which featured keynote speakers, sweltering heat and the constant buzz of cell phones.

While Cannes pulled out all the stops for its 50th anniversary, bringing in a who's who of Hollywood and international A-listers. This year the star wattage has noticeably dimmed. Even In Competition films have had trouble convincing their actors to make the trans-Atlantic trek. Mark Wahlberg, Tommy Lee Jones and Natalie Portman were among those that opted out.

Vanity Fair's extra-exclusive bash was one of the few chock-a-block with big talent. But, as one attendee grumbled, "drinking at the hotel bar next door was a better time."

Another disappointment was the Directors' Fortnight opening party for hot British film "Control." While rumors ahead of the event had U2, Depeche Mode and even New Order playing live, the party itself featured bad '90s house and not much more.

But there is still hope. Morgan Creek's annual brunch at the Moulin de Mougin was up to its usual gold standard, with a feast fit for a king or a pampered Hollywood hack.

And of course everyone's waiting on Wild Bunch on Wednesday. But the bar has been set so low, they won't need to do much to be this year's best.