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Cannes 2018, with a Cloud hanging Over and Cate in Charge

The 71st edition of the festival seemed to have echoes of the Beatles classic "Yesterday" a key line of which was "there's a shadow hanging over me.."   Hovering over all this year's festival is the long dark shadow of disgraced Hollywood producer and sexual predator Harvey Weinstein.  Ever since 1994 when the Weinstein production Pulp Fiction walked off with the Golden Palm grand prix both director Quentin Tarantino and Mr. Weinstein have been a regular presence on the Croisette.  More important the festival could always count on Weinstein to bring a large contingent of top Hollywood
stars with him and, as Everybody knows, Hollywood star powered glamour has always been the name of the game on the Côte d'Azur. 

With Weinstein out of the picture the Hollywood star turnout was reduced to a mere trickle throwing a pall over the total picture in that respect at least.

The biggest stars were in fact here in jury capacity with glamorous Cate Blanchett presiding over the international competition jury and a hard to recognize Benicio Del Toro heading up the Un Certain Regard jury smartly clean cut and tuxedo clad.  The only other strictly from Hollywood star was slightly over the hill John Travolta, 64, presenting a minor film about a crime boss "Gotti" in which he plays the title role. Variety gave the film a considerably less than rave review -- more like a rabid condemnation.

"Shame on Cannes. In what appears to be a deal with the devil, or one made with a gun to the back of his head, Cannes director Thierry Frémaux inexplicably agreed to give “ <> Gotti” — the myth-building, record-cleansing story of notorious Gotham mob boss John < -cannes-1202812144/> Gotti — a spot on the festival agenda   -- but, thanks to this lapse in programming judgement  this sleazy mobster biopic can lay claim to having premiered at the world's most prestigious film festival". 

Travolta was also present at an evening free beach screening of his biggest hit "Grease" of 1978.   In any case this  is far from the Travolta who starred in Quentin Tarantino's Palme d'Or triumph Pulp Fiction 24 years ago.


 Travolta in trim beard with wife Kelley Preston and daughter Ella Bleu, both of whom played similar roles in "Gotti". At left festival director Thierry Frémaux. 

Head jurist Cate Blanchett was on the covers of festival magazines nearly every day with long feature articles and interviews inside, underlining the fact that he was the festival's main glamour catch of the year.

Another cause for general discomfiture was the ever tightening anti-terrorist security measures. This year not only were all accesses to the festival grounds surrounding the Grand Palais guarded like airport security but even red carpet gapers outside the building had to pass through a security check, all items of shoulder bags carefully scrutinized.  The unpleasant fact is that France is home to large numbers of potential terrorists from former colonies  and the festival itself would be a prime "soft target" if the entire area were not under high security with machine gun toting  groups of soldiers patrolling all the streets.

Add to this a far from sizzling lineup of films in international competition and there is room for gloom if not downright depression. Long polic barriers along the Croisette made it necessary at times to walk fifteen minutes just to get across the street. There was a definite lack of joy in the air. More
like, let's try to get it done.

In an effort to ring a new bell the opening film, a turnabout from the usual french or American prestige films of yore, this  year was a Spanish language whodunnit, directed by Iranian director of note, Asghar Farhadi, title, "Everybody Knows".  A Spanish thriller with top stars directed by a Persian
who had a Best Film here a couple of years is not something to sneeze at.
Top liners are well known international stars Penelope Cruz and husband Javier Bardem. Details on that and other films to follow.