Anderson comedy charms Cannes

 

The 65th Cannes Film Festival opened today with a screening of Wes Anderson’s latest picture Moonrise Kingdom.

The enjoyable comedy stars Bruce Willis, Ed Norton and Bill Murray in a whacky tale concerning complicated interactions between adults and children during the summer of 1965.

Featuring urbane nods to the music of Benjamin Britten, Moonrise Kingdom is every bit as eccentric as Anderson fans have come to expect.

Murray, who has appeared in most of Anderson's films, joked the director had become his sole employer, although he did not get paid for his troubles. "I really don't get any other work but through Wes. I just wait by the phone," he said.

"These are what we call art films. I don't know if you know what those are. They're films where you work very, very long hours for no money and . . . all we get is this trip to Cannes."

The American director, known for quirky pieces such as The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore, joined Willis, Murray and other cast members on a red carpet flanked by the usual array of aggressive photographers. Among the celebrities running the gauntlet were the members of this year’s competition jury.

Nanni Moretti, the Italian director, heads a panel that includes fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier and the actors Ewan McGregor and Diane Kruger.

Thierry Frémaux, the festival’s General Delegate, enthused: “Wes Anderson is one of the rising powers of American cinema, to which he brings a highly personal touch, particularly in Moonrise Kingdom, which once again is a testimony to the creative freedom in which he continues to evolve.”

The main competition in this year’s festival welcomes an unusual number of English-language pictures. But it also finds space for several veteran winners of the Palme d’Or, the festival’s top prize.

After a long gestation, Walter Salles, director of The Motorcycle Diaries, finally delivers his version of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Brad Pitt is expected to touch down for his new film Killing Them Softly. Nicole Kidman turns up in The Paperboy, the latest piece from Lee Daniels, director of Precious.

The highbrow is catered for with new films from Cannes stalwarts Abbas Kiarostami, Michael Haneke and the 89-year-old Alain Resnais.

Some controversy has already attached itself to this year’s event. Eyebrows were raised when Frémaux announced a main competition featuring no films by female directors.

An open letter published in Le Monde has expressed disgust at the decision. Signed by various feminist bodies – under the umbrella of an organisation named La Barbe (The Beard) – the letter ironically raged: “Women, mind your spools of thread! And men, as the Lumières Brothers did before you, mind your film reels. And let the Cannes film festival competition forever be a man’s world.”

In an article for L’Express, Frémaux responded in robust fashion. “There is no doubt that in film the square reserved for women must increase,” he said. “But the problem must not be raised in Cannes or the month of May but throughout the year.” In other words, don’t think of protesting.

Elsewhere, British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen provided entertainment on the Croisette promenade, where he rode a camel and adopted the character of his latest alter ego, General Aladeen, an outrageously offensive North African dictator.