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Postcards from Cannes


Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie in Cannes.

Postcard #1 Her new movie struck close to home for Angelina Jolie, visiting Cannes in an advanced stage of pregnancy. "Changeling" is based on the true story of a Los Angeles mother whose son disappears in 1928. Months later a young boy found in DeKalb, Illinois is returned as her son by the LAPD, which needs good press at a time of corruption. Problem is, she insists it's not her son, but the cops pressure her to raise the boy as her own. When she refuses, they have her held against her will. She and Brad Pitt were toasted by her director, Clint Eastwood, at a late-night dinner Tuesday at the beachfront Hotel Martinez, where Jolie said that being a mother "makes the film more personal, because I cannot imagine a mother not being trusted to know her own child."

Postcard #2 I had dinner with the Australian director Paul Cox a few nights ago. Paul is a two-time visitor to Ebertfest, but the last time I saw him in Cannes we were attending a party for the Dubai Film Festival. Camels were parked outside the tent. Two people at that party separately told me they had disturbing dreams about you, Roger. Cox insists he was not one of them. He said his dream occurred later, after we left the festival. I didn’t know whether to feel relief or loss. Looking in files on my laptop, I see that on July 2, 2006, Paul wrote me a long, anguished e-mail about a dream he had of you bleeding and almost dying. Paul’s father had the "gift” or “curse,” depending on how you look at it, of sixth sense sight. Paul has inherited some of it. In Paul’s dream, you underwent several surgeries until the doctors were able to finally stop the bleeding. Over time in his dream, you got better. Things around you sprang to life, flowers were growing once again and you were happy. There is more, but that is the heart of the dream. Paul had no way of knowing that you had suffered a ruptured carotid artery just the day before, and I had no way of knowing how many surgeries were ahead before you were truly happy again. At dinner, he told once again the priceless story of the time Werner Herzog was living with him in Australia, in a tent in the back yard. At the Manila Film Festival, Herzog had promised Imelda Marcos he would marry a princess from the Phillippines, and one day a Filipino girl turned up at Paul's house loking for Werner, and sent by Mrs. Marcos. You should hear Paul tell this. Paul’s last film at Cannes was the wonderful “Innocence,” about young lovers who reunite in their 60’s and fall in love all over again. As youth their relationship was thwarted by their families. Now she is married to someone else, but the attraction between them is too strong to ignore. This year he is here with his new film, “Salvation,” a parody about a female televangelist loosely based on an American preacher. After the screening, we asked Hannah Fisher, who reps the Dubai festival, if Dubai is having another party this year. She said no. Perhaps that means no one will have any more dreams about you...

Postcard #3 The critics are saying Woody Allen's new pic “Vicky Cristina Barcelona" is one of his best. It's a wisp of a love story, a ménage a trois involving Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Scarlett Johansson, and set in Barcelona. Why Barcelona, from a director long identified with New York and more recently with London and Venice? His reasoning: "I was offered money to make it there, and so I did." Is a three-way romance a fantasy of his? "It's hard enough to get one person in real life," Woody said. "More than one is too complicated and emotional. But in a film you have the freedom to do what you want." His film is an official selection, but "hors competition," out of competition, which means since he is a big-name director he is presumably above wanting to win the Golden Palm.

Postcard #4 "I'll keep making Indiana Jones movies as long as the public wants them" Steven Spielberg said after the premiere of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." And what a photo call he offered Cannes by turning up with his entire cast: (photo I.D.) Everybody wants him to make more Indiana Jones stories, he said, and also a sequel to "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial"--"but I don't know what that would be." Talk along the Croisette was that rising star Shia LaBoeuf is set up in "Crystal Skull" to star in a possible fifth Indiana epic. LeBeouf got praise for his acting, but will have his work cut out for him if he replaces Ford, who Spielberg called "every director's secret weapon."

Postcard #5 Two of the most compelling documentaries screening here are about world-class sports figures. Both were born in poverty, became legends at young ages through prodigious talent, flirted with the dark side of drugs and fame, suffered defeat, and tried to achieve redemption through family relationships. James Toback in “Tyson” allows Mike Tyson to analyze his life and boxing career in his own words; the rest of that story is still being written. Tyson said he was surprised to find himself at the Cannes Film Festival and said his life is still complicated: "You can't change an extreme personality like mine overnight. “Maradona,” a film by Palme D’Or winning director Emir Kusturica, is about one of the best-known soccer players in the world, "Player of the Century" Diego Maradona. "We're friends," Tyson said, "but we haven't seen each other's movies."

Postcard #6 The president of this year's jury is Sean Penn, who won Cannes' best actor award for "She's So Lovely" (1997). More to the point, he also won an Oscar for “Mystic River,” a film directed by Clint Eastwood. Since Clint’s film "Changeling" is screening in competition, Penn was asked at the jury's press conference if he could be objective. His reply was very colorfully objective: "A lot of people here have close ties to films, and there’s no bias involved. On the other hand if Clint’s movie deserves the prize, we will f****** well reward it.”

Chaz Ebert

Chaz is the CEO of several Ebert enterprises, including the President of The Ebert Company Ltd, and of Ebert Digital LLC, Publisher of, President of Ebert Productions and Chairman of the Board of The Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation, and Co-Founder and Producer of Ebertfest, the film festival now in its 24th year.

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