Cannes Cheers Films from Moore, Coens As the Cannes Film Festival marks its 60th year, the premier place for premieres welcomes a pair of American movies: Michael Moore's health-care documentary Sicko and the Coen brothers' violent Western No Country for Old Men.
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Cannes Cheers Films from Moore, Coens

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Cannes Cheers Films from Moore, Coens

Cannes Cheers Films from Moore, Coens

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The Cannes Film Festival celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. Sixty years of movies, celebrities, high style and, of course, movie reviewers along the French Riviera.

Our own reviewer, Kenneth Turan, is on the line from Cannes. Hello.


MONTAGNE: Well, let's talk about the movies. In fact, there are two big dramatic features debuting there. And word is already that at least one of them is great.

TURAN: Right, now one of them that I really liked and that is in competition is "No Country for Old Men." It's a new film by the Coen brothers. It's taken from the novel by Cormac McCarthy, very violent, very beautifully written novel. And the Coen brothers are, you know, they're known for their violent films, but the ones in the past have had kind of a humorous tinge. This one is quite strong, quite unrelenting, quite a powerful film. I think it really kind of as a - almost everyone here has really liked it, and people feel that, you know, one of the films that will be in competition, you know, for the big prize, for the Palm d'Or.

MONTAGNE: And then the other dramas?

TURAN: Well, one of the other ones that people are talking about is called "A Mighty Heart," which is - it's not in competition though it's part of the festival. It's directed by Michael Winterbottom. This is a story of the kind of the death of Daniel Pearl and the battle of his wife, Mariane Pearl, to find him, hoping he was still alive.

Angelina Jolie plays Mariane Pearl. And it's a very solid, very involving film, almost a police procedural kind of showing us the kind of what happened, what went down as they were trying to keep, you know, find Daniel Pearl and, you know, keep him alive.

MONTAGNE: And then there's a new Michael Moore documentary. It's called "Sicko." And it's, I'm guessing, getting a lot of attention over there.

TURAN: Yes, it is. Michael Moore is very popular over here, and the new film will kind of only add to that. The film is really a look at the American healthcare system; why, in Michael Moore's opinion and in the opinion of a lot of people in the film, it's not really working well. And it's really a fascinating subject for Michael Moore.

He's less confrontational than he usually is. He's as funny as he always is. He's got a subject that's very much on people's minds. One of the reasons that it's been popular over here is that he says some really wonderful things about the French healthcare system and the French. That goes down very well over here.

MONTAGNE: Well, Ken, any surprises in terms of what you've see either good or bad?

TURAN: Well, you know, this has been probably one of the strongest festivals in years. You know, no outright masterpieces, but an awful lot of really good, strong films. And there are several that ought to be mentioned. I think the biggest surprise was a small Israeli film called "The Band's Visit," about an Egyptian band that goes on a visit to Israel, and no one picks them up at the airport and they don't know quite what to do. It's kind of who got a very deadpan, almost Scandinavian tone to it. It's very droll. It's just really a treat.

There's a very interesting documentary called "Terror's Advocate" about a French lawyer named Jacques Verges who has defended some of the worst people in the world - Pol Pot, Klaus Barbie. He specializes in defending people that are nightmares. And it's a look at who he is and how he got the way he is. It's by a guy named Barbet Schroeder, who's made a lot of films. And it's really one of his best films and, I think, one of the films people are talking about most in the festival.

MONTAGNE: Now there are a lot more film festivals now than when Cannes first started, you know, six decades ago. Is Cannes still as important in terms of launching a movie?

TURAN: You know, it really is. It's still the festival that more people go to than any other festival. There are between, believe it or not - this is a horrifying statistic - there are between 3,000 and 4,000 journalists here. There are more journalists here than any event that happens annually.

I think the Olympics gets more journalists, but it's every four years. So if you want to launch a film around the world, there is no better place to do it than here.

MONTAGNE: All right. Well, enjoy yourself at Cannes.

TURAN: I'm doing my best.

MONTAGNE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times.

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