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Gatsby Bling & Baldwin at Cannes

seduced posterWhile the actual opening night of the Festival de Cannes was marred by sheets of rain pouring down, the first few days were disrupted by more headline-worthy events: a guy with a gun (blanks, apparently) who invaded a festival TV talk show with competition jury members Christoph Waltz and Daniel Auteuil (all was put right in mere moments); but a more glittery invasion was the theft, from a hotel room safe, of about a million dollars worth of Chopard jewels. Chopard is a major sponsor of the festival, and designs the Palme d'or award. While officials try to get the loot back, it put me in mind of the glitzy nature of some of the first films screening in the festival.

The Great Gatsby was an over-the-top visual experience: first of all, it was directed by Baz Luhrmann (of Moulin Rouge fame), a filmmaker known for his ravishing visual style. And the film was presented in 3D, which gave even more pop to the contemporary spin on the excesses of the Jazz Age. Even though it was one of the rare occasions when a film did not make its world premiere at Cannes (the film opened in the U.S. the previous Friday and in France the same day the festival opened, so that thousands of regular fran├žais  saw the film hours before the glitterati climbed the red carpet to view it in the Theater Lumiere on the Croisette), it certainly charged up the crowd for the 12 days that lay ahead.

The glitz factor - or in this case, truly the bling factor - was on full view in the opening film for the section know as Un Certain Regard: Sofia Coppola's Bling Ring, based on the Vanity Fair article about valley teens using stars' L.A. homes for freebie shopping sprees while the celebrities were out of town on publicity tours, or just out for the evening at a party (thanks TMZ for making movie and reality starts' whereabout known on a 24 hour basis).

The film literally sparkles with loot (a very different kind of loot that was sought out in last year's Un Certain Regard entry, Gimme the Loot, Adam Leon's debut feature). The movie has the feel of something made very easily by Coppola; you'd think she shot it over a weekend with some well-heeled friends. I doubt that's really the case, but the feel of filmmaking speaks to the crazy ease with which these kids ripped off the stars' homes - and the insanity of celebrities thinking they can leave doors unlocked.

While not about shiny bling, James Toback's wry home movie-like documentary Seduced and Abandoned, does let us in on the big money end of movie-making. In a film that began in Lincoln Center in New York. Toback and his partner in a new film venture, Alec Baldwin, discuss the juncture of art and commerce that is cinema, and about the plot of their new film: a war-zone Last Tango in Paris (yes, I think that's how to describe it). In order to get funds for the new movie, Toback brings Baldwin to mecca - that is, the Cannes Film Festival itself - to talk about this classic merging of movies and money (which is really how it's always been). While there's barely a tiara in sight - and the film is only shot in 2D, thank you very much - you can see a timeline from the simple days of celebrities playing on the beach with the rest of mankind, and the current environment of E! News, and international versions of the same where the ego stakes are raised higher and higher.

Soon enough the films that evoke simplicity and pain will come; in fact, they've started screening them already. But the show that is Cannes has began as a "really big show," in the words of Ed Sullivan!

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