AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
The French Riviera is once again flooded with celebrities, photographers and fans. The annual Cannes Film Festival is underway, an event known for its international flavor and glamour and the festival's opening film this year "Grace of Monaco" has both of those in spades. It's about the life of Hollywood star Grace Kelly and her difficult transition from actress to princess.
(SOUNDBITE FROM FILM "GRACE OF MONACO")
CORNISH: The voice of Nicole Kidman in the starring role there. Well, critics, however, are not in love with this film. And for more on that and some of the other films, we're joined now by Xan Brooks of The Guardian. He joins us from Cannes. Xan Brooks, welcome.
XAN BROOKS: Thank you, Audie.
CORNISH: So I got to get your point of view. "Grace of Monaco"? Cheers or jeers.
BROOKS: Oh, it was resounding jeers. It's a movie that you watch with your jaw on the floor that it could be so inept. It's inert. It's woozy. It's punch drunk. It's listless. It's simpering. And I think mainly it's got a huge problem with the script. As you say, it's about Grace Kelly's difficult transition to being the princess of this fairy tale kingdom and yet her great noble mission, so far as the film tells us, is to protect Monaco's zero tax status.
If ever there as a film that was going to spark 1968-style workers revolt in Cannes, it's "Grace of Monaco." It's spectacularly misconceived.
CORNISH: There's also off-screen drama for the movie and this is the dispute about how the film is being put together and essentially it's pitting the director against the U.S. distributor, Harvey Weinstein. Can you tell us what's going on there?
BROOKS: Well, I think this dispute is ongoing. The version that was screened at Cannes is director Olivia de Havilland(ph) director's cut. I understand that Harvey Weinstein wants to recut it for the U.S. release and I think they're going to have to kind of work together on that. I think it's so bad that I'm not sure that it can be salvaged.
CORNISH: Cannes has notoriously tough audiences. I mean, what are some of the other films that have been poorly received.
BROOKS: Cannes does have tough audiences. There's a culture here that people like booing at the end of a film and there are certain films that get jeers and whistles. Another film that was quite badly received was "The Captive," by Atom Egoyan, a drama in which Ryan Reynolds plays a father whose daughter is abducted and he has a (unintelligible) quest to bring this (unintelligible) ring to justice.
And Egoyan is a very talented film maker and yet this film, it feels like a trashy, "CSI"-style TV drama that has all this pretentious art house bunting on it and that was very badly received.
CORNISH: So it's not fair for me to ask about all the boos. Tell me about some of the films you've actually enjoyed so far.
BROOKS: There have been some very fine films. The British director Mike Leigh who has come with his film "Mr. Turner," which is about the marine painter, JMW Turner from the 19th century. We've also seen a great film from the Dardenne brothers called "Two Days One Night," with the French actress Marion Cotillard really deglamorizing himself to play a low-wage employee who is facing the ax at work and has to go around each of her co-workers to get them to forego a 1,000 year old bonus.
And if they all agree to do that, then she can keep her job. A great American film we've had her, too, called "Foxcatcher," by Bennett Miller, which features a really terrific almost career-changing performance from Steve Carell, who we associate with kind of light comedies. Here he plays the twisted American plutocrat John DuPont, who buys himself a U.S. wrestling team ahead of the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
And it's a great portrait of a spoiled, poor little rich boy and that was a fantastic movie.
CORNISH: And Xan Brooks, your techniques for getting through it? I don't know how many movies you're seeing a day. I know that this is an, you know, one of many festivals you'll probably be attending this year.
BROOKS: Yeah. This is always the most frantic one and I think you just run on adrenalin, but you can't go home and complain because people say here you are on the French Riviera in the sun on the beach seeing these great movies.
CORNISH: Yeah, everyone will hate you, pretty much.
CORNISH: Xan Brooks of The Guardian, thank you so much for talking with us.
BROOKS: Thanks, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.