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Cannes Film Festival Opens on French Riviera

The Cannes Film Festival opened Wednesday with the Hollywood action-adventure Robin Hood as the festival's first screening. Although the gathering on the French Riviera is usually known for its mix of blockbuster and independent movies. There are fewer famous personalities in Cannes than in years past.

Camera flashes reflecting off the dark shades of big name celebrities such as Cate Blanchett and Russell Crowe, who, in this case, are in Cannes to show off their new movie Robin Hood.

Red carpet glamour. High profile films. These elements are synonymous with the Cannes Film Festival.

But just as films have critics, so do festivals.

"I think Cannes has a big challenge this year to keep our interest," said Mike Goodridge, a Cannes attendee and editor of Screen International, a publication that follows the movie industry. He says the films being screened this year do not live up to the hype of movies in years past.

"We haven't got a lot of exciting titles like we had last year. Last year was a bumper crop," Goodridge said. "We had a new [Quentin] Tarantino film, a new Gaspar Noe, a new Lars Von Trier. The press was abuzz with excitement over the films that they were going to see. This year, that is just not the case."

Goodridge says several anticipated movies were not ready in time for Cannes and instead will appear at the Venice International Film Festival. Plus, he says, movie studios with an eye on finances are not as keen to launch their films at Cannes because of the high costs.

Money is a major factor in the movie business, and it is a theme of the most high-profile film in this year's Cannes line-up.

Director Ridley Scott's Robin Hood is a new take on the age-old tale of a medieval archer who steals from the rich and gives to the poor.

Goodridge says the choice of Robin Hood as the festival's opening film makes sense because of the star power of Crowe and Blanchett. But he says, for those in the industry, the choice is blockbuster and lackluster.

"The problem is that Robin Hood opens throughout the world this weekend in 70 countries," Goodridge said. "It's been press screened galore everywhere. Most media here have seen the film already. Most media have interviewed Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett already."

The Cannes Film Festival's director, Thierry Fremaux, acknowledged that this year's films do not have as many famous names in their credits. But he says this is an opportunity to expand the horizons of festival attendees and film audiences alike.

"This year we have less of big names," Fremaux said. "So when you have less big names, you have to find out how to put in new talent and to put new names on the map."

The Cannes Film Festival runs through May 23.