Jude Law, Norah Jones Help Open Cannes

The festival has an extra dash of glitter this year: Stars slated for appearances include George Clooney, Sharon Stone, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Al Pacino and Angelina Jolie. Movies on Cannes’ lineup range from “Ocean’s Thirteen” to Michael Moore’s “Sicko,” to films from Russia to Mexico to South Korea.

Jones wore a strapless midnight blue gown, and Law and Wong wore black sunglasses, as they climbed the red carpet. Other stars at the premiere included China’s Gong Li, India’s Aishwarya Rai and France’s Juliette Binoche. Diane Kruger (”Troy”) was the first German to open the ceremony, where American director David Lynch (”Blue Velvet”) screened a surreal film short set in a movie theater.

Cannes strives to achieve just the right blend of Hollywood glitz and international arthouse films, and the opening night movie certainly fit the bill.

Hong Kong director Wong (”In The Mood for Love”) is a Cannes favorite, and “My Blueberry Nights” is his first English-language movie. Besides Law and Jones, the cast includes Natalie Portman, who plays a Nevada girl on a gambling streak; David Strathairn, in a terrific turn as an alcoholic policeman; and Rachel Weisz as his unhappy wife.

Jones stars as a New Yorker who hits the road on a curative cross-country trip after being dropped by her boyfriend. She had never acted before, but Wong heard her sultry voice and knew he had a role for her.

“Basically, when you listen to her voice only, without seeing her face, you can have a kind of a story out of it,” he said.

Jones said she was terrified when they shot her first scene.

“I remember the first take we did, my voice was really high,” she said, finishing her sentence with a squeak. “I was just terribly nervous, and Kar-wai came over and patted me on the back and I relaxed a little.”

But Wong said Jones grew more at ease over the shoot — she impressed him in a scene where he asked her to cry.

“We rolled the camera and she cried, and after that I said, `Well, it’s great,’ and she said, `Do you want one more?”’ Wong said.

The movie’s turning point is a kissing scene in a diner, with Law licking drops of ice cream from Jones’ lips as she sleeps. Jones said Wong had very particular ideas about what he wanted.

“We shot it a long time,” Jones said.

The actors hadn’t seen the movie yet as they walked down the red carpet. Earlier in the day, it garnered muted applause at a showing for critics.

Cannes was founded in 1939 as an alternative to the Venice Film Festival in Mussolini’s Italy — but almost as soon as it opened, the festival was canceled because World War II broke out. Cannes did not get going in earnest until the 1950s.

The festival is looking back at its glamorous history this year with a photo exhibit on the beach. There’s Cary Grant in black tie, Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty hailed by paparazzi and Kim Novak in a limousine, with raindrops sparkling on the window like diamonds.

But the celebrations are more than just nostalgia. For a feature-length homage to the movies, it commissioned 35 shorts from directors including Wong, Roman Polanski (”The Pianist”), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (”Babel”), the Coens (”Fargo”) and Wim Wenders (”Wings of Desire.”)

Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese (”The Departed”) has been enlisted to give a master class on moviemaking.

Pacino, Clooney, Pitt and Matt Damon will promote threequel “Ocean’s Thirteen,” DiCaprio brings his environmental documentary “The 11th Hour,” and celebrity super couple Pitt and Jolie will appear — he for “Ocean’s Thirteen,” she for “A Mighty Heart,” in which she plays the widow of murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

Those films are screening out of competition, as is “Sicko” by Moore, whose “Fahrenheit 9/11” won the top prize at Cannes in 2004. But his look at the U.S. health care system is sure to be one of the festival’s most talked-about movies. The U.S. Treasury Department opened an investigation into a trip Moore took to Cuba — accompanied by a group of ailing Sept. 11 rescue workers — during the film’s shooting.

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