If you thought "United 93" was disturbing, it turns out the Paul Greengrass film was just the appetizer.
Oliver Stone unveiled the main course last night in Cannes with a tantalizing sample of his "World Trade Center."
Stone and Paramount Pictures showed an invited audience the first 26 minutes of this controversial new film. The full feature is set for release on Aug. 9, one month and two days before the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The continuous and complete piece of the film was presented before the 20th anniversary showing of Stone's "Platoon" — a movie that wasn't accepted at Cannes but went on to win the Oscar for best picture.
Stone, producer John Daly and stars Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger were all on hand for the festivities.
But first, "World Trade Center," which stars Nicolas Cage, Maria Bello, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena. The men play, respectively, real life New York Port Authority cops John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno, who rushed into the Twin Towers and nearly wound up being buried alive in the rubble.
Unlike "United 93," this film has, if not a happy ending, an upbeat one. The two men lived to tell their tale and be reunited with their families.
But their stories of survival are used by Stone so he can also convey the brutality and loss of that horrible day. Stone shows, for example, the two towers imploding and collapsing from within. It's an unimaginable horror.
From what we saw, "World Trade Center" looks like it will be a very moving, effective piece about Sept. 11. Five years after the tragedies, it is time to start seeing films and hearing music about the catastrophe, as long as they're done with wisdom and judiciousness.
All signs point to Stone not delivering his usual conspiracy theories, but depicting the lives of two families on the verge of disaster.
Before the screenings, the newly revived MGM threw a swanky cocktail party for Stone at the Hotel Majestic. Harry Sloane and Rick Sands, now running the operation, welcomed the stars of "Platoon," as well as Stone. Charlie Sheen was late arriving, prompting Stone to comment from the podium: "Charlie Sheen's coming down from his extracurricular activities."
That got more of a collective gasp, a woah, than a big laugh, of course.
All three actors huddled for a few minutes at the Palais just before the program began. I spoke to Charlie briefly about his marital/custody problems, but he seemed unshaken and determined to keep up a fight to be part of his daughters' lives.
He reminisced with Berenger and Dafoe, who told me the one person really missing from last night's event was three-time Purple Heart winner Dale Dye, retired captain from the U.S. Marines.
"He put us through our paces," Dafoe recalled. "A wonderful guy, whom Oliver really depended on."
Will "World Trade Center" be as big as "Platoon?" It's too soon to tell, but it's possible that we're about to see an Oliver Stone revival.
With great films like "Platoon," "Salvador," "Wall Street" and "Any Given Sunday" on his résumé, I'd say it's about time.
You think she’s dumb. Well, she’s dumb like a … mogul.
On Saturday night here in Cannes, Paris Hilton made $200,000 for an appearance at a charity function. A few weeks ago she pocketed $1 million in Vienna for a similar event, and she was flown first class to Austria, put up at the best hotel and treated like a princess.
What did she do for the money?
“All I had to do was wave, like this,” she says, imitating the royal palm turn.
Recently, I’m told, Paris’s father, Rick Hilton, dressed down a group of Paris’ agents at Endeavor, telling them they weren’t doing enough to market his daughter’s name and image.
“When people hear Paris Hilton, they don’t think of a hotel or some crummy city in Europe,” Hilton complained. “They think of my daughter.”
We’re really going to be thinking about her more in the weeks to come: on June 2, Paris’ first album will be released.
I told you about this back on March 8 in this very space. Warner Music Group is unleashing this project on the unsuspecting world, and if it’s a massive hit, then Lyor Cohen and Tom Whalley are the smartest men on the planet, and their inability to market Paul Simon, Neil Young and Donald Fagen will just prove that those men are outdated and Paris Hilton is the new Joni Mitchell.
(Wait: I have to stop here and self-flagellate a la Paul Bettany in "The Da Vinci Code.")
Paris is heading home to Malibu from Cannes tomorrow to film her first music video. The song is called “Stars Are Blind.”
On Saturday night, at that event for which she received the 200,000 clams, she stuck a CD on to the audio system and performed from her album for the first time anywhere.
She sang along to six of her tracks including “Screwed,” which listeners described as “difficult” to listen to.
But it doesn’t matter if Paris is the best or worst singer in the world. Like her jewelry line, her books and everything else, the CD will be a marketing tool, a widget with her name on it. Nothing with the name of that crummy city in Europe sells the same way.
Last night in Cannes I caught up with her at a yacht party (where else?) hosted by Revlon’s Ron Perelman aboard his spectacular Ultima II.
As we sat chatting on a little bench, Paris looked over at a beautiful young European woman wearing a beaded top.
“I want that top,” she said. “It’s hot.”
In a matter of minutes, it was established that the woman worked for designer Roberto Cavalli, and that sometime today Paris would get the top plus anything else she wanted. Gratis.
How late would she stay up, I wondered?
“I’m going to bed soon,” she said. “I have to be up at 10 a.m. tomorrow to work on my video.”
Ten a.m.? Paris Hilton?
“I’m 25 now,” she said. “I have responsibilities.”
Now that "The Da Vinci Code" is a hit, here come the ancillary products.
EuroStar and Columbia Pictures are sponsoring a fun contest at www.jointhequest.com. Players can win all sorts of prizes, including about $200,000 in cash.
Considering the incredible weekend the movie just had at the box office -- $77 million here, $225 million worldwide — my guess is there will be a lot of interest....
Loved Dave McNary’s story today in Variety about "Mission: Impossible 3." The headline says the movie is a hit, but the text is all about how it isn’t.
I laughed out loud when I read this quote: “The film’s really letting us down,” said an Italian exhibitor.
Oh yeah? Then why a headline that reads: “Mission: 3 totals will match first two outings”?
I mean, it is hilarious how Variety continues to wave a flag for Paramount Pictures no matter what, and the new team there should really inform editor in chief Peter Bart that his undying loyalty is no longer acceptable. Poor McNary must be silently shrieking….
And last: Do "Stop in the Name of Love" today. Send every good thought and prayer this morning to Las Vegas as the greatest Supreme of all, Mary Wilson, has heart bypass surgery. The lovely Mary had a heart attack on Friday.
If Diana Ross can remember where she put her own heart, she’d better send a lot of flowers and offer whatever assistance is needed.
Mary is a doll, everyone who knows her loves her and she deserves a speedy, easy recovery. Mary, when we get home, we’ll come see you!