On the last weekend of the 60th Cannes film festival, people are staring at actor Jeremy Piven as he walks hurriedly alongside the beachside of the Croisette, talking on his telephone: "I don't have time for this ..." he's saying loudly.
It takes a moment to register there's a crew running with a camera and microphone, shooting an episode of the hit HBO series, Entourage, in which he plays an abrasive Hollywood agent, Ari Gold. Here's an insider Hollywood TV series that is watched in more than 30 countries in the world.
Cross-cultural globalism was the theme everywhere at this year's Cannes film festival, starting from the opening night's My Blueberry Nights, with hip Hong Kong director, Wong Kar-wai, making his English-language debut in an American travel story of diners and sunsets and a Ry Cooder soundtrack. Hou Hsiao-Hsien, of Taiwan, shot his film, The Flight of the Red Balloon, in Paris. Olivier Assayas, a Frenchman, made his new film in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Michael Moore travelled to Cuba, France, England and Canada to figure out what was wrong with the American health care system in an uncharacteristic mood that was more sorrow than anger.
Martin Scorsese led a panel of directors from around the world in his new cause, the preservation of world cinema, as they talked about the cross-cultural fusion that is contemporary cinema.
In its 60th anniversary, Cannes sold Hollywood glamour with a global humanitarian tilt: An earnest multimillionaire, Leonard DiCaprio preached conservation from the terrace of one of the world's most obscenely luxurious hotels. Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Matt Damon of Ocean's 13, held a swinging yacht party to raise almost $10-million (U.S.) for refugees in Darfur. Steven Spielberg contributed $1-million; so did Brad and Angelina, who appeared together for the first time before the press with Mariane Pearl, the widow of slain journalist, Daniel Pearl, to preach cultural tolerance.
It was a year when one might feel pessimistic about the state of the world, but optimistic about the state of cinema. There were finely wrought stories of death and grief and exhilarating bleak endings. Reliably downbeat Romanian films have made that country's national cinema the one to watch: For three years in a row, a major new Romanian film has made its debut at Cannes. This year's choice was entitled 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, the length of a terminated pregnancy.
Because Cannes is Cannes, the tone is more absurd than tragic. On the afternoon Piven strolled the Croisette, he was followed by a local man, pushing a baby carriage that carried a plump white rabbit. Whether the grand lapin blanc was a pampered pet or that night's dinner was uncertain but it brought a suitable Alice in Wonderland punctuation to the birthday party. One could almost imagine it muttering, like everyone else rushing around the Croisette: "Oh dear, oh dear. I shall be too late."