Cannes Dares to Be Seduced by Madonna : Movies: Welcoming the pop star <i> and </i> filmmaker Akira Kurosawa on the same day, you can’t say the film festival doesn’t have range--or a sense of humor.

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If the camera crews that followed pop singer Madonna on her Blonde Ambition tour had been with her Saturday afternoon, they would have gotten great footage for a sequel to her new documentary, “Truth or Dare.” A source close to Madonna said that when she arrived in Nice, French customs officials, acting on a tip that she would have drugs with her, held the star up for an hour-and-a-half while she was searched.

“It’s ridiculous because everybody knows Madonna doesn’t do drugs,” the source said. “She was really upset about it.”

For the record:

12:00 a.m. May 15, 1991 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday May 15, 1991 Home Edition Calendar Part F Page 3 Column 4 Entertainment Desk 1 inches; 27 words Type of Material: Correction
Wrong year-- A photograph of Sylvester Stallone taken at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival was erroneously published with photos from this year’s Cannes festival in an article in Monday’s Calendar.

Welcome to the Cannes Film Festival, Madonna. We could have told you it’s a zoo, but then we never knew you’d be here. The festival loves stars--adores them--but they usually save this kind of excitement for a movie star. In fact, Cannes veterans say they haven’t seen anything like this since Brigitte Bardot’s appearance in 1952.


European paparazzi, not accustomed to tracking game this big at Cannes, swarmed through the city’s airport, trying to outwit a security team that included scores of police from both Cannes and Nice. There were even rumors that photo syndicates had reserved rooms at the Grand Hotel du Cap in Cap d’Antibes, where Madonna is staying, on the chance that they can get candid shots of her on the grounds. Rates at the hotel start at about $1,000 a day, and usually require a commitment through the entire 12-day festival.

“Truth or Dare,” the film that brings her here, will be screened at a black-tie gala tonight in Cannes, under security said to be unprecedented. The star, in fact, will be picked up at her well-guarded hotel by a boat and delivered to the festival palais, which is perched on the point of the resort city’s Old Port.

Her only other scheduled appearance here was for a party Sunday night at a private beach club in Cannes. The approximately 1,000 invited guests were holding tickets said to be worth hundreds of dollars on the street.

“Truth or Dare” was released Friday in the United States by Miramax Films. It is being handled in the rest of the world by Dino DeLaurentiis’ company, under the less ambiguous title “In Bed With Madonna.”

From Madonna to Akira Kurosawa, from a pop star with no apparent future in movies, to one of the legitimate film masters of the 20th Century . . . in the same day! You can’t say the Cannes Film Festival doesn’t have range, or a sense of humor.

Kurosawa, here last year with his “Dreams,” returned with a film based on a nightmare, the 1945 bombing of Nagasaki. “Rhapsody in August,” adapted from a Japanese novel, tells the story of four children who discover the horror of that bombing through the painful reminiscences of their bomb-widowed grandmother.

Kurosawa said he didn’t set out to make a message movie--he was more interested in dealing with the fact that to most Japanese children, the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima is ancient history. “The power of the impact of the bombing in the film was a surprise even to myself,” Kurosawa said, speaking through an interpreter here Saturday.


The film brought some criticism from the Western press for its failure to deal with Japan’s responsibility for the war and its ultimate solution. The 81-year-old director refused to join the battle, saying he was not making a movie about the war but about innocent victims of it.

“We Japanese were also victims of Japan’s military activities,” he said. “I chose a special angle, to look at the children and their feelings about discovering the impact of the bomb. It is not a question of placing blame on people; war itself is to blame.”

As for the casting of Richard Gere in the role of the old woman’s Japanese-American nephew, Kurosawa said the two had met at parties, he was familiar with Gere’s interest in Buddhism and Eastern philosophy, and offered him the role. “He said yes without reading the script,” Kurosawa said.

“Rhapsody in August” was well-received by the international press, but it’s one of the few highlights in a festival that has gotten off to a very slow start. David Mamet’s “Homicide” has its supporters, mostly among the Americans, and Soviet director Karen Chakhnazarov’s “Assassin of the Czar” got a good reception, while French director Patrick Bouchity’s “Cold Moon,” adapted partly from a Charles Bukowski short story about two low-life guys who have sex with a corpse, is the early favorite for the festival’s worst film award.

Cannes, which earned its reputation over the past four decades for its successful blend of business, glamour and international films, has been undergoing a decline in all three categories recently. Madonna and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who arrives today to hype the summer opening of the Planet Hollywood restaurant in New York, are providing an early rush for stargazers, but the quality drops off dramatically the rest of the way. (Sean Penn is coming, with his directorial debut film, “Indian Runner.” You remember Sean Penn? Used to be married to Madonna?)

Meanwhile, the buyers and sellers who make up the festival’s usually productive market section say business is down this year, partly because of the recession in the U.S. but also because of competition from the American Film Market that is held each winter in Los Angeles.


The quality of films in competition for the Gold Palm award is always the subject of contention, but this year there are fewer entries from prominent filmmakers than usual. Traditionally, the main competition has been the showcase for the latest films by established international masters, but Kurosawa is the only master showing a new film this year, and it’s not in the competition. lnstead, there are 17 films by directors with less than three films or 15 years of experience to their credit.

How bad is it? Spike Lee, who came here with his first film, “She’s Gotta Have It,” just six years ago, is the dean of the Americans in competition. “Jungle Fever” is Lee’s fifth film. “Barton Fink” is the Coen Brothers fourth, and “Homicide” is Mamet’s third. The other two Americans in competition--Irwin Winkler (“Guilty by Suspicion”) and Bill Duke (“A Rage in Harlem”)--are both rookies.

Before the festival got under way Thursday, jury chairman Roman Polanski tried to defuse the inevitable second-guessing of award winners by saying films in competition shouldn’t be evaluated in terms of originality, politics or social conscience. He said he was urging the jury members--among them: actress Whoopi Goldberg, cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, composer Vangelis and director Alan Parker--to vote for what they enjoy most.

“What’s wrong with liking a film?” Polanski asked.

Not a thing, as long as there are a few to like.