Magazine article Newsweek

Newsmakers

Magazine article Newsweek

Newsmakers

Article excerpt

Byline: Dana Thomas

Who Will Bite for 'Dogville'?

Sure, it's Nicole Kidman's year. But that may not be enough to save Lars von Trier's "Dogville" from the dogs. The avant-garde Danish filmmaker ("Breaking the Waves") had yet to find a U.S. distributor for the new Kidman flick before its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this week. Bad sign, given that von Trier is a Cannes darling--and "Dogville" is first in a trilogy (what's next, "Kitty City"?). Maybe the problem's not that "Dogville" is a bowwow, but that it paints such an ugly picture of America: Kidman plays a stranger abused by the locals in small-town U.S.A. Von Trier refused to show the film early to American buyers, allowing only a few French critics into the screening room. What did those critics think? "Morally and politically violent, sacrilegious and extremely anti-American," one told NEWSWEEK. "Nicole is sublime."

Less sublime was the fury of the 1,300 members of the press at Cannes when Kidman granted only a few TV interviews during her two-day whirlwind, a trip costing von Trier's production company an estimated $500,000 (practically the budget for one of his films). But maybe Nicole's earned a half-million-dollar trip to the Riviera, given von Trier's reputation for putting his actresses through hell. (After "Dancer in the Dark," Bjork swore she'd never act again.)

By holding back "Dogville" until the public screening, some speculated that von Trier hoped to launch a bidding war. "Are you kidding?" snorted a top Hollywood independent distributor. "It's three hours long, it's shot like a play and it's filmed digitally." But it's got Nicole! "Julia Roberts was in 'Full Frontal' and it only made a million dollars. I rest my case."

--Dana Thomas in Cannes

PENELOPE CRUZ

All lenses were trained on Penelope Cruz as she climbed the red-carpeted steps, glamorous in black Dior couture and gobs of jade, for the premiere of her new film, "Fanfan la Tulipe," on the opening night of the Cannes Film Festival. …

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