The 54th Cannes Film Festival got off to a dazzling start with Baz Luhrmann's long-awaited "Moulin Rouge", a paean to truth, beauty, freedom, but above all love. With the Australian director joined by stars Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, some much-needed Hollywood glamour was injected into the opening night (the post-premiere party kicked off with a troupe of can-can dancers). That Kidman arrived, so soon after her highly public split from husband Tom Cruise, proved the greatest surprise of the day. "Obviously this would not be my choice, " Kidman told a packed press conference. "To sit in front of everyone and have questions about my personal life. But I do feel really proud of this film."
The story is of a penniless poet (McGregor) who falls in love with the club's less-than-honest courtesan (Kidman). The film contains songs from across the last century, including Elton John's "Your Song" and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Luhrmann's anachronistic and anarchic effort, which many predicated to be a disaster after its delays in the editing room, proved a real crowd-pleaser, with most impressed by its showmanship.
A film of equal glamour (though for different reasons) was Wisit Sasanatieng's " Tears of The Black Tiger", a revisionist Western from Thailand already dubbed in some quarters as the " white hot" film of the festival. Likely to do for cowboy films what "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" did for the martial arts movie, it's a cross - unlikely as it may seem - between Sam Raimi and Douglas Sirk. Draped in gauche magentas and fuchsias, it's a mixture of quickfire violence and wistful romanticism; a bizarre combination that makes it one of the most fiercely original films to emerge from Asia in years.