Picks and Pans Review: Postcard from Cannes

UPDATED 06/02/2008 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/02/2008 at 01:00 AM EDT

• Rain dampened the red carpet, but that didn't stop critic Leah Rozen from taking in the sights at the annual Cannes Film Festival

A REEL DOWNER The French festival's opening film, Blindness (above, with Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo), was a high-brow misfire. Based on an allegorical novel by Nobel Prize winner José Saramago and directed by Fernando Meirelles (The Constant Gardener), it's a heavy-handed drama about how people behave when a sudden blindness plague strikes and victims are quarantined. It opens in September.

PANDA-MONIUM The animated Kung Fu Panda (right), featuring the voices of Jack Black (as the panda) and Angelina Jolie, proved a cheerful palate cleanser between the grimmer, slice-of-downbeat-life films dominating Cannes' roster. It's due June 6.

A WOODY WINNER Woody Allen scored big with Vicky Cristina Barcelona (below, with Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson), an irresistible comedy. Cruz steals it with a hilarious turn as Bardem's fiery ex. The Oscar winner saunters through as a sexy Spanish artist dallying with two American tourists (Johansson and Rebecca Hall). Vicky arrives in theaters in late August.

CATHERINE DENEUVE FOREVER The reigning queen of Cannes—now 64, she has been coming nearly yearly since 1964, when The Umbrellas of Cherbourg screened—walked the red carpet for A Christmas Tale and I Want to See. The first, an amusing look at a dysfunctional family, costars her real-life daughter Chiara Mastroianni (Dad was Italian legend Marcello Mastroianni). Tale is slated for a U.S. release.

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