ROUGH SAILING FOR OCEAN'S 13 ON CHINA SEA

A light-hearted news conference with the producer, director and cast of Ocean's 13 at the Cannes Film Festival today (Thursday) turned defensive when a Hong Kong television reporter objected to the character portrayed by Shaobo Qin, a member of the famed Peking acrobatic team. "Why did you choose to portray Chinese [people] that way?" she demanded. Director Steven Soderbergh apologized but then went on to insist that the movie "was an equal-opportunity offender. I don't think anybody in the film is left out of being ridiculed." However, he added, "Whenever someone is asking why we think something is funny, then we're dead." The reporter then put the same question in Chinese to Qin, who dismissed it tersely, remarking, "It's just entertainment." Several of the actors assembled for the news conference indicated that Ocean's 13, which had its premiere at Cannes today,would be the last of the Ocean's series, but producer Jerry Weintraub demurred. "We don't know what's going to happen," he said. "Let's get this one out there, then we'll talk about the next one in a couple of years."

COMPANY OFFERS TO SABOTAGE PIRATES

A Paris-based company is distributing flyers to producers at Cannes, exhorting them to "watch in real time the illegal download of your films" at the company's booth at the Cannes Film Market, held in conjunction with the Cannes Film Festival. The company, CoPeerRight Agency, which claims it can thwart the illegal distribution of movies via peer-to-peer networks, is also offering to demonstrate how its system can "protect your rights, before and after the digital piracy of your films." The company's one-two punch is first, to identify the pirates by determining their Internet address and forward it to producers and Internet service providers, then to flood the P2P networks with "decoy" files in order to "bury the original pirated file" as well as saturate the networks' waiting lists "to increase file's download time" and send "corrupt data to users while they are trying to download the pirate files." CoPeerRight Managing Director Romina González Galetto said that producers at the festival were "surprised" by his company's "Bytes Corrupted" solution, because it is "the only way to retard the download of the illegal copies available on P2P networks."

WARNER'S CLAIMS RECORD HIGH-DEF DVD SALES FOR THE DEPARTED

While Sony had boasted last March that its Blu-ray high-definition edition of Casino Royale was the first to ship more than 100,000 units, Warner Home Entertainment trumped that announcement today (Thursday) with an announcement of its own that it had actually sold more than 100,000 high-definition copies of its The Departed. "It's no accident that Warner is the first studio to reach this benchmark," the company said in a news release. "We owe this success to a combination of great content and our decision to support both high definition formats," Blu-ray and HD DVD. Sony Home Entertainment releases high-definition product only on Blu-ray, which was developed by Sony and Philips.

ANOTHER STAR WARS MOVIE?

Rumors spread throughout the Internet Wednesday and appeared in the London Daily Telegraph today (Thursday) that George Lucas plans to announce that a new Star Wars movie is in the works at a Los Angeles convention today. Lucas had mentioned a Star Wars movie during an interview earlier this month but then seemed to suggest it would be part of a previously announced Star Wars TV series. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported today that Lucas plans to make some 250 clips from all six Star Wars films, about a minute-long each, available online for fans to remix however they wish, using editing software from San Diego-based Eyespot Corp.

MOVIE REVIEWS: PIRATES ... AT WORLD'S END (PT. 2)

A second wave of reviews for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End came ashore today, and by and large they are much more propitious than the first. Washington Post critic Stephen Hunter, who was decidedly unimpressed with the two prior Pirates movies, grudgingly writes: "Funner, biggerer, brightererer, bolderer, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is not only okay, it may even be close to good. ... It's the first Pirates movie I've walked out of without thinking, 'Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of Tums.'" Michael Wilmington in the Chicago Tribune remarks that the latest Pirates film is the "most visually spectacular, action-packed and surreal" of the three, and he concludes, "The movie, extravagant, amusing and exciting, may be only a ride, but it's a ride that dazzles." New York Times critic Jeannette Catsoulis is especially dazzled by the performances of Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Bill Nighy Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley. The film, she says, "reminds us that great acting can transcend even the most elaborate makeup." Richard Roeper in the Chicago Sun-Times observes that the characters have now become "part of pirate-movie lore," and, he adds, "The sets, costumes, stunts and special effects are beyond what anyone could have dreamed about during the Golden Age of the pirate movie." But a few critics do have their swords out for these pirates. Claudia Puig in USA Today calls the film a "bloated, overwrought and convoluted three-hour misfire." Several critics admit, as those quoted Wednesday in earlier reviews did, that they couldn't figure out what was coming off in the film. Comments Gene Seymour in Newsday: "There's so much stuff happening, sometimes all at once, that it's hard to keep track of who's on whose ship, who's selling out whom and even who's getting killed, where and how. And it won't matter whether you've seen the first two Pirates movies or not. You'll still be confused." And Michael Sragow in the Baltimore Sun grades the film a D+, remarking, "This series has become so bloated and laborious that the plot -- and its subplots and countersubplots -- puncture any enjoyment you may have in this movie's daft slapstick and bold visual coups."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.