Cannes picks 'Mom' for its killer finale


John Waters' "Serial Mom" has been chosen as the closing night film for this year's Cannes Film Festival, being held in France May 12-22.

"This is wonderful," Mr. Waters said from his Baltimore office yesterday. "I'm excited, are you kidding? Closing night, with black tie and the whole thing, this is a big deal. I'm thrilled.

"I'll be going, and Kathleen (Turner, star of 'Serial Mom') will be there too. You know, she's the type of star they just love over there. It'll be great."

"Serial Mom" did not, however, win a berth in Cannes' highly prized official competition. Only three American offerings did: Alan Rudolph's "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle," Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" and Joel Coen's "The Hudsucker Proxy."

"Hudsucker," starring Tim Robbins, Paul Newman and Jennifer Jason Leigh, will open the annual Riviera event.

"Mrs. Parker," starring Ms. Leigh in the title role, examines the ups and downs of the sometimes suicidal life of Dorothy Parker, one of the witsof the literary Algonquin Round Table in the Roaring Twenties. The dark-edged "Pulp Fiction," set for an August release domestically, stars Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman and Samuel L. Jackson, and takes its inspiration from 1940s pulp writers.

Festival director Gilles Jacob says he would have liked to have gotten Robert Redford's new film "Quiz Show," as well as the new pictures by Woody Allen and Tim Burton, but they were unavailable.

Italy, notwithstanding claims by Italian filmmakers that their industry is dead, is the most represented country in the official lineup with four entries. Two of these had been expected: Nanni Moretti's "Caro Diario" and Sony Pictures Classics' "A Simple Formality" by Oscar-winning director Giuseppe Tornatore and starring Roman Polanski and Gerard Depardieu. Mario Brenta's "Barnabo Delle Montagne" and Aurelio Grimaldi's "Le Buttane" also made the cut.

All of France's three films in the official running had been revealed as competition shoo-ins.

They include the Isabelle Adjani vehicle "La Reine Margot" , based on the Alexandre Dumas novel and directed by Patrice Chereau; the comedy "Gross Fatigue" and the drama production "Les Patriotes" by Eric Rochant, a spy story about a Parisian who moves to Israel to become a Mossad agent.

Only one first film, Cambodian director Rithy Pan's "Neak Sre," was picked to run in competition.

The United Kingdom only has one picture in the lineup this year, a far cry from last year's bumper crop. The lone British film is Mike Figgis' "The Browning Version," which Mr. Jacob describes as "an important film about the decline of civilization."

Conspicuously absent from the lineup is Hal Hartley's "Amateur," British director Brian Gilbert's "Tom and Viv" and Paul Hogan's Australian film "Muriel's Wedding." The three had been strongly rumored to be heading for Cannes.

Clint Eastwood will head the Cannes jury, with Catherine Deneuve as vice president. Other jury members are Italian filmmaker Pupi Avati, French producer Alain Terzian, French critic Marie-Francoise Leclere, Russian filmmaker Alexandre Kaidanovski, novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, who wrote "The Remains of the Day," London-based Cuban writer Guillermo Cabrera Infant, film composer Lalo Shifrin and Korean filmmaker Shin Sang Okk.

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