There's a lot more going on at Cannes than staring at the red carpet (even though I'm in New York, I'm totally addicted to doing this thanks to IFC TV's damn Le Cannes Cam) and watching movies until you're bleary-eyed. In addition to trying to sell distribution rights to their films, studios and directors take the festival as an opportunity to make casting announcements, both because the press is there and because, well, stars help sell movies, right? So here's a sampling of yesterday's name-dropping:
- King Kong's ladyfriend Naomi Watts will star alongside Viggo Mortenson in David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises, a thriller about the "seamy underside of life" in London, something that features dead prostitutes and sex-trafficking, apparently. Watts will play a midwife who gets caught up in the whole mess while investigating the death of a teenager. Michael Haneke also announced that Watts will star in the English-language remake he's doing of his 1997 horror thriller, Funny Games, about "a middle-class family on holiday who are terrorized by two young men." Go Naomi.
- None other than miss Scarlett Johansson is set to star in Brilliant, a heist film from Barry Levinson about a jewel thief and the conman she joins forces with to pull off the proverbial big score. Unsurprisingly, the relationship between the two is "fraught with twists and turns." And by "twist and turns" they mean "flirting and sex," because that's what happens in every movie that features the teaming of a mismatched team.
- And finally, Brittany Murphy will star in The Ramen Girl, an indie flick that sounds very anti-cliche. In the movie, she'll play "an American woman who's stranded in Tokyo after breaking up with her boyfriend. Searching for direction in life, she trains to be a ramen noodle chef under a tyrannical Japanese master." The nice thing (so far, anyway) is that the master will be played by Toshiyuki Nishida, a 60-year-old, not hot Japanese actor. So maybe, just maybe, this one will have a point other than fairly tale love. Maybe.