CANNES: Tom Cruise gushed about his passion for cinema as he made his first visit in 30 years to the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday for the launch of “Top Gun: Maverick”.
The sequel to Cruise’s superstar-making 1986 blockbuster was supposed to premiere at the French Riviera film fest back in 2020 before it was cancelled by the Covid pandemic and the film’s release saw multiple delays.
But speaking to an audience in Cannes ahead of the screening, Cruise was adamant it was worth waiting for cinemas to be back in full swing for the film’s release.
Asked if he had considered releasing it via a streaming platform during the pandemic, he said: “That was not going to happen, ever.
“I make movies for the big screen. Cinema is my love, my passion. I always go to movies when they come out. I’ll put my cap on and sit in the audience with everyone.”
As crowds packed the Croisette begging for a ticket to the “Top Gun” screening, there were rumours the French Air Force aerobatic unit would stage a fly-past over the red carpet.
– ‘No to war’ –
The main competition at the festival got going Wednesday with a movie from Russian dissident Kirill Serebrennikov, who has been forced into exile since the invasion of Ukraine.
His entry in the race for the Palme d’Or, “Tchaikovsky’s Wife”, is unlikely to improve his standing with the Kremlin given that it shines a light on the legendary composer’s homosexuality — a story that remains taboo for Russian conservatives.
“No to war,” he said after the premiere.
“I am totally convinced that culture and people of culture can help ensure that this war ends,” added Serebrennikov, who was unable to attend the festival for two previous nominations due to a controversial court case that barred him from leaving Russia.
The war has already been a major theme at the festival, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky making a surprise video appearance at the opening ceremony on Tuesday.
“Will cinema keep quiet, or will it speak up? If there is a dictator, if there is a war for freedom, once again, everything depends on our unity. Can cinema stay outside of this unity?” said Zelensky, a former actor.
There will be a special screening of “Mariupolis 2”, a documentary about the conflict by Lithuanian director Mantas Kvedaravicius, who was killed in Ukraine last month — reportedly by Russian forces.
Ukraine’s beleaguered film-makers will get a special day at the festival and one of its most promising directors, Sergei Loznitsa, will show “The Natural History of Destruction”, about the bombing of German cities in World War II.
– ‘Emotional wallop’ –
Meanwhile, Cruise’s fight is to boost cinemas as they struggle to emerge from the pandemic.
His 39 films as a lead actor have pulled in just shy of $8.5 billion (8 billion euros) worldwide, and Box Office Pro estimates “Top Gun: Maverick” could add another $390 million in the United States alone.
Critics have been mostly giddy in their reviews, with Empire magazine praising its “slick visuals, crew camaraderie, thrilling aerial action, a surprising emotional wallop and, in Tom Cruise, a magnetic movie-star performance as comforting as an old leather jacket”.
“In the history of cinema… (Cruise) has one of the highest success rates,” festival director Thierry Fremaux said.
“This is someone that we haven’t seen on streaming platforms, TV series, or doing adverts…. He is someone who is devoted to cinema.”
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