Bonjour, PopWatchers! It’s day two here at the 61stCannes film fest, and I’m happy to report that so far, so good. Despitesoul-crushing forecasts of rainy, soggy weather, the sky has been blue, sunny,and dry since I landed yesterday. And it’s early enough in the festival thatthe Croisette hasn’t been overrun yet by throngs of Eurotrash sporting theirfinest Gucci knockoffs and hoping to get a glimpse of Angelina. Not thatAngelina walks the Croisette, mind you. I’m pretty sure the gal will spend hertime here out of town up at the ultra swish Hotel du Cap, where all the MoneyedImportant People stay. My first time at the fest three years ago, I did someinterviews up there and vividly remember seeing Javier Bardem hanging out inhis Speedo swim trunks by the pool.

But I digress.

Last night, my Cannes partner-in-crime Dave Karger and I puton our fancy-pants clothes — he a suave tux and I the same black evening gown Ibust out every year in mid-May — to attend the opening night gala premiere ofFernando Meirelles’ Blindness. We left our hotel and were happilystrolling along, when the first of many subsequent photographers popped out infront of us and attempted to take our picture. And no, they had not mistaken usfor some glamorous pair of celebrities. (Ha!) Thesepaparazzi-of-the-regular-folk spend the entire week-and-a-half snapping photosof anyone in evening attire so they can then try to sell back a commemorativeprint. You know, Busch Gardens style.

Anyway, after avoiding some half-dozen shutterbugs, Dave andI held our breath and walked up the famed red carpet steps to the Palais. Wehad to sneak behind Dennis Hopper and his posse, who were getting their picturetaken by real paparazzi. I hope we didn’t ruin anyone’s Hopper photo.

addCredit(“Julianne Moore: Dominique Charriau/WireImage”)

The opening ceremony began promptly at 7:15, kicking offwith an unfunny shtick by a French emcee who then introduced this year’s jury:Sean Penn (addressed as “Monsieur le Président” because he’sthe jury foreman); Natalie Portman (I wondered if her shiny black pumps were fromher own recent collection of vegan designer shoes?); Alfonso Cuarón (sporting anew, fauxhawk-y ‘do); Marjane Satrapi (in a flowered white frock — it was thefirst time I’d seen the Persepolis writer-director wearing anything butblack); Italian actor Sergio Castellitto (soon to be familiar to American audiences as King Miraz in the new Narniaromp — who knew?); and some other people. Richie Havens then serenaded Pennwith a rendition of his Woodstock classic, “Freedom,” which heconcluded with a ninja kick that surely would have impressed Kung Fu Panda‘sJack Black. I noticed that when Havens called on theaudience to “clap your hands!” jurors Alexandra Maria Lara (a Germanactress) and Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thai director) did indeed put theirpaws together, while their jurymate Jeanne Balibar (French actress) did not.What gives, Jeanne? Couldn’t find the rhythm or do you just have a no-clapping-in-public policy?

On to the movie. Blindness is an adaptation of JoséSaramago’s wonderful, disturbing novel about a city whose residents go inexplicably blind,save for one woman who’s played, in Meirelles’ very faithful re-imagining, byJulianne Moore. The powerhouse actress was there last night (pictured), looking gorgeousin a yellow gown. Also on hand: castmates Gael García Bernal (he plays a nasty,nasty villain to perfection), Alice Braga, and Danny Glover. The film playedwell, and as the credits rolled, the audience gave Meirelles’ a warm Canneswelcome — that is, a lengthy standing ovation. (In France, it’s all about thedirector.)

After the movie, Dave and I headed to the beachside Blindnessbash, which was marked by too-loud bad music and littleto offer in the way of victuals. (Well, for vegan-style moi, anyway. Wonderwhere Natalie went for dinner in this meat-crazy town?) So, after popping by anearby restaurant to see our friends from Miramax (they’re releasing Blindnessin the States in September), we decided to call it a day.

This morning, it was back to the Palais for the pressscreening of Kung Fu Panda, which I found sweet and entertaining. AndI’m not even a big animation fan. Tonight, we’ll return to Panda-land— I refuseto use the word “pandemonium” in reference to the movie; I’ll leavethat to the hacks — for a party at the Carlton Beach Hotel pier. I’mhoping there will be more people in furry panda suits. Sadly, I missedthat stunt yesterday. At the very least, Jack Black will show off a fewkung fu moves, right?

Oh yes, the other thing I’m delighted to report to be infull swing once again this year is the plethora of schlocktastic flicks thatcome to Cannes in (desperate) hopes to find international distribution. Thisfestival might be (rightly) known as the glitziest, most glamorous on earth, but there’salso a seedy, coming soon to a dusty video-store shelf near you! side.Over breakfast this morning, I turned the page of my Variety and wastreated to a full-page ad for a movie called Bad Blood, starring PiperLaurie. Even the poster was kind of sad: it looked like a low-rent Carrierip-off, with a blood-drenched unknown actress staring out at me. (Checkout the laughable trailer.) Elsewhere in the trade paper, there was another full-pager for My Life in Ruins,which showed Nia Vardalos standing in front of the Parthenon, holding up a mapof Greece. (My life in ruins, get it? Hahahahaha!) Seems Vardalos hasn’t been able to venture very far from her $241 million hit, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.Sad, really, how quickly they fall in Hollywood.

Okay, c’est tout for now. À la prochaine, myPopWatch friends. (Hey, that kinda rhymes!)