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Actor Sylvester Stallone, center, puts his hands on the shoulders of Jason Statham, left, and Antonio Banderas, right, from the movie "The Expendables 3," as they arrive for the screening of The Homesman at the 67th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, May 18, 2014. / Thibault Camus, AP

CANNES, France - Sometimes film reporting is a battle. Really, a battle.

I am reminded of this at the Cannes Film Festival after stepping away from the picturesque Carlton Hotel in beautiful Cannes, France, to watch actual armored cars churn down the famous Croisette.

The smiling cast of The Expendables 3 was perched on top for the ultimate macho photo op to promote the upcoming installment of the ultimate macho franchise.

My journalistic instinct was to get as close to the action as possible to see Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford and company ride in. Maybe grab a few photos. This was not a normal occurrence.

But as the vehicles rolled, spectators spilled onto the street. French police formed a protective line to allow the celeb-filled tanks in and to keep the others out. I ended up on the wrong side - amazingly, right next to the film's director, Patrick Hughes.

As police elbows flew, Hughes' use of the universally clear expression "I'm the director!" was his ticket through the formidable line. Somehow, "I'm a credentialed journalist" did not carry the same weight.

It was only when I had finally made it to the press event an hour later and was able to hear the entire assembled cast give their best shot at memorable one-liners that I was able to appreciate what had transpired.

It was the perfect summation of how the Cannes Film Festival and the circus that surrounds it continue to entertain, surprise and shock. Despite the occasional headache (and odd elbows aimed to the head), the festival, which ends Sunday, is like no other film event.

While the cinema world descends on the south of France to appreciate great works from around the globe, it's the circus that reverberates throughout pop-culture corners. This is what leads DreamWorks' Jeffrey Katzenberg to have a life-size Night Fury dragon walk down the red carpet of the How to Train Your Dragon 2 premiere. Even the frugal producers of The Hunger Games splashed out to have the entire cast jet in for a photo and a party at a massive villa on the sea.

On the glamorous end of this festival spectacle is the stunning red carpet leading up the steps to the Palais des Festivals. The nightly world premieres are such a ritual that you sometimes have to step back to truly appreciate them. There's nothing like it on a night-by-night basis anywhere else on Earth - the banks of photographers all in tuxedos, the dresses, every man compelled to wear a proper black tie (they sell them nearby if you forget).

To watch Hollywood stars, who have seen it all, appear gobsmacked and take pictures of a red carpet experience is stunning. The scene is how actual Hollywood would only dare portray itself in Hollywood movies. The industry town is not even close to Cannes' glam standards. Not even pranksters, like the one who crawled up America Ferrera's dress on the carpet this week, can even temporarily dampen its luster.

On these carpets, the crowds yell at the directors as if they were rock stars, and sometimes the directors act the part. David Cronenberg wore white, mirrored, wrap-around sunglasses to his Map to the Stars premiere. After all, it's the films that allow the circus to take place. And, despite the annual sniping by critics, there have been some stunners at the festival this year.

This hit me when I watched Benedict Miller's Foxcatcher on Monday. Even at an 8:30 a.m. screening, the emotional onslaught was palpable.

Sometimes film coverage is a battle.

Alexander writes about movies for USA TODAY



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Voices: Glamour at Cannes couldn't be better scripted

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