Awesome as it is to have touched down in Cannes ahead of the 2011 festival whirring into full activity, it does mean that we've been forced to walk the Croisette – the occasionally hellish seafront stretch where you can feel under siege from jeans 'n' jacket-sporting grey-hairs, neighing poshos, and whiney bloggers (oh wait, that's us). At least there are plenty of new movie ads to check out down there too.
Like the Prince of Wales' not entirely successful first marriage, there are three primary components to the Cannes Film Festival. Firstly, there are the various competitions, where filmmakers of renown and hotly-tipped up-and-comers alike showcase the newest elucidations of their various artistic obsessions. Secondly, there is the film market, around which independent producers and directors mingle with sales agents, distributors, and probably Benjamin Grimm's sweet aunt Petunia all mingle, all in the hope of doing a stellar spot of business.
And lastly, there is the Hollywood studio presence, one offshoot of which is that the various hotels lining the Croisette – places like the Martinez and the Carlton, where a one-night stay is as prohibitively expensive as Carlos Tevez's right foot – are plastered in elaborate billboards and standees, showcasing the movies that the Tinseltown big boys reckon we'll be lapping up later in the year. Last year we got Gulliver's Travels, Salt and The A-Team; which equally sure-fire smashes are flaunting themselves in 2011?
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, directed by Steven Spielberg
The ridiculously-long-in-coming first in a mooted trilogy starring the gumshoe union's answer to Jimmy Sommerville gets the billboard treatment. There are still some worries that the mo-capped Secret of the Unicorn will wander the same uncanny valley territory marked out by Spielberg's big mate, Bob Zemeckis, and there's undoubted anticipation about seeing what Spielberg can deliver in tandem with producer Peter Jackson, but will it blend the technical impact of Lord of the Rings with the high adventure of The Last Crusade, or mix the tedium of King Kong with the excremental uselessness of Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls?
Cowboys & Aliens, directed by Jon Favreau
Speaking of Crystal Skulls, look here's another new Harrison Ford movie! And set in a time before refrigerators had even been invented, so we should be safe from a reprise of that silliness for starters. Also starring Daniel Craig, who plays Red Rackham in Tintin, the proposed appeal of this movie seems to hinge almost entirely on the notion that audiences will be as unable to say no to a movie about cowboys (ooh, cowboys!) and aliens (ooh, aliens!) as a brickie would to a bacon roll soaked in tea, with a pair of boobs drawn on it in brown sauce. Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde also feature, but they were on the side vents of this billboard and thus hidden in this photo. Unlucky less-famous co-stars!
Transformers: Dark of the Moon, directed by Michael Bay
So big a load of bum fluff was Revenge of the Fallen that there seems to be little to no buzz about Dark of the Moon, despite the fact that the SuperBowl slot suggested Bay's latest might well boast the best effects sequences of any blockbuster this year. That visual flair is continued in this ad on the front of the Carlton too, with it playing video clips from the film. Walk through it while humming some utterly appalling rock music and you'd probably feel a bit like a WWE wrestler.
The Smurfs, directed by Raja Gosnell
It could be a tough summer for Sony. Its Spider-Man reboot is not due until next year, so in the meantime, the studio's top contender for a blockbuster this summer is The Smurfs. Plotwise, it's a bit like Enchanted as the little blue men find themselves ejected from their world and dumped into ours, in New York City. But let's not forget that Enchanted boasted the comic talents of Amy Adams, The Smurfs' leading lady is Katy Perry, who voices Smurfette. The voice cast also includes Hank Azaria as Gargamel and lan Cumming and B.J. Novak as two of the smurfs.
Super 8, directed by J.J. Abrams
Super 8 (not to be confused with Nic Cage's 8MM which was called Super 8 for its Swedish release) is a summer offering from Paramount, due for release in August. Written and directed by J.J. Abrams, it appears to be a homage to the kind of movie Steven Spielberg cornered the market in (and perhaps unsurprisingly, Spielberg is a named producer), charting the impact on nostalgia-infused childhood memories by sci-fi adventure and weirdness. A group of kids witness a horrifying train crash which is the catalyst for paranormal occurrences in their small town. The filmmakers have gone to town on the promotional billboard, on which the movie title stands out from its backdrop.
Zookeeper, directed by Frank Coraci
We're not sure how much it costs to hang a movie billboard on the Croisette. We're assuming it's not cheap. However we would gladly give double whatever it might cost, plus our kidneys, spleen and intestines, if it guaranteed that we would never see or hear anything about this film ever again.
Cobra, the Space Pirate, directed by Alexandre Aja
From the director of Switchblade Romance comes this live-action adaptation of the '70s manga by Buichi Terasawa. With the movie not due till 2013, the poster is essentially all tease and no trousers, but the look of the original has been slavishly replicated – despite being set in the future, Cobra has hair that could have been swiped straight off the bonce of one of the Dukes of Hazzard.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, directed by Rob Marshall
More pirates, albeit of the traditional nautical variety. With the fourth Pirates movie showing to most likely colossal apathy on Saturday, the film's party is going to be a far hotter ticket, and preparations for the shindig already look to be underway, with the building of these giant boots. Yes, giant boots! Now, Caligula's name meant little boots, so the presence of these gargantuan clod-hoppers is telling me that this party is going to be even more Bacchanalian and depraved than that legendary Roman nutjob. Ergo, expect Geoffrey Rush to marry a horse, and Ian McShane to dip his little Lovejoy in the pirate punch.
Not Born to be Gladiators, directed by Iginio Straffi
Are Roman gladiators a choice subject for what looks like a kids' animation movie? Scraps to the the death, summary executions, people being ripped limb from limb – the Mickey Mouse Club it ain't.
Special Forces, directed by Stéphane Rybojad
Apologies for the glare on this poster, but our shooting angle was severely compromised by a tree selfishly standing in front of it. And no way were we going to let some inanimate hunk of wood wrestle its way into this photograph... hang on, is that Diane Kruger? Oooooohh...
The Hangover Part II, directed by Todd Phillips
Uh, something lost in translation? Very Bad Movie 2 more like, say we Hangover sequel-sceptics.
5 Days of August, directed by Renny Harlin
The new movie from the man behind Cliffhanger and Cutthroat Island, starring Rupert Friend, Andy Garcia, Dean Cain and Heather Graham. But it was the sight of former Batman, Val Kilmer, looking as puffy as an inflatable couch, which utterly transfixed us. Dollars to doughnuts, he's been spending a lot of dollars on a lot of doughnuts.
Kane & Lynch, directed by F. Gary Gray
The 2010 poster for this mooted video game adaptation still lingers on the Croisette like a bad smell – something it might actually now be giving off, seeing as what looks very much like mould has started to gather within the casing. And that fungal infection seems like an apposite comment about developments on the film, or lack of, over the last 12 months, as named-on-the-poster director Simon Crane jumped ship, and progress towards the screen seems to have largely stalled.
And finally, exuding the kind of class and glamour that The Smurfs really struggle to match, here is the young Faye Dunaway, poster girl for Cannes 2011, gazing down from the side of the Palais des Festivals.