Friday, May 25, 2007

‘Ocean’s Thirteen’ gets booed

On Thursday night, outside the Palais des Festivals, wild fans crowded the streets as hysterical girls unfurled banners asking George Clooney to marry them; indeed, the third installment of the Ocean franchise was to be screened. The team (in addition to Clooney, Brad Pitt, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, and more showed up) walked the red carpet and signed autographs. Also present were fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier, actress Fanny Ardant, director Claude Lelouch, Mickey Rourke (back froom the dead and it shows), Dita von Teese (still doing everything she can to camouflage her natural vulgarity under thick layers of make up and 'sophistication') as well as a spectacular and playful Scarlett Johanson. The crowd went crazy.
Inside the Palais, it was a different story. The film got booed and the applause was tepid at best.
I thought the film was enjoyable, though.

Later at the Orange party celebrating the creation of their very own Studio 37, champagne and exquisite ‘macarons’ fuelled the exhausted happy few who danced on the beach.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Riviera Bliss

Ah! To relax in the sun!

'Auf der anderen Seite'

After a film in English, Urdu and French (‘A mighty heart’) comes a film in Turkish, German and English. Fatih Akin’s ‘Auf der anderen Seite’ (English title: 'The Edge of Heaven') is a great movie. Beautifully filmed and constructed, it intertwines different stories, focusing on a Turkish immigrant and his son on the one hand, a German woman and her rebellious young daughter on the other hand, and in the middle a Turkish prostitute in Germany and her estranged, activist daughter. As a friend of mine put it, it’s the story of people who are looking for each other – I would add it is also about young men and women trying to work out their identity in a multicultural world. This may sound very conceptual, but ultimately, it’s a gripping story that moves you to tears, and the director is a master at his craft.
If one of the four leading ladies (Hanna Schygulla, Nurgul Yesilcay, Patrycia Ziolkowska and Nursel Koese) doesn’t walk away with the Prix d’Interprétation Féminine, I don’t know who can. The gorgeous Nurgul Yesilcay is bound for a career in Hollywood.
The audience applauded wildly throughout the entire credits (a rare feat) and the director and his actors (see picture above), all teary-eyed, were given a standing ovation. Cannesgirl yelled “Bravo!” at the top of her lungs.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Quentin Tarantino at Breakfast

It's 10am, and Quentin Tarantino is enjoying the Hotel Martinez's spectacular breakfast buffet... Also present was Roman Polanski as well as French actor Gerard Jugnot, of 'Les Choristes' fame...

A celebrity-packed screening

I wore my very dear, dearest Nina Ricci cropped beige jacket to the screening of “Le scaphandre et le papillon”, Peter Schnabel’s moving and sometimes surreal adaptation of an eponymous memoir by Jean-Dominique Bauby. Despite telling the story of a man suffering from locked-in syndrome, the film is intensely sensuous, focusing on such details as the sun on a woman’s legs, a girl’s hair floating in the wind, the texture of someone’s skin etc. Schnabel by the way really has something for tall, thin, blonde classic beauties, and all his ladies (Emmanuelle Seigner, Marina Hands, Marie-Josée Croze…) seem cast in pretty much the same gorgeous mold; they truly emerge as the heroines of the film.
A impressive lineup of celebrities also attended the screening: first and foremost, a spectacular Sharon Stone, as well as Elle McPherson (go figure), Toni Collette (a favorite with Cannesgirl), film directors Costa Gavras, Stephen Frears and Roman Polanski (whose wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, starred in Schnabel’s movie), Javier Bardem, Jane Birkin, and a bunch of French actresses (Julie Delpy, Maria de Medeiros, Julie Gayet, Ariane Ascaride…).
We had invitations to the ultimate Cannes party, the one thrown by Quentin Tarantino, whose latest opus was showing after “Le scaphandre…”. But we are way too cool even for the coolest parties, aren’t we? As someone who was never invited to any parties back in high school, there’s something intoxicating about shrugging “Quentin Tarantino’s party at the Cannes festival? Yeah, we had invitations but we didn’t go”…

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Gerard Depardieu

It's 11am. Gerard Depardieu just hit the Bar at the Hotel Martinez. He is huge, and very thirsty. Here is also a picture taken from the lobby of the Hotel Martinez – fans stay glued there for hours in the hope of catching a glimpse of their favorite stars. Me, I’m ecstatic: I saw Wong Kar-Wai, the dark bespectacled King (‘Wong’ in Cantonese).

Michael Winterbottom’s ‘A Mighty Heart’

Celebrity-addicted Cannes went wild on Monday, as an emaciated Angelina Jolie (with Brad Pitt) was in town to present Michael Winterbottom’s ‘A Mighty Heart’, in which she plays Mariane Pearl, the wife of the ‘Wall Street Journal’ reporter who was brutally murdered in Pakistan.
With its choppy editing and its documentary style, this taut film (in English and Urdu, with a little French) manages to be riveting despite the fact that one knows all too well how the investigation that followed Daniel Pearl’s disappearance ended. It was shot on location in Pakistan and it shows; it is not a slick, cleansed Hollywood film, and you can almost breathe the smoggy and sticky air of the city. The actors all gave outstanding, intense performances.
I found the film deeply moving and I was not alone. At the end of the screening, the actual Mariane Pearl gave the director and the cast a round of emotional hugs.


I wore my scarlet suede Ferragamo flats
Red Shoes on the Red Carpet
I think of the 'Wizard of Oz' and 'The Red Shoes'

Monday, May 21, 2007

A 60th anniversary celebration

For its 60th anniversary, the Cannes festival commissioned 3-minute shorts from some of its favorite directors – Wim Wenders, Roman Polanski, Hou Hsiao Hsien, Youssef Chahine, Olivier Assayas (sadly, Lars von Trier) and many more; the shorts were screened on Sunday night.
While some directors recreated childhood memories of the movies, others paid tribute to influential figures (Abbas Kiarostami’s homage to a divinely, aged Nikoo Kheradmand) or to themselves (Claude Lelouch, for one).
Many went by the famous exhortation from ‘Singing in the Rain’:”Make’ em laugh, make ‘em laugh!”. Kitano’s deadpan humor, Nanni Moretti’s self-deprecatory wit and Elia Suleiman’s Buster Keaton-esque comedy were all big winners, as was the Coen brothers’ short, in which a nerdy theater employee enthusiastically recommends Renoir’s ‘The rule of the game’ to a skeptic, vaguely threatening cowboy in a hat, plaid shirt and jeans. “Is there any livestock in that movie?” asks the cowboy, who ends up seeing and loving the Turkish movie ‘Climates’.
Walter Salle’s mini-musical poked fun at the Cannes Festival; with its wit and Brazilian rhythms, it was definitely the best received short, but my own favorites were a sensuous little gem by Wong Kar Wai’s and Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu’s ‘Anna’, set to the haunting soundtrack of Godard’s ‘Le Mépris’. Iñarritu doesn’t so much tell us a story as he hints at it, leaving us speculating about the mysterious and intensely emotional characters; as for the images (their composition, the use of light…), they are just beautiful. With Iñarritu, film is art, no question about it.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Double duty on Saturday night

Tonight I wore a Masaki Matsushima dress to walk the red carpet not once but twice, with barely the time for some pizza in between – exhausting really. And the first time around, I went up the steps just ahead of Andie McDowell, whose poise, beauty and grace I have always tremendously admired.

Joel and Ethan Coen’s “No country for old men” was just amazing – melancholy, dark and (very) violent yet funny, it is also a beautifully crafted film. The actors were all perfect, with the creepy Javier Bardem now a very serious contender for the Prix d’Interprétation (Best Actor Award).
Michael Moore’s “Sicko”, a plea for free universal health care in the United States, received a deliriously enthusiastic standing ovation, though in my opinion he argues his points very poorly, making sweeping generalizations based on anecdotal evidence. When a documentary-maker focuses a film so much on himself, something’s wrong. Cinematographically too, the film was disappointing – the accordion music in the sequences about France? Please…

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Breakfast Haiku

Breakfast at the Martinez Hotel, 9am,
It’s women in black cocktail dresses
Big-potato producers, sunshine on the terrace, and this post.

The view from the top of the stairs

Above is a picture pf the view, from the top of the Palais des Festivals steps...

Tonight’s feature, Christophe Honoré’s ‘Chansons d’amour’, is a musical drama about a few 20-somethings who smoke, walk around Paris, smoke, talk about their sex lives and smoke, all while occasionally bursting out into songs, which most of the time reminded me of that line in ‘Singing in the Rain’: “Lina – she can’t sing, she can’t dance, she can’t act”. It all ends well, though, as Ismaël (a reference to Herman Melville’s world and its homoerotic undercurrent?) finally finds some relief from those nagging women in the arms of a teenage boy. However, I found the music enchanting.

After the film, we skipped the Paris Premiere bash - who cares for cool parties?

A very happy Cannesgirl

Pro stylists, big cash and bigger hair
Pink tulle, black lace, golden sequins
‘tis not the prom in Houston, but the red carpet in Cannes

Monday, May 14, 2007

Never Check Your Bags

Last year I was a Cannes Film Festival virgin, an embarrassing status that I made every effort to conceal, in vain.
My first mistake was checking my luggage on the flight to Cannes or rather, Nice; you’d think Air France would have a hard time losing someone’s bag between Paris and Nice yet they did. While my boyfriend and his boss were nervously pacing the area by the baggage claim, I filed a Missing Bag complaint.
Later, on the phone, I was informed that my bag had stayed in Paris – ooops. I cried, I begged, I threatened but the sentence remained the same: delivery would not take place before 9pm. “But you don’t understand!” I screeched “They’re screening the Da Vinci Code at 7! Everything is in my suitcase,” I whined “What am I going to wear?”
Definitely not the jeans, Converse All Stars and Petit Bateau t-shirt I was wearing. At 5pm, my boyfriend and I, cursing at Air France, made a mad dash for Cannes’ shopping area where our hysteria durably traumatized a number of easy-going salespeople. I ended up snatching a black, pleated Joseph skirt and a pair of red Jaime Mascaro flats – fortunately, I was wearing a narrow Yohji Yamamoto jacket that was classy rather than red-carpet-ready but at that point anything that didn’t scream laid-back seemed just perfect.
We literally ran up Palais des Festivals’ mythical, red-carpeted stairs, my hair unbrushed and my brow sweaty.
It did end up being a magical evening. Film buffs from all over the world would give me a sorry look during the rest of the week, not because of my austere Opening Night garb, but rather because I shamelessly confessed that yes, I had enjoyed the Da Vinci Code. I had.
This year, no bags will be checked. We’re taking the train.

Ready Or Not

The 60th edition of the Cannes Film Festival is to begin in two days – on Wednesday May 16th , and I thought I should have a look at the list of the films in the Compétition Officielle. The festival’s official website, however, informed me that the list of competing films as well as the Jury Members list were not available yet and would only be posted “one week before the opening of the Festival.”. By my calculations, that would definitely be last week.
I guess I’m not the only one who’s not quite ready for the event.

Who knows? Some info may become available eventually: