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Fruit, Veggies and Fashion

Our local fruit and veggie market – Forte Forville – was turned into supermodel heaven tonight by Naomi Campbell. The supermodel gathered her best friends – and other celebs – for a charity fashion show to raise funds for the Japanese tsunami victims.

Our local fruit and veg market - replaced by Naomi's fashion show
Our local fruit and veg market - replaced by Naomi's fashion show Pic: Anthoni Panayis

Favourite celeb arrival of the evening was tennis star Dokovic.

He looked sooooo young (apparently all that water he drinks) and actually almost skinny for a sportsman. He strutted on Naomi’s catwalk and auctioned off one of his racquets for 28,000 euros!

Scariest-looking award would have to go to Ivana Trump. Apart from the leathery legs (perhaps a little less sunbaking would be good), I thought she was pulling a face…till I realised that was her face. Obviously so sculpted to imperfection.

Yikes, when are people gonna realise that they’re looking WAY worse with all this botox and plastic surgery!?

Dokovich raised money for the Japanese tsunami survivors
Dokovich raised money for the Japanese tsunami survivors Pic: Anthoni Panayis

Swedish model Victoria Silvstedt raised the most squeals of delight before the show…although it was veteran Jane Fonda who stole the show at the end.

Swedish model Victoria Silvstedt
Swedish model Victoria Silvstedt

 

And here's how the Forville market usually looks...
And here's how the Forville market usually looks...

Day 7 – First Afrikaans Movie in Cannes

Saw a great South African movie this morning – ‘Skoonheid’, directed by Oliver Hermanus. Fantastic production. Absolutely international quality. Brave and brilliant acting. I don’t think it’ll be a huge commercial success – the subject matter (a married man dealing with misplaced lust) is a little sensitive, and there are some sex scenes that could freak the odd tannie out. But wow, really impressed.

No huge political overtones. Just a couple of comments here and there, and observations on the strict codes of conduct expected of and by South Africa’s older generation, compared to the freedom the younger generation enjoys…but that’s a theme that crosses cultural and national borders, and so it’s a universal tale of forbidden desires and the tragic consequences of living a life tainted by secrets and lies.

Deon Lotz and Charlie Keegan in 'Skoonheid'
Deon Lotz and Charlie Keegan in 'Skoonheid'

The cast and crew took to the stage before the screening of the film in Un Certain Regard. This is the first Afrikaans film invited to the Cannes Film Festival! And it’s unlikely to be the last.

The 'Skoonheid' cast and crew before the film's screening in Cannes
The 'Skoonheid' cast and crew before the film's screening in Cannes

Dashed back to the press office in the Palais just in time for the Jodie Foster press conference. Had to miss her movie – ‘Beaver’ – in order to see ‘Skoonheid’ because they were on at the same time. Anyway, she’s amazing. Such a deep and serious voice. I’ve never heard anyone say ‘hi’ with so few syllables. Short, sharp and to the point. Most of the questions were about Mel Gibson. Oops. I’ve run out of time. Will tell you more later.

Day 6 – Brad gets Booed

Oh man. Just seen ‘Tree of Life’ starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. Expectations were extremely high for this film. It’s helmed by Terrence Malick, a genius and icon in the movie world. But, argh, just half an hour into the film, he suddenly presented us with a David Attenburgh-esque documentary about the birth of the universe (complete with a rather dashing dinosaur). The cinematography was brilliant, but not what we queued for an hour to watch.

Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain in 'The Tree of Life'
Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain in 'The Tree of Life'

Once that 20-minute section was – finally – finished, the film returned to the core story about a family in America’s south dealing with a tragedy. But you sat in the theatre, constantly wary that it was going to veer off back into documentary land. It doesn’t.

This is a film that art-house goers may describe as poetic with a musical score that complements its sensibility and sense of  loss perfectly, whilst others may think it’s just a little too slow and self-indulgent, perhaps only meaningful to the people who made the movie.

At the end of the screening, some clapped…and some booed. Some hissed and some told them all to ‘shhhhhh’. Hate when that happens. I got a lump in my throat. You feel so bad for the movie-makers…and it makes you want to argue for all the great things that were in the film – the exploration of why we’re here, why we have to die and is God listening to us?

It’s what attracted Brad Pitt to the movie, as both an actor and producer – that it raises those questions we all start asking at about the age of 11.

Wearing tortoise-shell glasses and sporting a moustache and goatee, Brad is the consumate professional. Sure he’s a movie star. And he’s impossibly handsome (one could write reams about the way his six-pack tugs at his tight white t-shirt). But in the absence of the “incredibly shy” writer-director, Mr Malick,  it was Brad who fielded the press after the screening in a way that commands respect – revealing those broad shoulders are more than just physical.

Brad reveals he was drawn to the script “because it’s about life – why are we here? Why are we going to die? There’s the impermanence of life that we all go through. Everything changes. Nothing stays the same.”

And nor does Brad apparently. “Working with Malick has changed everything I’ve done since,” he says. “The best moments are not planned and pre-conceived. I’ve tried to go more in that direction.”

Apparently Malick allowed the children in the movie  to wear whatever clothes they wanted to each day, and would only give Brad and co-star Jessica Chastain their script each morning – about three or four pages that he wrote then and there. “For Malick, it was about capturing an accident,” says Chastain. (Oops, I’d be careful about saying things like that around some of the booers!) Most scenes were shot in two takes.

A South African journo asked if Brad treated his children in a similar way to the father he portrays in the movie, to which he replied jokingly: “I beat my kids regularly and it seems to do the trick, and I deprive them of meals.’

The film has numerous references to faith, religion and spirituality so, according to perfect Pitt, filming was a wonderful experience with “a lot of theological debate”.

“I remember having a lot of those questions when I was the age of the boys in the film,” says Brad. “And I relate to the Southern upbringing (mine was not as constrained) – but you have the father who’s the provider and the mother who’s the care-taker, however I think the film is more universal though, and speaks to all cultures. As we grow up, we all try on some things that work for you…and some things that don’t.”

Hmmm. Maybe this one didn’t work so well…

Watch the trailer and see for yourself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=DlYYreuK8vo

Salad, celebs and a lekker South African jol

Went to the Hotel Martinez for dinner tonight, and it was simply dripping in celebrities. Almost tripped over Robert de Niro as he stepped out of the elevator, and then Naomi Campbell swung past our table (with a major entourage following her, including her billionaire Russian boyfriend). I almost didn’t see her because I was choking over the menu. My starter – a lettuce-leaf salad – was 28 Euros (and that’s because I didn’t order the more expensive option with prawns).

Watching the fireworks from our table at the Martinez
Watching the fireworks from our table at the Martinez Pic: Anthoni Panayis

There was a smorgasbord of other international stars milling about – mega French star Jean Dujardin was smouldering, and huge Chinese star Fan Bing Bing floated past in a chiffon frock.

Most popular celeb was Michelle Rodriguez (from ‘Lost’) who emits such an approachable aura that everyone – and their poodle – stops by to chat to her.

After a stunning fireworks display (c/o a party that Kany West was singing at), we then headed over to the South African party on Rado Beach. Fantastic! SA always wins best party because…well, because they throw the best party! Even tho’ Kanye and his pals Leonardo di Caprio and Jamie Foxx were at the other party, South Africa’s jol still had the best food (so why did we eat at the Martinez?!), yummiest wine and outstanding vibe!

Most interesting award of the evening goes to Nigerian-South African actor Hakeem Kae–Kazim, who’s now living in LA and “loving it”. He’s got a movie at the festival called “Black Gold”. Hakeem’s following his dream – acting in various US TV shows, like CSI, but keeping very close ties with Africa. He’s got a movie at the festival called ‘Black Gold’.

So divine talking to a guy like him – and South African producer Jeremy Nathan – they’re just passionate about what they’re doing, and truly LOVE film.

Party time South African style on Saturday night
Party time South African style on Saturday night Pic: Anthoni Panayis
Hakeem Kae–Kazim and Jeremy Nathan at the South African party
Hakeem Kae–Kazim and Jeremy Nathan at the South African party Pic: Anthoni Panayis

Charlize Theron is one of the few stars who hasn’t made it to this year’s Cannes Film Festival…but she’s not forgotten! Here she is on a poster just outside the Martinez Hotel:

Charlize Theron's poster just outside the Martinez
Charlize Theron's poster just outside the Martinez Pic: Anthoni Panayis

Photo frenzy at the Pirates press conference

Oh my goodness. The press conference for ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ was madness this afternoon. For only one reason: Johnny Depp. Photographers were running into each other trying to capture Mr Depp on film…you see this madness every year when Johnny arrives, but it still shocks each time. Some actors just have this pulling power.  This mega movie star quality. And he has it. The press conference itself was fairly forgettable.

Johnny, Ian and Penelope in Cannes
Johnny, Ian and Penelope in Cannes
Johnny Depp - irresistably cool in Cannes
Johnny Depp - irresistably cool in Cannes

 

Penelope Cruz being coy in Cannes
Penelope Cruz being coy in Cannes
A frenzy at the Pirates press conference
A frenzy at the Pirates press conference Pic: Anthoni Panayis

 

Day 4 – Pirates of the Cannes Film Festival

Good morning! Just been to see ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’. I get the whole frenzy over the Pirates franchise (and Pirates has certainly captivated a lot of attention here in Cannes)…but am just not a major fan myself. I can never understand how my 10-year-old twins can follow the plot when I’m lost by the second scene. Anyway – because I’m missing the kids so much, I went for them (or at least to impress them!).

Captain Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and the enigmatic Angelica (Penelope Cruz)
Captain Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and the enigmatic Angelica (Penelope Cruz)

So the movie is just what you’d expect. Fantastic adventure, great humour, incredible scenery and sets, and brilliant acting by Johnny and his cohorts – Penelope Cruz (the first female priate in the series!), Geoffrey Rush and Ian McShane. It’s unadulterated entertainment from beginning to end.

But it’s in 3D. Was so hoping 3D would be a passing fad. But no, it’s here to stay (at least for a while). I just don’t get it. The film is not hugely enhanced by the 3D so you have to sit with these heavy specs leaning on the bridge of your nose AND you’re forced to look through a dark lens, like you’re peering at the movie through a window pane in the dead of night. What’s with that?

The stars are all in Cannes to promote the movie, and will be at a press conference later today. Johnny’s a regular visitor to the Cannes Film Festival (and far better looking in real life – cheeks that have been chiselled to perfection and eyes that you could dive into and never come up for breath).

Seeing Johnny always reminds me of this time I came to Cannes with a friend who’d sworn off movies after seeing ‘Fatal Attraction’ (I think he was scared his girlfriend would transform into Glenn Close’s bunny-boiler). So while I was doing an interview at the Majestic Hotel, Stan (my friend) went for a swim on the Majestic Beach. And while he was walking out on the pier, he was joined by another guy. They strolled to the end of the pier together to dive off, and were merrily chatting away…when Stan noticed a swarm of photographers following them. “Why do you think they’re following us?” said Stan. “Um, I think it’s because of me,” said the guy. “I’m Johnny Deep”. (Well actually, he said ‘Johnny Depp’ but when Stan told me the story he had forgotten Johnny’s name!)

Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ is definitely worth a watch. It’s a loosely-based interpretation of Tim Powers’ novel ‘On Stranger Tides’, published in 1988. This time, Jack Sparrow’s path crosses that of the gorgeous enigma Angelica (Cruz) as they’re both on a quest for the proverbial Fountain of Youth (which will restore the youth of those who drink from it). Aboard the ship of the formidable Captain Blackbeard, they find themselves on an adventure full of twists…and mermaids (whose song is reputed to kill sailors).

For those who didn’t realise, it turns out that Blackbeard is more than a myth. He actually existed in the early 18th Century, an English man named Edward Teach who is often depicted with black ribbons flapping from the braids of his beard. Now you know.

Day 3 – Praising the Pope Pic

Every morning should start like today. Watching a beautiful Italian movie. The film this morning was ‘Habemus Papam’ (‘We Have the Pope’) and it was simply gorgeous in its sensibility, its humour and its character studies. A film like this gently massages your soul and eases you into the day.

Quick synopsis: the Pope has died, and the newly elected Pope suffers stage fright seconds before he’s due to step onto the balcony and present himself to the massive crowd gathered in St Peter’s Square. A psychotherapist (who happens to be an atheist) is called in to ‘fix’ him…but our reluctant hero escapes.

The newly elected Pope...with his newly elected shrink
The newly elected Pope...with his newly elected shrink

It’s such a wonderful reminder of why European cinema is so often different to Hollywood. Our wonderful LA film-makers (and there really are a LOT of Hollywood movies I love) will have us believe that you can be anything you want to be, that given the opportunity anyone can rise to any occasion…but Europe reminds us, with a smile on its face, that what we really should be fulfilling is our destiny, knowing our strengths and weaknesses and being the best we can be, not what somebody else wants from us (even when they tell us it’s what God would want!).

The press conference afterwards was just as lovely. The lead actor, Michel Piccoli – who happens to be 85 (which you’d never guess) and more famous as a French actor – said that playing the role wasn’t difficult at all because “I listen more than I speak so it was quite easy.” Isn’t that great? Wish I could do that.

And it’s the director – Nanni Moretti – who plays the role of the psychotherapist in the movie. He admitted that “there is something of me in both the character of the psychotherapist and in the Pope’s feelings of discomfort and inadequacy.” This is Moretti’s 6th film in competition in Cannes. He won the Palm d’Or in 2001.

Day 2 – Forget about the price tag

Tonight held such promise. An invitation to a party aboard a luxury yacht – Diane, a 43 m elegant vessel with a price tag in the tens of millions. But…while the champagne was deliciously bubbly, the party was flat. Nobody turned up…except us (and two great South African waitresses), some New Yorkers and a stray couple from Paris.

The party wasn't totally ruined. We found South Africans Ursula and Sophie serving champagne
The party wasn't totally ruined. We found South Africans Ursula and Sophie serving champagne Pic: Anthoni Panayis

I feel so bad for organisers when that happens, but honestly – they didn’t invite enough people.

I saw the guest list. You can’t depend on 50 people to turn up. You have to invite at least 200 to guarantee that maybe 50 will come.

People are hectic at the festival. They say yes to everything and then attend only what they can.

And evidently nobody was free last night!

Maybe they were at the Kodak party, on a yacht berthed just around the corner from Diane.

Walked home wistfully past the Kodak party
Walked home wistfully past the Kodak party Pic: Anthoni Panayis

Or maybe they were watching Jessie J on stage…where we should’ve been (fantastic British singer/songwriter if you don’t already know)! So annoyed. Only found out she was in town after the show. Argh! There’s this great open-air stage on the beach, in front of one of the larni hotels for the rich and fabulous, The Martinez…and sometimes French stars you’ve never heard of perform there, and sometimes international stars strut their stuff. So that’s where Jessie J was. On stage. In public view. For free.

 

Jessie J rocked on the Cannes beachfront
Jessie J rocked on the Cannes beachfront

This always happens in Cannes – there’s so much going on that you inevitably miss brilliant things. So I missed Lady Gaga on Wednesday night and Jessie J last night. Am devastated. Wonder who I’ll miss tomorrow night!

If you’re not already in love with Jessie J, check out ‘Forget about the Price Tag’ here:

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMxX-QOV9tI

 

 

 

Let them eat Lobster

The Official Opening Night Gala dinner was held last night at the swish new venue in town, the Electrolux Agora Pavilion, which has been especially built on the beachfront for all official dining events during the Festival.

So now the jurors and movie stars can wander over from the Palais after a screening, and straight into the venue…instead of trying to navigate their way through traffic jams and streams of pedestrians.

Last night’s diners – Robert de Niro, Uma Thurman, Woody Allen and more – enjoyed a feast of lobster, veal mignon and a decadent chocolate dessert, accompanied by the classic (and eat-some-moreish) French madeleine.

The Agora, Cannes beachfront
The Agora has panoramic views of the Cannes beachfront (seen here at bottom right) Pic: Anthoni Panayis

The menu was created by Alain Ducasse, the recipient of the largest number of Michelin stars in the world, and was prepared by the 40 chefs of his team, Le Nôtre.

In order to cater for the 650 guests, Electrolux served 350 lobsters and over 80 kilos of veal filet mignon. 700 courgette flowers were eaten and the whole meal was washed down with 525 litres, or 700 bottles, of red and white wine. (At precisely the same time this was being devoured, I ate an omelette with a single lazy leaf of lettuce!)

Guests also enjoyed a luxurious 150 bottles of champagne and feasted on 70kgs of chocolate in the dessert.

One hundred waiters were in charge of making sure the service ran smoothly and to keep 2000 glasses polished and 3000 plates filled, emptied and cleared away. Guests used over 5000 pieces of cutlery which, when laid end to end, would be the equivalent of at least 12 struts up the famous red carpet of the Palais de Festival.

The Agora is quite stunningly made from 160 panels of glass (including a unique glass kitchen),affording it one of the greatest views on the Croisette as well as allowing people the chance to catch a glimpse of the goings-on behind the scenes of the Festival.

The Agora is the largest temporary structure along the Croisette and was built over 2 weeks by 51 people.  As the building will be returned to this spot next year, each concrete block has been tracked by GPS so that, in 2012, the builders can pinpoint the exact places of the foundation holes in the sand – ensuring this part of  the beach can easily go back to its main use of sunbathing.

The space will be split between the official Festival and Electrolux events, and will be the key location for Festival de Cannes deliberations as well as the first ever world exclusive Electrolux Menu de Cannes competition where stylists, chefs and designers compete to cook for the Cannes Festival Jury.

If you’d like to try this at home, Ducasse’s menu for the Opening Gala was:

Starter
Homard mariné
Côte de Romaine et légumes croquants
Royale d’olives et tomates confites

Main
Filet mignon de veau en “Gremolata”
Amandes torréflées et courgette fleur

Dessert
Chocolat en suspension
Thé Bergamote
Zestes de citron et Madeleine tiède

Sleeping Blah!

Oh my goodness. Just been to see ‘Sleeping Beauty’. But it was definitely more Blah than Beauty. You know those movies where the director thinks that if they just make the action very, very slow – it’ll fool the audience into thinking it’s more meaningful? Argh!

Sleeping Beauty poster
Sleeping Beauty poster

Such a pity because it could’ve been a great movie, if somebody had just edited so many of the looooooong scenes of nothingness. The camera kept running for far too long on just about every scene!

The lead actress – Emily Browning – is fantastic. Emily’s an award-winning Australian actress best known for her performance as Violent in ‘Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events’ (with Jim Carrey and Meryl Streep) and as Baby Doll in ‘Sucker Punch’.

The plot revolves around Lucy (Browning), a young university student, who’ll do almost anything for money to fund her studies – filing, waitressing and taking part in medical experiments, like so many young South Africans in London do. It’s ‘easy’ money. Finally her yearn to earn leads her to a job where she’s paid to be drugged and tucked into bed like Sleeping Beauty whilst older men caress, abuse or sleep beside her.

Director Julia Leigh says she “wanted to make a film where the audience responds with ‘Did I really see that?’ and ‘Did I really hear that?’ and ‘Can such a thing really exist?’.”

Hmmm. That wasn’t quite my response. And from what I saw, I don’t think anybody else in the audience responded like that either. Nobody clapped (which usually happens at the end of a film in competition). Sadly most of us were asking: Did I really just waste a couple of hours of my life seeing that?

Most of us are already aware of such practices, so stripped of its ‘shock’ value, the story was simply not told and edited in a way that made it interesting enough to keep the audience gripped. Instead it relied on quite a bit of naked flesh to keep its audience glued to the screen. Um, actually LOTS of naked flesh.