Cannes complain, won’t complain

May 15, 2007 10:37 UTC

“Look after it, even on the street.”

This was the stern warning from an official at the Cannes Film Festival, as she handed me my press pass. It made me slightly paranoid. Is the town full of badge snatchers? Will I be safe walking back to the hotel after dark? If so, do I conceal my pass, look straight ahead, pretend to be a stumbling drunk?Mike's badge

Of course, she has a point. You see, my badge is quite high up the pecking order of badges. At Cannes they come in a number of colours yellow, blue, pink and pink with a yellow dot. Yes, thats right, I have a pink-with-a-yellow-dot badge, allowing me to jump most queues into press screenings for the next 11 days, and that means more sleep and longer breakfasts. Of course, there is also the white badge, the all-access badge of all badges, which most Cannes goers aspire to but few ever achieve. White badge holders probably get their own bodyguard.

So tomorrow the 60th festival gets underway, the greatest show on earth, as the Observer reasonably calls it, and the town is preparing for the deluge of reporters, stars, agents, producers, filmmakers and movie fans who crowd into the palm-lined resort every year to wheel and deal, criticise, fantasise, report and party. The sun is shining, the yachts are sparkCannes prepares for film festivalling clean, and the prices have gone up.

Critics like the look of the main competition line-up, though more often than not the films fail to live up to expectations. Quentin Tarantino leads a strong U.S. contingent of five out of 22 pictures vying for the Palme dOr (Golden Palm), but the early favourite is probably Russias Alexander Sokurov, whose “Alexandra” is set in Chechnya.

And outside the competition there are hundreds more films seeking a little love and attention along the glamorous Croisette boulevard, from the (possibly) sublime Angelina Jolie in “A Mighty Heart” about the kidnap and murder by Islamic militants of U.S. reporter Daniel Pearl to the (probably) ridiculous “Illegal Aliens” starring the now-deceased Anna Nicole Smith to the (certainly) serious Leonardo DiCaprios environmental documentary “The 11th Hour”.

Route 66 Revisited – One for Bill Richardson

May 14, 2007 21:38 UTC

Eds note: As Reuters correspondents Nick Carey and James Kelleher travel through America in a vintage Porsche, they’re reaching out to Americans on what issues matter to them.

I came across Carl (he declined to give me his last name) watering his lawn in front of his home at 322 D Street in Needles, California, an old railroad town on the ColIMG_3711.JPGorado River close to the Arizona border. Carl, 65, says he’s “semi-retired” from the Southern California Gas Company because he still works one day a week driving a company-sponsored bookmobile to even more remote towns. He voted twice for President George W. Bush, though he admits, “I don’t know if that was a mistake or not.” As he looks to the 2008 election, he says he’s attracted to Bill Richardson (pictured right), the Democratic governor of New Mexico.

“My big issues are immigration and Iraq — not necessarily in that order. I’m mixed about Iraq. Those people (in Washington, D.C.) know more than we do, supposedly. But I don’t see an end to it. On illegal immigration, Carl thinks the U.S. should not only deport migrants in the country illegally but punish those who hire them too.

Route 66 Revisited: Bill gets serious

May 14, 2007 21:21 UTC

Route661.JPGOur two-week road trip tracing old Route 66 from Los Angeles to Chicago isn’t getting off to what you’d call an auspicious start.

The trip was never going to be easy, even though it sounded like a real lark as we were dreaming it up. The highway was decommissioned decades ago, torn up in some places, paved over in others by the new interstates and its remaining segments are not always easy to find.

But now, with just days to go before we set off, we have new worries. The master mechanic, who has worked for years on 1967 PorBill Roberts, a Porsche mechanic in San Diego, Californiasche were taking, has expressed concern about its ability to survive the 2,500-mile journey. The car has been in storage for the past two years. The mechanic, Bill Roberts, is the go-to guy at Dieters, the Porsche and BMW repair shop in downtown San Diego, when it comes to older Porsches.

Best film? What best film?

Feb 27, 2007 00:10 UTC

Hollywood’s big party is now over, and the town can put the Oscar race of 2006 behind it.
    There is no doubt that the best film win by Martin Scorsese’s crime thriller “The Departed” left many movie fans happy. Scorsese, who has helmed movies such as “Raging Bull” and “GoodFellas,” also won the Oscar for best director, finally taking the prize after losing five times previously.
    “It was an overwhelming moment for me,” Scorsese told reporters backstage at the Oscars on Sunday. “This comes as an extraordinary surprise and quite frankly the best picture was a big surprise … I’m just not used to winning.”
    There also is no doubt the big night for “The Departed” left many other fans disappointed, and that is because the race for best film was so wide open. Each movie, “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Babel,” “The Queen,” and “Letters from Iwo Jima,” had their ardent fans.
    But is “The Departed” really the best movie of 2006? Very simply, no. It is, by the way, absolutely the best movie for the dominant block of voters at the roughly 6,000 member Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but that does not mean it is the best movie.
    Any critic and any moviegoer will tell you that enjoying movies is a subjective notion. The same thing that makes some people cry in “Little Miss Sunshine,” makes others laugh. The structure of the disparate stories told in “Babel” intrigued many audiences while others simply grew confused.
    It’s been that way throughout movie history, and it’s been that way through the 79 years of the Academy Awards. Quick, what was the best movie for 1939, “Wizard of Oz,” or “Gone With the Wind”? Both remain popular today, so they have stood the test of time. Yet only one could be chosen best film Oscar winner that year. It was “Gone With the Wind.”
    Why can’t “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” be the best film of 2006? After all, it was No. 1 at box offices  with $423 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales. That’s pretty good. “The Departed” had $131 million.
    Scorsese and “Departed” won because the master director was long overdue for his record of classic movies, and the Academy finally gave him his just reward, the experts say. There is nothing wrong with that. The Academy is a club for all intents and purposes, and that club can do what it wants.
    Filmgoing depends on many things, including the viewers’ mood at the time they see a film, their expectation of what story they will be told and how that story is told. Don’t let others decide what movie is good or bad, especially not a clubby group based in Beverly Hills with a highfalutin’ name like The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
    Meanwhile, as some of you may know, Pascal Pinck and I were on the red carpet Sunday night, and many of you sent us questions. We regret that we got to few of them because of the hectic pace. We do, however, hope you watched and enjoyed. Thanks for the questions, and keep them coming.

Fashion praise for Penelope Cruz

Feb 26, 2007 18:05 UTC

The red carpet is one of fashion’s big nights. Here’s a look at what some are saying about last night’s choices and more pictures from show here:

Penelope Cruz InStyle magazine said the Best Actress nominee was the best dressed of the evening, calling her ”stunning in a Versace gown, braided chignon and Chopard diamond earrings.” USA Today praised her hair and makeup, and said the ruffle on the dress looked “smart and elegant.”

Reese Witherspoon USA Today said last year’s Best Actress winner ”looked incredible,” with one of their experts declaring her the best dressed of the evening. The New York Post said, “Reese Witherspoon continued her red-carpet domination with svelte new hair and a bod poured into a strapless blueberry gown by Nina Ricci. She stole the thin-girl fashion sweepstakes.” Us Weekly said she “turned heads on the Oscar red carpet.”

International affairs at Oscar night

Feb 26, 2007 17:47 UTC

It was the most diverse Oscar night ever, certainly by the nominations. Plenty of awards were won by foreigners, too.

Best Actress was Brit Helen Mirren, who played Queen Elizabeth in “The Queen.” Seven of the ten vying for best actress and est supporting actress were foreigners, New Zealand’s TVNZ noted ahead of the ceremony.

Graham King, producer of Best Picture ”The Departed,” is also British. George Miller, who took home the prize for Best Animated Film for “Happy Feet,” is from Australia.

Slow and dull, some Oscar telecast critics charge

Feb 26, 2007 15:50 UTC

The telecast of the 79th Annual Academy Awards didn’t win many fans among some TV reviewers. What did you think? Share your comments below.

Washington Post critic Tom Shales called the telecast “alternately a bore and a horror.” He said “the number of big, emotionally rewarding moments was infinitesimal,” and that host Ellen DeGeneres did “a crisp and unpretentious job in her first gig as an Oscar host.”

Variety said, “this year’s Academy Awards ultimately proved a stately if unspectacular-bordering-on-dull affair, with host Ellen DeGeneres’ traditional shtick feeling a trifle small for the industry’s biggest stage.” 

“Producers” to close

Feb 23, 2007 21:48 UTC

producers.jpgThe producers of “The Producers” have decided to close up shop.

The show, which broke box-office records and won more Tony Awards than any other show in Broadway history, will close on April 22, three days after its sixth anniversary on the Great White Way.

The 12-time Tony winner was an instant smash when it opened in 2001. But after original stars Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane left the production ticket sales faltered, especially after Henry Goodman was axed as Lane’s replacement two days before he was to open in the role of Max Bialystock. Lane and Broderick rejoined for a limited period in 2003.

Many on Broadway blame the marketing of the show for its run of just six years when many Broadway hits now run 10 years or more. A run of six years for such a critically acclaimed Broadway production is a surprise, some experts say.

“Legally Blonde” a hit in San Fran

Feb 22, 2007 18:02 UTC

“Legally Blonde: The Musical,” the stage version of the smash hit movies starring Reese Witherspoon playing a rich socialite with a smart brain to match her blonde hair, is heading to Broadway on a wave of rave reviews from its tryout in San Francisco.

The show, the latest movie-to-musical adaptation, won raves from the critics on the West Coast.

THe Napa Valley Register called it “a rip-roaring musical comedy” which “features a wealth of new songs and eye-popping choreography.”

Outside the Kodak

Feb 22, 2007 03:25 UTC

The red carpet truly is rolled out in Hollywood. Outside the Kodak Theatre where the Oscars will be handed out this coming Sunday, crew members and staff of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were busily setting up for the movie industry’s biggest night.

One entire block of Hollywood Boulevard has been closed and security guards and Los Angeles police with specially trained dogs roam the perimeter. Bleachers are being set up for the thousands of fans who will turn out to watch Hollywood’s biggest stars on Oscar night, and a tent was being installed over the carpet in case of rain.

All the activity caused tourists to search much harder for their favorite celebrities’ stars cemented into Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. But none of them seemed to mind because this scene happens only once a year, and it’s sort of cool to see. Brazilian couple Marianne Castro and Bruno Bradaschia paused outside to shoot a photograph of themselves in front of the red carpet. Marianne was disappointed because they are leaving on Friday and cannot stay for the event.