It’s the halfway point of the festival, and I’m actually not doing too badly, thanks to the novel idea of pacing myself. I did, however, end Day 6 on a very provocative note – with a burlesque show by Dita von Teese. There were no photos allowed, but I can tell you it was worth the very long wait to see her play around in a giant martini glass. Before that, I went to the Cinema du Brazil party where Gaby Amarantos – Brazilian singer and dancer of tecno brega – entertained the crowd. Sure it’s fun to try end up at the same party as the celebs of Cannes, but it’s even better to be where the Brazilians are – because they really know how to have a good time on the dance-floor.
After a day full of interviews and a packed schedule of films, it’s good to enjoy the spontaneous atmosphere of Cannes too – which is how the burlesque show came to be. I was on my way home and literally bumped into Annie Malan (who once upon a time acted in Fiela se Kind), and she invited me along to Dita.
Monday started with the action-packed film from Japanese director, Takashi Miike, which posed the moral and physical dilemma of protecting a repulsive psychopath. It then moved to action of another kind with Keanu Reeves, who previewed footage of his directorial feature film, a Kung-fu drama called Man of Tai Chi.
I asked Keanu, who is looking a lot older these days, about when he started wanting to direct. He says he got the urge about 5 years ago and so started developing a script with Tiger Chen – a stuntman turned friend and actor from the Matrix days.
Keanu told me he was scared to direct because it meant he was now responsible for the whole film instead of just a part but he knew he wanted to be the only person who told this story. “Kung-fu movies are beautiful,” he said, “exotic, wonderful, empowering.”
I’ve also been watching some SA films and talking to SA directors but that needs its own piece of writing. For now, Michael Douglas in Behind the Candelabra waits.
* It’s a good week for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – the pair has become the first duo in the Billboard Hot 100 chart’s 5-decade history to have its two singles get to No.1. Can’t Hold Us, featuring Ray Dalton and Thrift Shop, featuring Wanz, – cue the “can’t hold ‘em” praise for Ben Haggerty and his producer pal.
* Oprah makes her return to acting in Lee Daniels’ (the man who gave us Precious) new film, The Butler. It features everybody – it really does put the meaning of “all-star” back into all-star – and sees Oprah locking lips with Forest Whitaker in the story of a butler who served in the White House under 8 presidents.
* In news that will make Madonna happy, the singer will be honoured as the Top Touring Artist at the upcoming Billboard Music Awards. Her MDNA tour last year raked in over $305 million dollars during the 88 dates. Well, she did call it “a journey from darkness to light.”
* Robert Redford has been wanting to make a film based on acclaimed travel writer Bill Bryson’s book, A Walk in the Woods and now he’ll direct it. He’s roped in Nick Nolte too. And the filmmaker will also executive produce a documentary series on Chicago for CNN.
* If you’re feeling decadent, Jack White will be releasing The Great Gatsby soundtrack on gold and platinum vinyl, through his Third Man label. The soundtrack features his cover of U2′s Love is Blindness. 3 extra songs, artwork, and “blindingly reflective metalized discs” is the bang you’ll get for your buck.
[Pic: Nadia Neophytou]
* This past weekend marked a year since Beastie Boys’ MCA aka Adam Yauch died from cancer. Brooklyn celebrated his life – on Friday, Palmetto Playground, where he used to play as a child, was named after him, and yesterday, MCA Day brought fans and friends together with art that paid tribute to his legacy. In Long Island City, a mural went up at 5 Pointz, by artist Danielle Mastrion (who was also behind this).
* Justin Timberlake played a corporate-sponsored gig on Sunday night, and on Instagram revealed plans for the second installment of The 20/20 Experience and new tour dates. Glad to see he’s reduced the time in between albums from 6 years to 6 months.
* Someone who has taken even longer than Justin to release new music is Lauryn Hill. And this, it seems, was under duress. As the Grammy-winning singer faces sentencing today for tax evasion, she released a new song called Neurotic Society on iTunes, as part of a deal she made with Sony that will likely help her avoid prison time.
* Iron Man 3 opened to – as pretty much expected – record numbers, pulling in over $500 million dollars in its opening weekend, internationally, and around $175 million in the US, making it the number 2 best-debuting film, beaten only by its Marvel bedfellow The Avengers (which opened with $207 million last year).
* The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Costume Institute Gala – aka the fashion Oscars – takes place tonight. Much has been written about the unlikely event of having punk, which is the theme of this year’s Costume Institute exhibition, feted by Vogue magazine. It opens Thursday. I’m getting a sneak peak today, so check back later for pics and an update.
* Black Sabbath is currently touring Australia, giving audiences there a taste of the new music that’s to come from their album 13, due out next month. It’s the first one in 35 years that sees Ozzy Osbourne back as the frontman, as he currently battles his substance demons. My good friend Brett Schewitz was there to capture a few incredible images from a Melbourne show earlier this week, which are well worth seeing.
* The world premiere for The Great Gatsby took place at the ever-so-elegant Lincoln Center last night, kicking off what director Baz Luhrmann hopes will be a summer of 20s-inspired parties. In that case, I look forward to partying with him in Cannes when the film opens the fest in two weeks’ time.
* They gave us one of the classic 90s tracks that still goes down well now, but sadly, one half of the rap duo Kris Kross was found dead last night. Chris Kelly, aka Mac Daddy, at the age of 34, died in an Atlanta hospital, from what appears to be a drug overdose.
* Will it ever end? The Michael Jackson saga continues, as the court case in which the late superstar’s mother and children are suing AEG for their part in hiring the doctor convicted of killing him seems like it could go on for quite a few months, as they get into testimony about Conrad Murray’s financial woes and AEG’s liability.
* After last year’s successful Global Festival concert in Central Park, organizers are keeping the momentum going by offering free tickets to see the likes of Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen. It’s the reward offered for sharing your knowledge about being socially active. Seems like a more than fair trade-off.
* Woody Allen has found his next leading couple: Emma Stone and the wonderful Oscar-winning Colin Firth. It feels like we haven’t seen enough of the actor since his award-winning turn in The King’s Speech but that should soon be fixed. Before he joins Emma in France for the as-yet-untitled Woody film, he has 6 films on the go, including Bridget Jones’s Baby. And before the director himself begins his latest European-set adventure, he’ll release Blue Jasmine, in July, which stars Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins among the star-studded cast.
* Speaking of Cate Blanchett – don’t you think she’d make a fantastic wicked stepmother? That’s the role she’ll play in the upcoming live action Disney adaptation of Cinderella, which has just now landed an actress to play the title role. Lily James, otherwise known for playing Lady Rose MacClare in Downton Abbey will wear those shoes.
* Frank Ocean and Grimes were among the winners at the Webby Awards. The Grammy-winning Ocean won Webby Person of the Year, after opening up about his sexuality on Tumblr last July, and Grimes, who’s used Tumblr as a platform to rail against sexism, picked up Webby Music Artist of the Year. Well deserved.
* Fleetwood Mac are busy on their North American leg of their reunion tour, but they also just released some new music – without any fireworks or fanfare. An EP of tunes from Lindsey Buckingham and one track from Stevie Nicks makes up Extended Play. Someone else who’s also quietly releasing new tracks (for free on his site) is one-time Massive Attack-er Tricky (pictured above). Adrian Thaws’ new one, False Idols, should be out later this month.
* Neill Blomkamp mentioned his next project Chappie, at San Diego Comic Con last year, but he didn’t say his long-time collaborator and friend would be joining him once again. Well, it’s official that Sharlto Copley is on board for this next sci-fi flick. That is – after Elysium, Maleficient, Europa Report, and Oldboy. Glad to see him so busy.
PS – In case you missed it…Episode 6 of Daft Punk’s The Collaborators is out, featuring Chilly Gonzales.
* “Yo Adrian!” Rocky is heading to Broadway. After a successful debut in Germany (as Rocky: Das Musical – love it!), Sylvester Stallone and the writer behind productions like The Producers and Hairspray are aiming to bring the show based on the 1976 Oscar-winning film to NYC early next year. No word yet on who might play Rocky – think Bobby Cannavale is too old?
* According to The Hollywood Reporter, Jamie Foxx is in talks to play Oscar-nominated Quevenzhane Wallis’ adopted dad in the Annie movie remake. His character will be based on the Daddy Warbucks one, but updated for our time, and with the name Benjamin Stacks (it’s always about the Benjamins…), in the film which counts Jay-Z and Will Smith as producers.
* In two pieces of Beastie Boys news, Mike D and Ad Rock are set to write a memoir about the seminal hip hop group, due for release in 2015. Their publisher says it’ll trace the band’s trajectory from a New York high school punk band through to their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the death of Adam Yauch, aka MCA. Meanwhile, after much petitioning, Palmetto Playground in Brooklyn where Adam used to hang out as a kid will be renamed in his honour.
* Guillermo Del Toro’s upcoming sci-fi action flick Pacific Rim is one of the summer’s big blockbusters that looks worth its weight in hype. The sneak peak that was shown at WonderCon last month has been released online, and it’s a thrilling reason why a film should be made in 3D!
* The nominees for this year’s Tony Awards have been announced. Kinky Boots has the most nominations (13), followed by Matilda (12). The late Nora Ephron’s Lucky Guy, which stars Tom Hanks, earned a Best Play nod, as well as a Best Actor for the Oscar-winning star too. But, alas, no Bette Midler for her turn as Hollywood agent Sue Mengers. The awards are on the 9th of June.
* The entertainment world lost two more souls this weekend – renowned British conductor Sir Colin Davis died at the age of 85, and American author and actor, Jonathan Winters, who inspired the likes of Jim Carrey and Robin Williams, at the age of 87. But perhaps the saddest death is that of Chi Cheng, bassist for Deftones, whose heart stopped after being in a coma for 4 years, following a car accident. #OneloveforChi.
* The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival kicked off the first of its two-weekend line-up with a number of highlights. No holograms this time, but R.Kelly did team up with Phoenix for an Ignition / 1901 remix and a giant snail, apparently the size of a 3-story-building, crowd-surfed. Next weekend, it happens all over again.
* Also making its debut at Coachella: a surprise teaser for the upcoming Daft Punk album, Random Access Memories. The snippet features Pharrell Williams and guitarist Nile Rodgers playing Get Lucky, set to be the first single, alongside the robots. Meanwhile, the French duo told Rolling Stone, they want to fight electronic dance music’s “complacency” by ditching samples and using real musicians on new album.
* Rebel Wilson and her potty mouth hosted the MTV Movie Awards , wherein Marvel’s The Avengers, aka the third highest-grossing film in history, won the most coveted Golden Popcorn statue for Best Movie. It also picked up Best Fight and Best Villain. Kapow!
* The BBC decided not to play the Ding Dong the Witch is Dead song in its weekly chart countdown show, a move that’s received a lot of both support and criticism.
* The BBC has yet to decide if it will censor its Radio 1 chart countdown on Sunday by not playing the song Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead, from The Wizard of Oz, which has been climbing up the charts following the death of Margaret Thatcher, as a result of a push by anti-Thatcher campaigners.
* It’s being hailed as the “best family musical in years” – one that still manages to leave audiences on the edge of their seats, a la Homeland – the debut of the British production of Roald Dahl’s Matilda has won over American critics on Broadway. The West End show broke records last year, winning 7 Olivier Awards, and is up for more honours this year.
* It’s hard to ignore Psy when he took over the internet, earning more than a billion views for Gangnam Style video. As tensions over North Korea’s nuclear capacities rise, the South Korean entertainer has released his new single, Gentelman – with an online concert to follow this weekend. Naturally.
* In more exciting music news, Wu Tang Clan’s new album will be titled A Better Tomorrow. The group will be playing a pair of 20th anniversary shows in the UK, and the album is due out in July. In the meantime, Ghostface Killah’s epic hip-hoperatic album with film composer Adrian Younge is a must-listen.
* *Oscar/Grammy/BAFTA/SAG/Golden Globe-winning actorJamie Foxx will add another award to his mantlepiece this weekend. According to the once music-video-showing channel, Foxx will be given the MTV Generation award at the MTV Movie Awards in LA this weekend, where he’s also up for 4 trophies.
* The Metropolitan Museum of Art will soon receive a $1 billion gift from Leonard Lauder and art-lovers in New York will have new Cubist works to appreciate as a result. The cosmetics tycoon was looking for the perfect place to house his collection of 78 pieces of Cubist art, and with the great rennovations going on at the Met, he found it.
* Kate Bush received a CBE for her services to music from the Queen on Wednesday at a ceremony at Windsor Castle. Wuthering Heights alone would be reason enough for the honour, but her 10 albums and 40 year career does it too.
* The artist line-up for the Jay-Z-curated Budweiser Made in America festival, which takes place in Philly at the end of August, has been revealed. Beyoncé, Nine Inch Nails, Deadmau5 and Phoenix are set to headline. It’s not nepotism if your wife is Queen Bey – it’s just good sense.
* Staying with Jay-Z news, he penned this Timbaland-Swizz-Beatz-produced open letter on the whole Cuba controversy.
* After all the palava created over Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, the players involved have finally settled the dispute involving the most expensive Broadway show ever produced. Seems they took the lyrics “Rise Above” to heart.
* Finally – a trailer has been released for the sophomore film from Neill Blomkamp, revealing a bit more about the sci-fi story-line, which has an all-too close resonance back on Earth. Elysium is the follow-up to 2009′s Oscar-nominated District 9, the little movie backed by a big-name producer, Peter Jackson, that introduced the world to prawns and Sharlto Copley.
* Jay-Z and Beyonce have been getting much flak for their recent trip to Cuba where they celebrated their fifth anniversary. Questions were raised over the nature of the trip – because of the US embargo on Cuba, Americans are prohibited from taking vacations to the communist country. But it’s been ruled by the US Treasury as authorized, and part of a program that encourages “meaningful contacts” with the Cuban people.
* Another couple getting flak is the unlikely duo of country singer Brad Paisley and rapper LL Cool J who teamed up for a song that they say was meant to address racism in America. Its lyrics have been mostly ill-received online, and Accidental Racist just doesn’t seem to have worked out quite the way the artists say they intended. A case of good intentions, bad execution?
* Nike, Google and the New York Times dominate this year’s Webby Award nominations, handed out by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences but there is still a whole list of other remarkable nominees to check out, including Humans of New York and The Space – an incredible realm for the arts.
* The rumours about Daft Punk playing last month’s SXSW reached an all time frenzy at one point, with fans waiting on the steps of the Capitol Building all night just in case the duo did show up. But rather than play that festival, or this weekend’s Coachella, the Frenchmen will be debuting music from one of them most hotly anticipated albums of the year, Random Access Memories, at an Australian agricultural show. If anyone can make cotton and sheep-shearing cool, it’s Daft Punk.