Hi, hello, and welcome. I journey to Cannes this coming Monday, the film festival commences on Wednesday, and I’ll be a drooling wreck from lack of sleep most likely by about lunchtime on Friday. Plus, thanks to a clamour as entirely silent as the one for Anne Widdecombe to appear on a new BBC show called Strictly Come Exotic Dancing, my blog is back.
For those who tuned in last year (wait for it... hello, mum), the format remains unchanged (possibly in contravention of all good and decent reason, but there you go). This blog is an avenue, no, scratch that – a cul-de-sac in which I can unload the festival flotsam and jetsam from within my overheating cranium. A public place where I can merrily spew forth the manias which can find no suitable expression amidst the plethora of regular reviews and articles penned during Indie’s Cannes sojourn.
And to get you in the blog-reading mood ahead of me actually being in Cannes and having something vaguely pertinent to write about, I thought I’d fill out this pre-2011 festival teaser with something perhaps a tad more gossipy, a touch more vituperative, than the editorial we usually trade in here on Indie. Yes, I thought I’d offer you a piece giving my snide impressions of a few of the A-list names whose paths I crossed at Cannes last year.
Okay, so a quick disclaimer first, before I completely disgust all you more high-minded film fans with the noxiousness of my moral shortcomings. I concede no one can ever truly know anyone, and that even those you clutch tightest to you when the night is at its darkest are, in certain senses, mysterious strangers. Now, add to that opening caveat the fact that my only sense of the stardust-struck folks ridiculed below came from running the rule over them from a press conference seat in the Palais des Festivals, or by spotting them somewhere else around the same building, and you will see that I’m as poorly-qualified to pass any kind of judgment on them as Dannii Minogue is to tell someone they’re a crap singer on The X-Factor.
Having said that, they’re all plenty rich, famous and marvellous enough, darling, that a spot of ribbing will probably be good for ‘em. Here, then, do we go...
Javier Bardem – What a big head! Literally, certainly. Bardem is a mammoth of a man, and his bonce is big as a bearded Hyperion, the oval moon of Saturn. Spotted at the Cannes winners' press conference, following his Best Actor win for Biutiful, he exuded the impression of being an amiable enough fella, if slightly full of himself.
Sharing the stage with joint-winner, the infinitely less-famous Elio Germano, the look in Bardem’s eyes seemed to say “Guys, come on... it’s not all about me,” while the smile twitching on his lips cried out, “Yeah, but really it is!” Then again, if he – with his undoubted talent, millions in the bank, and hot potato of a missus – can’t be a teensy bit smug, then who the devil can?
Tim Burton – It’s fairly common to find that major movie directors come over as lousy listeners. Common, and scarcely surprising either. After all, they spend the whole of their lives with all around them – executives, producers, writers, crew members, journalists – looking to them for pearls of inspired wisdom. It’s an effect surely operating at its optimum where Burton is concerned, he having been at the apex of the directorial A-list for more than 20 years now.
At Cannes, where he was serving as jury president, he gave the impression of being barely connected to the outside world, most obviously during the closing prize ceremony, when mistress of ceremonies, Kristin Scott Thomas, practically had to keep nudging him for his cues, as if he was a dozy pensioner, threatening to nod off in front of Countdown.
Benicio Del Toro – Uh, I don’t really have anything to say about BDT. I just wanted an excuse to print this picture again.
Russell Crowe – What. A. Disappointment. Journalists are a naturally scurrilous bunch, and the gossip grapevine gives you an impression of which stars are a pleasure to deal with (Paltrow and Firth, to name two with good reps), and which are a pain in the posterior as pronounced as sitting on a porcupine. Crowe, perhaps to no one’s surprise, has been tarred with the latter brush, although I reckon that it’s probably better that he, if he does genuinely loath the press, takes the Kevin Smith or Roy Keane approach of exhibiting that animus, rather than playing the game with soul-eating falsity.
However his undoubted unpopularity with certain hacks may have given rise to some outlandish and defamatory rumours about the Gladiator star. Like that he’s short. Like that he walks with a bow-legged shuffle. Like that he has a perpetually-lurking sidekick who makes demands in RC’s name with all the mild-mannered reasonability of a bank robber demanding a helicopter that will take him to the airport NOW!
What a crushing let-down then that when I laid eyes on Crowe in Cannes last year, wandering through the Palais on his way to the Robin Hood press conference, he was of average height, walking without any obvious impediments to his action, and utterly devoid of any hangers-on. Celebrities, eh? They’ll rip you off every friggin’ time.
Brian Grazer – Producer with too many credits to recount (plus I can’t be arsed), as well as founder of Imagine Entertainment with Ron Howard, his long-time buddy, Grazer is the only human being I have ever seen whose hair appeared to be taller than he is. Well, except for Kid ‘n’ Play... hold on, that’s actually two people?