Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Gourmet Cannes

Here are some pictures of delicious entreés and desserts that I had the pleasure of eating during the festival.
Yum! We discovered this wonderful little restaurant serving fresh produce from the marché Forville. L'Ardoise is quite a find!
For lunch I had Daurade with asparagus and then a Mousse de fromage blanc aux fruits rouges... Heaven.

Someone else ordered the mousse au chocolat which was also divine but I think mine was better. Another day we went for dinner and I had the guacamole with shrimp decorated with flowers!

For my birthday we went to La Palme d'Or at the Hotel Martinez. The entrées were better than the main courses I have to say. I ordered the melon creme caramel which was to die for...

They really take presentation seriously in France, don't they?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Cannes Conclusion

The festival is finally over, yes finally. These past 11 days have been exhausting yet calm in a strange way. The other day The Hollywood Reporter nicknamed this 59th Festival as "The Zen Festival." It is not just me as Vincent Cassel, tonight's prize presenter commented on how exhausted everyone was. I don't think this was ever mentioned on stage before.
So, yes I am glad it is over and that Cannes will return to its "normal" state.

I just want to comment on the films I liked most in competition. Of course I haven't seen all of them (after all I was not a member of the jury!) But I'll write a little about the ones I have seen.

My favorite was without a doubt "Volver" by Pedro Almodóvar, no, not because he's Spanish. In fact, those of you who know me are aware of my general dislike of his style, though I have only seen "All About My Mother" and I was so repulsed that I didn't feel like watching any of his other films. "Volver," however is a gem and I want to watch all of Pedro's previous films now. It is a heartwarming portrayal of family, albeit all female. I was so touched by all the details of the film, having spent my early childhood in Spain I was reminded of my grandmother and my aunt and cousins and how we relate to each other when we're together. It was very emotional for me. I am getting teary-eyed e as we speak when I think of the song "Volver" which my grandmother liked to sing. Anyway, on to the next film before I start bawling.

"Babel" by Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu was a masterpiece. Four different stories taking place in Morocco, USA, Mexico and Japan intertwine and show how a seemingly meaningless act can lead to unexpected consequences. There is so much love in the film, and generosity, and yet also points to the injustices and political absurdities taking place. It's truly remarkable how Iñarritu can make such disparate scenes ( a troubled, deaf Japanese teenager and a Mexican ilegal housekeeper, for example) work side by side seamlessly. I was speechless. The best scene by far is between Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, what a profound and heartfelt performance from both of them. ( I don't want to give too much away-when you see the film you'll recognize the scene I'm talking about).

"Pan's Labyrinth," a Spanish-Mexican production by Guillermo del Toro is a fascinating dark "fairy-tale" set in 1940's Fascist Spain. There are several extremely gruesome scenes but the magical world Ofelia creates in order to escape the horrors of her reality is breathtaking and inspiring. An innovative film blending mythological creatures with Celtic undertones and violent, even gory effects. Beautifully poetic and horrifyingly monstruous at the same time, this film is not to be missed.

But the Palme d'or goes to... Ken Loach's "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" (which I didn't see :( )

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Cinderella at Cannes

Yesterday was my birthday, and you know how I'd been dying to see Marie-Antoinette at the festival? Well, there were no tickets to be had anywhere and I had already lost hope when on the very same day I get a phone call from (let's call him Saint Antoine) saying that he wasn't going to the premiere and if I wanted his ticket!! (Saint Antoine is now my fairy godfather) I gladly said YES OF COURSE and ran home in order to prepare for the soirée.

I have been to the "tapis rouge" at the festival many times, but never by myself. However, I couldn't care less about that since I was going to see Marie-Antoinette. I wore a peach silk Jane Austen-like dress with a black velvet choker. I knew I had to get there early as the traffic is homicidal during the festival. My mom dropped me off and I quickly made my way through the fans and well dressed optimists asking for invitations. A handful of people approached me purring "Excusez-moi, vous avez une invitation?" Poor souls.

The entrance to the Palais is always spectacular. A sea of red flanked by photographers and fans lies before you and for a brief moment time stops. You make your way slowly past them and up the famous "marches" and all of a sudden you are brought back to reality by security men asking for your invitation, badge and French women probing your bag for any potentially lethal items.

I was sitting in the Corbeille which is the first few rows of the balcony so I could see everyone downstairs. They also have a huge screen which shows all the stars working the red carpet. Everyone came to see Sofia's new film. The whole Jury of the festival was there ( Wong Kar Wai, Monica Bellucci, Helena Bonham Carter etc. ) and a whole constellation of other stars including Sharon Stone, Penelope Cruz with Pedro Almodovar, Faye Dunaway...)

Sofia came accompanied by the cast and her beau Thomas Mars, her parents, and her brother Roman.
They all looked so happy together.

Now about the film. I have to say that it was not what I had expected from the trailer. I envisaged an energetic and fast-paced frenzy and the film was, despite the punk music, rather indolent and sometimes repetitive. The images were superb as well as the costumes and the surroundings. Many times I felt as if I were looking at fashion photography. But the story was lacking something. I felt like I had eaten one too many macarons and soufflés and I was getting nauseous. I would've liked to get to know Marie-Antoinette's innermost thoughts and desires not just her penchant for shoes, candy and gambling.
But, I trust Sofia and I will watch the movie again to see if there were subtleties I might have overlooked.

(N.B. All the pictures were taken by yours truly)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Back from New York

I have so much to tell from my New York experience I don't even know where to begin! I had a lovely time with my friends and the weather was perfect! The city was in full bloom, tulips, magnolias and lilacs filled the air with a most refreshing fragrance.

But before I get into the details of my trip I would like to express how excited I am about the Cannes Film Festival which begins next Wednesday! Hopefully I will get there on Monday or Tuesday. The opening film is "The Da Vinci Code" (out of competition), which I would very much like to watch, but Sofia Coppola's "Marie-Antoinette", which I have posted about is far more exciting. There's a new trailer in the French website and most importantly, it will be released in France on none other than my birthday (May 24)!!! Thank you Sofia, that was so thoughtful of you! (

I have also discovered that el Señor Manolo Blahník was asked (or possibly begged?) to design the shoes for Kirsten Dunst's delicate feet. If you watch the new trailer you'll see just how exquisite his designs are. I believe this is his premier foray into film, congratulations Manolo! I really hope this will be the first of many cinematic collaborations...

Which reminds me of this magnificent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art entitled "AngloMania" created by the Costume Institute which also included many of the Spanish genius' dainty creations. I swear I almost burst into sobs when I laid eyes on this show last week. The curators juxtaposed "traditional" British fashion with "transgressional" designs by Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano, Paul Smith, Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan and lovely orchid-shaped hats by Philip Treacy. The show is installed in the Bristish period rooms at the Met which lend a certain grandeur and authenticity to the costumes. The overall effect was quite dramatic and obviously extremely to my liking! I cannot offer enough high praise for it. In one of the rooms the atmosphere of a typical English Manor is conjured by covering the faux windows of an 18th century English room with shadows of trees while dimming the lights and adding rainy/stormy sound effects. I loved it, but then I would, wouldn't I?, being a hopeless Anglomaniac myself. The bottom line is if you find yourself in New York between May 3rd and September 4th and you do not make an effort to see it, our friendship will be doomed for all eternity.

That's all for today, but I promise I will come up with a list of more New York places/recommendations for you soon.

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