May 28, 2005
Cannes Journal: Thursday
Thursday morning we had breakfast at Pastis. Eric, Sonia, and Renee arrived and we had the run of the restaurant. After eating, Kit and Cherry went to the Grand Hotel for meetings. Eric, Sonia, Renee, and I went to the Marche to try to get tickets to showings. They got tickets to the Wim Wenders film that afternoon and for an 8:30 am screening of Hou Hsiao-Hsien. Eric and Sonia left to check out the short film market and Sonia and I went to get drinks at the cafe.
Sitting down, I ran into Courtney. She told me about the party she and Jean had gone to the night before on Paul Allen's yacht. She said it was amazingly lavish. The yacht sported eight decks and two heli-pads. I said I had tried to call Jean, and she said she was still asleep. Courtney was awake to catch a friend's film.
Eric and Sonia returned to get Renee. They had to change for the Wim Wenders screening. Courtney got up to attend her screening. I called Jean and we arranged to meet for lunch at the Hotel Martinez, where Kit and Cherry were scheduled to have a meeting at two. I texed Cherry to let her know I was heading to the hotel and left the Marche to walk along the Croisette.
At the Martinez, I secured a table on the terasse. Kit and Cherry arrived and we ordered lunch. Jean arrived with Megumi and told me they had made reservations at the beach restaurant. We ate and chatted until two when Cherry called Stanley in his hotel room. He said he'd be right down. Kit and Cherry bolted the rest of their food and went to find a table at the bar. I accompanied Jean and Megumi to the beach restaurant.
We sat by the Mediterranean in the shade of large beach umbrellas. They arranged for lounge chairs on the dock to sun themselves later in the afternoon. We drank and talked about how easy it would be to get used to this lifestyle. Jean told me more stories about the yacht party they had attended.
At three I went back up to the hotel bar to check on Kit. They were still in their meeting. I sat in the lobby and waited. At three-thirty I texted Cherry. Kit had a press conference at four back at the Palais. Soon I saw them come through the lobby. They introduced me to Stanley and we shook hands before parting and walking back to the Festival.
We took an elevator up to the fifth floor to a small cafe tucked away behind the main theaters. The short film directors had collected, and the Festival TV set up their cameras to do one on one interviews with the filmmakers. A small bar served champagne. Eric, Sonia, and Renee appeared and we milled about and chatted with the other directors. When Kit's turn came up, she came away slightly frustrated as there was no English translator for the interviewer. And while Kit's French was at a conversational level, she couldn't describe the nuances of her film in French. Another director, on hearing Kit's plight, kindly offered to translate for the other directors.
We hung out a bit longer, chatting with Elise and Johanna (the press person for the short films) and finishing our champagne. And then it was time to go back to the hotel to pick up John, who had just arrived, and to change.
That night John and I accompanied Cherry and Kit to the Carlton Hotel. They were invited to a dinner honoring the short film directors who were in competition or who were selected for the Cinefoundation. John and I chose a nearby restaurant in which to eat along the Croisette. We watched people walk by, dressed in evening-wear or in jeans and t-shirts. Cars crawled along the road, and we noticed Ferraris and Bentleys mixed in with the rest. Eric, Sonia, and Renee passed by and I called out to them. We made arrangements to meet later to attend a short film corner party at the Plage des Palmes. Jean and Megumi stopped by so that I could pass Jean a dvd of Kit's short. They were headed back home. At around 11, Stevie called to tell me I could come to the Taiwan Film Commission party. By the time I arrived, Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Shu Qi had long gone, and Michi and her friends were leaving.
I walked with Michi back towards the Palais when Cherry called. They were done with dinner and were heading back to the theater for the technical rehearsal. I called Eric and arranged to meet up with him by the Palais. The rehearsal looked and sounded beautiful. Kit's fears were allayed. And then they went to a Competition party.
Eric and I walked back to a cafe to meet up with John, Sonia, and Renee. I had a noisette before we left for the Short Film Corner party. We walked behind the festival buildings and to the Plage des Palmes. The bouncers looked at our badges and waved us in. A woman was handing out ice cream cones, and Kit Kats filled large glass jars scattered around the entrance. Wrappers dotted the tables. The party was drawing to a close. We found a couch on the beach and sat down, drinking water and eating chocolate. Waves lapped the sand, and behind us we could see the hotel lights stretching down the Croisette.
A man came to our table and excused himself. He leaned towards the candle as if to light a cigarette but blew it out. The party was over. We didn't think it was so late until someone looked at his watch. "It's two in the morning," he said. We finished our chocolate and got to our feet. One by one the candles were being blow out. At the entrance, we stopped for a picture by a blue mosaic of the palm leaf that represents Cannes before parting and making our separate ways back to our hotels.
May 27, 2005
Cannes Journal: Wednesday
Wednesday morning, Kit woke early and bought baguettes and croissants from the local boulangerie. I made coffee and set out our breakfast. Kit and Cherry had a meeting with Taiwan films later in the morning, and I had to meet up with Renee to give her her festival badge. We ate and got ready and took a van to the Palais.
I handed Renee her bag and the badges for the rest of our group. Eric and Sonia had yet to arrive. Renee and I tried to secure invitations to various screenings before I met up again with Kit and Cherry. I called Angela to thank her for her previous help in trying to find an extra berth for the festival. Jean had arrived, and she invited me to have lunch with them at Pastis. I texted Cherry to let her know where I was going and set off for the restaurant.
I had just sat down when Cherry called me to tell me they were on their way. Megumi and Angela were at the table, and shortly Courtney arrived. I caught up with Jean and then Cherry and Kit arrived. Jean told them she was thinking of doing a story on them, and we tried to coordinate schedules.
After lunch it was back to the Marche for more meetings. I walked along the Croisette and wrote postcards. When Kit and Cherry were done we went back to the hotel to change. Back at the festival, we had drinks at the Hotel Martinez. Kit was hoping to meet Stanely Tong, but he was meeting with a producer. Stevie called to tell us he had an extra invite to the China 100 Years of Film party. Cami had told us she could help get us into the party as well. I left to meet Stevie on the Croisette, and ran into Eric, Sonia, and Renee. Kit and Cherry soon followed and we waited for Cami. Soon a group of us had gathered, and then Cami appeared to usher us in on the side.
We milled about and got plates of food. Zhang Ziyi arrived for a second, ushered past us by a huge entourage. After she stood on stage for a moment she was ushered out. At the party, we met John Woo. Michelle Yeoh appeared looking more beautiful in real life than in the movies. Christopher Doyle spent some time talking to Renee. Stevie arranged an interview for Kit with TVB.
After the party we went back to the hotel to get a miniDV clip of Kit's film. TVB needed one for their broadcast. We asked the cab driver to wait for us, and he agreed. Cherry went upstairs to find the tape and Kit and I chatted with the driver. He was incredibly knowledgable about film. He regaled us with film history and told us that all the directors who show in the Director's Fortnight become the major directors of the future. He listed Truffault and Tarrantino. He told us to do our research and to watch out for the names of the directors playing this year. In 5, 10, 20 years, he said, they'll be the top directors to watch.
After we delivered the tape, Kit called Stevie. He was in a MacDonald's around the corner. Mitchi was getting crepes nearby. She said they were the best crepes in Cannes. I bought a honey, lemon, and almond crepe and then we walked back to the apartment Stevie and Mitchi had rented for the festival.
The apartment was cute. Their roommates were still up and they opened a bottle of wine. We drank and ate and talked until one.
May 26, 2005
Cannes Journal: Tuesday
Tuesday morning Cherry arrived. We ate breakfast at the hotel and caught up with her. She had already scheduled a meeting for later in the day. We went to the festival to drop off press kits and amble around the market. Walking to the Grand Hotel, we ran into Renee, who had just arrived. She had checked into the hotel and had questions for Cherry with respect to the rooms. We ate at a Vietnamese place near the hotel and regrouped.
That night we met up with one of Kit's friends in the lobby of the Majestic Barriere. He had told us about the Jackie Chan party promoting his new film The Myth
, and had offered to get us in. At 10, we wandered across the Croisette to the plage. Cami met us and we wandered in. The party was a blast. We met Edward Yang and had pictures taken with Jackie Chan. Jackie Chan looked exactly like he does in the movies, and I half-expected mayhem to ensue in the room. Christopher Doyle appeared with a very tall Chinese model. Cami introduced us to her son, Alexander, who had made an animated film that had won a student Academy Award. I recognized the character from a website promoting it.
The food was good, and we ate and drank and hung out until the party was almost over. Walking out, a hostess presented us with a box. We thought it was a DVD, but the box was heavy and the hostess told us it was fragile. Outside it was raining. I called a cab and we waited under an awning for it to arrive. Back at the hotel, I opened my box. It was a set of terracotta soldiers.
May 24, 2005
Cannes Journal: Monday
I'm back in New York and exhausted. Cannes was fueled by noisettes and Cotes du Provence and the odd glass of champagne. Food seemed incidental, stolen between meetings or at the beach party buffets or back at the hotel as we snacked while we changed into eveningwear for parties and premieres. And by the time we crawled into bed, I could barely remember what had transpired just that morning.
I arrived in Nice on Monday after a red-eye flight. It was a holiday and the buses and trains were on strike. I had to take a cab to the hotel. The day was overcast and as I settled to wait in the lobby of the Pierrre at Vacances, it started to rain. Kit was having lunch with Johnny Sham in town, and I watched as teenagers gathered in the lobby to smoke and play pool and stay out of the rain.
Kit arrived around three with good news. I changed and showered. She said she was to meet a friend of hers at the American Pavillion at four. She said that there was a party for Jackie Chan that night. We took a van back to the festival and dropped off press kits I had brought at the office in charge of the short films. I met Bruno and Elise for the first time and then we left to find the American Pavillion. Kit called her friend. She was at a party in an apartment rented for the festival across the street from the Grand Palais. We made our way through the crowds and found the address. We took a small elevator up to the fourth floor. It felt like a changing room, complete with a small bench at the back. Kit said it was a strange feeling sitting in an elevator.
The apartment overlooked the red carpet. Kit's friend Damian offered us wine and I found myself talking to Stephen Bayly. He mentioned his first film Coming Up Roses
, shot in Welsh, which premiered at Cannes. He said it was about the closing of a movie theater and its effects on a small mining town. That reference made me think of Eric Lin's Music Palace
and Yang Li's Blind Shaft
. Damian seconded my recommendation of Blind Shaft
and the conversation moved to Beijing and Asian films in general.
The sound of pre-recorded interrupted our conversation, and Damian drew our attention to the Grand Palais. "Since this is your first time," she said, "you should watch the procession." An announcer boomed the names of celebrities as they walked the red carpet to attend the premiere of Lars Von Trier's Mandalay
. At six the party was over. Glasses were collected; the wine was put away. We called Stevie who invited us to a party on the beach.
Shortly after we arrived, John Woo took the stage. He gave a short speech and then was mobbed by camera crews. Christopher Doyle appeared, and the rest of the evening has become a blur.
May 15, 2005
Off to Cannes
With any luck, I'll be blogging from there. I talked to Kit. She was waiting at the airport for a car next to Jeanne Moreau. They were heading to the same hotel. She said that the car that picked up Moreau was much nicer than the one that picked her up.
May 12, 2005
Rental tux (with human)
Last night I called David about cufflinks. We talked about the economics of buying versus renting tuxes and how I want now to make as much use of my tux as possible. He said maybe I should put an ad on Craislist offering to accompany people to formal functions. He said some people might feel guilty about asking a friend to go with them if their friend had to rent a tux. I said it sounded like it could be a funny experiment. I could offer to accompany, eat, drink, make polite conversation. He said I should be careful; that not every formal event would necessarily be on the up and up. I started wondering about the selection process. He said I didn't have to worry about that yet. He wondered if I'd get any hits in the first place.
May 11, 2005
Kenneth Cole poster boy
Yesterday during lunch I went to Century 21 to look at shoes. After walking down the rows of size 10 shoes I bought a pair of Kenneth Cole shoes. They were a little more than I had hoped to spend, but they look nice. They're not super
comfortable, however. Is it possible to find very nice dress shoes that are still super comfortable? Karen says no.
Guillemette's worried I'll be disappointed with Cannes. She tells me that it's not all glam all the time. I told her not to worry. If I start becoming disappointed, I'll just remember, "Guillemette told me it would suck."
May 9, 2005
To tux or not to tux (part two)
Saturday morning I called Eric. We had talked about going to Baldwin's Formal Wear at 11. It was too ambitious. I called to see if he wanted to move it to 1. He was thankful. When he called me back, he sounded as if he was still asleep.
At one I found myself suited in a three button tuxedo, notch collar, wing-tip shirt, a tie, and cumberbund. Lew said I looked great. I thought the tux looked a little dull. It looked like a rental tux. I asked him about buying. He said their tuxes started at $450.00. The rental for the week and extra would cost $240.00. I asked him to put the tux in pending; I told him I'd call him on Monday to confirm.
Afterward Baldwin's, we went to Macy's. Eric said he had bought a suit last year at this time and that they had sales at this time. He was right. Suits were discounted 40-50%. We flipped through the racks, trying things on. He said he might stick to renting. He didn't have the time to accessorize. We had lunch in Koreatown and then he went home. I met up with Lin and Michael at Podunk and then Li Ting in Chinatown. I thought about tuxes.
Friday night I had gone to Syms and Century21. At Syms I found tuxes for as low as $119.00, but they were dull or ill fitting. Hugo Boss tuxes went for around $350.00-$400.00. At Century21 I tried on an Armani tux. The list price was well over $1000.00; Century21 sold it for around $800.00. Flipping through the racks, I found a Kenneth Cole tux for $280.00; the retail price was $600.00.
Sunday morning I returned to Century 21. I looked around. I bought the Kenneth Cole tux. I bought a tux shirt with a laydown collar for $20.00. I looked for a cumberbund by itself but they all came in sets with pre-tied bowties. I found a black silk set for $22.00. The cashier said they had cumberbunds for cheaper. I couldn't find one, but when she rang up the tie and cumberbund, it came out to $8.00. Total price: $330.00.
Cherry called and said she was going to stop by later. I told her she had to tell me truthfully what she thought of the tux. I still had the rental on hold, and if she didn't like the tux I would return it. She said she loved it and she loved the idea that I now owned a tux. I said if I had the money and opportunity I could totally become a clotheshorse. Lin said I have the makings of one already. Now all I have to do is find comfortable shoes. I had asked Lew about renting shoes, but he said if I were going to buy a nice tux, you don't want to wear rented shoes.
May 5, 2005
Tux or no tux
I've been debating whether to buy or rent a tux for Cannes. I've been asking opinions and calling around. The other night Guillemette told me she had shocking news. She had called Nicolas. He said I didn't need a tux. A nice Christian Dior suit would do.
May 4, 2005
Dinner at G's
Last night, Guillemette made dinner. It seemed like half of the guests had recently arrived from Paris, and the other half were leaving for Cannes.
As we sat for dinner, Guillemette brought out empanadas filled with tuna and olives, served with spinach, olives, and capers. I asked if it was Berit's recipe. She said no, she had found it in a magazine. She said they were baked somewhat hard, but they were fantastic. After dinner, I took another one off of the baking sheet and ate it standing in the kitchen.
For dinner, she made chicken kebabs and an apple onion crumble. The crumble was a surprising mix of ingredients, but delicious. Coconut milk brought out the flavors, and it complemented the kebabs wonderfully. Pia complained about the use of cilantro on the kebabs. She said it was an unimaginative spice and proceeded to scrape it off. One of the guests remarked on the high number of carbs on the table, which she said was great. Guillemette, reaching for the bread, said she feels like a charicature of a French woman when she buys baguettes. And then conversation drifted off to why French women don't get fat.
At dessert, Guillemette brought out rice pudding. She told us it was Catherine's favorite. Tapping her share, she said there was a surprise. "Oh, there's cilantro in it?" someone joked. No, she replied. We dug in. Between layers of rice pudding there was a thick layer of chocolate. Catherine just about fainted. Or maybe it was the jetlag.
May 2, 2005
Tribeca Film Festival Awards
Saturday we found out that Kit's film was up for an award. She was leaving that afternoon, but Cherry and I decided to go in her stead. We thought it would be a casual ceremony; we were wrong. Arriving on the red carpet, we saw people in suits and gowns. We were underdressed.
Passing the photographers, no one took our picture. We walked past people being interviewed and found ourselves in the front row, off on the side. A band played in a corner of the stage. The ceremony kicked off with a speech by Jane Rosenthal. From there, celebrity presenters read off teleprompters and ad-libbed their way through the hour long ceremony.
One of the highlights was when Li Shaohong won the best narrative feature award for her film Stolen Life
. The film is banned in China, and in her speech she hoped that with the award in hand, she can convince them to release the film in her home country. Unfortunately I missed it at the festival.
Other films I hope to catch include Victor Buhler's Rikers High
, Sasie Sealy's short Dance Mania Fantastic
, and Dan Krauss' documentary short The Life of Kevin Carter
King Sunny Adé at Joe's Pub
Ever since Friday I've found myself listening to the Killers. But only that one song.
Last night I met Ed at Joe's Pub to see King Sunny Adé. When the lights went down, his drummers appeared on stage. Then his guitarists. Then some other instrumentalists. And finally Adé. By the time the band was assembled there were 14 people on stage. Mid-way through, three female dancers also appeared. Adé kept joking about the size of the stage.
The concert was fantastic. At one point, he took the audience back to his first recording session, using one mike and an acoustic guitar before he had the entire band sit to present juju music in a concert setting. He thanked the crowd and said that were this a true plum wine club, they'd play until dawn. He offered to bring the wine next time they were in town.
The concert didn't quite end at dawn; we were out before midnight. At the end, people arrived on stage to dance with Adé and to shower him with money. He danced and sang and then danced towards the back of the stage and then off of it. At Astor Place I said goodnight to Ed and goodbye. He leaves for Africa today. Until we meet again in August . . .