Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

Shadows on the Riviera?

What a week.

Sometimes it seems like the world is going crazy. Consider the following events and see if you can find any evidence of a rational universe:

  • The Eurovision Song Contest is won on Saturday night by Azerbaijan. Is that even a real country? It sounds like a made-up name that you might see in a Sacha Baron Cohen movie or a Doonesbury comic strip.

  • The head of the International Monetary Fund is arrested in New York on a sexual assault charge. I mean, what was he thinking? That his low-profile job would keep him under the radar and no one would notice?

  • Terrence Malick, a filmmaker who makes a movie about once every 76 years finally has a new movie shown at Cannes and then doesn’t bother to show up at the press conference for the movie, leaving Brad Pitt to explain to the press what the damn thing is about. Total Film called it a cross between (among?) 2001: A Space Odyssey, Distant Voices, Still Lives and The Blue Planet. Glad they cleared that up.

  • The ex-governor of California, who is also a major international movie star as well as being married to a Kennedy, turns out to have a love child by someone who worked for him for 20 years. I mean, what was he thinking? That his low-profile job would keep him under the radar and no one would notice?

  • A mere 100 years after her grandfather traveled the 287.46 miles from England to Ireland, Queen Elizabeth decided it was about time for another royal visit to the Emerald Isle. The result is the biggest security operation in the history of the Irish republic, but who’s worried about the cost? I mean, it’s not like the country is broke or anything. Besides, they can always ask for more money from the IMF—just as soon as it selects a new head. Anyway, it’s all good practice for next week when President Obama comes to visit.

  • One of the most lauded movies at Cannes (The Artist) is not only in black and white, but it is nearly entirely silent.

  • The United States has reached its debt limit and now must come up with accounting tricks to keep running the country. Hopefully, something will be figured out by August when it may have to default. Perhaps they could get help from the IMF—just as soon as it selects a new head.

  • France’s first lady Carl Bruni (wife of President Nicolas Sarkozy) had a small role in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, which was the opening film at Cannes, but she declined to attend the screening. Rumors that she might be pregnant were dismissed as a smokescreen and there was much speculation as the real reason she did not show. In the end, it turned out she was pregnant. Arnold Schwarzenegger had no comment.

  • In a press conference at Cannes, Danish director Lars Von Trier, darling of connoisseurs of eclectic film artistes, caused an awkward moment when he casually mentioned that he was a Nazi. Prospective French Socialist presidential nominee Dominique Strauss Kahn could not be reached for comment.

  • Eva Green, who will be playing the evil witch Angelique in Tim Burton’s upcoming Dark Shadows movie, was interviewed for a cover story in the European edition of Harper’s Bazaar. The character of Angelique is French and was originally played by American actor Lara Parker, who made no attempt at a French accent. Green, who is French, told Harper’s that she would be playing the character with an American accent. In the 1991 revival series, the character was played by English actor Lysette Anthony, who made no attempt at either a French accent or an American accent.

    You can’t make this stuff up. Nor would you want to.

    Anyway, Ireland seems pleased with its performance in the Eurovision. It came in 8th out of the 25 countries that participated in the final. (Forty-three countries competed overall.) The consensus seems to be that the Grimes twins, known as Jedward, finally brought the country into the 21st century, as opposed to the entries Ireland usually sends, which seem to have come through a wormhole from 1966. Of course, in Eurovision terms, the 21st century is the virtual equivalent of Las Vegas in the 1970s, but still that’s progress. Ireland proved that it could enter a song just as mindless but with a good beat, the same as all those eastern European countries. The annoying thing, of course, is that I still can’t get the damned song out of my head. And that’s saying something since I still don’t know what the lyrics are. When I try to figure it out, it sounds like they may be vaguely misogynistic, but I can’t be sure. The refrain goes something like this: She’s got her lipstick on, here I come, da da dum, she’s got her lipstick on, hit and run, then I’m gone. Jerome Kern, eat your heart out.

    The good news about Cannes is that I have had no trouble finding lots of information and blogs and reviews and photos and video of everything going on there. The bad news is that TV5 Monde’s coverage of the film festival got eclipsed a bit when this thing with Dominique Strauss-Kahn hit the fan. (He’s French.) But the good news is that I found I can get snippets of Jonathan Ross’s interviews of Cannes attendees for Cinémoi on YouTube. And snippets are quite enough.

    One of the fun side benefits of Cannes this year (and this is something I never expected to be able to write) is watching the Johnny Depp coverage in the hope of getting bits of new information about the Dark Shadows movie, in which Depp will play Barnabas Collins and which now has a release date, May 11, 2012. Before Depp came to Cannes (to hype the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie), he was photographed in Moscow sporting a wolf’s head cane very much like the one Barnabas always carried in the original TV series. Among other snippets of Dark Shadows news we have gleaned in recent weeks (and by the way, the Dark Shadows News Page, run by London-based Stuart Manning, who is also a producer of Dark Shadows audio dramas for Big Finish, does a fabulous job of accumulating and publishing developments regarding the upcoming movie) is that English actor Michael Sheen (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) was going to play Roger Collins but then had to drop out. (Latest word is that the role will be played by English actor Jonny Lee Miller.) And production on the movie has begun at England’s Pinewood Studios.

    A surprisingly fertile source of information has been 14-year-old American actor Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, Let Me In), who has been cast as Carolyn Stoddard. She has been sharing lots of info about her experiences in London on Twitter, including recommending Langan’s Brasserie in Mayfair for food and dessert and urging her followers to (see how interconnected things are) vote for Jedward in the Eurovision.

    So, the long-awaited Dark Shadows movie will finally be released in just a bit under a year. Could anything possibly make this news any more exciting? Wait a minute. May? Maybe it will, gulp, open at Cannes! If that happens, can I possibly stay away?

    -S.L., 19 May 2011

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