Author Archives: Hiscock John

HFPA JOIN GEEK WEEK AT COMIC CON

 The HFPA joined 130,000 fans, freaks and geeks at the frenzied, carnival-like atmosphere of Comic-Con in San Diego.
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While the hardcore nerds and geeks were there to celebrate superheroes and science fiction, and Hollywood studios were promoting their upcoming geek-friendly fare, HFPA members mingled with the stars at interviews, press conferences and panels in the giant convention hall.

photo 3-1Thousands of fans got into the spirit of the event by dressing as zombies, vampires, assorted monsters and, of course, superheroes. Batmen were particularly popular this year because the Caped Crusader turns 75 and Batman fans jammed into the hall for panels full of Batman artists, writers and DC Comics executives. Adam West, who played Batman in the campy 60′s TV series was also there along with his Robin, Burt Ward and Catwoman Julie Newmar.

photo 5-1The Comic-Con lineup is bulging with big names—actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Radcliffe are there for the first time along with Peter Jackson and some of the cast of the last of his Hobbit trilogy, and the casts of some of the most popular series on television, including Game of Thrones, The Vampire Dioaries and The Walking Dead.

Among the other stars the HFPA interviewed were Colin Firth, there for the Woody Allen movie Magic in the Moonlight and Kingsman: The Secret Service, Wesley Snipes and Dolph Lundren, for Expendables 3 and the casts of the TV series Outlander and Under the Dome.

PICTURES: THEO KINGMA

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COMING SOON TO HOLLYWOOD? CHINESE SUPERHEROES

SAM ASI reports on how China is beating the U.S. at the box office. 

transformers China is on the path to take the lead from the US in the box office.

Since its release 4 weeks ago, Transformers: Age of Extinction, has racked up over $850 million in the global box office, breaking the record in China where it grossed over $280 million – $65 million more than in the US, where it drew $215 million.

This is not the first time that the Chinese box office has beaten the North American one. Last year, The People’s Republic saved sci-fi Pacific Rim, which had cost $190 million to make, from a certain commercial failure, infusing its coffers with a much needed $111 million, after it had eked out only $101 million Stateside. Impressed by the movie’s triumph at the Chinese box office, Warner Bros, the producing studio, decided to make a sequel, with production due to commence next year. Evidently, the potential commercial success of a project in China and other foreign markets is increasingly becoming the impetus to greenlight it in Hollywood, regardless of its projected performance in the US market.

Indeed, in the last few years, international markets have surpassed the North American market, making up over 70% of the total global box office gross, according to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Consequently, this commercial reversal has precipitated a fundamental change in the movie-making business in Hollywood. In the past, studio bosses relied on their gut feelings and the feedback of their development departments to greenlight a project. Recently, however, development executives have ceded their power and influence to the  international marketing and publicity departments, who have taken center stage in greenlighting a project, based, not on its creative or artistic merit, but on its potential commercial profitability in major international markets, such as China, Russia, Latin America and the rest of Asia.

This shift has led to a surge in production of big-budget, special-effects driven blockbusters, that are filled with superheroes and waring monsters, and to a palpable decline in making dramas and comedies, prompting cinema critics and filmmakers to charge Hollywood with dumbing the masses with its superficial and inane movies that lack substance and artistic integrity. pacific rim  The problem, Hollywood executives say, is that dramas and comedies rely heavily on dialogue, which doesn’t translate well in non-English speaking markets, hence their feeble box office performance often fails to cover their production cost. In contrast, the stories of the big blockbusters are told with extravagant action and digital effects, which transcend the boundaries of language, nationality and culture. In its pursuit of luring the the broadest audience overseas, Hollywood also endeavors to feature foreign characters, played by international actors.

Hence, these days, we often see Chinese, Indian, Russian and other Asian characters in major roles that don’t conform to the negative stereotypes of the past, when the good guys were invariably white and foreigners filled in for the bad guys. In fact, Hollywood has become so sensitive to Chinese sentiment that it doesn’t dare show Chinese characters in negative light and responds swiftly to Chinese concerns, even if that entails changing the film’s story. Last year, the antagonists in Red Dawn were digitally altered from Chinese to Northern Korean following a protest in the Chinese media. In addition, blockbusters are increasingly being speckled with further Chinese elements, such as merchandise and story subplots, even when they are completely irrelevant to the movie, in order to pique the interest of the Chinese audience. Last year,  a Chinese space station was featured in the Oscar-winning Gravity.

And the Chinese version of Iron Man 3 received an extra subplot featuring a Chinese doctor treating Iron Man with acupuncture. Needless to say, both films swept the box office there. Speaking at San Francisco International Film Festival last year, director Steven Soderbergh argued that Hollywood was not making cinema anymore but producing commercial movies for public consumption, because “cinema is a specificity of vision, and isn’t made by a committee, by a company or by the audience. Granted, but one should not overlook the positives in this new development, because it’s evident that Hollywood is no longer a centre for promoting the virtues of the white American and vilifying everybody else, but rather has become an international hub where all nations, races and cultures are respectfully and fairly presented and where negative stereotypes of the “others” are fading away, thanks to the producers’ efforts to study and understand the cultures featured in their movies before they embark on making them, lest they hurt anyone’s feelings and consequently lose their box office tickets. Hence one could counter-argue that Hollywood is actually being enlightened rather than dumbed down.

In spite of these noble efforts, Hollywood is still struggling to penetrate a fiercely protectionist market such as China, which often takes steps to safeguard its local productions by the permitting only 32 foreign movies to be exhibited there in one year and by giving them unpalatable release slots. Hence Hollywood studios have resorted to forming partnerships with local companies and filming in China itself, as the director of Transformers, Michael Bay, did, shooting parts of the picture in Hong Kong, casting Chinese star Li Bingbing in a key role and partnering with the country’s largest distributor and film promoter, China Movie Media Group. One studio, DreamWorks animation, was able to pave its way into the Chinese market, thanks to its business savvy and politically-connected chairman, Jeffrey Katzenberg, who announced three months ago the opening of DreamWorks Oriental in Shanghai. Having been monitoring the explosion of the Chinese market in the last decade, Katzenberg is confident that it will overtake the US market in the very near future. “It’s obvious,” he enthuses. “They have $1.5 billion consumers, which is $1.2 billion more than the US, so you can’t take these figures lightly. Of course, we want to be there. The Chinese people love Hollywood movies and we will cater to their need.”

In fact, there is a broad agreement in Hollywood that China will take the lead in the global market within less than 5 years, which should not be a surprise, considering that 13 cinemas are being opened every day there. Hence, it’s not inconceivable that we could see a Chinese superhero in a Hollywood blockbusters in the near future.

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JAMES GARNER, THE MAVERICK WHO EARNED 12 GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATIONS

James Garner, who shot to fame in the 1950s as the charming and dry-witted gambler on the hit TV western Maverick and  earned 12 Golden Globe nominations, winning three times, died at his home aged 86.

The Oklahoma-born Garner, who also starred in the long-running TV series The Rockford Files, amassed more than 80 movie and TV-movie credits during his 50-year career.

His Golden Globe wins were for Best Promising Newcomer in 1958, Best Actor in a TV movie for Decoration Day in 1991 and Barbarians at the Gate in 1994.

Garner, who lived in Los Angeles, underwent quintuple bypass heart surgery in 1988 and suffered a stroke in 2008. He had been in poor health for some time.

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HFPA SHOW LOVE FOR COURTNEY

courtney love   HFPA members crowded into the association’s conference room at its West Hollywood offices for the visit of Courtney Love, the musician-actress who has been variously described as talented, tragic, Machiavellian or simply mad.

And the 50-year-old didn’t disappoint. In a wide ranging discussion which was part of the HFPA’s Round Table series, she talked freely about her past indiscretions, her life today and her new role in the TV series Sons of Anarchy which, she says, has “bailed me out of actor jail.”

The former punk princess, who once worked as an exotic dancer, looks in great shape and says: “Physically I’m older and I don’t do drugs anymore but I have a monkey on my back which is smoking but I’m trying to quit. So the drugs have passed and I gave up caffeine but the nicotine is still very predominant and smoking is the last sin I need to get rid of.

“Well, I have many sins but there’s no sin in sex. It’s good exercise.”

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DINNER AND A MOVIE – BON APPETIT!

 ELISABETH SEREDA recalls some mouth-watering movies and dissects some culinary classicsChef-Film2The recent release of Chef and The Hundred Foot Journey brought back memories of other mouth-watering films that have caused growling stomachs while watching, followed by ravenous food consumption afterwards.

And no, I am not talking about famous restaurant scenes in famous movies as in When Harry Met Sally. Meg Ryan’s excitement at Katz’s Deli, prompting the older lady to comment: „I’m having what she’s having“, incites a hunger of a different kind. And when Anthony Hopkins is having „his liver with some fava beans“, the feeling the viewer is left with is more blood boiling than salivating. And not The Big Feast/ La Grande Bouffe either, where a group of men (Marcello Mastroianni, Michel Piccoli, Philippe Noiret, Ugo Tognazzi) hire prostitutes, go to a villa in the countryside, engage in group sex and decide to eat themselves to death. Good movie but hardly appetizing.

The films I fondly remember (and could watch over and over again) in connection with food are of a different kind. They are the ones you have to prepare for: eat before or wait til after? Re-watch on DVD – or VCR before there was a DVD – and pause to write down recipes and inspirations? Plan a huge dinner party for friends with the culinary theme of the film? I am guilty of all of the above although I have stopped food intake before the screening. You rob yourself of a gourmet experience after. I starved through The Hundred Foot Journey which begins with a sea urchin and ends with one (or a few), only to reward myself later with four (!) orders of uni at my favorite Sushi restaurant. I would have preferred urchin the way it is served in Barcelona: erizos de mar – the sweet, orange center scooped out of its shell, mixed with cream and herbs, put back into the shell and baked, just to be scooped out again by the grateful eater, the flavors melting in the mouth – but the yuzu on top of my uni was not so bad, either. The studio kindly provided a few recipes from the film (the omelet, Tandoori chicken, madeleines, etc.) but left out the soup the protagonist’s mother creates, blending the urchin with Indian spices in a way that almost makes the smell come off the screen.

The following is a list of favorite food films – or as I’d like to call it #fff:

v.l. George Segal, Robert Morley, Jacqueline Bisset

Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?

Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?

The food in this crime/thriller/comedy is fantastic with bitingly witty dialogue. Director Ted Kotcheff tells the story of a four course meal served by Europe’s greatest chefs to the Queen at Buckingham Palace. The courses are featured in Britain’s number one gourmet magazine, run by the sarcastic and surly Robert Morley: “How about recreating the Last Supper?“ an assistant asks. To which he replies : “That is without a doubt the single most tasteless, vulgar and macabre suggestion it has ever been my misfortune to hear. What next I wonder? The Andes plane crash cook book?!“

One by one the chefs are killed in the manner of their specialty: Jean Pierre Cassel (baked doves) dies stuffed into the oven. Philippe Noiret (pressed duck a l’orange) has his head end up in the duck press. The Venetian seafood master drowns in his own lobster tank. Leading lady and dessert chef Jaqueline Bisset is saved before her famous ice cream bomb explodes. And there is an amusing side story between Bisset and her ex-husband, played by George Segal, who wants to start a fast food chain for omelets while she prefers chiche lorraine over caged chicken products. The grizzly murders not withstanding, the film makes you want to cook and eat all the meals, culminating in the chocolate-strawberry-vanilla ice cream bomb. Who Is Killing The Great Chefs Of Europe? was released in 1978, but if you want to find a decent copy on DVD, good luck. Upon investigating we were told that the master had been lost. I still own a bad copy on VHS.

 Big Night
The way Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub caress a timballo (bread stuffed with all sorts of Italian delicacies) in close up before carving it up to serve to a select group of friends and competitors is nothing short of sensual. Tucci co-wrote, co-directed, and starred in this heart warming story about two Jersey Shore restaurateur-brothers who hope jazz legend Louis Prima will save their failing family business.

“To eat good food is to be close to God,” says Primo (Shalhoub) to his brother Secundo (Tucci) but that doesn’t impress Pascal (Ian Holm), the owner of a popular but rather bad eatery nearby: “A guy works all day, he don’t want to look at his plate and ask, ‘What the fuck is this?’ He wants to look at his plate, see a steak, and say ‘I like steak!’” Yet even Pascal, after trying the timballo, must admit: „I should kill you! This is so fucking good, I should kill you!“ and then kisses the chef on both cheeks. Big Night inspires home cooked Italian feasts that require days-long preparations.

Like Water for Chocolate / Como Agua Para Chocolatefood water for choc
Mexican director Alfonso Arau made this wonderful and magical realist drama, telling the story of Tina who was born on the kitchen table with her mother’s tears being turned into a bag of salt. The culinary metaphors reach their climax when Tina meets her love, Pedro. To this day the film’s most ardent fans write down the recipes and copy the dishes served. That in itself is a testament to its quality.

No, this title does not refer to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s early grasp of the english language (a joke once made at one of the funnier Oscar ceremonies), but to an early Ang Lee film about a Taiwanese master chef who’s only way of communication with his three ballsy daughters is by way of cooking Sunday dinner. The comedy got a Foreign Film Oscar nom.

Babette’s Feast
This Danish drama culminates in a scene with the most spectacularly shot visuals of a dinner ever seen onscreen. It is a banquet of culinary – and other – senses and deservedly was nominated for a Foreign Film Oscar. As in all good food films, the meal is a metaphor for life, love, sex and joie de vivre. The dishes resemble emotions and actions and feelings between the family members. And yes, it too leaves you hungry for more.

Chocolatfood 3 (chocolat)
Chocolate during lent?! Quelle horreur! Juliette Binoche shocks a French village when she opens a chocolate shop in Lasse Hallström’s sweet tale, at first only winning over Johnny Depp, the riverboat-dwelling drifter, before the cacao scents invade noses and hearts of the stuffy villagers. The chocolate shop was fiction but I did have a film deja vu when I discovered Marie Belle’s in Manhattan’s Soho district where the truffels look straight out of the movie and you almost expect Binoche’s delicate face to peak from behind the hot chocolate cups.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi
My list would not be complete without this documentary, a must-see for sushi lovers. President Obama may not have been able to finish his meal with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in this famous basement restaurant in a Tokyo subway station, with its ten seats and three Michelin stars. But anyone watching would have gladly taken the leftovers. “I fell in love with my work and gave my life to it,” Jiro Ono says in the documentary. Jiro is over 90 years old; his son and sous-chef Yoshikazu has been waiting to succeed him. And we may not be able to afford a meal at Sukibashi Jiro but we will get inspired to order something other than California rolls on our next outing to the neighborhood Sushi place after watching this.

Mostly Martha
Never have spaghetti tasted this good: Martina Gedeck plays a headstrong chef who is forced to take care of her  stubborn eight-year-old niece. The girl is difficult to feed and fighting ensues until a charming Italian sous-chef arrives in the kitchen. The ingredients of this delightful German comedy are perfectly chosen and well spiced. The half baked American remake No Reservations, starring Catherine Zeta Jones, cannot hold a salt shaker to the German original.

And yes, there are others…

…like Louis Malle’s My Dinner with Andre, Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia as America’s master cook Julia Child, Helen Mirren’s first outing in a food film The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, the noodle epic Tampopo, I Am Love, where Tilda Swinton falls for a young chef, Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its original Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

And certainly my favorite chef on TV: Monica Geller as played by Courtney Cox on Friends: her recipes for Thanksgiving dinners over nine seasons alone make you want to order an extra serving of turkey and glazed yams.

 

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TWO EMMY NODS FOR GOLDEN GLOBES

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Our Emmy nominated hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

 

This year’s Golden Globes show, hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, has earned two Emmy nominations.

Produced by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in association with dick clark productions, it is the fourth consecutive year the Globes have been nominated in the Outstanding Special Class Program.

Adding to the honours this year is a nomination for outstanding writing to a team of writes headed by Barry Adelman, with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, contributing special material.

HFPA president Theo Kingma said: “Congratulations to everyone involved, particularly Tina and Amy who did so much to make the show the wonderful success it was.  It is a great honor to be recognized for what was indeed an outstanding show and we intend to make next year’s even better.”

 

 

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HFPA MEET THE HONOURABLE MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL

maggie gyllenhaal

Maggie Gyllenhaal as The Honourable Woman

BY ELISABETH SEREDA  

  With her mini series The Honourable Woman about to start airing on the Sundance Channel, Maggie Gyllenhaal talks about the impact the story and the shoot had on her. The HFPA met with the actress during the Sundance Film Festival, when the production was still putting the finishing touches on the seven-parter.

„I really had never worked on anything that I’ve been more excited about in my life, ever. It was heaven. The scripts were phenomenal, like nothing I’d ever read before in my life,” says an exuberant Maggie Gyllenhaal in the downstairs salon of the Stein Eriksen Lodge where the sun is setting behind the snow covered ski slopes of the Wasatch Mountains.

She is dressed in pastel colors, her look more hippie than member of the House of Lords, which she plays in the series. „It’s about a woman who was raised in London and whose father was an Israeli gun runner billionaire. He was killed in front of her and her brother when they were kids. So when they get older they inherit his foundation and decide to subvert what he was doing. Instead of running arms, they lay communication cable, fiber optics for computers and internet between Israel and Palestine. She becomes this really powerful symbol of peace. And she is trying to broker peace in a way that is completely uncompromised.”

The Honourable Woman is a political thriller involving the United States, the UK and other countries, and the story takes on the MI6, the CIA and the FBI. There are kidnappings, rapes and murders. The format of the mini series affords the film makers the luxury of time, and a professionalism Gyllenhaal did not expect: „Usually in television you read an episode, then you get the next episode and they are figuring it out as they go along. In this case we had it all written before it began, and it’s exquisite in the way it is written.,” she says.

“It’s so structured that I could be as wild and unusual as I wanted within that structure, which was heaven because I had a director who was confident enough in the script that he wanted to see how far the character could go. And look, I have never read or played or explored a woman like this before. I never had seven hours.“

Gyllenhaal describes her character, Nessa Stein, as conflicted as the relationship between Israel and Palestine: „That is a backdrop for this woman to explore very similar conflicts in herself. She feels responsible for what her father was doing. He was killing people. She inherited that guilt and those crimes, and she is trying to right them. But it’s not as simple as laying communication cables between countries. This woman feels so much more than I do, but through her I have become more alive. But it’s Greek, the stuff that happens to her. It’s like Medea.”

Maggie Gyllenhaal’s eyes are sparkling and she can hardly contain herself: „This is the first time I am talking about this, so please forgive me. But I’ve been never been anywhere near a project like this one! I am a totally different person for having done it.” She explains: „There is no right way to live, there’s no such thing as an honourable woman. Nessa is figuring this out as she goes deeper into who she is, and I had similar experiences in my life. When I was younger I thought I knew what good was and now in my thirties I see that it’s much more complicated than I ever thought. And sexier and darker and way more interesting!”

She laughs. „I never used to watch TV. But this script was so good. I’m reading this and going, ‘I don’t care if it’s TV or not, it’s really special.’ And my husband (Peter Sarsgard), who did The Killing, pointed out how great it is to be able to go deeper with the character because you have no time constraints.” Gyllenhaal became a believer. And not only as an actor but also as a consumer. She now is an addict of certain TV-series: „I love Girls. I feel like I was those girls. And I like Ray Donovan. Love Downton Abbey, but that’s like crack. And no, I haven’t seen Homeland. I’ve only seen one episode of Scandal. She’s hot,” she says, referring to Kerry Washington.

As a viewer she is hooked; as an actor she hopes to have a future in television: „I drunkenly told Hugo Blick, the director, at the wrap party that I am in work-love with him. In September I am doing the Tom Stoppard play The Real Thing on Broadway with Ewan McGregor, but then I’d like to do a project with Hugo again. I want to do something awesome, because where do you go after an experience like this?!”

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ELI WALLACH – A PASSIONATE ACTOR AND GLOBE NOMINEE

eli-wallach  It was more than half a century ago when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association recognized the chameleon-like acting skills of a newcomer to the big screen. In 1957 the HFPA nominated Eli Wallach for Best Actor Award for his role in Elia Kazan‘s Baby Doll.

Wallach, who has died at the age of 98, was a passionate actor until his last breath. and he proved it at the age of 94 by playing a banker in Oliver Stone’s 2010 sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

Eli Herschel Wallach was born on Dec. 7, 1915 in Brooklyn, New York.  He earned a master’s degree in education with the goal of becoming a teacher but began studying acting at a local playhouse.  During World War Two, Wallach served five years in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, eventually achieving the rank of captain.

He made his stage debut in 1946 in a play called Skydrift.

His film credits include The Misfits, Cinderella Liberty, The Good, Bad and the Ugly and The Godfather: Part Three.
He often starred in films opposite his wife, actress Anne Jackson.  His co-stars over the years also included Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Peter O’Toole, Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner, Clint Eastwood, Al Pacino and – in his most recent role – Michael Douglas.

Elmar Biebl

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AN ARAB PALACE RISES IN ISRAEL

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Some of the Tyrant cast

ELISABETH SEREDA reports on the HFPA’s visit to the set of Tyrant near Tel Aviv.

  Some strawberry fields are not forever. In the town of Kfar Saba, a 45 minute drive north of Tel Aviv, one can find two state-of-the-art sound stages in the middle of the fields and at dusk cast and crew can smell the sweet berries from the outside. Both sound stages have been taken over by the production of Tyrant, a new FX series starting to air this Tuesday, June 24.

Last week the HFPA spent a day on the set. And what a set it was.  Tyrant is a political drama that centers around a ruling family in the Middle East. The country – Abbudin – is fictional but the story of the dictator’s family is loosely based on a number of such dictatorships in that region.

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The receiving area of the palace

The main character is the younger son Bassam ‚Barry’ Al Fayeed (played by Adam Rayner) who, after a turbulent and emotionally scarring childhood, escaped to the US, became a doctor and married the quintessential blonde California girl with whom he has two teenage children. When he is forced to return to his birth country to attend his nephew’s wedding the culture clash is inevitable. Further drama ensues when his father falls ill and Barry is drawn into the national politics that made him leave in the first place. His difficult relationship with his older brother Jamal also complicates things.

Lots of scenes take place in the presidential palace, and on this hot and humid day the open space between the two sound stages was covered so the production could shoot night scenes in the makeshift courtyard.

Rarely do journalists get the opportunity to watch such pivotal dialogue. Without giving too much away – no spoilers here – the scene we saw revolved around the president’s older son Jamal, his wife Leila, a female doctor and a severed penis. Yes, you read correctly. This is cable TV after all.

tyrant 3

Crew members working on one of the magnificent sets

Arab-Israeli actor Ashraf Barhom (Paradise Now, Clash of the Titans, Coriolanus) plays the heir apparent and Moran Atias, who was born and raised in Haifa and has worked and lived in Germany, Italy and now Los Angeles (where she starred in Paul Haggis’ series Crash based on his Academy Award winning film) is his wife.

We also toured one of the most elaborate sets we had ever seen:  art director Ido Dolev showed us what he called “the entire presidential palace, with every room. Like the real thing” And except for the marble staircases and floors and the frescos on the walls everything was in fact real. From the canopy beds that were inviting enough to take a nap in to the rugs and amazing lighting fixtures. “We brought some of those from Marrakech, Morocco where we shot the pilot episode” Ido explained, “The rest we bought at antique stores and flea markets right here in Israel.”

Interestingly even the bathrooms and toilets are functional, with running water and the works. Try to find that on a Hollywood studio lot – you’ll most likely end up on a port-a-potty.

Tyrant did not start out without complications. Originally attached to direct and produce, Academy Award winning Ang Lee dropped out, as did creator and writer/producer Gideon Raff, the Jerusalem born force behind Hatufim (Prisoners of War), the series he then turned into Homeland in the United States. For David Yates, Lee’s replacement (Harry Potter), the change from film to TV did not go as smoothly as expected and then there was the change of location after shooting the pilot in Morocco: the logistics and infrastructure weren’t optimal and neither were the local crews. With the Israeli film industry expanding rapidly, the producers felt they had to move filming here. The irony of building and shooting a story of an Arab country in the middle of Israel is not lost on Moran Atias and Ahraf Barhom: „We really hope that it inspires people to learn more and be more open towards this part of the world“ they say.

FX has ordered ten episodes for the first season and the production is not wasting time: while we watched the interiors the second unit was shooting a street scene in Tel Aviv’s Old Jaffa neighbourhood.

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Cannes Day Six: ACTOR-DIRECTOR DEBUTS, A SCARCITY OF WOMEN AND JUSTIN BIEBER SIGHTINGS

ryan gosling

Ryan Gosling in Cannes

Ryan Gosling presented his directorial debut Lost River, and seemed to have no clue how it was received when he started doing interviews the next morning. Some actors should stick to acting was the general consensus after the screening. The film started off with a promising long scene of a cute little boy and his mother played by Christina Hendricks. Unfortunately the story of the mother who is desperately trying not to lose her house is not holding up well. Gosling became interested in the subject matter when he was shooting The Ides of March in Detroit a few years ago.

Gosling is heavily influenced by David Lynch, Terrence Malick, Harmony Korine and Nicolas Winding Refn but the visual references are over the top. In comparison, Tommy Lee Jones made a much better film with The Homesman which screened over the weekend. Lost River has its moments, especially the beginning and the end of the film. And Gosling will get another chance at directing for sure, even if this one falls short at the box office. He is a star after all and surrounded by people who won’t say no to him. Oh, you want to open a night club? Sure, great idea! You want to write and direct a movie? Go for it! Gosling is no Redford, Beatty, Clooney or even Jones – yet. But give him a chance. He certainly knows how to cast a movie: Hendricks, Bob Mendelson and the Brits Iain De Caesecker and Matt Smith are perfect in their parts. And it is sad that on the Croisette people were more interested in the status of his relationship with Eva Mendes, who plays a small role in the film but didn’t show up for the festival.

This year’s festival selection is a mystery to most of the press, and we hear rumblings from within the jury. If Jane Campion was vocal about the lack of women directors before Cannes even started, imagine how she must feel after having watched so many films without women, objectifying women or depicting women as victims. More and more voices call for festival director Thierry Fremaux to step down, and a changing of the guards is already happening with retiring president Gilles Jacob being succeeded by Pierre Lescure.

In other news: there are Bieber sightings all over town. The troubled boy avoids movie premieres but comes out when night falls and party hops his way around the yachts. Diesel designer Renzo Rossi put up with him one night and the next it was Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima who accompanied him at the Port de Cannes. Why is Justin Bieber here? Well, obviously French immigration is more lenient than the US and won’t detain him for hours after his various drug violations.

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