amfAR: A TRIP TO THE MOON AND A BEARDED LADY

CANNES REPORT:

amFarThe moon went for a million and that was the least of it. At the end of the night the stars had raised an unbelievable 38 million for AIDS research, more than tripling last year’s record. Leonardo DiCaprio auctioned off the space trip with him in 2015.

Sharon Stone once again proved to be a master auctioneer, shaming the rich, the famous and the rich & famous into opening their pocket books. Remember, this is the woman who in previous years, made Calvin Klein show us his underwear for 5000.- and got the same amount for a peek underneath Rod Stewart’s kilt. He wasn’t wearing any underwear. She also forced George Clooney in 2007 to auction off a kiss for 350,000 euros.

Stone was in her element. A whole cellar of champagne (for 150.000 euros), a Pablo Picasso sketch (for 380.000), a Warhol print of Marilyn Monroe (for 350.000), a yacht trip, a pair of vintage Chanel gloves and a motorcycle were among the items up for auction. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Roberto Cavalli and Lanvin were among the designers that had created 42 red evening gowns that went for 3.5 million. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the former first lady of France, helped auction off a Bulgari necklace that went for 400.000.

But it was a gilded skeleton of a woolly mammoth in a steel and glass box by artist Damien Hirst that fetched the highest amount – 11 million euros (about 15 million dollars). The winning bidder was Ukrainian business man Leonard Blavatnik, who said he wasn’t sure where he would put the large beast. He was congratulated by Justin Bieber who looked very thin in his satin black suit.

Among the illustrious guests that included aristocrats, Eastern European business men, Hollywood stars, models and movie moguls: the Austrian winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, bearded lady Conchita Wurst in a stunning blue gown, who – in a few short weeks – has become an icon for equality and tolerance. From Sharon Stone to Jane Fonda, the stars were clamoring to meet her.

The evening was hosted by Bollywood couple Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai. The gala, held every year at the luxurious Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, is the world’s biggest charity event at the world’s biggest festival. Lana Del Rey and Robin Ticket performed and even at the after party guests danced til the wee morning hours despite a strong wind blowing up hair and dresses on the Eden Roc terrace. The dress code was ‘peek-a-boo’. The models Irina Shayk, Heidi Klum and Alessandra Ambrosio, singer Lara Stone and actresses Michelle Rodriguez and Rosario Dawson all wore cutouts. Klums cleavage was low and Sharon Stone out did all of them in her red frock with strategically placed holes. In the middle of the evening she changed into a glittering gold dress. The proudest man of the night? Harvey Weinstein, who is one of the event’s organizers. He was besides himself and very happy about the 38 million raised.

- Elisabeth Sereda

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.

HOFFMAN, DRUGS AND HOLLYWOOD

An Analysis by SAM ASI Philip-Seymour-Hoffman-015

The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman to a drug overdose has shocked Hollywood and the world. Considered one of the finest actors of his generation, the Oscar winner was loved by his peers and revered by his fans. In his 20-year illustrious career, he performed in nearly 50 films, in addition to theatre plays and TV shows. Yet, in spite of a perpetual presence on the screen and his international fame, he was rarely featured in celebrity or gossip magazines. He eschewed the party circuit and shunned celebrity culture, dedicating his life to his craft and art and delivering some of the most compelling performances on screen and stage in the last two decades.

 The troubling question is: How could such a noble artist fall for such an ignoble habit? And is there a merit for the accusations that Hollywood glorifies drugs and does nothing to discourage its stars from abusing it?

The truth is that Hoffman began abusing illicit drugs and alcohol in his early twenties when he graduated from Ticsh Drama School in New York in 1989, as he admitted at an interview with CBS’s 60 minutes show in 2006, saying that “I consumed everything I could lay my hands on. I loved it all.”

Hoffman was able to defeat his addiction and be sober for 23 years until May 2013, when he checked in for rehab. But it seems that was in vain. Unfortunately, he was unable to vanquish the hideous habit. While investigating his death, the police search unveiled 50 bags of Heroin.

Indeed, a number of stars lost their lives to drug overdoses such as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Heath Ledger, and some went into rehab for drug addiction such as the infamous Lindsay Lohan, Zach Efron, Charlie Sheen, and others are still defiantly consuming drugs such as Justin Bieber, who was found intoxicated when he was recently arrested for driving under the influence.

But we shouldn’t forget that the news of a star’s death makes headlines around the world and evokes widespread emotional reactions on social networks and internet forums, while the daily passing of hundreds of regular addicts goes unnoticed. The fact is that the illicit drug-induced deaths are a tiny minority in Hollywood, and the dominant cause is actually the abuse of legally-prescribed drugs, as was the case in the deaths of the aforementioned stars.

Whitney Houston ingested a cocktail of cocaine and prescription drugs before her final breath. Most notably, the toxicology report revealed that 12 bottles of different prescription drugs, including anti-anxiety medication Xanax and the muscle relaxant Flexeril, were littered across her hotel room.

Heath Ledger took a mix of different sleeping pills before he sank into his last sleep, never to wake up again. While a higher dose of sedative drug, administered by a doctor, brought the end of Michael Jackson. Even Hoffman had blamed his latest bout of addiction to a misuse of prescription drugs.

Drug addiction is not merely a Hollywood problem but an American epidemic. And the source of the epidemic is not the consumption of illicit drugs like crack cocaine and ecstasy that were prevalent in the 80’s and 90’s but the prescribed ones that are easily obtainable and are used for non medical reasons. According to a report from the centre for Disease Control and Prevention, overdoses from prescription drug medication kills up to 15,000 addicts every year, more than the toll from cocaine and heroin combined. The number of infants born addicted to prescription drugs every year has also tripled in the past 10 years, to approximately 13,500, according to a report in the Journal of Medical Association.

In spite of these perplexing figures, American TV channels continue to broadcast commercials promoting medical drugs as if they were food products. Anyone could obtain these drugs simply by paying a visit to their doctor. Hence, it’s the pharmaceutical companies which are to blame for promoting these drugs and make them easily accessible, not Hollywood or its movies, as some have suggested.

Hollywood is one of layers of American society’s fabric. Whatever inflicts the American society is bound to affect Hollywood and vice versa. Recent studies show that, in 2010, one in every twenty Americans consumes prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. By and large, these drugs are potent painkillers that elicit euphoric effect, such as Hydrocodone, Methadone, and Oxymorphone. These drugs are addictive and could be fatal if taken without a doctor’s supervision.

Likewise, most of the drug users in Hollywood are predominantly young stars, who resort to drugs in order to fill the resulting void after achieving a quick fame and fortune. The majority check in for rehab and heal. But those who succumb to these poisonous substances close their career and their dreams and often their lives.