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"The best thing that happened to me is Rachel. Because she'll say to me - oh stop being such a smug bastard. Me smug? Oh shit, I'd better do something about it."  -Bryan Brown on his wife Rachel Ward
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

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Andrew L. Urban scribbles a note from the Cannes Film Festival.

Jack Nicholson was taking an early morning walk past the cafe where I have breakfast, looking around either lost or amazed. Couldn't tell. The billboards all over the façade of every major hotel and on every standing pillar and post promote everything from the latest Bond film, Die Another Day, to trashy action pics. He's here as star of About Schmidt, which screens tomorrow, after which we'll all bond in the press conference at the Palais des Festivals.

But so far, my highlight has been yesterday's extended preview of Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York. Here is the kind of event that marks a festival. The arrivals took an hour as the red carpet welcomed the luminaries. Top attractor was jury member Sharon Stone, who was in huge demand by the paparazzi, and she performed in style, wearing a body hugging pale mauve dress that was just the right balance between classy and sensual. She walked, she pranced, she laughed, she posed with her head thrown back, her leg stretched, her back arched (not all at once) and they couldn't get enough of her. She was a hard act to follow, and Milla Jovovich didn't even try. In a girlie frock with flimsy, almost revealing scoop neckline, she just flounced and giggled. The cameras loved her, too.

But then came the Centres of Attention: Martin Scorsese, his stars Leonardo di Caprio, Cameron Diaz and Miramax heavyweight, Harvey Weinstein, who helped finance Gangs of New York. They all sat down (three rows in front of me, so I can tell you they didn't fidget) after about five minutes of adulation from a packed Grand Theatre Lumiere. Before the preview, Marty (as he was called by the MC) paid tribute to Hollywood legend Billy Wilder, and introduced clips from some of the great man's films, like The Lost Weekend, Some Like It Hot, Stalag 17, The Apartment… 

And then came the footage from Gangs. Last year it was The Lord of The Rings preview to whet the appetite of Cannes-ites, and this preview was well up to follow that event.
Set in New York between 1846 - 1863, it may well be seen as a sort period pre-cursor of The Godfather. In introducing the preview, Scorsese said "the picture asks what is America and what is an American." It couldn't be more timely, with its entire story centred on the waves of migrants arriving in America from all over, but with a large Irish contingent. The three central characters are played by diCaprio, Diaz and Daniel Day Lewis (he couldn't get to Cannes) whose performance seems to be pitched somewhere between Marlon Brando and Robert DeNiro. Gangs of New York is gonna be something.

But I mustn't prattle on, I've got movies to see and stars to interview. A couple of days ago it was Christina Ricci in the chat chair (with hair still wet from the shower) and day after tomorrow it's Sandra Bullock, here to promote Murder by Numbers, which opens in Australia soon. I'll have to drive over to the Hotel du Cap in Antibes for Sandra - the hotel that only takes cash, charges $15 for orange juice and is so perfectly set on the edge of the Mediterranean, and so beautiful, even the stars gape.

Incidentally, that billboard for Die Another Day . . . it's all over the fabulous Carlton Hotel, and beneath it, is the Aston Martin driven by Bond. There is a pool of dribble on the pavement in front of it.

Parties? Yes, but I'm not going make you sick with the details. Just a quick note about last night's swank do aboard an ocean liner moored out in the bay and hired in its entirety by Stella Artois, who are big in movies (as well as beer). They took about 500 guests out for a party to celebrate . . .wait for it: the Flanders filmmakers. You never heard of it? Well you have now, and that's the point. It was a classy affair, with a live performance in the luxurious cabaret lounge by Belgian muso and singer, Tom Barnet, as we looked back over the Med towards the lights of Cannes. Quite a night. And there's more to come. I gotta go. Wish you were here.

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