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Tuesday, May 22
By Jimmy Thomson

Mike The Stuntman was no match for Harvey the Hollywood Heavyweight at the press conference for Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof today. Kurt Russell, who plays the homicidal (rather than the more usual suicidal) professional movie car crasher in the new Tarantino tribute to Grindhouse ‘B’ movies, ventured that he thought the audience wasn’t getting full bang for their bucks after the decision was made to remove Roberto Rodriguez’ contribution to the schlocky horror flick and expand Mr Tarantino’s to fill out the time. As soon as the session ended, producer Harvey Weinstein who, if he didn’t actually make the decision himself, would certainly have OK’d it, beetled across the podium for a word in Mr Russell’s shell-like ear. “I was just saying that I liked the original concept ...” Kurt was heard to protest. Forget being a stuntman - upsetting Harvey Weinstein really is a life (and career) threatening activity.


Defenders of the ultra-violent Death Proof say “it’s fantasy, not a documentary” which is all very well but we’re having enough trouble convincing young guys not to beat up on their women folk without this bloody propaganda, 90 percent of which involves the mashing, bashing, mutilation and dismemberment of attractive young women, often replayed in loving slow motion. Just because there’s no sex or nudity, doesn’t mean it’s not porn – and at least porn is honest about its intentions. Tarantino is a brilliant film maker. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance at the press conference to ask if there’s any danger of him growing up any time soon.


Cannes news beat: BBC Films, who last year brought you such gems as Notes On A Scandal and Red Road seem to be taking a Triple-A approach to using Any Available Australian. The biggest news (for us) is the announcement of Jane Campion’s first film after the moderate achievement of In The Cut and the horror that was Holy Smoke. Bright Star is the story of poet John Keats’ ill-starred affair with his muse, Fanny Brawne, played by Abbie Cornish. And it will all be brought together by longtime Campion cohort Jan Chapman who will produce. Campion does best with a bit of history between her and her subjects – witness The Piano and Portrait of a Lady. But I wish people would stop referring to her as an Oscar-winning director. True, she’s a director and true she won an Oscar – for the Piano’s SCRIPT. There’s a big difference and if you don’t believe me, see if you can name who got the best script Oscar this year or any other year, for that matter.


Among other Aussies whose next paycheck will have a BBC stamp on it, Eric Bana will don tights and tunic for the costume drama The Other Boleyn Girl opposite Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman, while Naomi Watts will star with Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises the tale of a woman who sets out to find out the truth behind the murder of a young prostitute and gets herself entangled with the Russian mafia. And, as you may already know, Gillian Armstrong directs Guy Pearce and Catherine Zeta Jones in Death Defying Acts about the life and death of Houdini (on which Armstrong is just about finishing the edit in Sydney). There is also talk of BBC Films involvement in the screen adaptation of Dirt Music, Tim Winton’s other epic novel. But their biggest news would have to be reuniting Titanic lovers Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslett in Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road.


The hot ticket tonight is to The Golden Compass party at the Villa Rothschild 2km outside town where the arctic setting for the US$170 million Daniel Craig/Nicole Kidman fantasy movie has been recreated with fake icebergs and a giant polar bear, as featured in the movie. There’s also an ice sculpture that looked a bit like a koala by the time we saw it but was probably a monster when it left the fridge. Fake snow illuminated white gauze add to the ethereal scene with dry ice and smoke drifting through the faux frozen landscape. You’d generate a lot of heat to make a mansion in sweltering Cannes look this cold. Wonder what the carbon footprint of this baby is.

Wish you were here ...

Published May 23, 2007

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Kurt Russell in Death Proof

Angelina Jolie with a mighty smile in Cannes, promoting A Mighty Heart yesterday.
This is a slightly edited recording of the press conference for A Mighty Heart, in which Angelina Jolie stars as Mariane Pearl whose journalist husband Daniel was abducted and murdered in Pakistan five years ago. Due to limited access to the press conference room, the conference had to be recorded outside the room from a monitor in a busy hallway – hence the variable sound quality and background noise. Even so, it is fascinating to listen to the story of this movie and the courage and conviction that went into it.

Over the two parts you will hear producer Brad Pitt, director Michael Winterbottom and actors Archie Panjabi (who plays a woman who befriended Mariane) Dan Futterman (who plays Daniel Pearl)and Irrfan Khan (who plays Captain). You will hear from Mariane Pearl herself but first, we hear Angelina tell how she felt when Marian asked her to play the lead role.

A Mighty Heart - Trailer



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