The Diary: Tim Burton; Tate Modern; Pedro Almodóvar; Don Boyd; Janek Schaefer
Friday 14 May 2010
Tim in blunderland at the Cannes Film Festival
Tim Burton, appearing for the first time in his formal role as president of this year's Cannes Film Festival, cut a kooky figure on stage when he was asked which previous Palme d'Or winning films he thought to be memorable. Staring into space for a minute, he said "I can't remember any", while the nine fellow jurors, including Kate Beckinsale, mumbled titles such as Apocalypse Now and Taxi Driver. "I always blank out," Burton added. Quizzed about the dearth of female jurors this year – only two against eight male counterparts – he said that in his experience at least half of the movie executives that have green-lit his films have been female. He also bemoaned the absence of the director Roman Polanski, currently detained in Switzerland, from the festival, as well as that of the Iranian director Jafar Panahi, who was to sit on the Cannes jury of the Cannes before he was imprisoned by Tehran's authorities. "Yes, of course, there's an issue about political and freedom of expression. I would like them to be released," he said.
Sewell's different slant on Tate Modern
Amid the celebrations for Tate Modern's 10th anniversary a lone voice of dissent speaks out. The art critic Brian Sewell bemoans the gallery's layout, finding its sloping entrance reminiscent of "Nazi" architecture. Speaking to me this week, he doesn't find much to celebrate, a decade on: "I wouldn't have let Tate Modern get off the drawing board in the state that it is in. There are obvious points concerning access. I can't understand why they have got the escalators where they have, or the narrow staircase, or if you choose to use the lifts they are always full and you can't get in. God knows what would happen if there was a fire..." Moving on from health and safety gripes (and his view that the café is far too expensive) he speaks of his intense aversion to its sloping entrance: "Having to descend that slope is, so far as I can imagine, like walking into a gas chamber at Auschwitz. The slope says 'Nazi Germany' to me. It's the architecture that does it. One is inexorably thrust down the slope inside a huge chamber. You can't turn back, it's hateful."
It's All about Pedro Almodóvar
News that the acclaimed Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar is the subject of a feature documentary about his film- making career was greeted with excitement at Cannes this week. The film Insolent Frames chronicles Almodóvar's arrival in Madrid in 1969, the release of his first film, Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Girls on the Heap, in 1980, and short films and footage that the director has agreed to show for the "first time ever". Almodóvar is well-loved in Cannes: his films All about My Mother and Volver have received accolades at the festival.
Far from scummy
Don Boyd, the Scottish film director, producer and screenwriter, whose filmography includes the 1979 classic Scum, has made his first foray into novel writing with Margot's Secrets. The novel about Margot, an ex-pat American psychologist, will be launched on 3 June at what sounds like an uncharacteristically glitzy book bash, whose guest-list includes the directors Terence Davies and Stephen Frears, the singer Gary Kemp and Mark Thompson, the director general of the BBC. Never mind the quality of the writing, the party sounds impressive.
The sound artist Janek Schaefer has a bizarre installation in store for visitors to the Milton Keynes International Festival this year. He's created Asleep at the Wheel, a soundscape constructed in the old Sainsbury's superstore that will feature upended cars on a fake tarmac road running through the structure. Audiences, when climbing into the cars, will hear their radios mysteriously tuning into the newly composed sound-work. The festival takes place from 16 to 25 July, and includes a Swiss troop of aerial and high-wire artists, dancers, musicians, horses and their handlers who will perform in a Big Top.
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