Britain's capitalist lackeys shun Palme d'Or winner

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The Independent Online

* In this, his finest hour, Ken Loach has stumbled upon yet another reason to rage against the British middle classes.

Despite carrying off the Palme d'Or at Cannes, Loach's new masterpiece, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, has excited nary a flicker of interest from the capitalist stooges who run Britain's cinemas.

The film's UK distributors, Pathé, have received barely 30 orders for prints of the film, which is soon to be released. As things stand, it will therefore be shown in just 30 cinemas across the country.

Loach attributes this astonishingly paltry figure to the British cinema industry's reservations about his film's tricky subject matter, and media criticism of its (allegedly) pro-IRA leanings.

At a fundraiser for George Galloway's Respect party on Wednesday, he criticised right-leaning writers who've been "creeping out from under their stones, slagging off a film they've not even seen".

In France, he revealed, distributors increased their order of prints from 120 to more than 300, after The Wind that Shakes the Barley won the Palme d'Or. In Ireland, they've already ordered 50.

"But in the UK, it's hardly going to be shown," he said. "Our only hope is if everyone goes in the first week and the exhibitors see the demand."

A spokesman for the film said they've got until its 23 June release to drum-up further interest: "It's early days yet, so hopefully (Loach) is being premature."

* Juliette Lewis jetted into London the other day to begin rehearsals of her first-ever stage play, Fool For Love.

A "welcome to Blighty" party at Volstead bar, in the West End, provided Pandora with an opportunity to discuss her (somewhat) paltry pay deal.

I recently discovered that the Hollywood beauty was treading the boards for £477 a week in rehearsals, rising to £1,500 during the show's run.

Fortunately, Lewis isn't kicking up a fuss, since the producers have assured her - and who are we to argue? - that Matt Damon and David Schwimmer were paid exactly the same.

"Oh, I don't think it's peanuts at all," she told me. "I'm told it's standard actor's rate for working here, and it pays the rent, so I'm happy.

"I'm just so pleased because it's giving me the opportunity to be involved in something really creative."

* After all these years, Duran Duran are still fighting the urge to consign their cans of hairspray to the great wheelie-bin in the sky.

The 1980s super-group is holed up in a London recording studio, working on a sequel to their 2004 comeback album, Astronaut.

According to keyboard player Nick Rhodes - and please let it happen! - "urban" producers will inject a dose of hip-hop into the band's oeuvre.

"I'm making an album with the rest of Duran Duran, which should be ready by January," he said at a Harper's Bazaar party on Wednesday.

"Simon (Le Bon) has got some songs to write still. It'll have an identifiably Duran Duran sound, which we want to preserve, but it's also going to be a lot more modern. So we've been working with American urban producers."

* Not for the first time, the BBC's Charles Wheeler finds himself at the centre of an unlikely news story.

The veteran correspondent, whose daughter Marina's marriage to Boris Johnson occasionally makes headlines, has discovered he owns a painting looted during the Second World War.

It emerged that a portrait of Eleonora of Toledo, given to Wheeler by a German farmer in 1952, was actually a 16th-century original pinched from Berlin.

Commendably, Wheeler decided to return the artwork to its rightful home, and it was presented to the city's Gemäldegalerie on Wednesday. "I'm rather pleased about it," he says. "Instead of sitting on my bookshelf all these years, it's going to be exhibited properly."

* Last month, Kate Moss was immortalised in bronze, with ankles and arms wrapped around her ears, by the sculptor Marc Quinn.

Now Quinn, whose sculpture of Alison Lapper occupies Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth, is applying further contortions to the skinny supermodel.

The Art Newspaper reports that he's about to unveil several new watercolours of Moss at the Alessandra Bonomo gallery in Rome.

"The works show Moss (a "kind of Aphrodite", says Quinn) superimposed on everyday objects such as vases, and in a series of contorted poses," it says.

"This exhibition of 30 recent pieces includes a frozen cast of Quinn's son's head, which has been made using the baby's liquidised placenta."

Sounds like Moss got off lightly.