By Craig Hubert | We’re halfway through the Cannes Film Festival, and things are about the same as they’ve been all week. Robberies are still happening, doppelgangers are still confusing people, and now a few assaults have been thrown into the mix. Based on reports, none of the films have been rapturously received, and none have been vigorously booed (although we see that Claire Denis’ “The Bastards” received a confused reception earlier today — the reviews should be in by tomorrow). “But behind the dazzling display lurks a darker, seedier reality,” reports The Sun, convinced that something sinister is going down at Cannes. But really, how can we prove them wrong? Today, everyone is talking about Steven Soderbergh’s highly-anticipated “Behind the Candelabra,” and Paolo Sorrentino’s satiric ”The Great Beauty.” Below, the initial, snap reactions from critics.
SPOTLIGHT: Sweeping Culture Daily
By Bryan Hood | TUNE: “Grown Woman,” a very busy song (layers of drums, horns, and…is that crowd noise?), that never really seems to know where it’s going, but that doesn’t really matter because it’s got so much vitality. And, oh yeah, there’s that voice.
BY: One of the pop world’s true megastars, Beyoncé, with co-writing help from The-Dream, and production (in case you couldn’t already tell) from Timbaland (via missInfo.tv).
CURRENTLY: The song, which leaked last night and was previewed in a Pepsi commercial earlier this year, is expected to be on the singer’s upcoming as-yet-untitled fifth album. The record is rumored to hit stores before the year is out, though nothing has been confirmed.
By Craig Hubert | The internet, who now decides these type of things, has been pretty indecisive about “The Crash,” this week’s episode of “Mad Men.” Was its zig-zagging, dream-like structure a nod to the later seasons of “The Sopranos,” where Matthew Weiner used to put pen to paper? Could it have been a giant, allegorical post-Robert Kennedy death-trip? What’s up with them avoiding the race issue? Phew. Let’s put these questions aside, for a moment, and dig into what we’re here for, the cultural references. “The Crash,” as weird an episode as it was, featured quite a few — from more popular books (last week featured “The Last Picture Show”), period-specific drugs, and a few on-the-nose songs, as this show is wont to do.
By Craig Hubert | Ray Manzarek, a founding member of The Doors, has died. He was 74. His manager, Tom Vitorino, confirmed the musician died after being stricken by bile duct cancer. Born Raymond Daniel Manczarek, Jr. in Chicago, he formed The Doors in 1965 after moving to Los Angeles and meeting Jim Morrison. Manzarek remained active in music after Morrison’s death and the demise of the band, where he produced records for Echo & the Bunnymen and X, among others. His memoir, “Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors,” was published in 1998. Manzarek is survived by his wife, Dorothy, his son Pablo and two brothers, Rick and James.
1. It’s being reported that Kate Hudson has joined Mandy Patinkin and Josh Gad in “Wish I Was Here,” the upcoming Kickstarter-funded movie written and directed by Zach Braff. The film “centers on Aidan Bloom (Braff), a struggling actor, father and husband who at 35 is still trying to find his identity and a purpose for his life.” Just what we need, another movie about a man-child. “He and his wife (Hudson) are barely getting by financially and Aidan passes his time by fantasizing about being the great futuristic Space-Knight he’d always dreamed he’d be as a little kid.” Wait, don’t you think Braff could have raised $2 million with Hudson attached to the film? Time to demand your refund! [Deadline]
By Bryan Hood | There’s a cute bait and switch at the beginning of this week’s “Mad Men.” Along with the title, “The Crash,” and the opening scene, one which shows a terrified Ken Cosgrove driving himself and some drunken Chevy execs into oncoming headlights, it seems as if we’ve seen the last of the firm’s most affable accounts man. But, as we learn minutes later, the crash referred to in the title, is in regards to something else entirely.
In Five: Antonio Banderas Goes Into the Mines, Sean Penn Circling “Inherent Vice,” and More Culture News
1. Antonio Banderas will star as as Mario Sepulveda, one of the Chilean miners trapped underground for 69 days in 2010, in “The 33.” The film, directed by Patricia Riggen (“Girl in Progress”), “dramatizes the events surrounding the mine’s collapse and the international effort to rescue them, which culminated in the emotional retrieval of all 33 miners trapped half a mile beneath the surface.” Martin Sheen and Rodrigo Santoro will also join the cast. [Variety]
By Bryan Hood | After officially premiering his latest song, “New Slaves,” on walls in ten cities across the globe on Friday night, Kanye West gave us our first non-cellphone-captured taste of new music on last night’s “Saturday Night Live” season finale. The always controversial rapper debuted the Marilyn Manson-sampling “Black Skinhead,” before performing “New Slaves.” Both tracks show off a decidedly bleak and angry version Kanye, one that feels closer to his “808s and the Heartbreaks” vintage than any other version of the self-proclaimed “God.” Kanye’s sixth album, “Yeezus” (via Pitchfork), will be released on June 18, and while there’s no confirmation that these two songs will make the final tracklist, it wouldn’t exactly be shocking if they were included. One thing that’s clear, though, is that Kanye’s getting weird with these songs, and if you ask us, that’s him at his best.
By Craig Hubert | Beloved mom-porn novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” has reached China, according to reports, where pirated copies of the book have been hitting shelves despite the country’s strict censorship laws. “Not many people know about it yet,” a spokesman for the Foreign Multi-Resource bookstore is quoted as saying in the Daily Beast. “There has been no publicity, so it’s only a cult book at the moment.” Readers have reportdly been sharing their steamy throughs about the romance at the center of the book on Chinese social media site Douban. “Who would have thought that such a vulgar novel would be so popular all over the world, even breaking Harry Potter’s record?” one commentator reportedly said. Of course, they don’t think the book is actually good: Douban users rated the book just 5.3 out of 10, complaining of its “tedious style.”