'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly'

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This party had multiple wows. Food, star power, butterflies, a rocking band and a distinct lack of "us and them," with no roped-off VIP area to challenge, added up to a slick and sumptuous evening at Cannes' Marche Forville in the old part of town. Partygoers looking up like the main character in Julian Schnabel's "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Le Scaphandre Et Le Papillon) were treated to a breathtaking glass butterfly aviary with more than 250 brightly colored creatures above the large well-stocked bar. The director and his cast, fresh from a full 15-minute standing ovation at the screening, arrived en masse at the party and gracefully greeted the plaudits.

Attendees: Pathe owner Jerome Seydoux mingled with the great and the good from the French entertainment industry along with assorted personalities. Also here was Roman Polanski, whose wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, is in the film alongside lead Mathieu Amalric, Celine Desmoulin and Patrick Chesnais. Javier Bardem rocked up, while Sharon Stone's bouncers made themselves felt as the only security concern in a room full of other famous people. Top Pathe brass included Francois Ivernel and Cameron McCracken, BBC Films chief David Thompson and Miramax president Daniel Battsek.

Cuisine: Exquisite. Lavish. Appropriate. Large stands offering different cuisine allowed attendees to take a little of what they fancied. Freshly shucked oysters, which feature in a key scene, offered attendees a chance to slurp without recourse. Dainty cups of chilled melon soup, individual baskets of rocket leaves, spinach tart and stuffed pastries filled savory desires while the desserts looked as pretty as they tasted on the menu provided by Marc Meneau.

Highlights/lowlights: Schnabel took to the stage at the back of the room to introduce Michigan-based band Dirtbombs to the gathered masses, having brought them in specially to play. "Is it not possible to get people at the back to be quiet for a minute," the director shouted over the sound system. He merely needed to set the dial to "band level," because when they sparked up, the room rocked. The only lowlight, and it is something that couldn't really be helped, was the lack of air conditioning, which meant the place got extremely hot extremely quickly, leaving some guests feeling as if they were trapped in a diving bell.

Rating: 4.5/5


"The Golden Compass"
To help raise the curtain on the fantasy film "The Golden Compass" -- and to celebrate the company's 40th anniversary -- New Line Cinema took over the Villa Rothschild and its expansive grounds, where it staged something of a midsummer night's dream. Jules Verne-esque blimplike balloons floated above the crowd; fake snow simulating the movie's arctic setting lined the paths, and dry ice bathed some areas in a mysterious fog. Guests wandered the lawns -- the villa itself, now a municipal library, was off limits to all but the vippiest of VIPs -- many of them settling into the lawn chairs scattered about. A band above the outdoor dance floor pumped out such New Line tunes as the themes from "The Lord of the Rings" and "Austin Powers" before the DJ took over.

Attendees: New Line chieftains Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, Rolf Mittweg, Mark Ordesky, "Compass" director Chris Weitz, Daniel Craig and Bond co-star Eva Green, Sam Elliott and wife Katharine Ross, Brett Ratner, Julie Delpy, Kevin Connolly, Sony Pictures Classics' Tom Bernard and Michael Barker. In addition, there were representatives from New Line's distribution partners around the world.

Cuisine: Plenty of bars made it easy to grab a libation without forming a queue, and the champagne was plentiful. But the food nibbles came in Lilliputian portions as waiters circulated with trays of toad in the hole, roast beef and mini Yorkshire puddings, sushi and, for desert, strawberry trifle. There was also a huge display of strange, assorted shellfish that to the dismay of many of the guests was heavier on shell than fish.

Highlights/lowlights: The invite advised the ladies to avoid high heels, but a few ignored the warning and by evening's end were tottering dangerously along the hilly terrain. But for those seeking a lasting memory, there was also the opportunity to have your picture taken with the larger-than-life-size, armored polar bear -- or at least a facsimile of same -- that figures in the film.

Rating: 2.5/5


Cinecitta 70th anniversary party
The guest list for I-Club in the Noga Hilton was practically a who's who of the Italian cinema world, and the eats were among the best party food in Cannes -- not a bad combination for a balmy night on the oft-used, second-floor terrace overlooking the water. Not as wild as "Dolce Vita"-style parties of Cinecitta's glory years, the festa was nonetheless a crowd-pleaser.

Attendees: Venerable directors Ermanno Olmi and the Taviani brothers -- Paolo and Vittorio -- were the official guests of honor. Added to whom were film festival directors Thierry Fremaux (Cannes), Marco Mueller (Venice) and Giorgio Gosetti (Rome), Gaetano Blandini, the Italian government's top film official, Cinecitta director general Lamberto Mancini, and other Italo dignateries.

Cuisine: Delicious. Hot pastas, fresh seafood, decent wine and amazing desserts. And it kept coming in waves all night. This was a food lover's party.

Highlights/lowlights: The desserts turned everyone's heads and even sparked an impromptu round of applause for the chef. The attention grabber was a meringue cornucopia the size of a man's torso, with a river of fresh berries spilling out of it. But the talk among the partygoers was a series of plates made to look like savory dishes -- scallops in their shells, pasta with mussels, olives, and kabobs -- that were actually made of cloyingly sweet marzipan that fooled almost everyone.

Rating: 3.5/5


"Death Proof" party

The bloated Palm Beach party for Quentin Tarantino's expanded version of "Death Proof" was stylishly trashy, much like the movie itself but a lot less fun. Eye-catching grindhouse movie trailers projected on white curtains along two walls were a nice touch that put the surroundings a notch above a typical manic club atmosphere. Blood-red glitter covered every inch of carpet, save for one corner outside that was turned into a mini ice rink. A few guests put that space to decent use, though booze and blades aren't the best mix. The constant threat of fake snow, which tended to land in the eyes and accumulate in the hair, kept people from staying in the area for too long.

Attendees: At least Tarantino, Rose McGowan, Tracie Thoms, Zoe Bell and fellow "Grindhouse" director Robert Rodriguez -- but with all the VIP space, who knows who else?

Cuisine: Almost entirely of the ballpark variety, with kettle corn, cotton candy and hot dogs (though on French buns) mixed in with bowls of tortilla chips and flavorless guacamole. Vodka and champagne with cranberry and orange mixers were the staples at the bar, which had a constant, impatient swarm around it.

Highlights/lowlights: The larger-than-life '70s cinema trailers ("Beautiful women meet sudden brutal horror!") were more fascinating than the dance floor. An army of girls tried to entertain by shaking their camo-miniskirt-clad booties to '90s pop, hip-hop and terrible remixes. A mash-up rotation would've been a more progressive choice, especially given the new cut of the film.

Rating: 1/5
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