Chris Gelinas LVMH Prize Diary: The Designer Meets Karl + More

When Chris Gelinas jetted off to Paris for the final LVMH Prize announcement, we asked him to fill us on on his favorite Parisian haunts and keep us posted on how the inaugural competition went down. Find out where the LVMH Prize finalist and Peroni Young Designer Award winner hangs out in the city of light, and what it was like presenting to Karl Lagerfeld and Phoebe Philo. 

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From the Vault: Richard Hell’s Thumbs Down for Wim Wenders, Carlos Reygada, the Dardenne Brothers

Originally run in BlackBook’s March 2006 issue, musician/film critic Richard Hell wrote for us about the films he admired least from the month. With the nature of the industry changing so rapidly over the past seven years, it’s interesting to look back on his criticism with the knowledge of today. We see how the directors of whom he speaks have gone far beyond in that time, as well as how the DVD culture he praises has progressed into the world of video-on-demand and Blu-Ray. .

As a rule, I don’t write about movies I don’t like, just because it seems like a waste of space. I didn’t see any I liked for this issue, though, so I’m finally writing some straight pans. There were three movies that turned out to be bad for similar reasons, having to do with how they tarted themselves up in art drag when really all they were was the drag part. One was more or less simply disappointing, one I hated, and one was frustrating in a kind of complicated way. After all that, I’ll lighten up with some good news at the end.

The plain disappointment was the new Wim Wenders film, Don’t Come Knocking, written by and starring Sam Shepard. Wenders has always been an over-romantic Americanaphile, the kind of European who wants to make western road movies with a lot of motels and desert, fronting an electric guitar soundtrack. At the same time, I respect his casual, eye-oriented style. I’ve liked some of his documentaries and remember being susceptible to Wings of Desire too, though I haven’t seen it for a long time. Paris, Texas, his earlier movie written by Shepard, was too ploddingly portentous for me. Shepard, before he was a movie star, was the playwright hero of the 1970s and has continued to be that for two or three generations of rock & roll cowboys of the theater, reeling off drama into the dawn the way most people go to sleep. He’s successfully worked his radiotronic rabbit tooth or his silver dog smell or whatever it is on me more than once over the years. I liked a lot of those plays, and I also respect, as I do in Wenders, Shepard’s anti-Hollywood priorities.
But this movie is so bad and bad in such a way as to make me wonder if I could have been wrong about the earlier Shepard. This shit is too fucking macho, faux-mysterioso, and too much a mental mess, like a blind cut-up of Sam’s and Wim’s own faded old material. It’s strange to see these guys, who so conspicuously reject Hollywood formulas, making works as limited to formula as the stuff they oppose. There are a whole lot of good looking shots in this movie: of western desert, of the big-skied beat-up streets of downtown Butte, Montana, of outrageous disco-squared Nevada casinos, of the star’s vintage Packard wheeling down the two-lane, etc. But that shit is as tired by now as teeth-gnashing mega-pixel dinosaurs. More tired. And who cares about another jacked-in cowboy having an existential crisis all over his family? He should do that on his own time. Eva Marie Saint as Shepard’s mom is really great though. I wish they’d stayed at her house and let her be the movie.
If Don’t Come Knocking is derivative of its own filmmakers, the other two movies here are counterfeits of interesting recent artistic trends. Apparently, there are enough art movies succeeding these days that what at first was fresh gets immediately degraded by imitators. (The one film I’ve walked out on in these two years of movie reviewing was Napoleon Dynamite, a moronic and mean-spirited psuedo-type of Todd Solondz’s great Welcome to the Dollhouse.) The movie I hated is called Battle in Heaven. It’s from Mexico and is the second feature by director Carlos Reygadas. The techniques that Reygadas exploits here are those originally used sensitively and organically by directors like Abbas Kiarostami (Iran), Bruno Dumont (France), and their cinematic godfather the incomparable Robert Bresson: employing non-actors in stories about ordinary, usually poor, people in mostly everyday scenes — though the everyday scenes often include violent death, frequently suicide. Lately, explicit acts of sex have joined the real life detail of some of them, too.
Battle in Heaven opens with a shot travelling slowly, from a mushy face, down the full-frontal body of a very fat and homely naked guy who you eventually see (in unforgiving closeup) is getting his purplish penis sucked by a pretty young woman. The imagery — the camera work, lighting, angles and material subject — definitely get your attention. You want to trust this director because he’s showing you strong stuff. You want to find out where he’s going to go with it, what he’s going to indicate to you about its importance. Unfortunately, he goes nowhere and means nothing. The movie is pure exploitation masquerading as art. It’s degrading to watch. It’s all strategic smoke-blowing, the smoke being filmic techniques that we’ve learned from the director’s betters to read as signifying insight and intelligence, but which here are used in the service of emptiness and vanity, emptiness made to further keep your attention with explicit sex and extreme violence. It’s pure Hollywood pretending to be its opposite. I’ll take Get Rich or Die Tryin’ any day.
The frustrating film is L’Enfant (The Child). Isolated from its models and influences, the movie would seem more than worthwhile: it’s smart, well-acted, shot well, and compelling. (It actually won the Dardenne brothers, who produced, wrote, and directed it, their second Palme d’Or — the first was for Rosetta in 1999 — at Cannes. ) Like Battle in Heaven, it shows underclass folk (and fully credible ones, in contrast to the freaks predicated by Reygadas), carrying out their daily routine. The story is of a dim and luckless 23-year old petty thief and beggar, his 18-year-old girlfriend, and their new baby, on the streets of an industrial city of Belgium. In L’Enfant the roles are played by actors, though they’re good enough and the film is shot in such a way — hand-held camera, natural light — as to make it feel uncannily real. As in Bresson, there is no soundtrack music.
By the time it’s over, you’re moved, though for me it was against my will, because it all wasn’t enough. We’ve seen it before, in Italian neo-realism, in Bresson—the climactic scene, which defines the film, is a shameless appropriation from Bresson’s Pickpocket. I don’t know, this sort of thing isn’t unprecedented. Brian DePalma made a lot of enjoyable movies that were homages derived from Hitchcock. But DePalma’s movies were intended half as goofy filmfreak larks, not intense depictions of our condition, like the Dardennes’ film. There’s certainly a lot to be usefully learned from Bresson — Kiarastami and Dumont prove that — but this film too narrowly imitates him. It’s like if you hadn’t heard Little Richard doing “Long Tall Sally,” you might think the Beatles’ version was great. If you’ve seen Pickpocket, L’Enfant is kid stuff.
For an up note, I’ll point out that DVDs have recently been released of two really good films that you might have missed in theaters in 2005: Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know, and Arnaud Desplechin’s Kings and Queen. Both are strikingly original (!), intelligent, and entertaining, the former a whimsical/spooky tale of the quest for romance of a video/performance artist in nowheresville Southern California; and the latter a novelistically complex look at crises in the life of a thirty-five year old French woman (played by the tremendous Emmanuelle Devos). While being very different from each other, they also have a kind of poetic imagination in common, which, in mixing the real with the hallucinatory, makes everything more real (and funny). There’s not space to say more, but I think you wouldn’t regret renting either.

The Best Films to Watch Without Ever Leaving Your Bed This Week: Essential Romantic Ache

Every Monday morning, I find myself whispering the old Beckett adage “I can’t go on, I’ll go on,” to myself as I settle down into work. No matter how thrilling the day’s prospects may be, it’s that midweek slump that always seems to rear its ugly head in the worst way. But never fear, the hours are sure to breeze on by and soon it will be the weekend—one that happens to be rife with fantastic films both premiering and screening around the city, thanks to new premieres and various wonderful retrospectives.

But in the meantime, what better way to spend an evening than curled up under the sheets enjoying the best of cinema—new modern masterpieces to enduring classics—from the comfort of your bed? And with myriad options to choose from on Netflix, Hulu, and iTunes, the nightly decision of what to show in your private bedroom screening can prove a challenge. So to make your time easier, I’ve rounded up some of the best films about amour fou available to stream, so peruse our list, get cozy, and enjoy.

Love? Be it man. Be it woman.
It must be a wave you want to glide in on, 
give your body to it, give your laugh to it, 
give, when the gravelly sand takes you, 
your tears to the land. To love another is something
like prayer and can’t be planned, you just fall
into its arms because your belief undoes your disbelief.
– Anne Sexton,  Admonitions to a Special Person

Chungking Express (iTunes)

L’eclisse (Hulu)

 Love Story (Netflix)

The Night Porter (Hulu)

 The Piano Teacher (Netflix)

Jules and Jim (Hulu)

Reds (Netflix)

Manhattan (Netflix)

L’Avventura (Hulu)

 Say Anything (Netflix)

The Soft Skin (Hulu)

Punch-Drunk Love (Netflix)

The Last Metro (Hulu)

 Take This Waltz (Netflix)

My Man Godfrey (iTunes)

 Broadcast News (Netflix)

Summer with Monika (Hulu)

Nothing Sacred (Netflix)

Le Grand Amour (Hulu)

Before Midnight (iTunes)

 The Deep Blue Sea (Netflix)

Bad Timing (iTunes)

 I Married a Witch (Hulu)

I Am Love (Netflix)

Brief Encounter (iTunes)

Certified Copy (Netflix)

 Mala Noche (Hulu)

The Apartment (iTunes) 

Paris, Texas (Hulu)

In the Realm of the Senses (Hulu)

Legendary Billy’s Antiques Closing This Weekend, Paris Fashion Week Begins

I’m so confused about the weather, and nowadays I’m at least six degrees of separation from Al Gore and have no chance of getting the truth, inconvenient or not. The sun is high in the sky but the temperature remains low, and I want the winter that really never was to turn into a spring of boundless possibilities. I don’t know what to wear and everyone I know is in Paris for Fashion Week, trying to find out for themselves. I guess it’s the worst time to go to Le Bain or Le Baron with all those Frenchies having gone home for the spectacle – or maybe not. Le Baron has The Virgins tonight and that might be fun.

These Fashion Weeks in those fashionable cities abroad take all the broads (er, models) for work and/or play and all the playboy types and such that follow them. It really strains the bottom line of joints that depend on the jet-set crowd for bottle bucks. It does mark the end of the winter doldrums and the spring will bring all the snowbirds back from their warm retreats. I am restless for the new season. Yesterday I spied crocus and other tough little buds rearing their little heads…ready, like me, for action.
Every spring needs a cleaning, but I’m sad to report that dear friend Billy LeRoy is cleaning up and out of his tent that has been the home of Billy’s Antiques on Houston Street for 30 years. There will be a couple of days of events to mark the end of an era of a place that often looked like a comedy of errors, but more than often  was a place that dreams were made of. Over a couple or few decades, I have purchased tables and chairs, kitchen sinks, and mirrors for clubs I have been designing. It was at Billy’s that I bought that life-size Muhammad Ali bronze statue that stands in front of Snap Sports Bar. I would poke around Billy’s on most warm afternoons, chatting with friends that popped by for a chat. Regulars like Clayton Patterson, Paul SevignyArthur Weinstein, and Anthony Haden-Guest would converse and bask in the unreal realness of it all. The place always seemed "semi-legal" – and that described many of the regulars anyway. If you needed a trunk or a stool, Billy would have a nice one. If you needed to know what was happening with a neighborhood storefront or missing friend, Billy had the scoop. The neighborhood has changed and Billy’s old clientele looking for a moderately-used end table or obscure oil painting for their tenement apartment have been replaced with yuppie scum buying their furniture brand new at Raymour & Flanigan. Many of the old characters have faded into the past and, with the closing of Billy’s, Nolita loses much of its character. This Friday, March 9th at 7pm until Saturday, March 10th at 7pm, the Billy’s crew will say farewell.
Lorraine Leckie, always the class of the place, will perform. There will be "eulogies, art, poetry, and film" and many other performances. It might go late. On Saturday afternoon, they’ll take down the tent. "In a gothic burial ceremony, the flesh and bones of Billy’s will be placed in a coffin that will remain on display until demolition day. In the week leading up to the event, our landlord, Tony Goldman, will invite renowned artist and visual poet RETNA to paint the legendary Bowery and Houston mural. In the absence of the tent, a tradition of thoughtful creativity will endure."

Listening Through Cinema’s Best Soundtracks: Your Wednesday Morning Treat

A film’s soundtrack is a necessary component to the total sum. The best use of music in film is not when its manipulative but rather acting as a character of its own, helping bring to life the filmmakers artistic vision. And this year, we’ve been graced with some truly fantastic new soundtracks—from Shane Carruth’s complex ethereal wonder Upstream Color to Clint Mansell’s stirringly sensuous Stoker. So to liven up your Wednesday afternoon, I’ve rounded up the best film soundtracks floating around in their enitrety. So whether you’re in the mood to transport yourself into a delicate and gauzy Coppola world or the existential romatic longing world of Wenders, peruse our listen and see whar perks up your emotions. Enjoy.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Almost Famous

The Virgin Suicides


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Requiem for a Dream

Upstream Color

A Clockwork Orange

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Pulp Fiction

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The Last Waltz

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The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

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Natural Born Killers

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Blue Velvet

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Paris, Texas


Punch-Drunk Love

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Waltz With Bashir

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The Graduate

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Schindler’s List

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Spring Breakers

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Fire Walk With Me

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Chungking Express

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Elevator to the Gallows


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Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

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Taxi Driver




Mystery Train

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Uncovering the Friendship of Sam Shepard & Johnny Dark in Treva Wurmfeld’s ‘Shepard & Dark’

“There are places where writing is acting and acting is writing,” Sam Shepard once said. “I’m not so interested in the divisions. I’m interested in the way things cross over.” And as an icon of the stage, the screen, and the literary world Shepard has spent the last half-century making his mark on the world, through the “seamless juxtaposition of his cowboy mouth and battered heart.” Whether it’s his plays, memoirs, or poetry, Shepard’s work evokes a very particular mental landscape, rooted in his endless search to understand the duality that lives inside man and all those faceless screams that live inside us.

Whether he’s writing about the existential questions that reside between men and women, the legacy of fathers and sons, or the aching desire to disappear into solitude, there’s a fluidity and physicality to his work that’s once both muscular and extremely tender. The themes of his work remain central to the emotional core of his being, while remaining transient in their nature—moving from the primitive starkness of reality, to a magical realism that exists in echoes of feeling and tone rather an words alone. But its his on-screen performances that helped solidify his legendary status, and continue to bring him closer into our purview.
But for all we’ve known about Shepard over the years, perhaps one of the most interesting relationships of his life as well as one of the biggest influences on his work resides in the friendship between he and Johnny Dark. After meeting in Greenwich Village in the 1960s, two became swift friends and eventually family, when Shepard married the daughter of Dark’s wife. And although Shepard went onto become one of he most profound and brilliant American writers, Dark’s life stayed closer to home. Residing in New Mexico, Dark remains hermetic—spending his time writing, working at a supermarket deli, and walking his dog. But for his reclusive nature and emotional distance from the rest of the world, he and Shepard’s friendship has endured, through even the roughest of times in their lives.
And in Treva Wurmfeld’s wonderful new documentary Shepard & Dark, we’re given an intimate portrait of their deeply moving relationship, as they begin the archival process of their decade-spanning correspondence. Through interviews, old photographs, super 8 footage, as well as witness their interaction, the film unfolds like something Shepard would have written had he not lived it himself. Playing out like a tale of opposite brothers whose own personal traumas and struggles still ache within them, the two look back on their past with mixture of sadness and joy as we begin to understand just how entwined their lives have been while they discover the own legacies they’ve created.
Earlier this week, I got the chance to speak with Wurmfeld about her introduction to Shepard, being the first person to unearth their story, and what she discovered along the way.
Can you tell me about your background as a filmmaker and what led you to Sam?
I actually have a background in fine art; I got my MFA in New York, focused in video art. While I was in graduate school I started making documentaries and that grew into an interest in interactive media and technology. So I had these video stills and I needed work, so I was able to do a behind the scenes documentary for a film called Jumper, and I got really inspired being on the set of a big film and decided to take a stab at writing and directing myself. I made a short film in 2007, which had a festival run, and then I ended preparing a Sam Shepard documentary in 2010. One of the main reasons why I had started that was because I did an  interview with him on the set of a film called Fair Game, another Doug Liman film. That interview with Sam had so little to do with Fair Game, because he had such a small role, so I just took advantage of that opportunity to interview Sam Shepard about everything I’d want to ask him and was able to channel that in raising money for feature film. 
Before that first interview, had you been an admirer of his work?
Yeah, absolutely. I hadn’t seen any of his original productions put on but I had seen his shows on college campuses and that sort of thing. I actually saw one out here in LA a few years ago as well. So I had read his plays and was familiar with Paris, Texas. That was definitely in the back of my mind. 
How did you approach Sam about your initial concept for the documentary? Did you know about Johnny and how they’d begun their archival process?
Once I had the idea to make the doc, I wrote Sam a hand-written letter and got it to him through Michael Almereyda, who had worked with him on Hamlet and is still a very close friend of his. So I was able to get him this letter and a couple weeks later Sam called me and said he was doing some readings in Santa Fe and asked if I’d like to come film the reading. Then he said casually, “Oh I’m going down there to pick up these letters that I’ve been writing back and forth with my close friend Johnny, and I’m going to take them down to San Marcos, Texas.” He mentioned the project in passing, but I didn’t really know at the time who Johnny was and I didn’t what the project would be and how interesting it would be to focus on. So I went down to Santa Fe and filmed these readings, which, you can probably imagine a reading or a conference for documentaries is not the most compelling thing. I really just wanted to take the opportunity to go Santa Fe, and when I got down there and interviewed them, their entire backstory just poured out of Johnny in that very first interview and I really started to see how big a role Johnny played in Sam’s life and work.
Both Sam and Johnny are interesting subjects because they would appear to be very closed off in their own way. Johnny isn’t used to being in the spotlight and although Sam puts so much of himself into his writing, I would think he’d be more hesitant to really open up. But they were both so vulnerable and willing to show, so how did you go about building that open relationship with them?
It was pretty quick because I was familiar with having to get people to open up. Part of the job is having to get your subjects to feel comfortable on camera, and there’s a certain amount of trust for that to happen. So I made a conscious effort to approach both of them with that in mind, and I also picked up on the fact that they’re both very casual, laid back in their own way. I felt like I brought that in my process as well. I had a small crew there but it was generally just me filming, so there wasn’t a lot of orchestration. I went with their schedule, on their terms, and I think they responded positively to that.
There’s so much complexity to the history of their friendship and as the film unfolds you see it’s really about the ebb and flow of that relationship. Was there anything you began to uncover about them that you were really surprised by?
You know, it’s hard to distinguish between how my impressions developed in real time while filming and how my understanding of my own film became more clear. It’s just getting to know someone. There was nothing that particularly surprised me about Sam, in terms of how he was going be with me on camera; I felt like he maintained a kind of guardedness and at the same time was very generous in giving me access and answering questions. But I also didn’t really push it; I felt like in time it would reveal itself. I was just generally surprised to learn of their particular history, because a lot of the things that ended up shaping the story, I didn’t go in with that knowledge. I wanted to film Sam and his friend and do a portrait of his life through other people and the present, but it was striking to come across Johnny and this archive and understand it all. But to actually be able to use these photographs and this incredible super 8 footage, it was amazing to me that I was the one that was able to have this opportunity to put it all together. I felt fortunate to be in that position and I didn’t expect that.
Their story really feels like something Sam would have shaped himself, it’s so reminiscent of the brotherly relationships in his work. How did you go about interacting with the two of them as director to let the story reveal itself?
I was trying to stay as neutral as possible and be understanding of both of them at all times. I think that was easier for me when they were together, in a way, because I didn’t have to get into the middle of this. But I think as you can tell in the film, there was part of their fallout over the book project that I was actually not able to be there in person for. There was a chapter where I was trying to piece it all together and wasn’t actually there for it. I had to play a role in it in order to get them both for the film to finish, which poses some interesting questions about documentary filmmaking sometimes—like how you get the subjects to go where you want them to. Obviously nothing they did was anything I fed them, but it was just playing this role of trying to get Johnny back in the headspace of thinking about their relationship when it wasn’t great. So that kind of thing was a challenge, but I generally feel like they both were surprisingly open to talking about their friendship, and even the “hiccup” in their friendship, as its called.
So much of Sam’s work is about legacy and the echoes left behind between fathers and sons and men and women as he and Johnny sift through their on archives and letters, it was as if they were discovering their own legacy for the first time. That was so interesting to see them relive these painful moments and just how reevaluating the past effected them so much in the present.
Yeah, it has a lot of parallels to True West and Paris, Texas and some of the brother characters in Sam’s work. But it was a vulnerable time for both of them because it was basically the year after Johnny’s wife has passed away—who he had lived with for as long as he’d known Sam. Obviously that was a tremendous loss in his life, and then for Sam having left Jessica. Also, he was approaching the age that his father was when was his father was killed, so there was this looming sense of outliving his father and his own mortality. I think that those factors also played a role in their friendship at this time and the way that looking back at their past was a challenge. 

Paris Opening: Prince de Galles Hotel

The feverish race to the top of the Parisian hotel scene can make the World Cup seem like a game of tiddlywinks. Since 2008, Le Bristol, Le Meurice, and Le Royal Monceau have all unveiled glittering new personalities, while Le Crillon and Le Ritz are currently and expensively under the knife. In the midst of it all, that paragon of swank, the Prince de Galles, has just taken the wraps off its own magnificent makeover to a chorus of oohs and aahs. A virtual landmark of the French art deco style, much care has been taken by ERTIM Architectes SA, in collaboration with Bruno Borrione and that most superstar of designers, Pierre-Yves Rochon, to preserve a genuine sense of its history. To be sure, the salon-like lobby has been made over not with postmodern cheek, but with a swish new collection of furnishings true to the period.

The 159 rooms, where everyone from Francois Truffaut to Fatboy Slim have nodded off, have been relieved of their former fustiness, now jazzed up with Delisle lighting, Pierre Frey fabrics and Craman Lagarde furniture. But of course, the most fervent face-offs amongst Paris’ five-stars are always les guerres des cuisines; and Prince de Galles has procured a high-profile chef to lead the charge to the culinary barricades. Stéphanie Le Quellec comes by way of Provence’s Terre Blanche to head up the, one guesses, rather portentously titled La Scène restaurant, where she will surely be dancing with the Michelin stars. The name of the hotel’s corresponding bar, Les Heures, translates as "The Hours,"so you’re obviously being invited to stay awhile. Which, we would guess, should not be a problem in the least.

[Related: BlackBook Paris Guide; Paris’ Palace Hotels Get a Royal Transformation; More by Ken Scrudato; Follow Ken on Twitter

Paris Opening: Buddha Bar Hotel

The Buddha says, "Dwell not in the past, but do concentrate the mind on the present moment." But if the past is a foreign country, it is returning now to home’s loving embrace. It was but seventeen years ago (1996, to be precise) that the first Buddha Bar opened on Paris’ rue Boissy d’Anglais–and as its journey since has taken it from Dubai to Dakar, Amsterdam to Evian-les-Bains, the circle is now closed, as the George V Eatertainment Group opens the City of Light’s first Buddha Bar Hotel. Taking position amongst the swish boutiques along the rue du Faubourg Saint Honore, it arises as a palpable tribute to BB founder and visionary Raymond Visan, who passed on in 2010.

The new hotel is fitted into a stunning 18th Century manse (it’s the brand’s third lodging after Prague and Budapest), and carries on the exotic French-Orientalism that is now so familiar to millions. Rooms have free-standing, dragon-ornamented tubs and are done up in lavish crimson-purple-gold color schemes. Sexy young Senegalese chef Rougui Dia (formerly of Petrossian) presents her uniquely intercontinental cuisine at the hotel’s gilded Le Vraymonde restaurant, whose series of rooms all look out onto a serene garden courtyard. Le QU4TRE lounge, meanwhile, is sure to be 2013’s new fashionista magnet. There’s also a B/ATTITUDE spa and Buddha Bar boutique. Buddha says "It is better to travel well than to arrive." Now we’re not so sure.

[BlackBook Paris Guide; Listing for Buddha Bar Hotel, Buddha Bar; More by Ken Scrudato; Follow Ken on Twitter]

Looking Back on Our Favorite Palme d’Or Winners of Years Past

Of course, awards don’t mean everything. A beautiful masterpiece can be overlooked just as simply as a vapid disaster can be praised for the wrong reasons. However, if there’s one award that tends to hold its weight, it’s the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or. Introduced in 1955, if nothing else, the award has been indicative of a film’s lasting power and the sustained and wonderful career if its director. From David Lynch and Wim Wenders to Bunuel and Antonioni to Coppola and Scorsese to Tarantino and Kiarostami, to Haneke and Malick, the Palme d’Or winning films of the last 66 years have been some of the most influential and beloved pieces of modern filmmaking around the world. So with Cannes in full swing, here’s a look at some of the best films to win the coveted award over the years. Enjoy.


Rome Open City, 1946

"Marking a watershed moment in Italian cinema, this galvanic work garnered awards around the globe and left the beginnings of a new film movement in its wake."


The Third Man, 1949

"Thanks to brilliant performances by Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, and Orson Welles; Anton Karas’s evocative zither score; Graham Greene’s razor-sharp dialogue; and Robert Krasker’s dramatic use of light and shadow, The Third Man, directed by the inimitable Carol Reed, only grows in stature as the years pass."



The Wages of Fear, 1953

"…one of the greatest thrillers ever committed to celluloid, a white-knuckle ride from France’s legendary master of suspense, Henri-Georges Clouzot."

Viridiana, 1961

"Banned in Spain and denounced by the Vatican, Luis Buñuel’s irreverent vision of life as a beggar’s banquet is regarded by many as his masterpiece."

Blowup, 1967

"If you’ve never seen Blowup before, prepare yourself for one of the cinema’s most unique experiences. If you have seen it before, prepare as well for rediscovering—much like the film’s hero—something you only thought you knew."



The Conversation, 1974

"It’s also about deeper issues such as guilt, paranoia, responsibility, absolution and redemption, themes that were common to American cinema in the 1970’s during the Watergate scandal and the Vietnam era. What is even more amazing is the fact that The Conversation is a film that most contemporary audiences have never even heard of. "


Taxi Driver, 1976

"To paraphrase Schrader, if you put Penn and Antonioni in bed together, put a gun to their heads and told them to fuck while Bresson watched through the keyhole, you got Taxi Driver."


Apocalypse Now, 1979

"…Apocalypse Now" is the best Vietnam film, one of the greatest of all films, because it pushes beyond the others, into the dark places of the soul. It is not about war so much as about how war reveals truths we would be happy never to discover."

Paris, Texas, 1984

"And what makes the film so emotionally and cinematically rich is the juxtaposition between Shepard and Wenders—the German with a fantastical pastiche obsession with Americana and the rough-tongued “rock and roll Jesus with a cowboy mouth” himself, whose words are engrained in the sprawling western landscape. The two have collaborated many times since, but this holds as by far their best work—creating something that speaks to the human condition so effortlessly in a way that few films have been able to. No one does melancholic American isolation like a misanthropic German. "


Wild at Heart, 1990

"A bizarre, fast-moving, occasionally erotic road movie, best enjoyed by those whose tongues rest firmly in their cheeks."



Pulp Fiction, 1994


"But it isn’t the structure that makes "Pulp Fiction” a great film. Its greatness comes from its marriage of vividly original characters with a series of vivid and half-fanciful events and from the dialogue. The dialogue is the foundation of everything else."

Taste of Cherry, 1997

"…an emotionally complex meditation on life and death. Middle-aged Mr. Badii (Homayoun Ershadi) drives through the hilly outskirts of Tehran—searching for someone to rescue or bury him. 


The White Ribbon, 2009

"Haneke’s genius is to embed these possibilities in films rooted in the daily lives of ordinary people. He denies us the simple solutions of most films, in which everything is settled by the violent victory of one side. His films are like parables, teaching that bad things sometimes happen simply because they . . . happen. The universe laughs at man’s laws and does what it will."



The Tree of Life, 2011

"The Tree of Life" has awe-inspiring visuals suggesting the birth and expansion of the universe, the appearance of life on a microscopic level and the evolution of species. This process leads to the present moment, and to all of us. We were created in the Big Bang and over untold millions of years, molecules formed themselves into, well, you and me."


Amour, 2012

"A film like "Amour" has a lesson for us that only the cinema can teach: the cinema, with its heedless ability to leap across time and transcend lives and dramatize what it means to be a member of humankind’s eternal audience."