Through a series of odd circumstances and some semi-questionable “adjustments” to our resumés, my daddy (actual father, not pimp) was able to get himself, Max, my sister, and me badges to the Cannes Film Festival this year. That Cannes. In France. Fancy times.
We left two weeks ago with very confused delusions about what the film festival might be like. After all, this is a pretty serious deal for film folk with pretty serious movies being shown to pretty serious celebrities who stand on pretty serious red carpets. When we saw Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany (+ baby!) board our plane out of JFK, we thought to ourselves, damn, this is going to be pretty serious. We had the same thought when we came out of customs to a small crowd of paparazzi. “You came!” I cooed to the expectant cameras, none of which flashed.
The thing about Cannes, though, is that it’s really more of an industry-networking type of event, with lots of producers taking lots of meetings with other producers from all around the world. The ample number of film screenings, day in and day out, are largely incidental to the other things going on. Seeing as we are not technically actual movie-makers or distributors, we did our best to blend in like we totally belonged there and tried to take in some good films. The weather was uncharacteristically terrible most of the week we were there, so sitting in dark theaters seemed like a good idea for a couple of days.
There were no celebrities the rest of the week, and only a couple noteworthy films among a sea of pretty terrible movies. Apparently if you want to make a horrible horror film that’s one part Saw and one part Vacancy with a hefty dose of angry orphans and stupid drunk 20-somethings, all your dreams can come true and that movie can show at Cannes! Albeit with an audience comprised only of me and my family, but still. It was there.
The last movie we saw had been a Japanese horror flick about a ghost that haunted a high school class, the most noteworthy moments of which were the unlikely deaths (impaled on an umbrella, head chopped clean off after running into a steel cable) and the fact that the protagonist wore a shirt simply reading the word “chummy,” spelled-out in rhinestones, during the latter half of the film. It was after this that, the weather finally cleared up, we decided that perhaps the time had come to get out and see the city.
So Max and I split off for a few days to walk around. We didn’t have much planned, we just walked and ate and walked some more. It was hard to decide what to take pictures of because everything was so picturesque. Coming from the States, it’s easy to forget how old Europe is. We had to keep reminding ourselves that it was real, since you get the sense that you’re on a very detailed movie set or at Disney World.
Speaking of pictures, I’ve basically taken to using my iPhone camera for everything and running the photos through Instagram on the fly. I still feel a little stupid about intentionally making my photos look unrealistically old with a bunch of filters and a hokey tilt-shift feature, but I can’t help it. I love my Instagrams—these little snapshots that couldn’t be easier to take and edit, and I actually want to look at afterwards…which is more than I can say for the hundreds of digital photos that I used to shoot on trips like this, which then stagnate in my iPhoto library waiting for me to do something with them. (you can check out all of my Instagram photos here!)
On our last full day in France, Max and I hopped the train into Nice without any real intentions or expectations. Beautiful. Even though we maybe should have been exploring the city in a more all-encompasing, adventurous sort of way, we quickly found the beach and just decided to stay. Bathing suits were quickly located at a nearby shop and we even found perfect inexpensive turkish towels to lay out on that will make excellent summer bath towels after they’ve gone through the wash a few times. Our bathroom doesn’t ventilate well, so these towels should help keep that whole hot-weather-smelly-towel phenomenon at bay.
After about a week in France, we packed up and headed to Los Angeles for the holiday weekend, where my sister lives and the family all flew in to hang out for a few days.
Coming from New York, LA is always a bit of a shock to the system. It’s so huge, and there are so many distinct areas, spread out over very long distances with very heavy traffic in between them. No matter how many times I go, I always leave feeling like I didn’t get to do very much since simple plans always seem to become logistical clusterfucks, each activity somehow becoming an all-day affair. My twin sister Laura lives there, and I stir the turd about this with her constantly. She doesn’t understand why anyone would willingly choose to live in New York, and I have a similar sentiment about Los Angeles.
On Saturday, Max and I took a little trip to the Eames Case Study House. If you don’t know anything about this house, you’re in for some fun reading (you can start with the Wikipedia page, here). Built in 1949 as part of Arts and Architecture Magazine‘s Case Study House Program—essentially aimed at imagining the possibilities for post-war American residential architecture—Case Study House #8 (along with a smaller, coordinating studio space) was a collaboration between husband and wife duo Charles and Ray Eames and was built from pre-fabricated, factory produced parts in a matter of days. The whole program is super fascinating (you can still look at all the original articles on the Arts & Architecture Magazine website), and something that I have spent far, far too many hours researching. But I always seem to come back to Case Study House #8 because it really is perfect.
I expected the place to be overrun with a bunch of tourists, but we were alone for almost the entire duration of our visit. Seeing the house in real life was like seeing a celebrity. It was smaller in person, but somehow more magical too. It was really real, not just a place that exists in photos or short films, but an actual structure with metal and glass and wood and cement. Because I was obviously having a super-geeky-nerd-fanboy-freakout-moment, the very kind and gracious guide thought we’d be best served by just wandering around ourselves, taking in the house in our own private way.
The house is in various states of restoration and repair and right now the ENTIRE living room (furniture, curtains, all of it!) has been transported to the LACMA for exhibit, so I’ll admit that it wasn’t exactly the picture that I had in my mind. But that hardly seemed to matter. I could imagine it all there, just the way Ray left it. Her flowers and plants still line the front walkway. The same housekeeper has maintained the house for 30 years now, so small delicate flower arrangements were randomly placed around the naked interior, apparently just the way Ray liked them.
After probably about an hour of wandering around, our guide approached us again and even let me ring the doorbell, which is a ceramic instrument on a rope pulley-system, custom designed for the house. Then, since nobody was around, she offered to let us watch a few short films out on the patio space between the house and the studio on the office’s iPad. She dragged a couple shell chairs out and we set them up in a corner near the retaining wall, facing the house, under the shade of the eucalyptus trees and a large evergreen. Surrounded by the potted plants and the trees and the weathered wood, our feet planted on the brick pavers and our eyes darting between the iPad screen and the house, as if it might all disappear, for a moment I think I finally got the whole L.A. thing. If it could be like this, well, why would you go anywhere else?
Unless, of course, this was waiting for you back in New York.