This whole week I have been getting smses and emails about Justin Bieber. It goes with the territory, this I understand. However, I would like it if the smses didn't come at 5:45am! Nonetheless, Bieber's visit to SA coincided with the news that a) he had just been snapped making out with a fellow teeny-bopper singer and, b) he had released a line of bedding and curtains with his face all over. Now comes the news to satisfy all those Bieberites who haven't managed to get their picture taken with him while he's been cosying up to cheetahs and kite-surfing (barring those who took pics with the "fake Bieber"). Bieber dolls! Collectible Bieber dolls - that will hit stores in the US just in time for Christmas.
And that has proved to be a good thing for the sequel to Wall Street, which hit the big screen in South Africa and the rest of the world this past weekend. Showing it is worth its weight in gold, Wall Street: Money Never Sleepsstruck it big at the box office during its opening weekend.
At Cannes I had the incredible opportunity to sit down with Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Carey Mulligan, Frank Langella and director Oliver Stone to talk about the movie. Stone said he wanted to preview it in Cannes, see people's reactions and then tweak it a little before its worldwide release. It seems that move has paid off.
Here is a snippet of Douglas talking about how it came to be that he reprised his Oscar-winning role of Gordon Gekko...
This interview took place before it was announced Douglas was fighting throat cancer - a battle he's fighting with his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones and their two children.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned on Twitter that it felt surreal to hear Die Antwood's Enter the Ninja on high rotation in the UK. Well, in a very short time, the track has entered the BBC Radio 1 Chart at Number 37 - alongside Eminem and Katy Perry. That's no mean feat. But then again, it's not like we should have expected anything less from the group that seems to be fast becoming everyone's favourite group du jour. As this article by the fantastic Diane Coetzer relates there is just no stopping Yo-landi Vi$$er, Ninja and DJ HiTek, as they conquer the world's music territories, one by one.
In a telephonic tete-a-tete with Yo-landi, she says they weren't even aware that they were in the chart. "We don't even know what the chart is," she said.
"But it sounds important," adds Ninja.
They've been working on the new music video for the track Evil Boy with a Xhosa emcee called Wanga, whom Ninja says brings a "fresh twist" to things. And they're keeping mum on upcoming videos they are working on but I have a feeling at least one of the heroes he speaks about meeting is involved.
Here's the interview - where Yo-landi and Ninja talk about officially releasing their debut album, which has a "cute cover that you can stick up on the wall", and the 23 Die Antwoord tracks that are "floating around."
How gorgeous do Malin Ackerman and Ryan Phillipe look at the premiere of The Bang Bang Club at the Toronto International Film Festival?
Last night there was a gala screening of the film - it was one of only 15 movies to be selected for gala screenings at the fest - which was also the world premiere. Much more fanfare than the low-key screenings that happened at Cannes earlier this year. So far, the film's reception has been good, but a Reuters' critic felt it "lacked grit". I got an sms from Jesse Clegg at around 5am to tell me he thought I deserved an Oscar for my cameo- too sweet! Haha! But he said he was very impressed with the film and really enjoyed it.
Two other South African films - State of Violence and Life, Above All (which is South Africa's official submission to the Academy Award board in the Best Foreign Film category) are also shining the spotlight on the country at the festival.
I love the 969 Festival because it gives those of us who missed out on this year's National Arts Festival (thanks to a little thing called The World Cup) the chance to see some of the best productions from there. Last night I went to see Athena Mazarakis' Elev(i)ate 2 at the Nunnery at Wits University.
She won a 2010 Standard Bank Ovation Award for the piece, which is a follow-up to the dance installation she presented at the Dance Umbrella in March. For that piece she worked with a digital artist and invited audience members to interact with her - thinking about certain things as she physically lifted them up. The footage from that was recorded and forms part of Elev(i)ate 2.
Photo by Suzy Bernstein
It's a wonderful, imaginative and evocative insight into the weight of matter, and the weight of what matters.
Next week I am going to see James Cunningham's Kaput about two brothers whose lives are disturbed by a foreign invasion. Check out the line-up and go see some of the best of the best!
There have been rumours and reports that the Irish supergroup are going to bring their 360 Degree tour to South Africa in February next year. According to major concert promoter Big Concerts' CEO John Langford, this is the real story:
Obviously we'd all like U2 to come here, and Big Concerts has been trying since we last had them here in 1997. But the problem with the 360 Degree tour is that it is incredibly expensive. There are 150 containers that need to be shipped over. At this stage, the rumours are not true, I'm afraid.
That doesn't mean it's not going to happen at all though...we'll be waiting anxiously for the latest update!
Being away on a much-needed holiday means I have missed out on a few big things that happened on the SA arts and entertainment scene over the past two weeks. So quick catch-up then:
# Damon Galgut was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize...
The Pretoria-born, Cape-Town-based author made it to the coveted list of writers up for the Man Booker. He's been nominated before, for The Good Doctor in 2003 and he's also won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book from the Africa region.
The winner will be announced in October and will add £50 000 to his/her bank account plus, of course, the prestige of the title. Book SA reports that poet laureate Andrew Motion leads the panel of five judges.
We'll be rooting for him!
# Freshlyground stirred the Zim pot...
Award-winning and all-round fantastic performers Freshlyground teamed up with ZA News to bring the spotlight back onto Zimbabwe in this video:
As a result, the group's visa has been revoked by the Zim government meaning they won't be performing there next month.
#Literary great Lewis Nkosi passed away...
The famed Drum writer, author and intellectual died in Johannesburg last week, after a long illness, at the age of 74. Minister of Arts and Culture Lulu Xingwana paid tribute to him with these words: Prof. Nkosi made major contributions to our literary heritage as a playwright, novelist, and as a fearless social and literary critic...the world has lost a great writer and intellectual. He will be deeply missed though he will continue to live in us through his work. We convey our sincere condolences to his twin daughters Louise and Joy, and to his wife, Astrid Stark.
#Life Above All was submitted as SA's official Oscar entry...
Back in May, I was lucky enough to be in Cannes when this local film received a standing ovationand the Oscar buzz already started developing around it. Well, now it's been officially submitted by the National Film and Video Foundation and SA's Oscars Selection Committee (yes, we have one of those) for consideration. If it's selected, then it will become an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film. Following in the footsteps of Yesterday and, of course, Tsotsi, which went on to win the award. Hold thumbs 'til the announcement in February!
Yes, yes, London-based group The xx were the bookie's favourites to win, but that wasn't why I had been rooting for them. Ever since listening to the band's debut album xx I became enamoured with The xx. Opening track Intro draws you into an album that sometimes brings up feelings you may not be ready to face, but by the end of the album, it feels as if you've gone through a kind of catharsis.
Some of my other Mercury faves:
The banjo-driven gusto of this band, together with the passionate pleas of Marcus Mumford, helped me get through some very long hours while travelling to my latest destination.
Thanks to Q Magazine for the heads-up on this Dublin singer who goes by the moniker of Villagers as a kind of collective for the producers he works with. Singer-songwriter at his best!
I just love the spunk and character behind this three-piece. They're a stadium-rock act, but with a quirky spark firing inside that takes them a step further (And I am loving lead singer Simon's new "sexy-Santa" look - sadly not seen in this video)
Ultimately, what I love most about the Mercury Prize is that it exposes me to music I just have missed - plus the fantastic weekly emails they send out to with info on all the fantastic new music that's bubbling under!
I've been in the UK for two weeks now and while I haven't been watching reality TV while here (okay, except for the chunk of Jerseyshore I just had to share with my mum for a few laughs), certain characters have jumped out from the shows they've been on and made their way onto other platforms.
From the good off of Must Be the Music...