Breaking Baz @ Cannes: Sony’s Tom Rothman On How Movies Endure, Charles Finch Throws Swish Soiree Honoring Columbia Pictures & Josie Rourke Gives Voice To The Irish

Tom Rothman, the Sony Motion Pictures Group chairman and CEO, wined and dined a select few at a splendidly swish soirée Friday at Mamo Michelangelo in Antibes, hosted by Charles Finch as part of his annual Filmmakers Dinner honoring 100 years of Columbia Pictures, and there was something he said about why movies matter that has stuck with me.

Hours earlier, Rothman had introduced a gloriously restored print of Charles Vidor’s 1946 movie Gilda, starring Rita Hayworth as the eponymous nightclub temptress and Glenn Ford as the hardboiled gambler from her past.

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They hate each other, but as we all know, that’s often a prelude on the road to love both in real and reel life.

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Vidor also uses the vocabulary of dance to signal Gilda’s emotional temperature.

The great choreographer Jack Cole, who later coached Marilyn Monroe on her moves in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, was master of the art of less is more.

Hayworth doesn’t travel much on the stage when she dances in Gilda, but Cole employs the Bharatanatyam dance technique to enhance each swivel of the hips, in sensual rhythm with her legs, arms and hands, to make it appear as if she’s covering a lot of ground.

Rita Hayworth in ‘Gilda’
Rita Hayworth in ‘Gilda’

At the screening, Rothman, seated in front of me, indicated that he’d probably stay 10 minutes because he’d seen the picture countless times.

I had the same plan in my head as well.

But when the opening credits rolled on that big wide screen in the Salle Buñuel, we were both seduced.

Gilda reeled us in

Or, as he put it when he addressed guests at Michelangelo’s, he stayed for the whole movie “because it’s f*cking great.”

“So, I’m sorry. Do not tell me that movies do not endure, don’t tell me that movies don’t matter. They do, they have, and they always will.”

He added that “It is our past that enables our present.”

And without the history and the foundations “for all those years to build on, we couldn’t take the risks and make movies that we make today. The past enables the present.”

Charles Finch and Josie Rourke
Charles Finch and Josie Rourke

And there was a message for the Apples and Amazons of the world: ”The history of our studio past, present and future touches everyone in our great creative community one way or another. That’s what major studios do, and that’s what all the tech money on Earth cannot buy.”

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He then went walkabout to each table with studio predecessor Amy Pascal in tow.

The Spider-Man and Challengers producer said that she was in town, at the Hotel du Cap, actually, “for Tom and the studio’s centennial.”

Tom Rothman and Amy Pascal
Tom Rothman and Amy Pascal

Pascal told me she’s headed to London for the official opening night of director Jamie Lloyd’s production of Romeo & Juliet at the Duke of York’s Theatre on Thursday. “I’ll be there for Tom,” she said, referring to Spider-Man actor Tom Holland, who stars alongside Francesca Amewudah-Rivers in the titular roles in Shakespeare’s study of tragic consequences.

Must say that we were treated royally at Michelangelo’s.

(L-R) Billy Zane and Jason Reitman
(L-R) Billy Zane and Jason Reitman

They set up a marquee in the square opposite the restaurant proper for cocktails and slices of pizza smothered with shavings of fresh truffle. Then we trooped across the road where guests tucked into char-grilled squid; aubergine parmigiana; burrata, tomatoes and basil; ravioli with fresh truffle; and artichoke salad.

That wasn’t all! Out came platters of wild sea bass, lamb shoulder, chicken from Bresse, and Black Angus Tomahawk steak and lots of veggies.

Dessert consisted of tiramisu served in the shape of a film-reel can with the words “Columbia Pictures” etched with poudre de cacao.

The tiramisu
The tiramisu

Guest list included: Adil El Arbi, Alexa Chung, Billal Fallah, Pascal, Barnaby Thompson, Bill Kramer, Bryan Lourd, Charles Finch, Chloé Zhao, Chris Miller, Édgar Ramírez, Efe Cakarel, Francesco Melzi, Gaspar Noe, Isabelle Huppert, J.A Bayona, J.C Chandor, Jean Pigozzi, Jeffrey Godsick, Jena Malone, Jeremy Thomas, Ben Roberts, Joe Alwyn, Josie Rourke, Karim Ainouz, Laurence Fishburne, Luke Wilson, Lorenzo Gangarossa,, Matthias Schweighöfer, Michael Barker, Mstyslav Chernov, Joe Matukewicz, Noor Alfallah, Ollie Madden, P.J van Sandwijk, Phil Lord, Sanford Panitch, Shebnem Askin, Tarak Ben Ammar, Tom Bernard, Rothman, Will Gluck, Woody Harrelson, Michael Stranney and more.

Loved watching Fishburne accompany the mariachi musicians.

Laurence Fishburne knows how to party
Laurence Fishburne knows how to party

There was such a cool vibe in the room. I suspect that was partly down to the fact that we were honoring movies in general and not one in particular.

Though, as I hoovered up the fresh truffles [sorry to rub it in to those in Cannes surviving on three-day-old sandwiches], the thought occurred to me that how many movies one sees now will enthrall audiences of the future, the way the “f*cking great” Gilda has 78 years after it was released?

Voicing The Troubles

EXCLUSIVE: Filmmaker Josie Rourke (Mary Queen of Scots, Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads) has joined forces with her partner, comedy writer, producer and character comedian Michael Stranney (8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown) on a new feature project called Being Gerry.

The title refers to former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and how, at the height of the Troubles in the late 1980s and early ’90s, the Conservative Home Secretary Douglas Hurd imposed a ban on British broadcasters from allowing certain Irish politicians — namely members of Sinn Féin such as Adams and Martin McGuinness — to have their actual voices heard on radio and TV broadcasts.

The BBC, ITN and other news organizations came up with the ruse of dubbing the likes of Adams and McGuiness.

Rourke and Stranney, who was born in Northern Ireland, told me that they became “fascinated” about the idea of “who the voice actors were who voiced Jerry Adams“ during the broadcasts.

Josie Rourke and Michael Stranney
Josie Rourke and Michael Stranney

“These guys were young unknowns who recorded it and dubbed it often at a moment’s notice for thirty quid [£30] a pop for doing a voice-over,” they said.

The screenplay has been completed and the pair are keen to get the film in front of cameras, hopefully, next year.

When I asked about possible casting, both chuckled and made the point that it’s not as if “there’s a shortage of actors from Ireland,” referring to the likes of Paul Mescal, Barry Keoghan, Andrew Scott and many others.

By the way, none of those aforementioned stars are attached! Yet.

Rourke has other projects on the go including Julie, written by Sara-Ella Ozbek, based on August Strindberg’s Miss Julie, and a contemporary version set in London by Polly Stenham that was staged at the National Theatre. It’s being produced by Finch & Partners’ Rabbit’s Foot Films.

The director also has her eye on an American play that she wants to bring to the London stage. Rourke, a former artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse and the Bush Theatre in London, refused to elaborate because “there are still many discussions to be had.”

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