Wacky ‘Ronaldo’ comedy a surprise hit at Cannes Film Festival

The real Cristiano Ronaldo. (AFP)
Updated 12 May 2018
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Wacky ‘Ronaldo’ comedy a surprise hit at Cannes Film Festival

DUBAI: A surreal comedy that features a superstar footballer bearing a striking resemblance to Cristiano Ronaldo has become the surprise sensation of the Cannes film festival.

“Diamantino” follows a preening goal machine with a fondness for displaying his waxed torso at every possible occasion.

But the eponymous hero’s life falls apart when he misses a penalty in the World Cup final for Portugal on the same night his father dies.

Every time he bears down on goal afterwards he is haunted by images of gigantic pink Pekingese lapdogs blocking his way.

Having lost his killer touch, his career ends in disgrace.

Desperate to rebuild his life, the star “sets out on a delirious odyssey where he confronts neo-fascism, the refugee crisis, genetic modification, and the hunt for the source of genius,” said the film’s co-director Gabriel Abrantes.

Critics have cheered the debut feature — which has a subplot about the Panama Papers — as a hilarious Portuguese cross between John Waters, Pedro Almodovar and Monty Python films.


Chip Wickham ushers in winds of change on the jazz scene

Updated 22 May 2018
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Chip Wickham ushers in winds of change on the jazz scene

PARIS: The hotly hyped “British jazz invasion” has been the toast of international scenesters for some months now, with breathy adjective-heavy sprawls penned on both sides of the Atlantic paying tribute to a fresh generation of musos who grew up not in the conservatoires but the clubs, channelling the grit and groove of grime into a distinctly hip, 21st century strain of freewheeling, DIY improvised music.

Now the Arab world has its own outpost in the form of Chip Wickham, a UK-born flautist, saxophonist and producer whose second album grew out of extended stints teaching in the GCC. “Shamal Wind” takes its name from the Gulf’s primal weather patterns, and there’s a distinctly meditative, Middle Eastern vibe to the title track, a slow-burning, moody vamp, peppered with percussive trills, with hints of Yusef Lateef to be found in Wickham’s wandering woodwind musings.

There’s rather less goatee-stroking to be found across the four further up-tempo cuts, which swap soul-searching for soul-jazz, soaked in the breezy bop of a vintage Blue Note release. Recorded over a hot summer in Madrid, a heady Latin pulse drives first single, “Barrio 71” — championed by the likes of Craig Charles — with Spanish multi-percussionist David el Indio steaming up a block party beat framing Wickham’s gutsy workout on baritone sax.

Having previously worked with electronic acts, including Nightmares on Wax and Jimpster, one imagines the dancefloor was a key stimulus behind Wickham’s rhythmically dense, but harmonically spare compositional approach. Phil Wilkinson’s sheer, thumped piano chords drive the relentless nod of second single “Snake Eyes,” Wickham’s raspy flute floating somewhere overhead, readymade to be skimmed off for the anticipated remix market.

In truth, Manchester-raised Wickham is both too thoughtful, and too thoughtless, to truly belong to the London-brewed jazz invasion — Shamal Wind yo-yos between meditative meandering and soulful strutting with a wilful disrespect for trend.