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Category: Liesl Bradner

A visual history of the Cannes Film Festival

Cannescinema Next week, as hordes of celebrities, directors and entertainment industry types descend upon the town of Cannes for its 64th annual film festival, chances are that a member of the Traverso family will be there to photograph the festivities. It's a safe bet to bestow on this family the title of official photographers of the Cannes Film Festival: They've been there since the beginning.

It was a sunny, warm September afternoon in 1939 when the mayor of Cannes greeted famed director and cinematographer Louis Lumière as the honorary president of the first international film festival. Photographer Auguste Traverso captured his arrival at the Cannes railway station. It was a fleeting moment, however, because the festival was canceled three days later as World War II broke out in Europe. The festival would not resume until 1946.

That photo can be seen in "Cannes Cinema,"  a collection of 550 photographs culled by photographer Gilles Traverso from the family archives dating from 1939 onward. An introduction and captions written by Serge Toubiana, director of the Cinematheque Francaise, provide a comprehensive visual history of the festival.

See a photo gallery of "Cannes Cinema"

Early on, the Traversos established working relationships with the celebrities and the venues and hotels where they stayed, including the Palm Beach, the Carlton and the Majestic, and received nearly exclusive access.

This was the early '50s, when actors wanted to get their picture taken, eagerly posing for the camera. The images in the book reveal celebrities with less-guarded composure and a genuine enjoyment of their surroundings in the French Riviera town.

This is evident in candid shots of a shirtless Tyrone Power in 1949 and a young Elizabeth Taylor in a bikini between two sailors on La Croisette in 1950. In addition to Taylor, Alain Delon, Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren were the crowd favorites, Gilles Traverso, said via email.  After a press conference in 1964 for "La Donna Scimmia," Italian actor Ugo Tognazzi donned a chef's hat and set up a makeshift stove on the beach to make pasta while beach-goers looked on.

How things have changed.

"Having cameras in phones is a horrible idea," Traverso said during our email exchange, commenting on how the festival has evolved in terms of photography. "There are entire nights where we can't have access to the red carpet because the actors have become so skittish about having their picture taken. They are terrified it will be up on the Internet immediately with some horrible comment attached to it." 

For the Traversos, it's still all about capturing the spirit of the festival  -- and a love of cinema.

What is Gilles looking forward to at this year's festival?

"Everyone is very excited about Robert De Niro being president of the jury," he said. "And Terrence Malick's 'Tree of Life' and, of course, its star, Brad Pitt."

-- Liesl Bradner



Art in the Streets: At MOCA Sunday and on shelves now


This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

The highly anticipated and controversial "Art in the Streets" exhibition opens this Sunday at the Museum of Contemporary Art's Geffen Contemporary. Dozens of art books have been published over the last few years on the subject and its prominent players as it has become more accepted into the mainstream art world. 

Two books published this month are ideal companion pieces to the show: "Art in the Streets," by curator Jeffrey Deitch and co-curators Roger Gastman and Aaron Rose, and "The History of American Graffiti," by Gastman and Caleb Neelon.

" 'Art in the Streets' celebrates the exhibit with a broader scope and includes more historical essays on the people involved in the show," said Gastman during a break while preparing for the show. The book also explores other subcultures connected to street art such as hip hop and skateboarding in Southern California in the 1970s.

" 'The History of American Graffiti' gives an overview of graffiti from Houston to L.A., telling the true stories of the people involved," said Gastman. With Neelon, Gastman spent four years researching and interviewing more than 500 people in roughly 25 cities about the first visual art form created by teenagers. Many of the early participants considered themselves writers and that what they did was writing as opposed to tagging. 

"For the book, Caleb and I defined graffiti as the act of writing your name over and over for the sake of  fame. It's not street art," Gastman noted. But it has evolved since those early days with the abstract Wild Style and the addition of characters from pop culture.

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Todd Burpo on his son’s vision in the book ‘Heaven Is for Real’

What began as a fun family road trip to the Butterfly Pavilion in Denver ended in a nightmare for Todd Burpo and his wife, Sonja, in 2003.

Their son Colton, just two months shy of his 4th birthday, suffered a misdiagnosed ruptured appendix and was rushed into emergency surgery. The situation was grim. They weren't sure if he'd survive. Two weeks later, after another operation, Colton was stable and recovering. Time passed before he nonchalantly mentioned that he had visited heaven during the first emergency operation and met angels, Jesus , a great-grandfather and sister of his that he never knew existed.

Heavenisforreal Todd Burpo recounts his family's journey and Colton's revelations in "Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back." The paperback, written by the Burpos with Lynn Vincent, who  co-authored "Going Rogue: An American Life," and "Unsinkable: A Young Woman's Courageous Battle on the High Seas" (about Abby Sunderland's ordeal), has remained on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list for eight weeks and the New York Times bestseller list for 20 weeks. With 3 million copies in print, "Heaven Is for Real" has become a bit of a publishing sensation as the family has made the rounds of media appearances including "The Today Show," "Fox and Friends" and "CNN."

Liesl Bradner had a chance to speak with Todd Burpo from his home in Nebraska during a break in his hectic schedule about his family's harrowing, ultimately miraculous experience that included small bits of good news such as, according to Colton: "No one is old in heaven and no one wears glasses."

Jacket Copy: When Colton began talking about his visit to heaven, you initially wrote it off as his having really good Sunday school teachers. What was it that made you finally believe it was more than just his imagination?

Todd Burpo: He first talked about having seen singing angels to me in the hospital after his surgery.  But it was when he said he was sitting on Jesus' lap and could see me in a room praying and his mom on the phone in another room-- which was where we were and what we were doing during his surgery -- that really grabbed my attention.  

JC: How do you address detractors who say that because you're a pastor, Colton was exposed to these religious images and that they were there all along as part of his subconscious?

TB:  At first I thought the same things. Colton would say, "Jesus told me I had to be nice." So I figured he got that from Sunday school. But how he knew my location in the hospital and what I was doing while he was in surgery, no Sunday school teacher could have known that. I don't hold [criticism and doubts]  against people because that's where I started too. One of the biggest complaints we've heard from people who have seen him speak on TV is that "no 4-year-old talks like that." They don't realize that he's 11 now and that he has a whole different vocabulary.

JC: At first, Colton's stories were all positive -- about rainbows, angels and love -- but at one point he brings up a war and dragons.

TB: All the things he shared with us were spontaneous discussions. He'd just start volunteering information. The conversation about Satan came up because his mom was talking about swords. She said, "I bet there aren't any swords in heaven," and he stopped what he was doing and said, "There are too swords in heaven. The angels have them to keep the devil out of heaven." Events would happen that would jog his memory. He shared what he wanted to share.

JC: What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

TB: When Colton shared his experiences with us, it was unexpected and over several months. He would reveal things on his time table. When he talked about his other sister, he just came up to my wife one day and said "I have two sisters - you had a baby die in your tummy." This was an incredible moment of healing. We had never told him about the miscarriage. It was a very personal and private hurt. We never knew it was a girl and when he told us that she was waiting for us in heaven -- what a moment that was. For people to read this story, to capture that same peace, that's a wonderful thing. For me, I can see heaven more clearly because of his stories and hopefully other people can too.

-- Liesl Bradner

Images:  At top, Colton and his dad, Todd, taken one week after his release from the hospital. Credit: The Imperial Republican/Jan Schultz. At right: cover art. Courtesy Thomas Nelson

10 'Mad Men' books to keep you going until 2012

  Madmen_drapertypewriter Tuesday's news that AMC's hit show, "Mad Men," won't be back until 2012 was devastating to many; viewers have so many unanswered questions: Does Don marry his secretary? Will the new dress code include miniskirts and bell-bottoms? Will Sally run away to Woodstock?

Current contract disputes have also delayed the publication of a Benedikt Taschen-Matt Weiner collaboration on a behind-the-scenes guide in Taschen's sleek XL edition style. The book was tentatively scheduled for a fall release date.

In the meantime, as fans wait, here's a list of "Mad Men"-related books that hopefully will take care of their withdrawals for at least a few months.

1. "Mad Men (Reading Contemporary Television)," by Gary R. Edgerton (I. B. Tauris): a collection of essays and analytical observations by television scholars on the effect of the show on popular culture.

 2. "The Ultimate Guide to 'Mad Men': The Guardian Companion to the Slickest Show on Television," by Will Dean (Random House UK): For those not initiated into Don Draper's world, this episode-by-episode guide covers through Season 3 and includes interviews with the show's creators and stars.

3. "Analyzing 'Mad Men': Critical Essays on the Series," by Scott F. Stoddart (McFarland) (forthcoming in July): Here are 12 critical essays that offer a scholarly and psychoanalytical approach to the relevance of the show with parallels to contemporary issues such as consumerism, capitalism and sexism.

 4. "Mid-Century Ads: Advertisements from the 'Mad Men' Era," by Steven Heller, Jim Heimann (Taschen) (forthcoming in the fall): The authors present 800 color pages of American print advertising from the 1950s and 1960s that give insight into the industry and campaigns on which the show and its storylines are based, including Lucky Strike, Honda and Jantzen.

5. "Mad Men's Manhattan," by Mark Bernardo (Roaring Forties Press): A guide to New York City taverns, restaurants, hotels and other locations that inspired memorable scenes.

 6. " 'Mad Men' Unbuttoned: A Romp through 1960s America," by Natasha Vargas-Cooper (Harper Design): A historical look at the news and artifacts of the time period in which "Man Men" takes place. The book is filled with trivia, a profile of real-life ad man Leo Burnett and events and people linked to episodes, including skinny ties, "Think Small" Volkswagen ad campaign, John Cheever and Jackie Kennedy's White House tour on CBS.

Which Nobel Prizewinner makes the list? He's after the jump at No. 7.

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'Cave Art' by Jean Clottes -- an inspiration for Jean Auel and Werner Herzog?


After browsing through French prehistorian Jean Clottes' "Cave Art," one might wonder if Jean Auel referred to his book (the hardcover published in 2008) of cave paintings as a source for "The Land of the Painted Caves," which has just recently published.

"Cave Art" is an ideal companion guide to Auel's final installment of her Earth's Children series which finds her hero Ayla visiting a multitude of caves throughout the 700-plus-page tome.

Auel's detailed descriptions of bison, aurochs, ibex and horses are brought to life in Clottes' book, comprised of 275 color photographs of works from the Palaeolithic Period, created between 35,000 and 11,000 years ago.

Photographs of cave drawings, rock engravings, hand stencils, ivory and terra cotta sculptures and figurines, and animal bones preserved in calcite were taken from 85 caves and rock shelters mainly in France, Spain, Italy and Germany. Artworks from locations as far away as Norway, Australia and Argentina are also included. 

See a photo gallery of cave paintings from "Cave Art."

The book is divided into three artistic areas centered around emblematic caves in France: Chauvet, Lascaux and Niaux.

One section is devoted to Solutrean Art, a rare type of flint workmanship which involved sculpture and engraving into rocks and incised stone slabs. (In Auel's book, Ayla's mate Jondalar is a fictional skilled flint knapper).

After the jump: more about the book, plus a clip from Werner Herzog's upcoming cave art film.

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Artist Daniel Egnéus gives Little Red Riding Hood a stylish makeover

RRHCover "Little Red Riding Hood," the story of a big, bad wolf and a young girl and her grandma who meet with dire consequences, has been diluted and made more kid-friendly since Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm created their own version of the folk tale in 1812.  In sync with the release of the film "Red Riding Hood," which opens this Friday and stars Amanda Seyfried and Gary Oldman, Harper Design has published a reinterpretation of the Grimm Brothers' fable, illustrated by Swedish artist Daniel Egnéus.

Susan Carpenter writes about the multimedia blitz of the film and accompanying books in Tuesday's Calendar section.

The 80-page hardcover is described as a gift edition but is more of an art book-graphic novel hybrid. This type of marketing follows the successful blueprint demonstrated by the publication of California artist Camille Rose Garcia's colorful, edgy version of Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" in conjunction with the release of the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp film a year ago.

Egnéus' iteration stays true to the creepy story, yet his drawings and paintings lend an ethereal, romantic touch to the book.

"I wanted to put a contemporary feel into a fairy tale based in the 17th century," said Egnéus in a phone interview from his home in Milan, where he lives in a 17th century studio designed by Leonardo da Vinci. 

He said that he strolled the streets and cemeteries of Milan and Venice and used some of the beautiful classic Roman columns and ruins (dating to 200 BC) that he came across for the first double-page spread in the book. 

Egnéus also took cues from works by French book illustrator Edmund Dulac and Austrian painter Egon Schiele. A self-taught artist from Sweden, he learned to draw with inspiration from the comics of Will Eisner, Jack Davis and Mad magazine, which he said he read as a child. He is well-known for his commercial campaigns for Audi, BMS and Häagen-Dazs.

In this makeover of the "Red Riding Hood" story, the characters are elegant and upper class. "Making them more pompous and living in enormous castles allowed me to have more fun. I purposely dressed them in extremely big clothing, " Egnéus said.

One image shows Red and her mother in a palatial mansion in Pre-Raphaelite-style gowns about 13 to 16 feet long.

See a photo gallery of Daniel Egnéus' illustrations from "Little Red Riding Hood.'

As for the wolf, the beast remains frightening but also debonair. "The wolf has the clothing of Casanova," said Egnéus, who dressed him in an elaborate, floor-length cape and cavalier hat with a plume. Feathers, in fact, and botanicals are prevalent throughout, as are familiar Venetian buildings and statues. Small and refined details in the background, such as a Venetian gondolier and Santa Lucia statue, give texture to the page.  

"You shouldn't notice these details, but it adds a bit of substance," Egnéus said.

The illustrations give the story a dreamy "Twilight"-like feel with an added  Poe-esque danger element that may be intentional. Catherine Hardwicke, who directed the first "Twilight" film, is also the director of "Red Riding Hood." 

The tale's title character "is a virginal character so every time she is seen in a dark setting, she is glowing from within, which adds an ethereal quality," Egnéus said. "It's an adult coming-of-age story about going with the wrong guy."

After the jump: see behind the scenes of the making of the book.

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Taschen and Muhammad Ali: Round 2


Fifty years ago, Muhammad Ali (a.k.a. "The Louisville Lip") began his transformation into the Greatest of All Time, winning the light-heavyweight boxing gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Rome. On Oct. 29, 1960, Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) won his first professional bout, against Tunney Hunsaker, beating  the West Virginia police chief in a six-round decision. It's hard to find a date that's not significant in Ali's history; Wednesday, for example, marks 33 years since his win over Earnie Shavers in New York City, the last bout in which he retained the heavyweight title. 

To celebrate 50 years of the life and career of the boxing great, Taschen has published an updated and scaled-down version of its 2003 behemoth tribute to the Champ with an affordable trade edition selling for $150. See a photo gallery of images from Taschen's "Greatest of All Time."

The original "Greatest" was four years in the making when it debuted seven years ago, weighing in at a hefty 75 pounds and measuring 20 inches by 20 inches. The nearly 800 pages featured 3,000 photographs by 150 photographers and artists including Steve Schapiro, Andy Warhol and David LaChapelle.

 "The Champs" edition was limited to 1,000 copies and came with four gallery-quality silver-gelatin prints signed by photographer Howard L. Bingham and Muhammad Ali. It also included two inflatable sculptures by Jeff Koons.  The price tag: $15,000. A collector's edition is also available without all the swag for $4,500. Both editions came in a silk-covered box illustrated with Neil Claylistonposter Leifer's legendary 1966 photo, "Ali vs. Williams," an overhead shot in the Houston Astrodome of the Champ and his flattened opponent, Cleveland "Big Cat" Williams -- a picture that later earned for Leifer the title "Greatest Sporting Image of All Time."

Leifer's other well-known photo, of the 1965 Ali-Liston fight, graces the cover of the trade edition. The shot of Ali towering over a floored Sonny Liston was the center of a recent episode of the 1960s AMC drama "Mad Men."

"This shot is on the cover of every newspaper in the country," said Don Draper as he borrowed the image for a Samsonite ad campaign and reminded a new generation of the effect of that photo and moment in history.

The trade edition of "Greatest of All Time" is part of Taschen's Golden Books collection, marking its 30th anniversary in publishing.  Although this edition may have dropped a few weight classes to a lightweight 16 pounds, it contains the same images, essays and interviews that still define and honor Ali's life.

-- Liesl Bradner

See a photo gallery of images from Taschen's "Greatest of All Time."

Images, from top: "Greatest of All Time" cover, Golden Book edition, 2010. Ali versus Liston II, 1965. Copyright: Neil Leifer, "Greatest of All Time"/Taschen. And a rare poster from the Clay-Liston fight that was postponed for six months due to Ali's hospitalization after suffering from an acute hernia. Copyright: Taschen Archive, "Greatest of All Time"/Taschen

Parents struggle on this week's L.A. Times bestseller list

Anna QuindlenAnne Lamottbestseller listKitty KelleyLA Times bestsellersOprah


Heavy-duty plots that feed into parents' deep fears drive two new novels onto the L.A. Times bestseller list this week.

Holding steady at No. 3 is Anne Lamott's "Imperfect Birds." The author's seventh novel finds affluent Bay Area parents Elizabeth and James struggling with their 17-year-old daughter Rosie, a seemingly perfect honors student and athlete who has headed down a destructive path of drug use. Lamott, who has acknowledged incorporating her personal life into her fiction, has spoken freely of her own troubles with addiction. Our reviewer Sam Dunn wrote, "What drives this novel is how Elizabeth and James confront -- or don't -- the paradox of the Rosie they love with the Rosie they want to strangle."

"Every Last One" (No. 11) by Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen is a tale of a close-knit family torn apart by depression and violence. The cover art alone may send pangs into a mother's heart.

On the nonfiction list, Kitty Kelley's unauthorized biography "Oprah" (No. 4) has been beaten by "13 Bankers" (No. 3) by Simon Johnson and James Kwak. Johnson and Kwak examine the causes of the recent financial crisis and subsequent bailout while stating their case for a nationalization of banks, apparently striking a stronger chord with readers than gossip about Oprah’s real daddy.

Top Five Hardcover Fiction Bestsellers

1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Putnam: $24.95) The lives of a maid, a cook and a college graduate intertwine in a Mississippi town. Weeks on the list: 48

2. Solar by Ian McEwan (Nan A. Talese: $26.95) A physicist tries to reinvigorate his career (at a colleague’s expense) and save the world. Weeks on the list: 3

3. Imperfect Birds
by Anne Lamott (Riverhead: $25.95) Fraught parents send their teenage daughter to a wilderness rehab program. Weeks on the list: 2

4. Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel (Spiegel & Grau: $24) A Holocaust fable starring a donkey and her monkey companion. Weeks on the list: 1

5.The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan (Disney Hyperion: $17.99) Percy Jackson and his army of demigods battle to stop the Lord of Time. Weeks on the list: 19

Top Five Hardcover Nonfiction Bestsellers

1.The Big Short by Michael Lewis (W.W. Norton: $27.95) How the U.S. economy was driven to collapse by the bond and real estate markets. Weeks on the list: 6

2. Bridge by David Remnick (Knopf: $29.95) The New Yorker editor's telling of the evolution of President Obama reaching back to his fatherless childhood. Weeks on the list:   2

3. 13 Bankers by Simon Johnson and James Kwak (Pantheon: $26.95) A case for nationalization of banks resulting from the financial crisis and subsequent bailout. Weeks on the list: 1

4. Oprah by Kitty Kelley (Crown: $30) A probing account behind the queen of all media’s empire and personal life. Weeks on the list: 1

5. Women Food and God by Geneen Roth (Scribner: $24) The connection between eating and core beliefs that brings fulfillment. Weeks on the list:  3

See the complete bestseller lists after the jump.

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Bestsellers: Vietnam, a hot topic after all these years

Beyond the CleavageLA Times bestsellersMatterhornMy FootprintRaquel


It's been 35 years since the evacuation of the American embassy in Vietnam, but readers are still intrigued by the conflict. Denis Johnson's 600-plus page "Tree of Smoke" won the 2007 National Book Award. And now first-time novelist Karl Marlantes, a former Marine, has made a full-scale advance on the fiction bestseller list with "Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War," entering at No. 14. The 622-page book, which took three decades to write, revise and get published, is the story of Waino Mellas, a wide-eyed, idealistic Ivy Leaguer who volunteers for the Marines. Mellas find himself immersed in combat in humid, insect-infested jungles, going days without sleep or food and wondering if he’ll ever make it home in one piece. Even in 1969, in a "bad" war, soldiers fighting in Vietnam could seek glory and valor, and could be heroic.

After narrowly missing the nonfiction list the last few weeks, actor Jeff Garlin's "My Footprint" finally made the cut, entering at No. 14. The comedian shares his attempt at a lifestyle makeover in which he devoted the filming of an entire season of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" to losing weight and going green (past the point of mere recycling).

Maybe Garlin can pick up a few pointers on aging gracefully from the stunning Raquel Welch. The sex symbol, who turns 70 this year, reveals her beauty secrets in the part memoir, part beauty guide, "Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage," which lands at No. 9. The actress expresses her views on love, sex, style, health, career and family with little bio bits scattered throughout, including her memorable turn as a cavewoman clad in a fur bikini in "One Million Years, B.C."

Things that make you go hmm: It seems New Yorkers are more interested in who will be the next governor of California than local voters. "Mount Pleasant," aspiring gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner’s memoir of his yearlong stint teaching 12th-graders at a San Jose high school, reached No. 5 on the New York Times bestseller list -- yet barely made a dent with Southern California readers.

 -- Liesl Bradner

Photo: Marines carry a wounded soldier to a helicopter during a firefight with North Vietnamese troops July 29, 1967. Credit: National Archives / Agence France-Presse

A bloodsucking bestseller week

Biteme_cover The vampire-novel craze, revived in recent years by Stephenie Meyers' "Twilight " saga, isn’t dying anytime soon. In Christopher Moore’s “Bite Me,” which enters the bestseller list this week at No. 3, the main bloodsucker, Chet, appears in feline form, stalking the streets of San Francisco. Only Chet’s Goth-girl owner, Abby, and her boyfriend, Foo Dog, can save the city from his insatiable appetite. “Bite Me” follows Seth Grahame-Smith's “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter,” holding steady at No. 2.

Is there renewed interest in everything Greek? Man Booker Prize winner John Banville’s novels "The Infinities" -- the tale of a dying mathematician overseen by Greek gods -- returns to the list (No. 13) after disappearing for nearly a month. Just ahead of Banville on the list is Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian," a novel for younger readers that plays with a Greek-god theme. 

Also noteworthy this week is what’s happening off the list. Lisa Lutz's “The Spellmans Strike Again,” the fourth and final novel of the Izzy Spellman mysteries, debuted last week at No. 9 but failed to make the cut this week.

-- Liesl Bradner


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