News / Arts & Entertainment

    Emma Watson Turns to Crime in Celebrity-Obsessed Film at Cannes

    Actress Emma Watson poses for photographers during a photo call for the film The Bling Ring at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, May 16, 2013.
    Actress Emma Watson poses for photographers during a photo call for the film The Bling Ring at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, May 16, 2013.
    Reuters
    British actress Emma Watson has turned to crime in her latest role as part of a celebrity-obsessed teenage gang robbing their Hollywood idols' homes in a film that made its debut at the Cannes film festival on Thursday.
     
    “The Bling Ring”, written and directed by Sofia Coppola, is based on a real-life gang fixated by glamor who tracked their targets' whereabouts online and stole $3 million of luxury goods from celebrities including Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.
     
    Watson, 23, proved her days as Hermione in “Harry Potter” are long gone as she donned skimpy outfits and perfected a Los Angeles accent to play a fictitious version of one of the Bling Ring gang, who were caught in 2009 and sent to jail.
     
    She said her main challenge was to work out why these teenagers, from mainly wealthy backgrounds, were so preoccupied with celebrities. Her research involved watching reality TV shows like “Keeping up with the Kardashians” and “The Hills.”
     
    “I enjoy the chance to transform into new roles and work with new creative people,” Watson told a news conference on Thursday where her presence creating a frenzy among photographers.
     
    “Harry Potter seems like such a long time ago,” she said.
     
    “The Bling Ring”, which opened the Cannes category “Un Certain Regard” for emerging filmmakers, starts with the teenagers seeing on a gossip website that Paris Hilton is in Las Vegas and guessing she would be the kind of person to leave a key under the mat.
     
    They find her address and in they sneak, returning several times to party in the house and then to other celebrities' homes, helping themselves to Birkin bags, Louboutin shoes, Rolex watches, bling and cash to fund their drug- and alcohol-fuelled party lifestyle, boasting about their acquisitions on Facebook.
     
    World of Excess
     
    Even when their make-believe celebrity world comes crashing down, the teenagers seem oblivious to the gravity of their crimes and more interested in hyping their new-found notoriety.
     
    Alongside Watson, Katie Chang plays Bling Ring leader Rebecca, while Israel Broussard is her submissive lieutenant with Taissa Farmiga and Claire Julien making up the gang.
     
    The film received favourable reviews after a press screening on the second day of the 12-day Cannes festival, described as a “wily critique of celebrity culture” and an “intuitive and atmospheric tale” with a great soundtrack.
     
    This was a welcome reaction for the American Coppola, whose third film “Marie Antoinette” was booed in 2006 when it made its debut at Cannes, the world's biggest film festival.
     
    Coppola said “The Bling Ring”, which opens in the United States in June, was a comment on culture today - both the teenagers' obsession with the celebrity life and the celebrities themselves with houses overflowing with expensive goods.
     
    Paris Hilton, the celebrity heiress, allowed them to film in her real home with shots of a room wall-to-wall with shoes and a pole-dancing table in the middle of a nightclub area.
     
    “The world this film shows is a world of excess,” said Coppola. “[Paris Hilton's] house is very exotic. I have never seen anything like it before.”
     
    Coppola, 42, whose film “Somewhere” won the top prize at the Venice film festival in 2010, said she met two gang members as she wrote the film to garner extra details but she changed the names in the movie, not wanting to add to their celebrity.
     
    She dismissed complaints by some of the Bling Ring members that the film was “trashy and inaccurate”.
     
    “It is not a documentary. I am not too concerned with their reaction,” she said.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.

    New in Music Alley

    Beyond Category: Arturo Sandovali
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    February 02, 2016 3:53 PM
    Cuban-born trumpeter Arturo Sandoval is one of the most exciting musicians in jazz. The multi-Grammy winner takes the Blues Alley stage to perform, and sits down with Beyond Category host Eric Felten to talk about his life in music.

    Cuban-born trumpeter Arturo Sandoval is one of the most exciting musicians in jazz. The multi-Grammy winner takes the Blues Alley stage to perform, and sits down with Beyond Category host Eric Felten to talk about his life in music.