Take Advantage of Warmer But Still Dark Evenings and Set Up a Home Cinema in Your Outside Space This Month
So you can’t go to the cinema now we’re on lockdown… but you can enjoy the best film night ever! May is the month of the movie. Cannes Film Festival, la grand-mère of all film festivals, was due to take up residence on France’s Azure Coast from 12-23 May. And while coronavirus may have put paid to that star-studded glitzkrieg for now (with a proposal for a postponement until the end of June/beginning of July being considered as Modern Gardens went to print), you can still get in on the fun with your very own movie night in your garden. Home projectors and screens have dropped in price to an affordable level.
Evenings are still dark enough to finish watching a film on the right side of midnight and, with your plot bursting into glorious bloom, the night is awash with the heady sweetness of fragrant plants. This is the month when night-scented jasmine and Japanese wisteria ‘Domino’ first come into flower, delicate dame’s violet wafts perfume from borders and Japanese honeysuckle is laden with sweet-smelling white and yellow blooms. And what better way to bask in the balmy, perfumed nights than by pulling out the deckchairs, rolling out an outdoor rug and creating your very own homage to the best festival of the month? Can you enjoy the best movie night this side of the French Riviera? Yes, you Cannes!
CELEBRATE THE SILVER SCREEN
For 72 years, Cannes has brought the best of films to our attention. Last year, the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or, went to Bong Joon Ho’s dramatic thriller Parasite, which also won Best Picture at the Oscars. Other films that premiered at Cannes in 2019 include Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Sam Mendes’ 1917 and Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory. Those films aren’t streaming yet, but there are plenty of ways to bring the spirit of Cannes to your garden movie night. You could… Show a previous winner of the Palme d’Or. Try Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, Scorsese’s Taxi Driver or the less well-known 2010 release by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.
Choose a movie that was shot on the French Riviera such as GoldenEye – the road race at the beginning of this James Bond thriller was filmed a few miles up the coast from Cannes. The beach in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is at Cap Taillat, just 100km to the south. Or try Brigitte Bardot’s breakthrough film And God Created Woman, also set to the south of Cannes in now-luxurious Saint-Tropez.
Dip into the smorgasbord of Cannes- connected garden films in the panel, right.
WHAT DO YOU NEED?
Film choice sorted? It’s time to get equipped. The first thing you’ll need is a screen, and the good news is that this can be as simple and as cost-effective as a white wall or a stretched out and securely tied, wrinkle-free, white sheet. If you’re going for a sheet, make sure you can tie it tightly though, as if it’s billowing in a breeze you’ll lose the picture. A step-up from a sheet is a cheap projection screen, and you’ll find lots of options on Amazon.
A traditional tripod-style projection screen has the added benefits of being portable and tiltable, so you can adjust the way the screen sits to suit the height of your seating. Or, if you have enough space and a bigger budget, you could invest in your own inflatable projection screen. If you’re showing a film outside, then aim for an after-dark evening showing. The darker it is, the less you have to worry about the brightness of the projector, but even in the evening, aim for a light output of at least 2000-3000 ANSI lumens. The Epson EB-S41 (£309.99, epson.co. uk) has a large projection size and, with a 3,300 lumens output, is great for outdoor use. Or, you can rent a projector – just search online and you’ll find plenty of options. If you want to know more about projectors and how to get the best out of them, then you’ll find lots of useful, easy-to-understand information at projectors. co.uk. Do a test run the night before so that you can work out where your projector needs to sit to get the best picture. You’ll also need to sort your source device, and don’t panic if you’re not tech-minded! Your source device is the phone, tablet, DVD player or Apple TV box from which you will be playing your film. Lots of projectors and source devices can be linked up wirelessly, but otherwise you just need an HDMI cable (similar to the cable you use to charge your mobile phone) to link the two.
The HDMI port on your device will be clearly labelled: just take a look. The sound system is the final tool in your movie-night-in-the-garden grab-bag. You may not need the extra volume, but if you want to crisp up the sound, then you can either use a Bluetooth (wireless) portable speaker or connect a speaker to your projector.
All that’s left to do is to set out the deckchairs, bring a bottle and glasses outside to make a garden bar, and sweep the house to steal a few throws and cushions. If you want to add dinner to your movie night, inject some extra Gallic glamour by serving up some easy Riviera cuisine. Salade niçoise is the salad of Nice, a city just 26km from Cannes, and is quick to put together. Take it a step further and spoon it into delicious baguettes to make pan bagnat. Or, warming soupe au pistou (think minestrone with fresh courgettes, tomatoes and haricot beans) is another super-easy option. Glass in hand? Deckchairs out? Then get the corn popping, sit back and relax!
7 Essential buys for your movie night Cannes’ emphasis on visual finery has led to controversy. In 2015, a group of women were turned away from a screening because they were wearing flats. The next year, Julia Roberts made a point of walking the red carpet in bare feet. That precedent gives you the perfect get-out clause to wear whatever you want, but do use your garden décor to add a touch of luxe! 1 Biscuits in the shape of a cinema ticket? Yes please! Admit One Ticket Cookie Cutter by Bakerlogy, £10.82 amazon.co.uk 2 Advertise your night in lights with a A4 Cinematic Lightbox, £24 idyllhome.co.uk 3 Cheers Cardboard Drink Mats, £3.99/18 partydelights.co.uk 4 And… action! Large Wooden Clapperboard, £3.30 partypacks.co.uk 5 Fill Gold Spotty Treat Boxes with popcorn. £3.49/8 prettylittlepartyshop.co.uk 6 Mopec Paipai Palm Leaf Fans will bring the feel of a hot Mediterranean night. £16.60/5 amazon.co.uk 7 You can snuggle under a Breton Stripe Blanket, £75 from Atlantic Blankets at notonthehighstreet.com.
THE GARDEN OF THE FINZI-CONTINIS
This film won top prize at the 1971 Berlin International Film Festival but wasn’t aired until 2007 in Cannes, when a restored version was shown in the Classic section. This ‘garden’ is both real and metaphorical – a 1930s romance in an idyllic Italian estate is threatened by the ominous rise of fascism. Available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.
A winner in Cannes in 1992 and, with its carpets of wild bluebells, grassy lawns and wisteria-draped porch, this is catnip for plant lovers! It’s the story of three Edwardian families and the cottage that changes their lives. Available to watch on Netflix.
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
Woody Allen’s 43rd film (as director) premiered in Cannes in 2011. It’s a time-travelling romcom starring Owen Wilson, with Monet’s garden at Giverny putting in a lily-pad-filled cameo role. Available to watch on Google Play.
Anyone who’s ever grown vegetables will empathise with Matt Damon’s botanist-cum-astronaut as he struggles to cultivate potatoes on a planet far from home. This 2015 film spawned a Virtual Reality Experience that garnered a Silver Digital Craft Lion at Cannes 2016.
Available to watch on Google Play.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
This 2017 film – a coming-of-age love story – wasn’t a Cannes protégé, but its Oscar-winning success resulted in Italian film director Luca Guadagnino receiving a Cannes invite for the first time last year. Watch it for the beautiful acting and for the verdant Italian garden-orchard setting.
Available to watch on Netflix.
THE DRAUGHTSMAN’S CONTRACT
Peter Greenaway won in Cannes for Drowning by Numbers, but it was his first film – a murder mystery with music by Michael Nyman – that put gardens centre stage.
Available to watch on Amazon Prime Video. 6 great films to watch in the garden.
MAKE YOUR OWN POPCORN CUPS
Serve your snack in these easy-to-make holders, making them as big or as small as you like.
YOU WILL NEED
30 x 30cm square of paper Glue Wax paper, optional
WHAT TO DO 1
Fold the square of paper in half to form a triangle. With the triangle laid flat and the longest straight side nearest you, fold over the right point to meet the left edge. Fold over the left point to meet the right edge, overlapping the right flap. Fold the top front and back flaps down and glue in place. Pop open the cups and, if you like, line with a piece of wax paper before filling with popcorn to stop any butter or oil from soaking through.
Cook popcorn over a firepit You’ll need an outdoor popcorn pan for this outdoor cinema must-have. Try the long- handled Popcorn Pan, £24.99 suttons.co.uk. Put half a tablespoon of oil into the bottom of the pan. Add a single layer of popcorn kernels. Put the safety grid over the pot and hold over the flames, using barbecue gloves to protect your hands. When you hear the first pop, start shaking the pot gently and continue until the popping sounds stops. Open the lid carefully (away from your face) in case there are any late popping kernels inside.
OR, MAKE IT ON A BARBECUE!
It’s easy to do, and smells amazing! Light the barbecue. Flatten a large piece of kitchen foil – around 60-70cm long – and put a tablespoon of oil in the middle. Put 75g of popcorn kernels on top of the foil and then fold it into a domed parcel, making sure there’s plenty of space for the kernels to expand. Place the foil parcel on the coolest part of your barbecue. You’ll start to hear pops and they’ll go on for about five minutes. Once th popping stops, your popcorn is ready. Open the foil parcel carefully (away from your face) in case there are any late poppi kernels inside.
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