x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

And another thing... Wake up call

Ricky Gervais's scathing hosting skills, Helena Bonham Carter's inimitable style, Nicole Kidman's bravery, being the perfect mother and finding friends

Ricky Gervais hosted this year’s Golden Globe Awards and many stars were not impressed with his brand of ‘comedy’.
Ricky Gervais hosted this year’s Golden Globe Awards and many stars were not impressed with his brand of ‘comedy’.

Gervais's scathing hosting skills, Bonham Carter's style, Kidman's bravery, the perfect mother and finding friends

Gervais goes for the jugular at awards

So what do we all think about Ricky Gervais's controversial presentation of the Golden Globes? Was it a scandalously disrespectful smack in the mouth for Hollywood's finest, or was it the funniest thing we've ever seen that had Robert de Niro and Alec Baldwin helpless with mirth?

It certainly woke them all up after years of saccharine laced with the occasional shot of lemon juice that they're used to from presenters. Even last year's performance by Gervais himself was tame by comparison.

This presentation was a deliberate lunge at the jugular, a shameless crash-and-burn attempt to grab the headlines. It was either going to make him or, as one American columnist spikily predicted: "The last time he'll ever work in this town."

Hollywood doesn't take criticism lightly and as a generalisation, that sort of in-your-face British humour doesn't travel well across the Atlantic. Over in Blighty, of course, they were predictably delighted to see someone brave enough to poke fun at the mighty and majestic stars of Tinseltown who all seem to take themselves so very seriously. The self-centred bubble of Luvvieland could do with a bit of pin-pricking.

Gervais started with a pop at the bad boy Charlie Sheen and his various indulgences. It was genuinely funny and Sheen would probably have been leading the guffaws had he been there.

But then there were gasps of horror at some of the jokes, and guests started looking around nervously to see who else was laughing. This was an assault on the heart of the movie community and they weren't too keen on the one about nobody having been to see The Tourist, especially as its star Angelina Jolie was sitting among them. Only the bravest tittered. The joke about 85-year-old Hugh Hefner's new young wife was crude, but it's what many people are thinking and got the evening back on slightly more secure ground.

There was worse to come and Robert Downey Jr was distinctly unimpressed at being introduced with a reference to the Betty Ford Clinic and the Los Angeles County Jail. Downey described Gervais's performance as "mean-spirited with mildly sinister undertones".

It was car-crash television of the sort you watch through trembling splayed fingers. It will certainly guarantee Gervais more than his fair share of chat-show invitations for months to come, exactly what it was calculated to do. But was it clever, or was it just gratuitous mud-slinging with too many cheap shots at vulnerability? After all, Hollywood is the global capital of rehab.

Only time will tell if the risk paid off, but even if Gervais's performance propels him into the A-list, which I sincerely doubt, it actually wasn't very nice.

It was like inviting a bunch of guests to dinner at your home and then giving them all a free and unvarnished character reading. It lacked the cute charm of a Billy Crystal who always managed to poke fun at Oscars guests without being cruel. This was the ham-fisted delivery of the school playground bully.

Gervais may think of himself as Jack the Giant Killer, but sometimes he comes across as a spiteful little man who thinks he's very clever, but who sometimes isn't really very funny.

Brave Kidman's new addition to family

Nobody takes on the psychologically and physical demanding problems of IVF or surrogacy lightly, but it must be so much more difficult if you are in the public eye. So full marks to Nicole Kidman and her husband Keith Urban for keeping the news of the new addition to their family secret for so long.

Baby Faith Margaret was born with the help of a surrogate mother, but Kidman and Urban are the child's biological parents. It's a brave thing to do and full of risks, angst and disappointments, but if you have the money, energy and determination to go through the various indignities and procedures then it's an amazing blessing and one that was not available to our grandmothers.

You couldn't help but feel sorry for Kidman when she spoke to Hello magazine recently about the fact that the two children, Isabella and Connor, she adopted with her first husband Tom Cruise have chosen to live with him rather than her. "They live with Tom, which was their choice," she said. "I'd love them to live with us, but what can you do?"

The new baby is already settling in at home in Nashville with the couple's other daughter Sunday Rose, now two years old, who was born naturally. Kidman says she intends to take six months off work to devote to the family.

She seems like a woman who has her priorities right. It can't be easy having her marriages dissected publicly on television and in newspapers and magazines all over the world. She needs a bit of time out of the spotlight and I hope she gets it.

Bonham Carter is a one-off and knows it

Helena Bonham Carter has made a career of playing the slightly deranged oddball in the funny frock. Her performance as the eccentric Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was perfect type-casting and enhanced her reputation of being rather bohemian, if not barking mad, in real life too.

This week she took it to a new level at the Golden Globes with her choice of a marvellous Vivienne Westwood dress that only she, or perhaps the equally unusual Westwood herself, could wear with any conviction.

With messy hair and non-matching shoes, she looked perfectly wonderful, if not wonderfully perfect. In a sea of full-on glamour it was a brilliant choice for the actress, who plays the late Queen Mother in The King's Speech. With its lace overlays and Miss Havisham style it was anything but safe, but it made some of the conventional shiny sheaths on the red carpet look quite ordinary.

Bonham Carter's a real one-off and she doesn't care who knows it.

Relief for most new mothers that they aren't all perfect parents

Parenting websites are awash with surveys these days about young motherhood. Last week it was all about the different types of mums outside the school gates. This week another website, called Netmums, claims that the so-called "supermum" is just a bit exaggerated.

It's probably a relief to most new mothers to know that those women who seem like perfect mothers are probably telling fibs.

Research revealed that nine out of 10 mothers constantly compare themselves with others and at least 40 per cent believe they aren't as good at the job.

Only one in four considered they were better than any of their contemporaries.

They shouldn't worry because researchers also discovered that most women tell white lies about things such as how long they let their children watch television or how much "quality time" they and their husbands spend with them. It's mostly a case of keeping up with the Joneses in terms of parenting. What they really want is to be able to talk openly and honestly with other mothers about the issues they all face.

It's not easy, though, when listening to a proud mum who boasts about her 10-month-old who is already toddling, or a two-year-old who's talking in complete sentences, especially when your baby is just a great big bundle of jammy-fingered contentment who shows no sign at all of wanting to qualify for Mensa or the Olympics.

The process of choosing friends is all in the genes, study claims

 

Choosing friends is such an unscientific process that it's interesting to discover that according to some scientists, it's all in the genes. We all know we like to hang out with like-minded people who enjoy the same pursuits, but a study of genetics at Harvard University has isolated six genes linked to personality traits that seem to prove scientifically that "birds of a feather flock together".

Confusingly, the study also discovered clear examples of how "opposites attract" although the same basic gene is responsible in a slightly different form.

The first gene, called DRD2, affects how much pleasure we get from certain drinks. People who like strong fizzy drinks, for example, tend to gravitate towards others who like them too.

The second gene, called CYP2A6, is often found in someone who has an open personality and they often befriend others who also have a form of the same gene, but who are on the surface very different.

And to think some of us choose our friends because they have nice, warm, kind features or a pair of dangerously sparkling eyes.