Friday, November 30, 2012

Buried - R.Cortès (2010)

A 1 1/2-hour close-up on Ryan Reynolds does not sound too cumbersume, at first.

However, it gets less and less tempting as your date unfolds inside a casket, buried in the sand by Iraki terrorists, with naturally limited space, accompanied by a cellphone with (of course!) a faltering battery, and for a short while a snake.

The idea is interesting, the camera shots are oppressing but the script doesn't always sound true and Reynolds overdoes it a bit, to my mind. For some reason, his fate doesn't really grab me and it all feels factitious.

A plus for the unanticipated - and realistic! - ending, though!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Seabiscuit - G.Ross (2003)

Pretty pictures. Heaps of conventions and stereotypes. A horse.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Les Revenants

A brand new French TV-series about a small mountain town where a bunch of children reappear 10 years after their death, seemingly unchanged. Obviously there is some sort of snag somewhere, but after only two episodes I am still in the dark as to its nature.

It's more than a little Twin Peak-ish : There is the uncanniness stemming from inexplicable events occurring in familiar surroundings (although somewhat less glamorous than in Lynch & Frost's series), the predominant part played by the wild landscape, the disquieting mood despite the reigning calm. A promising first two episodes, on the whole.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Looper - R.Johnson

One major advantage a TV-set holds over a movie theater is that you can regulate the sound level at your own convenience. This is more useful for some films than others. (And yes, I do realise this makes me sound like like an old madame.)

Another TV supremacy are the sofa cushions you can hide behind during gut-wrenchingly violent scenes. I still do that a lot. (Doesn't that somehow make me a lot younger??) This afternoon, I just closed my eyes.

My husband couldn't believe his luck when I suggested 'Looper' ("Really? Bruce Willis with a gun? Are you sure?") but the fact of the matter is that apart from the bedlam and the bestiality, there was also an adroit script-writer and director (Rian Johnson, had never heard of him) who had turned this opus into a well-pondered - albeit ear-splitting - film.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Behind the enigmatic acronym, the purpose of this grouping of associations and individuals is crystal clear : End child prostitution, child pornography and trafficking of children for sexual purposes.

Anything you don't agree with in there?

Log in, fork out :

Friday, November 23, 2012

Late - Florrie

I think even less cautious people than myself are inherently wary of singing models.
You have my full understanding, therefore, if this doesn't quite come across as the most tempting of my music-tips.

In point of fact, though, this is very OK pop-music. Sounds a lot like 'Little Boots', who seems to have gone for a long walk. Until further notice, Florrie appears fully qualified to be her substitute in the 'clever pop-music' department.

Alleviating circumstance (compensating for her modelling past) : She is a drummer!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Kiss - Carly Rae Jepsen

The intrinsic danger in appearing 100% happy is that you are liable to seem like a total dimwit. 
If you are not plagued by that sort of worries (I'm not!), then this may be music for you.

Most of it sounds like 'Call Me Maybe'. Great running-music for a song or two, then I start to feel squeamish. Too much sugar, I guess.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ziggy Stardust Live at the Hammersmith Odeon (1973)

Since watching it the other night, I have learned there is now a restored version of this seminal concert. I'm hoping that one is markedly better, qualitywise.
Indeed, a blurred image all in electric red and pitch black you can live with, for a filmed concert, but a sound as atrocious as this should be criminal, and I don't care how rock'n'roll it is.
I was a little disappointed he spoke so little with the audience; had that been cut out?
Practically the only thing he says is the historical "Not only is this the last show of the tour, but it is also the last show we'll ever do." (Great news for everyone : You can practically hear Mick Ronson & co-musicians glare at him and go "Say WHAT?" before striking the first chords of 'Rock'n'Roll Suicide'. It turned out to be a strike of genius, of course.)
The concert per se is evidently brilliant : Bowie in 1973. No further comments needed.
Young and sincere and alluringly arrayed..!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gnomeo & Juliet - K.Asbury (2011)

Garden gnomes, Shakespeare and Elton John in a surprisingly agreeable mix.
A festival of witty kitsch and familiar situations. Loved it!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Edward Hopper Retrospective (Grand Palais, Paris)

Plunging into an imposing art exhibition and then rising to the surface again two hours later is globally tantamount to how I imagine a brain shower (I would say 'brainwash' but somehow, the connotation doesn't feel right) : I emerge with a sense of returning from far away, having had all my everyday troubles magically wiped out.

I enjoy Hopper a lot even on smaller reproductions, but to have such a huge collection of his works of all kinds (engravings, watercolours, illustrations...) classified in chronological order (the best!) and insightfully commented on the audioguide... It was a treat! I warmly recommend it!

(Book in advance, though! Leave small children at home, they don't enjoy it. And don't forget the audioguide!)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Blues pour Jimi Hendrix - Stéphane Koechlin

Very little fiction in this first-person account of a leading Hendrix-fan in Paris, Yazid, and through him, of Hendrix himself and the people surrounding him.

Authored by a French rock critic, the text is sometimes a bit clumsy, sometimes overly poetic but stuffed with facts and seemingly well-documented.
The book is also flush with reverent fascination not only for the guitar god but also for his number one fan, living in the shadow of the great man, yet lucid enough to realise "the only good hero is a dead hero".

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Big C

The Big C is for Cancer; comic oneliners and quirky situations therefore are not what you firsthand expect, but indeed what you get! Intelligent and witty screenplay, skillful actors and settings that actually look real. A treat!

Starred and produced by perpetually under-estimated Laura Linney, surrounded by other equally talented and too seldom seen supporting actors such as Oliver Platt and Cynthia Nixon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Nepotism, all things said and done, might not be such a bad idea after all.
Indeed, had I not been personally acquainted with the producers of this two-minute TV-show - coucou, Philippe! - it is highly unlikely I would ever have come across it. 
(7.50 p.m. every weeknight, on France 2 : That's dinner time, in my book.)

That would have been a pity! Self-deprecating humour is always a blast, and no-one but disabled people can in all decency make fun of disabled people. In that, 'Vestiaires' is a bit of a trailblazer in France, and definitely groundbreaking on French state-owned TV prime-time.

Paradoxically, their ceaseless joking about their infirmities eventually makes you see the person rather than his/her handicap.
I'm unsure whether that is an additional bonus or whether it was the intended purpose all along.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Ides of March - G.Clooney (2011)

It would seem I might have to take back my regrets expressed above at the present-day lack of political thrillers.

Clooney is a sitting governor running for president. Gosling with his clenched jaw and eternally under-used Philip Seymor Hoffman are his campaign counsellors in this sort of political bildungsroman, where Gosling goes from innocence to experience.

Most likely, any similarities to existing and/or former Presidents of the US must be considered as purely coincidental..!

'Beware the Ides of March' is a famous quote from Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar' (which I incidentally enjoyed tremendously, although the historical plays are not my favourites), with which Clooney's film has a lot in common; both the plot and that compelling, hypnotic quality that comes from having to concentrate so as not to miss out on anything.

Monday, November 12, 2012

An Education - L.Scherfig (2009)

It was a good thing that when I sat down to watch this last night I had forgotten Nick Hornby - the brilliantest of light-but-clever writers - had penned the screenplay.
Not that I would have been disappointed in the film, but it would have been extremely bothersome to properly apply the low-expectations principle with that knowledge in mind.

The eminence of 'An Education' cannot be ascribed to Hornby alone, though. 
The stageing is subdued but efficient, the acting likewise, and the imagery is breathtaking. No way did the 1960s actually look this tasteful IRL.

A beautiful coming-of-age story, therefore, and one of very few starring a bright young lady instead of the prototypical angry young man.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

ORA - Rita Ora

For all intents and purposes, this is Rihanna's new album.

Admittedly, it's not her voice, and the lyrics are slightly less sex-oriented than on Riri's previous opuses, but those are the only caveats I can think of.

OK dance-music, very runner-friendly also!

Tough luck, though; the real Rihanna's album is due any day now.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Maus - Art Spiegelman

Graphic novels are not really my forte, except perhaps for Art Spiegelman's.
This is the poignant story of Spiegelman's father, struggling to survive in the Polish ghettoes and eventually in Auschwitz.

Spiegelman senior's memories crisscross with present-day scenes illustrating the strained relationship between adult Art and his ageing father, ultimately a live caricature of the overly stingy and intolerant Jew. (And kudos to Spiegelman for not holding back on this not-so-flattering image of his begetter!)
The modern-day scenes serve to highlight the anguish of the Holocaust, and to pinpoint its consequences.

No pathos here, despite the subject matter; and indeed, a stark recount of the facts is quite sufficient.

My only problem is with the French translation. Vladek Spiegelman's New York Jewish idiolect is here distinctly evocative of Star Wars; like Yoda he speaks. Clumsy.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mont St Michel (Normandie) (Or Bretagne, depending on who you ask...)

November is a most propitious time to visit this medieval monastery and its underlying village, both situated on a mound turning into a small island at high tide (although it would seem the water has temporarily been blocked off the bay due to ongoing transportation works).
There are still tourists present, of course, but considerably less so than at any other time of the year.

An inside tip from an experienced traveller (guess who?!) is to book a room and spend the night. After nightfall, you will be practically alone and free to enjoy a quiet, moonlit stroll around the city walls, encountering no-one but cats.

Crêpes galore available at the restaurants.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Three Musketeers - S.Herek (1993)

I realize this sounds priggish, but it's always a hoot to hear French proper names pronounced in an English accent...

Otherwise, this film was strangely similar to this :

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Gossip (Zénith de Paris)

Last June, I had what in French is known as 'un grand moment de solitude' when a properly inebriated young Englishman asked me if I really didn't listen to ANY British music at all. Only hours later did Gossip spring to mind; by then he had sobered up and the moment was gone.
LATER UPDATE Probably just as well I didn't mention Gossip, as a History teacher just informed me they are actually Americans...

Gossip is an interesting blend of 80s-inspired pop music, punk/rock arrangements and the r&b influence of their vocalist.

On the stage of comfortably-sized Zénith last night (rooms 6. 500), Beth Ditto was Best In Show by far : Not only for her extraordinary voice (I think she actually holds back on record) but also for her stage personality which turned out to be amazingly sweet. After 10 minutes, she had us all eating out of her sweaty hand.

+ All songs at least somewhat rearranged, even from their latest album!
+ Covers! Ditto's voice is better suited for Tina Turner than Lady Gaga, though.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

50/50 - J.Levine (2011)

Also sat through '50/50' for the second time in only a few months.

It still balances dexterously on the fine line separating the moving from the maudlin, being merrisome all the while.

Brice de Nice - J.Huth (2004)

Long before 'The Artist', Jean Dujardin created the 'Brice' character in the 1990s and portrayed him on screen in what became a cult film among French pre-teens in 2004.

Last night, it was crystal-clear that kids still laugh at it. And that I still don't.

Monday, November 5, 2012

For Your Entertainment - Adam Lambert

Not that I in any way wish to criticize 'Trespassing' nor even pretend that I don't still listen to it fairly often - But seriously; wouldn't it make sense for me to I grow tired of this 2009 album sooner or later?? How can I still enjoy it so much?? Should I worry about it?

Grand Final i Skojarbranschen - Kerstin Ekman

Ekman goes 'auto-fiction' on us; this is a meta-literary mise en abyme of literature itself, on writers, the creative process of writing, their auxiliary activities, the editing world, all abounding with literary references. But it also deals with friendship, women's role in society, Swedish intellectual glitterati from the 1950s to today...

It stands to reason, therefore, that the style should be intricate (not quite 'Ulysses'-level, admittedly, but still) : Double, eventually intertwining, narrative voices, twofold point of views, sometimes commenting on the same events, two different time-spans, and I could go on.
All this in illustration to Ekman's own affirmation "The writer is a two-headed monster."

Not your average easy read, therefore - and yet, it is surprisingly easily read.
Ekman's language, of course, is the main reason : It is elegant, eloquent, playful, sharp as a dragon's tooth and I worship every letter of it.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Liz Taylor portrait - Andy Warhol

Since my terminale littéraire students don't all have class on the same day, only one group was given the nine Marilyn-portraits to analyze last week (and were slightly less succesful in doing so than I had hoped for, I must confess).

The other half of the class found themselves confronted with Elizabeth Taylor.
While not all of them were familiar with her (one had her mixed up with Jackie Onassis, which in point of fact complicated the analysis only moderately) all who made a thorough colour-analysis and drew the conclusions it imposed, came up with a very accurate representation of Liz's public image : A passionate man-eater, a powerful diva and at the same time a depressive substance-abuser, victim of the Hollywood film industry.

Every now and then, it feels nice to be reminded that my students are actually a lot brighter than I sometimes give them credit for!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Goodbye Lullaby - Avril Lavigne

Rock Barbie rather surprisingly turns pop! Merry and folksy pop-music, not altogether unlike Amy MacDonald's.

And having spent my latest music-labeled posts moaning about lack of artistic evolution, it would be mean of me to criticize. So I won't.