September 1, 2014

August 31, 2014

Do you want whine with that? - a commentary.

One of those fucking ubiquitous Fornasetti plates that I see in every fucking magazine.

It’s that time of year again when I’m feeling melancholy. Melancholy and itchy and restless and angry. I feel like I’ve left the iron on but I’m half way to Montreal. Please, please excuse me while I rant. Blogging is therapeutic.

I just went through a stack of magazines donated by my belle soeur. What a lot of crap. No offence Sis, but I’m tired of the platitudes, the Disneyfication, and the false Hallmark sentimentalities found within their pages. I used to be a devotee of fashion magazines, graduating to decorating magazines, but then the mags became full of dogma. Rules. I don't need to be told what to do. The only magazines I subscribe to now are French so I don’t know what they are impelling me to do.

Rules abound. Gentle suggestions that make you feel bad about yourself. The fashion industry, of which I once thought I’d be a part, has been trying to sell me plaid every autumn since I was 12 years old. I found out from my step-monster-in-law that there is a proper way to edge your flower beds. French edging. What fresh hell is this?

Decorating magazines – do people really need obelisques and reflecting balls on their mantels? Have they not had enough life to decorate their nests properly? Can one become “bohemian”? Isn’t it a schtick one develops over time?

Never been a big one on false conventions. Grooms’ cakes. Wedding rehearsals. What’s to rehearse? Do what my mother did in post-war England. Walk down the aisle. Get wed. Have a reception at your mum’s. Enjoy a couple of Bass Pale Ales. Go to Hastings. Get over yourselves. I CAN NOT STAND the “to the manor born” mentality of weddings. Couples puking their guts out just days prior at their own stags and hen parties adopt a genteel, demure attitude, following rules that were set up in Jacobean times if not earlier. Then they puke their guts out again, perform some primordial rituals and commence paying off their credit card debt. Because of these biases I’ve been with the same man for 24 years and we have yet to marry. Luckily he is as biased as me.

 I’ve missed the memo on a number of things – when Peking was supposed to be called Beijing. Bombay – Mumbai and so on. I apparently missed the memo telling me that a selection of wine or cheese is now called a “flight”. WTF.

Any how. I’ve left this blog untouched for quite a while. Maybe I’ll start back at it. Interesting themes for interesting people. Watch this space.

June 23, 2014

Valmont vs Dangerous Liaisons

Milos Forman’s film Valmont came out in 1989, the year after Steven Frears’ Dangerous Liaisons. Both are based on Chloderos Laclos' scandalous 1782 novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Both feature rich and bored aristocrats and are set in Baroque France prior to the guillotine.

A scheming widow, the Marquise de Merteuil, and her sometimes-lover Valmont make a bet regarding the corruption of a recently married and very pious woman. Valmont wagers that he can seduce the newlywed, even though she is very honourable. If he wins, the Marquise promises him one last night with her. However, in the process of seducing the married woman, Valmont falls in love.

I prefer Valmont to Dangerous Liaisons. Colin Firth as Valmont does the "wet puffy shirt" before Mr. Darcy strips off in 1995’s Pride and Prejudice. Firth is passion and charisma to John Malkovich’s reptilian cold-bloodedness. I know who I’d rather snog with.

This was the first role I saw Annette Bening play. She’s ripe, peachy and pretty and looks too nice to play Madame Merteuil but she’s just as evil as Glenn Close.

Pretty Meg Tilly played the pious Madame de Tourvel. Well and truly seduced, Firth moved to the forests of Canada to be with her.

Here’s a list of the major players in Valmont and their equals in Dangerous Liaisons.

Colin Firth – John Malkovich
Annette Bening – Glenn Close
Meg Tilly – Michelle Pfeiffer
Fairuza Balk – Uma Thurman
Henry Thomas ( Elliot from ET) - Keanu Reeves.

And the 1989 trailer.

Café De Flore - Un Film Fantastique

The themes of music and love tie Paris in the 60s together with contemporary Montreal and wrap the whole story up in a completing knot in the last seconds of the movie. Café de Flore is an epic love story that covers two lifetimes. It recalls the destinies of Jacqueline, the Parisian mother of a Down Syndrome child, and Montreal DJ Antoine and the women orbiting around him.  It raises the question if soul-mates can last forever.

The character of Antoine is deftly portrayed by Quebec rocker Kevin Parent in his first acting role. The sharp-edged Jacqueline is played by the ex-Mrs. Depp, Vanessa Paradis. 

Café de Flore is stunning - expertly crafted - yet has only made about 20% of what the film cost. This mostly Canadian cine-gem would be a contender for Best Film if it were made in Hollywood. People would be laying prostrate at the feet of director Jean Marc Lavallee as the new great auteur.  Although the ending could only be called bittersweet, I fully recommend that you watch it.  

Georges Méliès - The Inspiration for HUGO

Scene from Hugo, Paramount Pictures
 I first posted this story 2 years ago. I've just returned from seeing Martin Scorsese's Hugo and I hadn't realized that the film was so closely tied with the story of the real Georges Méliès. Here's a synopsis of Méliès life. Please enjoy the accompanying films. 
Many of us have seen a clip of the ancient film where the poor Man in the Moon gets smacked in the face by a rocket. Georges Méliès, born in Paris in 1861 is responsible for that early film and as a film maker Méliès was the first to utilize cinema's potential to tell magical stories.

Méliès was an illusionist by trade. Before making films he was a stage magician at the Theatre Robert-Houdin (how wonderful).

In 1895, after seeing a demonstration of the Lumière brothers' camera, he became interested in film. Two years later he established his own studio.

From his rooftop property in Montreuil, Méliès directed 531 films ranging from 1 minute in length to 40 minutes. These early films are similar to the magic tricks that Méliès had been performing on stage featuring disappearing objects or people. Despite this, Georges Méliès revolutionized early cinema. Although many of Méliès’s early films were devoid of plot, his special effects and storyboards became fundamental aspects of filmmaking. His films were even pirated!

He wrote, directed and acted in nearly all of his films. His most widely-known film is 1902’s A Trip to the Moon (Le voyage dans la Lune) includes the celebrated scene mentioned above in which the rocket-ship hits the Man in the Moon.

However, Méliès, the poor guy, could not compete with the larger studios like Pathé (who eventually bought him out) and he spent his last years selling toys in a boutique in Paris’s Montparnasse train station.

Méliès did not grasp the value of his films, and he allowed most of his film stock to be melted down into boot heels during World War I. Many of his films were recycled into new film and as a result much of his legacy does not exist today. Luckily, a copy of Méliès's 1899 short film Cleopatra, believed to be lost, was discovered in Paris in 2005.

The importance of his work was recognized in the years prior to his death. In 1932 the Cinema Society gave Méliès a home in Château d'Orly where he died in 1938.
Please enjoy these Méliès videos found on Youtube.