mintyalice

Posts Tagged ‘French’

Là-bas (The Damned)

In Novel on March 25, 2008 at 12:19 am

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The Damned/Là-bas (1891)

Author: Joris-Karl Huysmans
Publisher: Penguin Classic
Pages: 320 pages
I had this book on my Amazon wish list for a long time even though I didn’t know much about it except for it to be about Gilles de Rais and satanism. When I visited the fascinating Gustave Moreau Museum in Paris and saw the interesting show on author J.K. Huysmans’s fin de siècle (turn-of-the-century) writings in relation to Moreau’s fin de siècle paintings, I finally picked it up.

There’s not much of a plot to this book, in fact it reads more like nonfiction sometimes. But the subject matter is interesting and shocking for its time, hence quite a page turner. The novel starts with the author’s rambling on his dislike for Naturalism through the main character Durtal, a 19th century man bored with unromantic modern life and delved into writing a biography on Gilles de Rais, who’s also known as the “Blue Beard,” the world first known “serial killer” who tortured, raped and killed more than five hundred young boys during the Middle ages. A large part of the novel devoted to Durtal’s biography on Gilles, chronicling his role in aiding Joan of Arc to the very horrific atrocities he committed for Satanism. Dural also attempted to explain “how an honest soldiers and a decent Christian, could suddenly turn into an evil, cowardly, sacrilegious sadist.” These parts are the most captivating parts of the novel. It’s a good source to learn about Gilles de Rais and the medieval time. The author offered some interesting views on the matter through the characters.

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Les Yeux sans Visage (1959)

In Film on January 1, 2006 at 3:30 am

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Les Yeux sans Visage (Eyes Without a Face)
Directed by: Georges Franju
Release: 1959
Cast: Pierre Brasseur, Edith Scob

More gothic gems~ Finally saw this legendary French arthouse horror classics Eyes Without a Face. The premise: a doctor’s beautiful daughter was disfigured in a car accident caused by himself. The title of the film refers to the iconic image of the blank, expressionless white mask wore by the disfigure daughter, whose pair of eyes shine through the holes of the mask. The guilt ridden doctor is determined to reconstruct his daughter’s face by kidnapping girls in Paris, then cut off their facial skins for skin grafting surgery.

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Peau d’âne (1970)

In Film on December 24, 2005 at 11:33 pm

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Donkey Skin (1970)

Directed by: Jacques Demy
Written by: Jacques Demy, Charles Perrault
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Jean Marais

Finally get to see the 2004 digital restored version of the 1970 French film on DVD. Directed by The Umbrella of Cherbourg‘s Jacques Demy, it also starred the impossibly beautiful and elegant Catherine Deneuve~ It is a lovely, magical, innocent yet slightly wacky adaptation to the Charles Perrault version of Fairytale story “Donkey Skin”. It’s one of my favorite stories, particularly memorable because of the disturbing incest premise (errr…a much needed moral lesson for little girls back in the days?). There were about 4-5 song numbers, mostly fluffy love songs. The humor, the painterly floral set and the outrageous costumes just made it so much fun to watch.

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The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

In Film on December 10, 2005 at 10:05 am

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Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (1964)
An absolutely lovely and eye-candy French musical by Jacques Demy. Music by Michel Legrand and starring the very young Catherine Deneuve. My god she’s so classically beautiful and full of graceful, innocent, youthful charm. Her perfect doll-like golden curls, pink overcoat, rosy cardigan, peach one piece dresses clothes, golden clutch, pastel purple poncho…it’s every vintage girl’s fantasy comes true. The entire movie is just the perfect romantic vintage-fashioned French dream. Everything is so stylized with very fashionable color palette: the wallpaper, the cute little teapot set, furnitures, little boutiques, miniature planes, umbrellas…etc. It could very well be called ‘Anthropologie: the movie.’ ^^;;

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Les Quatre Cents Coups / The 400 Blows (1959)

In Film on October 13, 2005 at 6:28 am

François Truffaut‘s Nouvelle Vague classics. I Love it~

Story: 14 year old boy Antoine Doinel is neglected and unloved at home and undermined at school. He skipped school with his best friend to have fun and engaged in petty crimes. When Antoine was caught stealing his father’s typewriter, he was sent to delinquent correction center…

The boys wanted to live their own life, but their striving for freedom only led to more constrains and confinement …bounded by responsibility, consequences and social labeling. This is classic teen angst masterfully done with class and honesty that just feel so personal and touching. The child actor Jean-Pierre Léaud is so wonderful~~ the anger, emotions and rebellion spirit are very subtly conveyed on his poker but solemn face, so rare to see such maturity and depth in a boy.

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Masculin, Féminin (1966)

In Film on May 24, 2005 at 8:08 pm

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Cute new poster illustrated by Keiko Kimura.

Riotto pictures is rereleasing Jean-Luc Godard‘s 1966 French New Wave classic Masculine Feminine at theater (watch the awesome trailer on the website) and we watch it at NuArt last weekend (showing from Feb 11 – 17 only). This rerelease has new print and new subtitle but sadly the sound is still very poor. But it’s cool to experience it on big screen. This is the first Godard film I watched and I love the The film starred the eternal boyish icon of French new wave Jean-Pierre Léaud (who was barely grown up here) and yé-yé girl Chantal Goya. The film is a zeitgeist about 60s Paris youth and their musing on politics (ranging from half-ass consciousness, complete indifference or feeble protest in form of prank), love, sex and pop culture…as if they are the only things that matter in lifes, which is pretty much the universally spirit for most youth in any generation.

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Tre Passi Nel Delirio (1968)

In Film on May 5, 2005 at 5:27 am

Tre Passi Nel Delirio (1968)

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Terrance Stamp (looking circa 1985 but it’s really the 60s).

Also known as ‘Histoires Extraordinaire‘ or ‘Spirits of the Dead‘ in US. This Italian+French production consisted of 3 seperate stories by 3 different directors and casts. All stories were adapted from Edgar Allen Poe. Starring bunch of good looking and cool people from the 60s: Jane Fonda, Alain Delon, Brigitte Bardot and Terrance Stamp. The first two have the standard awkward paced B horror movie vibe. But the third one directed by Fellini is way above the league in terms of style, pacing and visions.

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Bonjour Tristesse

In Novel on March 12, 2005 at 3:33 am

bonjour.jpgBonjour Tristesse (1955)
by Françoise Sagan

I better write down my thoughts before my memory starts to fade. I admit I read this solely out of my slight Francophile tendency and cute cover. ^_- Bonjour Tristesse means ‘Hello Sorrow.’ Author Françoise Sagan, one of famous French literary prodigies , wrote it when she was only 17 years old, published in 1955. It’s a juvenile novella about that awkward stage of ‘not a girl but not yet a women’, full of teen agnst and resistence toward adult/social expectation and confirmity. Though in today’s standard it is a rather cliche-ridden and dated coming-of-age story. The heroine’s supposedly scandalous acts of rebellion are rather…normal and her ‘schemes’ felt preposterous. Speaking from my generation and background, it reads like the comics by Ai Yazawa (flawed young heroine’s struggling between pleasure and responsibility & right amount of realism, characters with complex emotions and motivations, soupy drama, romance and bittersweat ending ;D). However the romance plot between the heroine and Mr.bland was so boring and forgettable. The best part was the central relationship between the heroine and her father’s fiance Anne. I especially enjoy stories exploring conflict between the young and old (why I dig Wes Andersen). I disagree with the introduction in this edition that put far too much weight on the relationship between the heroine and her father, which in my opinion is not as important as the one between heroine and Anne. All in all the book is a fun light read, written with delicacy and complex understanding of thinkings and emotions.

According to Sortie (a Francophile mook ^_-) Bonjour Tristesse was inspired by Billie Holiday music, with songs such as ‘Good Morning Heartache.’