Un livre, un film, une musique... quelques années, décennies ou siècles plus tard.
Quand la culture n’en finit pas de fleurir.
Numéro 37 Du 05/03 au 18/03/14

DES VIES DE NOUILLES

  • 37- Floraison

Quelle embrouille ces nouilles ! Aussi emmêlées que les contradictions de la société chinoise depuis son ouverture à l’économie de marché dans les années 1980. Cette tambouille est ici très piquante, parfois amère, mais jamais indigeste.  
Dans ce livre mordant, un écrivain professionnel à moitié chauve, avec «de fines mèches de sagesse sortant d’un cuir chevelu brillant», est chargé par le Parti d’écrire un court roman de propagande. Il cherche quelle personne de leur entourage pourrait incarner ce héros et imagine le destin (funeste) de certains. Il en discute, au cours de leur dîner hebdomadaire, avec son ami le Donneur de sang professionnel, pâle et maigre (à force de donner ses globules rouges, pour avoir des bons d’achat) mais «milliardaire». 

Le ton est donné, cynique et moqueur, cruellement drôle. Estomacs sensibles s’abstenir, esprits jeunes à ravir, il y a du gros dégueulasse et du grand guignol par-ci, par-là, dans ces tranches de vie, racontées comme des nouvelles. Sans dévoiler tous les personnages, présentons au moins l’actrice déçue par les hommes, qui se suicide en public, déchiquetée par un tigre ! Quant à l’Évanouisseur, jeune homme qui a créé et dirige le Crématorium, il finira par disparaître, après avoir exploré toutes les ruses commerciales – situations cocasses sur un sujet morbide, mais avec des considérations philosophiques sur l’illusion, le jugement, le pouvoir. 

Un exemple d’évolution tragi-comique des mœurs : «Dans les villages, les hommes voient des seins nus tout le temps ; pour eux une poitrine nue est aussi peu remarquable que des bras nus. Mais dès que ces protubérances pénètrent en ville, elles deviennent des objets d’une immense valeur. Les femmes modernes en font tout un mystère en les cachant […]. Les photographes font attention […] car ils savent que montrer la naissance des seins peut mener à une accusation de ”libéralisme bourgeois ” et leur valoir quatre ans de prison.» !

Le romancier Ma Jian ne mâche pas ses mots pour dénoncer les bouleversements de son pays (passé de la soumission douloureuse mais rassurante, du temps de Mao, à l’angoisse face à un capitalisme gangrené par la corruption). Cet ancien journaliste des syndicats s’est exilé depuis 1987 et ses livres sont interdits en Chine… 

Bruno Lancelot

• Pour acheter «Nouilles chinoises» de Ma Jian sur Amazon ou la Fnac
 

Numéro 36 Du 19/02 au 04/03/13

THE POWER OF A STRONG WOMAN

  • 36- Floraison

Simple mortals transformed into super-heroes… An idea that is not new but the fascination, dreams adventures and supernatural powers retain their seductive power. Among the female characters, one stands out. The one and only Wonder Woman!

When you think about it… She came to be sixty years ago and still inspires much fantasy. And not only erotic ones, with her tempting mini shorts and push up bustier. Wonder Woman, in both her comic book and television incarnations blended clichés and the avant-garde.

To become Wonder Woman, one must be a sweet and generous woman with hips and curves. But you must also be strong and intelligent. Wonder Woman is an Amazon above all. Submission and pacifism are not on the menu. Even though, after having captured all the bad guys, she tries to convert them using love, not weapons.

From a fashion viewpoint, Wonder Woman is a magnificent representative of the American flag. Imagine! The rest of her outfit is not to be sneezed at… In 2011, the shoe brand André even brought out an exact replica of her boots as well as ballet pumps inspired by her style. Even if Catwoman were around, the stars, embroidery and red of Wonder Woman’s outfit are coveted by fashionistas.

From a design point of view she gets full marks too! Wonder Woman’s entirely transparent plane was ahead of its time. Today, crystal plastic furniture like Phillipe Starck’s designs for “Kartell” have become essential. Let's go gurther : the glass architecture of the Louis Vuitton foundation in the Bois de Boulogne was inspired by a sailboat. Inspiration for future means of transport?

But the most surprising aspect was her golden lasso. A glamorous accessory that could make people obey her will and tell her the truth. The dream of every boy and girl. Especially after the episode where she announced she was going to reveal how to make one the next episode. Of course, she didn’t. So the kind, sincere Wonder Woman could tell a lie after all?

It was hard to stay mad at her though. Well done Wonder Woman… Makes you want to take another look at all her stories to see what she might still reveal!

Marie Veyrier

• Wonder Woman with Lynda Carter
Tribute to Wonder Woman (comics and TV) 
 

Numéro 35 Du 05/02 au 18/02/13

THREE HEARTS

  • 35- Floraison

The light blue colour, shimmering like the sea, gives us a glimpse – in the opening credits – of a fishing boat starting up. Then the scenes are cut to contrast, like the two men, in love with the same woman. In a village, David’s orange car pulls in after a five-year absence. Somewhere else on a building site, César is moving around in a stripy suit, ready to attend a wedding – that David has also been invited to… Rosalie loves both men, each in a different way. 

The confrontation takes off. The rivalry is car-based as David’s little orange car dares to overtake César’s superb Plymouth. Then it shifts to more behavioural issues as David displays an amused stiff upper lip while César is agitated and tormented. In love César is possessive, David, on the other hand seems passive. Rosalie is at a loss and goes from one to the other, without cheating. The trio display the whole gamut of emotions and feelings. Ambiguity, almost complicity develops. César, with his big mouth and huge heart, is intrigued by David: “he’s nice but I still feel like punching him!”. David, at times won over, at time mistrusting, seems to be swept up by Césars’ energy, but is shaken by his distress and anger. The tension rises, with a constant undercurrent of drama. 
This apparently light-hearted film is in fact an explosive cocktail, a blend of gaiety and seriousness, of laughs and violence. Nature directs part of the plot, with rain or wind interrupting festive occasions. Claude Sautet likes the holiday period and family houses where friends are welcome.

The cast is particularly well chosen. A pleasure! As if they weren’t really acting, as if they were living the part. Montand gives us Montand, a corny actor, a charmer, a talker. Sami Frey is the dark, handsome, leading man. As for Romy Schneider, she never disappoints, radiantly melancholic, as airy as ever, coveted by her two lovers, she will not be possessed by either. Neither an infernal trio nor a “ménage à trois”, we get to choose the ending.

Bruno Lancelot
 
• Feel the atmosphere with the trailer
 
 
Numéro 34 Du 22/01 au 04/02/2014

SAGA… CITY!

  • 34- Floraison

From the outside, nothing predestined them to find themselves in the same room and to become friends. Nothing predestined them to get to know and like one another. Nothing predestined this, except their stalled, not to say “failed” writing careers!

There are four of them and they come from all walks of life, which leads to plenty of mistrust and prejudice to begin with. There is the screenplay writer narrator Marco, who has yet to produce any significant work but who is prepared to sell his soul for a job. Then there is Louis, who did have a golden age at Cinecittà years earlier but who is now but a has-been. There is the pretty Mathilde who writes only romance novels so not top of the pile. And finally there is Jerome, the sci-fi fan who can’t cope with the real world…
They are thus the perfect group to write a sitcom to fill the quotas of French programming on TV, without making any waves or having too many pretensions. Obviously, nothing goes to plan. The four losers, who are at first courteous then curious about the others before developing real affinities, will pool their worlds, their passions and their inspiration to provide us with a Saga that will take them, and us, way beyond all imagination, expect that of the author, the amazingly talented Tonino Benacquista. 

It is a novel that does us good. A novel that tells of the power of words and stories, the power of fiction. It is funny and intelligent. In other words “It’s a laugh”! But it is also an amazing account of the underbelly of the television industry. But not the ones we usually hear. It was published in 1997 and is still shockingly true and modern. The sort of novel that you don’t want to put down or finish… If only Tonino Benacquista had turned it into a Saga.

M.V.
 

Numéro 33 Du 08/01 au 21/01/14

AT LEAST WE CAN LAUGH!

  • 33- Floraison

When we talk of health, it is impossible not to mention Molière’s famous hypochondriac in “Le Malade imaginaire”. Not only for the theme but also for the pleasure. Because Molière always gets straight to the point: farce, caricatures – here, Argan the imaginary invalid himself -, well-written dialogue, and situations that are very revealing about human beings! 

The play is above all a reminder as to what doctors used to be like. Through the authority with which they were imbued and the admiration that was almost a form of fear, and through their practices that were truly scary but that no-one dared call into question… Indeed, didn’t King Louis 14th have seventy-nine doctors in total in his service? That might explain his remarkable longevity for the time (77). So people let themselves be bled and undergo other operations that, while they may have provided the early means to discover all there was to know about the human body, tended to do more harm than good. And Molière, who was confronted with this reality, denounced this omnipotence, this quackery. Evidence of this comes in the scene where the doctor threatens Argan the hypochondriac to go from bradypepsia to dyspepsia, to apepsia to lienteria to dysentery to hydropsy to death! Unique. 

So we should celebrate what medicine has become today. One only needs to watch series like Gray’s Anatomy or House to understand to what extent doctors have become heroes.
However, human nature has not evolved to the same level. Molières’ favourite themes of love and money as seen in this play continue to make the world go round, with the same downsides like envy, greed, pretension, stupidity… From those who make us torturers or victims. And it is always with a certain modernity in the rhythm and the pen that Molière invites us to learn something. Even better, to get his message across he makes us laugh and gives us the impression that the idiot is always someone else. A subtlety far from the prevailing sarcasm of certain contemporary comedians. Genius!

Bianca Alberti

 

Numéro 32 Du 24/12/13 au 08/01/2013

DELICIOUSLY PERMISSIVE

  • 32- Floraison

It marked, revolutionised, excited, loosened and lit up the eighties. All that and more…

“Chacun fait (c’qu’il lui plait)” by Chagrin d’Amour is a relatively grim song. An insomniac drowns himself in alcohol, gets into his car, breaks a red light, goes into a bar, leaves with a prostitute, gets laid but can’t come… Then the prostitute takes over the story with an irresistible English accent diving into the emptiness of the early morning and her own solitude. It smells of desperation and lost souls, against the backdrop of a police investigation. Nothing to write home about.

But this song is exhilarating! It was released in 1981, just when free radio was starting up, and it was perfectly timed! The night-time ambience with a taste of the forbidden, of places you don’t dare to go but where all of a sudden you get to look through the keyhole. Or at least eavesdrop… on the expression of a certain freedom. And in the end, it is true: chacun fait ce qu’il lui plait (everyone does what they want)!

From an artistic point of view, this was the first French rap hit. And while we didn’t yet have a word to denote the style, it is true that the way the lyrics are performed was heady. And not always easy to sing either. The lyrics are a blend of sex, drugs and… poetry! The smoke, the platinum blonde, the lino, the nylon stockings mix with the rosy dawn, angels in a hurry and slamming shutters. Not to mention the first two lines: «5h du mat, j’ai des frissons, je claque des dents et je monte le son» (It’s five in the morning, I’m shivering, my teeth are chattering and I turn up the volume) that has stayed in everyone’s head, even the younger generations who don’t necessarily know where it comes from sing it the morning after…

It took almost ten years, three versions and two songwriters – Philippe Bourgoin and Gérard Presgurvic – to finish the song. But at least they managed. Can you imagine such legally borderline lyrics today? As for the reactions to the song’s political incorrectness that are nevertheless a deliciously outlet for frustrations… One thing is sure, “chacun” no longer gets to do “ce qu’il lui plait”.

M.V.

• See the official video with polar, crime and 80' atmosphere!

 

Numéro 31 Du 11/12 au 24/12/2013

FRATRIARCAL

  • 31- Floraison

Brothers & Sisters is extremely engrossing probably because it evokes a variety of family issues. 

The main characters are three brothers, two sisters and their mother who have to cope with certain realities and home truths on the death of the father (that happens in the first episode!). Then add the uncle, the father’s mistress, the husbands and wives and the illegitimate children to the mix… You get a very broad range of portraits! Some work in the family business set up by the father and others have chosen to throw off the burden of their inheritance for more personal careers. There is the perfect politician, the drug-addicted soldier, the gay, workaholic lawyer, the dilettante musician and house husband, the working mother who tries her best with her kids, the TV presenter, the entrepreneur, the ex-actress President… 

They experience love, divorce, unemployment, grief, fear, joy, hope, success. All these personalities and situations make it possible for viewers to see themselves in some characters and to find this extremely diverse family credible (but aren’t all families diverse in their own way?). It is the show about family and family stories par excellence. And when they all get together, secrets are told, experiences shared, misunderstandings occur and arguments break out. A dinner without some form of discord is rare. But they usually manage to work things out and come to an understanding the next day. 

Brothers & Sisters, is life itself. In five seasons. It first came out in 2006 and is less well known than the competition such as Desperate Housewives, but this series is reassuring to those who think their own family is complicated and can’t understand how so much passion and conflict can find itself around one table. The final surprise is the amazing cast that includes Calista Flockhart, Rob Lowe and the magnificent Sally Field.

Bianca Alberti

• See the teaser from season 1 
More informations about the series 

 

Numéro 30 Du 27/11 au 10/12/13

WONDERFUL CLAPTON

  • 30- Floraison

«Wonderful tonight». The first word of Eric Clapton’s classic tune says it all. 

It is late, a woman is getting ready for a party as her man looks on enchanted. She asks him if he thinks she is beautiful. He says she is. But he thinks that the most beautiful thing is the way she looks at him not knowing that he loves her even more. How lucky he is to be with her. That all the other guests will have their eyes on her. He tells her how amazing she is before he switches off the light. And mixed in with this there is talk of headaches and car keys. And that is what makes this so special. The lyrics are short and breathtakingly simple, but nevertheless touching. Nothing soppy, in a few lines he lists their moments of happiness, a love without fuss. 

Eric Clapton seems to live every line. And this is not surprising as he wrote the song on September 7th 1976 for Pattie Boyd, who was to become his wife, as they were getting ready to go to a party at the McCartney’s. This is not a question of luck: When things comes from the heart, they hit you full blast. The melody is an extension. What do you expect from Eric Clapton? The genius composer-singer-guitarist who can make the purity of each sound ring out making each one extraordinarily powerful.

But something even more «Wonderful» is this unique live version. The three-minute song becomes a nine-minute letting-go… The rhythm is slightly slower… The crystalline notes repeating the melody until tears come. And then, when it all seems to be over, it begins all over again. Clapton remains quiet and lets his backing singer take us elsewhere. He stays quiet, as if to gift us the song. To let us appropriate it. As if Clapton wanted to give us this feeling of being happy together. Wonderful.

Bianca Alberti

• See the live video of «Wonderful tonight»
• Buy the original version from «Slowhand» ou the live version

 

Numéro 29 Du 13/11 au 27/11/13

A LESSON IN HUMOUR!

  • 29- Floraison

This is in fact the story of a lie… Or, to be more exact, the damage caused by a lie. However, this one is supposed to be a joke, set up by three friends to make fun of a third. It was only meant to take a few minutes. Except nothing went as planned. Against all odds the three friends never get a chance to tell the fourth the truth and he ends up in a bad situation. 

Things go from bad to worse. The perpetrators find themselves the butt of another joke. The story goes takes unexpected but never boring twists and turns up until the final denouement that manages to surprise, making the film a very good surprise indeed.

Thankfully, it is also the story of friendship. One that at first seems to be built on the past and based on appearances, jibes and competition. But from one trial to the next the relationship manages to resist doubt, lies, fears, sadness… This is a friendship worth risking your life for. One that can only exist if you have complete faith in the other person. One where the word “trust” is an absolute. Finally, it is a love story. Slipped in between all of these plot lines, it must also deal with one’s lack of self-assurance, the other’s tendency to conceal… 

So it’s a story where all human relations are severely tested. An incredibly strong film, well directed by Claude Zidi with actors that include Christophe Malavoy – and his hilarious moustache  or the ever impeccable François Cluzet. 
All with a touch of political incorrectness that makes us want to speed and spend. A formidable feeling in these austere times. 

Released in 1987 the film’s style is naturally a little dated. But just like “Banzai” or “Les Ripoux”, both by Claude Zidi it still entertains. So even though it might be hard to find, don’t waste any time in checking it out. The film? “Association de malfaiteurs”. The best!

Bianca Alberti

• Discover the characters and the strange friendship at the beginning

 

Numéro 28 Du 30/10 au 12/11/13

PERFECT PARENTHESIS

  • 28- Floraison

A parenthesis like this changes a person, but it also makes them stronger. The parenthesis we are talking about is not grammatical but a cartoon by Elodie Durand entitled “La Parenthèse”, that tells the story of her battle against an illness that hit her when she was in her early twenties. Her narrative is the opposite of a tear-jerker, it is more of a life-affirming anthem, one that makes us want to spray-paint it on walls. But that is not the most surprising aspect. From one drawing to the next, we are slowly immersed in her story as if it were a thriller. 

Durand’s incredible strength is the breath of fresh air she brings to a narrative about cancer and epilepsy. Released in 2010, the black and white cartoon strip, both realist or figurative, tells of the heroines feelings faced with such a daily struggle with intensity and suspense: forgetting her alphabet in the middle of her final dissertation; forgetting herself, and still denying the illness; becoming dependant on her family at an age when one dreams of freedom and the wide open spaces… Is she going to make it? The question isn’t dealt with in a lugubrious or medical way, but as if it was part of a plot co-written by John Grisham and Franz Kafka.

There is a poignant detail, the writer gifts us with a selection of drawings she did at the time: devoid of any superfluous lines, formidably expressive and just as good as any words, they describe her impression of being locked in her own body, but also of her dreams and her emotions. It frees us from all the taboos attached to the ill.

In short, a particularly well put together book that approaches a plague that is omnipresent in our society today and that makes everyone feel uneasy. Once you have turned the last page, all you remember are the twists and turns of life and the beauty of the drawing. Now that feels good!

Chloé Danglard

 

Numéro 27 Du 16/10 au 29/10/13

OCTOBER HEAT

  • 27- Floraison

One ballad that shivers in Autumn. A simple song that is hummed and abandoned with a deep breath, on a palette of tender emotion. Octobre, written in 1994, is a discreet gem in Francis Cabrel’s repertoire, his favourite song, he confides. We approve and applaud his choice. 

From the opening chords, scratched out on a dry guitar, the rhythm is level, quietly balanced. «Le vent fera craquer les branches […] Y aura des feuilles partout» (The wind is making the branches creak […] there will be leaves everywhere). We are transported by this windy melody that we leaf through gaily. No nostalgia, just a touch of melancholy in the landscape: «Sur les tables en fer blanc/ Quelques vases vides et qui traînent» (On the white iron tables, a few empty vases remain). There are always these streams of mist, like scarves that discreetly veil the lovers, as the change in season has not extinguished the passion. On the contrary, it burns up the décor in a blast of colour. «On ira tout en haut des collines/ Regarder tout ce qu’octobre illumine». (We’ll go to the top of the hill/ Look at all October lights up). A magnificent panoramic view of the distant vales. «Il y aura quelques hommes qui se souviennent/ Et des nuages pris aux antennes» (There will be men who will remember/ And clouds caught on the antennae).

Octobre does not incite revolution but resistance, «Pour ne pas qu’octobre nous prenne» (So October doesn’t take us)! The romance of a happy love, hidden under a sun that has become scarce «Le soleil sortira à peine/ Nos corps se cacheront sous des bouts de laine» (The sun will hardly come out/ Our bodies will hide under bits of wool). This song will retain its mystery: «Octobre restera peut-être» (October might stay)… 

For Francis Cabrel, October remains the symbol of altruism: in October 1994, he set up «les Rencontres d’Astaffort» that organises courses for young songwriters, composers and singers, in the commune where he was born and still lives.
And for us, with this song, October remains the luminous burst that keeps our hearts high before the chill of winter sets in.

Bruno Lancelot

• Listen to "Octobre" from Francis Cabrel

 

Numéro 26 2/10 au 15/10/13

WAKING UP FROM THE AMERICAN DREAM

  • 26- Floraison

“American graffiti” is a film that must be considered with two dates in mind. 1962, the year the film is set. Four friends in California spend one last night together before leaving the next day for college for some. They let it all go one more time, encouraged and accompanied by the local radio DJ, Wolfman Jack who also passes on messages. They drive around in beautiful chromed cars, challenging one another noisily, flirting, drinking, dancing, crying too, and of course getting into trouble with the cops yet again. The whole thing wrapped up in the musical omnipresence of fifties rock and roll, their music that will remain in their heads forever. From Bill Haley to the Platters with “Only you”… via Buddy Holly. The Beatles were just around the corner, so were the Rolling Stones. A new generation was about to take up the torch.

1973. The year “American Graffiti” came out, directed by George Lucas. He pays homage to his youth by reconstructing it impeccably, opening up a box of memories that was instrumental in the “retro” fashion that appeared at the same time. Lucas turned the page and as rock and roll went first intellectual, then political with May 68, he got ready to launch into the amazing adventure that was to be Star Wars, as if he had understood, like a visionary, that the revolution would not be ideological but technical. So “American Graffiti” was a turning point, essential viewing, that depicts a carefree American dream, the joyous insouciance of rock and roll that had nothing to do with the existential and anxiety-ridden music that was to follow.

“American Graffiti” couldn’t be seen with those eyes at the time. Only Lucas knew what would happen next, that the dream was elsewhere.

Maurice Achard

• See the trailer

Numéro 25 Du 18/09 au 01/10/13

READ, HE SAYS

  • 25- Floraison

He was tall and he was beautiful. When he walked, he looked like he was floating. When he spoke, his voice trembled a little. He was a poet, a writer, an unprecedented talent. Let us introduce Michel Cournot.

He died in 2007 and a collection of his main literary articles came out in the spring of 2012 and “De livres en livres” should be used as a spirit guide for the literary season every September. Because it is above all an ode to reading. The first pages are magnificent, given over to the crazy, passionate desire to pass something on, to make people want to read, sharing with the reader the pure emotion of touching the cover, the feel of the paper, the smell of the book. Because all the words he uses, the digressions he takes, carried by his free, often funny, always clear writing that makes us all feel what a pity it would be to miss the author in question.
Of course, the authors in question are often impressive, “colossi” even as Malraux once said of Gide, people such as Henri Michaux, Sartre, Sade or “du côté de chez Swann”, of course.
But one should never be afraid of getting lost or bored. Cournot tells stories about each writer, pointing out things to remember. What a pleasure. The only thing that doesn’t work is the title: too banal, too cold.

We would have preferred a more original, more accurate invitation to discover – for those who haven’t been reading these articles in the “Nouvel Observateur” for the past forty years – so many small masterpieces.

Maurice Achard

• Buy "De livre en Livre" on la Fnac or Amazon


Numéro 24 04/09 au 17/09/13

«ANNA», PREMIERE

  • 24- Floraison

How can we properly define the «Anna» that, in January 1967, created havoc among TV critics and viewers alike? A musical, yes. But it is really a sung film. At the time, the term used was “dramatiques”. Today, the term is “TV movie”. But this could also have been a feature film for the cinema.

And that’s not all. “Anna” is a sultry blend of the diverse influences of the time: the free, romantic tone of the new wave, represented by Anna Karina and Jean-Claude Brialy, the main theme - the idealization of love in the hippy era, and the very “English” sound of Serge Gainsbourg’s soundtrack.
Its broadcast was the event that broke the television “de papa” away from its Gaullist grip. The youth of 1967 took over the next day thanks to the simultaneous release of the soundtrack album. The album itself was innovative as it hopped from songs (also by Gainsbourg) to snatches of dialogue (by Jean-Loup Dabadie), which enabled fans to replay the movie in their heads.

But… weirdly the director’s name –Pierre Koralnik– is practically unknown. And who knows that “Sous le soleil exactement” comes from that soundtrack? It is even the opening number, sung by Anna Karina…
The hit is more famous than the film which was never released in VHS, and went unnoticed on DVD and as a remastered CD.

On September 5th next it will be brought up to date at the Théâtre du Rond-point, as the musical production “Anna”, with Cécile de France in the title role. Will the original find its place in the sun as a result?

M.A.

• See a film clip
• Lesson to a musical extract Rien Rien J'Disais Ca Comme Ca from Gainsbourg

 

 

Numéro 23 04/09 au 17/09/13

SPEECHLESS

  • 02- Floraison

Issue 2 from 31/10 to 13/11/13

If you want to move an entire audience or just one person, surprise them and suspend time for a few minutes, there is only one song. «Hallelujah» by Leonard Cohen.

An exaggeration? Not according to the almost 200 cover versions that have been done of the song since its release in 1984 on the Various Positions album. John Cale, Jeff Buckley (with slightly different lyrics), Bon Jovi, Bob Dylan, Justin Timberlake, Vanessa Paradis and M.Pokora, have all done a version to mention but a few, very diverse, artists. Either a recorded version or a live version. It simple, this song has been reinterpreted in so many different ways by so many different artists with the most diverse styles that there seems to be a version to suit everyone’s iTune’s library. Films, television programmes and series have also surfed the wave, even Shrek. So, it loses a bit of its magic, even though it still retains some impact.

But how can one song touch so many? The lyrics? «Hallelujah» blends sexual and religious references. Biblical allusions and emotional disillusionment, depending on the listener. It’s not easy to seduce on this register. Sex yes, religion no. And even more today than in the past, as it is the subject of our greatest conflicts. So what else? The tune? The scales more like. The scales each artist must reach to pierce our souls. And the exercise is not about the pitch, it’s about the highs and lows. In the moments that are murmured almost, those that seem to fight back, those who go into incantations, those who cry, those who breathe and those who shout. « Hallelujah » is not for reciting; «Hallelujah» must be lived. To do so, each artist places their voice differently, reworks the arrangement, and changes the chords. «Hallelujah» is about trust, an instant of intimacy during which the singer presents a bouquet of feelings. And whether it is pain or pleasure, there are always a few seconds when the intensity hits us. «Hallelujah», the word itself is no longer a Catholic acclamation. It is a call to share a feeling. It sounds like a rallying cry. In the end, this is the most astonishing aspect. It takes us away, and that’s what matters. 

Marie Veyrier

Different versions of the same song:
- Leonard Cohen in a 2009 interpretation
- Jeff Buckley and his sublime version
- Vanessa Paradis and her delicate interpretation

  

Numéro 22 Du 07/08 au 20/08/13

DEAR GEO…

  • 22- Floraison

I’m still a little too attached to my sun lounger to take one of those amazing journeys that you send us on in each issue. In the meantime, it was a great idea to put them all together in one book. What a trip!

Bianca

P.S : to read you, we can buy you on la Fnac or Amazon

Numéro 21 Du 24/07 au 5/08/13

JAPAN: THE SOURCE OF LIFE

  • 21- Floraison

To begin with, there’s the music. A pulsating tune that is impossible to forget. If you ask viewers from the sixties to tell you about “Naked Island”, the Japanese film by Kaneto Shindo that came at us like a meteorite, they will all tell you they remember the music, not really the film, a few beautiful black and white images: a boat, a woman in a conical hat, a hillside… A feeling of slowness, of repetition in time; a sense of original humanity, of a very simple life, lived in harmony with nature. Absolute exoticism compared to our busy lives. A return to the source – to the source missing on this arid island where there is no fresh water. 

Better than a yoga class or a pilgrimage to a holy place, here the feeling of “letting go” is an absolute guarantee – with a real change of scene, more due to the archaic lifestyle (tubs of water being transported up a steep hill), rather than the few moments of Japanese folklore or traditional ceremony. 

Today, the film retains nothing of the aesthetic facility it was criticised for when it first came out. There are no sophisticated effects. On the contrary, the images are sober, clear. They capture the movement of nature and the actions of men over time, providing us with moments of real life. Nothing is said but everything is lived. It is a story without words but with significant noises: the water lapping on the edge of the boat being steered by the scull, the wind through the trees… quiet sounds once interrupted by shouts of joy, once by wails of distress. The film does have a tragedy. An unhappy event that upsets the flow of existence. A moving moment when a mother hits the ground in anger. But when the revolt has passed, the humans go on carrying their daily burdens. 

So, is this a Japanese version of the myth of Sisyphus? This timeless film is less pessimistic, a beautiful metaphor for the human condition carrying the promise of the fertility and harvests to come. Season by season…

Bruno Lancelot

• Watch the exquisite trailer

Numéro 20 10/07 au 23/07/13

BRAZIL NUTS

  • 20- Floraison

In theory, a week-long holiday is supposed to be a break. It’s a bit short to plan much of an escape or expedition to the other end of the world. Unless your name is Adrien Dufourquet and you are the main character in Philippe de Broca’s film «L’Homme de Rio».

It all starts in Paris at the gare de Lyon. And it ends in the same place, eight days later on the 14 :55 train. Between the two there are kidnappings, an impromptu trip to Brazil, car chases, fights, kisses, encounters with bandits and crocodiles, escapades in planes and on bikes… And that’s just for starters!

«L’Homme de Rio» is the quintessential action film. It covers all bases : the unexpected, geographical distances, discoveries, intrigue, and adventure. It doesn’t stop for eight days compressed into two hours. A young Jean-Paul Belmondo gifts us his face, his inimitable acting style, his cheeky humour, his stunts. He gives us his all, even some of the slides and falls don’t seem planned, thanks to a particularly well written script by Philippe de Broca. It’s all great. Great actor, great director. 

Obviously, the film which came out in 1964, is a little dated. But it is like an old postcard with beautiful cars and slightly faded colours. It is also quite like a comic strip with its «cartoon» characters : the smart tyke, the insufferable yet irresistible spoilt girl, the bad guy with his borsalino… 

Whatever happens, it does so 100%. Without any special effects or 3D. This makes the film even more legendary at a time when the spectacular comes from digital effects rather than extraordinary situations. It precedes «Romancing the Stone» and «Raiders of the Lost Ark». And with reason, Steven Spielberg was heavily influenced by it!

In short, this film takes you on a trip in your couch. No holiday on the horizon? Don’t be so sure.

B.A.
 
• Watch the perfect movie trailer
• Buy the film on Amazon 
 
Numéro 19 du 26/06 au 9/07/13

VEGGIE TALES

  • 19- Floraison

This has nothing to do with a vegetable. Nor is it the story of a person in a vegetative state. «Autobiographie d’une courgette» by Gilles Paris is, in fact, the opposite: full of life. Of this precise moment when the human being – a little boy in this case – discovers feelings and learns to identify them, develop them. It speaks of friendship, of course. And love. But love for adults like his family and love for that pretty girl that is not exactly the same thing. What is this strange feeling of loving her differently from others? Then there is the jealousy, the little tiffs. The confidences, the questions…

A learning process told through the eyes of Icare, alias the 9-year-old Courgette, even though the writer is an adult. It’s sweet, funny, naive, surprising. We remember our own thoughts and experiences. It brings us back to the time when we found adults too dull, when all they were doing was protecting us. This gives rise to sublime passages like : Camille sits on the iron bar and dangles her legs while sucking on the candy floss stick. – Careful not to swallow it – says Raymond (…). Sometimes adults say stupid things because of the fear that eats their souls. They would be better off listening to the silence. You would think that children are really stupid and want only one thing: to pierce their throat with a lolly stick, or break their neck on a bicycle, or their legs or arms falling down a stairs, or drink bleach just to see what it tastes like.» Sound familiar ? As a child ? Then as an adult ?

This book makes a little sense, reignites the flame of lightness, and reconciles the different world visions of young and old alike. We finish it with the feeling of having thrown off our too-heavy «serious» clothes. Perfect for the holiday period! 

The fact that it begins with Icare accidentally killing his mother and ending up in an orphanage makes the achievement all the more impressive! But, like we said, this novel is extra-ordinary…

Marie Veyrier  

• Buy this book on fnac.com

Numéro 18 Du 12 au 25 juin 2013

THE HEART’S THORNS

  • 18- Floraison

On a black screen, in the background you can hear concert noises and a hesitant voice. A lump develops in your throat. Next scene, a small group in front of a garage door that opens on a wall of photos like a shrine, with one of a small dishevelled blond girl… Suddenly the photographer’s flash sets off the music and the credits start rolling, what a thrill! Majestic images crisscross a plane and a car that house the star who trips on the walkway. This is the sign of her tragic fate. This is «The Rose» by Mark Rydell, a cult film on the rock and soul generation, high on emotion and energy, plunging everyone into a buzz of youth where everything is a matter of life and death… A poignant film on the fragility of an intense journey – in memory of Janis Joplin but also a beautiful homage to Bette Midler, in a life-changing role she plays on every register. 

The film dates from 1979, and the era’s aesthetic shines through, now seen as retro or vintage: felt floppy hats, sheer flowery fabrics, Indian style shirts and bell bottoms. You shouldn’t mock the afro hairdo, like a golden curly-haired lioness, as the star sparkles under the sequins… and Bette Midler is breath-taking as Rose who kicks against the pricks and gets herself into all kinds of trouble – gleeful for those who are sick of their humdrum lives. Her vitality and provocative insolence are hard to ignore, as are her screams of anger electrified by music. It is impossible to remain untouched by her endless solitude and her desperate cries for help, like in the Hopperesque vision of the harsh light of a telephone booth fading in the distance. Her last cry, on stage is even more moving. So we cry. Music softens the heart.

And we remain fascinated by all those lives that stopped at 27. Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain or more recently, Amy Winehouse. The bell may have tolled too soon but their music lives on. One rose? A whole bunch!

Bruno Lancelot

• Watch clips from the film, experience the atmosphere and listen to "The Rose", the poignant title track, all in one  5 minute video

 

Numéro 17 29/05 au 12/06

GET YOUR CLAWS OUT!

  • 17- Floraison

Are you sick and tired of hearing the word «recession» with the sound of the rain falling in the background? Need to get your groove back ? Time to switch off the radio and plug in your mp3 player to listen to THE hit that will bring out the beast, or the strength in all of us. It’s time to listen to «The Eye of the Tiger» by Survivor !

The famous theme from Rocky 3, this track tastes of perseverance. Just like the story, regardless of which «episode», it plays the same tune: a man that no one really believes in anymore, and who doesn’t really believe in anything himself. Then you have the challenge, the test. The hero has to «roll up his sleeves and fight». And this song is omnipresent, sounding like a hymn.
There was no way it could fail, it has everything: the opening chords wriggle with impatience, the drums hammering like a heartbeat and, in almost every sentence, words that boost that determination: «Chances, survive, passion, glory, dreams, alive» not to mention «Eye» and «Tiger» !

It’s no wonder that this track works wonders, physically and emotionally ! When it comes on in a café for example, the transformation speaks for itself… A few heads look up, people start smiling when they remember Rocky’s «cliché» grit and resolve. But it becomes contagious. One person starts rocking their head in time to the music, another will breathe out heavily, another’s face changes… Pupils become dilated, muscles stretch. The atmosphere changes, the energy is not the same, it’s both relaxed and ready, everyone together !
«The Eye of the Tiger» is like a fluid that enters the body. Full of vitamins, anti-depressant, even explosive. So, why don’t we give it a shot tomorrow at eight a.m.?

Bianca Alberti


• Be happy listening to the "Eye of Tiger"

 

Numéro 16 15/05 au 28/05 /13

DOLCE VITA ON NOT

  • 16- Floraison

 

Among all of the Palmes d’Or handed out in the past 65 years, there have been cult, misunderstood, impenetrable, committed and «already forgotten» movies… And then there is «la Dolce Vita» by Federico Fellini, winner in 1960.

The name sounds like a pretty promise. The first image that springs to mind is the Trevi fountain scene with Anita Ekberg. We get the urge to jump in ourselves to feel her delectation, the intense feeling of letting go. Then we hear the Italian, so song-like, so light… Finally we are immersed in the atmosphere of evening dresses, serious up-dos, dandy tuxedos… We close our eyes. We wish we were there… really? Let’s go back in time. Forget the fountain scene, it only lasts one minute; let’s look at the 165 other minutes. 

The name sounds like a pretty promise, but only a promise. Because all of the characters are searching for this Dolce Vita. Through days that last three hours and nights that last forty. In cafes where everyone meets everyone, knows everyone, following each other without every being together. A stabbing disarray of the rich, the poor, the anonymous and the famous, who are constantly being followed by the press. Among them is a certain Paparazzo. Sometimes the Dolce Vita is there, ready to be taken but no one seems ready.

It is a quest, a strange journey that is both overwhelming and unnerving. Everything is so beautiful and sad. So superficial in appearance and so profoundly true. A blend of genres perfectly orchestrated by the maestro Fellini. But the performance doesn’t end here. This film could be replayed in today’s chic cafes or houses by new actors saying exactly the same lines; it would be completely up to date. The script or the ambience haven‘t aged a bit. It may be lacking in Dolce Vita, but it makes up for it in timelessness.

Bianca Alberti

• To feel the Dolce Vita atmosphere
• To see (again) the Trevi foutain scene 

 

Numéro 15 01/05 au 14/05

DELICACY

  • 15- floraison

Whatever one says, our inner child is still alive and kicking, even though the outer layer has changed somewhat... So it is comforting then to come across a fairytale for adults from time to time. If you are one of the lucky ones not to have read "Delicacy" by David Foenkinos, this is how you will feel. It is a wonderful poetic parenthesis in our hurried daily lives. It is important to dissociate the book from the film as the latter was unfortunately not up to scratch. Once this is clear, you are ready to immerse yourself with pleasure in the story of Marcus and Nathalie, two souls that are definitely not on the same wavelength.

She is beautiful, he is insignificant. She's the boss, he's the ordinary minion. She appears to have everything going for her, he has only his faith in the goodness of the world. In fact, he has so much more but they don't know it yet. As for Nathalie, as with any perfect happiness, grief descends in a brutal, absurd and hopeless manner. Her world collapses. Despite the unwanted good will of her entourage, despite the fact that the world keeps turning. Marcus, on the other hand, goes through life with a vaguely surprised and disillusioned look…

A wonderful hymn of praise to a second chance when all hope has disappeared under the weight of sorrow, "Delicacy" is also a lesson that undermines our old reflexes made of cliches and quick-fire judgements. And this is a good thing. As Marcus, weighed down by his outer toad since birth, has yet to realise that he is in fact a prince. Thanks to his character, you will float away into a deliciously off-kilter, tender universe, out of touch with pragmatic and often limiting reality, and like Nathalie, you will fall for his charm. We haven't even gone into his matchless sense of humour. A little glimpse of Marcus: "How should he dress for dinner with Nathalie? He wanted to dress up to the nines. But that number seemed to small for her. He would at least have liked to dress up to the forty-sevens, or the one hundred and twelves, or the three hundred and eighty sevens." That's delicacy.

Stéphanie Norris

 

Numéro 14 17/04 au 30/05

DOGS LESSON

  • 14- Floraison

It is a real pity that «Lady and the tramp» is often reduced to just the spaghetti scene, however touching it might be. It only lasts a total of three seconds! There is so much more to the film… Even the approach is audacious, to shoot from the point of view of a dog. An original, fun idea. As a result, we experience everything through their eyes and this unexpected dimension makes the story almost «real».

But in this great classic, Disney provides us with a lovely lesson in tolerance and modernity, given the context of the time: the acceptance of social differences and the breaking down of barriers, but also a man-woman relationship based on respect and equality.
To expound on these themes, the film uses two characters, both equally notable, the big-hearted tramp and the beautiful princess from the right side of the tracks. Despite the love that obviously develops, it is out of the question for either of them to abandon their origins, instead they meet half way. The tramp does not give up his independence, but does find happiness in a certain level of comfort and domesticity. As for the Lady, she retains her manners  like the well-educated girl she is, while taking advantage of a certain form of freedom, that for her doesn’t come from wandering anywhere the wind takes her but from the affirmation of her sex. She is much more modern than her mistress in this area. As «Jim dear» and «Darling», her master and mistress are seriously «cutesy», which is touching but something of a caricature; «Darling» spends her time knitting or scrubbing pots and  «Jim dear» spoils her and looks lovingly and protectively on… We are up to our necks in syrup!

The contrast with the relationship between Lady and her Tramp is all the more striking! The young miss might be under the spell of the dashing charmer, she still isn’t taken in. And even though she bats her eyelashes so beautifully, she is the one who sets the tone. Was Walt Disney in fact a man with a perfect understanding of feminine psychology ?

Stéphanie Norris

 

• See the first 15 minutes 
• Buy "Lady and the tramp" on Amazon


Numéro 13 03/04 au 16/04/13

REVELATION

  • 13- Floraison

«In the Hilsum family, after Laurence, I’ll take the sister» just like in Happy Families. Here the sister’s name is Alias Hilsum. And we’ll happily take her for her latest song «Little secret». A little seed that merits our attention before we even know how it’s going to grow.

The song doesn’t revolutionize anything. It doesn’t reveal a new genre; it doesn’t have any strong message. But straight from the first few notes, it sends shivers down our spines. It is both melancholic and bucolic, the melody charms from the get go and we know straight away that we will love it, listen to it, over and over. We hum it spontaneously. We know it is sure to be our new «favourite song».

Everything is so pure. The dry guitar and its sweet acoustics. And then there’s the voice. Transparent. It radiates and touches you with its delicacy. A blend of strength and fragility. A simplicity, an absence of pretention that feels good. You only have to drop your weapons, drop the superfluous and let yourself go.
Apart from that, «Little Secret» is a lullaby that enjoys its own vague melancholy. According to your mood, it comforts you or plunges you into a delicious poetic spleen. But it’s not just about the tune. There is also a video. Completely drawn by Alias Hilsum herself, taking us into a world of princesses or dolls, with, in the background, time passing. It is a dream. Naive? Precious more like, with a pinch of tragedy. The stop motion effect is particularly well done and reveals an enjoyable exercise in style, even to those who are not usually fans of this type of expression.

«Little secret» then plays with our feelings and our senses but in a fun way. Unfortunately, it is impossible for the moment to buy it : Alias ??Hilsum is currently recording of the album which will be initially available in digital. So «Little Secret» is really a little seed to
be watched very carefully indeed.

Marie Veyrier

 

• Look at and listen to "Little Secret" 

 

Numéro 12 20/03 au 01/04/13

BOOK FOR TABLET

  • 12- Floraison

Every year at the Salon du Livre*, the conversations buzz about the publishing crisis. And increasingly about the big bad «digital» movement that will eventually eat up all our paper books. And what if, instead of talking about it, we wrote about it? Why not write a book? 

This is exactly what Paul Fournel did with «La Liseuse», a novel that came out in January 2012. A marvel even though its launch was abnormally discreet. The «liseuse» is in fact a tablet. An ipad to be precise. Robert Dubois, the main character is an old-school editor who receives it from his big boss through an intern: «He said he had put all of your manuscripts on it for the weekend and that it wouldn’t be so heavy». The argument is funny. And marks the first point of contention between  two worlds that seem to want to rip each other apart: the traditional and the virtual. So we think that we’re in for the hundredth debate or the hundredth nostalgia trip… That books are going to start feeling a little dusty. This is where we learn our lesson, in the best way. Some prejudice but more particularly modernity.

Because old Robert Dubois is both blasé and curious. While he does immerse us in the habits, neighbourhoods, restaurants, problems and weariness of traditional publishing, he also takes us to the pretty clever horizons that tablets and smart phones could bring to reading. This totally unexpected direction gives the novel an uncommon energy.

Some see it as an end. The end of a man, of an era. On the contrary, we see it as a beginning. We read about a man, whose lights were slowly going out, and who regains a taste for what he loved. In his own way. We read it as a possible reconciliation between these two worlds. We almost read it as a way out for books made of paper. What else did we read? A poem, to our great surprise. But we must get to the last page to understand why. And tell ourselves that «La Liseuse» by Paul Fournel is without a doubt the most beautiful literary tour de force and pied de nez (nose thumb) in recent times.

Marie Veyrier

 

• Buy «La Liseuse» from Paul Fournel on Amazon or la Fnac
* 33rd Salon du Livre: From March 22nd to 25th 2013, Porte de Versailles

 

Numéro 11 06/03 au 19/03/13

EMBLEMATIC DUO

  • 11- Floraison 2

Madonna and Prince on the same track. No, we’re not crazy, this really happened. The song dates from 1989; it’s called «Love Song» from the «Like a Prayer»* album. The queen of pop with the «prince» of pop, together for over four minutes… And the song practically went under the radar altogether! Strange things happen sometimes…

«Love Song» is not what some might call a classic. But what a trip! Madonna starts off in French : «Vous êtes prêts ?». The way she used to provocatively start many of her shows. And we really are ready ! The sound of a jet engine invites us along for the ride, and we’re off... Both voices at the same time. Slightly off-putting. Then they split up to get a dialogue going. Madonna’s voice is astonishingly pure – less «synthesised» than it is today but also less nasal than at the time, she dares to go high as if Prince was encouraging her to explore other landscapes that seem to suit her. As for Prince’s voice, still suave, still sexy, from octave to octave, still…

They tell a criss-crossed story. They look for each other, asking for answers. In fact, «Love Song» is not a love song but a «cards on the table» song. The beginning of a story or a break-up ? They don’t seem to know themselves, they are circling the issue. The music accentuates this as the tune repeats over and over. It sticks in the mind like the obsessive questions of  love in trouble. Rich in little unexpected sounds, it ends up taking us elsewhere. There is a touch of irritation, in both his voice and hers. And when she tells him, in French yet again, «Embrasse-moi, pour la dernière fois», we are swept away with them and their ultimatum. 

It’s a strange thing. As if the two geniuses allowed themselves a moment of intimacy. Without overdoing it for more authenticity. A track that you should hear. Are you ready? 

V.A.
 
Listen to the track on youtube
Buy the track in MP3 on amazon
* Like a Prayer from Madonna, Warner / Sire Records Company, 1989
 
 
Numéro 10 20/02 au 5/03/13

EYE FOR AN EYE

  • 10- Floraison

The summary on the cover is strangely reminiscent of another story: a man tries to kill his wife by faking an accident and leaving her for dead. But she doesn’t die, she is saved by the timely arrival on the scene of a good Samaritan, her husband never finds out and so she comes back for revenge. In short, it sounds a lot like «Return to Eden», the hugely successful Australian mini-series that burst on to our screens in the eighties. 

But the comparison ends there. In Carl Hiaasen’s «Skinny Dip», first published in 2004, the wife Joey is definitely not an innocent victim who gets stronger as the plot develops, and Chaz, the husband is far from the Machiavellian husband with the Midas touch. Au contraire! When Joey finds herself in the middle of the ocean having been pushed off her husband’s liner, she tries to figure out what could have caused this act. Among the reasons: «The moisturising cream that she put on her face at night that smelt slightly of insecticide». Then she concludes that her husband is a loser and decides, once she recovers, to make his life a misery. And when a woman decides to make a man’s life hell, that’s just what happens.

Chaz is indeed a loser. No more no less. Every plan he has ends in disaster. He has a talent for diving head first into crazy schemes and dumb decisions. 

This all turns into a totally zany and hilarious novel. The reader regularly bursts out laughing, not at the line they just read but because it comes on the heels of an accumulation of crazy situations from the start of the book. And even after 500 pages, they are sad to get to the end. Having said that, even after a few years, this burst of madcap humour stays. Take a reader’s word for it!

Marie Veyrier


• Buy the book on Amazon

 

Numéro 9 06/02 au 19/02/13

KISS

  • 09- Floraison

At the mention of «Pretty Woman», the first thing that comes to mind is the Roy Orbinson tune that you immediately start humming. Next comes the vision of Julia Roberts and her never-ending legs, and the equally superb, dark-eyed Richard Gere. We forgive him his inspired look each time he produces his mobile phone that must weigh 98kg! That’s not really the point…

There are a number of stand-out moments, but there is one that merits our attention: the scene of the famous first kiss, when «Vivian» decides to kiss «Edward», that crucial moment when we realise she is in love with him.

Indeed, she is a member of the world’s oldest profession and the one rule is no kissing, it’s far too intimate. Just at this key moment in the film, she reminds us that the first kiss is the founding act of any true love story. It moves us, throws us off balance us and sets us free. It is when we give in to the other person, totally, the moment when we decide to join our fates with trust and joy. It is worth more than any words, and doesn’t need any easily forgotten declarations, as long as the feeling lasts.

We all remember word for word the stories our grandmothers told us that all started; «The first time I kissed your grandfather…» Suddenly, their face lit up, the precise details of the place and the circumstances came flooding back, and if the rest remained a little blurred, it was because it was of less importance in their memory.

Finally, it is not the modern-day fairytale aspect that made «Pretty Woman» so successful, it was the strong and timeless message it carries, like all great classics; feelings are more important than sex, and they can overcome anything ! So we never get tired of watching the triumph of this love, sealed with the magic of a movie kiss. It gets us dreaming of the one waiting for us on February 14th… Whether it’s the first of many or the hundredth ! 

Stéphanie Norris
 
 
 
Numéro 8 Du 23/01 au 05/02/13

AFTER HOPPER

  • 08- Floraison

Edward Hopper still has the power to fascinate as is evident from the show at the Grand Palais, and if you wish to linger a little longer in his world, you only need to see one film: «Paris, Texas» by Wim Wenders suggested by the exhibition itself. A film where every shot seems to be inspired by the painter’s hyper-realist take: America’s middle of nowhere.

The film is full of unforgettable scenes, shot in bright and dark lights. Emotions are reawakened by Ry Cooder’s piercing slide guitar.

So from the first frame, we see a man emerging from the desert, we know nothing about him. We find out a few things later on. He walks under the watchful eye of an eagle on a rock… Wandering, searching, straight off the bat. From the Mexican border to Houston via Los Angeles. The road, motels, huge billboards, day and night. The plot doesn’t matter, only the characters count, they carry the story. Like with Hooper.
Further on, the man, who is called Travis (Harry Dean Stanton) stands in front of the window in a bedroom and pulls the curtain…

Further on again, a night club bathed in red light and the moving peep-show scene where Travis finds Jane (Nastassja Kinski), the mother of his son. 
This takes place in the suburbs of Houston, not far from its blaze of neon signs, its spaghetti junctions. In this Texas, where a small southern town is called Paris, where Travis owns a plot of land.

«Paris, Texas», Palme d'Or in Cannes in 1984, a cult film, a legendary film. The road movie to end all road movies where Wim Wenders took Edward Hooper along with him for the ride.

As if to direct the light…

M.A.
 
• Just for pleasure to see an extract

 

Numéro 7 09 au 22/01/13

17 MINUTES

  • 07- Floraison

It’s the type of piece one hears for the first time at school. The one where the teacher is on a mission to get you to like it while explaining it’s experimental side. The problem is that young ears tend to only hear the same musical loop over and over by different instruments for seventeen minutes. So the piece passes us by. And then, one day, you hear it and it hits the bull’s eye. Ravel’s Boléro.

You realise that it has in fact been with you for years. Not as «on hold» or «elevator» music. The Boléro has been spared the sacrilege that has infected some of the greats like Vivaldi’s Four Seasonsas it was published for the first time in 1929, and is still protected in France until  2016. So it has become a lullaby, a hymn or a reference in a more subtle manner. Most certainly the drum that from beginning to end, sets the tone while never changing rhythm until the final section. Unforgettable and inimitable.

The tone? Ravel’s Boléro is the perfect alchemy between tranquillity, tension, power, mystery, strength, magnificence. It begins slowly, picks you up and takes you away. It is repetition that doesn’t repeat itself. A unique tempo that nevertheless gives the impression that it is speeding up and slowing down. It follows on, but is never the same. A little like our days ? Well, like they could be in any case. If our everyday life seems insipid, Ravel’s Boléro teaches us how, with few elements at our disposal, a re-beginning can be a beginning, a leitmotiv can be an evolution. In fact, it almost tells us how life, with one thing after another, can be continually enriched. In seventeen minutes. 

M.V.
 
• Lesson to the Boléro de Ravel
• See the Ballet (2 parts)
 
 
 
Numéro 6 26/12/12 au 08/01/13

EVERYTHING IN NOTHING

  • 06- Floraison

It’s a completely useless book. It’s as well to say it now. It tells no story and provides information that we would never have gone looking for. But, as strange as it might seem, it is far from uninteresting ! Finding the description a bit tiresome ? The title won’t help : «Schott’s original miscellany» by Ben Schott.

So what’s a miscellany ? A collection of diverse writings, whether literary or scientific. And this is why you need to read Mr. Schott’s. It has everything. And most particularly things that are totally useless. «A unique collection of essential nothings» according to its editor. You can open it on any page, so no great level of concentration required, and see what it offers to teach us. 

For entertainment’s sake, we can read about the British tax on hats or the official suppliers to Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II. To sharpen your general knowledge you find out about the ten plagues of Egypt, the seven seas or the different styles from gothic to cubist. For everyday information, we get a reminder of blood type compatibility and clothes size conversions. To keep up to date, we find the complete origin of the word «arobase» in the French version or text abbreviations. And to show off at parties, one can brush up on various and unexpected subjects that will turn us into the wittiest conversationalists, such as «Did you know what the different colours light up the Empire State Building every night ?». You no longer have to dread a pregnant pause or a lull in the conversation.

And even if this book leaves you completely indifferent, it’s a little delicate thing. On a coffee table, it becomes a decorative object with it’s traditional style cover that even has a mobile phone. Surprising to the last.

B.A.
 
Numéro 5 12/12 au 25/12/12

IN HEAVEN !

  • 05- Floraison

If you watch only one film this Christmas, it has to be this one. On your own, as a couple, with your family, with your friends. At home or at the cinema. It has to be seen to truly experience the happiness it gives, the smiles and laughs it provokes, the tears it creates. What film are we talking about? «It’s a wonderful life» by Frank Capra. Not to be confused, under any circumstances with Roberto Benigni’s «Life is beautiful».

Released in 1946, «It’s a wonderful life» by Frank Capra, is an unexpected fairytale. In terms of plot, tone and images. We are brought back to the elegance of the post-war period, the gallantry, the sometimes old-fashioned but amusing traditions… We are carried by a story in which we get to know a number of endearing but strong characters in less than two hours. Among them, an angel who wants his wings…  It is strangely funny, undeniably poignant, and poetically supernatural. And that’s not all. What is the film really about? It’s impossible to reveal without stealing some of its magic.

Magic in the noble not the debased sense of the term. It provokes an «effect that seems irrational by the strength, the intensity of the feeling, of the pleasure and satisfaction it procures». This film makes you happy. For a few hours, it makes you want to jump in the snow, forget all bitterness, to gorge yourself on its feel-good spirit. 

This cult classic is not that easy to find but if you start looking now, it makes an exceptional gift.

Bianca Alberti

- To see the trailer
- To order it on Amazon.com

 

Numéro 4 28/11 au 11/12/12

REINKARMATION

  • 04- Floraison

Have you ever imagined what your life would be like if you were an ant? «Bad Karma» by David Safier provides a vision of it that would make you want to come back as a cow. Luckily he includes that one too. Through the novel, his heroine, Kim Lange is reincarnated in different beings, some enjoyable, some not so much according to the good karma she has accumulated in each life.

 While the story may seem surrealistic, even for the Buddhists whose religion inspired the novel, this aspect fades quickly as the amusing plots takes over: what will Kim Lange reappear as, what will happen, how will she survive… and above all, is she going to come back as a human? Because the whole objective is to get back to her husband and daughter who she neglected when she was alive. Don’t worry, that wasn’t a spoiler! The back cover tells you much more! Don’t worry either that the story has a moral on what is «good or bad», «important or futile». It’s just good writing. 

Maybe this novel is not a classic of the future, but it is definitely a find that’s good to share. The type of book you can open as a sceptic but once you’re in, you look forward to taking the bus, the metro or getting into bed. It is truly unputdownable, funny, surprising and moving. It is such a pleasure to let oneself be taken along. 

«Bad Karma» is David Safier’s first novel and it was a bestseller in his native Germany. If this information isn’t enough to convince you, we’re going to read his other novels anyway. Between «Sors de ce corps, William !» (Get out of that body, William !), «Jésus m’aime» (Jesus loves me) or «Sacré famille» (Happy family), the titles don’t scare us anymore so we’re going for «Jésus m’aime». Any believers out there?

 
Marie Veyrier

Numéro 3 14/11 au 27/11/12

NEW BLOOD

  • 03- Floraison

The film came out in 2012. But only a month after its release an affair between the lead actress Kristen Stewart and the director Rupert Sanders damaged its career. So even though the box-office figures make «Snow-White and the Hunter» one of this year’s success stories, it remains «that film». 

So the time has come to erase everything and give the film its due. First of all it is a fairy-tale that goes way beyond the story we were told as children. Of course the basics are there. The queen, the mirror, the seven dwarves and the poisoned apple. But not where or when you would expect to see them. We know how the story goes but this one still takes us somewhere else. A nice touch. The characters throw us a little also. The «baddies» are beautiful, starting with the Queen. She is intriguing, seductive, fascinating. She is breathtakingly beautiful, sublimely dressed, and is still the most tyrannical witch ever seen in a Snow White adaptation. Her taste for eternal youth is scary but we still fall under her spell. Snow-White, on the other hand has a Joan of Arc side to her. And while perseverance and courage are rewarded, they are also costly. The innocent Snow-White is not that pure, she takes up arms, and she kills.
And she doesn’t end up with Prince Charming! A real surprise! 

While this film may not be the original version, it is a very original version nonetheless. Apparently, a sequel is in the works but the «affair» may have compromised the project. That doesn’t matter, sequels often tend to disappoint and the actress has already bitten all the apples, poisoned and forbidden. Having said that, Rupert Sanders could rework Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty so that we get to rediscover the fairytales of our childhood with the same pleasure. That’s all that matters.

B.A.

Film available DVD and VOD. Click here to watch the trailer: www.allocine.fr

 

 

Numéro 2 31/10 au 13/11

SPEECHLESS

  • 02- Floraison

If you want to move an entire audience or just one person, surprise them and suspend time for a few minutes, there is only one song. «Hallelujah» by Leonard Cohen.

An exaggeration? Not according to the almost 200 cover versions that have been done of the song since its release in 1984 on the Various Positions album. John Cale, Jeff Buckley (with slightly different lyrics), Bon Jovi, Bob Dylan, Justin Timberlake, Vanessa Paradis and M.Pokora, have all done a version to mention but a few, very diverse, artists. Either a recorded version or a live version. It simple, this song has been reinterpreted in so many different ways by so many different artists with the most diverse styles that there seems to be a version to suit everyone’s iTune’s library. Films, television programmes and series have also surfed the wave, even Shrek. So, it loses a bit of its magic, even though it still retains some impact.

But how can one song touch so many? The lyrics? «Hallelujah» blends sexual and religious references. Biblical allusions and emotional disillusionment, depending on the listener. It’s not easy to seduce on this register. Sex yes, religion no. And even more today than in the past, as it is the subject of our greatest conflicts. So what else? The tune? The scales more like. The scales each artist must reach to pierce our souls. And the exercise is not about the pitch, it’s about the highs and lows. In the moments that are murmured almost, those that seem to fight back, those who go into incantations, those who cry, those who breathe and those who shout. « Hallelujah » is not for reciting; «Hallelujah» must be lived. To do so, each artist places their voice differently, reworks the arrangement, and changes the chords. «Hallelujah» is about trust, an instant of intimacy during which the singer presents a bouquet of feelings. And whether it is pain or pleasure, there are always a few seconds when the intensity hits us. «Hallelujah», the word itself is no longer a Catholic acclamation. It is a call to share a feeling. It sounds like a rallying cry. In the end, this is the most astonishing aspect. It takes us away, and that’s what matters. 

M.V.


Different versions of the same song:

Leonard Cohen 
Jeff Buckley 
Vanessa Paradis 

 
Numéro 1 17/10 au 30/10

THE POINT OF ELEGANCE

  • 01-Floraison

Everything that could be said has been said about Muriel Barbery’s the Elegance of the hedgehog. Or has it… 

The novel, published in 2006 kept critics and conversations going for a long time. Some praised it, other were exasperated. Some loved it, others decried it as a collection of clichés. Some were thrilled with its success, others would have preferred that it hadn’t overshadowed the launches of other, more « literary » novels. In short the Elegance of the hedgehog was taken apart line by line.

So why go over it all again? Because 2 070 000 copies later, it is without a doubt a bestseller but not just another bestseller. And that is the whole point. Because you really have to get in to this book. The first fifty pages do us no favours, as is evident from this passage a few lines in : «To understand Marx and understand why he is mistaken, one must read The German ideology. It is the anthropological cornerstone on which all of his exhortations for a new world are built and on which a sovereign certainty is established: mankind, doomed to its own ruin through desires would do better to stick to their own needs.» But don’t worry, once one gets past this, the book opens up like a poem.

However, the start must have put more than a few people off. But not 2 070 000 readers… So the conclusion is that a bestseller with writing this good is indeed the proof that everything is possible. The Elegance of the hedgehog is a declaration of love to the intellect it uncovers, to the readers it awakens and to the culture in which it trusts. Is that all? No.

The Elegance of the hedgehog has a spin-off effect. For example, this novel reinforces a certain attraction for Tolstoy through constant references. One finds oneself flicking through the work of the Russian author and following The elegance of the hedgehog with Anna Karenina if one hasn’t already read it. There follows the joy of not having missed the great classic and one thinks, maybe we should be talking about it too. In the meantime, we can thank Muriel Barbery for her audacity and her trust in our taste for words. What if that was the epitome of elegance?

Bianca Alberti