Saturday, April 28, 2007

Movie Watch! - Swimming Pool and Notes on a Scandal

1) Swimming Pool (2003) - I've been meaning to watch this for years ever since The Seattle Times movie critic said it had one of the best endings for a film that she had seen in a long time. She was right. It throws you for a loop. Charlotte Rampling plays Sarah Morton, a successful British murder mystery author who is allowed to take a working vacation alone in a lovely cottage that her publisher owns in the French countryside. However, a few days into her peaceful stay, she is joined by her publisher's French daughter, Julie (played by the simultaneously haunting and stunning Ludivine Sagnier). Sarah is disturbed by Julie's wild child ways and pissed as hell that it's distracting her from her work. Craziness ensues, and I can't say anything else. But it was enjoyable. 7/10

2) Notes on a Scandal (2006) - Holy shit. Judi Dench is the shit! In the unbelievably creepy, do-people-like-that-actually-exist? kind of way, that is. She is one of the most amazing actresses of our times. In fact, she is one of the very few actresses in the world right now who can stand up to Cate Blanchett and steal the scene away. She's that good. This movie was entrancing, captivating, maybe even a little frightening. Phillip Glass composed the soundtrack, and its just amazing. Definitely worth a watch. 8/10

The Scoop!

1) More runway songs - Wouldn't these be perfect?
- The Bucket - King of Leon
- Some real folksy song by The Mountain Goats
- Never Win - Fischerspooner
- Blizzard of '77 - Nada Surf
Any more ideas?

2) WILD - Go OK GO! Actually, they were surprisingly good. I was totally expecting to be bored like I was during Ben Folds and Guster, but they pretty much kicked ass. Even if I didn't know half the songs, it was funner than shit. =)

3) Ever try browsing through the real estate websites looking at homes for sale? It's really addictive. Try and

4) I've been thinking about the consistently sharpest designers out there and I've come up with a short list:
- Olivier Theyskens, formerly of Rochas, now at Nina Ricci
- Stefano Pilati for Yves Saint Laurent
- Miuccia Prada, especially since her revival of Miu Miu
- Consuelo Castiglioni at Marni
- Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga
- Raf Simons at Jil Sander
- Alber Elbaz at Lanvin
- Donatella Versace (ever since she got out of rehab)

And then there's the list of hit-or-miss designers, who have the highest of highs and the fugliest of lows:
- John Galliano at Christian Dior and John Galliano
- Viktor & Rolf
- Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel (gorgeous more often than not), Karl Lagerfeld (somewhere in the middle), and Fendi (often forgettable)
- Alexander McQueen
- Giles Deacon
- Marc Jacobs at both Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs
- Dries Van Noten
- Zac Posen

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Scoop!

1) The Silversun Pickups video for "Lazy Eye" - That's Hank May in the video! OMG! What in the world?! How did I not notice that? My favorite Hank May song is "I'm Going Home Tonight". I must thank Brecklez for turning me onto Hank May in the first place. Wow. What ever happened to Brecklez?

2) The May cover of Vogue - The next supermodels? Yowza! The last supermodel cover like this featured Gisele Bündchen, Natalia Vodianova, Daria Werbowy, Liya Kebede, Karen Elson, Karolina Kurkova, Hana Soukupova, Isabeli Fontana, and Gemma Ward, back in September 2004. Of course, most of those models are still very high-profile, although whatever happened to Hana and Isabeli? Hana did just six shows last season, all in New York, while Isabeli hasn't been seen on the runway since Fall 2006, and neither has been in any big ads that I can remember. Personally, this new batch is a lot weaker than the last batch. This one features Doutzen Kroes, Lily Donaldson, Hilary Rhoda, Sasha Pivovarova, Caroline Trentini, Chanel Iman, Raquel Zimmermann, Jessica Stam, Coco Rocha, and Agyness Deyn. While those are indeed the models that are pretty much in every ad and editorial for the moment, few of them seem to have any real staying power. I love that Anna Wintour chose healthy-looking models, leaving the sickly Snejana Onopka, Natasha Poly, Irina Lazareanu and their starving cohorts behind. At the same time, while Jessica, Lily, Caroline, and Raquel have been around for years, they still aren't the brand-name girls you'd expect them to be after all this time. There's still is nobody who qualifies "the next Natalia". None of these girls will ever get a mention in a Plum Sykes novel. What gives? Maybe in a few years...

3) Paula's Party - Paula Deen, the righteous queen of trans-fat, has by far the greatest show on the Food Network. She is awesome. She's everything that Oprah isn't - proud to be fat and good in the kitchen. She is by far more American than anybody else on television. Good lordy!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Runway Songs

For the past few years, I've been scribbling down the names of songs that I think would be good for a runway show. Some songs, most recently Peter Bjorn and John's Young Folks and Justin Timberlake's SexyBack, find themselves on every runway for a whole season of shows. If I ever produce a show, it wouldn't be for several years for now, meaning these songs will have a retro charm (or so I hope...). Anyways, here's a partial list for now (don't steal these!):

- Hang Me Up To Dry - Cold War Kids
- Daydream in Blue - I Monster
- I Lost All My Money at the Cock Fights - Minus the Bear
- Benton Harbor Blues - The Fiery Furnaces
- Starlight - Muse
- Float On - Modest Mouse (in five or six years, it'll be perfect)
- Maneater - Nelly Furtado
- Hey Baby - Smile Future (hehehe)

There are a ton more, all of which are songs that I basically think of as very "walkable", songs that I like to listen to while I walk to class because they have a strong tempo and consistent, upbeat energy. More to come...

Movie Watch! - Ils se marièrent et eurent beaucoup d'enfants

Ils se marièrent et eurent beaucoup d'enfants (2004) - Shortened to Happily Ever After for America, this "crisp romantic comedy" is certainly a fresh look at the genre. Instead of your generic Kate Hudson or Jennifer Lopez you get the incomparable Charlotte Gainsbourg, certainly an amazing sight in her Parisienne wardrobe. Instead of Matthew McConaughey, you get three dark-haired, middle-aged men with equally receding hairlines but without any of the "hunk" appeal. These three men could be brothers by how indistinct they look. Throw in a cameo by Johnny Depp and a little bout of insanity here and there, and you've got yourself the French version of a romantic comedy - darker, richer, and more salient than any of the crap we produce here. 7/10

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Movie Watch! - Crustacés et coquillages

Crustacés et coquillages (2005) - Titled simply Côte d'Azur for its American release, this movie centers around a family staying at a gorgeous seaside villa in Southern France. It was an extremely French affair, to say the least. I thought it'd be a nice little foreign drama set in a beautiful locale, but instead I got a slightly comedic, slightly dramatic, slightly bizarre set of scenes that came together in a very dysfunction fashion. But I didn't mind too much. The whole thing spiraled into campy oblivion, but while its mental integrity was still intact, it was pleasant enough to sit through. Just be prepared. 5/10.

Fall In Love With Eddie Redmayne

Why fall in love with Eddie Redmayne? Because he's cute, well-dressed, and set to star opposite a whole set of heavy-hitters this year in some pretty serious period pieces. His co-stars include an endless array of Oscar-caliber, A-list stars: Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, Scarlett Johansson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Clive Owen, Geoffrey Rush, William Hurt... you get the picture. Not too shabby for someone who just turned 25!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Well, I don't have any Netflix DVDs coming until tomorrow, so to fill the time, I've decided to brighten everyone's day with some Gaspard Ulliel PicSpam! All the credit goes to the lovely folks from, who know a beautiful thing when they see it. Who couldn't use a little more beauty in their day? Enjoy!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

TV Watch! - Weeds and The Line of Beuaty

1) Weeds (2005) - This show is freaking hilarious. Mary-Louise Parker as Nancy Botwin, the pot-dealing soccer mom, is somehow touching. After her husband dies of a heart attack, Nancy is alone with her two sons and her maid in the upscale drudgery of a golf course community in Agrestic, California. Dealing pot to maintain her lifestyle is a tricky business, and you'll certainly fall in love with her twisted and endearing ways. 8/10

2) The Line of Beauty (2006) - This BBC miniseries is based off lan Hollinghurst's Booker Prize-winning novel. Set in 1980s London, Nick Grant (played by the incredibly gorgeous Dan Stevens) is a fresh graduate from Oxford, working to get his PhD following the literature of Henry James. Nick is homosexual and working-class, but he becomes a lodger in his straight best college friend Tobias Fedden's family home in perfectly lovely Notting Hill. Gerald Fedden is a member of Parliament for the conservative party, but the family appears to be fine with Nick's homosexuality as long as it isn't mentioned. Basically, the story connects politics and sexuality in a way I've never seen before, both intense and intriguing in its realism. The 1980s were filled with coke, anonymous cruising, unprotected sex, the AIDS crisis, stalling middle-class social services, higher taxes for the poor, absurd prosperity for the rich, all the like. It was as glamorous as it was hideous, and this look back is absolutely fascinating. 8.5/10

"If you are fond of the British Office, you will feel warmly about Dawn and Tim, the doughy-faced, out-of-shape pair who pine for one another. In the American show, Pam and Jim are the equivalents, but, having been raised on a healthier diet than Ribena and crisps, they are far more appetizing and their love affair progresses with more conviction. In the French version, Laeti and Paul are played by gorgeous, dark-haired, full-lipped young actors who could be the incestuous brother and sister in Bertolucci's The Dreamers."

Absolutely awesome.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

More Pretty Lizzy!

Pretty Lizzy
On display at the Bruno David Gallery on Tuesday!

Movie Watch! - The Last Day

Le Dernier jour
(The Last Day) (2004) – Writer/director Rodolphe Marconi is certainly an enigmatic man. I must say that this film was one of the most difficult films to follow that I have seen thus far, and that’s saying a lot. My initial vibe was that it’d be in the same vein as Ma mère, but fortunately, there was a lot more in here for me to dissect without feeling ill to my stomach. The basic story is that Simon is an art student in Paris who is joining his family at their seaside cottage in the west of France for the December holiday. On the train, he meets the impossibly lovely Louise, a free-spirited jeune fille who ends up joining Simon and his family. As Simon introduces Louise to his family, we see how secrets unfold, creating a slow-moving portrait of eventual self-destruction that lingers and haunts long after the film is over. Louise meets Mathieu, an old acquaintance of Simon’s, with whom we learn he may have had some sort of intimate relation in the years past. Louise reveals to have more mysterious intentions than we initially see her to have, but what exactly is up for debate. Louise and Mathieu strike up a romance, which eventually leads to Louise telling Simon that she and Mathieu are going to go north together because she says they are in love. Meanwhile, Simon’s mother, the only person who seems to care for him, gets a call from a former lover, who seems to have more on his agenda than just a random booty call. Well, I couldn’t possibly ruin any more of the film, but yea. It’s even more complex than this, and combined with the sparse dialogue, it’s really a test of intellect (or patience) to really get to the core of all the mental neuroses and vague symbolism.

I guess I was just a bit confused after watching the film. I totally had one rather shaky interpretation of the film, then after reading about it online, I feel like I either missed something, or just didn't get everything straight. But I think I get what's going on now, after two or three very close viewings. Here's what I think.

Spoilers to follow!

I think I mostly understood Simon’s relationship with Louise. Louise followed him for a reason. She knew who he was, probably because her father had been away so much when she was younger, she must have either investigated him on her own, or somehow her father let her on to the fact that Simon was her half-brother. Either way, M. Bromberg knows what his daughter is up to at this point for sure.

Louise knew how Simon felt about her, and everything she learned about him over time, she used against him in the end, like his continuing feelings for Mathieu. She knew Simon had a certain amount of attraction to her, but that this attraction was really based on his desire to have a connection with Mathieu. Simon longed to be in her position to the point that he wanted to be with her just to feel something along the lines of what he had before with Mathieu.

When he asks if he can make love to her, I almost took it that he wanted to be where Mathieu had been, to experience what Mathieu had experienced, maybe in an effort to recapture some of the closeness he may have had or felt for Mathieu in the past. My other guess would be that he was trying desperately to make a relationship out of nothing to show to his father and win his approval.

Louise definitely knew the whole time that she and Simon were related, but that didn't stop her from provoking him in order to manipulate him. She enjoyed manipulating him to the point of breaking his heart and breaking his soul. When she figured that he probably wouldn't be so interested in her (which she figured out in the first lighthouse scene), she probably figured out that the key to really manipulating and hurting him would be through Mathieu.

Her whole motivation? To somehow find balance or even revenge for having to grow up with such a broken family, with a father who always cheated and a mother who left. She wanted to find somebody to blame and spread her angst to somebody else, albeit in an incredibly evil, sneaky way. She craves maternal love and more, she wants everything that Simon has in his life because it's everything she's been missing.

Why does Simon allow her into his life? Maybe he was attracted to her in a sort of novel, unexpected way and he wanted to know more. He probably thought that he could bring her home, which he probably had never done with girls in the past, and maybe he just wanted to show his family how “normal” he could be, considering his father thinks he’s a lazy hack and his sister just plain despises him. Besides, he might have actually found a measure of attraction to Louise. She does have a slightly boyish look to her, like so many models seem to have. That may have made her more attractive to him. Even her behavior was boyish, like when she wants to go pee outside the bar, which perhaps is a result of not having a mother in her life growing up.

I think the fact that Simon’s father asked about Simon’s "fiancée" when she isn’t there shows just how distanced Simon and his father are. His father approves of the idea of Simon being engaged to this girl, and Simon surely seems to want his father's approval. I think the fact that his father saw that Simon’s “girl” was gone from his bed, just as Simon’s mother was not in bed with her husband, created a bit of a connection between the two, at which point his father even goes so far as to invite Simon onto the boat that he hadn’t even mentioned before.

What I was less sure of was the relationship between Simon and Mathieu. Different reviews seem to label their relationship as everything from former lovers to best friends with Simon really in love, albeit unrequited, with Mathieu. My stance is that they shared in incredibly close, difficult to define relationship in the past. They may have been extremely close friends, and there are many allusions to them having shared physical intimacy, likely in the lighthouse as well. (Louise may have been keen to this fact and tried to ruin the nostalgic sentiment for the lighthouse with her remarks of how disgusting it was.) But I think it would be wrong to label Mathieu and Simon as best friends at the point that the film takes place. That may have been what Simon led his family to believe in years past, but they don't seem to have that sort of connection at all during the film. Indeed, when the three are on the beach and Louise is filming Mathieu and Simon, the boys looked more like a couple there than at any other point in the film. Simon smiles with his mouth open, which he never does throughout the film. That's one of the biggest indicators that he really feels something for Mathieu. I thought it was incredibly endearing!

What Mathieu sees as just a friendship with intense physical relations, Simon looks back at with completely different feelings. The kiss Simon has with Mathieu is way more passionate than the one either of them has with Louise. This scene is also a very important one to dissect. This is where Louise seems to really confirm her suspicion about Mathieu and Simon. You really get to see how passionate Mathieu and Simon had been in the past.

As far as Simon's masturbation scene in Mathieu's bed, I don't agree with those who think that he was doing it to smell Louise. Nor do I think he was strictly in it for Mathieu. I think he wanted so desperately to be part of Mathieu and Louise's relationship, one that he sees as creating an irreparable chasm between Mathieu and himself and one that he foresees will end in his abandonment, which he fears because he felt the same sense of abandonment within his own family. He looks up at the branches outside the window to put himself in Louise’s place. Maybe he had been in that exact same position in years past and he remembered what it looked like.

Simon especially fears abandonment once his mother turns her attention away from him/her lover and back to her husband. His mother connects Simon to her lover, and when she can no longer pay attention to her lover, she sees Simon as a constant reminder, or rather, the remainder of her discretions, and she feels a need to somehow back away.

Marie’s decision to explain the situation to Simon (that he was a sort of replacement son) sort of shows how she wanted to get back at her lover, but she does so by emotionally attacking her own son. She cannot seem to separate the two in her mind, just as Louise cannot separate Marie from Simon. It’s sort of a twisted game of revenge, manipulating those who don’t deserve to be manipulated.

I feel like maybe, possibly he didn't really mean to commit suicide in the end, but he just happened to be so caught up in his sense of confusion and abandonment, feeling lost, to the point that he had to physically react to it. But maybe he did.

The film as a whole was extremely subtle in its subtexts. I’ll mention just some of them here.

- The symbolism with the seagulls was of particular note. Seagulls are noted as a bird of flight and scavenge along the coast, more graceful than vultures and pigeons, but essentially the same. Their comparison to Louise is inevitable. With the feathers in her hair, she almost becomes part of what Simon has nightmares about. Furthermore, when seagulls scavenge for food, they get incredibly competitive going for the same scraps. Louise and Simon are like seagulls in this way, almost competing for the scraps of a relationship that they can muster out of Mathieu.

- If you didn't know or pay close attention, you would miss the gorgeous wardrobe. Simon is a marvel in Dior Homme straight-leg jeans, slim white collared shirts and black jacket. The incomparably marvelous wedding dress that Marie gives to Louise to wear is almost the very same dress that was featured on Tasha Tilberg in the Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2002 ads, designed by Marc Jacobs. I think he modified the skirt with additional layers of chiffon to make it seem more "bridal" but not too "bridal", and he removed the satin hem. Gwyneth Paltrow wore a paisley version of the dress on the cover of Vogue, the last cover ever shot by Herb Ritts. Other outfits featured pieces from Balenciaga, agnès b. and Dries Van Noten, among others.

- When they're all sleeping together in the same bed after Simon goes nightswimming, I was a little confused. Why are they all in the bed together? Simon just stares at Louise cuddle with Mathieu, but when Louise gets up and Mathieu closes his eyes to sleep more, Simon is wide awake just staring at what used to be his to hold. Does he pull one of Louise's hairs off Mathieu's chest and blow it into the air for a reason? Perhaps his own symbolic sense of blowing her out of the picture?

- Notice the dad's face instantly go dry at the Christmas party when they announce Simon and Louise as the young couple about to get married? He looks stunned. Who did Simon tell that to? His mother? Louise looks equally uneasy with the revelation, but everybody is trying to hide it. Why does Simon look so happy about it? Because he must've told somebody that they were going to get married. He seems to enjoy his little game.

- At the bar after the party, things really become clearer. Simon's comments on Mathieu going after the underage must be a reference to himself. Simon is now only 18, so whenever in the past that he had a relationship with Mathieu, he must've been underage. Mathieu must've been of age if he was working at the lighthouse at that point, so it speaks to Mathieu’s preference for those younger.

- The whole point of Alice was to show how their dad loved Alice more than Simon, even giving her money for the trip to Biarritz and actually showing affection with a hug. She was also there to foreshadow how, indeed, staying with someone's folks always has its price, just like Louise is proving.

- The point of the horse riding? Riding a horse is so public, so free, so liberating, whereas the lighthouse is a symbol of secrets and confinement, where the keeper is alone in the dark of night. The lighthouse itself is a symbol of solitude, which Simon seems to feel. Comparing the activities of Mathieu and Simon (meeting in the lighthouse) to those of Mathieu and Louise (horse riding) shows a stark contrast.

- As far as the tennis scene, it was one of the very few readily understood symbols (or at least it was one of the few that I thought I might have understood). I think it represented how Simon was fighting on two fronts, fighting to keep up with both his continuing attraction to Mathieu and his continued confusion about Louise. He felt like both were turning against him, leaving him. You can't play tennis with three people. Simon became superfluous. The fact that Louise was playing at the net (and definitely holding her own) while Mathieu played the backcourt speaks to how Louise really is getting in between Simon and Mathieu, deflecting the normal path between the two. The third wheel effect comes into play here, and Simon realizes that he’s had enough.

- What is the significance of the second swimming scene?

- At the market, Louise knows what's going on, she smiles in the slyest way possible without revealing herself too much. After Marie suggests her relation with Simon to be “like brother and sister”, Louise no longer looks Marie in the eye when talking about the relationship, only bringing her head up again when she asks about the clementines. She realizes she might be getting caught in her own game.

- When Marie gets up in the middle of the night and tells her husband it's to go for a walk along the harbor, this is when things shift for her. When she's actually with her lover in the car at that point, she ends up having to get out and walk along the harbor because she no longer wants to keep things like that from her husband. She wants to turn back to her husband, to try and be loyal again, even if it means doing what she said she was going to do instead.

- When Simon tells Louise that he can see that she's bored when she's with Mathieu and Simon isn't there, she seems to counter with her revelation of being in love very suddenly. She wants to take back control of their situation. She think's that Simon is on to her evil game, so she needs to strike back - for all we know, Mathieu has no idea they're leaving.

- Why exactly does Marie want to leave a day early? Was she really so desperate to get out of town and leave all thoughts of her lover behind? And why does M. Bromberg leave a day early? Had he had his fill of his lover? Either way, it causes Simon to feel even more abandoned, which may have led to his suicide.

- Simon shows how he's losing grip during the last stroll. That’s when we see the sole lighthouse out in the middle of the ocean, the sole seagull flying in the sky, and then he is alone. He realizes he has ultimately been abandoned one too many times.

- I don't believe M. Bromberg came to see his son. I think that was his excuse to tell Marie when all he really wanted was to hook up with her.

Anyways, those are my scattered thoughts on the matter. The excellent soundtrack is as follows:
Prelude to the End of the World Symphony - Pascale Ducourtioux
J. S. Bach's Prelude No. 13 - John Lewis
Brick - Fake 2003
Foule Sentimentale - Alain Souchon
In Every Dream Home a Heartache - Bryan Ferry and Jane Birkin
Daydream in Blue - I Monster
Mamy Blue - Nicoletta
La Bonne Etoile - M

As for the actors? Mélanie Laurent as Louise looks like some magnificant cross between Julia Restoin-Roitfeld and Luca Gadjus. She is stunning in her ability to be extremely feminine, while still possessing a sort of insouciant, boyish charm. Gaspard Ulliel as Simon is, of course, amazing beyond belief. He can say so much with the way he varies his smile, the way he clenches his jaw, the way he changes his eyes. He is a much more complex actor than some give him credit for. He’s more than just an (incredibly, incredibly) pretty boy. Nicole Garcia as Marie is intense, portraying her character’s conflict in the most convincing fashion. Marconi certainly does not portray women in a very positive light, but this movie is definitely worth watching several times, if you’re into that sort of thing. It took a lot of research and reflection on this movie for me to really get a grasp on what was going on, and another viewing is definitely in order, but the film gains strength in retrospect, the many layers gradually peeling away so that I can get a sense of who these people are and why they act the way that they act. 9/10

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Movie Watch! - X2000 and Strayed

A few more movies watched, several more hours killed!

1) X2000 (1994-1998) - This collection of short films from French writer/director François Ozon is certainly, well, I don't really know how to describe it. The first short film, Truth or Dare (Action vérité), will surely be a disturbing four minutes to uninitiated American audiences. Little Death (La Petite mort) is intriguing enough, following a gay photographer's relationship with his dying father. Bedtime Stories (Scènes de lit) is a collection of seven short scenes, each with a pair of French folk about to engage in sexual encounters. No scene is longer than a few minutes, and each tells a humorous or chilling or telling side of how sex changes relationships. Particularly of note is the scene Les Puceaux, which stars a young Jérémie Elkaïm in one of his first roles. This was probably the role that got him the lead in Presque rien. The last short film, X2000, is a typically confusing, inexplicable French art film, showing three nude couples in Paris on January 1, 2000. It was sparse in dialogue, loaded with symbolism, and chockful of nudity (including a bit of incest). Lovely. All in all, it was a mildly engaging 65 minutes. 5/10

2) Strayed (Les Égarés) (2003) - The story starts out in 1940 France, following the mass exodus of Paris after the fear of German bombing strikes. On the trail, in their car with all their belongings, a mother and her two children look for new hope somewhere south. But after a German plane shoots down some of the other travelers along the trail, a devilishly handsome, extremely mysterious young man comes and whisks the family of three into the forest. The family eventually follow the young man into a gorgeous abandoned house in the middle of the most dreamlike pastoral settings I've ever seen. The scenery is dense and lush, almost absurd in its idyllic beauty. It felt like something out of a Jeunet film. But anyways, the film centers on how this 17 year-old stranger fits into this broken, tired family in a house that none of them owns. Mother Odile, played by the exceedingly pretty and talented Emmanuelle Béart, is a former teacher who now tries to run the house in a compulsive fashion, cleaning and cooking to forget her missing soldier husband, unable to sleep except for in the middle on the day during her baths, rifling through every drawer in the house to learn more about the fleeing owners. Her precocious 4 year-old daughter Cathy at first seems oblivious to the situation, but seems to develop a sense of what her new life will be like as the story develops. Thirteen year-old Philippe (played by Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet in his first film role) tries to remain more logical and emotionally strong than his mother, working hard to keep a sense of clarity amongst all the changes in his family's life. He gradually reveals himself to be susceptible to the loneliness of the isolation - hiding out from society certainly takes its toll on a young adolescent - but his attempts to befriend the stranger fail when he vows to maintain allegiance to his mother. And, of course, the beautiful stranger. Oh, the beautiful stranger! Played by the beautiful Gaspard Ulliel, he tells the family his name is Yvan, but nobody really knows for sure. He refuses to let anybody too deep into his world, embarrassed by his illiteracy and striving to remain his anonymity. There's no difference between his lies and his truths, they come streaming out without any indication one way or the other. During the day, he sets traps for rabbits or fish, while during the night he scavenges the dead for anything he can use, from grenades to newspapers. He's an enigma in a world too troubled to pay attention. Odile wants Yvan to be a part of her family, thinking he can fill the role of a friend, older brother, or maybe even husband. The dynamics between Odile, Yvan, Philippe, and Cathy are striking in their intimacy. They want to be a normal family when nothing about their circumstances would suggest that such a thing is possible. Ultimately, I left the film feeling very taken by the characters. I wanted them to continue. I wanted the story to last forever. But of course that doesn't make sense. I don't know. I really liked the film. 8.5/10

If you want to dial into the invariably hopeless mood that French films seem to take on, take this quote proclaimed by Franz near the end of Band of Outsiders:

"Isn't it strange how people never form a whole?...They never come together. They remain separate. Each goes his own way, distrustful and tragic. Even when they're together, in big buildings, or in the street."

Oddly enough, it seems like the most memorable part of the whole film isn't the existential tragedy ultimately posed to the viewer. It is the hapless trio's spritely effervescence that was summed up by their sprint through the Louvre, later referenced by Bertolucci in The Dreamers. That's probably a good thing. Who wants to remember how nothing ever seems worthwhile?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Scoop!

I'll be trying out a new run-down, summarizing, brief, concise, terse, quick overview of everything I'm looking at out there because that's what I do.

1) Looking for an awesome treadmill? Look no further than Woodway Treadmills! The Waukesha, WI, treadmill makers have risen to the top of the treadmill game with the most amazing treadmills I've ever seen. True, they're kinda fug, but they're wholly awesome. This entire year, I've been going to the fitness center, but I was always afraid to use the treadmills because, well, they looked freaking intimidating. I mean, they look like this. So after six months of elliptical, I decided, why not? I hopped on one of the ten that sit there so handsomely in a row and I ran. These treadmills are as solid than a Redwood and more beefy than a linebacker. Of course, you could get a treadmill for around $800, but for only $9,500 or so more, why not get the best?

2) This concert should be pretty damn good. The only problem is that Paolo Nutini and James Blunt aren't that spectacular live. Oh well. Still good, right?

3) My teachers always used to say that you can find anything and everything on the internet. Really, that's only true if you feel like paying for stuff, and even then you won't always find what you're looking for. I'm looking for a scan of a page from the October 2001 issue of Interview magazine, but the closest I can find is the text from the article and the captions from the picture. I could order the magazine for $12 from the publishers, but who wants to do that? Specifically, I'm looking for the scan of the Jérémie Elkaïm profile. If you know where I can find it, I'd be much obliged!

4) Did anybody see Brothers & Sisters on Sunday? Oh glory! It's over between Chad and Kevin! Kitty is absolutely psychotic! I feel an immoral vibe between Rebecca and Justin! Nora is such a skank! Ahhhh!

5) Sadly, Andy Barker, P.I. has been cancelled. I actually really liked the show. Watch the lovely remainders at

That's all...for now...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Movie Watch! - Meet the Robinsons and Band of Outsiders

I can't believe I've seen so many movies this week...

1) Meet the Robinsons (2007) - Disney without Pixar is like Sonny without Cher. There was a certain cohesive logic and sense of intrigue lacking from the script. This was no Finding Nemo. I didn't care about any of the characters and they were fairly bland for the amount of "loud" that was put into them. It just felt like a lot of the typical Pixar love was lacking from this. It was boring. 5/10

2) Band of Outsiders (Bande à part) (1964) - Jean-Luc Godard makes an interesting French take on the sleazy American robber novels of the early 1900s. Surprisingly fresh, even today, it really picks up steam towards the end. No wonder one of the best clothing brands out right now used this title for their name. 8/10

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Movie Watch! - You'll Get Over It and Grindhouse

While I'm currently watching Series 1 of Le Bureau on Veoh, I will also multitask and review the past few movies I've watched:

1) You'll Get Over It (À cause d'un garçon) (2002) - This French movie was originally made for TV and in many ways, that's pretty obvious. It's a fairly obtuse coming-of-age-and-out-of-the-closet story, starring Julien Baumgartner as Vincent Molina. The cover would have you believe it's something along the lines of a light teen comedy, maybe because the American title is so much like that horrific Kirsten dunst teen flick, Get Over It. The cover would also have you believe that some Hilary Swank imposter stars as the gay teen male. Hmm... That's not a good start. Anyways, watching the movie was straight-forward and formulaic for the most part. Luckily, the cast is absurdly, excessively beautiful. In fact, this whole thing reminded me of a WB hyper-melodramatic teen soap, very much like my favorite of the crappy WB bunch, Young Americans. Anyways, I'm not entirely sure what went on in the film, because the translations were so obviously oversimplified that I feel like Google Language Tools was involved. But in the end, beautiful Julien Baumgarten ends up with astoundingly attractive Jérémie Elkaïm through means that I don't think even the writers could explain if they tried. Most of it wasn't terribly sensitive (or logical), but Julia Maraval as Vincent's stilted ex-girlfriend Noémie was actually interesting and complex. Too bad they barely got into explaining her whole deal. But that's all okay, because it was quite a treat to watch in the middle of the night. Pretty people make everything better. 6/10

2) Grindhouse (2007) - Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino make an action-packed, extremely hilarious romp of a double feature. It was loud, campy, brash, hyperviolent, bluntly sexual, frightening, disturbing, amazing time. It was amazing. Do watch it - if you can stomach it. 9/10

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Movie Watch! - Borat and A Very Long Engagement

There could not be two movies as completely far apart as Borat and A Very Long Engagement (Un long dimanche de fiançailles, because apparently the French do not capitalize every word in titles). Anyways, here I go:

1) Borat (2006) - I think everybody has seen this movie except me. But that's okay. Either way, at times it was painfully funny in the way that you want to turn away because you think you might hurt something. That was pretty much a good portion of the film. But when the jokes misfired, you really noticed they misfired And, hard to believe as it is, it felt a little slow at times for an 84 minute movie. But still great for a hearty laugh. 7/10

2) A Very Long Engagement (2004) - Adapted from a novel by
Sébastien Japrisot, this story comes to the big screen thanks to screenwriter Guillaume Laurant and director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, both of Amélie fame. Jeunet's marvelously romanticized, dreamlike vision of France somehow feels perfect for this tale of lost love during the gruesome destruction of World War I, as much as you would expect the two to be incompatible. Amélie star Audrey Tautou is back as Mathilde, a young woman with a lame leg as a result of a childhood disease. She lives with aunt and uncle in a cottage by the sea, a location so exceptionally gorgeous, you'll want to cry. In the years after the war, she desperately, almost obsessively seeks out her missing husband Manech (played by the devastatingly handsome, unbelievably adorable, absolutely incomparable, strikingly gorgeous Gaspard Ulliel, who played Hannibal in Hannibal Rising).

At the Oscars, the film was nominated for both Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography, and it was definitely worthy of both nods.
The cinematography in this film is a feast for the eyes. The scenery alternates between the lush, rich French countryside and horrific, severe World War I battlefields, creating a contrast that feels like a dream next to a nightmare. The visuals are computer-aided, but I didn't mind at all, I was too entranced by its beauty.

Mathilde is a woman who maintains her hope when everything else is so distraught and disparaging, but instead of bawling or letting herself go, she keeps it all inside. Tautou and Ulliel are both splendidly fine actors. Never letting emotion pour out in the dramatic American style, each one tells the most conflicted emotions with a slight wince of the mouth or the whisk of the eyelashes. This movie is unapologetically romantic, even when compared to Amélie. If that's what you're into (and I know I am), then it's definitely worth watching. 9/10

Monday, April 02, 2007


Jasmine by Bharati Mukherlee is a revelation. It's the story of an Indian woman transplanted in the Midwest with her rural banker husband Bud and their adopted Vietnamese teenage son. Check out more about the book here:
BookRags: Jasmine (novel) Summary