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Pretty Little Liars

January 16, 2017

“Here’s a secret, can you keep it ? Swear this one you’ll save. Better lock it in your pocket, taking this one to the grave. If I show you then I know you won’t tell what I said, ’cause two can keep a secret if one of them is dead…”

Pretty Little Liars is a TV show written by Marlene King which started on June, 8th 2008 on ABC family/Freeform. It is a dramatic show which tells a story of mystery,  investigations, and a little bit of romance.

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The scene takes place in a peaceful little town called Rosewood. Spencer, Aria,  Hanna and Emily have been friends since their childhood, and their little group is led by a very self-confident girl, Alison. She has a very special personality and she loves to affirm her supremacy on people who don’t have a lot of friends. She also loves lying to everyone, except to  people who are useful to her, and she is very good at keeping secrets. At the beginning of the series she is very manipulative.

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                                                                                         Alison

One night, the girls are sleeping in Spencer’s barn when Alison disappears. They call the police but no one can find her. After that, the group disbands slowly.

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A year later, Aria comes back in the town with her family ( she was gone on a trip to Ireland) and Alison’s corpse is found. At the end of the funerals, when the four girls are at the front door of the church, they receive a text from -A which tells them he is going to reveal all their secrets they only shared with one person : Alison. -A wants to threaten and torture them for the mistakes they made in the past with her.

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The girls need to stand together to face this bully and to investigate to find his true identity. Is it an -A for Alison ? Or is there someone who wants to hurt them ? This series, full of suspense, is very popular and it is well deserved. The plot is very complicated and interesting  and we ignore -A’s real name until the very end of the series. I love the evolution of the characters, the actors are good and the concentration of suspense makes it very addictive.

Gabrielle.

The Christmas Concert of the French Classical Radio

January 14, 2017

In December, I took part in a great production : the Christmas Concert of “Radio Classique”

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This concert is done every year in a great concert room in Paris. The French classical radio wants to make it as famous as the New Year’s Eve concert of Vienna.  They create a very classical and popular program with arias and pieces known by everyone.

This year, my choir was selected to sing the children’s part ; with the choir of the French army and the Republican Guard Orchestra and it was really an honor to meet those great musicians. The conductor was the colonel Francois Boulanger who is very energetic, precise and funny ! They were all kinds and we spent a great time working with them.

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The concert was in the Philharmonie of Paris (Manon already made an article about a concert in this room) and the acoustic is stunning. All the places were sold out (2400 people!) but fortunately  my parents could buy some tickets.

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We rehearsed all Friday long and we had a concert on Friday evening and another one on Saturday morning. Both were amazing and we had lots of compliments. It was great because the personal of the radio station gave us some food in our dressing room which was really comfortable. We were in a huge auditorium, just for us , to rehearse before meeting the Orchestra.

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Then, we did the dress rehearsal. There were a few journalists in the audience but they were only a dozen. We discovered that between our parts, a great organist would improvise, based on what he had heard, with his organ. And it was astonishing! I’ve never heard anything like that. He wasn’t planning anything and indeed, he made some very different melodies during the two concerts.  We could hear some beautiful things in the middle of the orchestra, like a Gerschwin medley with the symphonic orchestra and a battery ( it was funny because the colonel was dancing while conducting), or Thaïs’s meditation from the opera Thais by Massenet with a wonderful solo from the violin.

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We sang some traditionnal Christmas arias like “O Christmas Tree”, “Il est né le divin enfant” or “Les Anges dans nos campagnes”. The part I liked most was the French Can Can by Offenbach with the orchestra. This really was a great moment of the concert.

The great final of the concert was the Hallelujah from the Messiah by Haendel. In both concerts, the audience did a standing ovation, and I must admit it was pretty cool.

You can find the audio of the concert right here :

https://www.radioclassique.fr/replay/reecouter-un-concert/concert-de-noel-paris-2016/

Gabrielle

Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them

January 12, 2017

This is a movie inspired by J.K Rowling’s novel. To some extent, it broadens Harry Potter’s world. I was reluctant at first, because I thought that it would be the same as Harry Potter. But it is absolutely not the case and this movie is just amazing. I really liked it because it is a completely different story.

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This is a story of Newt Scamander. He is a British man who was expelled from Hogwart because of one of his beats. Then he arrives in New York city without knowing that the witch world  is in danger because of a mysterious strength which creates havoc and of the great sorcerer Gellert Grindelwald who causes a lot of damages in Europe and who is for now untraceable. So Newt Scamander has a suitcase in which there are a lot of beats. He accidentally exchanges his case with a “no-magic” (it is the American version of “muggles”) who leaves some of them go away. Consequently, the British man has to find out his beats. But the situation becomes worse when Percival Graves, the director of the MACUSA (magic congress of the United States of America) begins to suspect Newt and Tina. Tina is an auror and she wants to take his job back. Also, Newt, Tina, her sister Queenie and Jacob (the non-magic) unite their forces to track down the creatures. However, our 4 heroes who are now considered as fugitives, have to overcome many huge obstacles greater than they imagined, because that could start a war between the witches and the “no-magic”.

Here is the link to the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViuDsy7yb8M

This is a new trilogy, the second will be published in 2018 and Dumbledore will appear; the last one will be released in 2020.

Maya

Hacksaw Ridge

January 7, 2017

Hacksaw Ridge is a movie which was released on November 9th 2016. It is a  biogrophical war film directed by Mel Gibson. The movie tells Desmond Doss’s action during World War II. Indeed he was the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor for service above and beyond the call of duty. The main character was played by Andrew Garfield and the movie received a ten-minute standing ovation  after its world premiere at the 73rd Venice Film Festival.

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As the film tells us, Desmond Doss was a United States’ Army corporal and combat medic during World War II who refused to carry a weapon into combat. In the movie, the director chose to show us some episodes of his life that certainly could lead us to understand how he was and understand his singular vision at the time of the war. For example, the first image of the film we have is of his father who was an alcoholic due to his war experience during World War I. Indeed he had lost his best friends and was haunted by the horror he saw and lived through; he has the figure of a tortured man, violent but we still see him as a victim of human horror. As the movie goes on, we understand he is a good man who hates himself so much that he  becomes self-destructive. We can feel the omnipresence of war in which Desmond and his brother grew up and it has its importance in the film. To understand how Desmond became a singular hero, we have to talk about the importance of his beliefs. Indeed, when he was a child he fought with his brother like kids do, when he took a rock and hit his brother’s head. We can see in his child face, that he is petrified as he thought he killed his own brother. So he goes in front of a poster with the 10 commendments and espessially “you shall not kill” (indeed in France the movie was entitled “Tu ne tueras point”). This moment leads us to his mind and life philosophy that will explain his behaviour in the army.

So, when the war begins he feels his duty is to get enrolled in the army to help his country. But he refuses to use any weapon and to take any human life so he wants to get enrolled as a medic. In his training camp with his unity, he refuses to use the gun and to train with it; his sergeant has to declare it and he’s told in front of all the unity he will be a danger for them and won’t be able to protect them on the front, which leads to bad treatments from his team mates. He is beaten but never renounces even if that is what they all want. Moreover he never snitches on who beat him. This situation is not acceptable for the army and he risks jail, so there is a trial and he defends himself in front of the chiefs of the army, claiming he can go to the front and protect the men of the unity as a conscientious objector.This term designs an individual who claims the right to refuse to perform military service, they are pacifists, but they can (like Desmond) propose another form of service but just refuse to bear a weapon.

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                                                                                     Desmond Doss

If the film is entitled “Hacksaw Ridge”, that’s because his heroism got manifested there. On the front, after fighting, they had to reply but he chose to stay on the mountain beyond the big risks to help the hurt ones and when one was safe he repeated “one more” and said his strength came from God.

After this famous episode  where he saved the lives of over 75 infantrymen, they all started believing in him and respecting him. After that he got hurt and returned home. At the end of the movie, interviews with the persons who inspired the movie are projected and espacially, we have the testimony of 80-year-old Desmond Doss who always denied being a hero..

My personal opinion on this film is very positive. Indeed I found it very inspiring as he is a true hero. I think that whatever your beliefs are, and even if it talks a lot about believing in God, it is not encouraging you to share this belief but more to believe in him, in his courage and his goodness. Moreover, as the movie was shot with nowadays cinema’s technology, pictures of the war are really striking and shocking (dead bodies completely mutilated and I pass the details), the sound aloso emphasizes this oppressing atmosphere of human horror. But I would say that the character of Desmond Doss and his aim are bringing beauty to this horror and that is what this movie is : beautiful.

Céline

EURO 2016 in France

January 5, 2017

Last summer’s event in France

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As all football lovers know, every 4 years, the Euro (football competition) takes place in a European country for 1 month. This year, it took place in France (yay!) and all the games were allocated to different cities across the country; for example, some games were in Paris, the capital (of course :)) at the Stade de France and le Parc des Princes, some others in Marseilles at le Velodrome, in Nice, Saint-Etienne, Bordeaux, Lens, Toulouse…

The competition  firstly started with the pools selections which were composed of 3 phases  of 4 or 5 games.  Indeed the French team opened the competition on Friday June 10th against Romania and the final score was 2-1. Of course, a ceremony was organized as France was the welcoming country; we had the chance to have the famous French Dj David Guetta and the Swedish singer Zara Larsson to animate the show, accompanied by 600 dancers who did a choreography on the theme “Bienvenue en France” (Welcome to France)  which lasted 10 minutes and aimed to highlight the qualities of our great country 🙂

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The show was pretty good and it gave a very festive atmosphere in the stadium which encouraged the players on the field. I had the chance to attend this first game with my cousin and we were in the best part of the stadium: the one with the French supporters who were very excited about the game and the competition started.

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It was a wonderful and incredible time and we saw that French people were proud of their team and, of course, wanted to win! And it happened.

Then, after this first game, the 3 phases took place and so the teams which won were selected for the 8th final. It started on June 25th with a game which opposed Switzerland and Poland, and France played on June 26th in Lyon against Ireland and we won 2-1; it was a great game. The selected teams for the quarter final were: Poland, Portugal, Belgium, Wales, Germany, Italy, France and Iceland.  The French supporters were very proud of their team as during the last competition it didn’t do great results; it was a big surprise for everyone when we saw the French team in Quarter final.

As you may know, the French game took place in the Stade de France on July 3rd and the team was opposed to Iceland. This game was exceptional ! We won 5 to 2 which is unbelievable! The players of both teams were motivated and in good form during the game thanks to the crowd applauses and screams which made the game very interesting to watch.

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I also went to this game with my family and my best friend and we were again in the best part of the stadium; I remember very well this moment, my best friend and I were so excited and happy to be there. We can say that this game was the best one of the competition in terms of goals and atmosphere 😉

After the qualification of the French team, the hope of going to final was really big for the supporters but also for the team. This year was the year of surprises for football; the French team really amazed us and gave us some hope about the future of this great group.  Then, the semi-finals took place on July 6th and 7th: France played against Germany on July 7th in the Velodrome in Marseilles. It was a very good game with a nice atmosphere and a great technique from both teams (but France was better as we won 2-0 ;)).  After this game, everything came very quickly; the media went crazy as everybody talked about the achievement of the French team.; to be in final of the Euro 2016!

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So finally, on Sunday 10th July, the Stade de France in Paris welcomed the final game as it welcomed the first one. A ceremony was organized aswell  with David Guetta and Zara Larsson, and of course all the dancers were there. Moreover, the captain of the Spanish team 4 years ago, Xavi presented the trophey of the competition.

The game was very stressful and exciting too; supporters of both teams were very happy and excited about seeing their country in final. The atmosphere was so festive and everybody was fine and into the game but we could feel a little bit of anxiety too as this game was very important.

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The Portugese team played well and the French too but it was not enough; indeed we lost 0-1. At the end of the game, one part of the stadium was silent; the French supporters were angry and crying as we had a lot of hope in our team and we couldn’t believe in our defeat. On the contrary, the Portugese fans were extremely happy and held their colors very proudly in the stadium: it was the first time the Portugese team had won a competition. I also had the chance to attend this game, and I was very sad about France’s defeat. I must admit that I believed in our team winning the Euro but maybe we thought it would be too easy to play against the Portugese and were less concentrated; indeed the surprise was really big as the Portugese won in extra time (which is not really the game by the way).

To conclude, this competition was very good in terms of football technicity but also very festive and human for the atmosphere. The games were places of exchange and communication between the different supporters which gave a good atmosphere in general. I really appreciate the Euro and I am very proud of our French team 🙂

Valentine

The places to see for Christmas

December 19, 2016

As you know, Christmas is getting close and with it, the Christmas’ decorations. French cities are going to dress up as usual for this occasion. And we are going to suggest beautiful places to you.

Paris

Paris, the capital, is a very beautiful city for Christmas. Here is a little summary of those places you have to go to to enjoy this magical Christmas atmosphere.

The “Galeries La Fayette” on the Boulevard Haussmann  

For a few years, the shop windows of the Galeries La Fayette are decorated with a particular theme for Christmas. This year, the theme is extra polar Christmas. So you can see since November 8th polar bears under special lights in the shop windows, a big white Christmas tree by Lorenzo Papace in the Galeries. Some activities are suggested like seeing Santa Claus or doing workshops. I let you see some pictures of it.

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The “Champs Elysées”
Known as the most beautiful avenue in the world, the Champs Elysées are decorated for Christmas since November 21st. Teddy Riner inaugurated those decorations. The trees are decorated with lights which are inspired by the mechanism of the shooting stars. Moreover, there is a Christmas market which is the most famous in Paris. You can buy French homemade products like foie gras. As in the Galeries La Fayette, you can meet Santa Claus. And there is also an ice rink on the “Champs de Mars” which is accessible from December 15th to January 3rd.

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The Christmas market at La Défense

You can also go to the Christmas market at La Défense if you want to taste the atmosphere of the one in Strasbourg. (that we are going to discover later in this article). But it stays different from Strasbourg’s Christmas market. You can find international products and sometimes not related to Christmas. Go there in the evening. You are going to see the illuminated buildings around La Défense !)

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The Christmas Market Of Strasbourg :

(Click on the link below to see a complete visit of a Christmas Market in Strasbourg)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qi912o5r9lE

In the Alsacian city of Strasbourg (North-East of France, next to the German border) Chritsmas time is a real tradition. It’s even considered sacred for everyone there. In November, people start to decorate their houses with little Santas, lightened moons… I remember as a child, I liked to see all those Santas hanging on a window sill or standing in a garden. Strasbourg is named the “Capital of Christmas”.

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Strasbourg is a big city, so you can find a lot of Christmas markets. The most famous one is named the Christkindelsmärik and is located on the Place Broglie. It’s the biggest one. It stands from November 25th to December 24th. Each year, 2 million of visitors go to Strasbourg to experiment it.

Inside the Christmas Market, you walk among little houses in which you can buy… absolutely anything !

It goes from Glühwein to Bretzels, from food to little presents for your family. The atmosphere is warm and friendly: indeed the sellers talk to you a lot, ask you some questions and most of all wish you a Merry Christmas.

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It is a great idea to spend some time there with your friends, walking quietly on the pathway and admiring all the lights and decorations.

A piece of advice: try the Bredele cakes, they are various little Christmas cakes, typical of Alsace and absolutely delicious !

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year !

Mathilde and Fanny

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Narcos

December 17, 2016

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You may have heard of Narcos, the series produced by Netflix and  created by José Padilha. The second season was released a few months ago. The first season was released in 2015. Each season is made up of ten 52-minute episodes.

The story follows Pablo Escobar, a Columbian narco trafficker, at the head of the Medellin cartel, the biggest cartel in the world during the 1980’s. The story has been fictionalized. Through the episodes we can see his ascent before his fall, but also his personal life and the rivalry with other cartels. We also follow two agents of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) who are investigating on Pablo Escobar in order to stop him.

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The series helps us to have a better understanding of the current situation in Columbia, which is torn between the extreme left wing FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) and the right wing ELN (Ejército de Liberacion Nacional) which is a partisan of the Castro regime.

The huge power of the drug cartels destabilized and challenged the authority of the state, which had to face kidnappings, assassinations of political figures, terrorist attempts and the pressure of the United States who aimed at dismantling the cartels. Indeed, the United States was the first destination for the cocaine of the Medellin cartel, which represented 90% of the cocaine market in the US, with several tons of cocaine sent everyday in the US. In the face of this problem, the United States sent some agents of the DEA in Columbia to cooperate with the local police in order to arrest Pablo Escobar and his cartel.

The series incorporates some archival images in the episodes, and the voice over of one of the DEA agents explains to us some aspects of the situation thus helping us to understand the situation, the chain of events and the reactions of the different characters.

The story is captivating thanks to the suspense and all the twists and turns of Escobar’s life who managed to strike it rich through his cartel and to deal with the local authority with corruption and violence.

Fans are waiting eagerly for the third season to be released.

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Zoé