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Malta

March 25, 2017

This summer I went to Malta, an English speaking country. Landscapes are beautiful.

At the beginning I was a little bit disappointed concerning  the beach because I was expected sandy beaches as other islands in the Mediterranean sea (Corsica for example) which is not the case. In fact, in Malta,  sand is very uncommon and there are not really beaches as we know them;  it is hard to describe as it is made of some rock formations.  Finally I found it better because you don’t have sand everywhere afterwards, so it is practical.

The main city is Valletta. It is interesting to visit because it is really different from the other places and there is kind of a medieval aspect and a great view on the countryside.  Though Malta is a little island, we can have several landscapes which is a good thing.

Moreover,  Malta is known for its parties and night clubs. There is an area in St Julian named Paceville where we can find a street just with night clubs and there are free.  During the summer, however, I would not recommend it for people who are about 30 years old,  because there is a lot of teenagers.  In order to enter the club you have to be 17 years old, consequently people in it are “young”.  We can also find some other more selective parties where the age is not so low: boat party, pool party… It is very exciting and in all the parties (even in night clubs) I mentioned, the atmosphere is good and we can easily meet other persons.  But you have to pay attention if you are a girl, and above all it is important to be careful and reasonable with the drinks.

If you travel to Malta, I really advise you to go to Comino. It is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. On the one hand you can see the clear blue water and when you turn around you can observe an arid area with cacti: it is amazing and wonderful.  You can also visit Sicily for a day because it is not far from the Island.

As far as food is concerned, the culture is close to Italy because of the geographical aspect: the food is delicious and not very expensive. Actually, the life in Malta is not as expensive as the life in France or in England for example.

To conclude, I really advise you to visit the country because it is not expensive and honestly very amazing.

Have a nice trip!!!

Maya

LA LA LAND, a story of fools who dream

March 23, 2017

La La Land is a movie directed by Damien Chazelle ( Whiplash) which came out in 2016 in the US.

It tells the story of Sebastian, a pianist who wants to open his own Jazz club and Mia, a young woman who dreams to be an actress. The fate will bring them together but they will have to choose between their love and their career.

This plot seems to be quite common, but in fact this film is completely original. We can say it is a musical because the songs appear between the scenes but the way it is directed makes it very realistic. Chazelle was inspired directly by the great American musicals of the 50’s (Singing in the Rain, An American in Paris), but also by the musicals from the French new wave like Les Parapluies de Cherbourg or Les Demoiselles de Rochefort by Jacques Demy. The director made a tiny reference to Les Parapluies by adding, in front of the cafe where Mia works, an umbrella store, with the word Parapluies written in bold letters.

The musical scenes are  taken in one or two long sequence shots, and everything is filmed in real locations. This movie is a tribute to the city of Los Angeles, to the dreamers who did auditions and always tried to get to success. I think one of the most beautiful scenes is probably when they are in a park, and they have a wonderful view on the city when the sun goes down.

Damien Chazelle had the idea of this movie when he was in college with his best friend, Justin Hurwitz. They were both in a band, Chazelle was playing the battery while Hurwitz was playing the piano. Chazelle first wanted to direct La La Land but all the producers refused his idea so he made Whiplash with a very low budget compared to big Hollywood movies. As a result, they won three Oscars ! Not too bad to begin a director’s career. Hurwitz scored Whiplash and La La Land. To do La La Land‘s music, he started with Mia and Sebastian’s theme which is played on the piano by Sebastian. He proposed to Chazelle 34 versions of it before finding THE good one which shows well the melancholy and the poetry of their relationship. This song is called “Late for the Date”.

Late for the Date : https://www.youtube.com/watch=2MN_lhz9xSw&list=PLywiNEAPE4I9mIv_edkzGeyJkeJmB9b8J&index=3

The characters of Mia and Sebastian are played by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Emma Stone has a very expressive face and her acting skills are brilliant; she gives a lot of emotions in every scene and she really shows her character’s evolution, the way she gains self-confidence and the way she makes her voice evolve is amazing. At the end of the movie she has a very emotional scene with Gosling when she tells him she is tired of doing auditions and failing over and over, and she really transmits beautiful emotions to the audience. There is also the moment she sings for the last time in the movie and she is completely astonishing. Hurwitz said in an interview that during the shooting of this scene, she had to sing in live, and she was able to give the same emotion at every take so much, that he was afraid to ruin the take because he was playing the piano at that moment. She really is an inspiring actress who auditioned for six years before getting the part of Olive in Easy A, which was her first big part who made her known worldwide.  Then she had a lot of success with The Amazing Spider-Man, Birdman, Crazy, Stupid, Love and The Help.  For La La Land, she won the Oscar and the BAFTA for best actress.

Ryan Gosling is also wonderful as Sebastian, a pianist who wants to open his own club but can barely keep his pianist job in a little bar. His interpretation in “City of Stars” is really melancholic and beautiful, and he is great because he only had 6 weeks to learn to play the piano, and his interpretations are gorgeous, especially in the end.

This film is really inspiring, beautiful, poetic and it was like a revelation to me. It explores the power of the cinema. How can an image bring happiness or sadness to an audience ? I cried a lot in the end, the first time I saw it. But when I got out of the movie theater I had a big smile on my face.  When you get out,  you wish you could live in a musical.

It is sad La La Land didn’t win the Oscar for best picture, because they totally deserve it. At least, its success around the world is completely deserved.

Here is an extract from the Making of the movie : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwuoSDNc660

Gabrielle

The Neighbourhood

March 16, 2017

The NBHD is an American group of Indie-rock, formed in 2011 at Thousand Oaks, California. Their texts are full of emotions (very various such as anger, love, suspicion, sadness…)

5 people are part of the band : Jesse James Rutherford (singer), Jeremy Freedman and Zach Abels (guitar players), Michael Margott (bass player) and Brandon Fried (drums).

They made a first album named I Love You in 2013 and a second one Wiped Out ! in 2015.

Those albums are quite known by their fans, but there is also a third one, which is a mixtape named #000000 & #FFFFFF (that means black and white in computer language) which is pretty awesome.

Their most famous song is “Sweater Weather”, which deals with adventure and California state, the way they live and the way they travel; still with big emotion.

Female Robbery” is one of my favorites (because I can’t choose only one) : This song leads to different interpretations and I suggest you to listen to it before reading some of them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwK7-u_0VWk

My opinion is that this song is about depression and real loneliness. The darkness and scare inspired by the blackness of the souls of people suffering in the inside of their minds.

Through these songs, I read an authentic message, and I feel myself a little better while listening. We can identify ourselves with the sayings and it’s really great to know that our feelings are kind of understood somewhere.

But not everyone can appreciate this kind of dark Indie music, it is really specific and somehow unforgettable. The NBHD doesn’t sound like any other band, and the little ounces of resentment we identify in the tracks, make them absolutely unique.

If you want to discover The NBHD, I suggest that you listen to the 5 following songs which are, in my opinion, the best :

  • Lurk
  • Afraid
  • Cry Baby
  • Let It Go
  • Flawless
  • Daddy Issues
  • The Beach

Sorry, I couldn’t restrain myself to only 5 of them.

Anyway, I think the songs talk by themselves and convey a different message, depending on who is listening. So the best is to give it a try and make your own opinion.

Mathilde

POINT FINAL / MONSIEUR LE PROF

March 11, 2017

A few days ago, I bought a book I was thrilled to read : Point Final by William Lafleur.

 

Monsieur le Prof, qui vient de sortir un livre en forme d'agenda, espère garder son anonymat le plus longtemps possible.

Monsieur le Prof, qui vient de sortir un livre en forme d’agenda, espère garder son anonymat le plus longtemps possible.

 

William Lafleur (which is a fake name) is an anonymous 27-year-old teacher, famous on Twitter and Facebook. He spends a lot of time writing funny stories about school, his pupils, the cafeteria or even the other teachers. Under the pseudo “Monsieur Le Prof”. He never allowed us to really know who he is, he also never showed us any picture of himself. He is followed by more than 200 000 people on each Twitter (@MsieurLeProf) and Facebook.

This book is related to a blog he wrote years ago : he was living alone in a foreign country and only saw his family and friends by the screen. That made him think that they were living without him, he decided to turn this into a story.

He also wrote a second book but this one is less serious, and more about his teaching profession. He did other journeys, including writing some other blogs (Bon j’me casse). He is a really active man despite his teaching profession in a Parisian banlieue high school.

The story, here it is : A man who decides to fake his own death. But before that, he had to put microphones and cameras everywhere in the house so he could observe the actions and the reactions of his family. He wanted to know how they would live with the knowing of him dead.

This plot is really great: it is original and moving. We are attracted by the sensitivity of the main character who tries to keep his own humanity after his death. He considers this as immortality and paradoxically, can’t even enjoy it.

Here is an Amazon link if you want to discover this book : https://www.amazon.fr/Point-final-William-Lafleur/dp/2749929512

Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll like it, on a couch and with a warm cup of coffee !

Mathilde

Inspiration : Rudolf Nureyev

March 9, 2017

“An escape in the line of the spy novels of the Cold War” René Sirvin.

Between KGA and CIA, truths or fictions, the history of Nureyev overflows with incredible events.  His youth itself resembles a film. Nureyev, the fourth child and only son of Hamet and Farida Nureyev, was born on 17 March 1938 on the Trans-Siberian Lake Baikal.

Great performer, Nureyev also defrays the chronicle by his sexual appetite. Homosexual, not only did he become a political icon but also an erotic one. “In the middle of the Cold War and the expansion of mass capitalist culture, he is the right person at the right time,” says Christophe Fiat. “He is emblematic of sexual liberation in the 1960s. Like Jackie Kennedy, but his lovers are men, his escort boys. “

While Kirov Ballet was preparing to go on a tour to Paris and London, Nureyev’s rebellious character and non-conformist attitude made him an unlikely candidate for a trip to the West, which was to be of crucial importance to the Soviet government’s ambitions to portray their cultural supremacy.
Nureyev was seen as breaking the rules about mingling with foreigners, which alarmed the Kirov’s management and the KGB agents observing him. The KGB wanted to send him back to the Soviet Union. As a consequence, Sergeyev (Kirov’s artistic director) told him he would have to return to Moscow for “a special performance” in the Kremlin, which, of course, was just a pretext to send him back in the USSR and punish him for his attitude in Paris. As Kirov refused, Sergeyed told him his mother had fallen severely ill and that he needed to visit her in emergency. Nureyev refused again, believing that on return to the USSR he was likely to be imprisoned.

While Nureyev (also spelt Noureev) was partying in France, he met up with two of his close friends including the dancer Pierre Lacoste and Clara Saint, who was engaged to the son of the French Minister of Culture Andre Malraux. Pierre Lacotte, who was at the airport with him, says: “He threw himself on me and said,” Someone’s just spoken to me, it’s terrible, it’s over…I’m being sent back to the Soviet Union, and I will never dance again. I’m going to end up in Siberia.” However, also monitored from the corner of the eye by KGB agents, Lacotte wrote the name and telephone number of C.Saint on a piece of paper that he managed to hand it stealthily to a stranger. Clara Saint eventually came, and spotted Rudolf sitting at the aiport’s bar. The two agents of the KGB intercepted her, but, playing with her charm, she managed to coax them by making them understand that she came to bid farewell to her friend.

Clara and Nureyev quickly exchanged a few words in English:
“I want to stay here. Please help me!”
She worried :
“Are you sure ?”
“Yes, I’m sure.”
On arriving at Le Bourget, Clara had spotted an antenna of the French police on the upper floor, she thus ran to call the French police.
“There are downstairs two KGB agents who want to return a Kirov dancer to his country by force, when he does not want it.”
Nonetheless, Noureev had to come by himself to the police. As a consequence, C.Saint leant towards her friend and whispered (in order not to be heard by the guards) :
“Look at the two policemen leaning on the bar. You go to them and tell them you want to stay here.”
Rudolf leapt to his feet and fled at full speed towards the two policemen. Still running, Rudolf shouted to the two Frenchmen “I want to stay in France! I want to stay in France!”

Nureyev trembled with all his members. He saw the two guards of the KGB rushing on to him and trying to seize him. In Russian, they cried that he was being kidnapped, but the two French policemen did not let themselves be impressed.
They dragged the star of the Kirov into a room to ask him to think carefully about his decision. Noureev hesitated for 20 minutes. If he pushed the door through which he entered, he would be recovered by the two Soviets with no other hope of getting out of Russia.
If he pushed the other door behind which the two Frenchmen were waiting for him, it was freedom, but also the loss forever of his mother, his country, his youth.
He had a few minutes to choose between two futures, two destinies. The rest of the story is known.

R. Nurevey chose liberty and obtained the political asylum. However, the Sovet Union sentenced him in absentia to seven years in prison for high treason. Nevertheless, Rudolf was free to dance around the world.

Dance career :

From 1962, Rudolf Nureyev danced for several years at the Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, London. Star of the Royal Ballet, Margot Fonteyn  (42 years old) would become his most beautiful partner. Both would form the most famous pair of the universe of ballet.

Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev danced for the first time together “Giselle” on February 21, 1962. When the curtain fell that night, the audience was so amazed that there was a silence of a few moments before the applause, followed by 23 encores.

In 1964 Rudolf Nureyev created his first Swan-Lake choreography for the State Opera of Vienna. In this ballet he interpreted the role of the prince alongside Margot Fonteyn who interpreted Odette and Odile. At the end of a performance, there were 89 curtain levies, a unique event in the history of ballet. It was only in 1982 that Rudolf Nureyev became an Austrian citizen and was appointed an honorary member of the Vienna Opera.
As a matter of fact, Rudolf Nureyev performed on the stage of all major international companies. The star received $ 7.9 million a year, the biggest fee a dancer has ever received.

In the 1980s, Rudolf Nureyev danced regularly at the Paris Opera. He was appointed director of the ballet of the Opéra National de Paris on 1 September 1983 by Jack Lang, then Minister of Culture. Rudolf Nureyev held that position until 1989.

After many requests, he finally obtained from Gorbachev, at the end of 1989, a forty-eight-hour visa in Leningrad to see his mother. He returned to St. Petersburg for the first time, quoting Ossip Mandelstam’s verse: “Return to my city known to tears …”, to visit his dying mother.

Disease and death :

In 1984, when Rudolf Nureyev lost a lot of weight and suffered persistent fever, he underwent medical examinations and discovered that he had HIV (AIDS). For many years he denied the fact. When, by the year 1990, he became obviously ill, he courageously fought his disease without ceasing to dance. He tried several experimental treatments that did not slow the inevitable degeneration of his body. He appeared emaciated and had more and more difficulty moving. He had to, eventually, face reality. At that time, his courage aroused the admiration of many of his detractors. His physical decay made him suffer, but he continued to fight by showing himself in public. During his last public appearance on October 8, 1992, for the first of his production of La Bayadère at the Palais Garnier after Marius Petipa, the audience gave him a standing ovation.

Rudolf Nureyev died in a clinic in Levallois-Perret three months later, on 6 January 1993, at the age of 54. The presenter of the French television news channel, Christine Ockrent, made the announcement:

“He had the burning look as well as the movements of a beast. Powerful and shuddering, the Tatar prince, the lord of the dance, who fled the communists, Rudolf Nureyev died in Paris. He was only 54 years old.”

During the same show, Pierre Bergé, director of the Opéra National de Paris at the time, declared:

“It’s great to have 19 out of 20. It’s very rare to have 20 out of 20. But to have 21 out of 20 is still much rarer. And that was the case of Nureyev. Rudolf Nureyev is the lord of dance, an unclassifiable dancer”

Tributes and Distinctions :
– Rudolf Nureyev was made a Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1988.
– On October 8, 1992, the then Minister of Culture, Jack Lang, awarded him the highest cultural award, making him Commander of the Arts and Letters.
– At the Opéra National de Paris, a “Tribute to Rudolf Nureyev” dance evening takes place every ten years. They took place on 20 January 2003 and 6 March 2013.

Video “The Nutcracker”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWVU-eZx6ZE

Video (rare solo) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEcqgA6Q5YA

 

Shanel

Rumanian demonstrations

March 6, 2017

On 1st February 2017, about 300 000 Rumanians were marching on the street because of a law that will alleviate the sanctions in case of corruption. Actually, these law were not supposed to be presented in front of the parliament. It was just the decision of the government, because they knew that it would never be accepted. Marches like that, have never been seen, since the fall of the dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu in 1989.

These demonstrations pointed out the new vision of the Rumainians owing to the fact that corruption has always existed  in the country.

governement-without-corruption

demonstrators asking for “a government without corruption”

Furthermore, this is also important because if they elected this president it was, first of all, to fight against corruption problems which happen in Rumania. As an exemple, previously, even if you deserved it, you had to pay for the obtaining of your degree or other sort of diplomas.  That shows that they do not want such a thing anymore. Moreover, these marches lasted for days in Bucarest (main city in Rumania).

people-take-part-in-a-demonstration-to-protest-against-government-plans-to-reform-some-criminal-laws-through-emergency-decree-in-bucharest_5793169

This situation is unusual because these people do not have in their culture to be revolted and to denounce openly the government and its law. That shows progress in Rumanians’ minds. Consequently, after a week, the government decided to abrogate this bill due to the fact that they do not want to separate the population into two camps. But that was not enough for Rumanians; they were very angry and they wanted to change government. In fact, its reputation will be affected and it will not be livable anymore. That is the reason why, among others, Florin Jianu, the minister of Commerce took the decision to resign.

661%2ffrancetv-actu-articles%2fc01%2fe01%2f0372d0bc7e49bccce81fa4e867%2froumanie-manifestations-contre-le-gouvernement-a-bucarest-11768203

Currently, the situation in the capital city has quieted down a little but the problem is clearly not solved yet.

Maya

Agnès Martin-Lugand: one of my favorites modern authors

March 4, 2017

Agnès Martin-Lugand:

aml-face

First of all, I discovered Agnès Martin-Lugand’s books 2 years ago when I had to buy (a lot of) books for my 20 day-road trip in California in America during the holidays.

aml-couverture

I found her book called Entre mes mains le bonheur se faufile (= between my hands happiness weaves in and out) in a library and I remembered that I really loved the summary on the last page:  the novel  is about Iris, a young woman who is totally fascinated by the couture, drawing her own models and giving them life with a needle and a thread.  This is her passion, it is what she lives for and what makes her  happy.  Unfortunately, her parents didn’t see this passion the same way and obliged her to do financial studies. So, Iris is upset, disappointed and has a banal life in the French countryside with a husband who doesn’t even pay attention to her. But one day she has the chance to go to Paris to study and work in a fashion workshop.  Her new life begins with many adventures and several meetings with different persons who will impact her life. With the portrait of a young woman searching for her identity and her real passion,  this novel drives us into a diabolical adventure, and like the heroine, the reader can’t get away from it.

I really loved this book as I can, in a way, identify myself with the main character; as a fashion lover since my youngest years, this novel has really touched me and helped me to reach my goals and make sure I will follow studies corresponding to my passion: Fashion.  But I was the only “artist” in my family and my parents were not very enthusiastic about my projects after high school, i.e integrate a fashion school in Paris or abroad. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone who loves the amazing world of fashion and to those who want to know more about it. You will discover the atmosphere and the feelings of working in a Parisian workshop.

Then the second book I read from this author is the first tome of a series of 2 novels:

aml-couverture-gens

  • The first one is called Les Gens heureux lisent et boivent du café (= happy people read and drink coffee). The story is about a woman, Diane, who has suddenly lost her husband Collin and her daughter Clara in a car accident. Since this tragic event , Diane cannot do anything apart from crying and wearing her husband’s clothes: hopefully, her best friend Felix is by her side and decides  that she needs  to go on a trip to free her mind and start a new life.  Even if she was against this idea, she moves to Ireland  in a really small village where she rents a big house next to the beach. Thus, she discovers  new landscapes, and meets new  persons that we will follow during the whole book.

Even if the literary style is not as elegant as other authors, this book is wonderful. The reader really takes part of the story and is captivated by the characters (I can tell, I finished this book in one day and one night as I really loved it); he can imagine the lanscapes as the main character goes all along the story and can feel  Diane’s emotions. I really enjoyed this novel because of the very endearing characters, of  their personalities  and beacause  of the atmosphere that pervades the whole story; at the beginnig there is a mourning atmosphere as Diane tells what happened to her family and then, as she is evolving and changing, the atmosphere becomes livelier and livelier, lighter and more favorable for Diane’s recovery.

aml-couverture-lavie

  • Then, the second book of the series is called La vie est facile, ne t’inquiète pas (= don’t worry, life is easy). This novel is the sequel of the latter. Thus we discover Diane’s life a year after her return from Ireland. She has succeeded in forgetting the relation she had with Edward to start anew in the capital. With the help of Felix, she restarts her project of a literary café and meets Olivier, a nice and caring man who understands the fact that she can’t have children anymore. But, some unpredictable events occur and disturb the woman by questioning the choices she made and may change her life forever.

 

In this sequel, the reader discovers a new part of Diane, a working girl and a fighter in everything; she is totally changed by Olivier and it feels good. Indeed, through her love story we have access to what she feels and what she regrets. I really enjoyed this second book as I was engrossed in the story and was captivated by the different things that happened to this woman.

I would definetly recommend you to read, at least, one of Agnès Martin-Lugand’s books. They are amazing and captivating, they are perfect to feel different emotions and not to feel lonely with our daily struggles 😉

Valentine