madame bovary – gustave flaubert

Madame Bovary

My E17 Book Club decided that we’d be a bit more ‘literary’ and read a classic.  We decided on Madame Bovary as it had always featured in the ‘must read’ lists and none of us had actually read it.

Oh. My. God.  How bloody boring is it?  I have not a thing against the classics and have read quite a few (although I’ve obviously always had an issue reading Dracula, as I mentioned before) but this one really felt like an absolute chore.

In fact, out of 5 of us, only one had finished it, and I think that was mainly because he had been off work.  I’d got the furthest through it at 75% – I don’t think the other 3 had even made it halfway.

I can imagine that when it was first published, it was probably deemed as rather racy, but to be perfectly honest, although she has a couple of affairs, NOTHING happens.  At all!

She has a child which she just seems to have no interaction with at all.  She marries a man who is besotted with her and then is immediately bored with being married and views him with complete distaste through no fault of his own.

She seems to fluctuate between wishing she’d stayed in a convent, or become a nurse and then condemning her husband (a doctor) for not being able to provide her with the life of a wealthy woman.

She’s just a nasty, contradictory piece of work.

And there’s a couple of scenes within the story that I just found completely weird – they added nothing to the story and yet quite a lot of effort was put into including them.  There was a whole piece with a guy with a club foot, and then also when she is reacquainted with Leon.  She meets Leon, and he hires a carriage, obviously to initiate their affair, but there are about 4 or 5 pages of this carriage just barrelling along various streets and areas of interest with no ‘action’ described, just the view of the cab-driver and a ‘disjointed voice’ that keeps telling him to carry on.  Tis most bizarre.

It is definitely not a book I would recommend to anyone!

gangsters – france (2002)

gangsters

I recorded this some time ago from the fantastic Cinemoi channel (which I love!).

It took me a little while into the film to realise where I recognised Anne Parillaud from – and then I was stunned I hadn’t recognised her before, seeing as Nikita (1990) is one of my absolute favourite films.

Written and directed by Olivier Marchal, it is the first in the set that concludes with MR 73 that I reviewed previously.

I think that this was even better than MR 73, although other reviews I have read don’t seem to have rated it that highly.

The film starts with what you assume are a couple of gangsters, talking in a club before they make their way to the obviously ‘dirty’ owner and gang in the back rooms, one of them killing everyone he comes across, whilst the other just follows him, watching in thinly-disguised shock.

They steal some diamonds and it ends in a shoot out with a some gunmen in an armoured van.

Well, that’s the first scene.  The story then follows the second guy who is arrested along with his prostitute girlfriend (Parillaud) and taken in for questioning by the police.

All is not as it seems though, and the story hits a few dramatic twists and turns.

I really enjoyed it!  Not the best film in the world.  Not the deepest storyline, but some good acting, and a very entertaining plot.Next I have to get hold of the other film in the trilogy – 36 Quai Des Orfevres.

My rating – 8/10

a town called panic – france/belgium (2009)

PANIQUE AU VILLAGE!!!

Oh my GOD!  Why didn’t I know of the existence of this film?  And even more, why didn’t I know there was a series before there was a film?  I NEED THE SERIES!!!!

*Deep breath*

OK – so, think of the Cravendale adverts with the little plastic figures – this is like a WHOLE FILM of them.  It is SO much better than Toy Story!!

My mate lent it to me for The Girl, and we both just watched it, and were giggling hysterically all the way through.

It’s Horse’s birthday, but Indian and Cowboy (who live with him) have forgotten to buy him a present.  In their panic to get him the perfect present, they go through a number of surreal but hilarious mishaps including destroying Horse’s house, which end in them going on an adventure, encountering a mahoosive giant penguin, underwater monsters and journeying to the centre of the earth.

WATCH THIS FILM!!! (And I’m talking to YOU Lee!!!)

My rating – 10/10

And I will leave you with the trailer (yes, it IS worth having to watch the short ad before it!)

il est plus facile pour un chameau – france (2003)

Il est plus facile pour un chameau

I was actually rather disappointed by this film, as it sounded like the kind of thing the French typically do fantastically – all about family, love, relationships and finding yourself.

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (Carla’s older sister apparently) stars (and I’ve just found out also directed) the story of Federica.  The daughter of a an extremely wealthy Italian businessman, who is on his deathbed in Paris  the city her family have called home since she was a young girl.

With her beloved daddy dying, Federica seems to find that she’s at a point in her life where she should be making decisions and working out what she wants to do.

She is torn between her boyfriend and her ex-lover, she is constantly fighting with her sister, nobody seems to be interested in the play that she has written, and she doesn’t want to end up like her selfish brother.

It’s got everything that should’ve made it a little French delight – but somewhere along the line, it falls short of the mark.  Bruni’s performance was great, but I didn’t really buy into the characters around her, or the situations Federica ended up in – they seemed to jar with her personality.

Oh, and the title translates as “It’s Easier For A Camel…”

My rating – 6.5/10

what sultry means

The gorgeous Melanie Pain

I’ve had a very lucky year so far.  And this was proven once again on Thursday when I was lucky enough to win a competition run by those lovely Cinémoi people to go and see the gorgeous Mélanie Pain at The Jazz Café last night.

I have actually seen her before – she was the most distinctive voice of Nouvelle Vague, featuring on their best album, Bande À Part, and I have seen her twice as part of the band, and then once after she had left them, and I’d gone to one of their gigs and she was actually supporting them.  That was towards the end of 2009.

I was blown away when I last saw her, so when I entered the competition, I thought I’d book tickets anyway – but the gig was sold out!  i was gutted.  And then I got the mail that I had won the competition!!  Woohoo!!  Happy days.

My mate had agreed to go with me, but on thursday night, he went out and got totally drunk, and so had a really bad hangover on Friday, and was making all sorts of indications that he was going to flake out on me.  In the end though, he pulled himself together (mainly out of guilt from the show that he’d dragged me to on Wednesday which was rather ‘interesting’).

He is now officially a little bit in love with Mélanie Pain — which I strongly believe anyone would be if they experienced her live.

Not only does she have THE most breathy, sexy, sultry French singing voice, but she is gorgeous in that easy, chic way and she is FUNNY!!  She can work an audience really well, speaks to them inbetween each song, just generally chatting, saying a bit about the song, explaining anything that needs explaining to a non-French speaking audience.  She swears in English SO beautifully – you just die to her her say ‘fuck’.  And she banters with her band (two men this time – last time I saw her, there was only one), but not in a conspirational way that excludes the audience.  She smiles, she laughs, she breaks into giggles, she looks like she’s really enjoying herself!

My mate went into the gig feeling tired and wishing he’d gone home to bed really, and came out feeling upbeat, happy and just generally ‘lifted’ by the whole experience.

She even sang “God Save The Queen” from her Nouvelle Vague days 🙂 and at the end, the three of them came out into the audience and sang acapella, including some die-hard French fans who knew all the words and had come over to London specially to see them.

If you’ve never heard of Mélanie Pain, I suggest you have a listen – maybe first to anything from Bande À Part by Nouvelle Vague (an album anyone who lived through the 80s should have in their collection!).

ridicule – france (1996)

Ridicule

I’m not sure why I had never watched this film before – it’s brilliant!  It’s a French costume drama set during the pre-revolutionary reign of Louis XVI.

It is directed by the fantastic Patrice Leconte, who is responsible for such gems as The Hairdresser’s Husband, L’Homme Du Train and Girl On The Bridge – all of which I own and love.

Being a period drama, obviously it doesn’t really matter that it’s 14 years old as it is ageless.

A young engineer nobleman travels to Versailles to try and gain the King’s backing to drain the swamps of his homeland to help eradicate the malaria and other diseases which are threatening his people.

Versailles is a place of opulence, showiness, fun and fancy where the people of the court are obsessed with being witty.  the nobleman has to try and win them over to achieve his goals – but how far is he willing to go?

There are some fantastic performances – noteably Fanny Ardent as the devious Madame de Blayac, the fabulous Jean Rochefort as Le Marquis de Bellegarde and the beautiful Judith Godrèche as his daughter.

My rating – 9/10

mr 73 – france (2008)

MR 73

This is a rather grisly French cop film starring the always wonderful Daniel Auteuil.

I’ve just found out that it is the third in a trio of films that starts with Gangsters (which I think I have recorded from Cinemoi) and also includes 36 Quai Des Orfevres which is apparently the best, and I have added to my Blockbuster list.

An MR 73 is apparently a type of gun, which is shown in the film and I have since read that it was a revolver issued to the French elite police.

Louis (Daniel Auteuil) is a cop who has rather gone off the rails – his young daughter was killed in an accident, which also left his wife on a ventilator, near enough a vegetable.  This is never really explained in that much depth and I’m now wondering if the accident happens in one of the other films.

He is on the case of a serial killer rapist (some not very nice scenes) but is taken off of the case.  In the meantime, the daughter of a couple that were brutally murdered 25 years previously contacts him as he was one of the first officers on the scene, and her parent’s murderer is about to be released from prison.

The two stories don’t seem to sit very well together, with Louis the only common factor.

However, I did like the film, and am very interested in the other two now that I know of their existence!  the ending, although quite obvious once the scene set in motion, was extremely well-acted, and quite heart-wrenching even though rather gorey.

My rating – 7/10


them – france / romania (2006)

Them

I picked this little film up for the grand price of one english pound from Computer Exchange.

It takes a lot to make me jump, but jump I did during this film.  It did help of course that i got into the spirit of it – turned all the lights out and watched it on my own.  Although the bloke from British Gas did come around while I was watching, and the doorbell going frightened the life out of me!

The story is of a French couple living in Romania, in their dream home – a large, sprawling old house in the middle of nowhere.  One night, they hear sounds outside, and then their car is stolen.  Soon after this, they realise there is something/one actually in the house, and a night of panic and terror commences.

The suspense through the most part of the film is brilliant, which is why it was quite a relief that it is pretty short – just a 77minute running time I believe!

However, I was quite disappointed by the ending.  In the same way as I was disappointed by the ending of the fantastic Rec.  it felt like the last 5 minutes let the rest of the film down.  I’m not exactly comparing it to Rec (which is a masterpiece throughout…apart from the last 5 minutes), but just the feeling of being let down by an ending that could have been SO much better!

It was a good watch though.  I like jumping!  And who can complain for £1??

My rating 7/10

l’appartement – france (1995)

L'Appartement

I have had this DVD sitting on the shelf for a couple of years, I think, and for some reason forgot all about it!

I’m kinda embarressed that I’ve never seen this before, as I know that it is a film that epitomises French cinema.  All the elements are included – chain-smoking, male-hugging, brooding looks, casual chic fashion, women friends that always seem on the verge of lesbianism, deep-rooted envy, stalking, devastating misunderstandings and a splash of casual sex.

Perfect.

Vincent Cassel is one of my favourite actors, and it’s great to see him 15 years younger playing Max, a Parisian playboy type who has just decided to settle down and propose to his current girlfriend.  However, a chance encounter sends him chasing after Lisa, the big love of his life.

And who would blame him, as it is the infinitely beautiful Monica Bellucci (who he married in real life a few years later).  All is not as it seems though, and him, Lisa, his friend Lucien, Lucien’s girlfriend Alice and a widower called Daniel become embroiled in a web of lies, intrigue and heartache.

My rating 8.5/10

le bouchon breton, old spitalfields market

 

Didn't take any pics apart from this rubbish one of my gorgeous lamb!

 

Being a happy TopTable member, I was lucky enough to have saved up 6,000 points since my last free meal (at Baumann’s Braserrie, Coggeshall) and so I booked for me and The Man to go along to Le Bouchon Breton in Old Spitalfields market last night.

Two courses each from near enough the whole menu (apart from the large sharing platters) – which gave us a huge choice…far more than I was expecting.

The thing I love about getting a free meal is that I am happy to pay for some decent drinks at the same time, as it doesn’t feel quite so extravagant.  So I treated myself to a couple of Cosmos…well…perhaps ‘a few’.  Does three count as ‘a few’?

The whole menu sounded gorgeous, but the highlights for us were the foie gras, gesier and smoked magret salad starter (very decadent) and my gorgeous french trimmed rack of lamb – the meat was just so lamby and tender and gorgeous, the spinach buttery and flavourful and my darphin potatoes were gorgeous!

I had thought before we went that the portion sizes may be quite small, being a French restaurant – but we were surprised by just how much we got on our plate.  The starters were large, and the amount of meat on my lamb was amazing – and the steak was a very decent portion (and beautifully cooked to The Man’s preferred rare)…we had ordered a side of veg, but we really didn’t need it.

In fact, the only disappointment of the evening was that I didn’t have room to order anything from their gorgeous-sounding Dessert Menu.  The dishes that we saw brought out looked gorgeous too!

The service was very professional and not intrusive at all – it was the kind of place you would take your parents to impress them!  (Or maybe your in-laws).  Gorgeous food, lovely surroundings, plenty of places to have a drink before/after – and if you have the points with TopTable, I strongly recommend you spend them there!

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