Three of the best from La Oreja de Van Gogh

La Oreja de Van Gogh are a Spanish band who have been around for two decades and have been highly successful in their home land and in South America. I have skimmed through some of their music while on flights – I always browse the Romance language film and music selections on a plane whenever they are available – but have never really studied La Oreja much at home. Their name in English would be Van Gogh’s ear.

This weekend I heard a friend doing karaoke to Rosas (a No.1 hit in Spain and many South American countries in 2003). So, out of curiosity, I had to look up to see what was it supposed to have sounded like. Here is a live performance of the song, featuring the current lead singer, Leire Martínez.

If you want to sing along yourself, you will need the “letras”. Here they are!

The original lead singer was Amaia Montero, who had quite a different style. Here she is in another chartbuster, Puedes Contar Comigo (You Can Count On Me), also from 2003.

Let’s move on a few years to 2013 when the single,  El Primer Día Del Resto De Mi Vida (“The first day of the rest of my life“) was released. It’s a cheerful one.

I hope you liked this selection. They are definitely a band worth investigating if you want to improve your Spanish.

Salvador Sobral tipped to do wonders for Portugal at Eurovision 2017

Portugal’s entry in the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest is Amar Pelos Dois (Love For Two) by Salvador Sobral, and according to the various betting websites that I have seen, it is regarded as a strong contender and possible winner – some rank it second behind the Italian entry.

The song is entirely in Portuguese (applause, applause) and was written by Salvador’s sister, Luisa. It is a charmingly old-fashioned song, and sounds very Brazilian in a musical sense (though his accent is definitely not Brazilian).

It is a sad song (a man pining for his lover to come back) – and there is a sad real-life story about Salvador that has emerged in recent days – he is in very poor health and in urgent need of a heart donor (details here). For this reason, his sister sang the song at the early rehearsals. Salvador is saving his strength for the finals.

The lyrics of the song have been translated into more than 15 languages here, among them my four other Romances – French, Italian, Spanish and Romanian – as well as English. You can more about Salvador, the song, and some critical reactions to it, here. The following clip will also fill you in.

Good luck to him. The song has grown on me, and I really hope Portugal gets to win the competition for the first time in its history. I fancy going to Eurovision 2018 in Lisbon!

Goodbye to a loved one: The Alan Parsons Project ‘Time’ (com tradução)

I have been streaming the music of The Alan Parsons Project this week. I say this trying to sound modern, but in truth I have been listening in my old-fashioned way – with an old CD plucked out from my collection and inserted into my humble ghetto blaster – which even has a cassette deck in it.

Anyway, I came across a YouTube listing of one of my favourite tracks, Time, which had the lyrics translated into Portuguese, so I thought I would share it.

It’s a poignant, beautiful song. Enjoy.

France’s Eurovision winner this year is … Isabelle Huppert. Ooops! Sorry, wrong envelope, the real winner is …

Eiffel on flagThe Eurovision Song Contest is just around the corner, and there is a great French film doing the rounds that will put you in the mood for it. What’s more, it stars the superb French actress Isabelle Huppert.

The film in question is Souvenir. In it, Isabelle plays a woman who was once a child star but her world came crashing down after she was beaten at a Eurovision Song Contest by ABBA. Oh, the indignity!

Now she lives a humdrum life and makes pâtés for a living at a suburban factory, where a young spunky co-worker cum amateur boxer (Kévin Azaïs oozing great charm and innocence) recognises her. He buys her flowers and chocolates, puts some spark in her life and soon they are in cavorting together in the bathtub. In the midst of this he urges her to make a comeback. He even gives up his, ahem, promising amateur boxing career to become her manager. And yes, she enters the contest to be France’s next representative at Eurovision. What a comeback it would be if she won – the French music industry story of the year!

I wish I could find a video clip of Isabelle singing the song that may or may not cast her into the international limelight, but unfortunately there does not seem to be one around. Nor can I find a trailer with subtitles. But here is the French language trailer, which will give you some idea of the tensions involved in showbiz.

AND NOW FOR A DOSE OF REALITY

So, who is going to represent France at Eurovision this year? That honour falls to an as yet little known singer, Alma, whose debut album is to be released shortly. (You can read more about her here). Her song is Requiem which, under the terms of the French selection process, has to have at least 80 per cent French language content.

The contest takes place in Kiev, Ukraine, from May 9 to 13. Bonne chance, Alma!

THE LYRICS TO ‘REQUIEM’ 

Des amours meurent, des amours naissent
Les siècles passent et disparaissent
Ce que tu crois être la mort
C’est une saison et rien de plus
Un jour lassé de cette errance
Tu t’en iras, quelle importance
Car la terre tournera encore
Même quand nous ne tournerons plus
Embrasse-moi, dis-moi que tu m’aimes
Fais-moi sourire au beau milieu d’un requiem
Embrasse-moi, dis-moi que tu m’aimes
Fais-moi danser jusqu’à ce que le temps nous reprenne
Ce qu’il a donné
Will you take me to paradise?
With you nothing ever dies
You take my smile and make it bright
Before the night erase the light
I won’t go below silver skies
The only dark is in your eyes
On pleure mais on survit quand même
C’est la beauté du requiem
Les étincelles deviennent des flammes
Les petites filles deviennent des femmes
Ce que tu crois être l’amour
C’est un brasier et rien de plus
Nos déchirures, nos déchéances
On pense qu’elles ont de l’importance
Mais demain renaîtra le jour
Comme si nous n’avions pas vécu
Embrasse-moi, dis-moi que tu m’aimes
Fais-moi sourire au beau milieu d’un requiem
Embrasse-moi, dis-moi que tu m’aimes
Fais-moi danser jusqu’à ce que le temps nous reprenne
Ce qu’il a donné
Will you take me to paradise?
With you nothing ever dies
You take my smile and make it bright
Before the night erase the light
I won’t go below silver skies
The only dark is in your eyes
On pleure mais on survit quand même
C’est la beauté du requiem
Des amours naissent, des amours meurent
Ce soir enfin je n’ai plus peur
Je sais que je t’aimerai encore
Quand la terre ne tournera plus
Des amours naissent, des amours meurent
Ce soir enfin je n’ai plus peur
Je sais que je t’aimerai encore
Quand la terre ne tournera plus
Embrasse-moi, dis-moi que tu m’aimes
Fais-moi sourire au beau milieu d’un requiem
Embrasse-moi, dis-moi que tu m’aimes
Fais-moi danser jusqu’à ce que le temps nous reprenne
Ce qu’il a donné
Embrasse-moi, tell me that you love me
Embrasse-moi
Embrasse-moi, tell me that you love me
Embrasse-moi

 

Screen queens, stubborn soldiers and shots in a bar: Spanish Film Festival fare

The Bar copy

Eight people walk into a bar and then … a scene from El Bar (The Bar)

As one film festival closes (I’m talking about Australia’s French Film Festival), so another one begins. And this time, amigos, the featured language is Spanish. And it’s a landmark for the Spanish Film Festival – this will be its 20th edition, with some 34 films to show for it. Here is the schedule.

  • Sydney (April 18 to May 7)
  • Canberra (April 19 to May 7)
  • Melbourne (April 20 to May 7)
  • Adelaide (April 26 to May 14)
  • Perth (April 27 to May 17)
  • Brisbane (April 27 to May 14)
  • Hobart (May 11-18)

Some of my favourite Spanish actresses are featured, and I’m looking forward to seeing these in films in particular:

Penélope Cruz in La Reina De España (The Queen of Spain) 

The Queen of Spain

The film is set in the 1950s and Penélope plays an actress who returns from Hollywood to play Queen Isabella. It looks lavish.

Maribel Verdú in La Punta Del Iceberg (The Tip Of The Iceberg)

The tip of the iceberg

This film takes a look at corporate culture. When three employees of a multinational corporation commit suicide, Maribel plays an executive who is chosen by the company to investigate (and to do a good PR job for it), but the more she sees, the more aghast she becomes. She doesn’t look happy, does she?

 

For those who like war films or historical epics, 1898, Los Últimos De Filipinas (1898, Our Last Men In The Philippines) should do the trick.

 

1898 our last men of philippines

It certainly looks like movie making in a grand style.

 

Another one that looks interesting is El Bar, (The Bar, pictured at the top of this post). In it, people in a bar find themselves caught up in a terrifying episode.

Photographs courtesy of Palace Films. 

It’s Mine Awareness Day; and 10 poor victims will be caught unawares

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In Land of Mine, the second world war has just ended but young German prisoners are kept on to clear Denmark’s beaches of 1.4 million landmines. The fatalities were horrendous.

Today, April 4, is International Mine Awareness Day, as designated by the United Nations. I mention this for two reasons. First, there is a fantastic new film on the topic, Land of Mine (a finalist in the Oscars this year), and I was telling my friends in Romance-language speaking countries about it – the related vocabulary is further down this post. Second, the film brought back memories of my own experience in this regard – in my youth in Africa I was once on the back of a truck that detonated a landmine. Fortunately it was a reinforced vehicle and the injuries were minimal. It’s far worse if you tread on one.

Landmines may seem like a thing of the past but here are some facts that will shock you.

  • In 64 countries around the world, there are an estimated 110 million undetonated
    landmines still lodged in the ground.
  • Since 1975, landmines have killed or maimed more than one million people.
  • On average, 10 people die every day due to landmine blasts.
  • Even with training, mine disposal experts expect that for every 5000 mines cleared,
    one worker will be killed and two workers will be injured by accidental explosions.

LOM_still_099

These details came from the press kit for Land Of Mine, which has just opened in Australia. The Danish mine-clearing campaign was shocking for a number of reasons.

  • It was a violation of the 1929 Convention relating to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.
  • An estimated 2600 POWS were forced to do it. Some were as young as 13.
  • Half of them were killed or injured.

So much for the grim statistics. The film is marvellous and uplifting for the way it shows how, even in the tensest of times, it is possible to break down enmities, to see a friend instead of a a foe – something that I wish political fanatics and bigots all over the world could do today. Do see the movie if you can.

LOM_Still_033

VOCABULARY

How do you say “landmine” and “to explode” in my five Romance languages?

  • In French, mine terrestre; exploser
  • In Italian, mina terrestreesplodere
  • In Portuguese, mina terrestre; explodir
  • In Romanian, mină terestră or mină de uscat. (When I asked a Romanian friend he said “something like teren minat” but that’s his story.) a exploda, a detona
  • In Spanish, mina de tierra, hacer volar/estaliar/explotar

Photographs supplied courtesy of Palace Films.

French film festival update: here comes the extended version

ETERNITY_14Great news for Francophiles in Sydney and Melbourne: the 2017 Alliance Française French Film Festival has been extended in both cities until April 5. And if Sydneysiders still can’t get enough, don’t forget there are screenings in the suburbs of Parramatta and Casula from April 6-9 and 8-9 respectively.

Here is the amended schedule. I have included all starting dates, so you can roughly plan ahead for next year too.

  • Sydney (March 7-April 5)
  • Melbourne (March 8-April 5)
  • Canberra (March 9-April 4)
  • Perth (March 15-April 5)
  • Brisbane (March 16-April 9)
  • Adelaide (March 30-April 23)
  • Hobart (March 30-April 8)
  • Parramatta (April 6-9)
  • Casula (April 8-9)

Go here for films and session times: the 2017 Alliance Française French Film Festival.

The image is from Éternité (Eternity), the first film in the French language from Vietnamese-born director Tran Anh Hung of The Scent of Green Papaya fame. It examines the lives of three generations of an aristocratic family, and stars what Variety calls “an embarrassment of great actresses” (as does the whole festival itself), including Audrey Tautou (above), Bérénice Bejo, Mélanie Laurent and Irène Jacob.

Highlights from the French Film festival – and a Danish gem

In Australia the 2017 Alliance Française French Film Festival is in full swing, and I have been trying to immerse myself in it as much as I can in my spare time. By coincidence or not, I have mostly been cast back in time to the Second World War. I guess it is a period in history that still fascinates, and still nags at our conscience. It produced so many dramatic stories showing the best and the worst of humanity – heroism, cruelty, hate, bravery, love and compassion –  that we can now get to see in the comfort of a cinema, unlike the poor souls who had to live (if they were lucky) through such ordeals.

Here is what I have enjoyed so far.

Planetarium

Planetarium 1

Lily-Rose Depp and Natalie Portman share a sisterly smoke in Planetarium

Planetarium is set in prewar Paris. Lily-Rose Depp and Natalie Portman star as two broke American sisters who hold seances with the dead.  Initially you suspect they are charlatans. But when they conduct a seance for a wealthy movie producer (played by Emmanuel Salinger) it seems someone from the dead wants to strangle him, and nearly succeeds. And he seems to find this erotic, and becomes fascinated with the whole process! And so we venture into the strange world of the dead and the decadent world of the 1930s European elite, until the war looms and things get sinister. Visually, it’s an enthralling spectacle.

The film starts off as a mix of English and French, but as the two sisters (newly arrived from Berlin) get more fluent in the local language, the English fades away.

A Bag Of Marbles

Tournage Un sac de Billes

A lighter moment by the seaside for the young heroes of A Bag of Marbles.

This is a great new film based on Un Sac De Billes, the memoirs of Joseph Joffo – a film of the same name was made in 1975, two years after the book was published. It tells the hair-raising and harrowing story of two brothers Joseph, 12, (played superbly by Dorian Le Clech), and Maurice, 17 (Batyste Fleurial). Being Jewish, they have to flee Nazi-occupied Paris for the demilitarised zone in the south, getting separated from their family in the process, but as the war progresses, so do the perils.

When we came out of the cinema, I heard a mother ask her teenage son what he thought of the film. “It was fantastic, really fantastic,” was the reply. I couldn’t agree more.

Land of Mine

LOM_Still_061

Not so fun times on the beach in Land of Mine.

Still on the Second World War two theme, at the cinema there was also a preview screening of the Danish film Land of Mine, which was a finalist in the Best Foreign Film category at the Oscars this year. It too is fantastic, really gripping. Young German prisoners have to stay on in Denmark in the immediate aftermath of the war, clearing all the landmines on the beaches. Explosive stuff. It opens in Australia on March 30.

Don’t miss out

The French Film Festival is Australia’s largest foreign language film festival, and this year is the 28th in its history.

  • Sydney (March 7-30)
  • Melbourne (March 8-30)
  • Canberra (March 9-April 4)
  • Perth (March 15-April 5)
  • Brisbane (March 16-April 9)
  • Adelaide (March 30-April 23)
  • Hobart (March 30-April 8)
  • Parramatta (April 6-9)
  • Casula (April 8-9)

Photographs supplied courtesy of the 2017 Alliance Française French Film Festival and Palace Films.

 

Smooth songs about love and loneliness

Sibiu reedited (74 of 261)It’s Saturday, it’s raining outside, as it has been for much of March in Sydney, and the coffee is steaming beside me on the desk. I am editing photos of Eastern Europe for my travel website Time to Wander, but mentally I am back in Romania and would much rather be having coffee on this cute shady terrace in Sibiu (right).

Another language course there this northern summer, maybe? Travel fantasies are getting stronger.

To enhance the mood, to refresh my very rusty Romanian language skills, I have been listening to songs in the Romanian charts from the likes of Kiss FM top 100 and a blog on Romanian charts that I love trawling through. Both feature a mix of local and international artists, in other words a mix of songs in Romanian and English, although occasionally Spanish and French features too.

Here, in no particular order (although number four is my favourite song of the moment in any language), are some songs that I have found appealing. I hope you do too. If you are interested in the lyrics you will usually find them on the Versuri website. and translations (into various languages) on the Lyrics Translate website.

1) DEEPCENTRAL – Dependent

Tick tock goes the clock when you wake up alone and want company.

2) VUNK- Hai, mersi

She’s gone, he misses her night and day, but could there be a happy ending?

 3) 3 SUD EST – Cine esti?

Three men who can sing superbly together are haunted by a mysterious woman.

4) BIANCA & DOMG – Te vreau, dar nu te vreau

A sweet lament on fickle lovers who want but don’t want.

5) ANDI – Luni

Every day feels like a Monday since you left. But the accordion is jaunty!

It’s the weekend: have some Drinkee with Sofi Tukker and go tonto

Sofi Tukker are a New York-based musical duo who have an affinity with the Portuguese language. And it hasn’t prevented them from gaining international recognition – including a Grammy Award nomination this year for their song Drinkee, which has Portuguese lyrics and was also used to great effect on an advert for Apple watch.

Here is the song and to help you follow it, the lyrics.

Com Deus me deito (With God I lie down)
Com Deus me levanto (With God I get up)
Comigo eu calo  (With me I go silent)
Comigo eu canto  (I sing to myself)
Eu bato um papo  (I have a chat)
Eu bato no ponto  (I clock in*)
Eu tomo um drinque  (I have a drink)
Eu fico tonto  (I get dizzy)

The lyrics are taken from the poem Relógio by Chacal, (born 1951, real name Ricardo de Carvalho Duarte). Relógio means a watch, clock or timepiece and there is some very useful contemporary vocabulary in it.

calar (calar-se in the reflexive) means to go quiet or to silence. A most useful derivative from it is cala a boca, which means shut up!

papo is a colloquial word that is very much in vogue thanks to chat sites on the internet. bater um papo is to have a chat, and bate-papo is the noun form of chat (more prevalent in Brazilian Portuguese than that of Portugal). Ele é um bom papo means he is a good talker or a gasbag. Bater is to beat, strike or hit.

* Bater no ponto is hard to translate exactly. I’ve also come across bater o ponto or simply bater ponto, meaning to clock in, to go full circle. Some translation apps say to hit the spot.

Tonto is one of my favourite adjectives in Portuguese. It can mean dizzy, lightheaded (especially after a few drinques) silly or stupid.

Here is another song by Sofi Tukker using Portuguese lyrics from a Chacal poem, the lyrics to which can be found here.