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.

 

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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.

 

 

Say cheese, say French Film Festival, see Audrey, Juliette and Marion

The media launch of the 2017 Alliance Française French Film Festival took place in Sydney during the week, and I was eager to attend, spurred on by the thought that there might be some free food and wine to go with it. Journalists are easily persuaded.

img_0735And my instincts were right. Look what I found.

That’s a plate of cheese (fromage in French).

Or it was. In my hands it soon became a plate of discarded toothpicks, albeit fancy toothpicks with the French flag draped on them. And very tasty cheese it was too.

I even kept some of the toothpicks as souvenirs. Journalists are shameless scroungers!

The French Film Festival is Australia’s largest foreign language film festival, attracting some 160,000 patrons. This year, the 28th year in its history,  the festival will be screening in:

  • Sydney (March 7-30)
  • Melbourne (March 8-30)
  • Canberra (March 9-April 4)
  • Perth (March 15-April 50
  • Brisbane (March 16-April 9)
  • Adelaide (March 30-April 23)
  • Hobart (March 30-April 8)
  • Parramatta (April 6-9)
  • Casula (April 8-9)

Here is the official festival trailer, plus trailers of some films that will be featured. Looks good!

Here’s one for those who like snorkelling, scuba diving and Audrey Tautou.

Here’s one for those who like period dramas, loopy families and Juliette Binoche.

Here’s one for those who like Mr Wrongs, Mr Rights and Marion Cottilard.

Another award for Elle at the Goyas; The Distinguished Citizen is distinguished

The French rape-revenge film Elle, for which Isabelle Huppert won a Golden Globe and is in the running for the best actress Oscar, picked up Spain’s Goya Award for Best European Film, beating films from the UK and the Hungarian film Son of Saul, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film last year. Despite Huppert’s performance, Elle did not make the Oscar nominations for Best Foreign film this year.

Having been to South America recently, I was curious to see which film would win the Goya for Best Spanish Language Foreign Film – the four films in contention were from Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela.

The winner was El Ciudadano Ilustre (The Distinguished Citizen), a comedy from Argentina.

One to look out for should it ever come your way.

The Venezuelan film, Desde Allá (From Afar) was a strong contender, having won the Golden Lion at the 2015 Venice Film Festival. Its topic is confronting.

 

Patience is a virtue at the Goya Awards

A quick follow-up on the previous post. The winning film at the Goya Awards was … da-da-da-da (drumroll) Tarde Para La Ira (The Fury of a Patient Man).

Variety magazine has a good summary of the Spanish film industry awards here.

 

Monstrous acts dominate top films in Spain’s Goya Awards

The Spanish film industry will be in the spotlight this weekend, when the winners of the 31st Goya Awards will be announced. The ceremony takes place in Madrid on Saturday.

Oddly, the film that garnered the most nominations – 12 of them – A Monster Calls, is not in Spanish, but in English and is based upon the book of the same name by Patrick Ness. However, the director J.A. Bayona, and much of the production team were Spanish, and it is a great credit to the Spanish film industry.

I have seen the film and was enthralled by it. It may look like a typical and possibly silly part-animated children’s movie, along the lines of ‘boy befriends an E.T. or a Lochness Monster’ or in this case a scary tree, but don’t be fooled. Emotionally there is a lot going on here that adults of all generations can relate to.

It is one of the five contenders in the Best Film category. The others are:

Julieta, directed by Pedro Almodóvar. 

(Like A Monster Calls, there is a lot of family anguish and soul-searching going on here. I have seen it but despite it getting rave reviews, it left me somewhat cold and unconvinced. For me A Monster Calls was way more satisfying.)

Que Dios Nos Perdone (May God Save Us), directed by Rodrigo Sorogoyen.

(Here two troubled police officers are hunting down a serial killer in Madrid in 2011, just as the Pope is paying a visit. )

El Hombre de Las Mil Caras (Smoke and Mirrors), directed by Alberto Rodríguez.

(This is a political thriller involving a corruption scandal and a Spanish secret service agent who fakes his own death. I could not find a trailer with English subtitles. While the film has been called Smoke and Mirrors in English, a literal translation would be The Man With A Thousand Faces).

Tarde Para La Ira (The Fury of a Patient Man), directed by  Raúl Arévalo.

(This is tale of revenge, full of suspense, with a lot of twists and turns. The Spanish title would be literally translated as Late For Anger. If you are going to see it, try not to read reviews and some reveal too much of the plot)

 

All up, it is not a particularly cheerful bunch of films, is it? The last three in particular are full of macho men behaving badly.

Alexandra Stan wants you to listen, Indila wants you to wait a bit more

Recently I heard a song that’s a mix of French and English by Romanian singer Alexandra Stan. It reminded me in parts of one of the most popular French singers of late, Indila, so I thought it worth sharing. It’s called Écoute, which means “listen”.

In truth there is not much French in the song, but hey, we have to be grateful for what we get, which in this case is the chorus.

Écoute, écoute, écoute-moi
Et suis la route après ma voie
Tu sais bien que je suis là pour toi
Écoute, écoute, écoute-moi

Alexandra is best known for her hit Mr Saxobeat, which was massive – and I mean MASSIVE – in some parts of the world in 2011. For me it was one of those songs that can irritate and yet prove infectious (like Macarena, for example)

In the meantime I (and I am sure many other fans) are waiting for something new from Indila – it’s been three years since her remarkable debut album Mini World and singles such as S.O.S and Dernière Danse made their mark. Still, she has been promising on her Twitter account for a while now that her second album is due out soon. Just to refresh your memories of her, here is one of the other singles from that album.

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Tic-tac, here comes the year of the Rooster

roosterJanuary 2017 has almost gone. The Chinese new year is about to dawn on us. How time flies! What do you plan to achieve in 2017 or in the Year of the Rooster? You’d better hurry, because the clocks are ticking. According to reputable dictionaries (that is, the ones I probably paid way too much money for), in French and Romanian they go tic-tac; in Italian it’s tic tac without a hyphen; in Portuguese tique-taque; in Spanish tictac.

What we need now is a tic-tac song to gee us up. Oh look, here’s one! Even better, the video features waves gently lapping the shore – a symbol of constant, regular motion – and there are nice melodies floating around in it. It’s by Vescan and Mahia Beldo (although only the former appears in the video) and the song has made the Romanian top 10.

What’s it all about? Basically, he is missing the passing of dulce copilărie, or sweet childhood. You can find a rather awkward translation of the lyrics into English here (plus translations into German, Russian and Spanish).

HOW TO SAY ‘TIME FLIES’ IN THE FIVE ROMANCE LANGUAGES

  • French: le temps passe vite
  • Italian: il tempo vola
  • Portuguese: o tempo voa
  • Romanian: timpul zboara
  • Spanish: el tiempo vuela or el tiempo corre (runs)

Although I am not fond of rapping, I do like a lot of the music that Vescan has been involved in – he usually teams up with good singers (an example is Poza de album with Mellina, featured on this post here). In Tic-tac I am impressed with Mahia’s vocals. Here the two perform together live on radio.

How would you like to have Vescan as your language teacher? I think he would be entertaining. No chance of falling asleep in one of his classes!

roosterA happy Year of the Rooster to you

For some amusement, if these things appeals to you, you can find your Chinese new year horoscopes here, but you have to know what animal you are. Find out here.

I’m a rat!

 

 

Do you wish you could turn back timpul?

time-clocks

Image from Pixabay.

How is time treating you? How are your relationships faring five, 10, 15 years down the track? Here’s a song about exactly that, entitled Timpul (time) by Romanian singer Feli, whose full name is Felicia Donose.

Feli was a semifinalist in The Voice Romania contest in 2012 and since then she has released a number of singles either as a solo artist or in collaboration with top Romanian singers. But this one is her best yet and has broken into the Romanian Top 20.

So, what it’s all about? It is too difficult and time-consuming to place the Romanian lyrics and the English ones side by side in this space, but luckily the Lyric Translate website specialises in that sort of thing. Click here for the English translation (there are also Russian and Spanish ones).

Below are the first verse, chorus, and second verse, and finally a live clip of the song.

Versuri:
Îmi spuneai că se poate,
Că pot să scap de trecut,
Doar să-mi dau voie
Să iubesc, să iubesc, dar eu nu am vrut.
Plin de iubire şi răbdare,
Eu te vedeam un prefăcut,
Mă luai în braţe şi-mi spuneai cum nu spuneai oricui
„Lasă iubirea să te-mbrace, dă-i timp timpului”

Refren:
Spune-mi, spune-mi ce e de făcut,
Că vreau să fie ca la început,
Dar tu nu mai vrei, tu nu mai,
M-ai uitat, deşi n-ai vrut
Spune-mi, spune-mi ce e de făcut,
Că vreau să fie ca la început,
Dar tu nu mai vrei, tu nu mai,
Tu nu mai vrei tot ce am avut

Versuri:
Câte îmi arată viaţa,
Câte semne să mă prind,
Cum înclină balanţa
Spre instinct, să-l ascult şi să nu mă mint.
Câte amintiri frumoase,
Ce din când în când m-ating,
Tu mi-ai transformat în vară ficare anotimp…