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If I had to choose just one picture to convey the flavour of expressioniste (Aline)'s wonderful pages (an impossible task) then this still from Albert Lamorisse's 1965 classic Le Ballon Rouge might be it (see here for her post with more stills).

And if I had to choose just one phrase to sum up her pages, it would be the "joie de vivre" which she kindly spreads to all of us. Whether it's her love of all things French, or beautiful fashion, or sunny pictures, or her delight in good food, or any of a hundred other things, I always (reluctantly) come away from her pages feeling much happier about life than when I arrived.

If you like this...

[Enjoy some more "joie de vivre"!]
[French films]



"Garden in the Rain - Paris" © by Ida Macondo



"Rainy dusk in Paris" by Thomas Kinkade (painting as Robert Girrard)

Thomas Kinkade, who died unexpectedly on April 6th, was a self-styled "painter of light" whose idyllic cottages and other works are very popular, although not considered great art by critics.

I do like this painting, done under his pseudonym of Robert Girrard, which he used when exploring the style of French Impressionism.



"Bookstalls in Paris"


"Marchande des Primeurs (first fruit and vegetables of the season)"

Two of my favourite paintings by the Czech artist Tavik František Šimon (T.F. Šimon)




This is a truly wonderful and enchanting movie. Based on the medal-winning semi-graphic book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, written and illustrated by Brian Selznick, it tells the story of an orphan boy living in the hidden crevices and passageways of the Gare Montparnasse in Paris, winding the railway station's clocks and stealing food to survive.

Part of the enjoyment of this movie is wondering where the plot is taking you as various surprises unfold, so describing it too much would be a spoiler. It is an enthralling adventure, a mystery, a celebration of the early development of the cinema, and much more besides.

For the movie's creator, Martin Scorsese, this was obviously a work of love. The creation of the old railway station and its Parisian surroundings is a work of art, with some of the best CGI work you are likely to see, and (unusually) really justifies and brilliantly exploits the use of 3D. If you can still catch it in the 3D format then please don't miss it!

Asa Butterfield is brilliant in the role of Hugo - you may remember him from The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas. I see that he has been chosen to play Ender in the forthcoming movie of Ender's Game, which is the first part of (IMO) one of the finest science fiction epics ever written (reasons given here). I can't imagine a better choice, although I am always nervous about how well great writing will transcribe to the screen.

The wonderfully complex automaton that appears in the movie is NOT a CGI creation - it is quite real, the work of an English creative design and manufacturing team. If you have seen the movie then the automaton is a story that is worth following in its own right (click the bottom right of the above image if you are interested, or go here).

BTW:

The pioneering cinematic work of Georges Méliès that features as part of the story in Hugo also features in The Story of Film: An Odyssey by Mark Cousins, a superb TV series in 15 one-hour parts based on his book. It was one of the best things on TV this year.

If you like this...

[My movies page]




From my friend Rebecca's blog Handmade Bags, Food and France:

Having covered culture and food, I think I should be allowed to mention another shop. I was intent on this trip to visit 'Merci' a concept store (whatever that means) that sells lovely stuff in the 3rd arrondissement. The idea behind Merci was for owners Bernard and Marie-France Cohen who founded Bonpoint to give something back to the people of Madagascar - where Bonpoint manufactured their clothes. Profits from the store go to a foundation in Madagascar that helps mothers to support their children through working as seamstresses. Merci has also teamed up with famous designers who design pieces specifically for the store and who forgo their margin in order to benefit the foundation. Clothes, books, homewares and accessories are beautifully laid out in a charming loft style building complete with a café and friendly staff.

Rebecca owns a lovely property near Aix-en-Provence which is available for rent. We spent a very pleasant 2 weeks there in October 2010 - if you are interested, you can see my photoblog of that trip here.

I watched Ratatouille again recently, and was reminded of what a great (and hugely enjoyable) work of art this is - it's my personal favourite of all Pixar's productions so far.

Click the picture if you would like further ramblings on this subject!



This wonderfully entertaining 2010 movie, the first by French director Luc Besson after a gap of 6 years, is a nice blend of Amélie and Raiders of the Lost Ark, with many original and witty touches of its own.

The French actress and television presenter Louise Bourgoin, whom I had not seen before, makes a cracking heroine, and the other characters (human and otherwise) include some priceless gems of absurdity (you will never again be able to watch a film like The Mummy without cracking up!)

Luc Besson is probably best known for Léon and The Fifth Element. This movie, which could not be more different, shows what an astonishing range this director has.

A good full review, based on an interview with Luc Besson, will be found here.

Thanks to my younger daughter (who bought me the DVD as an early Christmas present) for this great find!



Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, starring Marion Cotillard and Owen Wilson, is a simply delightful movie. It's a feather-light time-travel romantic comedy (with many clever touches), but there is real craft in creating one as enjoyable as this, and this is one of the best. Don't miss it!

Click the picture for a good review.

[More of my favourite movies...]



One of many fine photographs by Christophe Jacrot, from his portfolio Paris in the Rain (if there's a slow link to France, you may have to wait for all the photos to appear!)

Christophe writes:

In my opinion, there are two ways of capturing the world for a photographer; on the one hand grasping its horror, and on the other sublimating it. I have chosen the second. More specifically, I like the way rain, snow and "bad weather" awaken a feeling of romantic fiction within me (climatic excesses are another topic).

I see these elements as a fabulous ground for photography, an under-used visual universe with a strong evocative power, and with a richness of subtle lights. This universe escapes most of us, since we are too occupied getting undercover. Man becomes a ghostly silhouette wandering and obeying the hazards of rain or of snow.

My approach is deliberately pictorial and emotional.


Found on the always-beautiful pages of my friend expressioniste (Aline).


"Painting in La Miroiterie (Paris 20e, 88 rue de Menilmontant) - Oct 2010" by Liliwenn, who writes:

"This alive and artistic place will be destroyed in March 2011. A big shame..."

Liliwenn produces some amazing street art, among other things. Her Flickr site is full of wonderful stuff.

I discovered her on the fabulous pages of DaysEye.


For me, Ratatouille was the most enjoyable movie of 2007. Apart from the appealing story and the staggeringly good animation, there was the wry experience of being educated in the enjoyment of good food by a rat!

Like many people, I suspect, I now take great animation like this for granted. I have to keep reminding myself that thinking about the artistry in this movie (or in any good animated or special-effects movie) as "computer generated" is like crediting the artistry of Rembrandt to the hog bristles in his brushes and to the pigments in his paint!

This article gives some idea of what was actually involved in making Ratatouille. It really is a case of art concealing art (I knew the expression but never looked up its origin, hence the link!). Pixar Animation Studios can be justifiably proud of this one.

(I am glad to see that the DVD also has a copy of the hilarious Pixar short Lifted, which was shown with Ratatouille in our local cinema.)






[Japanese animation at its finest: the master-works of Hayao Miyazaki]
[My movies page]