The Peaky Blinders

The Peaky Blinders is a TV serie (directed by Steven Knight) which represents as much as possible, for me, the attractive and very British atmosphere in the small villages of  19th century. In my opinion, this mixture of darkness, rain, and dust is a great background for a serie.

This one is based upon the story of a criminal group named « The Peaky Blinders » and living in Small Heath in the 19th century. They were very violent and numerous. They had scars and frightened their enemies with razor blades hidden in their cap…This story offered a good beginning.

This universe, with its poverty, underlined violence of the gang in the serie but also the poetry and the beauty which can be hidden in every place, even in the dark streets of a miserable village, cold and dirty. Here, you can see how the pictures are incredibly well brought under control :

 

I can’t help being fond of this serie, it’s a real treasure, and you should see it if you’re attracted by British culture and history : here is a wonderful mix of real facts and poetry.

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

Last month, we talked about the adventure’s novels in class. This work remembers me another novel which was a success last year in France : The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet is the first novel of Reif Larsen, an american author. It’s the story of a gifted young boy (who’s 12 years old), who has a great interest for the maps and the scientific illustrations. One day, he’s called by a museum in order to receive a price for his work. He decides to cross the United States and meet the museum scientists. This travel, is an occasion for him to discover how the world works around him…

A version (in a big size) with a lot of drawings has been published and it’s an amazing object to discover : it’s composed of great tale, beautiful paper and typography with, on the right side, several funny pictures which illustrate the tale. On the following extract, we can see how is presented the begginning of the novel :

I discovered this novel, (which is more than a simple book, it’s a real work of art) because someone offered it to me. The following year, I learned that it will be adapted on the screen. The film, directed by Jean Pierre Jeunet, a french director, was a success too. I can guess it’s because of the universal dimension of the story that all of the editions and adaptations seduced the audience : it remembers us the western universe, the childhood, the dreams of childhood, and the need to travel we all feel in our life.

Finally, as we worked on Mark Twain, I’ll just add that comment made by Stephen King concerning the novel : « Here is a novel which makes the impossible : to gather Mark Twain, Thomas Pynchon, and Little Miss Sunshine. This book is a treasure. »

If you want to know more about the world of T.S. Spivet  I can advice you to go there, it shows how it’s a seducing universe : http://www.tsspivet.com/

The picture of Dorian Gray as a revelation

The novel of Oscar Wilde inspired many adaptations. When I was younger, I discovered this story with the film of Albert lewin (1945) and then, a few months later, I read the comic’s adaptation of Stanislas Gros :

        

This story puzzled me and the atmosphere -a nuance between the glaucous and the luxurious (but also attractive) world of Dorian Gray- seduces me. So, this summer, I thought that I would feel like to read the novel.

And I discovered Oscar Wilde as a genius. They’re so many human’s things he explains by using words. It’s a real pleasure to read him, not only because he has a pleasant writing and a great imagination to create a masterpiece, but also because it’s obviously a difficult and sophisticated work he did. It’s an evidence he took the time to observes the human beings and their behaviours. What a knowledge it is to know so good the human beings! And it’s after this kind of thought he can includes in his novel this sort of sentences, full of wisdom:

“Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.”
? Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

“Never marry at all, Dorian. Men marry because they are tired, women, because they are curious: both are disappointed.”
? Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

And the most noticeable (if we forgot his tendency to sexism), it’s that Oscar Wilde was enough clever and maybe brave to wrote these sentences, in a novel of the 19th century!

Sils Maria, a mix of depth and delicacy

Link

In september, I saw a french film, directed by Olivier assayas. But the film has a british charm, something really deep which magnetizes irresistibly everyone. The first and the most obvious element which remembers us this british atmosphere -between cold forests, the irresistible language with its softness and the warm culture- is the actress Kirsten stewart chosen by the director. I had a lot of prejudices against this one but finally I found her really amazing. Then, Juliette Binoche was great too and this couple is absolutely  captivating on the screen. At this cast we can add Chloé Grace Moretz, an american actress more and more famous in the cinema’s universe.

http://icon.telerama.fr/plurimedia/images/600x800/77211036_523801.jpg

But the most interesting part of the film is its topic : Olivier assayas decided to evokes the difficulty for a woman to grow older, and particularly in the world and the industry of the cinema. Here, the actress faces herself to her youth, on the stage. Actually a theatre producer contacts her to convince her to play another time a play she had already done. But this time she won’t be the daughter, the young one anymore. She will be the mother, the character she despised when she was young and when she played the role of a young girl.

All the pain and the wound the topic raises is developped during the film. It’s probably the most important act of the old actress’s life, it’s an act in a film, a play in a fiction. This choice from the director is really interesting and leads us to question ourself. What’s a play for an actor? What’s the link between fiction and reality, when time goes and never stops? It’s probably one of the best films I saw this year and this work deserves its mention to the festival of Cannes.

Tim Burton’s universe and his poems

Link

Last month, I read a selection of Tim Burton’s poems.

Those one evince a tormented and a bit glaucous nature. I don’t really like the universe of this artist, it makes me feel ill at ease. For me, it’s like if the director had the need to show us his most deep fears. I could say that it shows a lack of decency but it’s more a psychological need that scares and repels me a little bit.

His films are known for this universe he created. Of course, it’s really personal and it’s admirable but I can’t help looking at his work with a critical eye. He doesn’t leave this creation to discover another register. And the greatest artists are, for most of us, those who can change during their work – change their register but also their aesthetic and their subjects. Tim Burton doesn’t really change it, between Edward Scissorhands and Frankenweenie, including Corpse Bride, his world his always dark and mixed of sadness and death.

However, his poems were easy to read and light compared to what I expected. This one his one of my favorites, even if it’s dark, here there is humour and irony :

Voodoo Girl

« Her skin is white cloth,

and she’s all sewn apart

and she has many colored pins

sticking out of her heart.

She has a beautiful set

of hypno-disk eyes,

the ones that she uses

to hypnotize guys.

She has many different zombies

who are deeply in her trance

she even has a zombie

who was originally from France.

But she knows she has a curse on her,

a curse she cannot win.

For if someone gets

too close to her,

the pins stick farther in. « 

The following picture is a selection of different Tim Burton’s illustrations for his poems :

https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ISAaks8A-uE/VGJW5hg-9UI/AAAAAAAAHjU/cGkdRTSd-vg/s1600/famillemonstre.jpg

An original adaptation of Macbeth

This Summer I went to a festival of street theatre. This event is a success for many years and is called « Chalon dans la Rue ». It’s a great experience for any person who’s in love with theatre, circus, dance or art in general.

The most sensational show I saw was the adaptation of the famous and damned  Sheakespearian play : Macbeth.

It was played by a company named « Le Théâtre de l’Unité », directed by Jacques Livchine (a commited actor and director, currently writing a blog to inform his public). First, the representation was really stunning for its direction. It happened in a forest, during the night and the audience had to follow an actress (her role consist of guiding the public in the forest, from a scene to another, « because it’s a wild and dangerous place for paltries people »). She often make funny comments, and quote Shakespare all along the play. The only light came from fires, kindled all around the place.

Then the play was full of humour. The guide’s remarks, the expressions of the actors, and even their gesture were some means to make laugh. In the book, during final scene of war, Shakespeare wrote something like « the forest moves with the soldiers » because they are desguised. So the actors arrived with makeshifts costumes in paper, roughly cut on the form of a tree. They comment : « we didn’t have money anymore ».  These moments in the play were fresh and welcome for everybody in the public. It was a delicate mix of tragedy and comedy.

Finally, the choice of the text was clever, and really interesting for a short play. If I could see another play directed by Jacques Livchine, I wouldn’t hesitate.

 

 

Jane Campion

This Week, all the eyes are turned towards the cinema’s festival which takes places in Cannes. The festival, created in 1946 by Jean Zay, is now 68 years old and this year, the president of the panel is Jane Campion. This New Zealander director and scriptwriter already got a reward in 1993 for his film untitled « The Piano ».

Last year, I saw another film by this artist, untitled « Bright Star » and received with keenness by the review. Abbie Cornish performs as Fanny Brawne, and acts in company with Ben Wishaw and Paul Shneider, who played two poets desperate by the absence of inspiration. Keats, the first of these poets, falls in love with Fanny, despite their opposite natures. In the town of London, during the 19tieth century, they beggin to share poetry but their circle look unfavorably upon this connection.

But this poetical passion will end tragically. The care of details, the settings, the photography, the costumes and all the shots are really wonderful. All was well-planed by Jane Campion, this great film-maker known as one of the most important cinema’s personnality of our century.

Youn Sun Nah and her Jazz

Last year, for the D’Jazz festival, a gifted singer came to Nevers. My parents went to her concert and, when they returned at home, they were really charmed by « her voice and her presence ».

They convinced me to listen to her music and I immediatly fall in love with her songs. This corean singer, who sing in French but also in English, has a complicated career and decided to devote herself to music only around her thirtieth birthday. Her parents were also musicians and she learned to play piano at five years old – an incredible thing for most of us!

I looked at some videos and she emits something really special, a softness, a calm, a concentration and a happiness she manages to transmit to her public. There isn’t a lot of artists who show that sort of emotions. Most of the time, they are happy by another way, they are excited and they move on the scene all the time. Youn Sun Nah is nearly motionless during her concert.

This is possible to discover her music with the link under the article. The video present her version of « My favorite Things », a song wrote by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein for « The Sound of Music », a musical with Julie Andrews.

 

 

The Catcher in The Rye, impressions

I read The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger last month. This novel is considering as a reference in literature in the United States. Published in the 50’s, it’s now a success sold 60 million times. This illustration of the American society was criticized as it was published, because of the hard themes it raises. Actually, Salinger evokes sexuality, alcohol and even prostitution.
According to me, even if the language used is sometimes coarse, it’s not hard to be greatly interested in this story of a lost teenager completely depressed in a lively town as New York.

Another point of Salinger’s writing in The Catcher in the Rye which probably bothered the readers is the character of Holden Caulfield who is an absolute antihero. This boy is out of his parent’s expectations; he doesn’t manage to stay in a school more than a few months, he’s too “wild” for these rich schools; he has the appearance of a perfect looser and, even worse, he seems to be inefficient to love anyone or anything.

Finally, the title of the book is a reference to the poem of Robert Burns named “Comin’ Through the Rye”. At the end of the novel, Holden talks with his sister about this poem and he explains that if there is something he wants to be later, it’s to save children from their death if they risk falling, as in the poem of Robert Burns. This is the last proof of his own sensibility, which is really hidden at the beginning of the novel and which we discover all along the book.
In brief, Holden Caulfield is maybe a projection of our fears, a projection of what we all dread to be, a looser, a poor person out of the society, and out of the time.

Frankenstein, the sequel (1935)

Some time ago, I asked me why the story of Frankenstein generated so many adaptations in the cinema, in the literature, etc. I think that it’s the feeling of culpability, the tragic destiny of Frankenstein which touches the most the readers.

So, when I discovered the sequel of Frankenstein by James Whale  at home, I decided to look at it. This sequel, untitled « The Bride of Frankenstein », was released in 1935, four years after the first film (« Frankenstein »).

The romantic and the gothic dimensions are palpable in this adaptation. The first scene is consacrated to the presentation of the author and her cercle. Mary Shelley is showed as a rich and an elegant woman, dressed in white. Outside, the wind is blowing, the thunder is rumbling and the rain is beating against the windows. These elements are typical of the Romanticism and the Gothic. Moreover, a man in the room says : « That is the Romanticism, outside the elements are unchained, and we contemplate them peacefully ».

Mary Shelley answers that she is afraid by the thunderstorm, but her friend Lord Byron laughs and remembers her that she wrote a horrible story which deals with corpses and monsters.

That’s how the film begins : Lord Byron tells the story aloud to his friends, and the spectator follows it with his narrative.This narrative starts with the symbolic picture of a fire : the inhabitants of the village want to burn the monster (hidden in some ruins) because they think that he killed Frankenstein. But after a moment, the monster and its creator (Henry Frankenstein) wake up and surprise all the inhabitants.

In this film, the gothic atmosphere made a deep impression on me. There are many candles, a lot of fires… even the architecture of the buildings is really gothic. Of course, the black and white emphasizes this dimension.

There are some differences between this adaptation and the Kenneth Branagh’s one.(1994) : Henry Frankenstein collaborates with his teacher after creating the monster, and the beginning of the film is different (Frankenstein isn’t on a boat, and doesn’t tell his story to a stranger). Then the relation betwenn the creature and the old blind man is more touching : for instance, the monster even cries at a moment.

Finally, the creature is more human than monster, compared to the others films. It can be seen on the following picture :

Promotional photo of Boris Karloff from The Bride of Frankenstein as Frankenstein’s monster, Wikimédia Commons.

 

 

 

 

The Hobbit (2012)

Have you ever seen the Hobbit, the film released in 2012? It’s the first one of the recent Tolkien’s cinema adaptation. I saw it at the theatre and I found it well done, even if it was a little bit too long (it lasts 2hours 45) !

I thought the pictures were sometimes linked too quickly, but the effects were clean, and the film sets were beautiful. The technology is probably responsible of a big part of the work, but the sets and the costumes are well chosen and done. The actors are good, and the spectator has sympathy for the characters, especially for the Hobbit.

I prefer this adaptation rather than the previous, because the special effects appeared me easily, and it spoiled me the pleasure to look at a film. So I had a good impression and it made me want to read the books. I had tried before, but I was young and Tolkien’s writing appeared me difficult. I think I will try another time, because he created a fantastic world, like some of modern authors who wrote stories for the youth ( Rowling, Bottero…).

Maybe I was influenced by the enthusiasm of my little brother who is an absolute fan, but I would advise you to see it!