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L’élégance du Hérisson

In Uncategorized on June 28, 2011 at 11:42 pm

L’élégance du hérisson est un livre de Muriel Barbery de 2006 qui a été ensuite adapté au cinéma en 2009 par Mona Achache. L’histoire raconte la vie de 3 individus habitant le même immeuble dans un quartier bourgois parisien. Renée, 54 ans, est la concierge du 7, Rue du Grenelle. Mordue de littérature elle dévore les Proust, connait sur le bout des doigts certains auteurs Japonais et va jusqu’à appeler son chat Léon – en référence à Tolstoi. Elle préfère néanmoins se cacher derrière sa carapace de concierge afin qu’aucun des « riches » locataires ne découvrent que celle qui lave leur sol est une autodidacte, extrêmement cultivée et brillante. Paloma, est une jeune fille de 12 ans, fille d’un élu chic de gauche, extrêmement lucide sur le monde qui l’entoure. Elle estime que la vie n’a aucun sens c’est pourquoi elle planifie de se suicider à la fin de l’année scolaire, le jour de ses 13 ans. Finalement, emménage le sage Monsieur Kakuro Ozu, féru de culture, littérature et cinéma qui démasque le petit jeu de Madame Michel assez rapidement. Bousculant toutes les conventions, Monsieur Ozu – richissime Japonais – l’invite à dîner.

La jeune Polama subtilement compare Madame Michel à l’élégance du hérisson : “à l’extérieur, elle est bardée de piquants, une vraie forteresse, mais j’ai l’intuition qu’à l’intérieur, elle est aussi simplement raffinée que les hérissons, qui sont des bêtes faussement indolentes, farouchement solitaires et terriblement élégantes.” ( p.153, Gallimard, 2006)

Personnellement j’ai fort aimé ce bouquin, peut-être parce que les personnages sont d’un cynisme et d’un réalisme poignant, tout en y mettant une touche de légèreté et même d’humour. Ce livre pointe véritablement du doigt certains clichés sociaux comme quoi une concierge ne peut être qu’idiote. Alors que la réflexion est plutôt caustique, le ton est parfois très grave et profond. Souvent je me dis qu’il existe plus de Madame Michel que l’on ne croit, ce livre est une petite leçon d’humilité et de tolérance.

Les gens croient poursuivre les étoiles et ils finissent comme des poissons rouges dans un bocal

Néanmoins il peut être critiqué pour sa grammaire très lourde et le vocabulaire assez élitiste. Je n’irai pas jusqu’à dire que l’auteur est pédante, malheureusement sa manière d’employer les mots n’est pas toujours facile à suivre et l’accumulation de référence culturelles entre littérature, psychanalyse et cinéma Japonais est parfois très intense.

J’ai trouvé ce livre intelligent, drôle, sensible et profond. Je le recommande donc vivement à mes quelques lecteurs. Le film est bien adapté mais il est plutôt lent vu le peu de dialogue. Balasko ainsi que la jeune Garance le Guillermic sont toutes deux magnifiques, leur jeu d’actrices est précis et juste. Une fois encore, c’est un film qui est clairement indissociable de sa musique. Gabriel Yared, est un brillant compositeur Libanais qui a composé la BO de films comme La vie des Autres, la cité des anges, le patient anglais ou Retour à Cold Mountain pour lesquels il remporta d’innombrables prix. Pour en écouter plus voici son site : http://www.gabrielyared.com/

“Personne ne semble avoir songé au fait que si l’existence est absurde, y réussir brillamment n’a pas plus de valeur qu’y échouer. C’est seulement plus confortable. Et encore : je crois que la lucidité rend le succès amer alors que la médiocrité espère toujours quelque chose.”

Creep

In Uncategorized on June 28, 2011 at 10:28 pm

I always thought this clip video should have been the official one. I just love it. The song is called Creep from Radiohead and it is a scene from the French movie ” Ils se marièrent et eurent beaucoup d’enfants” .

Kate and Naomi

In Uncategorized on June 28, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Ode I.34 – Au Suivant

In Uncategorized on June 28, 2011 at 6:32 pm

 

“Il peut, le dieu, changer

Les sommets en abîmes,  amortir l’éclat des puissants et
Illustrer les obscurs. Fortune, ce rapace,
Dont vibrent ailes stridentes,
Arrache la couronne du monarque,

Et prend plaisir à l’offrir à un autre.”

Horace, Livre premier XXXIV

Beirut by Tinko Czetwertynski

In Uncategorized on June 20, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Sharing the Flame

In Uncategorized on June 20, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Since the invention of cinema, New York has never ceased to fascinate filmmakers, who draw endless emotions in the spectacular decors that the city offers. “In the city that never sleeps, love is always on the mind”. This 6min video is part of one of my favourite movie: New York, I love you that I watched for the first time two years ago with my sister in a small cinema in Brussels. New York, I love you is a collective work of eleven filmmakers, directing short films of 10minutes each. Similar to the previous film, Paris, Je t’aime, the shorts presented together may interlink slightly ; however stand on their own. They will all tie into the common theme of finding love and the mood of its location. It tells short stories of people: an artist pursuing a reluctant muse, a student discovering the truth about the handicapped girl he accompanied to the dance, the meeting of  two lovers  after what they thought was a one-night stand, the walk of an old couple.

I have been especially touched by part 2, Mira Nair’s movie with Natalie Portman, playing an Orthodox Jewish bride-to-be who develops forbidden feelings for a Jain jeweler. Orthodox women have to actually shave their head before getting married and it is a subject that moves me particularly. Portman is simply brilliant.  Most surprising is Shia LaBeouf’s fantastic turn as a humpbacked Russian bellhop in a painfully morose segment (Part7) . Asked to act with his face rather than his usual rapid-fire mouth, Shia has never been this emotionally engaging before. It is by far his best performance to date. Moreover, the music of this part is particularly beautiful, it is called “ Un bouquet de violettes by Paul Cantelon”.

I decided to show you the Part 4 which is a delightful dialogue between a writer and a woman. While he’s talking about sex with sensuality and delicacy, the passage is also amusing and derisory. Do not hesitate to go on youtube and tape “New York I love you Part 1 to 11”. You will find all of them. It is a sweet, delicate and beautiful moment, worth watching.

“This is what I love about New York,” says Robin Wright Penn to Chris Cooper outside a restaurant while we can hear a gunshot and sirens in the background, but the two never even react to them. These little segments give us a quick look into the life of the Big Apple, with all its immensely diverse culture and endless supply of interesting people.

Arthur Rubinstein

In Uncategorized on June 20, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Dans l’intimité de ses récitals, son Steinway noir, il semblait souvent fixer des yeux une jolie femme – et de la première partie classique à Chopin et aux rappels- la soirée se transformait en une langoureuse séduction, une caresse du piano autant que d’une personne. Ou du moins c’est ce qu’il nous semblait à nous qui le contemplions. Ecouter la sonorité du toucher de Rubinstein, ai-je entendu dire radieusement, c’est savoir succomber, savoir être éveillé par le désir d’un homme n’ayant pas peur de ses sentiments. Premier des derniers grand romantique,  il jouait de manière extravertie pour la galerie, embrassant avec chaleur, vivant pleinement sa vie «  fortissimo et con amore »

Guns of Brixton

In Uncategorized on June 17, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Sidney Weinberg

In Uncategorized on June 17, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Sidney Weinberg has been at the head of the Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs from 1927 to 1969 and has played a crucial role in the reconstruction of the financial system after the 1929 crisis. His story is worth-reading, indeed Weinberg was one of eleven children of a Brooklyn Jewish wholesale liquor dealer. In contrast with the traditional Ivy League Wall Streeter, he  left school at fifteen and never got further than junior high school at P.S. 13. He rose from a janitor’s assistant, making $3/week, to CEO. Weinberg served as a director on thirty-one corporate boards. He averaged two hundred and fifty committee or board meetings a year. During the Depression, Weinberg served on Franklin Roosevelt’s Business Advisory and Planning Council. He spent the war years as the vice-chairman of the War Production Board.

Called “the boy wonder” in his early years, Weinberg was widely known in his later yeard as “Mr. Wall Street”. His offhand explanation:  “I am just a Brooklyn boy from PS 13 and I know a lot of business people”, was cited as an extraordinary understatement of the reason for his great success by Business Week. (39) Sidney Weinberg became a powerful banker by accentuating his humble origins. Here some anecdotes I found pretty amusing from the book “The Partnership” by Charles D. Ellis (the quotes page number is put in brackets) His story also raises the question of how social mobility operates and “Can underprivileged outsiders have an advantage? ” This is answered brilliantly in this attached article of Malcom Gladwell that I strongly recommend.

Until his death at seventy-seven in 1969, Weinberg kept in his office the brass spittoon he allegedly polished for Jarvis in his first job. He also kept a bag he bought as a naïve young man at Niagara Falls from a smooth-talking con man who said, “ You look like a great young man. Do you know that down at the bottom of those falls are diamonds and nobody’s been able to get them, but I can, and I have some of them in this little bag here, and I ‘m willing to sell it to you.” “Well, how much do you want for it?” “ One buck,” said the man. “ I haven’t got a dollar. I have only got fifty cents lefts.” Well you’re such a promising young man I’ll send it to you for fifty cents.” Weinberg bought the bag for fifty cents and soon learned there was nothing in it but an ordinary pebble. He kept tat pebble all his life as a reminder to never be a sucker again. (2)

Here’s another one: The heir to a large retailing fortune once spent a night in Scarsdale with the Weinbergs and retired early. After Weinberg and his wife, whose only servant was a cook, had emptied the ashtrays and picked up the glasses, they noticed that their guest had put his suit and shoes outside his bedroom door. Amused, Weinberg took the suit and shoes down to the kitchen, cleaned the shoes, brushed the suit, and put them back. The following day, as the guest was leaving, he handed Weinberg a five dollar bill and asked him to pass it along to the butler who had taken such excellent care of things. Weinberg thanked him gravely and pocketed the money. (47)

When Scott Paper’s CEO, a Philadelphia Main Liner, put on a lavish black-tie dinner to celebrate his own sixtieth birthday and rose to toast his guests, he introduced Weinberg as “my very great friend”. The puckish reply from Weinberg  who was always looking for business, delighted the crowd: “ If we’re such very good friends, why aren’t we your compagny’s investment bankers?” Irreverence won the day again for Weinberg when the head of Lehman Brothers brought his father, Governor Herbert Lehman, who had been a revered financier, to impress a compagny’s board of directors. Tipped in advance by telephone, Weinberg hurried to the meeting and quickly turned the situation to his own advantage: “ I am sorry, gentlemen, my father is dead. But I have an uncle over in Brooklyn who is a tailor and who looks like him, and if that would mean anything to you, I’d be glad to bring him over!” When the directors stopped laughing, Goldman Sachs got the mandate for the underwriting. (41) The peak of Weinberg’s irreverence during World War II may have been achieved when Admiral Darlan, he senior Vichy French naval officer and a politically powerful, haughty, and ambitious man known to have Nazi sympathies, was at the White house being courted with attentive protocol by the Allies for political reasons. When it was time to leave, Weinberg reached into his pocket as he came to the front door, pulled out a quarter, and handed it to the resplendently uniformed admiral, saying, “Here, boy, get me a cab!” (44)

The immigrant’s best strategy, in the famous adage, is to think Yiddish and dress British. Weinberg thought British and dressed Yiddish. He never forgot his Brooklyn background and its lessons in thrift. He rode the subways, cheerfully reminding others that he was saving five dollars every week: “ You can learn a lot more looking around at the people and the ads on the subway that you can by watching the back of a chauffeur’s head in a limousine.” (47)

The chairman of General Foods avowed, “Sidney is the only man I know who could ever say to me in the middle of a board meeting, as he did once, ‘I don’t think you’re very bright,’ and somehow give me the feeling that I’d been paid a compliment.”(40) That Weinberg could make a rebuke seem like a compliment is testament to his charm. That he felt free to deliver the rebuke in the first place is testament to his sociological position. You can’t tell the chairman of General Foods that he’s an idiot if you were his classmate at Yale. But you can if you’re Pincus Weinberg’s son from Brooklyn. Truthtelling is easier from a position of cultural distance.

Holding his latest check from the investment at arm’s length, he observed ruefully to a visitor, “ Money! Keeps coming in all the time and hardly means anything at all.” As he explained, he was too busy to make as much for himself as he could have. He wasn’t kidding. At his death, Weinberg’s personal fortune would amount to little more than five million dollars. (52)

Brazilian Escape by Tinko Czetwertynski

In Uncategorized on June 17, 2011 at 5:10 pm