vendredi 12 mars 2010

Bonding over a copy of Vogue Paris

There's 2 things I want to say and they are:

1. Now, I cannot go into the city anymore and not come across a French person
or 2, or 3 or even more depending on how long I'm in the city for. I don't live or work in the city and usually rarely go but since I started my classes at Alliance Française in January I have had to go in at least once a week. As well as this, summer (that's December-February just to remind you so you're not confused ;) ) heralds the start of a series of wonderful outdoor free events all over the city so I have been going in a LOT more than usual.

It doesn't matter if I'm walking down the street, in a store or mall, in a cafe or restaurant, on a bus or train, somewhere, somehow I will start to hear French being spoken into a phone, or to another person! And I am certain that the majority of these people are not tourists either but actually live here (mostly on the working holiday visa, I'm sure).

2. If you don't put yourself out there you will not meet new people no matter where you are.
Let me warn you now this is going to be long-winded. OK, so sometime in the near future I want to go to France. If I haven't said it enough times already I'm saying it again. Not for a holiday comme tout le monde but to actually live. Now I know people are going to poo poo my idea so I have not even told that many people close to me in real life about my idea (on another note, I haven't told a single person about this blog either as it's my secret hideaway...)

I have travelled extensively and lived overseas and I know what I'm like and I know what everybody else is like too. When you are in your own city you never really see the big picture, you never take time to really soak it all in, you end up taking everything for granted and perhaps resenting the fact that you are stuck 'here'. You think that by going elsewhere your problems will vanish. But, if you actually take the time to appreciate and be grateful for what you have, it really isn't so bad not to go anywhere.

OK that didn't make any sense.

What I'm trying to say is, I know that I live in one of the most beautiful and desirable cities in the world. Sure it sounds boastful but meh. I absolutely LOVE showing people around my city. Love it, love it. So much so I even thought about being one of those tour guides until reality came back to me. I am not sure if have mentioned this before, but I have met some people through Couch surfing and other websites and when I have time I show them around various parts of Sydney or invite them to my place. I love the comments as other people make me see things in a way that I've never seen before. I actually understand what people mean when they say they have a baby and see everything as fresh and new, through their baby's eyes. As well as this, I spend time alone just walking around the harbour foreshore and soaking it all in like a tourist would.

Today I had some time to kill and I went to the historic Rocks district, which is one of the oldest parts of Sydney. Today, it is now filled mainly with arts and craft stores and high end restaurants/cafes. I wandered into one of those information offices (which I don't ever remember going into!) and discovered that it was huge. There was all sorts of tourist information and also a big shop selling interesting things, souvenirs and books.

Then I went to Customs House in Circular Quay (nearby) to see a (temporary) outdoor exhibit for Chinese New year, these 2 huge 3D orange/red lit up origami tigers. I have been to Customs House a few times (it has a spectacular lit up model of Sydney city, which is housed under the glass floor). You literally see the city from a birds eye view, and it's all free.

What I didn't know though, was that between my last visit and today's (God, how long had it been?) they had put a library in there! On the ground and first floors there is a mini library. They also have an extensive collection of Japanese and Korean (don't know why just those languages) books, and CDs, videos and DVDs.

I had some time to kill and found a magazine section! Aaah. This is the life. I love magazines and in here, I can read them all for free on the comfortable black leather armchairs.

I headed straight for the foreign language section bien sûr and pulled out some Vogue Paris magazines. I also got another Australian one. So I was sitting blissfully in this armchair.. I took my shoes off and curled my legs under me... reading my stash of magazines. I also read an American one called the Atlantic or something.

There I was reading an article in Vogue Paris about some Australian guy and how he had worked for all sorts of different big companies. There was a photo of him with his wife and child. OK it wasn't really an article, it was only a few sentences but I was engrossed by it because this guy seemed to have achieved so much...

I was not even aware that someone was standing over me and looking over my shoulder until they started talking to me. A beautiful girl with long blonde hair asked if I had finished with the other Vogue Paris magazine and I said hadn't started it but I flipped through the first one quickly and gave it to her, and then mentioned there was one more left on the shelf.

She sat down on the armchair opposite mine and then I looked up at her. She was beautiful, not in a drop dead gorgeous model way, but in a cute girl-next-door way but what mesmorised me was her hair, not her face.

I couldn't help but notice that her hair was long and dead straight, almost down to her waist, in exactly the same style I had until about 3 weeks ago (when I had about 7-8 inches cut off and nobody even noticed :( but that's another story). Of course mine is not blonde and never will be (nor do I want it to be!) but later on I found my thoughts wafting back to primary school when I was around 6-8 years of age. Maybe it had something to do with Barbie, I don't know, but I loved long, straight, blonde hair. This was in the 80s when it was not cool to have straight hair, but wild curly frizzy hair! hahaha. I had the exact opposite: dark and straight hair. Still, during my childhood I thought long, straight, blonde hair was the most beautiful thing ever... So I could never be blonde but I have always had (naturally) dead straight hair that's long and I've received loads of compliments on it so I'm happy.

So where was I?

We both kind of looked at each other and wanted to speak at almost the exact same time, yet there was also a bit of hesitancy. I don't even remember who spoke first. I asked her if she was French, and she asked me if I read or study French. So we got talking... Then her boyfriend came over from the internet area and they told me they were on the working holiday visa (like everybody under 30 is) and going to travel around New Zealand first (like everybody) before coming back to settle in Sydney, although I use that word 'settle' lightly when it comes to 20 something-ers on a WHV ;) So we agreed to meet up when they got back!

Now, when I was in my early 20s I used to always think to myself, why don't I ever meet people like in the movies.. in the movies you always seem to see people accidently bumping into others, who end up being their girl/boyfriend or good friend. They always seem to meet in such interesting ways and I remember thinking that it has no semblance to real life!!

Now, looking back I knew exactly what my problem was. I was living at home with fairly strict parents. Enough said... but those days are long gone (thank God!!).

However, in my attempt to ready myself for France (and just to make my life more interesting in general) over the past few months I have done things I wouldn't normally do... and because of these things, I have met a whole heap of new people. Now I know that with the majority we won't be in touch with each other much but still... I would say that just in the last 3 months I have met easily over 50 people through different avenues, a handful of which are already very good and close friends of mine. In fact, sometimes I think I even have more in common with them than with my long-time friends that I met 10, 15 or 20 years ago.

So I think in a way, today's meeting wasn't really chance at all.. maybe it was just meant to happen. Who knows? The funny thing is, it really is true that you find things when you aren't looking for them. There is no way in the heck I went into that library expecting to meet someone there!

I read somewhere that French people (particularly Parisians or those in big cities) go out to see and be seen. I definitely think the more places you go, the more things you do opens you up to a world of opportunity when it comes to meeting people and let's face it, meeting people is fun! I love nothing more than to be able to help people and it would also be nice if they could help you too. Of course this is not a pre-requisite but if you get along with someone this usually happens anyway without much thinking or effort.

Something else I've noticed amongst people I know is (and it's not everyone, just some) that those coupled-up people tend to spend their life in a 'bubble'. It's like once they have their partner they don't need to hang around other people anymore. They don't need to put themselves out there and I think that is a very very bad and stupid thing to do. Noone knows what's going to happen in the future. Anything could happen. If you put all your eggs in one basket that's only going to spell trouble. Especially if you're in a foreign country without the support of family and friends. If you break-up with your partner (or worse, something happens to them) who will you turn to if you haven't created a social/support network for yourself? Plus it's always good to network for job opportunities too!

I really think that friends are just as important as family... and never ever put all your eggs in one basket!

I'm not sure what purpose this article is supposed to have but it's my blog and I just wanted to get some thoughts out on this topics. C'est tout!

On another note, there did seem to be a rather large number of spreads in Vogue Paris featuring bare breasts and while this didn't offend me, I guess I have been brainwashed into prudish anglo saxon ways and found it a little bizarre.. but funny in a way too.

à bientôt

Photos: Pablo808, on-line_writer and orin robert john.

mercredi 10 mars 2010

Alice au pays des merveilles chez Ladurée Paris

AKA Alice in Wonderland

Je suis folle de Alice au pays des merveilles maintenant grace au film de Tim Burton bien sûr, mais à partir du temps (le moi dernier) que mon amie m'a donné un faire-part pour sa fête d'anniversaire (avec un thème d'Alice et qui passera bientôt), j'ai de plus en plus d'intérêt pour ce truc.

Tout à coup je pense à quelque chose...

Il y a plusieurs années, je suis allée à un grand magasin en Asie et j'ai vu une marque de bijoux qui était chouette. J'ai oublié le nom mais je me souviens que le nom de la marque est quelque chose comme "Les" et que la societé est française. Je me souviens que la forme de ces bijoux était belle comme celle de Michal Negrin (j'aime ça !) mais aussi un peu différente.

J'ai essayé et essayé de me souvenir le nom de la marque mais ne je n'ai pas réussir. Je pense qu'il était quelque chose comme "Les Invalides" hahaha... Enfin, j'ai cherché énormément beaucoup sur eBay et finalement, j'ai trouvé le nom... Les Néréides (qui est aussi le nom d'un endroit).

J'ai trouvé leur site web et j'ai aussi trouvé que Les Néréides ont conçu quelques bijoux sur le thème de Alice au pays des merveilles.

Je sais que ces bijoux sont un peu bizarres et infantiles, et je ne pense pas que je pourrais les porte mais je les aime encore.

Il y a plein de choses chouettes de Alice créé par Lilliput Loft sur le blog ici.

mais la pièce de résistance est cela ! Alice chez Ladurée. Une petite exposition (avec un salon de thé) qui va finir le 13 mars. Allez voir (et manger) !

Mon dieu. Je pourrais mourir... trop beau et merveilleux.

...avec les collections de mode de Alexander McQueen, Chloé and Manish Arora qui sont affichées aux vitrines de Printemps Haussmann.

Printemps Haussmann
64 boulevard Haussmann
75009 Paris, France
Tel: 01 42 82 50 00

jusqu'au 13 mars 2010.

Et finalement, un photo shoot de Annie Liebovitz pour US Vogue (2003).

Photos de sweetiome, isazappy, Les flaneurs et Fuchsia 24.

mardi 9 mars 2010

Sydney AF French Film Festival 2010 film reviews - Part II - Le Hérisson

previous related blog post...

The Elegance of the Hedgehog (L'élégance du Hérisson), the book

I started reading this book and after about 3-4 chapters I stopped. I just couldn't get into it. Some parts were interesting but a lot of it was way too philosophical for me. I know that French people study philosophy during high school and they love to philosophize ;) but boy on boy... I hope try again and to get back into reading it some time in the near future though!

Le Hérisson

I saw this film as part of the AF FFF. I had already watched the trailers and extracts on YouTube so I had a fairly good idea of what to expect. It met my expectations. I wouldn't say it exceeded them, but it definitely met them. The two main stars Josiane Balasko (concierge) and Garance Le Guillermic (Paloma) are excellent in their roles. Togo Igawa (Japanese man) is also great.

In a way it didn't seem like a lot was happening, but it was. Slowly, we get to meet the characters and understand them just a bit better. The plot goes that Paloma, who is only 11, wants to commit suicide on her 12th birthday. Now don't be frightened off. It's not as macabre as it sounds. She philosophizes about life, comparing human life to that of a goldfish in a small glass fishbowl. She analyzes those around her including her father, her mother, her older sister, and her neighbours in her bourgeoisie Parisian apartment. She does not get along well with her older sister at all and she is so introverted it's almost as if she is an only child at times. Her only 'friend' it seems is the old video camera her father gave her to amuse herself with. She uses it to videotape those around her and to tell stories to herself, almost like a video diary.

The story becomes interesting when the new owner of one of the apartments turns up. He is a middle-aged distinguished Japanese man with all the class and calmness in the world. He is nice and friendly gets acquainted with both Paloma and Renée the concierge. During one scene cooks wonderful Japanese food and I couldn't help thinking how wonderful it would be to have a neighbour and friend like him! (especially one that could cook like that :P )

The movie moves at a leisurely pace until something unexpected and unpredictable happens near the end. I won't give away spoilers nor say if it's good or bad but I heard many people in the audience being shocked and for me, I could not have predicted that that would happen at all.

As you get to know Paloma and Renée you begin to understand why they are the way they are (both introverted and unsociable and seemingly out of step with the rest of the people in their apartment or even Paris).

There are some beautiful and poignant moments in the film which I loved... once you see the movie the image on the movie poster also makes much more sense.

It is quite a 'weird' film/story and I overheard someone say there is no way that could ever be a Hollywood movie and I am inclined to agree!

It was also one of the easiest movies to understand in terms of listening to the French. The reason is because Paloma has the vocab of an 11 year old, Renée doesn't speak too fast, and the Japanese man speaks slower than the other people and overall the dialogues use simple day-to-day vocabulary. That was a bonus as I didn't need to read the subtitles much - yay!

I couldn't get into the book but I loved the film.


An interview with Josiane Balasko, who looks sooo much different to her character dowdy and dumpy Renée in the film!

imdb : Le Hérisson : Le Hérisson

The Secret Life of France - Lucy Wadham - book review

The Secret Life of France

I just finished reading this book but it's been so long since I started it that I can barely remember what I just read. All I can tell you is that it is very similar to Sheryle Bagwell's My French Connection in that it's about the author's personal journey and relationship, and her/their life in France, interspersed with articles and opinions about France's history, culture, politics, etc.

I admit I probably only read 2/3 of the book. I flipped through many pages which didn't interest me, for example the section that went on and on and on about the second world war. If I wanted to know more about that I would've read an encyclopedia!!

It's a good book if you like knowing the nitty gritty of France's history and politics, and religion, and culture, etc etc... I am interested in that stuff but I can only take so much... there was too much of it and not enough of her story. It starts off really interesting talking about how she met her (later to be) husband... but further into the book the history textbook aspect was just too much for me. I found it far less interesting than A French Connection and nowhere near as good as Lunch in Paris.

I'm glad I only borrowed it from the library!

Secret life of France blog

lundi 8 mars 2010

French passé subjonctif

Here is something to tear your hair out over!

Another great lesson by French Spanish Online.

When to use the dreaded subjunctive in French

Le Subjonctif encore

When I first started learning French, I taped a big sheet of paper to the outside of my glass shower screen so that I could read it and learn new vocab every time I had a shower but since all those months ago I haven't changed that one piece of paper!

This silly subjunctive thing was doing my head in so I vowed to replace that piece of paper with one all about when to use the subjunctive.

I just spent a few hours making this little ditty only to discover that Blogger does not allow PDF uploads so a JPG will just have to do for now. You can print it out if you wish. I hope it's useful. I got most of the information from this site and a couple of others. I am sure there are other examples but I think I have covered all the main ones.

Après plusieurs heures je viens de finir de faire ce petit papier sur le sujet du subjonctif pour les étudiants qui apprendre le français maintenant (comme moi) ! J'espère que vous aimerez ça et qu'il est utile pour vous.

Sydney AF French Film Festival 2010 film reviews - Part I - LOL

Continued from this post...

The Alliance Française French Film Festival 2010 started off with a bang on Tuesday 2 March, with appearances by famed directors Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amélie, etc) and Australia's George Miller (Happy Feet and Babe).

photo: Getty Images

George Miller received the prestigious Ordre des Arts et des Lettres award by l'Ambassadeur de France en Australie, Michel Filhol.

The invitation-only cocktail party took place in the historic and beautiful buildings of the National Art School, and after, the guests listened to some speeches and watched the Australian premiere of Jeunet's new film Micmacs à tire-larigot (roughly translates as non-stop dodgy shenanigans).

I haven't seen this film yet but I have seen and will see some, of which I'll review here.


LOL (Laughing out loud)

Starring the gorgeous Sophie Marceau as mum (mom), and newcomer Christa Theret as her daughter, the title is quite clever because it's the nickname of the main character, Lola (played by Christa), and it also refers to the internet acronym (because MSN chat or something similar is featured throughout the film). It was much much better than I thought it would be and I enjoyed it a lot. It reminded me all too much of the painful teenage ("ado") years but now that I'm older I was able to also relate to the mother character, even though I'm not a parent myself.

Lol is a relatively normal teenage girl who spends way too much time daydreaming and ruminating about boys and boyfriends instead of doing her homework. She has a male friend with whom she is starting to develop feelings for. Can they remain friends or will trying to get together ruin their friendship? The age old question. Ooohhh....

The mother character is 40 and newly separated, and trying to deal with her hectic life of working a full-time job as an architecte and looking after 3 children (of whom Lol is the oldest). There are some funny moments when her mother comes along (to babysit the 2 younger children). As well as this she is trying to deal with her sexuality, sex life and relationships, and there we see the parallels between her life and her teenage daughter's. It reminded me a little of Freaky Friday but without the switcheroo part, but it was much much better and deeper.

I was also made aware of the differences between French teenage high school students and Australian ones. They seem to grow up much faster and start smoking and drinking at a younger age (or maybe that's just my naivety). Actually, the glaring difference (and this is something I have read in books too) is that teenagers (and adults) are much more comfortable with the opposite sex, and there isn't so much segregation and many people have friends of the opposite sex with no romantic feelings for them. A part of me also wondered what it would've been like to go to school and not have to wear a uniform!!

I think most people could relate to this movie, especially women of any age from teenagers right up to women in their 50s or 60s as we have all been there at one time or another or are still going through those experiences and feelings... the movie was a total barrel of laughs. I (and the rest of the audience) laughed throughout the entire film. One of the most hilarious moments of all is when they go to London and every (negative) stereotype about England is portrayed. I'm sure it is very tongue-in-cheek, the French poking fun at the English. Highly recommended!


La bande annonce (en français)

Quelques interviews des acteurs de LOL (laughing out loud)

imdb : LOL (Laughing out loud) : LOL (Laughing out loud)

à suivre...

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