samedi 8 mai 2010

Paris Je T'aime - film review

Paris je t'aime (2006)

Well, what can I say? So many big name directors and actors/actresses... I'd seen bits and pieces on YouTube a few months ago but only got around to watching it recently. It's in both French and English and features 18 scenes by 18 directors in 18 different parts of Paris.

I couldn't really see the connection between the 18 scenes. To me it was more like 18 short films of approximately 5-6 minutes in length. There were some I loved and some I hated.

I loved:
"Faubourg Saint-Denis" scene with Natalie Portman and her boyfriend (directed by Tom Tykwer)
"Père-Lachaise" cemetery scene (directed by Wes Craven)

There were more that I liked too but those two were my favourites.

I hated:
"Quartier de la Madeleine" vampire scene with Elijah Wood and the vampiress (directed by Vincenzo Natali)
"Porte de Choisy" Chinese hairdressers scene (directed by Christopher Doyle)

They were both just weird and bizarre.

I'm not even sure how to review this film or what to say about it... It's a vignette of different types of relationships, mostly between lovers but between other people as well, or the relationship with oneself. I guess you could watch it from a philosophical point of view... Even if you're not interested in the subject of love or relationships it's a good movie to watch for the jaw-droppingly gorgeous scenes of Paris. Such eye candy! I was drooling the whole time :)


Paris je t'aime trailer


Edited: New York, I love you has just come out. It's made in a similar style but set in New York city this time.

jeudi 6 mai 2010

Paintings Masterpieces from Paris, National Gallery, Canberra 2

Previous related post 1
Previous related post 2

As I wrote previously, I wanted to see the Masterpieces from Paris art exhibition in Canberra featuring works from the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.

This post is long overdue and I almost didn't write it, but better late than never! The exhibition finished on 18 April, about 2.5 weeks ago and is going to travel around the world while the Musée d'Orsay undergoes renovation.

First of all, you are not allowed to take photos there. Not only for this exhibition but inside the entire gallery. However, there are some photos taken by the museum themselves here on Flickr (speaking of Flickr, I changed the language settings to French (at the bottom of the page)).

I was ready for a massive long wait so I got there early, well as early as I could after a very packed and tiring day the day before, driving down and visiting several sites of interest along the way.

I forgot to buy my ticket online but was surprised to find that when I got there at 9 I could buy tickets for the next session at 9:30. I didn't have to wait long in the queue at all but it was freezing!

The day before it was in the mid-high 20's and there was a cold change in Canberra and Canberra is a pretty cold city anyway, being up in the mountains so I was shocked but nonethless prepared. The night before it was around 5ºC or less. It was windy day too but the sky was a brilliant blue without a single cloud in the sky.

I only had to wait a short time in the queue but once inside, we had to wait again but it wasn't too bad. I'm so glad I chose to go on a quiet day though. I imagine it would've been chaos on a weekend or public holiday.

There were 6 rooms so there was quite a lot to look at! What I noticed were the titles of the artworks and their translations.

I noticed a lot of "à la/au/aux"s which were translated as "with" and the world "ombrelle" came up a lot too. It's an interesting word this ombrelle because it sounds so similar to umbrella, yet the French word for that is parapluie (around/near the rain). Even though the gallery (or whoever) translated ombrelle as umbrella, judging by the paintings it was more like a parasol. Yet the French don't seem to use the word parasol much?? (could parasol originally be parasoleil? ie "around/near the sun").

That's about as far as I got with the titles. I tried to translate them myself in my head but it was way too hard because they were words/objects not commonly used in every day life. Oh, I do remember another word I learnt: baigneuses = (female) bathers or "bathing beauties".

Obviously I'd seen and heard of the well known paintings which was amazing in real life but I was also fascinated by some of the lesser known ones.

You can see them all on the gallery's website here.

Of course I was totally awestruck and mesmorised by their talent!

I adored the kids art room. I know I'm not a kid but I was so tempted to do some arts/crafts in there (of course I didn't!) I loved the dark blue "Starry starry night" wall with the paper cuttings of stars with gold and silver paper, and the kids still life artworks.

There was also a real life replica of Van Gogh's Bedroom in Arles  (one of my all-time favourite paintings!)

I also checked out the rest of the gallery (which I had never been to before; it's huge!) and there were some great artworks there such as the famous Blue Poles by Jackson Pollack.

It was definitely worth driving 4 hours for! :D

C'était merveilleux et l'exposition m'a plu.

The gift shop was also wonderful, featuring so many wonderful stylish French goodies, and postcard replicas of some of the paintings and art and design books, etc.

Afterwards, I went for a short walk around the peaceful Lake Burley Griffin and saw two black swans. Despite the cold it was a beautiful day and sunny. We saw other sights of interest and did lots of things on this very short holiday and overall I had a fantastic time and was so sad when I had to go home and back to my normal every day life, but that's life! There will be more adventures to come :)

mercredi 5 mai 2010

Free French driving test online - Code de la route

I was looking for a new French proficiency test and found this instead. It's an online theoretical driving test (designed to simulate the real thing I suspect). It was really fun but I'm ashamed to say I failed. Big time. I scored 18/40 (or 48%) haha.

Although, in my defence this is for a number of reasons:

1. It's been many many years since I took my driver's test.
2. I drive on the left hand side of the road so all those photos were really throwing me off.
3. My French isn't good enough to know auto terms so I suspect a lot of my errors were due to misunderstanding the questions or answers.
4. There were some things that only relate to France or Europe.
5. There were questions relating to green initiatives and saving the environment and I don't remember any of them when I did my test! (of course I did my test in another country but I suspect that with times changing that other countries may now also have questions like this).
6. I don't know/remember anything about the rules of drink driving because I don't drink! I never ever drink alcohol so I don't feel like I need to know these rules plus I would never be stupid enough to drive if I had drunk something, or get in a car with someone who was drink driving (even a little bit).

Yeah that's about it. But still, a pretty poor result. Luckily for me, my driving record (in Australia) is actually very good :) I passed my written exam when I was only 16 or 17 and then I let it lapse without taking my practical exam so I took the written exam again when I was 20 and even though I barely studied for it, I still remembered everything and scored 100% on it :) So I'm sure I could pass the French one too if I really had to, but luckily for me I won't have to.  I can simply exchange my Australian driver's licence for a French one if I live there long-term! Yay!

Online version of the Australian (NSW state) test I did (of course I did it many years ago when it was probably easier). Just did it and scored 43/45 (96%) but I still failed... wha-?

lundi 3 mai 2010

Ricqlès Alcool de Menthe

My week has been getting better and better (that is, unfortunately, sarcasm). I've been sick for almost a week with no signs of getting better and I've had to cancel so many appointments it's making me agitated and annoyed and I've been snapping at everyone who I come across such as: two women at the chemist (pharmacy/drugstore), a man (front desk worker) at the doctor's clinic, the woman at the post office, the woman in the supermarket, the man working the train station, etc. I feel terrible afterwards and am too scared to speak to anyone now in case I have another outburst. I'm exhausted and just feel like crying except, I realise, there really isn't anything much to cry about (I do realise that people have far worse problems than my petty ones) and the tears that I get from all the coughing is enough saline release anyway.

So where was I? Despite the fact that I can hardly stay awake for 30 mins I cannot sleep and have insomnia as well, which is no doubt not helping, so here I am writing a (probably nonsensical) post..

I had to suck up all my pride and call my mummy (mommy). I was in no mood to face the public (ie go to the shops again) and just too tired anyway and asked if she could bring me around some things such as food, fruit, medication and such. The doctor tells me "it's not serious" and haven't actually been prescribed anything but I'm willing to take anything non-prescription drugs I can get my hands on.

I ask if she has any Vicks VapoRub (see pic attached) which I used to use as a kid, and she says no, but she has something else. Some peppermint water thing. I hear the word "France" over the phone and my ears prick up. Huh? Whatever.. I'll give it a try and if it's from France it must be good!

Apparently her friend gave it to her and she bought it from China. I looked at the box and the small bottle and was confused about whether it was from France or China but I see the words "Joint Venture" so I am guessing they have a subsidiary branch/factory somewhere in China. Curious (and having nothing better to do ;) ), I start typing all the words into Google to find out more about this mystery product. The words on the box are "Peppermint Aqua", "France Double Rider Medicine Group", "Hygienic, exquisite, essential" and of course "The Joint Venture" which is not exactly helpful. I couldn't find anything through Google.

Since none of those words are French I had to find the word for "peppermint" which is "menthe poivrée" ("peppered mint" I guess you could say) and going through Google images... Ça y est ! Je le trouve !

So this magical product is Ricqlès Alcool de Menthe, a brand of peppermint water/oil (?), created in 1838 by Henri de Ricqlès, a pharmacist. In 2001 the brand/company was bought out by Cadbury-Schweppes.

So this miracle product can be used for:

• antiseptic for preventing risk of infection in minor cuts and scrapes
• insect bites
• indigestion
• bad breath
• colds and flus
• headaches
• stomachaches
• muscle aches
• nausea
• seasickness

and more!

Some more info (in French)

A bit of a discussion about it (in English)

Take a few drops in a glass of hot water with a little sugar, or in a glass of hot milk or tea.

Geez... sounds like I'm selling this stuff. I have no idea if it works or not but it sure smells nice! And if it's been around since 1838 it must be good. It doesn't seem to be too expensive either from what I saw online.

I also learnt a new "bon(ne)" phrase this week: Bon rétablissement. It means get well (soon)! Please wish me a bon rétablissement :)

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