samedi 22 mai 2010

School's Out - French - Tina Hobley, Rory Bremner, Richard Hammond, Dominic Wood, Adrian Edmonson

Tina Hobley

Rory Bremner

Richard Hammond (plus 2 other people before him)

Dominic Wood

Adrian Edmonson

Random video alert. Watch them. They're really funny. Rory is awesome!

I have no idea who these people are but I guess they are celebrities on what appears to be a UK tv game show for adults which tests knowledge of school subjects . This is the French section where most of them can only recall random phrases they memorised from their school days.

vendredi 21 mai 2010

Changed my blog layout

A few days ago I changed my blog layout. I was getting sick of the fence one and felt it was a bit too colourful and childish.

I wanted something primarily white, 'clean' and classy and generic, not something I would get sick of too soon. I also wanted 3 columns instead 2. I found a great template and modified it slightly, added the French flag background and voilà ! Hope you like it as much as I do. :)

Strangely, I realise I'd forgotten to take a screenshot of the 'before' but I found one on Lilou's blog.



B2 level of French in 10 months

Ever since I read about the CEFR I've been obsessed with knowing which level I'm at. Obviously my level changes as time goes on but I wanted some concrete proof that I was at such-a-such a level. I have been doing online proficiency tests for ages (you can search my tags/etiquettes for the word 'proficiency' to find links to these) to get some kind of idea.

The teachers at the Alliance Française estimated my level at being B1-B2 and at first I was in total disbelief but after analysing my level I thought this was accurate. I thought that if I did DELF B1 I would have about 90% chance of passing, and if I did DELF B2 I would have about 50% chance of passing. I was not confident that I could be qualified as B2 level.

Since I missed the last DELF/DALF test back in February and the next one is in November, I just wanted to take the next available test they had which was the TEF. I took some practice tests beforehand and was so shocked that I would probably get a B2 level (which requires at least 541 points out of 900 or 90 points out of 150). So I took the TEF test today and will write more about it when I get my results back...

Meanwhile, I never knew you could do this but thanks to my fellow students I found out that the AF hands out their own certificates of your level of proficiency and mine says B2 so I am over the moon with that!

But also, just then, I got the biggest compliment anyone could give me (regarding French). I have been emailing this girl I 'met' through Flickr only a few times and she said that she thought I was a native French speaker! I was totally gobsmacked. Even though I made a few mistakes (mostly with gender) she still said that. I'm in total disbelief but am so happy that I really must be improving a lot! :D

I feel more confident in my abilities now and I'll be onto C1 and C2 in no time.

And yes, I have only been learning French for 10 months!

mardi 18 mai 2010

Strange Maps and Marge Simpson on Europe map

I've briefly mentioned Strange maps on my Combien de bises ? post, but I just had another look today and found some more hilarious maps... such as this one!

You'll note that Marge's eye is the Ile de France and her necklace is formed from the Pyrénées mountains between France and Spain.

I don't know what kind of person would think of something like this but it's pure genius! Haha.

J'ai parlé de Strange maps dans mon message « Combien de bises ? » auparavant, mais, je viens de regarder encore une fois ce site web et ai trouvé plus de cartes drôles... telle que celle-ci !

Notez bien que l'oeil de Marge est l'Ile de France et son collier a été fait par la chaîne montagneuse Pyrénées entre la France et l'Espagne.

Je ne sais pas exactement quelle sorte de personne pouvait imaginer quelque chose comme ça mais c'est de la folie et de génie !

Strangemaps: Marge Simpson's European adventure
The map on Googlemaps

lundi 17 mai 2010

Julie & Julia - film review

Julie & Julia

I wrote about the book way back in September last year but still haven't read it and only got around to watching the movie now! As far as movies and stories go I really enjoyed it. It was "fun" to watch. Meryl Streep was of course exceptional in her role as Julia Child and Amy Adams did a good job as Julie Powell, too.

The film is two stories in one. One of Julia's which takes place in the 50s mostly in Paris, and one of Julie's in the 00s in New York city. We see a lot of parallels in their lives but also a lot of differences. For one thing, Julia lived through WWII, and was married at 34, whereas Julie was married much younger (I'm not sure exactly when but I think early-mid 20s).

Julie Powell is your average 30 year old woman in New York City. She's just moved into a new apartment in the outer 'burbs of New York city with her husband Eric. By day she works for the government in an office listening to people's sob stories after 9/11 and by night she uses cooking as a sort of therapy to make her tiresome day seem brighter.  I could relate well to Julie and I'm sure all my friends can relate too, who are all around the same age as her, and stuck in boring office jobs.

She tries to re-invent her life by creating a blog, showcasing her cooking and using Julia Child's cook book "Mastering the art of French cooking" as a guide. She plans to take one year to cook all the 500+ recipes.

Meanwhile, Julia Child is re-inventing her life by finding a purpose. It was completely normal to be a (childless) housewife in the 1950s and not work, and having grown up rather rich where her family had cooks, she didn't know much about the culinary arts so she enrols herself at the (now) famed Cordon Bleu school of cooking and enters into the male-dominated field of professional cooking.

I think the film (by Nora Ephron) is clever in the way it infuses 2 separate stories to create one seamless story.

I had a lot of random thoughts running through my head whilst watching this film:

* Both Julie and Julia seemed to be lucky to find a wonderful guy to marry and who are/were very supportive of their endeavours. It almost seems rare these days to hear of happy marriages so I guess that left me feeling good.
* Paris is even more beautiful in the 50s than now! I love the clothes from the 1930-1960s era, the cute round, "bubbly" shaped cars.. life just seemed so much simpler and easier back then and I would've love to see Paris in the 50s. As well as that, I often read of comparisons between the way Parisians/French people dress compared to Americans/Anglos and it seems (if this film is anything to go by) that in the 1950s everyone dressed well. Indeed, it's something that I miss. I really miss well-structured zippered clothes instead of everything being lycra/elastic.
* I was happy to find out that parts of the film were filmed in Paris and that it wasn't all just a fake set in New York somewhere.
* Julie talks about her blog being an outlet and even though she set herself the hard challenge of cooking over 500 recipes in a year (365 days) she didn't feel that it was a chore because she really enjoyed it and it made her happy (and it probably took her away from the misery surrounding her stressful office job).
* The unfailing optimism and cheeriness of Julia is just amazing and was probably infectuous. I guess both she and Paul were overall optimistic people who loved and supported each other dearly, and I'm sure this has something to do with them living to the ripe old ages of 91 and 92.
* I'm not a cook and don't aspire to be one, however I am always in complete awe and envy of those who can cook well.

I think if you love cooking, France, Paris or "chick flicks" you would probably love this film. All the main stars are superb in their roles, including Stanley Tucci as Julia's husband, Paul.


I did quite a bit of reading after watching the film and it seems that a lot of people despise Julia Powell. I haven't read any of her books, nor have I read her blog in any great detail but it'll be interesting to form my own opinion once I've done so.

I admit I had no idea who Julia Child was prior to me coming across the book and the film, not being American and not being that into cooking but the more I find out about her, the more intrigued I am. She seems delightful and after reading the extract on I am now dying to read her "My Life in France" book!

Julie & Julia official movie site
imdb: Julie & Julia
Amazon: Cleaving (Julie Powell's 2nd autobiographical book)
Amazon: My life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme
Wikipedia: My Life in France
Julie Powell's original blog
Julie Powell's current blog
Chowhound: Discussion about Julie & Julia filming photos location shots
imdb: interesting discussion 1
imdb: interesting discussion 2
Design Sponge: Julie & Julia

Micmacs à tire-larigot - Jean-Pierre Jeunet - film review

I wrote about Micmacs à tire-larigot briefly here when I was talking about the AF French Film Festival but unfortunately I never got around to watching it during the festival. However, several films were made for public release after the festival ended in March so I did end up getting to see this film afterall!

The title translates roughly as "shenanigans" but I'm more inclined to call it "dodgy dealings" (which is a phrase I use often, I am not sure if it's just Australian slang). I'm not good at plot explanations (especially when I can't remember the characters' names!), so here is what it says on the YouTube video (attached below) courtesy of Sony:

Opens May 28 in New York and Los Angeles! 

First it was a mine that exploded in the middle of the Moroccan desert. Years later, it was a stray bullet that lodged in his brain... Bazil doesn't have much luck with weapons. The first made him an orphan, the second holds him on the brink of sudden, instant death.

Released from the hospital after his accident, Bazil is homeless. Luckily, our inspired and gentle-natured dreamer is quickly taken in by a motley crew of junkyard dealers living in a veritable Ali Baba's cave. The groups talents and aspirations are as surprising as they are diverse: Remington, Calculator, Buster, Slammer, Elastic Girl, Tiny Pete and Mama Chow.

Then one day, walking by two huge buildings, Bazil recognizes the logos of the weapons manufacturers that caused all of his misfortune. He sets out to take revenge, with the help of his faithful gang of wacky friends. Underdogs battling heartless industrial giants, our gang relive the battle of David and Goliath, with all the imagination and fantasy of Buster Keaton...
Like everyone else, I loved Jean-Pierre Jeunet's previous work Amélie. I have also seen one of his first films Délicatessen when it first came out and loved it. This film does have an Amélie-like quality to it, especially the yellow-green colouring of all the scenes, which also gives it a dream-like feel. Jeunet's writing is endlessly inventive and imaginative and I was in awe of his talent.

The film stars the wonderfully-talented Dany Boon who is probably most well-known for his role in Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis. He does a fantastic job as the main character, Bazil, and is joined by Dominque Pinon and Yolande Moreau who were both in Amélie as well.

The underground world in which they live reminded me a lot of Flushed away (a wonderful animated film brought to us by Aardman, the makers of Wallace & Gromit). The people that live there are ingenious because of the way they use "rubbish" to make a home.

What I found interesting was that such an unlikely group of people came together to become friends and as always, I love Jeunet's take on people in society. This is a classic movie about "goodies" vs "baddies" but there are also a lot of little things I noticed like the CEO (or the PDG) of the weapons company not knowing anything that goes on within his family and not spending any quality time with his son, and all the mini subplots of various characters falling in love or wanting to have sex...

There are no picture-perfect or touristy or romantic scenes of Paris but it's still Paris nonetheless and of course the way the scenes have been shot are just beautiful...

This is a film that definitely keeps your interest, and there are no boring parts. It's a all round feel-good funny movie, and apart from a few hilariously raunchy scenes I feel that it would actually be a good family movie to watch at home on a Saturday night. Of course I am not recommending that... go and see it on the big screen, you won't regret it! :D


Trailer / Bande Annonce :

imdb: Micmacs à tire-larigot Micmacs à tire-larigot

dimanche 16 mai 2010

La Nuit des Musées 2010

Article on

De Paris à Moscou en passant par Londres et Metz, plus de 2.500 musées ouvriront leurs portes gratuitement samedi soir pour une sixième Nuit des musées désormais européenne. Né en France en 2005, l'événement a franchi les frontières au fil des ans, à l'instar d'autres festivités tricolores comme la Fête de la musique et Nuits blanches.

Parrainée pour la première fois par l'Unesco, la Nuit des musées concerne cette année une quarantaine de pays. "Il existe depuis toujours un lien imaginaire profond entre la nuit et le musée", déclarait le ministre français de la culture, Frédéric Mitterrand, la semaine dernière lors de la conférence de presse de présentation au musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, à Paris. "En un sens, le musée, lieu souvent silencieux et secret, n'est pas sans affinité avec la nuit", ajoutait-il...

From Paris to Moscow, passing London to Metz, more than 2,500 museums will open their doors free to night-owls on Saturday evening for the sixth European Night of the museums. Launched in France in 2005, the event crossed borders in the passing years, following the example of other tricolour festivities like the Festival of Music and Sleepless Nights. Sponsored for the first time by UNESCO, the Night of the Museums this year involves 40 countries. "Since always, there exists a major imaginary bond between the night and the museum", declared the French Minister of culture, Frederic Mitterrand, last week at the time of the press conference of the presentation to the museum of Hunting and Nature, in Paris. "In a sense, the museum, an often quiet and secret place, has an affinity with the night", he added...

Last year, French museums and venues recorded about 1.8 million visits on the night, when the Paris-based UNESCO took part for the first time, according to official data.

Official site: La Nuit des Musées européenne

Kyo - Je te vends mon ame

Kyo - Je te vends mon ame

Je vois ton nom écrit en gros partout sur les murs
Sais-tu c'que j'endure,
Je sens tes mains sur mon corps qui brûle, je brûle
Et je rêve d'un courant d'air,
D'un espace clos avec vue sur la mer,
D'un silence radio, d'un océan solaire
Qui nous porte ensemble et qui nous enferme

I see your name written everywhere in bold on the walls
Do you know what I endure,
I feel your hands on my body which burns, I burn
And I dream of an air current,
Of a space closed with a view out to sea,
Of a radio silence, of a solar ocean
Which carries us together and locks us up

Je t'ai perdue, je ne m'aime plus
Depuis j'en suis sûr je peux fermer la blessure

I have lost you, I no longer love myself
Since I am sure I can close the wound

Je te vends mon âme, fais de moi ce que tu veux
En retour donne-moi la chance d'être mieux
Je te vends mon âme, prends ma vie et mon paysage
En échange je veux voler ton visage

I sell my soul to you, do to me what you want
In return give me the chance to be better
I sell my soul to you, take my life and my landscape
In exchange I want to steal your face

Je te cherche ma soeur d'âme, mon identité,
Ma Vénus fatale à l'unanimité
Ce qu'il y a de mal, je l'ai mis de côté, je serai sage
Et je rêve de former un arc en chair et en osmose avec la terre
Plus de larmes de synthèse, seulement du vrai et du cher
Seulement du fragile et du nécessaire

I seek you my soul sister, my identity,
My fatal Venus unanimously
What there is of evil, I have put aside, I will be good
And I dream to form an arc in flesh and osmosis with the earth
Plus tears of synthesis, only truthful and dear
Only the fragile and necessary ones

Je t'ai perdue, je ne m'aime plus
Depuis j'en suis sûr je peux fermer la blessure

I have lost you, I no longer love myself
Since I am sure I can close the wound

Je te vends mon âme, fais de moi ce que tu veux
En retour donne-moi la chance d'être mieux
Je te vends mon âme, prends ma vie et mon paysage
En échange je veux voler ton visage

I sell my soul to you, do to me what you want
In return give me the chance to be better
I sell my soul to you, take my life and my landscape
In exchange I want to steal your face

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