3 recent reads and 3 French series

I love reading. I always have. I think reading is one of life’s greatest pleasures. However, I’m very lazy about reading in French. I love to speak French, listen to French and even write in French but I don’t sit and read a French novel anymore. I think that might be because I studied French literature at A level and then as part of my degree. Or is that just an excuse?!

There are three books I have enjoyed recently. My favourite is ‘Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine’. This is the first novel written by Gail Honeyman. I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved this book. It made me laugh but also brought a tear to my eye. I found it original and beautifully written and I haven’t come across anyone who hasn’t enjoyed it – yet!

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The second book is ‘The Trouble with Goats and Sheep’ by Joanna Cannon. This is also a debut novel and takes place in the summer of 76; one I remember well. It is in part a thriller, in part a story of coming of age but also about the nature of friendships. This book appears to divide opinion, according to the reviews I have read, but it is one I definitely enjoyed.

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My final recent read was ‘Swing Time’ by Zadie Smith. I have read, and enjoyed, her books previously. This book focuses initially on the friendship between two mixed race school girls, in NW London, in the 1980s. The themes of race, class and gender are visited and overall, it is very well written. However, although the book started really promisingly, I struggled to get to the end – although I did! Again, reviews and opinions are divided on this novel.
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I might have been lazy about reading in French but this hasn’t been the case with watching French television series! Have you ever watched Spiral, or Engrenages, as it is known in French? There have been six series and they were shown, in the UK, on BBC4 on a Saturday night. It is a gritty police drama which takes place in the Parisian suburbs. The main characters are complex and flawed and the acting is fantastic. We are also offered an interesting insight into the French judical system and the way it works. Although some of the action is a bit gruesome, I found Spiral to be totally addictive and I cannot recommend it enough.

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My next two series are part of Walter Presents which is showcased on Channel 4 and All4. Walter selects a range of foreign language dramas, not just French. If you enjoy ‘Scandi noir’, I’m sure you’ll be able to find something to watch.

The first series I’m going to talk about is called ‘Vanished by the Lake’ (Le mystère du lac). It was filmed in the very beautiful Var region and is centred on the return of a woman detective, to her home town, to care for her mother. The day of her arrival, a neighbour’s teenage daughter disappears. The circumstances are similar to the disappearance of the detective’s two closest friends when they were teenagers.

No where near as gripping as Spiral but an engaging watch, nevertheless.

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My second series from Walter presents is Dead Beautiful (Les Dames) and stars Thierry Goddard (who was outstanding as Gilou in Spiral) playing a Parisian detective, Martin – bit of a theme going here! He is on the hunt for a particularly nasty murderer who targets women and uses a crossbow. Alongside the crimes, we get an insight into Martin’s complex love life – how very French!

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Quite a long post from me, this time. Congratulations on making it to the end! I’d love to know what you’re been watching and reading.

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Ce n’est pas Le Pont Des Arts…

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This is a photo I took during my recent holiday in Gran Canaria. Engraved padlocks had been attached to this wire fence which runs along the beach side promenade. The sea was much bluer than it looks in this shot!

Seeeing the padlocks reminded me of the Pont Des Arts, in Paris which is sometimes known as the ‘Bridge of Lovers’. Have you ever been there?

There are many stunning bridges in Paris but this one had a specific romantic meaning for lots of people. Many couples would buy a padlock, engrave it with their names, the date and a short, romantic message. They would then attach it to the bridge and throw the key into the Seine. I must admit this is something I have never done but I have noticed that inscribed padlocks are now appearing all over the place.

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As today is Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be interesting to tell you more about the Pont des Arts. This bridge connects the Louvre to the Institut de France and is pedestrianised. It’s an iron bridge that became famous for the thousands of padlocks that were attached to the structure. The first love locks started appearing in 2008 but the trend spread very quickly and by 2014 there were about 45 tonnes of padlocks weighing down the bridge. This put a massive strain on the bridge’s infrastructure and eventually one of the railings collapsed.

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By this time, Parisians had fallen out of love with what was perceived by many locals as a tacky tourist attraction. The authorities were equally concerned about the safety of the bridge and on June 1st 2015 all the padlocks were removed. It has been estimated that over one million padlocks were taken away. The railings have now been replaced with glass panels.

Have you seen lovelocks either in Paris or elsewhere? Do you think they’re a romantic symbol or a bit of an eyesore? I’d love to know! Happy Valentine’s Day !

I am linking with #AllAboutFrance. Do go and have a look if you want to discover lots of interesting blog posts which all have a French theme!

 

Top Ten French Films..?!

I have always wanted to write a ‘Top Ten Post’…

Being a lover of French films, I thought I could easily put together a Top Ten of my favourite French films. The problem is that there are so many more than ten French films that I have loved. And trying to put them in numerical order is equally challenging.

Instead, here is a list of ten French films closest to my heart – at the moment anyway! I have another list of French films which I haven’t seen – yet!

In no particular order:

paris je

This film is actually made up of a series of eighteen short vignettes, set in different areas of Paris, and with a variety of directors and actors. Some of the short ‘stories’ are more to my taste then others but this is a film that I return to on a regular basis.

amelie

Another charming film set in Paris and, again, one that I have watched countless times.

choristes

This film was made in 2004 and is set in a strict boarding school for ‘challenging’ boys, some time after the second World War. A new music teacher arrives at the school and sets up a choir. It is really a testament to the power of music and singing.

diving bell

This is based on the true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby. He was the editor-in-chief of ‘Elle’ magazine and was aged forty three when he suffered a massive stroke. This left him with locked in syndrome. I thought this was a very thought proving and moving film.

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This charming documentary takes place in a small single-class village school over the course of one academic year. A dozen youngsters, aged 4-10, are taught every subject by one teacher. 51GMasUgnIL._AC_UL320_SR226,320_

I love thrillers and I love Juliette Binoche!

au revoir

This was one of the first films I went to see with Monsieur FF before we were married. It’s directed by Louis Malle and is another film set in a boarding school but in 1943, in Nazi  occupied France.  It is a story of childhood and friendship. We found it very moving and you are likely to need some tissues handy if you haven’t watched it yet!

intouchables

I have only recently discovered Omar Sy and I am currently ‘bingeing’ on his films! The focus of this comedy-drama, is on the unlikely friendship which develops between a wealthy quadriplegic (François Cluzet) and his carer (Omar Sy), who has just been released from prison.

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I have reviewed this film in a previous post:

https://fancyingfrance.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/jean-dujardin-late-to-the-party/

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This film tells the story of a girl who comes from a deaf family but discovers she has an amazing singing voice. Apparently, there was some criticism over the whole premise of the film and cast but I just watched it at face value without being aware of some of the issues behind the scenes. That’s possibly a failing on my part…

There are so many other films that I could have mentioned in this post. Perhaps another time?

I’d really love to know if you have seen any of these films? If you have, what was your opinion of them? And, of course, can you recommend any more French film to me?

 

 

 

 

 

Jean Dujardin … late to the party?,

Me, that is, not him, obviously.

At this point, I must ‘fess up that I have never seen ‘The Artist’ (for which he won an Oscar) nor ‘The Monuments Men’.

 

 

But I have seen ‘Un homme à la hauteur’

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Or ‘Up for Love’ as it is called in English. Some of the English reviews of this film were less than enthusiastic, especially about the special effects used to ‘shorten’ Jean Dujardin. The implication being that it would have been better to cast an actor who is genuinely small. Nevertheless , I thought it was a really charming film. Perhaps I’m just a real romantic at heart or easily pleased! But Jean’s smile… well, what can I say? And those eyes… I think you get the idea!

I really enjoyed the soundtrack, too. It introduced me to the music of Emilie Gassin which I didn’t know before.

Have you seen this film and are you a Jean Dujardin fan? It would be really interesting to know!

I am linking this post to #All About France. A great place to discover lots of interesting blogs with a focus on France.