The We and The I


It was the US premiere of the new film by French director Michel Gondry (The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). The We and the I was acclaimed at the Directors’ Fortnight at the last Cannes festival. The film is controversial: 40 teenagers from the Bronx, all amateur actors pour their violence, resentment, questions, silliness during this very long bus ride through the Bronx (It the Bronx THAT spread out!) on the last day of the school year. There are a lot of four letters words, a lot of provoking gestures or thoughts. But as the bus moves on, as students descent, the atmosphere gradually quiets down, and the remaining teenagers on the bus are faced with themselves, with their realities. It is very, very strong. The highlight of the evening was the Q & A after the movie with six amateurs/actors/kids and the two writers. The kids talked about their experience “Man, it was hot on that bus!”- Their discovery of filming -they raved about Michel Gondry who was not an… imbecile and listened to them, about their sense of empowerment – they had a real input on the script which became interactive in the end. They all live in the Bronx, are involved with “programs”- anti HIV, community programs that imply acting. -, They all dream and their dream came true: they went to Cannes! How cool is that! They all are totally emotional, totally genuine. And if you think about it, their problems are just problems of teenagers, and not so far from problems of Upper East Side teenagers. It is all about bullies and bullied, about love and hate, about crossing the Rubicon or not, about fragile -oh! So fragile minds- of teenagers, about finding oneself. Obviously their environment has no, or very little structure, and this makes it so difficult for them. Yet, the freedom they have allows them to truly look at themselves if they want to do so. They talk, they communicate, and they live! Great movie released in the US in March.
Thanks once again Michel Gondry for daring and forcing us to grow and look around!

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London No Paris Yes

Who is the fairest of all? Gad Elmaleh will have a new character to stigmatize : our soon to be new US ambassador to France , Anna Wintour, Vogue Editor in chief. She might not be the warmest diplomat but she will certainly be the most glamourous of all , and American fashion designer should rejoice: Their creations will have pignon sur rue in the Hotel de Santalba rue du faubourg Saint Honoré. Where else! .. Image

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Les Miserables… The Film!

The buzz is building around Les Miserables released on Christmas Day by Universal as previews for the press and VIPs are being held in New York and Los Angeles this week.  It is the film after the play. Is it a film? Is it a play? Director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) skillfully and elegantly surfs between these two artistic forms. The first scene for example is an epic view of a ship being hauled and dragged by slaves to its mooring like in a 3D movie.  Yet, one of the last scenes during the 1830 Revolution in Paris nicknamed Les Trois Glorieuses (although there is nothing glorious about it as we can see in the movie)  could have been staged at Le Chatelet. In the end it is a filmed musical comedy, definitely not an easy choice. But it works, and it works beautifully for two reasons. The cast is exceptional. When Anna Hathaway alias Fontine sings her dream, with her face distorted by suffering and misery, she brought tears to my eyes. And when Eddye Remaine alias Marius Pontmercy sung his dead friends with his reddened eyes, it is just heartbreaking. Not to mentioned a perfectly well cast Russel Crowe as Inspector Javert, Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and Amanda Seyfried as Cosette and an amazing Helena_Bonham_Carter as Madame Thénardier, the wife of the brothel and innkeeper. The other reason is the lyrics and songs we all know and rediscover with intense pleasure. “I Dreamed a Dream,” “Bring Him Home,” “One Day More” or “On My Own”, the original score written by Claude- Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil comes wonderfully forth on the screen.

So for the Oscars I suggest, Best Actress Best original score;Best adapted screen play… for a start. And could we add Best Foreign Inspiration as lets not forget Les Miserables is a French story, originally written by Victor Hugo!


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Gad Elmaleh in New York

French actor and comic Gad Elmaleh has obvioulsy never met French Ambassador Francois Delattre. If he had, he would have refrained from jokingly critizing him. « The ambassador who was there at the beginning of the movie and made some gracious remarks and is gone now. It was a French movie but he did not stay. Maybe he did not like the movie » said in a substance Gad Elmaleh who was attending film festival InFrench with English Subtitles at the Florence Gould hall and participated to a Q and A following the screening of his latest movie starring Sophie Marceau « Happiness Never Comes Alone » « Un bonheur n’arrive jamais seul » . If Ambassador Francois Delattre is so popular among the French community it is precisely because of his talent of ubiquity , attending every single opening, gala or conférence, sharing with the largest number of French people in the US important moments.
Very unfair but very funny. As one of the attendant said : It is not everyday that one can mock the power to be with no sense of guilt. » And there is always that rebellious part of us who enjoys putting down those in power.
Gad Elmaleh was a funny actor in the movie and after, in the Q and A, doing unexpected stand up comedy ( He was at the City Winery this week) .
But the film in the end is about Sophie Marceau, the wonderful actress from La Boum who now at 46 looks beautiful and sexy as ever.

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Sandy on my mind

Sandy has passed flooding our shores, washing our brains, New Yorkers have come out this morning like rats out of their holes as morning of the day after has broken upon the Island. Coffee in one hand, android in the other, they are assessing in their own way the damages, taking pictures of broken trees, battered parks, broken benches. At the Northern tip of the Island, the Carl Schurz Park is a mess. Centennial trees are down; branches are blocking pathways. With the FDR closed, the image of the day is taking a picture of your friend walking on what is usually the busiest highway of Manhattan. All talks are on Sandy, exchanging news on water damages and power cuts on Brooklyn, New Jersey or Suffolk County. Friends are calling, asking how it was and each one of us is Anderson Cooper reporting, texting, twitting, participating in the instant news as I am precisely doing right now. Brains washed, winds whirling in our minds. Yesterday it was a day off (as is today), a day for thoughts, words, books. All I could do last night was go back to watching TV , looking at events unfold on the screen: A tree has fallen in Bergen County, a crane in Manhattan, a ship has landed on Staten Island. There is a sort of excitement when such a powerful event occurs. What is going to happen next? Expectation mixed with fear takes control of our brains. On the high floor where I live, powerful winds were battering the windows last night. Were the windows going to shatter? How resistant were they? A noisy in-draft was coming from the corridor, so powerful that I could not open the door to the apartment. I was trapped in my flat. If a fire had started, I could not have opened the door. I was isolated, cut from the word if it was not for the ongoing bewildering news. Selfishly and inappropriately for a minute I envied those with no power who could live the experience fully, be cut from the world, from the news. Of course, I did not really wish so as I know that loss of power means loss of water pumps, rotten food, and much more. And my heart goes to those with broken houses and dismantled lives.
Today is another day off, a silent day with no traffic if it is not for the wind.
The East river is free of boats, the FDR free of cars, my brain free of thoughts.


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Golden Knight

Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH has been knighted by the Queen. Well, I was in London when the news broke, making … not the headlines…. the fourth page of the FT. So I asked the Real English People of London what they thought about it. Surprise was their first reaction….

– Bernard who?

– Dior, Veuve Clicquot and consort…

– Ah Yes! That Bernard …knighted you say? But that cannot be true!

– Yes! Knighted!

– You mean honorary knight?

– Hugh? What is honorary knight?

– Well he cannot wear the title, in other words he cannot be called “Sir”. –

– Ah? He is still a knight though?

– Technically he is not…

– Well then why did the Queen make such a decision?

The FT ‘s article mentions that LVMH has created 3 000 jobs in England. Not a sufficient reason you would think. But then a few  pages later, in the FT magazine, is another interesting article: Will French Women Arriving Adapt to London  Fashion? With Francois Hollande’s new tax laws, it seems that (rich) French people are massively immigrating to London, buying houses and swiping all the available slots at Lycee Charles de Gaulle. Are wives tagging along going to adopt  London rather laid back and hippie fashion? The FT ‘s answer is adamant: no. French women will stay as they are: chic and uptight and rather conservative. So yes! French women are arriving and London is welcoming them. And yes! Bernard Arnault, freshly knighted, will be there to dress them up! In other words, France and England are experiencing for the first time ” le parfait amour”, the perfect love!

PS: Bernard Arnault announced recently that he will seek the Belgian nationality. There is no end to globalization!

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A New Kid on the Block

Judging from the crowds on Sunday morning this post is going to be outdated by the time it comes out, but it has been such a highlight of my last month that I needed to share it.  It is going to hurt for a few, starting with Le Pain Quotidien which tasty yet often hard baguette is not going the nec plus ultra any longer: Kayser has arrived on 3rd avenue between 75th and 74th. Their pain au chocolat is like “là-bas” meaning Paris, their baguette is flawless and their tartelette à la framboise with frangipane is to die for. Mind you, it is not cheap $4.75 for a tartelette is a sin of gluttony on Sunday! Originally from Franche Comté Eric Kayser opened his first boulangeriein Paris in 1996. His recipe: bread made from natural leaven, thus bringing a real French flavor to the boulange, the art of bread. You can also have lunch, brunch or diner next to the bread shop, serving salads and cheese bread. Other stores  will  open in midtown  and the Flat Iron District. Now this is going to be fun,  our old friend Payard is making a come back… across from Kayser! Really The Upper East Side is no small talk when it comes to croissants!

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The Other Son

The Other Son, premiered at the Lycee Francais de New York, is a compelling movie about Israel and Palestine, about being a Jew, about being an Arab, about being 18 or 19-year-old today. Directed by Lorraine Levy, this movie which was filmed in 4 different languages – English, French, Arabic and Hebrew -, is forcing us to look at the Israelo-Arab conflict through a different perspective, through the eyes of teenagers who have concrete issues: where can I go and dance tonight? Where can I make money during the Summer? What girl am I going to kiss tonight? Using the same subterfuge as French director Etienne Chatillez in “La Vie est un long fleuve tranquille” ( Babies are exchanged in the maternity ward and the Israeli boy is brought up on The West Bank by a Palestinian family and vice versa), this film raises questions that linger on once the lights are on. Women make peace before men; music reconciles both sides; mothers can have many sons; understanding and love can replace hate by if a dialogue starts… In the end what really matters is what you do with your life and not who your parents are, or where you come from. The film is also a tribute to the French Language and the French-speaking world which spreads wide beyond frontiers.

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Being a Brand

Carine Roitfeld creates the magazine CR and talks about launching a perfume. Soon she will be manufacturing her own line of clothes, and a new brand will be born. We now need to market ourselves to simply exist. A twitter account, a face book page and a blog, …  there it is.  A new brand!

There is only M-O-N-E-Y spells Richard Gere in his new movie Arbitrage ( How disgusting money can be?) Being a brand is probably about that also,  money… wanting to be rich and famous. Money and marketing …


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Time Flies

Do you know the Blum Collection ? It is worth discovering at the Time Crafters exhibit open this weekend at the Park Avenue Armory. Swiss businessman Peter Blum and his wife Linda assembled this most extensive collection of Swiss watches over the years. It was sold for $6.5 millions to an anonymous Chinese collector. The collection itself contains 4370 watches including many prototypes. There is a large display of the collection at the Armory. Each series of watches was  a « Madeleine » to me.

1982 :The Skeleton model or the first time one could cheaply discover through the mechanism the guts of time. 1983 : The tennis stripes we could buy at Roland Garros ; 1984: The Don’t Be Too Late series . Remember offering that one to your girlfriend ? 1983: The quintessence of the Eighties : The Jelly Fish series : if you have a watch, be so cool as to choose it transparent! Or the Keith Haring series  tagged by the artist with his irreverent dog.

And all those I cant remember as they are prototypes : the extraordinary Sam Francis ( 1992), the Vivienne Westwood special box ( 2001).  And by the way Swatch does not mean Swiss Watch but Second Watch  and I have used quite a  few and I wish I had collected them !

Address: Park Avenue Armory at 643 Park Avenue, New York City

Open to the Public:      Friday, September 14th and Saturday, September 15th from 10am to 8pm Ticket Entry:    $20 at the door

captions: Photo 1- Alfred Hofkunst series Photo 2- The Blum CollectionImageImage

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