22 December 2005

This is how we do it in France

In a completely unpredictable and incredible turn of event, the parliament of France just legalized yesterday night non-commercial peer-to peer exchanges. This miracle might last only for few more hours as the government is decided to pass the law which allows the exact opposite, mainly the control and the restriction of private copies (by legalizing for instance Digital Rights Management softwares and somehow threatening some open source systems).
Debates have been quite fierce at the Assembly for few reasons: first, the government decided to submit the law to vote in "emergency", meaning it would only be read once instead of twice, and this just a couple of days before Christmas (when it's been on the table for 4 years). This cynical procedure hasn't produced the expected result. There were still 60 deputees ready to fight until late in the night. What more, in a very rare movement, deputees from the majority itself (right wing) and from the "centre" (usually supporting the right-wing) have joined left-wing amendments to counter-act what the government tries to impose on us.
This just shows that the questions of authors rights and peer-to-peer "philosophy" cannot be reduced to a hidden way of making a Xmas present to the likes of Microsoft, Apple, Sony, Virgin and EMI.

-- Joëlle

16 December 2005

Darling, how about a donkey for xmas?

Oxfam, always very innovative with their campaign for donations, has launched a series of "funusual" gifts that you can make to your friends or to yourself, called "Oxfam Unwrapped". How about offering a 5% share in a mango plantation (80£), a farmer training (64£), an entire classroom (1700£), a toilet (30£) or yes, a donkey (50£)? Of course, you actually don't get to host a super cute camel (95£) in your urban tiny home, instead it gets to go where it's needed the most (or another element of the equivalent importance)... I think Oxfam succeeds very well in involving donators often in a playful way, in bringing an awareness, away from the logic of charity, rather to a sense of participation in a project that becomes ours as much as theirs. They surely deserve a 3rd or 4th post in this blog about their work!



-- Joëlle

14 December 2005

O Graphic Design, Where Art Thou?

Etienne Mineur, whose blog is listed just here on your right, has published this year's worst logo designs in France. Most of the French major companies and institutions changed this year their visual identity, like EDF (Electricity of France), or Le Crédit Lyonnais (a bank leader). When you see all their new logos put together, it's like a nightmare vision. Somehow it's even enjoyable to see so much junkiness. Etienne makes also an interesting and bold comment (in French) as a graphic design expert.

09 December 2005

Turner Prize to Simon Starling

It is not without pride that I would like to draw attention to Simon Starling, the conceptual (so-to-speak) artist that has won the Turner Prize this year. I discovered his work only a few months earlier, i have to admit, during the Basel 2005 Art Fair when it had an amazing retrospective, "CUTTINGS", held in Basel's museum of modern art, but he immediately entered my top 5.

In the "shedboatshed" project, exhibited in Basel, he finds an old wooden cabin along the Rhine a few kms upstream from Basel, tears the cabin down and makes an old fashioned boat out of the wood. He then travels down with any extra wood on the river down to the Kunstmuseum, where he decontructs the boat to rebuild the original cabin.

Simon Starling's work is about forms of energy, fighting entropy, transformations. Love it while you can.

08 December 2005

The place we are

Ulf (co-founder of Superficiel) doesn't write in this blog (because he still doesn't feel like it) but I couldn't resist to quote something he said today (with his approval): "personality is one thing, geography another".
As always, Ulf was a great inspiration and therefore I, hereby, declare the creation of a new concept: "Geopersonality" (the search of the word didn't match any document on Google - does it mean it doesn't exist?)
Definition: singular noun
1. The study of the relationship among personality and geography, especially with respect to the foreign policy of a person.
2. A combination of geographic and private factors relating to or influencing a person.

Alright, this definition is a bit flawed because it was kinda modeled after the one for "geopolitics" on answers.com but it's a start and it works pretty well for now, doesn't it?
But most importantly, the question is: What Geoperson Are You?

--Joëlle

03 December 2005

Vice Vs. Vertu


can YOUR mobile phone stand this ultimate test ?
With Christmukah approaching, this is definitively something you'd like to try for yourself : put your VERTU handset on the ground and run over it with your latest Porsche just to make sure you haven't been cheated on the quality... It's only 4750 euros anyway, so send us your pictures !

28 November 2005

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

Apparently, this is an old and popular game on the other side of the Atlantic ocean. And I who thought I was pretty up-to-date with American pop culture. How mistaken I am! Because I only recently discovered it... (but then again I saw Footloose and Flatliners only this year!)
I must say I was quite surprised such thing could exist... The idea, inspired by the "theory" of the Six Degrees of Separation consists of linking any actor/actress you could think of to the actor Kevin Bacon. For instance, there are 3 degrees of separation between Vivien Leigh and Kevin Bacon:
Vivien Leigh was in The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961) with Jill St. John
Jill St. John was in The Player (1992) with David Alan Grier
David Alan Grier was in The Woodsman (2004) with Kevin Bacon
Can't really explain why I'm so fascinated by this highly social game: it's totally crazy when you think of it, a mix of refinement, sophistication, cinema culture and absurdity. I became quickly addicted to its calculated version by the departement of computer science at the University of Virginia: the Oracle of Bacon at Virginia. Make sure to check the "Bacon numbers" and the "How it works" sections. I also recently discovered that this engine is a famous Internet culture classic.
The only thing I could not find out in my further research on the game is why Kevin Bacon in the 1st place? Even the interesting wikipedia page on the subject doesn't provide a satisfying answer.
For the publication of 'Degrees', a book of photographs by Andy Gotts inspired by the game, the Guardian had the opportunity to ask the subject himself about what he had to say about this phenomenon: "I felt as if I was the brunt of some massive joke at my expense: "Can you believe this loser can be connected to Marlon Brando and Katharine Hepburn?""
Well, Kevin, you're no loser to me!! It was a long time ago, in Miami, I was watching TV and saw "She's having a baby" and since then, I've a crush on you, babe...

-- Joëlle.

23 November 2005

Existence preceeds the essence

I visited this evening the exhibition 'Mélancolie', currently at the Grand Palais in Paris. Honestly, if my friend Martin didn't drag me in, I don't think I would have seen it. That would have been a mistake. 'Melancholy' is a wonderful subject but I really didn't know what to expect. Sad paintings all over? Gloomy feeling all the way? Depression waiting for me at the exit? Well, I went anyway - to please a friend. And I enjoyed myself a lot. The exhibition was organized for most part chronologically, from the Antiques to nowadays (yes, it took us 2 hours to go through) but the path was actually pleasing. We saw the meaning of the word evolving through time. From a sin in the Middle Ages to a mark of free-will in the Elizabethan era, from a romantic posture in the 18th century, to a pathology in the 19th century and at the end of it shifting slowly from an urban lonely stance with the Baudelerian Spleen to an existentialist nauseous awareness...
For me, in our contemporary world, melancholy is the necessary symetrical axiom of happiness which could not be sustainable if it was not balanced. This is why I enjoy crying when I go to movies, or listening to sad songs sometimes. And this is also why a Lynch or a Cronenberg dark movie puts me in an exhilarating mood.
As for the exhibition, it would be worth to go if only for the delicate Corot painting of a woman in a white dress, or a series of Odilon Redon drawings (including my favorite - "Le Boulet" - which is an enormous reference for Peter Greenaway). Other interests include a variety of geometrical objects (mostly the Sphere and some sort of muti-facets stones reminding me of 2001 Space Odyssey), skeletons all over of either foetuses or bats, a 16th century portrait drawing of Henry Percy in a symbolic garden (see picture below), 2 masterpieces of Edward Hopper, the Nabuchodonosor of William Blake, Charles Le Brun metamorphosis series (man/wolf, man/fox and man/bear), a Temptation of Saint-Anthony by Jerôme Bosch and I'm going to stop here...
The big question: was it a depressing exhibition? Well, not at all. It was quite playful to actually travel in time and see how artists tried to show the unbearable feeling of living (most of the time though, it's depicted with a man bending his head on the side and holding it with his hand, looking at nothing).
Last bit of fun: in the museum shop, you could try out some fortune telling cards. You'd wonder a question and unveil 2 cards. I did ask a question. And the 2 cards that showed up were "Promotion" and "Success"! Now, could you guess what my question was?...

-- Joëlle.

21 November 2005

The last culinary territory to conquest

Who would have guessed that to convince us to eat worms and ants we just needed an efficient packaging?
Maybe a visionary marketer and/or a gifted designer would have told you one day that anything’s possible, especially the most unexpected.
Well then, use and mix:
1. A good font
2. Colours black and white and/or Transparency
3. Familiar food semantics (lollipop, vodka, crisps..)
4. The reassuring chocolate ingredient
5. Exotic name dropping (thai/green/curry/pearl/mopani/monkey..)
6. Photogenic creatures
7. Prices that make you feel special when you match them (but that are still reachable)
And you get yourself something like “Toffee Scorpion Candy”, “Cheddar Worm Crisps”, “Antlix Lollipop”, “Chocolate Coated Ants”, “Thai Green Curry Crickets” and more, all available at Edible.com and very soon at your local grocery store. Needless to say, it comes from the UK and the products are fascinating to look at. It’s sold in Paris at the very bourgeois La Grande Epicerie du Bon Marché, more familiar for importing Aunt Jamima syrup, good old Tiptree Orange marmalade and all kind of pasta from Italy.
I haven’t tried the Edible food range although I kept taking pictures of the products with my phone but a friend bought two of their lollipops as a birthday present. And that’s how it starts: first you buy novelties for a friend to try them out, then you end up being the main consumer…
Beware of the insectivore in you!

-- Joëlle


20 November 2005

A riot for art in Paris suburbs ...

It was a different kind of riot that i witnessed yesterday in the surburban town of Vitry-sur-Seine, south of Paris, for the opening of the new MAC/VAL, the first museum of modern art to set foot in the outskirts of the capital: a one hour long queue outside in the freezing cold of winter.


There are many interesting works inside, and a magnificent opening exhibition on french painter Jacques Monory with a greal deal of work done on the display of paintings. This may become a major stop-over for art lovers in Paris.


I have doubts that we'll be able to resolve our difficulties by putting museums in the suburbs, but yesterday definitively had a very good feel of tolerance and mixity...

16 November 2005

Google always strikes twice

Within a week, Google was slashdoted twice for launching two interesting services (free of course): Analytics to get inside the stats of your website and Google Base, a content search tool that " enables content owners to easily make their information searchable online". I'm eager to try them both and Google is obviously very good at getting betatesters to jump on their new tools like on the last chocolate candy coming out of the Chocolate Factory.

Meanwhile, in another part of town, the site boingboing lists a revealing timeline of Sony confounding operations which doesn't augur anything good for their future products (in particular the PS3).

-- Joëlle

14 November 2005

Bitter dream

I'm generally boycotting all CD's that bear a copy-controlled protection.. It's just a matter of principle because the record company assumes consumers are potential hackers. It's definitely not the way to go to stand for author's rights to stamp all over that this is before all a standalone commercial product. First, because it's actually not doing its "job", and second because this copy-control system always comes with a bunch of unidentified elements introduced quietly in our computers, which testifies of a very questionable business method...
The recent case of Sony illustrates well the latter issue. An article from Wired calls for the boycott of Sony (at least their CD's) and I'm quite convinced that this is a reasonable argument, which is why I strongly recommend its reading and the consequential action to take.

-- Joëlle.

09 November 2005

A fruitful French-American chat session

Some evenings ago, I was chatting with Steven. At some point, we ended up wondering if Sumos could have sex or if their lifestyle implied that they abstain from it, like monks (because they're so sacred and iconic blabla). Can't really remember how we got to that point (something to do with Las Vegas... obviously). But anyway, sometimes, it feels good to wonder such questions. Especially when you come across a really cool website after you searched "Can Sumos have sex?" on Google. This website provides all kind of news on Japan, posted by all kind of people and categories are ranging from the addictive "Arts/Culture" to the informative "Stock Market". Two of my favorite sections are "Not exactly news but it’s news to me" and the one that reaches in Japan the high essence of its meaning, that is of course: "Pop culture". On top of that, news.3yen.com is actually the tip of a web iceberg: in front of .3yen.com, you can replace "news" by "everyday", "cinema", "work", "anime", "food", "fashion", "travel" or dozens of other keywords and find countless precious information related to your necessary topic.
Finally, as you might have noticed from one of the previous links, apparently Sumos DO have sex... Now, to know if they enjoy it it's another matter... For that, you have to check an Israeli website found in the same Google search... [Yet, in all fairness you should know that this published statement has its convincing contradictor and I think it's absolutely beautiful to see that the Internet allows people to always find a way to publish a public disagreement].

-- Joëlle

Under my feet..

... runs a river.
Well, that is, only if i'm wearing Paul Smith shoes, but hey, this is a not such a bad option...

31 October 2005

7795 matching titles

Sometimes I wish my life would be an independant movie shot in New-York in the nineties. It'd be maybe a light comedy.

--Joëlle

20 October 2005

The father better than the son

This evening, I was 15 again. And so was my friend Sophie. Imagine the two of us giggling like teenagers in the cinema theatre when a close up of a smiling Donald Sutherland on a giant screen overwhelms us with emotions.. This happened in the movie Klute which he leads with Jane Fonda. She's not too bad either. When I was actually 13 or 14, I wanted to copy the haircut she has in this movie that I hadn't seen then except for some pictures (my parents wouldn't let me...) The sexual tension between the two characters in this movie is absolutely delicious. In a wonderful scene, Fonda who plays a prostitute describes her feelings for this man without even noticing she's talking about love. The choice of the movie name - Klute - could seem slightly ackward because the plot centers on the character of Fonda but Klute's not her name. It's Sutherland's character's. Yet, it makes sense that the movie's named after him. He's the only way for us - audience - to reach to the story. His presence is pure and generous. But it's his raw sex-appeal that makes it all. When he moves, when he smiles, when his eyes don't let go of Fonda, we only see him, his lips, his beauty, marking us with the seal of His Sensuality. Who said that Klute was a scary psychological thriller? It reminds me that another favorite movie of mine stars Sutherland as well in a majestic role: Ordinary People. When I told Sophie, Sutherland did a Casanova (Fellini's actually), she was like: "we have to rent it and see it this week-end!!"... And as a preview, as we were waiting for the subway home, a guy - maybe in order to impress a girlfriend - started with a powerful voice to sing "Don Giovanni".



-- Joëlle.

09 October 2005

The importance of being sociable

"Show me the money", "You had me at hello": two lines that brought the movie "Jerry McGuire" a cult status. But after I saw the movie again recently in my hotel room in the Shetlands, I picked up on another killer line: "I'm incapable of small talk" (said by Bonnie Hunt to her sister in the plot, Renee Zellweger). The simple irony of this sentence uncovers a delicate truth of social handicap. Small talk is not only a way of life, it's a powerful tool which practice through hard work can provide incommensurable benefits if not pleasure. I thought for a long time that one had to be a natural at small talking or not be one at all forever. I was wrong. It's just another social practice. I forced myself these last weeks and I realised how easy it comes and how quickly the results are showing up. Yet, I also think that it's possible to bring shortly the conversation to "another level". It just requires to open up more, to be more trusting, patient and to let the flow go past the limits that you'd set for yourself. Which in my case were pretty narrow-narrow. It's actually the moment I prefer in a conversation. When I finally find the pleasure past the weather slash what-is-it-that-you're-doing-in-life introduction that usually bores me to death. When the flavour of intimacy starts to appear and transforms a stranger into a potential friend. It all comes back to the idea that you have to take risks in life, even at people if it was just to give them the chance to be the next best thing.

-- Joëlle.

14 September 2005

Moving Canvas

Moving Canvas is the reunion of several projects that include Parasite, where a videoprojector is attached to the side a U-bahn train in Berlin, allowing images to be projected onto the walls of the underground tunnels... Simple and beautiful.

But... hey! Why is there always a shaved-headed young guy dressed in black in any art project ?
Anyways, make sure to check out the video at the bottom of the page.

05 September 2005

Le sourire d'Angelina Jolie, le regard d'un homme

It's getting close to 5pm, a summer Friday. It's the Central Park zoo and I just met few pinguins and a polar bear. The zoo will close soon and I think it's time to leave. I won't go to the Guggenheim, nor the Met after all. It suddenly bores me to make my way there and the zoo was such fun, so I'll just rest on the grass somewhere. As I'm moving towards the exit, I see people few meters ahead who are accompanied to the adjacent zoo gallery. The space around me is almost empty. I get that the people who were put aside are special. So I go to the guardian and ask. It's a big movie star, he says. Who is it? Angelina Jolie. No kiddin'. So I turn my head toward the door and I see her with her two kids entering the gallery. She turns her head, looking in my direction and she smiles. And then, the door closed. I just caught a glimpse of her but in that glimpse I saw her smiling. In that split second smile, unlike on screen or paper, she was just beautiful and it made me smile too while I enjoyed the rest of my walk in Central Park.
It's after dinner time, Steven wants to get an ice-cream at Christina's which is few steps down the road from the East Coast grill where we ate with Carson and Dimitri. I don't remember which day of the week it was in Boston. As we got out of the restaurant, we made a move towards the parlour. A tall and thin man stands in front of it, he's selling 'Spare change'*. His hair's white, he's not too old although he seems too old for his age. He's wearing all-black clothes. As we enter the store, I turn my head and I see this man's face and the look in his eyes. As the door is closing behind us, I remember it very intensely. Something strikes me. I fetch 2 dollars in my wallet and I get out of Christina's to give the money to that man. He seems very confused and happy and surprised. He insists on giving for each dollar a copy of 'Spare change', the current and the previous editions. I can't define what I see in his eyes but I'm all shaken. His manners are very kind and sweet and I can't say a word anymore, I feel very confused and moved and sad. I entered the store back and as I looked at the papers to hide my face from my friends, I started to cry. And for a while, long after we left the ice-cream parlour, I kept crying for this man's look. I never went back to ask for his name and his story. But my story with him lays in few glances and how two dollars became something so profundly emotional.

*Spare change news | Homeless empowerment project

--Joëlle.

16 August 2005

In the first place

I've finally put together a selection of the pictures I took in the past year and a half.
After a careful selection, I made 3 different sets:
The first one, Beach House, shows mainly pictures from Tel-Aviv I did in July 2004. I wanted to give impressions of a city that might be underestimated (like I did for so long!) or not usually seen from these angles. There are many architectural pictures taken when I was touring the city in search for Bauhaus urban signs. Tel-Aviv which is also named The White City had just been then listed as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO for the exceptional representation of the Modern architectural movement in the city (more than a thousand buildings designed from the 30s by architects immigrating from Europe). This set includes as well pictures taken in Mali with my then dying Canon camera who served me so well for so many years.
The second set of pictures I put together is Twilight Zone. I called it that way probably because scenes in the pictures seem to come from another dimension, like the Berlinese 3D structure or the sack at the Maison Victor-Hugo by fake monkeys during the Nuit Blanche. But also, places like the Giant's Causeway are definitely unique and strange, and during our trip, my travel companions and I were blessed with an incredible outer-space-like blue sky. Or like Tokyo, which made me feel so comfortable among the crowd, among the buildings, where I was found in an unusual yet familar environment.
The third set of pictures, On The Road, starts about when the lab closed down (except for one picture which was taken at the very end of year 2004). Since then, I felt literaly on the road, traveling very often, hardly staying in Paris, my home base, more than 3 weeks in a row. I traveled for all kind of reason, to meet lover and friends, to work, to explore, but even if I had a specific reason each time, I felt like I had to move, pushed by some unidentified energy. And it doesn't seem like it's going to stop: in a few hours, I'm taking the plane to Boston where I'll stay for 2 weeks. It doesn't feel very constructive to keep doing that. But I'm not sure yet what is going to happen. In this ensemble of pictures, my favorite part is Liverpool, where probably as far as I'm concerned, it all started.

-- Joëlle.

15 August 2005

- Well, sir. Going 'ome. - Hmm? - 'Ome, sir.

The last line in Lawrence of Arabia says it all. When Lawrence looks at the bedouis taking the road on their camels as he is himself driven "home", he knows that there is no home for him anymore. Once he chose the desert and the Arabs over his own culture, how could he ever return home? He became a nomad, renouncing all attachments. And the rest of his life after the desert experience will be just about reafferming his ability to abandon something.
David Lean's movie is quite romancing what truly happened but what a brilliant romance! Each word of the script breathes intelligence. When I was 16 or 17, I got enamoured with that line in particular: "El Aurens, truly for some men nothing is written unless they write it". It's funny how little things like that can be inspiring, for so long.



-- Joëlle.

09 August 2005

Mali forgotten

Oxfam published a press release about the food crisis in Mali that is forgotten by rich countries in comparison to its neighbor, Niger.
Regions in Mali that are particularly hit are Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal which are at the limits of the desert.
Other countries at risk are Mauritania and Burkina-Faso.
I don't especially believe in charity. But it seems to be the most paliative solution at the moment.
I just wish that there'd be a different economic model in place set up by international organizations that wouldn't contribute directly to famine. That we can't avoid such a situation to happen over and over again like a natural cycle and that we expect it to happen actually like it's in the order of things is so depressing. It's clearly our collective failure. It's not just another headline. "Oh yeah, a famine in Africa, you know. Ok, let's give some money to Oxfam or Care or MSF or whatever. They'll take care of it for us. And... Next!"

02 August 2005

Tsunami hits West Africa

A huge Tsunami hit West Africa in the past months. More than three million people are facing starvation in Niger alone. Other countries hit are Mali and Mauritania.
It took more than a month for this news to reach mass media focus and to get people to respond with donations. A mismanagement of the situation by the Niger government and the UN led to an even more dramatic situation. The Medecins Sans Frontières international website published an article of The Guardian on this matter. In the meantime, money is needed to open more therapeutic nutrition centers. One that MSF opened on the 25th of June was already full two days after (it contains 150 beds).
Oxfam who also launched a $2 million appeal for the West Africa food crisis publishes on its website downloadable toolkits that explain how they work in emergencies.

-- Joëlle.

21 July 2005

Harry Potter and the predictable writer

I was in Holland in the last days - in the lost town of Enschede - and I finished there very quietly the last adventure of Harry Potter that Amazon kindly delivered to me as promised on Saturday. I was really pleased to renew my relationship with the young wizard even though I knew it would be just for a couple of days.
And for the first time, after I read the book, I seeked online reviews or readers' opinions, for the first time as well, I wasn't completely convinced by the choices made in the plot.
**spoilers here**
My main criticism is that the author gave in to all the obvious and expected turn of events: mainly Ron and Hermione falling for each other, the couple Harry and Ginny forming and the death of Dumbledore. During my reading, I was never surprised, my assumptions were never challenged. Everything happen like they were supposed to happen. The identity of the Half-Blood prince was maybe unexpected but its revelation didn't affect the plot nor the relationship between the (wrongly named) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood prince. What was also disappointed is the inconsistency of the character of Hermione. That she falls for Ron might not be a surprise in regards to the hints sparkled in the previous books but it's nonetheless bewildering as I can't picture the two together. They just don't match. I found a strong resonance on that point in another blog post. I'm not even argueing for a Harry/Hermione combo because they wouldn't fit together either. Yet, this is not the major problem about this new occurence of the Hermione character. Apart from the romance sequences, she's hardly present in the rest of the plot and it's rather illogical (one of the many inconsistencies in the story). My last point will be on Snape. I think he's really getting to be my favorite character, not because he's evil but because he's the less predictable figure in the book and you can feel the author's pleasure writing him, it feels she has much more freedom developing him than any other heroes because he's not trapped in the readers' imagery, he's too ambiguous for that, not taking good for granted and nor evil for the über-ultimate path to take. Which brings me back to my concern, Snape aside, the whole plot was too full of predictabilities. A pinnacle for a wizard's story. From reading reviews around, I think I found an explanation for why it *had* to be this way: the 6th book was meant to stage all the different points that will find their climax in the last book. But it's not good enough reason for me. It reminds me of George Lucas trying to argue for his Star Wars 2 that we'll all get it in the light of the third opus. Well, my belief is that even if it's part of a bigger whole, or part of a series, an occurence should also stand alone and be a strong product on its own. Finally, if the 7th book's going to be more or less about what all the readers/fan base project, don't bother writing it cos it's already out there.

-- Joëlle.

03 July 2005

BEST BEST

Recently, celebrating the 100 years birthdays, the BFI and the AFI have released top 100s-lists of best movies, best actors, best scores, etc... Channel Four and Time magazine issued some lists as well. It's very much in trend with the lists that are published every now and then by movie magazines like Premiere and so on.
Of course, I never completly agree with the final results. For instance, I don't understand why Humphrey Bogart should be the best actor ever - he's almost always playing the same role, and his cold way of approaching his characters isn't very nuanced... In the same line, I don't get this obsessive admiration for the movie 'Casablanca'. I never felt a great chemistry between Bogart and Bergman whenever I watched the movie. In the genre of love story meets spy movie, 'Notorious' with Bergman as well but leading with Cary Grant, is far more intense, emotional and disturbing than Casablanca will ever be.
Another cliché I like to mention often is 'Singin' in the rain' as best musical ever. Are people kidding here? I mean it's very bright and funny and entertaining and Debbie Reynolds is cute and all. But c'mon, guys! Have you ever seen 'The Bandwagon'? THIS is the best musical ever. It's Hollywood at its best, the jewel of entertainment, class and chemistry on stage. If you really want to be blown out by a movie by Stanley Donen (who directed 'Singin' in the rain') then go for 'Two for the road', where he demonstrates his ability to master narration and his sense for sensibilities.
So, anyway, because I will never be able to decide what is my favorite movie ever, or who's my favorite actress of all time, I'd rather list some of my favorite movie moments. Those that have made me cry over and over again, or laugh, or thrill or dream or think when the theatre puts the lights back on.

*BEST DEATH - Peter Sellers in The Party (don't worry, no spoilers here)
*BEST COUPLE ARGUMENT - Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney in Two for the Road
*BEST TRACKSHOT - Denis Lavant in Mauvais Sang
*BEST FIGHT - Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine in The Duellists
*BEST SEQUEL (a.k.a better than the first) - Batman Returns and while we're at it *BEST BATMAN - Michael Keaton
*BEST LONESOME BLUES - Fred Astaire in The Bandwagon
*BEST USE OF COLOR - A Matter of Life and Death
*BEST FUNERAL - Imitation of Life
*BEST TEARJECKER - Imitation of Life
*BEST GAY MOVIE - Torch Song Trilogy
*BEST MOVIE AGAINST DEATH PENALTY - Porte Aperte and Twelve Angry Men
*BEST PARODY - Body Double (of Rear Window)
*BEST ROMANTIC FINALE - An Officer and a Gentleman
*BEST NARRATIVE USE OF MUSIC - All movies by Wes Anderson
*BEST SLOW MOTION ON A GROUP OF PEOPLE - Reservoir Dogs
*BEST ARROGANCE - Errol Flynn in Gentleman Jim
*BEST MISTAKE - Frank Sinatra in Some Came Running
*BEST FRUSTRATED LOVE - Trevor Howard and Celia Jonhson in Brief Encounter
*BEST RELIEF - Joan Fontaine in Rebecca
*BEST VISION - Christopher Walken in Dead Zone
*BEST IMPULSION - Pierre Fresnay in Marius
*BEST SURPRISE - James Steward in Who Shot Liberty Valence?
*BEST REDEMPTION - Dean Martin in Rio Bravo
*BEST STANDING OVATION - for Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird
*BEST SURVIVOR - Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind

I could go on but those are the ones I thought about just now. You're welcome to comment and post best movie moments as well!

-- Joëlle.

28 June 2005

"Ever felt dumped on?"

I found that making trade fair is one of the most challenging contemporary economic issue: one where we can have a direct action, that is not about charity and that doesn't even involve rescuing a country from a dictator. It is just about being fair, applying the same rules for all.
We, in France, in Europe, in the States, suddenly complain about low-cost textiles from China submerging our markets at prices that local traders can't follow. And yet, we still have the power to negociate a compromise.
But we forgot a little too quickly to my taste that we're doing the exact same thing on a much more dramatic and destructive scale in third-world countries who don't have any choice but to accept the conditions with which they're trading their goods.
Shamelessly, we dump (we don't even trade actually, we just dump) our surplus, the excess production that is super subsidized by our Western governments when the producers of third-world countries don't have the right to be helped.
(I found "dump" to be the right word moreover because of how we consider those countries our large-scale garbage: we think that it is actually helping them that our old clothes, our old computers, our old car motors, our old fridges, our expired medicines are dumped on them because it's better than nothing and it empties our closets at the same time! Well, no. Ask yourself just that: would you accept to live with over-used, sometimes dangerous features around you?)
Oxfam produced a wonderful fair trade campaign earlier this year - and it's still going on. It's called "Ever felt dumped on?" and stages various celebrities on whom emblematic products at stake in the fair trade are dumped (coffee, chocolate, cotton, rice, etc).
I was also very moved recently by Tony Blair's historical speech on Europe - indeed, Great-Britain is not the most expected country to envision what the European Union could be. So I was rather pleasantly surprised. And even if I don't always agree with all of his vision, I'm truly grateful that Blair stood-up and spoke against the subsidaries that European agriculture gets, and in particular in France. I know it's a difficult subject for the people involved in agriculture, in a culture that is very anchored in family and tradition: they're trying to preserve a know-how and they don't want to see this passion disappear along with the kids leaving the countryside to move in evergrowing cities. But I'm convinced there's a possible balance to find. That it doesn't have to mean the death of agriculture in the Western world in exchange of a society that becomes aware of the consequences of its wastes.

-- Joëlle.

07 June 2005

Milano Centrale

On my last day in Italy last week, I decided to stroll around in Milan and find those delicious cantuccini I had 3 years ago on my first visit. Ailadi, who had hosted me the night before, kept me company. She gave me one of the nicest compliment I ever received: "Sharing your company is like being on holidays".
By the way, if you visit Milan, start with via San Marco and via Solferino which are few blocks away from the Centrale station. It'll give you another impression of Milan than the negative one that is usually assumed: get a dash of dolce vita mixed with a joyful indifference tainted with the necessary outrage of luxury. And of course, on via Solferino, you'll come across this bakery with the delicious cantuccini (take the ones with almonds).

-- Joëlle

24 May 2005

Dare devils

Who said that musicals were out of fashion? Watch this absolute delicacy made by the Prangstgrüp performers called "Lecture musical". And if you're still not into musicals there are plenty of other videos, like 'Start up sound' that are irresistibly hilarious and more in their video archive.
On a side note, I'm noticing that short videos are these days some of the best items you can find on the Internet.

--Joëlle.

19 May 2005

Posh

On my first day in Milan this week, I was invited to spend part the day at Achille Castiglioni's office where most of the objects, chairs, lamps he designed are on display in the most casual manner, just like *at home*. You're not in a museum where the chairs stand behind a glass or a do-not-touch sign. You're actually incited to sit on them, to touch, to use... and it goes for all the other objects and books around. Irma Castiglioni was there to tell a story for each object and to explain for instance how the shape of this particular chair was inspired from a disposable pair of slippers from a hotel somewhere.
This chair named 40/80 after the age of the two designers involved in the project was actually my favorite. Once I sat on it, I couldn't get up. It perfectly fit my lotus loving position. And I could very well see myself holding my Powerbook on my lap and working like that all day long.



Hence, once more, I discovered I have luxurious tastes (I made a price request from Stylepark website to check exactly how much my ideal costs - I'll post it when I have it...it's gonna be very funny).

-- Joelle.

Beeb beeb beep

The news is not today-new but I just realised today how good old BBC is currently setting the trend.
A revolution is on its way: authorship empowerment goes crazy.

-- Joëlle.

05 May 2005

TV torrents and Fyodor Dostoevsky

Now that tvtorrents.ws has definitively shut down, you can catch your daily dose of american tv life at TvTorrents.COM. Always worth checking : the latest seasons of "The Shield", "24", and other mild addictions.
Have you read Dostoevsky's The Dream of a Ridiculous Man" lately ? I'm not too sure what to think... Let me know if you do ! (raphael_AT_superficiel.org)

--raphael.

04 May 2005

Feeling Minimal

If you are in a minimal techno mood, whatever that means, and feel like you're running short of choices, go visit our russian friends from:: DEEP MIX MOSCOW RADIO :: who are serving everything to stop your craving..

02 May 2005

I'm happy just to dance with you

Here's another short video to enjoy that was recently produced by some friends of Julie, who belong to the collective Cela Etant.
A pure moment of pleasure and elegance. It's called 'danse de nuit'.

--Joëlle.

30 April 2005

OUI

I just wanted to say that I'm going to vote Yes at the referundum for the European constitution.

--Joëlle

13 April 2005

when Beuys gets political

Feeling a little bluesy these days? Here something to make your day for a whole week at least.
I just discovered this video which apparently is quite famous: Joseph Beuys in a way you'd never expected... I wish it could have made it to my video art crash course at MLE. I'll never see his work with the same eyes again.

Some comments are posted on the site of MTAA where I found the video.

-- Joëlle

12 April 2005

(Cinema) History repeating

Irene Dunne must be the actress who starred in the greatest number of movies that were later remade:

The Age of Innocence (1934) that became in 1993 a movie directed by Martin Scorcese
Magnificient Obsession (1935) was remade in 1954 by Douglas Sirk
Show Boat (1936) made it again in 1951 with George Sidney
The Awful truth (1937) was Let's do it again in 1953
Love Affair (1939) is mostly famous as An Affair to Remember (1957) by the same director Leo McCarey and starring her most famous on-screen partner, Cary Grant
My Favorite wife (1940) was almost remade by George Cukor as Something's got to give (1962), the last unfinished movie of Marilyn Monroe
A Guy named Joe (1943) became Always with Steven Spielberg (1989)
Anna and the King of Siam (1946) was of course The King and I by Walter Lang in 1956
And those are just for the most famous ones! Note that some of them are remakes themselves (like Show Boat or The Awful truth).
This observation could lead to some of these thoughts: 1. remakes are not a new phenomenon; 2. good stories are few 3. good stories are ageless 4. remakes can be as good or better than the original 5. Irene Dunne is a considerable figure of the American cinema 6. cinema will eat itself 7. no new feature should be granted as new 8. check out the originals with Irene Dunne 9. i like to kill my time with that kind of observations

-- Joëlle

09 April 2005

A proposal

Recently, I've been working on a proposal for the DICREAM, a French agency that helps the production of mutimedia projects. I would like to develop the Passages project that was prototyped at Media Lab Europe. I really love this project and I would be very happy to see it installed, especially after all these years that the theme of urban passages has filtered my work.

So this is yet ANOTHER proposal. From this Monday, I should get the answer in about 6 - 8 weeks. And this is how my life epitomizes these days: writing and waiting, and also meeting and presenting and emailing and calling.

About one or two days per week, I get so frustrated and impatient that I think of giving it all up. That's when meditation gets very useful, or at least in my case just becoming aware of my priviledged situation, that I share for better or worse with many of my super talented friends and peers all over the world.

-- Joëlle.

23 March 2005

Time takes a cigarette

Last Saturday, I saw two friends of mine performing in a play "Les Dieux appellent ça des boulons" (The Gods call that bolts). Actually, one friend Renaud co-directed it and acted in it with his collaborator, Gaël and the other friend Guilhem co-created the video material. I know them for about 10 years. It's always very nice to follow friends' paths through life, ambition, achievement, desires and obstacles. I heard of the project about 3 years ago when Renaud told me about this russian short story from Victor Pelevin he wanted to adapt as a play ("L'Ermite et Sixdoigts/Hermit and Six-Toes"). And this week, it was there, live on stage. I find that quite fulfilling.

The play itself was very funny, and brilliantly played. The directorial orientation they took was quite interesting although sometimes frustrating: they would play and move within the audience. I would be able to see most of it except when some tall guy would stand in front of me. I guess that catching some glimpses, and missing some scenes at times contributed to create the ambiance which the audience was supposed to be in. I enjoyed watching the show and so did my friend Alexis that I dragged along.

More information (in French) on this company debut, untm.

--Joëlle

26 February 2005

My head is boiling.

To my shame, I haven't written anything on that blog for over a month. I meant to, though. Every day. Since the Media Lab closed down. Express myself about it. I just couldn't. There are so many things to say. So many people to mention. Because after all, it was all about the people. Friends. Now I'm back in Paris. It's been a week. I mean, I love the city. It's Paris, you know. It's no way like Dublin. But I do miss my friends. I know the next adventures are going to include them for sure. In the meantime, my head is boiling with ideas, with anticipations, with desires, with excitement. It's boiling so much that some time, I'm paralysed. Like when I have to write. A blog entry. An email. But like now, starting with just a word can be enough to tell the story.

--Joëlle

12 January 2005

Aftermath

The tsunami that hit South-East Asia stroked my mind and my heart like millions of other people over the world who felt sadness over this tragedy.
Newspapers, TV, blogs, all conveyed stories, images and accounts of what happened and all converged towards a call for solidarity and financial help. And like in one global move, the planet turned on this side of the world, offering its compassion. Or shall I say, an overbid of compassion that continues to get me quite critical. I don’t think it has even to do with my general suspicion towards charity. Because I do think there is a crucial need of money. I just wonder about the ways things have been handled. I have had those thoughts for a long time but I still don’t grasp much about the situation so it’s quite difficult to stand back and write about it.
When I read that the Doctors without Borders/Médecins sans frontieres websites were calling for donations for other issues because they estimated to have received sufficient fund for the South-East Asia relief, I felt that a discordant voice within the ambient discourse was expressed. I thought it is a very courageous, transparent and bold decision to make.
More recently, I’ve read articles where, at last, the management of the donations and of the help provided was addressed as an issue. Of course, we have previous examples to get us aware of how complex this situation can get. Only a year ago, an earthquake in Iran destroyed 70% of the city of Bam and killed about 27,000 people. A year later, ten of thousands of people are still living in tents, waiting for some of the money promised, among others, by the American government. Also, we can think of other current dramatic situations in the world requiring a strong level of engagement from the rich nations but that don’t have the same powerful impact on minds as did the Indian Ocean tsunami – yet, they do carry their lot of suffering and misery: those wars that go on for years, for instance, like in the Darfour region, or the abandoned people and cities of Colombia to violence and poverty. I guess I’m just surprised they never caught much attention. But maybe the tsunami catastrophy, revealing so much generosity from around the world, will change the deal of North/South support relationship (that is if the event keeps a long-term presence in the media headlines).
In the meantime, we should plan our next vacations to Phuket or South-East India or other beautiful places around the Indian Ocean and think long term help.
The wikipedia page on the matter keeps a fairly clear and regularly updated coverage, including a section on the post-tsunami humanitarian situation.

--Joëlle