Entries tagged with “Paris”.

For me the rebirth of cinema in 3D, the moment when the technology met with art is not ‘Avatar‘ but Scorsese‘s ‘Hugo’. James Cameron‘s film validated the technology, brought it into the mainstream, and – of course – made a lot of money in the process. Hugo is in my opinion the first great film realized in this technology, taking a rather melodramatic story targeting the all family audiences and using 3D to amplify the visual effects, to create a world of dreams and fantasy – the material great films are made from. Based on the Paris of the 1920th it recreates the city on screen in a manner that is spectacular and sensitive at the same time, and populates it with characters who meld the qualities of fiction heroes and flesh and blood humans.  The complexity of the staging, the attention to the details, the pace of the action and of the moves of the camera, the world of objects who surround the heroes – all this get together in a charming visual experience. We have known many versions of Paris in art, some from books like (Victor) Hugo, some from photos like the ones of Brassai or Robert Doisneau, some from works of art like the paintings of the Impressionist era, now we have the Paris as imagined by Martin Scorsese.


source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0970179/


Bringing George Melies into the story is a real touch of genius.This film is a love declaration for cinema, full of respect and quotes from famous movies. The comparison with the other big film about cinema in 2011 The Artist is immediate and makes us forget immediately the simplistic kiddish story. But the story itself has a quality that makes jealous the current Disney productions. This is real Disney stuff, the one that would not make Master Walt blush as would the majority if not all the scripts of the films made by the studios who inherited his name. This is the Disney of Fantasia, the one that made me dream and cross the barriers of imagination.

George Melies actually did break with the studios and retired from film making before the war, and many of his films were destroyed to be used to manufacture military materials. He had a shop in the Montparnasse train station, and even if a round-eyed boy who was making the clocks turn in the station did not really exist – the imagined part of the story is as good and as moving as the real one.


(video source VISO Trailers)


A film like Hugo does not necessarily excel in acting, although big names show up in the cast and do more than a decent job. Ben Kingsley adds George Melies to the gallery of the great personalities he brought to life in his screen career, and Sacha Baron Cohen proves that he can be funny also out of his usual stand-up comedy style. It is however the complex and beautiful world in which the characters move will be the one that we shall remember from this film.



Wrapping-up my vacation notes from Paris, here are a few photos taken on the streets, in the metro, restaurants (other than the ones I wrote about) – some funny, some interesting, some charming as is this city with no equal.



This shop can be found on rue de Seine, I liked the firm (which was actually built-up from pieces of mosaic) and I wondered how this translates to Romanian.



A gallery I did not write about also on rue de Seine was exposing (quite expensive) art about dogs.



Rue des Lombards in the area of Beaubourg is a place where I wish to get back as soon as I can, a lot of music clubs and terraces open from late afternoon through the night.



Here is how the theater hall of the Comedie des Champs Elysees looks inside.



Did Salvador Dali like chocolat? This is what maybe the owner of this coffee shop in the Marais area thinks. Or maybe the artists’s moustache could be seen here once?



Place de la Bastille and Opera Bastille on a rainy midnight.



Inside Kapoor’s Leviathan at Grand Palais.



Cafe de l’Olympia near the famous music theater hall.



An exhibition about the Eichman trial took place at the Memorial de la Shoah. We did not succeed to get to visit it. Here is a poster in a metro station, with an antisemitic commentary scribbled on it. Helas!



The short time did not allow us to attend any of the concerts in the cycle ‘Baroque Nights’ – we just could have a glimpse at the entry halls and the beautiful gate of the Palais Behague where many of the activities of the Institute for Romanian Culture are being organized.



A classical postcard – The Eiffel tower at night.



The two photos above are not for people on diets.



The Gibert Joseph bookshop – a mandatory stop in any of my stops in Paris.



Some of my French-challenged friends may chose the Shakespeare & Co. bookshop, on the quai accross the Notre-Dame cathedral.



Le Caveau des Oubliettes is a music place located behind the Saint Julien Le Pauvre church (one of the oldest in Paris). We remembered a beautiful concert of chansonettes we attended here twenty years ago, now it seems to have changed profile into becoming a jazz and blues club.


The metro was in this trip our principal mean of transport. Here is one a station on one of the most modern lines in Paris.



Inside the Au Pied de Cochon restaurant.



This may be the place where God gets a haircut. Hebrew speakers will understand what I mean.



And here it is – to end with a sweat taste – this was our last desert on this trip in Paris (at a place in the Hippopotamus chain, otherwise a good recommendation for the meat lovers).





Motto: One does not live for eating (A Friend)

Really? Even in Paris? or in France in general?

Maybe so. However, culinary experiences makes part of the Paris or France experience. The story of my trip to Paris would not be complete without writing something about some of the meals we had. We actually had quite a busy schedule with almost daily museum visits, meeting with friends and evening theater shows – so we visited less restaurants than usual. Yet I will write about four of them. The surprise may be for the reader of this blog entry that only one of them was French. International cuisine and ethnic food is stronger in Paris than it ever was.



The first restaurant I will talk about is a … Middle Eastern restaurant. Going to Paris and eating in an Israeli-style restaurant? Yes, you do it if you have a Parisian friend who is nostalgic about Israeli food. So here we went on Sunday afternoon on rue des Rosiers, in the middle of one of the areas in Paris with a high percentage of Jewish population, a street where the number of restaurants, street food stops, butcher and delicacies stores with kosher signs and Hebrew inscriptions is as large as in Netanya in Israel.



We skipped other options and we sat on the terrace of Chez Marianne, a place which our friends had previously visited. From what I heard and read from other sources this place knew better days. For people trying to understand what Israeli or Middle Eastern food is about this is the wrong place to go. Having already eaten in Arabic and Jewish restaurants in different other places than Israel my impression is that the Arabic restaurants are on average much better than the Jewish ones. Portions at Chez Marianne were small, pita bread which comes first and hot at any restaurant in Israel was late and cold and had to be ordered separately, houmous and tehinah were not fresh and tasted fade, only the felafel were somehow OK. Just one sort of Israeli beer (Maccabi of course) was available. We ended by regretting not having taken the street food option, but at least we spent a nice time on the terrace chatting with our friends on a late sunny afternoon.



The next experience was a dinner with the same friends at what I was remembering as the best Romanian cooking experience I ever had out of Romania – the Doina restaurant. Splendidly located by the Champs de Mars, close to the Eiffel Tower and on the same street as the Romanian embassy and the Romanian Cultural Institute the restaurant may be the only place of its kind in the city. In 1991, during our first visit in Paris we ate there and the culinary experience was memorable, although the waiters seemed to have problems with translating the menu items to the French-speaking customers.



Some things have changed – the waiters seem nowadays to speak better French. The Web site shows photos of quite a bunch of Romanian celebrities having visited the place. We started with pike roe salad (icre de stiuca) which was excellent, but the traditional meatball soup (ciorba de perisoare) disappointed, not being sour enough. Most of us had as main course the traditional  mititei which are the equivalent of the Israeli kebabs - kind of spicy minced meat sausages. They were good but not as fantastic as we remembered them, but probably it was the fact that we had as term of reference the real stuff we ate in Romania many times in the last years that interfered. We ended with papanasi a traditional cheese dumplings desert, which were quite tasty but not as big as their cousins in Bucharest. The wine choice was really disappointing, as the wine industry in Romania developed immensely in the last few years and you would expect to find at least a few of the good Romanian wines and not only the ubiquitous Murfatlar brand. We had the Merlot, it was OK, but then the choice was really disappointing.



The third place we visited was Leon de Bruxelles which is a chain cloning the original mussels place Chez Leon located at 18, rue des Bouchers in Bruxelles, maybe the best mussels restaurant in the world. In Paris they got several places and we chose to have lunch in the one that was closest to our hotel, on Boulevard Sain Germain des Pres.



I personally learned to have nothing else when eating at any Leon restaurant but a large bowled of steamed mussels, des frittes, and Belgian beer. There are many other options and combinations, Liliana picked a different one with a special white wine and garlic sauce. It was great, it’s a standard that is always at best level, and for whoever is in love with mussels it’s the place to go.



Here we got the really French, better said Parisian experience. Au Pied de Cochon is located near Les Halles and is a restaurant-brasserie specialized in any French specific recipes. I had however a friends recommendation in mind already so I had no hesitation in ordering the onion soup and the flag meal that gives the name of the restaurant.



The onion soup was great, one of the best I had ever had, with a generous cheese thick crust over the edge of the bowl and with hot and aromatic onion that somehow succeeded to remain slightly crispy.



The pork leg was however disappointing. It’s the first and probably the last time I am trying it. It’s simply too much work of cutting, separating meat from cartilage and bones, and the ratio is 10-15% edible stuff out of the whole portion you get on the plate. I was expecting something close to the Czech pork knuckle specialty that I ate in Prague which I liked very much, but this was far from it, and having it prepared very well in a schnitzel style was not enough to make it attractive for me to try it a second time.  At least I know that I tried.

To a large extent the history of Europe is built and carved in the stone and marbles of its churches. Visiting churches, old and new, conserved and renovated takes the visitors in the past times of the men who lived in these places and of their spiritual lives. Churches were the center of spirituality and the power, the places of gathering and the heart of the social life. From a certain point of view it is a paradox that in the country that defined better than any other in the democratic world the separation of powers between state and religion it is still the churches that seem to focus in their enclosures and than radiate outside the voices of the past and the spirit of the French history and culture. There are many such places in Paris, here are three of them we have visited in our most recent trips.

Eglise de la Madeleine is located in the very heart of Paris, but somehow we did not visit it in any of our previous trips here, maybe because it was for many year under renovation. The first projects date from the 18th century but they were interrupted by the French Revolution. Napoleon decided to build on the place a temple to the glory of its army and the classical temple design of architect Pierre-Alexandre Vignon was used after the Restauration to complete the building. Its purpose changed again, at some point it was targeted as a monument of repentence for the Revolution and of national reconciliation, until it was finally consecrated as a church dedicated to Mary-Magdalene in 1842.



I confess that I was never overwhelmed by the exterior (and now having learned more about the history I understand the reasons of the hybrid feeling the building gives) and now having visited the interior I was not enthusiastic either. The arched structure and the altar dominated by Charles Marochetti’s sculpture of Mary from Migdal lifted by the angels have charm and harmony and are the most remarkable aspects in the church. There is surprisingly little documentation about the church inside (and I had left my DK guide home), so I could not discover the tomb of Chopin.



I owe the visit to the Basilique de Saint-Denis to a friend that I met on this occasion for the first time. I know Jean for a few years from the Internet lists, I have read and written recently about his travel book in his birth region of Ardeal, and I was eager to meet him on the occasion of our trip to Paris. He was so kind to come to Paris from his Normandy place of living and we spent a very pleasant afternoon visiting this place of importance in the history of France which he also was seeing for the first time.



If England has Westminster Abbey as place or coronation and burial for most of its kings and queens, the French monarchy had historically divided the roles. Kinds were crowned in the cathedral of Reims, and most of them (all but three) were buried in the Abbey (or Royal Cathedral) of Saint-Denis, a Northern suburb of Paris. Most of the tombs were desecrated during the French revolution, but the burial monuments survived and they are a testimony in stone for the royal history of France.



Saint Denis is a patron saint of France, and the church is built on his burial place. The first church was raised by king Dagobert in the 7th century. The current structure is a mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles and its building started in the 11th century. As in many other monuments of its kind in France or in the rest of Europe later constructions and renovations were added in the centuries that passed.



Liliana, Jean and myself spend a few hours walking through the church, stopping near many of the monuments, recalling and remembering the stories of the kings and queens which we had learned in school, and from the readings of the classical French historical novels. Here is for example the monument of Philippe Le Beau, the king who reigned at the beginning of the 14th century during the period which saw the end of the order of the Templars, described in Maurice Druon’s cycle Les Rois Maudits.  It is interesting that many of the statues represented the royalties lying nude.



Here is the impressing monument of Francois Ier, the king that was educated and then hosted Leonardo da Vinci, and who turned France into an European power.



Henri the IInd and Catherine de Medicis lye and pray into eternity.



Le Roi Soleil - Louis XIV has only a bust, frankly of more modest dimensions than I expected.



Here are the monuments of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette sculptured by Edme Gaulle and Pierre Petitot.



Actually they were lucky if so it can be said, as after their execution they were buried in a place that was known and when the Restoration came they were properly buried with all honors – two of the only six French royals who enjoy the privilege of having their mortal remains recognized.



The glass works in the church, many dating as far as from the 12th century are exquisite.



A few more interesting details – here are fragments from the original marble dales that covers the floor of the church.



Many statues of kings have a lion carved at their feet – symbol of force.



Many statues of queens have dogs carved at their feet, symbols of fidelity.



Here is a couple of friars reading and commenting the holy books for the enjoyment of the royals buried around them.



The third church I will write about is L’Eglise des Halles dedicated to Saint-Eustache. It is located in the center of Paris, in the area of the Halles. A chapel existed here since the end of the 12th century, and the current structure dates from the 15th and 16th century combining Gothic elements with the Renaissance style.



The first impression in the interior is the abrupt vertical dimensions, impression created by the relative small surface and the 33 meters ceiling.



There are a few remarkable paintings inside. Here is a Descent from the Cross by Luca Giordano.



The Disciples of Emaus by Rubens is considered the most valuable work in the church.



The French politician Jean-Baptiste Colbert is buried here and his funerary monument is one of the most beautiful in the church.



I also like some of the glass work, unfortunately I could not find details about it.



Outside the church in the Rene Cassin square we admired the sculpture L’Ecoute belonging to Henri de Miller. You can relate it also to the proportions of the church, here photographed from one of the sides.


Paris is one of these cities that makes an art lover feel like he is in Paradise. Tens of world-class museums, hundreds of exhibitions to chose from at any moment. We tried to select during the nine days that we spent in Paris earlier in June the most interesting art events happening in the city. We decided not to rush and run through the exhibitions, but rather pick one each day and visit it at lease. Here is a rendu-compte of the most beautiful and interesting things that we have seen.


Visiting the exhibition of Manolo Valdes at Galerie Pascal Lansberg was the recommendation of our friend Marica and thanks again for the pointer. It is located not dar from the hotel where we stayed, on Rue de Seine, between boulevard St.Germain des Pres si Sena, a street with tens of art galleries, with many interesting things mixed with high-class expensive but not necessarily valuable art, waiting for the rich buyers to drop by.


Botero como pretexto


Spanish-born and living in New York, Valdes is a successful sculptor and painter with an interesting style. I was mostly impressed by his sculptures which combine monumental with a dose of irony.


We visited a few more galleries on the same street. One name that especially drew our attention was Etienne Hajdu, who had a collection of his sculptures exposed at the Vallois gallery.


Etienne Hajdu - La Parisienne, 1947


Here is another artist I know too little about. Born in Turda in 1907 in a Jewish family he must have considered himself as belonging to the Hungarian culture, as were most of the Jews in Transylvania before the first world war (including my grandparents on my mother side). He emigrated and settled in Paris where he lived for most of his life. He fought in the Resistance during the second world war. His bronze and marble sculpture in the exhibition were the proof of a sophisticated artist, who knew and absorbed the major trends of the 20th century sculpture and created works full of refinement, at the border between figurative and abstract, and with a radiant sense of beauty.


entrance at the Petit Palais


The next morning we went to the Petit Palais to visit the retrospective of Jean-Louis Forrain which was closing that weekend. The two palaces built on what is named today Avenue Winston Churchill on the occasion of the universal exhibition in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century host nowadays many of the major art exhibitions in the capital of France.


Dans les coulisses - source http://www.petitpalais.paris.fr/fr/expositions/jean-louis-forain-1852-1931


Jean-Louis Forrain was a contemporary of the great Impressionist artists and he exposed together with them. Influenced by Degas and Honore Daumier he started by borrowing some of the subjects of the first (like the dancers portraits) and the style of the second to become the most prolific and influential caricaturist of the end of the 19th and start of the 20th century. The retrospective at the Petit Palais combined caricatures, drawings and paintings inspired from his sharp observation of the life of the Parisian higher and lower classes, the atmosphere of the opera theaters, cabarets, tribunals and brothels. Forrain was an anti-Dreyfussist in the big case that split the French society in the last decade of the 19th century and a few of his drawings had an anti-Semitic tent. He enrolled his art in the patriotic effort of the French in the First World War and painted religious subjects and nudes in the final years of his life. He was admired and appreciated by big artists among which Toulouse-Lautrec. The exhibition was comprehensive and respectful, well documented with an excellend audi-guide.


The next day we went to visit another exhibition that was closing that day at the Musee d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaisme on rue du Temple in the Marais area, one of the former densely Jewish populated districts of Paris. The building itself Hotel de Saint-Aignant dates from the years 1645-1650 built by Pierre Le Muet, famous architect of the 17th century. It underwent many transformation and renovations in time. In the interior court we were welcome by the statue of Dreyfus.


source http://www.mahj.org/en/3_expositions/expo-Chagall-et-la-Bible.php?niv=2&ssniv=5


The exhibition that we came to see was ‘Chagall et la Bible’ – a collection of prints and paintings related to one of the major themes of the creation of the artist. The Web page of the exhibition is available here.


source http://www.jewishmuseummilwaukee.org/programs-resources/exhibitions/index.php


At the core of the exhibition were the 105 illustration of the Bible that Chagall created between 1930 and 1948, and edition originally ordered by the art merchant and editor Ambroise Vollard. The Old Testament stories and characters, the people of Israel and God himself are the heroes of the stories that Chagall approached with respect and love making them the reality of the spiritual origins of the Jewish people and of the whole civilization.


source http://www.artfinding.com/Artwork/Paintings/Marc-Chagall/Le-Christ-en-jaune/7340.html


In the mid of the creation of this cycle World War II broke, and Chagall reflected the tragedy of the war and the catastrophe of the fate of the Jewish people caught in the flames of the Holocaust with another cycle of paintings this time, that relate the Bible characters including Jesus to the tragedies of his present. La Christ en jaune is one of the works in this cycle, a version of which I had seen a few years ago at the art museum in Zurich – with a Christ crucified as the eternal suffering Jew in the mid of a pogrom of the kind Chagall witnessed during his childhood in Vitebsk, and was then again a reality in Europe. Chagall later continued his Bible inspiration with works in glass – some of them in churches, other in public buildings, and I have written about these a few times in this blog as well.


The majority of the Parisian museums are closed on Monday. Grand Palais is one of the exceptions, so we chose to visit the exhibitions there on Monday.


(video source AFP)


We started with Anish Kapoor’s Leviathan in the Monumenta cycle, which brings artists that use and report themselves to the huge space in the Grand Palais. Richard Serra was here in 2008, now it’s Kapoor’s turn. I had read and watched on TV a lot about the show, including segments at ARTE and an interview with Kapoor. One of the things I was ignoring is that his mother is Jewish and he spent some time in a kibbutz in Israel in the 70s.



Leviathan crushes the viewer and changes his perception about space and dimensions. You start the tour in the interior which vaguely lets the light and shades penetrate from the outer universe and continue in the contained space which is huge in reality but seems to become insufficient for the creature and creation invented by the artist. Man is reduced to humble proportions relative to art and his own creation.


(video source mangott)


The next exhibition we visited that day brings together the French writer Aimee Cesaire and the painters Wifredo Lam and Pablo Picasso. Cesaire and Lam were good friends having met during the war when Lam who fought on the Republican side in the Civil War in Spain was fleeing Europe. The meeting with the Cuban artist was another discovery for me. The short film above is not from the exhibition but brings up a few of Lam’s works – an artist whose style is close indeed to Picasso, but with Picasso at his best.



(video source RdmnTV)


I owe to Marica again the push to visit the retrospective dedicated to Odilon Redon. I knew the artist mostly from his late works full of color which I wrongly associated (maybe because of the period, maybe because of the palette) to the neo-raphaelites. I was missing a full first part of his career when he created mostly drawings, some inspired by books and mythology – a dark and fantastic word which was waiting for me to explore. Here is a good introduction in Odilon Redon – Prince of Dreams- excellent film presented by Rodolphe Rapetti the curator of the exhibition.



I owe the visit at the Pinacotheque de Paris to another friend of mine – Teddy, so thanks! Located in the heart of Paris, behind the Madeleine church it is one of the newest museums in Paris. The name behind the idea is Marc Restellini and his conception about how a museum with a permanent collection and temporary events is to be organized proves good taste and courage.

(video source elisabethitti)

The clip abut speaks about the Romanov exhibition which together with the Esterhazy collection brought up to the lovers in Paris the history and some of the important works of two of the national collections best known in the East of Europe.


I confess however that I was not enthusiastic about the two exhibitions – I mean they were OK, good information, art that is representative but no exceptional works. I have seen much of the Esterhazy collection at the Fine Arts museum in Budapest, but I have never been in the Hermitage, and I probably need to get there for the real thing. The permanent collection is however fabulous, and I recommend warmly a visit for any art lover in Paris. Restellini renounced the usual chronological or school-based presentation for a grouping of the paintings according to themes and if you add these to the fine selection you get one of the most interesting and strikingly beautiful collections of art I have seen lately.


Découvrez Le voyage imaginaire d’Hugo Pratt à la Pinacothèque de Paris sur Culturebox !

(source http://culturebox.france3.fr/)


The last exhibition at the Pinacotheque was dedicated to Hugo Pratt – author of drawings of what the French call bandes dessinees. Both Liliana and me were subscribed as kids to Vaillant - the cartoon magazine that developed our imagination and taught us French in the process. Pratt has an interesting biography of himself (with some Jewish ascendance as well) and his best known hero Corto Maltese started in Vaillant. The exhibition catches the creative process of creating the hero, the stories and the drawings and asks the questions about the blurred relations between art and popular entertainment.


We could not miss the Manet exhibition at Musee d’Orsay even if we are not huge fans of Manet.


(video source telegraphtv)


Seeing such a retrospective certainly helps understanding the work of the artist in the context of his time, and discover lesser known parts of his creation. This was the case here and we got exactly what we expected.



The last exhibition I will talk about is not about art but about cinema. The Cinematheque Francaise one of the most venerable institutions of its genre is hosted nowadays in the Bercy area of Paris in a building designed by Frank Gehry. Just browsing through the program of the month makes a cinema lover full on envy for the folks who have the chance of having such an institution at their reach.


(video source bujutom)


We did not come however there to see movies but to visit the Stanley Kubrick exhibition. As the director’s family made available a great number of documents about the creative process of the artist, the exhibition provides a comprehensive and detailed image of each one of his films, from the 50s until the 90s, plus a few projects that he never completed (like a film about Napoleon) or other directors finished (AI made eventually by Spielberg).

We tried to see the best of what Paris could offer in art, museums and exhibitions in this season, but we were far from having seen all. A partial list of things we did not get to see included an exhibition of the Impressionist works about Paris at Hotel de Ville, a retrospective Severini at the Orangerie, a contemporary Indian art exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou peered with an exhibition about Lucknow at Musee Guimet (part of an Indian culture festival) and many other. It’s a city that lives by art and culture.

We spent five out of the eight evenings of our Parisian vacation at the theater. Paris is of course a city of great tradition on this respect, with tens of options every evening and the problem for the occasional visitor is to find the good performances and then to find tickets. We tried to see plays both in larger and smaller theaters, and mix commercial with more experimental shows, drama and comedy. One common trait that I can identify from start – all five performances were extremely well acted. It may be chance or it may be a trend or a school of theater issue, but acting seems to be on the focus of French theater and to a large extent all the performances we saw relied on fine acting.


The first performance was an experience at one of the established comedy theaters on Champs Elysees. La Comedie des Champs Elysees is located at 15 avenue Montaigne and is directed since 1994 by Bucharest-born director Michel Fagadau. The theater itself will celebrate its centenary in 2013 and the hall is quite impressing if you survive the climbing of the three levels.


(video source TeleramaVidcast)


The performance was of Jean Anhouil’s last play Le Nombril (The Umbilicus) – the story of an egocentric aging writer who is assaulted by all his family and by his friends who try to use his money and influence. It was a nice and well paced comedy performance with a great comedian named Francis Perrin in the main role. Michel Fagadau was the director.


The second evening led us to a very different kind of experience, although at best quality as well. Espace Marais is one of the several theaters in Paris who continue the tradition and the name of the commediens du roi at the Theatre du Marais founded in 1634. Located at the extremity of the Marais district close to Place de la Bastille, the 80 seats hall hosts nowadays two companies with impressing repertories.  It’s a small theater, the director is also selling tickets and there were no more than 15 people in the small theater, but it was again a good performance.


The company of Sissia Buggy was in charge with the performance that evening, and they played with respect and sensitivity an adaptation of the novella The Chess Player by Stefan Zweig – a study in sanity and madness under a repressive regime.


The next theater event was exaggerated by our friends in Paris. Despite living a couple of kilometers from Le Theatre de la Huchette they had never seen the legendary performances of Ionesco’s plays, on the repertory for more than 50 years. To our surprise the theater was full to the last seat, with the combination of tourists (it is located in the heart of the Cartier Latin) and the high-school students (for which Ionesco is a subject in the French literature program) making most if not all the audience.


(video source cap24paris)

La Cantatrice Chauve which we saw that evening keeps the original direction of Nicolas Bataille. 17000 performances were acted since the 50s, generations of actors took over and passed the torch to other generations and Ionesco’s line still sound as absurd, as comical, as fresh and sharp as at the night of the premiere.


Our next theater experience in Paris took place at the theater that inherited the Theatre de Marais name on rue Volta.

source http://www.theatre-du-marais.com/theatre-du-marais-programmation--FRANCAIS,m,210


Russian authors seem to be one of the preferences of this troupe and the performance of the evening was an adaptation after Anton Tchekhov’s stories titled Sourpriz Kakoi! Director Delphine Piard understood well the mix of sarcasm and tenderness of Tchekhov towards his characters and what resulted was an excellent comedy evening. Acting was against perfect with a young actress named Sophie Staub shining even more than her two colleagues.


We did not have any booking for the last evening, so we decided at the last moment to go to Le Theatre du Splendid located on rue Faubourg Saint Martin, an area that looks more like a banlieu although it is not that remotely located from the center of Paris.


(video source camilleazzoug)

The play we saw that night was Mission Florimont, kind of  Monty Pyton medieval comedy a la francaise – taken over at this more peripheral theater from a successful run at Theatre Tristan Bernard. It was probably the one performance we could have given up, yet the theater was full on a Friday evening and the attendance (many of them young) was enjoying the show and the genre, so we ended by entering the atmosphere having a good time as well.


The heroes in Woody Allen’s film Midnight in Paris about which I wrote about a few days ago dream to a ‘golden age’ of their own in the past which they idealize and would like to live in rather then in their disturbed presents. I am quite happy with my present, but if I were to chose a time and a place I would love to visit depending on availability of tickets on a time machine this would be Paris in the 50s and especially the jazz clubs of the period. I would not mind crossing steps and listening to Charlie Parker, Miles Davis or Boris Vian. Some of the jazz clubs in Paris keep the resonance of their sounds in their walls and especially the spirit. That is why we chose to spend our first night in Paris listening to jazz.

Sunset-Sunside has actually a shorter history and was started only in 1983, but became soon one of the best known jazz clubs in Paris. It is located on Rue des Lombards, close to the Pompidou Center, one of the areas to go if you want to listen to good live music. Name an important jazz musician, French, American or from any other part of the world who created during this period from Miles Davies and Herbie Hancock to Wynton Marsalis or Didier Lockwood and good chances will be that he played at Sunset. Since 2001 there are two halls in the same complex – the unserground Sunset dedicated to electric jazz, magnet jazz and world music and the ground level Sunside where mostly acoustic jazz is played. Performances are being hold in both halls every evening, seven days a week, all over the year. A restaurant and a bar is open most of the day, and especially before and after the shows.

The performer of the night was guitarist David Reinhardt, the younger performer in a dynasty of jazz manouche guitarists that starts with Django Reinhardt, his grandfather whose centenary was celebrated last year and continues with Babik Reinhardt, Dango’s son and David’s father to whom the performance at Sunset was dedicated. For the occasion David changed his usual trio or quintet formats to a trio that included organist Emmanuel Bex, the longtime partner of his father.

(video source harmonik9)

Despite being only in his mid 20s David Reinhardt is an accomplished artist, with a great technique, sensibility and understanding of the genre he grew in. While the three sets of the evening were mostly structured around compositions of his father or around the genre that he practiced, it will be interesting to follow the development of his talents, which have the potential to spread much beyond the borders of the family tradition.

(video source ivelane64)

Emmanuel Bex is in exceptional musician by himself, and his role in the evening was equal to David’s and even shading the young guitarist at certain moments. Bex not only makes great music, he is living it in a style and with an intensity great musicians do. The music the two played was both respectful for the tradition and innovative in its details and precise in execution, a truthful homage to the jazz manouche style which they proved is alive and vibrating.


There is no better way to start a series of blog entries about the vacation in Paris than writing about this wonderful film by Woody Allen. There is no better way to see this wonderful film of Woody Allen than in an art cinema on the Rive Gauche, then go out and just wonder through the streets of the city. Some miracle will happen, even if it may not be identical to the one happening to the hero in the movie. Miracles are not supposed to be identical any way, are they?

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1605783/

Gil, the hero of the movie is a script-writer at Hollywood, successful enough not to care about being in love with the wrong girl, successful enough not to care to walk away from her and her corporate magnate daddy when he realizes what we all know from the first scene – she is not up to him, to his artistic and human aspirations, to his dreams to become a real writer and maybe live in Paris like Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway did in the golden 20s and 30s of the previous century. So when magic happens and a classic 1920 Peugeot Landaulet picks him at midnight to meet his idols and Picasso, Bunuel, Dali (Adrien Brody), Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates) and the lovely Adriana (Marion Cotillard) un-famous muse to Picasso and Modigliani and interest of love for the 21st century Gil and maybe for other 19th century artists nobody is too astonished. We are not because Woody Allen tells the story with the fluidity of the feelings and sentiments rather than caring for any rational or mechanical explanation, and the hero is not because his idols behave exactly as they are described in text books. Is our representation of the past more a collection of clichees than a true representation of what really was? This is one of the more serious questions triggered by the film only after the viewers quit the screening theater. Is everybody more or less unhappy with his own present and seeking the refuge in a Golden Age which looked close proves not to be as shining as from the perspective of history, certainly not for those who live it as present?

(video source MoviePediaTrailers)

The charm of the movie and its omnipresent element of continuity is provided by the presence of the city for which ‘Midnight in Paris’ is a love declaration. The film starts with a series of postcard or touristic shots in the city, just to fill them with content and flavor. In Allen’s view in this film Paris is the kingdom beyond the mirror. The didactic message may be as obvious as ever in Allen’s films and is even enhanced by the off-screen voice which sounds like Allen’s whoever is the actor that plays the story teller – Allen himself or somebody else. French viewers were conquered by Allen’s film which was seen by more than a million of viewers since it premiered at Cannes last month. I do not know about exact statistics but recent films by Allen may actually have more viewers in France than in the United States. For Paris lovers this is the song that they always wanted to hear. The rest are in danger to become lovers of Paris after seeing this film.



One of the places where I hope to get in June, when Liliana and me will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary in Paris is a an exhibition open at from April 28th (date of the vernissage) to September 15th at Galerie Wanted, 23 rue du Roi de Sicile.

source http://www.marchandmeffre.com/index.html

You can get some information about the gallery at http://www.wantedparis.com/. Located in a former factory in the heart of Paris, it offers a generous space to exhibit photographic art and has an amazing Internet presence, also used as a channel to sell the exhibited works.

source http://www.marchandmeffre.com/index.html

Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre are the two artists that expose at ‘Wanted’ the exibition dedicated to ‘The Ruins of Detroit’. Born in the suburbs of Paris in 1981 and 1987 respectively, the two artists love to photograph the contemporary ruins of our civilization – from the abandoned cinema theaters in Hollywood to the industrial palaces of the big industries of yesterday. You can learn more about them and especially watch more of their art at http://www.marchandmeffre.com/.

source http://www.amazon.com/RUINS-DETROIT-Yves-Marchand/dp/3869300426/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1304144274&sr=8-1

The subject of the current exhibition is the city of Detroit – the imploding former capital of the auto industry of the United States. This is the world caught on screen by Clint Eastwood in his movie ‘Grand Torino’. According to TIME magazine the city lost in the first decade of the 21st century 25% of its population, reaching a full century low figure. Downtown skyscrapers and fastidious theaters in ruins, suburbs reclaimed by a wild vegetation are snap-shoot by the two French artists in troubling images speaking about the timely essence and the ephemeral nature of any civilization. A troubling beauty emanates from the photos.  For those who cannot get to the exhibition and are not satisfied with the Web photos, an album is available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/RUINS-DETROIT-Yves-Marchand/dp/3869300426/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1304144274&sr=8-1.

One of the Internet groups I am subscribed to brought up one in a series of articles about the exhibition at the Shoah Memorial in Paris which redsicovers for most of the world the personality of the Jewish Romanian poet Benjamin Fondane (Fundoianu).

The portrait made by Victor Brauner seems extraordinary to me with its fascinating premonition: