Monday, March 20, 2006

Dying Gauls

The Dying Gaul

"No one goes to the movies to have a bad time or to learn anything." (Jeffrey, in Craig Lucas' The Dying Gaul)

Yet, at a screening of the film, in competition at the first annual Paris Festival of Independent American Cinema, I both had a bad time and learned something. Patricia Clarkson, Campbell Scott and Peter Sarsgaard all deliver disturbingly sincere performances that contribute to an extremely depressing and uncomfortable mise-en-scène, but encourage deep philosophical thought and questioning of Hollywood's quotidian realities.

It was especially interesting - if not ironic - seeing the film following the success of Brokeback Mountain. In one of the incipient scenes, Jeffrey tells Robert: "Most Americans hate gay people... If they hear the movie is about gay people, they won't go." Oh really? I think the Academy would beg to differ.

In the film, a grief-stricken screenwriter (Sarsgaard) who has recently lost a lover, unknowingly enters a three-way relationship with a woman (Clarkson) and her film executive husband (Scott) - to chilling results. The film is not only a satiric look at the Hollywood studio system, but also a psychologically twisted penetration into the lives of its characters. This was not the best choice for a Friday night movie, but the performances are breathtaking, and the subject is very timely.

Les Aiguilles Rouges

Yesterday, I attended the closing ceremony of the American Independent Film Festival in Paris. Elsa Zylberstein ( famous French actress, you might recognize her from "Modigliani" opposite Andy Garcia), head of the jury, addressed the audience, saying: "It's a shame no one came to the screenings, I feel bad for the directors." She then left the theater before the next screening began.

Jean-François Davy's "Les Aiguilles Rouges" (English translation: "The Red Needles") takes place in September of 1960 and follows a group of young eagle scouts on a hiking trip in the Chamonix Valley. After getting into trouble at their summer camp, the boys, all between 12 and 16 years old, are sent off on a hike, led by Patrick, the oldest of the group. The eight boys all come from very different backgrounds, but are thrown together in the wilderness and must learn to get along. The film might be described as "Les Choristes go camping" (Les Choristes being, of course, Christophe Barratier's hit French film of 2005) and, like Les Choristes, was clichéd and cheesy at times, but also a very moving, well-acted film made with breathtaking cinematography of the French Alps region. Two of the boys who star in Les Aiguilles Rouges came to present the film which was an added bonus.

Quote of the Day:
"I grew up in Europe, where the history comes from."
-Eddie Izzard

Word of the Day:
(adj.) Used to describe anything of questionable masculinity.
Believed to have originated from the 2005 motion picture Brokeback Mountain."It's NOT a purse, it's a man-bag! It's very manly!"
"I don't know man, it looks kinda brokeback to me." -Boondocks

Pastry of the Day:
The Saint Honoré
St Honorius was a bishop of Amiens in the sixth century and was the patron saint of pastry cooks. At some point further on in time they honoured him by creating the Gateau St Honoré, a pastry circle topped with a ring of choux buns and filled with whipped cream. Sometimes fruit is included and the whole thing finished with spun sugar. I adore the La Durée version (below). If you think it looks too good to devour or are on a - gasp! - diet, just tell yourself that you are participating in a religious sacrifice to the patron saint of pastry. Amen.

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