Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Winter Light Part 3

Montparnasse Cemetery exists in the shadow of the Montparnasse Tower, the only skyscraper in central Paris. After the tower was built, they realized that it was a terrible idea and changed the rules so it would never happen again. This is the cemetery from the top of the tower (in summer light 2008).

This is the tower from the cemetery on a very chilly day in 2005. The top of the tower is lost in the fog.

Jean Seberg was a cinematic icon just on the basis of "Breathless".

The intelligentsia.

This is Contantin Brancusi's statue "The Kiss" on a grave in the cemetery.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Winter Light Part 2

The bureau chief neglected to mention that the winter photos in the last post were from our 2005 trip, giving some of our faithful readers the impression they were recent. Unfortunately, recently completed renovations to the bureau precluded traveling to France last year and will preclude it this year (I know I'll get no sympathy). On the other hand our excellent contractor is paying for his daughter's wedding.

Since the blogging machine is already fired up, I thought I'd post some pictures of Montmartre cemetery. Since it's on a hill it has a certain double-decker aspect.

There are lots of famous people buried there but Nijinsky's tomb caught my eye.

As did La Goulue's.

I don't know if she was the sole creator of the "French Cancan" but she was certainly an icon of it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Winter Light

Madame Le Chef and I have made it to Paris five times in this century. Four trips were in the summer and one was at Christmas time. Paris was fascinating, as always, but the one thing we weren't totally prepared for is that the city is further north than one tends to think. It's further north than Thunder Bay Ontario. This means that when you arrive close to the shortest day of the year, the sun is not fully up until 8:30 AM and starts descending around 4 PM. That's not a lot of daylight. On the other hand, the light is very beautiful.

This was taken around 9 AM.

The Louvre.

Louvre roof.

19th century apartment blocks near the Louvre.

It's claimed that it rarely snows in Paris but it did while we were there. This is outside the Pantheon.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

In Darkness

Let's be honest, it's hard to decide to watch a Holocaust film. Your hand reaches for the DVD of "Shindler's List" but lands on "The Hangover". But after reading Mick LaSalle's glowing review of Polish director Agnieszka Holland's "In Darkness", the bureau chief and Madame Le Chef decided to watch this new film. I don't always agree with M. LaSalle's reviews but in this case I did. This is an excellent film. And unlike M. LaSalle, I'm going to tell you the ending because I want you to see it. The small group of Jews who are being helped to hide in the sewers of Lvov, by the lead character Leopold Socha (Robert Wieckiewicz ), survives because of his actions. The way the human mind works, or at least the bureau chief's does, is that even if a few people survive, in the face of the overwhelming horror, we can actually extract emotional uplift from it. Art battles against depression.

Since there's no reason to repeat what LaSalle said, I'll mention a detail or two that he didn't. The actors dialogue is in five different languages (Polish, German, Yiddish, Ukrainian and a dialect formerly spoken in Lvov, which has now disappeared). The name Lvov has also disappeared. Today the city is called Lviv and is in Ukraine instead of Poland. All the acting is good but Robert Wieckiewicz's performance is great. Highly recommended