Friday, May 31, 2013

French Cinema Must-See Films: Le Passé & Les Gamins

Last year, I had a film review on this blog almost every month, but as I've been so busy with Oxford work, I haven't had much time to watch any films!  Since I'm collecting data for my dissertation in France by myself, I've had several evenings where the best option for my student budget seems like going to the wonderfully cheap (4 euro!) student price cinema. Not to mention the lovely set-up that seems to be standard at the French cinema --a wonderful cafe (with Nespresso After Eight mint lattes, for example) and a neatly organized candy and popcorn stand.

Le Passé, ("The Past") was an excellent drama that has one two awards.  Bérénice Bejo, the actrice who was in The Artist, won Best Actrice  and Asghar Farhadi won Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, which was just a few weeks ago, I believe.  

The story centers on a family who is torn apart by a divorce and a suicide; the emotions are vivid and realistic and the actors, especially the children (Pauline Burlet & Elyes Aguis) portray the angst, trauma, fear, compassion and love that brew in family politics and drama.  I won't ruin the plot for you, but I have to say it's a moving, meaningful piece of art that is a must-see. If you don't speak French, find a subtitled's that good!

Les Gamins, literally, "The Kids",was a  surprisingly funny comedy about a young couple who is about to get married, and the future-father-in-law, who, after a fight with his wife, convinces his future-son-in-law that marriage really isn't that great.  The father and son-in-law end up being "bachelors" and hanging out together, while the mom and her daughter grow closer. Sounds a bit strange, but it was really fun!

Tonight, though, I think I'll opt for an English movie (that new Ryan Gosling one), only because I don't really feel like watching a Robert de Niro comedy about weddings dubbed in French, and that seems to be the only French option left at the theatre closest to me.  Perhaps I'll see a film in Montpellier and add that to my post!

Stay tuned for slideshow posts of my trips to Rouen & Montpellier (both the one at the beginning of May and this week's) coming soon! I managed to take a day or so out of my data collection time to enjoy both watch this space for fun posts!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Summer Eights: A Beautiful Day at Oxford's Annual Boat Races!

Saturday afternoon was a beautiful, sunny, break, as Majka, Anna, Dima, Melissa and I headed down to the Oxford boat houses to watch the Summer Eights, the annual college boat races held by the Oxford University Rowing Club. Rather than being a timed race, the goal is for the boats to bump the boat in front of them (disqualifying the "bumped" team), or to complete the race un-bumped. It's definitely a don't-miss event if you're in Oxford during the summer - complete with crowds of cheering students drinking Pimm's Lemonade. One boat had matching Viking hats. There were even signs up all over the park telling spectators to expect a"Wedding Boat" and to cheer on the bride & groom!

The Wedding Boat!
 We watched the teams from the Brasenose College boat house, and then Majka, Dima and I headed down to the start point, to catch a glimpse of the place where the most "action" occurred. A beautiful walk along the river! We settled for a drink at the Head of the River pub to finish off our afternoon, after realizing the wait for pub food was 45 minutes. Instead, we opted for dinner at the Eagle & Child  on St. Giles street in town, where I had an amazing veggie burger!

Melissa, Anna, Sapna
Before the boats bumped!

Majka at the Boats

Sapna & Dima

Anna, Melissa and I spent Saturday night drinking German beer and watching two German teams in the European Championship football match, from the Brasenose college bar and HCR (a common room for graduate students). Unfortunately, Anna's team didn't win, but we still had an awesome night. 

Just a short post to share my latest Oxford experience, really. Here's to a summer filled with breaks like these, interspersed between analyzing data and writing 20 000 words!