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The 2011 TriBeCa Film Festival

April 25, 2011

The 2011 Tribeca Film Festival kicked off last week and for the past 5 days, has brought to New York an energy that parallels the rush of spring.

With premieres and screenings all over lower Manhattan, Chelsea, and the East Village, New Yorkers have no excuse — especially since the festival continues on through next weekend — not to take advantage of the art, the discussions, and the stories that Tribeca is bringing to the big island.

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The festival kicked off with the premiere of Cameron Crowe’s The Union which tells the story of the re-kindle friendship between Elton John and his inspirational idol, Leon Russell. After over 30+ years since they last saw each other, the only indication of time gone by is the length of Russell’s beard and the casualness of John’s attire. The charm of this doc lies not only in their musical collaboration of these two greats, but in its examination of where the music comes from. Their union seems to rejuvinate the age-worn Russell, and reminds us that collaboration isn’t always for the sake of the art, but can oftentimes be just for the sake of the artists themselves.

After the Union premiered, Sir Elton John performed some of his classics and a hit or two off the new Union soundtrack. By the way, if you’re one for words, this album is for you. The songs “In the Hands of Angels” and “When Love is Dying” are two songs worth taking a look at.

Over the last few days, I’ve been lucky enough to catch a few other screenings including:

SAINT – a Dutch, horror, slasher film that excels in making the jolly St. Nicolas the most feared creature on the planet, or at least in Amsterdam.

NEDS – a stellar examination of boy-gangs in Glasglow in the 1970s. NEDS is at times excruciatingly difficult to watch, but the writing is so strong, and the relationships are so honest, that it’s impossible to ever turn your eyes away.

TREATMENT – tells the story of two hopeful writers, one with a trust fund and one broke as hell, who decide that the best way to get their film concept in the hands of a someone with power, one of them must go to a rehab facility and be-friend an a-list actor. the story was a bit trite, and the acting was a little too off for my liking. too be frank, just not my kind of movie but the audience seemed to enjoy it.

JIRO DREAMS of SUSHI – insightful documentary on the sushi industry and how a sushi restaurant has shaped a father/son relationship in Toyko. while at times the story was a bit disjointed in presentation, the cinematography here will truly blow your mind.


OPEN 24 HOURS (shorts series) — this was a set of short films focused on capturing the best of New York. all films were equal parts creative, emotional, and unexpectedly New York. these filmmakers explore beyond the happen-stance meetings we so often think of as “New York moments” sharing stories with us from communities all over the city and truly delving into the inexpressibly personal emotions that the city often forces us to leave in our apartments, and not on the streets.

Additionally, I had the good fortune of seeing Brian Williams interview Robert De Niro on what it’s like to be a fan of cinema and the city. Williams, who acknowledged that though neither of them earned college degrees, they’ve been incredibly lucky in that they’ve been able to find a way to do what they love. Watching them on stage, on a stormy New York day, reminded me that in the span of a lifetime, you never know where life will take you, and that all you can really do is do your best, and continue to hope for the best. It was equal parts inspiring as it was hilarious as Williams certainly has a knack for comedy.

I’m off to go catch another film this afternoon and will certainly keep you updated as i make my way through this exciting week!

So look out for more updates from the festival! And make sure you catch a few films if you’re in the city — I promise, you’ll love it!


solving the big question

August 6, 2010

and thanks t0 a chance run in with appendicitis in Paris, a thief in London, too many Belgian beers, a Cemetery for the fallen German soldiers of WWII in Normandy,  a space muffin in Amsterdam, an artist squat in Berlin,  a sambuca shot on fire in Prague, baths in Budapest, a future garden in Vienna, the Dachau concentration camp outside of Munich, and Asian internet bars in Barcelona… i’m a wiser girl, but a poor blogger.

too many run ins, too little time to write. but now, i’m rested/relaxed/back to english and ready (or at least, telling myself i am) to embark on my last year of college and solving the answer to the question that had you asked me when i was five, there was no question — i was going to be a diva (this word was big in 1995/96 when VH1’s Diva’s Live hit the airwaves). i thought diva meant big belty voice, sparkly clothes, back up dancers… little did i know diva was really more of a red flag for  big ego than big vibrato – anyway, i am no longer five and no longer into sparkly clothes (i prefer earthy tones.)

so what does a girl who likes traveling, scribbling (how i cope with writer’s block), cultures, books, international affairs, people, fun, and earth tones do?

well until she figures it out, she’ll probably just come up with more things she likes on the street.

a chance run-in with art nouveau

February 15, 2010

in attempt to do some more research on the lost generation, elizabeth and i were hoping to make our way to the american library in paris. however, when we got there — like most things in paris, it was unexpectedly closed. but, we did find this amazingly decadent “art nouveau” facade  by Jules Lavirotte, a pioneer of the style, just beyond the library at “29 avenue Rapp dans le XIIe.”

le petit palais

February 14, 2010

it all started with sarah.

sarah being sarah bernhardt. for one of my classes here – paris pairs, where we study the relationship between artists of all mediums and the influence paris had on their work – we were sent to the petit palais to find the portrait of sarah bernhardt by georges clairin. back in her day she was quite the diva, but still a respected actress despite her naomi like antics. my favorite little tid bit on sarah is that “she added all the h’s to her name.” i don’t know why. but she did. i love her un-amusedness in this picture… “and why is she holding a feather duster?”

art always solves a million questions, then poses a million more.

anyway, sarah bernhardt is one of the many artists we’ll be looking at this semester. and to incorporate her more in to our time in paris, our teacher set up a meeting with other french students at the Sarah Bernhardt Cafe near chatelet perfectly placed between notre dame and the seine. my friend bella and i were the only students who were free to make the meeting and we had the pleasure of making “pairs of our own.” while they weren’t students our age is we were expecting they might be, they were students nonetheless. we shared conversations partly in english/partly in french going in and out of each language “only when the ease of expression necessitated it.”

we met a bright young woman, anna, who was preparing to give her oral presentation to a fulbright committee this coming monday (she practiced her speech on us!) and a professor who shares an uncanny resemblance to christopher lloyd in back to the future and studies the relationship between science and nature… ironic?

the speaking practice was invaluable” and there was definitely a great degree of cross-cultural learning. hearing anna’s presentation was a good way for all of us to see how some words just don’t translate from english to french as easily as one would hope…

although, i digress… ecoutez-moi. “the petit palais is a must see.” there are many museums in paris — all with long lines, pricey fees (unless you’re studying l’histoire d’art, which according to my nyu in paris id card, i am! hats off to you, my school!), and too much to see in too little time.  but the petit palais is a rare gem. it’s a public art museum that was built for the universal exhibition in paris in 1900 (a world’s fair of sorts) and is also known as the City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts (musée des beaux-arts de la ville de Paris).

mostly art work from the late 19th-early 20th century, the museum holds beautiful paintings, sculptures, and artifacts that are perfectly distributed throughout the museum. the whole museum is unpretentious in character — you don’t wait and you can see everything. sometimes galleries and museums can throw a collection in your face just to show you what they have, but that’s not the case here. “it’s all achievable in an afternoon’s viewing.”

here are some of my favorite pieces:

“Quarante-Trois Portraits” (all students of Gleyre, painted between 1860-1866)

one of two Rodin’s here: “Amour et Psyche”

Fernand Pelez’s: “Grimaces et Misères(Les Saltimbanques)

Pierre Bonnard’s: “Ambroise Vallard au Chat”

i knew nothing of vallard until I came home from le petit palais and googled him immediately. upon first look, this seemed like the sort of suit and tie guy who holds a straight face in public, but retreats to his collections of odds and ends, cats, and books when in private. i sort of thought it was paying homage to straight laced guys all over the world with quirky pastimes.

far from it, this picture perfectly captures the sort of guy he was when you know more of the story. i’ll let wikipedia explain the rest:

Ambroise Vollard (3 July 1866, Saint-Denis, La Réunion – 21 July 1939 in Versailles, France) is regarded as one of the most important dealers in French contemporary art at the beginning of the twentieth century. He is credited with providing exposure and emotional support to numerous notable and unknown artists, including Paul Cézanne, Aristide Maillol, Renoir, Louis Valtat, Pablo Picasso, Georges Rouault, Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh.”

He was sort of “a big deal.” Oops.

la pâtisserie: the religieuse

February 12, 2010

some people go abroad “to learn.” some people go abroad “to party.” some people go abroad “to discover a new culture.” some people go abroad “for a change.” some people go abroad “to make new friends.” some people go abroad “to be with old friends.” some people go abroad just because “why not?”

i went for all of these reasons, without realizing the best reason of all!

some people just travel for “the food.”

visitors beware (cough joe, cough sara):

so far, this little religieuse has been my favorite discovery of all. of course, we all love pain au chocolats, eclairs, and macaroons. “but who knew i could love something more?

walking the streets of paris is like dessert to my eyes, but then my sense of smell begins to guide me and the next thing you know my face is pressed up against a glass window filled with the most colorful display of calories i’ve ever seen.

*note: the religieuse is two eclairs on top of one another, filled with delicious creamy milk chocolate and dark chocolate filling with chocolate mousse on top. heaven! and the brown religieuse is coffee flavoured.

feast with your eyes, friends.

what happens when mr. T is already booked?

February 9, 2010

or “what were you thinking, john travolta?”

or “whyyyyyyy?”

saw this add while i was waiting for the metro on the 1 line. watch the trailer here. i had to see it to believe it.

Reims: mumm is the word

February 7, 2010

“we need to get out of the city.”

this was the motive for our trip. nikki and i originally thought about traveling to Lyon but since we only had saturday and sunday, we felt that we needed to take a shorter trip. if you ever need a day out of Paris (i know it sounds crazy, but it’s like any city — you just need a change after a while), Reims is the place to go. it’s quick and effortless… and since no one even checked our train tickets (you could probably even do it for free!)

the morning started at 7:15 for nikki. and for me, 7:40. we left at 8 and traveled to gare de l’est… very easy to get to by metro. met the rest of the girls at the station and caught the 8:57 train to reims. we were there before 10 and the town had barely begun to even pick up. so in our somber morning hours, we visited the Notre-Dame Cathedral (popular name for churches here…) and its grandeur is stunning (even more so than the one in paris). according to my pocket map from the lovely (and might I add, very helpful) visitor’s center in reims: “Notre-Dame de Reims is one of Europe’s most important Gothic structures. This masterpiece of the 13th century… The baptism of the Franks Clovis in 498 explains the choice of Notre Dame as the coronation cathedral for 25 kings.”

also, according to one of the many guide maps in the building, I discovered: “Here, in this cathedral, General de Gaulle and Chancellor Adenauer set the seal on reconciliation between France and Germany on 8th July 1961.”

Other cool things about ND Reims: this is where I first learned that Joan of Arc is Jeanne D’Arc en francais and where I first discovered Marc Chagall — maybe I’ve seen works of his before, but if so, I was probably too young to remember. The guide maps in the building, if memory serves me right, claimed him to be a modern artist who “put religion back into art.” He was commissioned to redo the stained glass windows in the back portion of the church in 1971:

after visiting the cathedral, we visited the tourist center…

which lead us in the direction of our ultimate but: champagne! We visited Mumm (pronounced Moom) and felt like we had unearthed the “Willy Wonka of Champange.” In case you wanted a little history on Mumm: G.H. Mumm, a man considered a “tireless traveler,” founded the company in 1827 and chose to name his premiere house champagne  the “Cordon Rouge” because “of the exceptional red found in women.”

furthermore, his champagnes are meant to be “shared in great feats of endeavor,” and are also known as ” “the champagne of adventurers”– i found this to be hysterical yet also a brilliant marketing strategy.  unsurprisingly then, while perusing the gift shop, I came across a picture of an explorer  who had sailed from London to Antarctica and  was about to celebrate his trip with a bottle of Mumm atop an iceberg…. ridiculous, yet totally wonderful.

so like all great adventurers who take the 45min. SNCF train from gare de l’est to reims… we celebrated with a wine tasting of our own.

we learned how champagne is made–typically a combination of pinot meunier (dark), chardonnay (light and fruity), and pinot noir (power, body, and longevity)–and the meaning of the word “cru”— the position of the hillside and the quality of the soil from which the grapes comes from. oh! and that Mumm is one out of five champagnes that the Queen of England has called her own. Thus, for today, “we drank like queens.”