Gallic Fever

Toujours francofolle !

NEW Updated French culture rendez-vous NYC|Paris

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NEW for February 2015 – GallicFever French culture rendez-vous calendar!

Thankfully for us NYC francofolles and francofous, this city has more French culture resources than even the most France-crazed of us can manage to explore.  But give me credit for trying. For making the tough choices. . . .

Alors, for 2015, we’ve created the agenda you see on the right (and on every GallicFever page) that tells when and where I’ll get my French culture fixes this month in NYC. And even some dates in Paris that I really wish I could keep. CLICK calendar dates to see times and venues. . . .

If you’re in New York — check the calendar  and we may find ourselves crossing paths in one of my French culture haunts. I’ll post about my French culture experiences on GallicFever. If you’re in Paris — well, you’ll have our recommendations. We’ll expect your report, merci beaucoup. In person or online, I look forward so much to the pleasure of a French culture rendez-vous with you, my sister francofolles and fellow francofous.

February has even more GallicFever temptations to offer. For additions, watch our calendar! Share a French culture event in either NYC or Paris . . . Just comment and we’ll add your French culture rendez-vous recommendation!


Ibrahim Ahmed and Layla Walet Mohamed Courtesy of Cohen Media Group.

TIMBUKTU. Bliss for heroic couple living amid the beauty of fabled Timbuktu is tainted by foreboding under jihadist invaders’ sharia law [Photo courtesy of Cohen Media]

1-10 Feb. Telling yourself it’s only a movie doesn’t work, even as you watch the improbable scenic beauty of Timbuktu in Mali. Abderrahmane Sissako’s second feature dramatically brings home the easily fatal reality of living under religious fundamentalism as imposed by a band of hellbent jihadists. Ironically, you want to be transported to the magnificent natural and architectural settings that fill the screen. Go to Film Forum and see for yourself. Timbuktu won a 2014 Jury Prize at Cannes and is Oscar-nominated for Best Foreign Film. CLICK 2 February for showtimes!

4 Feb. Middle class French women, like American ones, must juggle their work and home work. In La vie domestique (Domesticity), the third woman-at-crossroads French film shown this new year at Columbia La Maison Française, we find out that the juggling act is just as tough in La belle France. Emmanuelle Devos grabbed and nailed my attention as the wife in If You Don’t, I Will — so I regret that an event conflict keeps me from catching her performance in this one. Take my (free!) seat, why don’t you? CLICK 4 February for time and venue address.

Our French prof, Luc Georges

Our French prof, Luc Georges

6 Feb. Native French tutor, Luc Georges, has been teaching in New York since 1986. He leads an advanced French conversation group on the upper east side once a month (or more!) on Friday afternoon for 75 minutes. One or two places remain!  Plus d’infos? S’il vous plaît, contactez Luc ici!

6-10 Feb. Last chance to chase the cut-outs at  MoMA . . . Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs. You missed a version of this exhibition at London’s Tate Modern, and so far, you missed these 100+ Matisse pieces here. But MoMA had you in mind when the museum extended 

Henri Matisse (1869-1954). Two Masks (The Tomato), 1947. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted. Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Marron, New York. © 2015 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Henri Matisse (1869-1954). Two Masks (The Tomato), 1947. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted. Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Marron, New York. © 2015 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

by two days, until Tuesday 10 February, the justifiably popular show of works that were Matisse’s bravura finale. More than 500,000 viewers already have taken in the artist’s riot of colorful, hand-painted-paper, hand-cut friezes, including his monumental The Swimming Pool (1952), that the Modern has painstakingly conserved and rehung for a new generation of art lovers to enjoy. During the MoMA exhibition’s final weekend, the museum is open continuously 10:30 a.m. on Friday, 6 February, through 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, 8 February. MoMA highly recommends advance purchase timed tickets, here. But a limited number of general admission tickets are reserved for same-day onsite sales, first-come, first-served, and subject to availability — so, gamble if you dare!

After Albertine events, you can shop for (always tax-free) books

After events at Albertine, you can shop for (always tax-free) books

11, 12 & 17 Feb. Albertine offers the amazing opportunity to see and hear in person two of the sharpest wits on the current Franco-American literary scene: Yasmina Reza on the 11th, then Amanda Filipacchi on the 12th. From Reza comes a collection of inter-related short stories forming a novel, Happy Are The Happy.  Well remembered for — most recently — her hit play, God of Carnage, Reza likely creates more carnage than joy in her new work, but admiration in her readers. Filipacchi is the writer who caught Wikipedia editors at their sexist literary chicanery, and exposed their depredations in the NYTimes. On the 12th, Neil La Bute and Filipacchi explore the theme of her fourth novel, The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty, in which the obsession with appearances is so unfortunate as to involve (at least) suspicion of murder. Any New Yorker who wants to hear more about Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano also will descend on Albertine — on the 17th, when translator Mark Polizzotti, publisher David R. Godine, and two other literati introduce the prolific Modiano to his local audience. After events, Albertine sells books. CLICK 11, 12 & 17 February for all logistics. 

18 Feb. To Manhattan’s Morningside Heights from the inland south of France — accessible and culturally rich Montpelier — comes French literature prof Marie-Eve Thérenty to talk (in French) about three dazzlingly brilliant  journalists and writers who happen to be women: Françoise Giroud, Marguerite Duras and Florence Aubenas. Have these contemporary writers had to struggle and strategize to be read — as did their forbears Colette, George Sand and others? A French program at La Maison Française, Columbia University. CLICK 18 February for time and venue address.

19 Feb. Did you know that novelist Vladimir Nabokov had a cousin who deserves to be known for his own talents? According to biographer Vincent Giroud, Nicolas Nabokov (1903-78) was a gifted political and musical mind, whose accomplishments as a composer were admired by Igor Stravinsky, and, as a cultural diplomat, by George Kennan. Mr. Giroud’s recent books include Picasso and Gertrude Stein; French Opera: A Short History; and just published by Oxford University Press, Nicolas Nabokov:  A Life in Freedom and Music. At La Maison Française, NYU, on the 19th, Vincent Giroud will introduce us to the urbane life and times of this Cold War cosmopolite. CLICK 19 February for time, venue address.

Actress Marilyn Knowlden as the child Cosette in 1935 Les Miserables

Actress Marilyn Knowlden as the child Cosette in Les Miserables 1935

 21/22/23 Feb. French culture best buy! Two Victor Hugo classics brought to the screen by U.S. directors are included by Film Forum in their Charles Laughton festival — for just one admission. On one February weekend (or on that Monday), you get to see both French masterpieces interpreted in 1930s Hollywood 35mm celluloid. Of course, Americanized, the Notre Dame story, is not the pure tragedy that Hugo wrote: director William Dieterle permits key characters to survive in his The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939). Cast with star Laughton are Maureen O’Hara as Esmeralda, and Cedric Hardwicke. In Les Miserables (1935), Richard Boleslawski directed  Fredric March as Jean Valjean, Hardwick, and child star Marilyn Knowlden as Little Cosette. CLICK 21 February for all showtimes and venue address. 

24 Feb. First, I noted that the FIAF CinéSalon series, “Eccentrics of French Comedy,” changes pace to nonfiction with The Land of Madness. Describing the documentary as “deadpan” and “off kilter,” the summary continues, “No conspiracy theory is too outrageous in [filmmaker Luc] Moullet’s search to explain why a couple of sleepy mountain towns seem to be a hotbed for murder, suicide, and insanity.” Deadpan, indeed. Per my status as folle for documentary truth, comedic or not (we’ll see!) Land of Madness is my my top pick from the FIAF Eccentrics series. It must be admitted that my sense of humor is most often provoked by irony.

Land of Madness — 2 shows at FIAF on the 24th

Next to surface in a communication from MoMA, was the evocative name, Eric Baudelaire. Related, or not, to Charles, the iconic French poet — the politically-minded American expat filmmaker E. Beaudelaire’s preoccupations are memory, violence and media-induced anomie — to name some. Beaudelaire reportedly is really good at his métier, and his new film, Letters to Max,  about “a stateless state,” screening in the MoMA Documentary Fortnight 2015, strikes me as irresistible: “When I dropped an envelope in a mailbox in Paris [on June 29th, 2012], I fully expected that a letter addressed to ‘Maxim Gvinjia, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sukhum, Republic of Abkhazia,’ would come straight back . . . ‘destination unknown.’. . . .  Fortunately, FIAF’s CinéSalon schedule (two shows every Tuesday) ensures that I won’t have to choose between two provocative films on the same date. Allez, see you at both! CLICK 24 February for times and venue addresses.

Nathalie, sister art lover and my Paris-life mentor

Nathalie, my sister art lover and Paris-life mentor

SHOWing in Paris — for a few DAYS more! The Grand Palais show of works that passed through the hands of Paul Durand-Ruell the gallerist who “gambled on the Impressionists,” as the GP title has it. My friend Nathalie, a sort of Paris-life mentor to me since we met as neighbors in 2012, is a devotee of the Impressionists. She signed up for a course in Impressionism to increase her depth of knowledge before her visit to the GP exhibition. “My true nourishment, my substance, always will be art,” she says. Born in Poitiers, Nathalie works in Paris high schools as a psychiatric nurse. On your way to Paris? Get to the Grand Palais by 8 February to see Durand-Ruell’s great gambles!

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