Sunday, September 19, 2010

La Question

One of Françoise Hardy's most beautiful songs; "La Question", from 1971.

"I do not know who you might be
I do not know who you hope for,
I always seek to know you
and your silence disturb my silence

I do not know where from the lie comes
is it your voice that is silent?
worlds where despite myself I plunge into
are like a tunnel that frightens me

your distance from mine
we get lost too often,
and seeking to understand you
is like chasing the wind.

I do not know why I stay
in a sea where I drown
I do not know why I stay
in an air that suffocates me

you're the blood of my wound,
you are the flame of my fire,
you are my unanswered question
My muted cry and my silence..."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Indochine, mon amour!

I'm shocked, but mostly exhilarated! -this is exactly the kind of news i've been longing and pining for for so long; Marguerite Duras' "Un Barrage contre le pacifique" or "The Sea Wall" (1950) has been made into a movie! (another, based on the same novel, was made in the 1950s, but it's too awful!) -and with one of my favorite actresses of all time; Isabelle Huppert!
But how on earth could I not know about this?!

Directed by the cambodian Rithy Panh and a collaboration between France, Cambodia and Belgium. "The Sea Wall" is set in 1930s Cambodia, then part of French Indochina -where A French widow, played by Huppert, lives with her son and daughter. They make a meager living from growing rice, but their paddies are just on the border of the sea and flooded each year and the crops ruined. So their only hope appears to be in constructing a sea wall. The mother persists and will not give up, fighting nature as well as colonial bureaucracy.

Her 20-year-old son Joseph (Gaspard Ulliel), an irascible young man, is equally determined, but it's the teenaged daughter Suzanne (Astrid Bergés-Frisbey) who proves to be most stubborn. One day, her willowy beauty catches the attention of a well-to-do, foppish Chinese man; Monsieur Jo. As his interest in Suzanne verges toward obsession, her mother and brother find themselves in a quandary: Monsieur Jo could provide the financial security they need, but he is Chinese, and racial prejudice is a fact of life in their society...

So now i can't wait to get to see this beauty-orgy! A pity though that it doesn't seem to have been up for theatrical release anywhere and that i's been released practically without fanfare, just shown at some festivals. I'm going to have to make do with the dvd, ...whenever it pleases to arrive!

Anyway; Here's the trailer:

Asia, and the southeast in particular, has been a long-standing fascination with me, and a favorite destination of escape -even though i've never been there. -except for in my dreams... through books, like "the Gentleman in the parlour" (1930) by W. Somerset Maugham, or films such as "The Scent of Green papaya" or "Indochine" with Catherine Deneuve, and "the Lover"-based on another novel by Duras; "l'Amant"...And through music, tea -naturally... countless travelling magazines... -the lush landscapes, the warmth, dense jungles, tribes and ancent civilizations, the old temples of the Khmers... All those places where i've always drifted away in my thoughts... -and of course; through food!

Delicious vietnamese dishes at Monsieur Vuong in Berlin.
The famous Halong Bay, Vietnam - still from "Indochine"."The Gate of Humanity" in Huế.

Buddhist nun at Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Photo by David Wilmot 19th Century, french engraving of the Bayon Temple, Angkor
Angkor Thom Photo: Marc Riboud - (c) Musée GuimetAngkor Thom - Photo by Émile Gsell - (c )Musée Guimet (above)

Traditional Khmer dancers in front of Angkor Wat, Cambodia - 1920s.

And another favorite, as a bonus - the gorgeous trailer for Wong Kar Wai's equally gorgeous film "In the Mood For Love" (2001); -set to Bryan Ferry's beautiful version of the song that gave the film it's name.

"The Sea Wall" images; (c) Catherine Dussart Productions CDP