The Weeknd in Paris

Last night was about listening again to all of the Weeknd’s tracks since I first discovered him on a Drake feature in 2012 (“Crew Love”). What a ride for the Canadian poet who is now called Starboy and features Daft Punk in his latest album! His concert in Paris this Tuesday (February, 28th) as part of the « Starboy:Legend of the Fall » tour was an event to remember.

The Weeknd – Starboy album

First, because it was a big production: the location (the AccorHotels Arena, also known in a less advertisingly shit way and more intimately as « Bercy », a Paris concert hall which welcomed the biggest artists, from Madonna to Céline Dion ), the staging with a huge neon enlightened star that seemed to take us into a different galaxy of colors for each song. And a surprising backup behind the boy of the moment : his very skilled and stylish musicians who were playing in a Metallica heavy-metal style that actually balanced perfectly Abel Tesfaye’s angelic voice. Although it was sometimes not well perceived by the audience next to us, who apparently wanted it more hip-hop and less rock, the presence of these guys (2 guitarists and 1 crazy good drummer) was essential to reflect the ambivalence that makes the Weeknd great to me : falsetto and angelic voice vs dark lyrics, radio-cut R&B tracks vs some complex mix of rock, rap and blues vibes on some other songs… The Weeknd’s music seems easy to get, but there are actually more layers to his work than it seems.

The Weeknd concert in Paris, February, 28th, AccorHotelsArena

If you listen closely to the lyrics, for example, there is often a subtext, whether it is about drugs, love or loneliness. In « Can’t Feel My Face » it is pretty obvious that it is as much about drugs (cocaine for instance that « blocks » the face) that it is about love. Many have done it before The Weeknd, but a few had such a broad commercial success based on a song basically saying « I had too much drugs… ». The Rolling Stones, maybe ? Just read and see…

And I know she’ll be the death of me, at least we’ll both be numb
And she’ll always get the best of me, the worst is yet to come
But at least we’ll both be beautiful and stay forever young
This I know, yeah, this I know
She told me, don’t worry about it
She told me, don’t worry no more
We both know we can’t go without it
She told me you’ll never be in love, oh, oh, woo
I can’t feel my face when I’m with you
But I love it, but I love it, oh
I can’t feel my face when I’m with you
But I love it, but I love it, oh

The Weeknd performing “Can’t Feel My Face” Paris, AccorHotels Arena, February, 28th

Then there is the subtle balance The Weeknd artfully maintains between selling out and keeping it in. In that aspect I do think he is a pop artist of our time, a modern Andy Warhol or more likely Jean-Michel Basquiat. (from whom he took his original crazy hairdo).
He actually has the ability to mix highly commercial tracks with subtle vibes ; to sell his face to brands like Puma and H&M while burning down a dressing room in his « Starboy » video ; to call himself « Starboy » while hiding even more his private persona, that seems closer to his former « Weeknd » character (the night, the drugs, the parties, the wandering love…). He also managed to work with the biggest artists, such as Drake, Beyoncé, Lana del Rey, Daft Punk… while keeping on pushing young talents like Lil Uzi Vert on his tour stage.
All in all, the Weeknd manages to keep it interesting by playing on several registers and by maintaining a smart ambiguity about everything he does.

The-Weeknd x Puma campaign

That is why his Paris concert was not to be missed. Not because the whole Parisian Fashion Pack, usually pretty snobish and restrained, loudly demonstrated its addiction to the artist by showing up in big groups of models, designers and influencers (it was the first day of Paris Fashion Week). Not because the opening act was more hardcore rap than needed. Not because the « Starboy », to keep it true to his new character maybe, made the audience wait about 30 minutes out there while he was doing whatever backstage…

But just because as soon as he got on the stage, the big paradoxical mix that this artist carries with him : the streets and the fame, the energy and the desperation, the impeccable looks and destroyed lyrics… Got carried out with him with such energy and generosity that it made the whole stadium crazy about him.
So unless held up by possible « Starboy » issues, The Weeknd wil surely be one of the most important music artists of the decade. That is more than the boy who « left school one weekend and never came back » could ask for …

The Weeknd, “Starboy : Legend of The Fall” Tour

Starboy, (XO – Republic Records)

DVD/VOD – Juste la fin du monde (It’s Only the End of the World) by Xavier Dolan

Last night was about watching a movie about which everything and nothing has been said: Juste la fin du monde (It’s Only the End of the World) by Xavier Dolan. The movie title was a perfect fit for the first post of 2017 : a year that will surely continue to oppose dramatic circumstances and moments of pure innocence, dark thoughts and bright happenings, all of that in 365 days … Or in 1h37 minutes…

It’s Only the End of the World by Xavier Dolan

Juste la fin du monde was freely adapted from a play by Jean-Luc Lagarce, a confidential French writer who died of AIDS in 1995. Except the unity of time, space and action conferred by the play, Dolan seems to have deliberately walked away from the original plot and characters, in order to push the buttons of dramatic suffocation further. From the hot and sweaty atmosphere to the overdone and sinking make-up of the female characters ; from the very very close shots to the long pauses between dialogs, everything leads to a final choke. On the contrary to what some may have said last May judging the movie by its cover… namely the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the 5 star French cast, the overall presence of Xavier Dolan in the « know-to-how-to » media and in a logo-saturated ad campaign…Despite this “image bashing” (or despite some people getting suspiciously crazy about this movie), the choke given by Juste la fin du monde is actually a healthy jolt into contemporary cinema, and it jerks upside down many clichés about modern gloominess, here the key to a somewhat beautiful and moving tragedy.

A family time bomb

But what is this young classic film about ?
Louis (played by Gaspard Ulliel, who makes an impeccable comeback after his acclaimed lead performance in Bertrand Bonello’s Saint Laurent, 2014 ) flies back to his hometown (a green, moist and suburban place between Florida and the South-East of France, nobody cares to know where it is anyway…) to announce to his family that he’s dying. He has not seen them for years, absorbed by the job and life of a successful playwriter in the big city. In the meantime, his little sister Suzanne (Léa Seydoux, always better in borderline parts than in « proper » ones, like in La Vie d’Adèle/ Blue is the Warmest Colour where she was surprising vs in James Bond’s Spectre where she was… where ??) has grown into a tatooed smoking woman, his elder brother Antoine (Vincent Cassel, cunningly and exquisitely raw) is now married with kids, and his mom ( wonderful Nathalie Baye) has turned into some kind of a nutcase (or has she ?). The father is long gone, and his disappearance may have been the trigger that shot this family apart if you are willing to read between the lines : Louis’s long-hidden homosexuality, Antoine’s violent personality, Suzanne’s permanent loss of time, space, and love, the mother’s impossible quest for peace, the daughter-in-law ‘s apparent clumsiness (played by Marion Cotillard, excellent here too, so Dolan definitely knows how to direct actors, whatever their caliber)… All of the family loves and thorns will burst in or out during one afternoon, before and after lunch, and all of its secrets should be revealed to us… Though maybe not to them ?

Juste la fin du monde, lunch group scene

Yes, there is a lot to read, a lot to hear, and a lot to watch out for in this movie, hence its raw and absolute beauty. Like it is the most difficult thing for Louis to admit to his family that it might be the last time he sees them, the viewer has to make an effort (and maybe to come again to see the movie…) to get to the bottom of the many side looks, camera angles, unfinished sentences/business, and superdetailed images that are gifted to him like cinematic candies that will make his eyes pop. This healthy overdose of content screams one thing : Xavier Dolan is far from being arrogant in his movies (maybe he is in real life, but who cares ?), instead he goes where only a few directors dare to by giving some credit to his audience : he actually thinks we are NOT stupid, which is more that can be said about 90% of the current movie directors, who tend to take us to MC Donald’s by providing everything pre-eaten. Here we feel we are at a first Michelin star restaurant run by a young chef : it is full of energy, vivid, sometimes it wants to show off a bit, but in the end it gives a lot to nurture the mind, and that is what we should still ask of cinema.

The mother (Nathalie Baye) facing the sun/son (Gaspard Ulliel)

The energy of Juste la fin du monde is the one of the French Nouvelle Vague and of Jean-Luc Godard’s movies, but combined to the art of choking coming from the theater, and to an in-depth art of filming, it makes a Dolan potion that requires a top casting to pour it around.
Many (myself inculded) have criticized the palette of big French actors chosen by Dolan, thinking it was more for promotion than for interpretation purposes. After having seen the movie, there is no doubt that an underdog casting would have missed some of the nuance and complexities carried around by the characters. The group scenes in particular (the living room is the main one in my opinion, not the lunch which has been over-advertised everywhere and actually lasts 2 mins) require a depth that can be only expected from experienced actors. The strength of Dolan is to have brought them to balance their long-run experience and control with flashes of raw energy that can be felt during some solo or duo moments.

the key lies on the floor… or in the details

Finally, the impeccable cinematography by André Turpin and the mesmerizing soundtrack by Gabriel Yared (even when Dolan decides to play Moby’s « Natural Blues », you are still glued to the screen…) complete a must-see movie that has been wrongly advertised and not enough seen all along. The media may have found in Xavier Dolan a new prey to hunt, but cinema lovers will find with his new movie just the right lunch to devour. Bon appétit !

T.V series – Gilmore Girls : a Year in the Life

Last night was about (binge) watching the new season of Gilmore Girls :a Year in the Life, on Netflix.
The return of the acclaimed series raised high expectations : the last season closed in 2007 without its creator, Amy Sherman- Palladino, who is now back on track for these 4 new episodes (6hrs in total, perfect for a cold weekend) ; each one matches with a season starting with Winter, hence the title A Year in the Life.

Gilmore Girls : a Year in the Life returns on Netflix
Gilmore Girls : a Year in the Life returns on Netflix

Following the ups and downs of 3 generations of women in a small town in Connecticut, Gilmore Girls was originally a successs thanks to its witty dialogs, its smart pop-culture references and its strong leading duo, played by Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel. After almost ten years off the screen, many issues were at stake for the G.G fans with this new (and final ?) season : what will be the future of the star-crossed couple, Lorelai (the mother) and Luke ? Will Rory (the daughter) find her way out into the world? How will the fairytale town of Stars Hollow adapt to the new digital age without compromising its magic spirit ? And, most of all, what will be the 4 final words of the show, which have been kept secret for so long by Amy Sherman-Palladino?

Gilmore Girls : a typical Stars Hollow moment with Miss Patty, Babette, Rory and Lorelai
Gilmore Girls : a typical Stars Hollow moment with Miss Patty, Babette, Rory and Lorelai

Some of these pressing questions were well-answered thanks to the extended format allowed by Nextflix : it looked like a Gilmore Girls movie that was cut for T.V. Therefore there was plenty of time to deal with all the issues at stake : the death of the patriarch, Richard Gilmore (matching the passing of the actor, Edward Hermann, in 2014), is fully embraced in the story, and leads to some of the best moments and dialogs, notably between Lorelai and her mother, Emily Gilmore (still incredible Kelly Bishop, 72), who decide to go to therapy together… The relationship between Lorelai and Luke is also fully dealt with, although we don’t see the whole final big event promised by the last episode (no spoilers here, but truly disappointing …).

The entrance of some secondary characters also lead to pure moments of joy and sparks : Paris Geller (Liza Weil), Rory’s best friend, a stubborn and competitive life- achiever, who has not lost her impressive speech delivery, nor her tantrums ; Michel Gerard, the bitchy French concierge at the Dragonfly Inn, played by a Yanic Truesdale who appears as wrinkle-free as his character demands. And of course the town of Stars Hollow, which looks reassuringly unchanged, from the romantic gazebo on the main square to Miss Patty’s ballet studio and Luke’s diner (the latter has wi-fi, but still no phones allowed…).

Gilmore Girls vintage material : Michel, Rory and Emily Gilmore
Gilmore Girls vintage material : Michel, Rory and Emily Gilmore

Then, unfortunately, there are the unexpected dark spots. Things that are pretty damaging to the myth for any GG fan, or worse, for someone who happens to discover the show and would not have the empathy to excuse these weaknesses on the account of a long relationship with Gilmore Girls. These moments when you need to pour yourself some coffee… Literally (for the ones who are not familiar with the show coffee used to be one of the main obsessions of the Gilmore Girls).
First, some scenes last far too long : the Stars Hollow musical in the third episode is the most obvious one. It is like the creators had some spare within the 90 minutes of the episode, and decided not to cut some scenes after all in order to fill the blanks. And sadly to doze us off.
On the other hand, some lively characters from the original show are left adrift : Babette, Lorelai’s eccentric cat-lover neighbor and her husband Ray ; Lorelai’s best friend and chef at the Inn, Sookie St James, who appears only briefly in the last episode… One can regret that instead of putting these characters ahead, the Stars Hollow stories turn around the quirky Kirk and his pig pet called Petale, and Star Hollow’s bossy mayor Taylor Doose, whose coming-out is suggested but not even fully achieved. Once again, it looks like this season lost precious time (if it is indeed the last one).

Gilmore Girls : a Year in the Life - Stars Hollow, an imaginary town in Connecticut
Gilmore Girls : a Year in the Life – Stars Hollow, an imaginary town in Connecticut

And finally, the biggest disappointment lies in the development of Rory’s character: she is now 32 and after 6 hours, it looks like we haven’t moved from season 7 already : we still don’t know where she is going, for she is completely adrift with her journalist job (reading Vogue’s review it looks like Condé Nast agrees on this ) ; we don’t know who she will finally choose to love, for all her former boyfriends make an appearance without leading to any conclusion whatsoever, given that their scenes are rather winks than in-depth looks at the plots set in the previous seasons. Even her friendships and her relationships to the other characters (out of her mother) have lost most of their salt and pepper. According to the fact that Rory is the one who pronounces these famous (or now infamous) final words (and there are actually 3, not 4…), it is truly sad to acknowledge that they stand for the only evolution of her character since the beginning of the journey (no spoilers here again !).
I am not sure Alexis Bledel’s interpretation is to blame for that lack of thickness in her character, for she was definitely better in her latest appearances on the screen (notably in Remember Sunday, 2013). But overall there is a dark cloud floating on the series’ finale that only an additional season could wash away in laughter. It would be a pitty to end such a good show on a cliffhanger that has one of his main characters looking straight at emptiness.

In the meantime, make your own opinion on this new turn of events in the Gilmore Girls galaxy, or better watch (again) the previous seasons that will surely take you somewhere nice.

A Gilmore Girls classic : "I smell snow!" - A Year in the Life - "Winter" (Netflix)

Gilmore Girls : a Year in the Life (4 episodes) on Netflix
Season 1 to 7 also available on Netflix

Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann – Forever 20!

Last night was about watching for the 20th (or so) time Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. Altough the movie was released in November 1996, and therefore celebrates this month its 20th anniversary, it has managed to remain as ageless as the Shakespeare’s masterpiece it is based upon. Here is why Romeo + Juliet is definitely iconic :

Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann -original poster - 1996
Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann -original poster – 1996

First of all, the daring commitment to the original language : Shakespeare’s text is strictly followed all along, while the surroundings and the characters are set in a modern Verona Beach. The movie was shot in Mexico, but the vision conveyed by Baz Luhrmann makes the country almost irrelevant. And that’s the point. All that counts is the overwhelming presence of religion (Jesus and Mary are pratcially everywhere) and the gang war, which are also the main components of Shakespeare’s play. One could have thought that clashing Shakespeare’s language with Hawaiian shirts, Mercutio with a transvestite and Queen Mab with ecstasy would have made a big mess out of the orginal, but all that comes out after 20 years is the impression the movie could have been shot in 2016. Because the language makes it all stick together through time. : by choosing the reveal the modernity of Shakespeare’s words, the movie remains modern itself. An anti-wrinkle bet that is still paying off 20 years after.

Romeo + Juliet original moodboard shared by Baz Luhrmann on Twitter
Romeo + Juliet original moodboard shared by Baz Luhrmann for the 20th anniversary

Then there is the prophetic cast : a young and confidential Leonardo DiCaprio,21, as Romeo, (he will land Titanic just after this movie), facing a teenage-series-acclaimed (My So-Called Life) Claire Danes, 17, as Juliet. Is it because there did so great playing these legendary characters that they happened to make a stellar carreer, or because Baz Luhrmann already felt their huge potential when he cast them ?
Anyhow it was a star-crossed choice (:-)

Romeo and Juliet, Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes
Romeo and Juliet, Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes

No to mention the superb John Leguizamo as Tybalt, the blazing Harrold Perrineau as Mercutio (who will ever forget his cross-dressed Queen Mab monolog ?) and the also- confidential-at-the-time Paul Rudd as preppy Dave Paris ? And finally, the award-winning actress Miriam Margolyes, who gave to Juliet’s Nurse an unforgettable persona, reminding that Shakespeare’s plays were also very rich for secondary parts, provided you had great actors to play them.

The Montaigu gang
The Montaigu gang

Of course, at the time Romeo+ Juliet came out, Catherine Martin was not as famous as she is now, and not yet married to Baz Luhrmann (they tied the knot in 1997). But you can already see her incredible talent with costumes, which will later get her in the spotlight for Moulin Rouge (2001) and The Great Gatsby (2013). Her magic mix seems to hang in a subtle blend between the current fashion and timeless references : in Romeo + Juliet, some of the costumes are fit to go with their time (think about Romeo’s suit, so 90’s, Juliet in a white T-shirt and jeans, so CK One…), while others will last forever : Juliet as an angel at the costume party, and Romeo’s Hawaiian shirts that are currently displayed at Opening Ceremony…

Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio) in a timeless but 90s suit
Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio) in a timeless but 90s suit
Juliet (Claire Danes) in prayer and in jeans
Juliet (Claire Danes) in prayer and in jeans

But great costumes would not have made it without the magic sets : the Montaigu and Capulet mansions, the broken theater in Romeo’s opening scene, the fish tank where the couple first meet, the elevator where they first kiss, the funfair where the gangs fight… All of them were cleverly thought and mesmerizing enough to make sense for 20 years… And more.

Romeo + Juliet magic settings : the theater, the party, the church
Romeo + Juliet magic settings : the theater, the party, the church

And finally, the cherry on the cake, the soundtrack ! Who would have thought that Shakespeare’s words would be supported by the likes of Garbage, Radiohead, Kym Mazelle or Des’ree ? And the fact is it seems obvious when you watch the movie. Is it again because these artists had a timeless potential or because they were featured on that soundtrack that they are still listened to today ? Who knows, but it gives again a timeless touch to the whole movie.
You can listen to the full soundtrack here :

In order to celebrate the movie’s anniversary along with Shakespeare’s, 400th, Baz Luhrmann released lots of backstage props and details on his Twitter and Instagram account. If you are more than 20 (like me) and want to take a dip into your teens, or if you are 15 or more and want to get hacked by one of the greatest movies of our time, just go and check them out. It might drive you to see the movie right away, either for the first or thirtieth time, and to fall in love (again), forever…

« For never was a story of more woe Than this of Juliet and her Romeo. »
« For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo. »

“About Last Night” eyeshadow palette by Marc Jacobs Beauty

Last night was about about discovering a great beauty homonym, that is the « About Last Night » eyeshadow palette by Marc Jacobs Beauty. I swear that I did not have insider information from the brand when I started the blog some weeks ago. But when I found out that Marc Jacobs launched a holiday makeup collection called the same as the blog, I was glad to be on the same page (literally) as one of the most interesting fashion/trend designers of our time. So let’s take the occasion to focus on some of Marc Jacobs’s major creative landmarks (no need to say that this is not a beauty post and that it is not sponsored).

"About Last Night" holiday collection - Marc Jacobs Beauty
“About Last Night” holiday collection – Marc Jacobs Beauty

The particularity with Marc Jacobs is a certain sense of modernity. Since he started in fashion some 30 years ago (already !), it is like he always knew what was coming ahead, and made a great business out of it.
The weight luxury groups would take in the fashion business : he was one of the first young designers to be appointed for a giant brand by becoming Louis Vuitton’s creative director in 1997 (he left in 2014 to focus on his own brand).
The critical role of art in fashion. Both fields have always moved together, but he was again the pionneer in making it a clear (and at first controversial) business by asking Takashi Murakami and Stephen Sprouse among others to collaborate with Louis Vuitton. At a time when fashion desperately needed to make sense (and sales), he opened a new window.

Takashi Murakami for Louis Vuitton

The place of digital : here again Marc Jacobs was connected well-ahead of the fashion world, who remained dusty and old school until the millennial hit it by storm. By a smart use of social media and e-commerce, Marc Jacobs reached a wider and younger audience, notably with the launch of his beauty brand in 2013. The latest addition to his digital reign is an online casting for his campaign and official vloggers. That’s what you call being smart through a phone.

Cast me Marc!
Cast me Marc! on Instagram

The importance of individuality : looking at the social networks now, it seems obvious that fashion is more about an individual than a tribe. But it is again Marc Jacobs who put forward strong personalities in his campaigns, simply because they inspired him, without a care for their stardom level, their age, or their skin color. Back in 2013, he notably featured his friend Winona Ryder in his beauty campaign, putting her on the first step to renaissance, 14 years after her demise for shoplifting… A Marc Jacobs sweater.

Winona Ryder by David Sims for Marc Jacobs Beauty, 2013
Winona Ryder by David Sims for Marc Jacobs Beauty, 2013

The stress on words and irony : fashion and beauty are not about images alone ; it is the dialog between the brand, its words and its image that make it stand out. By always playing with the name of the products, the size of the letters, and the image of the brand itself without the fear of damaging it, Marc Jacobs has made himself highly recognizable, and always controversial, while maintaining an irony that keeps it all at the good level : after all, fashion is not about curing cancer…But is it, really ?
The commitment Marc Jacobs made to causes that matter to him through fashion was also a pretty modern idea. When he asked his famous friends (Naomi Campbell, Victoria Beckham, Miley Cyrus…) to pose naked for T-shirts entitled « Protect the skin you’re in »in 2006 in order to raise awareness about breast cancer, it was a fashion statement as well as a great attitude. The T shirts went sold out and the benefits straight to NYU Langone Medical Center.

Miley Cyrus for "Protect the skin you're in"
Miley Cyrus for “Protect the skin you’re in”

All in all, Marc Jacobs has proved that fashion is all about imagination and trespassing the boundaries. By doing so he usually makes sense in a world that does not. And that is more that we can ask for.

Marc Jacobs « About Last Night » eyeshadow palette, 20 shades, 99$

T.V Series – GOTHAM

Last night was a gloomy one, definitely a time to Netflix and chill… So in order to escape a freaky reality, why not travel to the darkest city in comics : Gotham ?

GOTHAM T.V series - Fox
GOTHAM T.V series – Fox

This new Fox series is currently running its third season, and as its title entails, is set in Batman’s legendary city … before Batman’s rise.
The main challenge was to make Gotham interesting with its most famous citizen being only a somewhat 12 year-old Bruce Wayne. Fortunately, it totally works.
By linking the young Bruce Wayne’s destiny to the adventures of the main character, detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie), the plot actually makes sense. Although the first season is kind of slow to set the mood, the beautiful editing, setting, costumes… in addition to the quality of the cast, take you pretty fast to season 2.

James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz)
James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz)

Then as the season 2 starts there is an actual risk of addiction : by choosing to strengthen the main plot over the little intrigues, the show goes up a level.
The comeback of Ben McKenzie, discovered in 2003 as Ryan Atwood in The O.C, is a great success, for Jim Gordon’s personality is made of the same psychological mix that made McKenzie’s interpretation of Ryan noted twenty years ago : cool and straight on the surface,while hiding a dark and violent side underneath that thick skin of his. Sexy and cool.
Not to mention the great villains, one of Gotham’s specialties ; the best of them is clearly Oswald Cobblepot/ Penguin played by Robin Lord Taylor. The depth Taylor brings to his character sets him up far from the usual comics clichés on villains, and puts him up on a superbly thin rope between likeable and hateful.

Oswald Cobblepot/ Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor)
Oswald Cobblepot/ Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor)

Last but not least : the female characters have a true place in this show, which is unusual for a comics’inspired series. Morena Baccarin makes a nice comeback from Homeland as Dr Lee Thompkins, Gordon’s girlfriend, and the rising star Camren Bicondova definitely steals the screen every time Zelina Kyle/Catwoman jumps in. (see here the Who? focus)

Selina Kyle / Catwoman (Camren Bicondova)
Selina Kyle / Catwoman (Camren Bicondova)

Try to watch slowly, season 3 is still on the go…

Gotham T.V series (Fox)
Gotham T.V series (Fox)

Gotham (Fox), season 1, 2, 3 (ongoing)
On Fox & Netflix

L’Insensé Korea

Last night was about unveiling the latest issue of the yearly magazine L’Insensé. The launch party took place in Paris at the Cernuschi Museum, known for its private Asian collections. Overseen by buddhas and dragons, this new issue’s success is surely under good protection.

Dragon perfume vaporizer, Japan, 19th century, Cernuschi Museum
Dragon perfume vaporizer, Japan, 19th century, Cernuschi Museum

Last night was also the occasion to celebrate the magazine’s 25th anniversary. Since its inception by Vanessa Van Zuylen and Elizabeth Nora in 1991, L’Insensé tooks its readers around the world, each issue being dedicated to one country or region (Japan, Spain Russia… and last year South America) with the talent to foresee the new artistic energies that would soon boil out of these countries.

At the turn of the millenium, the two founders also sensed the growing place of images, and dedicated L’Insensé to photography. A bold but smart move in retrospect, and a perfect fit to the big format of the magazine. Since images speak all languages, this switch contributed to build an international readership. Since then, L’Insensé (which paradoxically means “foolish” in French (:-) has become a collection item, regrouping the work of some emerging photographers that later became public figures of the art world.
Now every November is an expectation of what country will come next. This 2016 issue is dealing with Korea, or South Korea to be precise, although some photographers clearly make a reference to North Korea in their works.

L'Insensé Korea cover by Kim Jungman
L’Insensé Korea cover by Kim Jungman

The journey is as fascinating and energetic as the country depicted through a variety of subjects : not so traditional schoolgirls, brand addiction(s), the place of children in society, and the Korean obsession with a kind of color-saturated modernity that places the country at some kind of « avant-garde », accurately captured by its artists.

Ina Jang, Such a White Face, 2013
Ina Jang, Such a White Face, 2013

If you don’t plan on travelling to Korea in the near future, this your imaginary plane ticket to a 360° exhibition, that can be explored again and again on your coffee table.

L’Insensé N°14, Korea, 22€
Available online

Exhibition – Pierre Bergé’s Library – Hôtel Drouot, Paris

Last night was about the smell of old books mixed with champaign bubbles : the preview of of the second part of Pierre Bergé’s library, set for auction on November, 8th and 9th. In addition to his business and fashion sense (he was notably Yves Saint Laurent’s partner in life and business), Pierre Bergé is also renowned for his passion for the arts (he notably ran the Opéra de Paris Bastille from 1988 to 1994).

Pierre Bergé - Photo by Eric Jansen
Pierre Bergé – Photo by Eric Jansen

It is a known fact that Pierre Bergé is an art collector, but one of his hidden treasures remains his library, that he started offering last year. The second part, currently exhibited at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris, includes works from the end of the 18th century (the Marquis de Sade and his libertine illustrated books) to the the European Romantic movement and the dawn of the 20th century. Many original editions and some amazing manuscripts from all countries are featured here : Russia ( Pushkin, Gogol, Tosltoy, Dostoyevsky, Turgenev), the U.S ( Walt Whitman and Edgar Allan Poe), the U.K ( Oscar Wilde, Walpole, Byron, Shelley, Swinburne, Wordsworth), Germany ( Goethe, Schiller, Kleist, Hölderlin).
A small heaven for literature lovers.

Marquis de Sade, Histoire secrète d'Isabelle de Bavière, reine de France, 1813
Marquis de Sade, Histoire secrète d’Isabelle de Bavière, reine de France, 1813

But of course the crown jewel is to be found with the French, and especially Gustave Flaubert, Pierre Bergé’s favorite author, to whom a whole section is dedicated.
The sight of an autograph manuscript is a pure moment of emotion. You can see all the hard work the author had to put into it, the hundreds of versions he struggled with before coming out with a masterpiece (too bad many use only keyboards nowadays, or maybe there is less effort into it, who will know ?).
The strength of this exhibition is to provide enough evidence (more than 200 pieces) for a time travel, during which you can feel the touch of some of the greatest writers of all time. No wonder some of the manuscripts are priced at more than 100 000€, for they are proper works of art.

Gustave Flaubert, Par les champs et les grèves, 1847 -autograph manuscript
Gustave Flaubert, Par les champs et les grèves, 1847 -autograph manuscript

The lucky buyers will acquire a piece of eternity, while us, simple viewers, are allowed to dream for a moment. And that is already a good thing.

A nod to my two favorites

Honoré de Balzac, Scènes de la vie de province vol 1, Eugénie Grandet, 1834 – First edition


Alfred de Musset – La Confession d’un enfant du siècle (1836) – Signed limited edition


Pierre Bergé’s Library
Pierre Bergé & Associés in association with Sotheby’s
Exhibition until November, 7th 2016 at the Hôtel Drouot, 9, rue Drouot, 75009 Paris
Auction November, 8th and 9th

DVD/VOD – The Neon Demon by Nicolas Winding Refn

Last night was about watching The Neon Demon, a movie that rose quite a controversy at the Cannes Film Festival in May. I was very curious to finally see it, for I missed it in the theaters this summer.

As a prime-hour Drive fan, I was not disappointed. This movie is edgier (though dealing with a popular subject : models), and has a slower pace that allows the director’s aesthetics to flourish, plus it gives time to the actors to build strong characters. Big up to Elle Fanning, who sometimes looked like an avatar of the millenial supermodel Cara Delevingne, who since became an actress … Odd coincidence since Fanning is playing an aspiring model who lands to the bionic fashion scene in L.A. And as the opening scene suggests, her trip will go red…

The Neon Demon
The Neon Demon

The Neon Demon is about the terror of beauty and its perception in the digital age. It is, in Winding Refn’s own words, a « You Tube movie » cut with sharp edges and impeccable filming. The scenario is minimalist but universal : « Beauty isn’t everything. It’s the only thing. »


The dialogs don’t need to be long : everything gets into your eye as sharply as the evil Snow Queen’s ice spike : the looks (worn and given), the moves, the settings (L.A beautifully filmed from top to bottom), the light.
It is not an horror movie, nor a comedy ; it is definitely a « neo » trip into cinema : both as a reference to Keanu Reeves’s impeccable part, though secondary, and to the new ways Nicolas Winding Refn is tracing through the 7th art. He may be criticized, but at least he is bringing in fresh blood (in every sense of the word…).
The music also has its importance, notably with electro beats in the opening scenes and a nice Sia feature for the end credits.
The Neon Demon made me think of Alfred Hitchkok movies : the Master also loved changing the rules of cinema by putting women forward and making them face their fears, their inside ugliness, though they looked so beautiful …

All in all, your eyes must see this, but make sure your stomach is solid before watching.

Funny key fact : Nicolas Winding Refn is colorblind, hence the importance of saturated colors.
Not to miss : the ex-model Abbey Lee with her swimming-pool eyes and ice-cold character. Impressive performance for a newcomer.

Abbey Lee as Sarah in The Neon Demon
Abbey Lee as Sarah in The Neon Demon