I spent half of this month with Falling Slowly playing over and over in my head after seeing a theatre production of Once. I could tell half the audience hadn’t seen the movie because they were stunned by the ending! Of course I had to re-watch the DVD the very next day. I was both impressed and amused by how the story was transferred to the stage. They somehow got away with setting the whole thing in an Irish pub with an ensemble cast. The Czech characters were really amped up and there was a lot of comedy. Yet it worked!
I watched a bunch of movies in April, starting with La Famille Belier, recommended by Lucinda Sans. It was an enjoyable French comedy about a family whose members are all deaf but one. The hearing child (a teenager) acts as an interpreter for her parents – for both everyday and business matters. She is over-responsible and holds back from getting on with her life. If this was the only movie you saw about deaf people and culture, you would think them bizarre because the characters were over-the-top comedic, so I trust viewers will realize it’s specific to the storyline and movie.
I watched an old French classic, M. Hulot’s Holiday, for the first time. It was full of madcap, physical comedy, one gag after another, with music, sound effects and a bit of dialogue. M. Hulot drives to the seaside in his old beater car where he vacations at a resort and causes all sorts of mischief, some intentional and some not. It reminded me of silent movies, Laurel and Hardy, and other comedy of a bygone era. As the movie goes on, the situations get more and more absurd. (I liked the reaction to the folding boat). I got the impression that the director, Tati, found human beings quite ridiculous!
I watched both with English subtitles – unfortunately my listening French is not that good ☹
I had Goin’ Down the Road on my to-see list for ages. It is a Canadian regional movie from 1970 that is always making top 10 lists. It was a hyper-realistic road movie/buddy film about two guys from my home province who go off to the land of plenty – Toronto – to find work. (There is a sequel which I may or may not see). I kept searching the screens for what Yonge Street looked like back then! The movie reminded me a bit of Withnail and I, which I saw recently.
I borrowed three DVDs from the library: Footnote, Hannah Arendt and A Separation – all good. In Footnote, a professor follows in the footsteps of his father and pursues a similar field of study. His father is offered a prestigious prize – mistakenly. It was meant for the son, and now the committee has to revoke it! In Hannah Arendt, we see the ground-breaking journalism that led to the modern concept of “the banality of evil.” This is so well-established now, I didn’t even know it had been controversial, or why. It gave me more understanding of the issues, and was also a peek into intellectual and Jewish life in NYC in the early 60s. A Separation was an intense drama from Iran: a father defends his aged, infirm father from the ineptness of the hired help – with tragic consequences. The impact on his eleven-year-old daughter was sharply portrayed. All recommended, sombre dramas.
The highlight of my reading in April was that a friend of mine wrote a book about her experiences teaching at an independent school, which evolved into an explanation of what works well there, and what is wrong with “the system” (i.e. public schools). I enjoyed attending her book launch and seeing her fêted!
I caught up on my reading after so little being read in March. I browsed a giant photo book of Vivienne Westwood’s fashion. My book club read Sweetland by Michael Crummy, about an old man who refuses to leave an outport town in Newfoundland when the government wants to cut services and resettle him. I read Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis, a pure delight for anyone who follows elections in Canada – it was a political humour novel which requires some knowledge of Canadian government. I read Ann and Nancy Wilson’s book Kicking and Dreaming, about their rock band Heart – it was chatty and relatable. You know I read Laura’s choice of book, Seabiscuit, which was gripping. And I just finished Mexican Hooker #1, a second memoir by Carmen Aguirre (the earlier one is Something Fierce – be sure to read that one first!) I could not put it down – it was shocking, touching and life-affirming.
In other news, Rom and I planned our next UK visit for later in the year. We had made trips in the Spring for the past 5 years, so it will feel strange to be at home for the whole season.
I’ve begun Spring cleaning, which is actually just normal cleaning that was neglected over the winter months.
Our shingles are quickly failing so re-roofing is in the cards for this month. Definitely not doing it ourselves!
It is still early Spring, and into the rainier season which could last 6 or 8 weeks. I have done some raking of the “lawn” which is actually an informal mixed habitat 🙂 This is the third year that blackbirds and grackles have descended on my yard en masse and set up shop for the breeding season. Lots of chatter, and rapid depleting of the bird feeders!
My local swimming pool closed for two weeks for its annual maintenance. I tried out another one in the interim but it was inconvenient. I had time to shop for a new swimsuit. The tankini from last summer had lost its elasticity. I estimate I wore it about 50 times. I went for a traditional racerback one-piece this time.
I spent another week back at my former job, and returned to my current one, with no drama. So, all is well!
I hope you had a good April. What’s new with you?
I love the movie Once, both the story and the music. Your theatre production sounds like an interesting take on it.
The play was performed in New York, London and other major markets and the same production has now filtered down to the regional level – so anyone who has seen it, would have seen a similar show.
What wonderful movie and book recommendations! You always have unusual ones – or at least different than what is in the US generally. I had to get Carmen Aquirre’s first book via Amazon as even my wonderful new library didn’t have it.
Thanks! The new Carmen Aguirre memoir is much more intense than the first one – gulp! Glad you like your new library.
I saw ONCE on stage twice and just loved it. The second time my friend and I were lucky enough to be amongst those who got to go up on the stage prior (and at the beginning) of the play and to get a drink at the bar!
I’ve just started “Manderley Forever” a biography of Daphne du Maurier – really looking forward to reading this one.
I’ve read a couple of Terry Fallis’ books – was that the one that they made into a TV series on CBC? It was very funny.
I haven’t seen many movies lately but I am going to a Hot Docs presentation this Thursday. I’ve also made my first visit to the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit that’s just opened at the AGO – I’ll be going at least a couple of more times.
I had a lovely day out last week to see the cherry blossoms in bloom at High Park – I was lucky to be able to go on the Monday morning as the park got so busy on the Sunday that the police had to close the park to anymore people! The trees were gorgeous.
Hoping to get out tomorrow for a walk and a visit to see some Spring flowers – the weather has been very cold and wet and it is to return to that for Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday – a very gloomy and wet Spring – water levels in the rivers and in Lake Ontario are very high and there has been a lot of flooding. I intend to enjoy the limited sunshine tomorrow.
What do you know – a TV series – I didn’t realize that! Whenever you write about your activities in the city, it makes me want to move to Toronto. (Not really happening, but wishful thinking).
Thanks for the book and movie recommendations. We rely heavily on our library (no cable/netflix). I homeschool my kids so I’m looking forward to reading your friends book. Thanks for sharing.
Journeys of The Zoo
Hi and welcome, Sarah. We have no cable or Netflix either so we rely on library DVD movies. (Actually we did a free month on Netflix and watched “The Crown” but that is long over now). I gave a lot of thought to the content in Molly’s book and how her school differs from public schools. My conclusion is that the independent school cares for the development of each child as a whole person, and is truly attentive to their social and emotional growth, and they integrate values such as kindness and democracy – far more than the public schools. I know lots of teachers who have implemented some of these techniques in public schools, but without the integrated, supportive environment that would bring further successes.
I love the movie Once so much that I’ve been afraid to see the stage adaptation. It sounds like I don’t have anything to be afraid of.
I enjoyed M, Hulot’s Holiday, but I liked another of Jacque Tati’s movies – Playtime – even better.
I was very startled by the play since it is “larger than life” and has so much amplified humour, and it had some quite odd choreography. It is a “brightened” version of the story, without betraying it. (It also used a lot of dialogue verbatim from the movie). I think you would like comparing and contrasting it with the film as you watched it. I will have to see Playtime now!
I posted about my month – but weirdly published wrong, so who knows if normal people got it on feedreaders etc.
Slow reading month for me, and the one book you mention my library doesn’t have sadly. I can’t imagine swimming in a tankini – that’s the water polo player in me right there! That being said, our suits are chlorine resistant now and last ages, but you end up with less ‘stretch’ as a compensation.
Yes, I have one of those swimsuits now and I hope it will last better. I was fine with the tankini except for my belly showing when I did backstroke, ha! Thanks for mentioning your post – it didn’t come through on my feed or my email! (Readers: check out Live to List)
Aww thanks for the link!
Monsieur Hulot what a treat we have all the Jacque Tati movies my girls were brought up on his humour – any wet weekend and out came the videos! I agree with the commenter above Playtime is even better. I can’t believe you had no dramas at work – I was only away a few days and have arrived back to more dramas than our soap operas on TV!
Will you be coming anywhere near Yorkshire on your UK tour?
Hi Vivien, That is two votes for Playtime! Well, there is a constant background level of drama at work but nothing earthshaking 🙂 I wouldn’t call our UK vacations “tours” since we primarily visit Rom’s parents and spend a few days in London each time. So far we haven’t rented a car, and I haven’t seen much of England at all – I have been to Brighton a few times, to Stonehenge, all over Sussex, to London, and a day trip to Stratford-on-Avon. We had hoped to do a two-week tour of the country with my parents but had to cancel when their health didn’t allow. I would love to see more of the UK and Ireland, and I expect I will over time, since we’ll keep returning each year. Hope we will meet!
I am sure we will one day – are your parents from England or do you mean they were coming over with you to tour England?
I had hoped they would come with us to tour England but that is looking unlikely.
So you didn’t really like La Familie Bélier? Did you find the ending uplifting?
I love that some from Once. Very catchy. I have forgotten the ending of the film. Will need to reacquaint myself with it.
I did like the movie. I know there are situations in which children look after their parents, such as parents who move to an English-speaking country and never learn English. But I don’t think it’s typical in the deaf community to be dependent on a hearing person, especially a child. And the movie also assumed that a deaf person can’t appreciate music (in their lives or in the lives of other people) because they can’t hear it. So I bristled at those things, while also enjoying it on another level!
I loved La Familie Bélier! Totalment chou-chou! And I didn’t cry at the end (I just got something in my eye. Must have been onions.)
I am quite a bit proud actually to have seen or read anything at all on you list this time.
Thanks! I think your reading is more impressive than mine (deeper subject research). Yes, La Famille Belier was a feel-good movie!
Wonderful recommendations, as always…I love to see what you are viewing/reading. There’s a bit of a French theme there! I’ve watched two French movies this month and tonnes of French news online (live-streaming on YouTube). I love the sound of Hannah Arendt and must see that. I also *have* to read your friend’s book on independent schools! I wonder if I can get a copy here or on Kindle? It is nice to hear of spring changes…we are plunging into winter here, with lots of rain and some cold now (‘cold’ being relative, of course!)
I just watched Breathless (A Bout de Souffle) – 1960 – for the first time. I got quite carried away by the beautiful cinematography, settings and costumes – the street scenes of Paris were gorgeous. In fact, I watched it twice, once in French and once with subtitles. Recommended! This month has been chilly and rainy – sigh! But excellent movie-bingeing weather.