Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I have not done a lot of work on my dissertation in the past week. But I have done some other productive things.
On Thursday night, Laura and I went over to B’s, where Laura practiced her upcoming conference paper for our working group. That was pretty fun. We drank too much wine, and then Laura and I decided to get late-night sandwiches while we were still in B’s neighborhood, because no such thing exists near our apartment. B and Sam had invited us to a hip-hop show that started at midnight, but we declined. (Oh, their band Blutschwester now has a myspace page. My favorite song of theirs is “Reise.”)
We went out to a bar near Odéon on Friday, with Britt and Elise. They were leaving on Saturday. They told us about some of the characters doing research in the Archives Nationales. One guy wears a tuxedo, and another guy dresses in nineteenth-century costume (presumably the period he researches?). I once saw a woman at the BnF who seemed to planning to go straight from there to a gala ball of some sort.
On Saturday night Laura and I went to the early showing of La Môme, a biopic about Edith Piaf. Apparently it’s going to be released in other countries as La Vie en rose. Which is kind of stupid, because there’s already a French movie called La Vie en rose, and if this movie is going to take its title from an Edith Piaf song, it should be called Non, je ne regrette rien. I’m glad I saw this movie, but it was not so great. It was way too long and repetitive, in a way that was very similar to De-lovely. There was all this jumping back and forth in time that didn’t seem necessary. There are so many characters (and they enter and exit so haphazardly) that it’s often hard to tell who’s who. The biggest problem is that the movie’s thesis is, “Edith Piaf channeled her suffering into her music.” And there’s one scene where they really beat you over the head with that thesis. Of course, this is exactly how French people think of Edith Piaf, so I don’t know if it would possible for a French director to do her biopic without having that as the thesis.
In our Textual Analysis class at UMass, we had to write a three-sentence summary of the action of each play we read. And we often used this exercise outside of class. My friend Danielle’s three sentences for Lorca’s Yerma were: “Yerma doesn’t have a baby. Yerma doesn’t have a baby. Yerma kills her husband.” My three sentences for this movie would be: “Edith Piaf suffers. Edith Piaf sings and suffers. Edith Piaf dies.” And there’s morphine addiction and triumph of the human spirit and a cameo by Gérard Dépardieu. Oh, and the actress who plays grown-up Edith Piaf (from 20 until her death at 48) is phenomenal. Anyway, if you decide to see this movie I would highly recommend reading a detailed biography of Edith Piaf before you go.
On Sunday Katie hosted a pancake brunch, and afterward I went to the Musée Carnavalet with K. and P. The Musée Carnavalet is my new favorite museum. It’s devoted to the cultural and intellectual history of Paris. And admission to the permanent collection is free. The first few rooms are devoted to shopkeepers’ signs from the 17th-19th Centuries. I was also very excited to see the famous portrait of Molière, and a painting of the Champs-Elysées before the Revolution (with no Place de la Concorde, or Arc de Triomphe, or neon lights, or department stores, or cars).
But now I must go work on my chapter, which I promised to send to the Early Modern Group this month. And this month is almost over.


hardscrabble in kabul said...

hey dan: good to hear that you're digging the musee carnavalet. it's really cool, i agree. i forgot to mention that you should really see this band "l'orchestre de la boule noire" if you get a chance. they're the resident band at la boule noire, which is this v. cool club in pigalle. what they do is "moon-lounge-rock," with a multipiece brass band. if you're lucky, this amazing little bald gay man will come out and do some really great and special things for you. moreover, there are other hidden surprises that i'm not even telling you about. needless to say, i saw them 4 times in the course of three months.

Dan said...

Oooh, thanks for the tip! That sounds fascinating. I have definitely not done enough exploring in the Pigalle region

Hoots said...

I haven't read the rest of your blog but thanks for this. I found it in a Google Blog Search looking for material about Edith Piaf. This morning's Weekend Edition had a feature that mentioned the film you saw and it's planned release in America in June. We now have an inside look and an opinion not tainted by the proclivities of a professional critic.