Archives for posts with tag: Paris

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Over the weekend I went to see The Past, a French film made by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi (also known for his recently successful film A Separation). Intelligently designed and subtly executed, it’s a family melodrama that explores the values of truth and uncovers secrets from the past in cleverly unfolding layers.

In the film, Marie asks her estranged husband to return to Paris from Iran in order to finalise their divorce. Upon his arrival, Marie takes him to the somewhat ramshackle yet beautifully dishevelled home they used to share in the outer suburbs of Paris, where it becomes clear that she has taken up with another man. Samir and his son Fouad have moved in with Marie and her two daughters and together they are in the process of restoring the house, which is in an evident state of disrepair. However it soon becomes apparent that the broken pipes and drying paint are a cogent metaphor for the crumbling facade of the family bond, and that the paint is still not yet dry on matters of the past.

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Warm and kind, Ahmad soon becomes drawn into the lives of this newly formed family and together they delve into a past imbued with secrets and emotional truths that are cleverly drawn out to propel the narrative forward to its inevitable conclusion.

A beautifully sad and reflective film, The Past teaches us something of the value in staying the course through times of trial, even when no resolution is readily apparent. As the paint begins to dry and the new fittings go up, things seem to go from bad to worse as the past is unravelled and matters are complicated further by Marie’s beautiful and sullen eldest daughter Lucie.

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They say that truth comes from the mouth of babes, and while Fouad’s role is somewhat peripheral to the story, he brings us one of the central resolutions of the film with an achingly honest declaration on a grimy Paris metro.

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Territorially dangerous, the past can be a murky place of secrets and burdens, yet I walked away thinking that cautious navigation of the past can help us arrive at the heart of a matter and to a place where love, loyalty and truth will prevail.

It must be the Iranian influence on screen that got me thinking I should try this recipe from the Good Food Weekly Meal Planner.

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Easy to make, this dish has subtle flavours that are surprisingly satisfying and made for a great start to the week. I used French green lentils as I didn’t have brown, but either would be delicious. I’m thinking this would make a great side dish to take to a dinner party and that some fresh goat’s cheese crumbled over the top would take it to another level, but in lieu of that it will still taste delicious with natural yoghurt and mint.

The Past is written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, with Bérénice Bejo as Marie, Ali Mosaffa as Ahmad, Tahar Rahim as Samir, Pauline Burlet  as Lucie and Elyes Aguis as Fouad. Rated (M).

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Cities Are Good For You: The Genius of the Metropolis, Leo Hollis (Bloomsbury:London), 2013.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Leo Hollis is an urban enthusiast, as the title of his latest book suggests. In this book, Hollis embarks on a global city hop to investigate urban projects in sustainability, transport, agriculture, community development and more. Critics have suggested that Hollis presents a partisan and overly idealistic argument in favour of city living, and although this may be true I don’t think it takes away from the worth of the research. Hollis demonstrates that cities are best transformed from the inside out and provides an interesting perspective on what could be possible if everyday citizens took more responsibility for their environment and community. I don’t think that this book will revolutionise the world, nor was intended to. If it goes some small way to inspiring a few however, the benefits could be felt by many.

 

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The New Front Page: New Media and the Rise of the Audience, Tim Dunlop (Scribe:Melbourne), 2013.

Tim Dunlop’s The New Front Page is a thought provoking book about the changing face of journalism in Australia.  In this book, Dunlop uses his experience as a political blogger to begin a discussion about the need for mainstream media to better adapt to the rise of new-media and increasing levels of audience participation. As a newcomer to world of blogging, I found it a great insight into the broad scope of possibilities that blogging can create, as well as some of its limitations. Reading the book, I came to the conclusion that if you want news and analysis of a high quality, then you should be prepared to pay for it. I was also convinced that media agencies should also offer more flexible and user-friendly paywalls and subscription services. A proponent of new-media websites such as New Matilda and Crikey, Dunlop demonstrates that professional journalism could learn a lot by listening to and interacting with its audiences and adapting in inventive ways in order to keep the industry alive, relevant and vital to a healthy democracy.

 

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Burial Rites, Hannah Kent (Picador:Sydney), 2013.

This is an impressive debut novel by Hannah Kent about a woman on death row in Iceland in 1829. It is a moving and compelling tale made even more poignant by the fact that it is based on true events. The writing is highly evocative and reading the book I felt more that I was watching events unfold before my eyes rather than hunched over the page with a furrowed brow. In a world in which only 51% of United Nations member states have completely abolished the use of capital punishment I think that this book is highly relevant to present-day society as it highlights some important issues of crime and punishment that continue to have currency today. I think this book will translate nicely to cinema, and the guardian reports that plans are currently underway for a movie adaptation, with Jennifer Lawrence to play the role of the protagonist Agnes Magnúsdóttir. Great Choice!

 

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Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, Anthony Bourdain (Bloomsbury:London), 2000.

I really loved this book. It’s written in 6 parts, covering a five course meal with a coffee and cigarette afterwards, and is the tale of Bourdain’s journey from a not-so-humble dishwasher to world-renowned chef, writer and traveller. It is a revealing tell-all about the kitchen underworld of restaurants in New York, Tokyo, Paris and beyond, and although I suspect that Anthony Bourdain is a great story teller, I get the sense that he really hasn’t embellished the story all that much. Bourdain depicts a world that is gritty, male dominated, competitive, character-building and fascinating all at once. I really grew to like Anthony Bourdain as I was reading the book, and he strikes me as someone who is down to earth, highly discerning and open to the world in a way that has helped him steer the highs and lows of his successful career.

 

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Capital, John Lancaster (Faber and Faber:London), 2012.

Set on the cusp of the global financial crisis in 2008, John Lancaster’s Capital is an intriguing, insightful and thoughtful novel centred around the everyday lives of the ordinary citizens of Pepys Road, London. Each of the street’s occupants receive a card in the post in December 2007 with a simple message ‘We Want What You Have’. As events unfold, you realise that there’s more to this novel than meets the eye, and it’s one of those books that touches on a multitude of issues in a subtle and thought provoking way. Lancaster points to the ways in which money, power and greed affect the lives of everyday people in varying degrees and with varying outcomes. A great read.