Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Category: France Page 1 of 3

With a best friend who taught French for years (and as someone who had 4 years of French, herself) Connie may parlez vous Francais occasionally or feature beautiful photographs taken by her college roommate Pam Rhodes.

Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon:” Go for the Battle Scenes; Skip the Scripted Humor

Ridley Scott’s 238 minute opus, “Napoleon,” is  a crash course in French history. But how accurate is it?

I always appreciate directors who try to “get it right.” I kept wondering, throughout the lengthy film, whether this or that really happened. Let me be clear right now that I have investigated  with the goal of finding out whether the film is substantially true or false. Read no further if you are saving the viewing of the film to learn the specifics of the plot.


The costumes are wonderful—even the tri-cornered hat that Napoleon wears. By the way, the actual height of Napoleon was  five feet seven inches, which was not that short for the time.

The staging of the battles is amazing. There are many battles and they are all extremely well-done and riveting.

Most of the acting is fine, although the dialogue is often jejeune (to steal a French phrase, which seems appropriate).


The things I know to be false:

  • Napoleon was not present in the crowd that witnessed the beheading of Marie Antoinette.
  • Napoleon never met with the Duke of Wellington on a boat (the Bellerephon)
  • The time-line for Napoleon’s marriage to Josephine is not exactly right
  • Napoleon may well have been completely besotted with Josephine, but each of them had other affairs and Napoleon had several illegitimate children. Did newspaper headlines of the day say things like, “Napoleon’s Bony Old Bird Caught Out of the Nest Again”? Don’t know; can’t tell you.
  • One child that the movie dwells on is the heir apparent that Napoleon divorces Josephine to have with his wife, Mary Louise, the Arch Duchess of Austria, and great-niece of Marie Antoinette. We never see the child after Napoleon shows the newborn to Josephine in one scene, but the answer to “Whatever happened to Napoleon’s son?” Wikipedia tells us this:

“Napoleon and Marie Louise remained married until his death, though she did not join him in exile on Elba and thereafter never saw her husband again. The couple had one child, Napoleon Francis Joseph Charles (1811–1832), known from birth as the King of Rome. He became Napoleon II in 1814 and reigned for only a fortnight. He was awarded the title the Duke of Reichstadt in 1818. He died of tuberculosis at the age of 21, with no heirs.”

You might wonder, as I did, whether the highly cinematic battle of Austerlitz (Aug. 2, 1805) involving cannons breaking the ice on which the advancing army is approaching, killing them in  vivid visual style, really happened that way. The answer is yes, there was a battle where the approaching army approached on ice; however,  the ice was evident to both sides. When an investigation of the body of water took place years later, there were only roughly 12 bodies buried beneath the surface.

Napoleon did not fire a cannon into a pyramid while in Egypt.


To me, the worst thing about the film was the script, written by David Scarpa. The laughter of the audience, hearing some of the pot-boiler lines in this film, may be intentional. I found it jarring in the context of this epic.

Here are a few of those lines:

Napoleon:  (about the British, spoken very petulantly):  “You think you’re so great because you have boats!”

This was shouted with a childish tone, indicating that Napoleon was very annoyed by the British Navy. It may not be totally fair to blame the screenwriter, as one of the reasons it came off as humorous was the manner in which it was delivered. For that matter, the scene where Napoleon is shown stomping his foot like a horse in anticipation of sex with Josephine (who is reluctant because she has just had her hair done).  I’m being generous in calling it mediocre; it’s pretty bad.

Another such line, spoken by Rupert Everett as the Duke of Wellington, before he rides off to battle in the rain:  “I never get wet if I can help it.”  O……K…..

Just prior to uttering that line, we see Napoleon getting ready to lead his troops into battle. When he is asked, “What shall I tell the men? He responds, “Tell them to make the rain stop.”

During one state dinner, Napoleon shouts, “Destiny has brought me this lambchop.”


Again, the delivery of these bon mots is also part of the problem. While there were some lines that sounded as though they might have been spoken by Napoleon or taken from his letters and writing), there were way too many that were laughably bad.

The acting by Joaquin Phoenix and Vanessa Kirby was adequate, but they were given lines like the above examples. I don’t see any acting nominations coming out of this one, but she (Vanessa Kirby) was better than he was.

The music also  good at times and mediocre at times. When Napoleon mounts up and rides forth as the Prussians have arrived, the music was weird. It was inconsistent throughout, just as Joaquin’s acting is only as good as the lines he is given to say.

Here’s a line that does try to give us insight into the character of the one-time Emperor of France: ”The most difficult thing in life is accepting the failures of others.”


I enjoyed the film from 85-year-old Ridley Scott and was amazed at his staging of the battles. What an accomplishment! May he stage many more!

[I also noticed that the Stunt Department Coordinator was Natalie Wood. No. Not THAT Natalie Wood, but if only she were still alive and still with us.]






Two Shorts @ SXSW: “Everything Will Be All Right” & “Belle River”

Director Farhad Pakdel and star of “Everything Will Be All Right” Nahema Ricci behind the scenes in Montreal. (Photo credit Manon Assens).

Farhad Pakdel, the writer/director/producer of the short “Everything Will Be All Right” helms this 16 minute short tale of a young pregnant teacher, Leila, trying to reach home in Iran before her father dies of Covid. Pakdel underscores Leila’s situation with the underpinning of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. It is playing at SXSW 2022, and I hope we see Pakdel’s first feature-length film here in the future.

Orpheus, you will recall, went to the Underworld to retrieve the love of his life, Eurydice, but he was told he could not look back while leading her from Hades. When he did look back, she was sentenced to live in Hades forever and he was killed. The students in Leila’s class (Leila is beautifully played by Nahema Ricci of “Antigone”) point out the unfairness of the fact that Eurydice did nothing to bring her fate down upon her; she was thrust into Hades forever by circumstances beyond her control,  the actions of Orpheus in disobeying his instructions. So, too, is Leila being buffeted by the vagaries of fate.

Pakdel is commencing work on his first feature film (after 9 shorts) and has a Master’s in Cinema from the University of Tehran and  a Master’s in film from the University of Montreal. He shows depth and competence that bodes well for future work.

The film is shot in Montreal during the height of the pre-vaccine Covid outbreak (March of 2020).  Leila, shown in her classroom discussing the story of Orpheus and Eurydice with her students, has just received word that her father back home in Iran is seriously ill and hospitalized.

Nahema Ricci in “Everything Will Be All Right” from Writer/Director Farhad Pakdel.

As the short moves us forward, detailing Leila’s efforts to leave work and secure passage home, the prime minister of Montreal, Francois Legault, has just announced that all schools will be closing for two weeks due to the pandemic. However, there are complications well beyond simply securing air fare during a time of international chaos surrounding air travel. There is the doctor appointment that Leila must re-arrange, but how?

The backdrop to the story of Leila’s desperate attempts to get home in time to say good-bye to her terminally ill father is that she is pregnant and scheduled for an abortion, which will be complicated by the necessary quarantine restrictions should she leave the country, as she will move from 10 to 14 weeks pregnant. The romance—[if it was a romance and not assault]—with the baby’s father is long over; he has now become a stalker.

Leila had made up her mind to terminate the pregnancy, but the various time constraints associated with flying overseas during a pandemic cause all sorts of problems with that plan. At one point in the cab on her way to the airport,  Leila has to step out of the cab. to say good bye to her father by phone via FaceTime as he lies mortally ill in an intensive care unit in a hospital thousands of miles away.

This scenario of having to say good bye to family members via Face time is gut-wrenching; I think of it every day. It played out in my own family with the loss of my 62-year-old sister-in-law to Covid on April 18, 2020. FaceTime is how she  had to say good-bye to her husband and three adult children.

Nahema Ricci in “Everything Will Be All Right” at SXSW, 2022.

Facing a few health situations of my own currently, I am well aware of the conflicting emotions that must be sweeping over the pregnant young woman, buffeted by the vagaries of fate. She steps outside the cab at one point—no doubt to say good-bye forever to her beloved father— and, when she re-enters the vehicle, the cab driver says, “Spring is unpredictable. Everything will be all right.”

Will it? What will happen to Leila from this point forward? Does she continue driving towards the airport for a departure to her homeland anyway? I wanted to know more about Leila, and, while I understood the title and its mythical import (it helped that I taught a unit on Myths and Legends for 20 years to junior high school students), I still wanted to know if everything WAS going to be “all right” for Leila, so well played by Ms. Ricci.

This short is both poignant, timely and resonates with the world today. It was well constructed to drive tension, has excellent camera work from Alexandre Bussiere, is well-acted, and makes me want to see more from this talented filmmaker (and to learn more about the fictional Leila, caught in a trap not of her own making.) Bravo!


“Belle River,” a short at SXSW 2022:

“Belle River” was a journey to Pierre Part, Louisiana.  The area is flooded and the Morgana Spillway is opened to protect Baton Rouge and Louisiana, just the third time that has occurred in over a century. It is unclear what effect, exactly, this has had on Pierre Part in terms of “before” and “after” the opening of the spillway.

“Belle River,” a short about Pierre Part, Louisiana at SXSW, 2022.

The entire 16 minute short from Guillaume Towner, Samuel Matteau, and Yannick Nolin simply shows us flooded homes and stores. There are unidentified residents (speaking in Cajun French with English subtitles) saying, “If we get a hurricane, that’ll really mess us up.” However, along with pointing out the obvious (flooded streets, homes and businesses), lines like “We’re ready. We’re prepared for this,” seem like whistling in the dark.

There was no real documentation of how far underwater the town has become due to the opening of the spillway or just the effects of nature and no “main character” or main characters for us to relate to, as were highlighted in 2019’s “Lowland Kids.”

In “Lowland Kids”, also shown at SXSW (3/12/2019) we learned that the area of Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana was losing one football field-sized piece of land to the water every hour on the hour. There were 180 to 200 families in Isle de Jean Charles who were about to become the first casualties of global warming and flooding in Louisiana. We also got to hear from Juliette and Howard Brundt, a brother and sister living with their handicapped Uncle and  about to be displaced from the only home they have ever known.

I was disappointed that “Belle River” had so little concrete information on Pierre Part’s situation and would recommend the slightly older (2019) short “Lowland Kids,” reviewed on this blog at that time. “Belle River” needed more information from the filmmakers, because it simply plays like an insert on the evening news in its current format.

Check out “Lowland Kids,” reviewed on this blog, for another short film that makes a great companion piece to “Belle River.” 


“A Good Man” Is French LGBQT Film from Denver Film Festival and Cannes

“A Good Man” is a LGBTQ French film directed by Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar. It is a Cannes Official Film Selection and the film had subtitles, but the trailer does not. (Dust off your French from high school or college.) Noemie Merlant, who was so powerful in last year’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” plays the lead of a trans-man. There is some controversy over the fact that the part of a trans man is not being played by a real trans man.

I thought a better title for the film might have been crafted based on the scene where a nurse, leaving the hospital room of the new mother after her shift, bids the patient good night with the farewell phrase, “Good night, Sir/Ma’am.”

Noemie Merlant

The farewell causes the new mother/father to smile, as he/she has just given birth to a baby boy, a sacrifice that Ben/Sarah made so that he/she could achieve his/her goal. That goal is stated in the film as, “I want to be me and have a normal life.”  Ben tells his older brother, Antoine, “I want the same as you. No more. No less.” The script also contains the advice, “The management of truth is the key to a rescue.”


I’m all for people of any sex and/or ethnicity seeking “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Freddy McConnell, a trans man, gave birth to his own son, Jack, and the “Guardian” journalist made a film with Director Jeanie Finlay about it called “Seahorse,” so the topic of a trans man giving birth to his own child IRL has been done before. The performances of the two leads (Noemie Merlant and Soko) are excellent.

The opening ocean panorama of the main character looking out at the sea from the Cote d’Azur is gorgeous. There are many other beautiful cinematic shots within the film, including some spectacular sunsets. But most of us want a story, as well, and there is definitely a story here.

Ben, the central character, was born Sarah Adler on April 28, 1990. The conflict comes when Ben’s love, Aude (Soko, who played Samantha in “Little Fish”) —after his decision to bear their child because they cannot adopt and Aude is infertile— tells Ben, “Right now, I don’t exist.  You play every part.  You play them all. I need to find mine.”

And….Poof!….Aude’s gone.

Another conflict is between Sarah/Ben’s mother, who mourns the loss of daughter Sarah and has difficulty accepting that Sarah has become Ben. There is also conflict between Ben and his male friends, whom he has kept in the dark. Some of Ben’s friends are more accepting than others.


Director Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar

It’s really difficult to follow who is whom and whether the apparently female girl at the bar (Sarah) does, in fact, turn out to become “Ben” later in the film. There is frequent jumping back and forth in time, between the present and the past. While audiences are savvy and will do their best to keep up, it can become difficult to figure out exactly who is whom, then and now.

The departure of Aude, Ben’s love, while understandable, seems very selfish. It reminded me of someone I know who—while his wife was delivering twins—-began an affair with a co-worker and left his wife, who had to go through childbirth alone. There is something about bringing new life into the world that mitigates for a united front to support that new life.

Poor Ben is forced to go through most of the pain, suffering, and confinement of delivery on his own, endure being viewed as a freak by some and suffering the loss of the support of the person closest to him, for whom he has sacrificed a great deal. The departure of Aude does set off a nicely done rapprochement with his estranged mother, however. Mom, watching the new-born baby attempting to suckle, says, “You think it’s a matter of instinct, but it’s not at all.”

The end of the film is slow, although cinematically beautiful. It reminded me of the famous painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat. We also get a quick glimpse of the reunited couple strolling through that scene with their baby.

I felt very sorry for Ben/Sarah, who had to give up the new life he had carved out for himself, reveal his previous identity to the world, and go through childbirth without the woman of his dreams by his side. While I understood Aude’s feelings of being “left out,”  Ben might wish to  re-consider their relationship in light of the loyalty he has shown, versus that demonstrated by Aude.

“A Perfect Enemy” Is a Film To Intrigue from Director Kike Maillo

The intriguing film “A Perfect Enemy” starring Tomasz Kot (Cold War), was directed by 45-year-old Spanish-born director Kike Maillo. Maillo helmed the 2012 film “Eva,” when 37, and it won him the Best New Director award from the Cinema Writers Circle Award in Spain and an award for Best Special Effects (2012). This time out, the basis for the complicated story is a novel by Amelie Nothomb, “Cosmetique de l’ennemi,” but the script was written by Maillo, aided by screenwriters Cristina Clemente and Fernando Navarro.

Architect Jeremiasz August has just concluded a lecture about architecture (“Perfection is when there is nothing left to take away.”) and is in a cab on his way to the airport.

Furthermore, it is an airport that Jeremiasz actually designed, with a beautiful model of his work in the center of a spacious waiting area.

Amidst a deluge outside the lecture hall, a young blonde traveler asks if she can share a cab with the architect. Tessel Textor (Athena Straites)—a petite blonde—does clamber inside the cab in the downpour and begins a pretty much non-stop barrage of information about herself. The Good Samaritan act of allowing her to share the cab causes both the architect and the young blonde to miss their flights, so their conversation continues—more or less—-in the VIP lounge of the airport.

August appears to be growing very tired of the non-stop chatter. There is some symbolism overtly explained. When Tessel first enters the cab,she explains that her name can mean “weaver of words,” although she is not a writer. (August tells her it’s not too late to start.)

There is a third character—a beautiful woman named Isabelle, who was married to August but disappeared  twenty years earlier. We see Isabelle (Marta Nieto) primarily strolling about a charming cemetery and, later, in her apartment. Her relationship with August is confirmed further along in the film by photos of the couple that adorn her apartment.

Things begin to become very surreal and fantastical at the airport. There are clear signs that Tessel is “not right in the head” (if she is even there) and her annoying monologue is beginning to irritate the reserved architect. There are several trips to view a model of the airport. Each time,  airport model has small changes occurring involving splotches of blood, etc. (Take note). The exchanges in the rest room(s) are even more central to the plot and even weirder.

Ultimately, August is on his flight. We anticipate that violence will occur at any moment, especially since Tessel followed August into the men’s lavatory and spends a fair amount of time playing with a knife throughout the film.

Now, August is on his flight. Tessel says to August, “Lower your voice.”

“Why?” asks August.

“Because you’re still on the plane,” responds Tessel. That was not where we thought August was when he raised his voice, so settings are shifting and mysterious things are occurring; the endless stories that Tessel tells are beginning to form a mosaic of sorts, coming together to form one tapestry.

The best comparison, for the viewer, to capture what may be going on in this film is to mention “Fight Club” and how it dealt with reality.

I enjoyed the film. First of all, it was well acted, (although Tessel would have been more convincing if she hadn’t been wearing 10 pounds of colored eye make-up in every scene plus what looked like camouflage pajamas).

Aside from that faux pas on the costuming, the principals carry out the somewhat confusing exchanges of dialogue proficiently, the music is good (Alex Baranowski), the sets are great, the cinematography is above average (Rita Noriega)  and the ultimate resolution of the plot is clear.

Another plus: the actors are all speaking English. I finally gave up on the subtitles of an Iranian film that was supposed to feature a burning theater. Did not make it through to the end of that one. Gave it my best shot; that’s 2 hours of my life I’ll never get back.

 Enjoyed this one all the way through to its thought-provoking conclusion.

Fourth-graders Ava & Elise Wilson Report on the Eiffel Tower from Paris

My twin granddaughters, Ava (the brunette) and Elise (the blonde) were with Mom and Dad in England and France this past week. True, they missed one week of fourth grade in Austin, Texas, but who among you would say they would have learned more during the last week of school at Baranoff Elementary than they did visiting Europe? (I actually said that the last week of any school should be avoided at all costs by everyone, if possible.)

My son’s job headquarters (steel company PSI) are in Berlin, Germany, so their engineer father (Scott) decided that his chemical engineer wife (Jessica) and the girls, age 10, should fly across the pond and visit the sights. Because Scott previously worked for a British steel firm, he has colleagues who are British and one generously offered them lodging for a week in England.

I asked the girls on the phone what their biggest impression of England was and the answer was, “They talk funny.”

I’d like to be able to tell you of ALL the places they’ve visited, but I can’t remember them all. Not to worry: Nanna Connie has requested comparison/contrast essays on England versus France and the girls are keeping journals.

It is worth mentioning that, during their time in England and France, Teresa May resigned and, last I heard, Macron of France was losing to LePen. (Do you think they know this? No? Oh, OK.)

View From Atop Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, Pre-Fire

Paris: the view from atop Notre Dame Cathedral.

From Notre Dame Cathedral.

Gargoyles and pillars atop Notre Dame Cathedral.

The view from above: Notre Dame Cathedral.

From Notre Dame Cathedral.

The world has reacted as you would have expected to the news that Notre Dame Cathedral was on fire. There was shock, sadness and, ultimately, a desire to help rebuild.

I read that Salma Hayek’s billionaire husband has pledged $139 million dollars to the reconstruction efforts. Observers on the ground commented on the steeples that fell, which were wooden, carved from a now-long-gone forest. One can anticipate that the steeple of the future may be made of some form of metal.

It is heart-warming to learn how beloved this symbol of Catholicism is not just to Paris but to the world. Almost universally, mourners around the world expressed their grief at the loss of such a beloved iconic structure. Democratic candidate Pete Buttegieg expressed his sorrow in flawless French (he speaks 7 languages and was a Rhodes Scholar). And then there were Presidents Obama and Trump. You can imagine which expressed his sentiments the most eloquently.

One firefighter was injured and we learn that the 400 valiant firefighters were fortunate enough to salvage some important things that were inside the beloved church. The famous Rose Window has supposedly been saved, and I heard that the world famous organ had, as well. I had heard, prior to these more recent updates, that, because the structure was undergoing some reconstruction, various copper statues had been removed before the flames broke out. That would be good news for the world and for France. Supposedly the crown of thorns perhaps worn by Jesus was also saved.

The world will watch as the resourceful French pick up the pieces and soldier on.

Notre Dame Cathedral: View from the Top As You’ll Never Be Able to See It Again

Notre Dame Cathedral

From the top of Notre Dame Cathedral.

From the top of Notre Dame.

View of Paris from the top of Notre Dame.

Gargoyles atop Notre Dame Cathedral.

View from the top of Notre Dame Cathedral.

Thedestruction of Notre Dame Cathedral by fire has gripped the nation and the world in its grasp.

It is an iconic symbol of so many things to so many people. And now, with the destruction of much of it, you’ll never be able to climb to the top and take the pictures I am going to share with you today, and in the next few days: 16 in all.

Mydaughter just visited Paris in the past few months and she said that Notre Dame was her favorite tourist visit. I actually attended church there, many moons ago, and the Rose Window—which may or may not have been saved—-captivated me during the service.

In order to get these pictures, you had to travel up to the top in a very small elevator that only accommodated about 7 people at a time. My college roommate. Pam Rhodes (a Des Moines area French teacher did that), and took these photos.

I’m sharing them with you, because this is a view from the top that will never be the same again.

French Film About Love & Its Effects Gives Viewers Much to Think About

The lead-up to the Chicago International Film Festival’s 53rd year is underway. Critics are getting the chance to screen films from over 95 countries, including 1,044 feature films, 3,500 shorts and 646 documentaries. Twenty-five of the films will enjoy their North American Premiere here and 29 others will have their U.S. Premiere in Chicago when the festival begins on October 12th.

Many films are embargoed, meaning that a complete review cannot be written until the film is actually released. Let me give you a peek at onr of these new films.

The black-and-white French film “L’Amant d’un Jour” (“A Lover for a Day”) directed by French director Philippe Garrel (“Regular Lovers”) was quite charming and a Cannes favorite. This one had much food for thought. Here are a few lines of dialogue and a brief synopsis:

“A Lover for a Day” is the provocative tale of modern love and family ties. When Jeanne’s (Esther Garrel) boyfriend Mateo breaks up with her, she is forced to move back home with her father, charismatic college professor Gilles (Eric Caravace) and discovers that he is now living with a girl her age, Ariane (Louise Chevillotte), his philosophy student.

Let me first disagree that Gilles is “charismatic” He’s dumpy looking and he is not young, but, in a classic case of transference, Ariane (Louise Chevillotte) has decided Gilles is the one for her. She pursues him until he catches her. Maybe she has a thing for older men (father fixation) or maybe it is the fact that Gilles was her Professor of Philosophy. Who knows? His appeal is not immediately apparent, but “the heart wants what it wants.”

When Jeanne comes calling at her father’s flat, Ariane is in residence; the two young women become friends.

Jeanne is extremely distraught over her break-up with fiancé Mateo, but Ariane, who is roughly Jeanne’s age, reassures her that, “You’ll get over it. We always do.”

Jeanne: “He kept telling me he loved me. I held off, at first. He came chasing after me. Now, there’s nothing there. I was totally played by love…and it all ends like this.”

The relationship between Gilles and his young lover continues, but there is a discussion of them having an “open” relationship where Arianne can take younger lovers, as long as Gilles doesn’t know. (“Not only do I not want to know, I’d rather have no idea.”)

Ariane counsels the heartbroken Jeanne with lines like, ”Sure, he (Mateo) was selfish. It happens to us all. I know it hurts, but it’ll pass.” She tells her new friend Jeanne that her father has been married and divorced three times and that she “thinks he enjoys divorcing.” This should give Gilles pause, if nothing else about Ariane does.

There’s a discussion of the Algerian War, in which one million Frenchmen were drafted to fight against Algeria. During the dinner-table discussions, the beautiful Arianne is ogled by another cute young Frenchman and Gilles seems upset. Ariane says, “It’s what you want. For me to flirt with others but sleep with you.” She also says, “You know me so well. I can’t hide a thing. It’s crazy to even try.”

Gilles responds, “I know you because I love you, perhaps.”

Voice-over: “Eternity never stopped. Happiness reigned over their home.”

However, problems arise, which, indirectly, are Jeanne’s fault. The denouement was interesting, to me, as I wondered, “How is this going to end?”

More thoughts that the movie gives us about love, in general: “When you’re so young and fragile, it can mark you for life.” (A reference to Jeanne’s heartsick behavior).

Ariane tells Jeanne: “You must know how to choose lovers. When you fall in love, you fall in love with everything; you become stupid.”

Jeanne responds, “But it’s sad to never fall in love, isn’t it?”

Of being in love: “I love it and, at the same time, it pisses me off. It’s great, but, then again, it’s super crazy. You just feel great, like you’re wrapped in a great coat/”

Gilles’ goal is this: “I want to age in a loving relationship.” He also admits this about himself: “I hurt women who did nothing to deserve it.” (*Note: the script was written by Philippe Garrel, Jean-Claude Carriere, Caroline Derues-Garrel, and Arlette Langmann).

Will Gilles and Arianne go the distance? Is Jeanne’s engagement to her fiancé, Mateo, really over? You’ll have to see the movie to find out when the it is released in the United States. (It played Cannes and also was featured October 10th at the New York Film Festival before it shows on October 13th in Chicago.)

Palma, Majorca, Spain: Last Mediterranean Stop

Our last day on the one-week birthday cruise to Spain, Italy and France was a stop at Palma, Majorca. (*Note: I’ve seen it spelled as Mallorca, as well.)



I had always heard the British talk about vacationing there. When I was a People-to-People student at homestays in England (Chislehurst in Kent, Weston-Super-Mare and Birmingham), the locals raved on about how lovely it was on the island of Majorca.

2005 train that traverses the island.

2005 train that traverses the island.

I knew that Michael Douglas and his wife had a place there and asked our guide about it. He said that the place was far away from the only large city on the island (Palma, population 400,000) and that Douglas’ first wife, Deandra, was the one who really liked the vacation home.  His current wife, the Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, does not like the place as well. According to our guide, the couple (Michael and Deandra) split usage of the home in half and, usually, Michael ends up in hotels, rather than the home he purchased with and for his first wife.

Heart of Palma, Majorca.

Heart of Palma, Majorca.

In order to tour Majorca we had to walk quite a ways to the center of town. It is not possible to drive the tour bus into the heart of the city because the streets are too narrow. In fact, the sidewalks were little more than a foot or two wide, yet cars zoomed down the narrow street putting all of us in peril as we walked to the heart of the city, where a small Cathedral greeted us. 2015-07-24 20.48.52

There is a train that was built in 2005 that you can take around the island. It is the most popular tourist attraction, we were told, and goes through several tunnels that have been built on the island, cutting through the mountains.  2015-07-24 22.39.46

We stopped at a cafe in the heart of the city, right in front of the Cathedral and where the train goes through, and had a Coca Cola and a beer.  The couple seated next to us began chatting with us. He was an I.T. guy from Sweden and she was an elementary school teacher. They used to vacation in Fort Lauderdale, but now have actually bought a place in Majorca, instead.

View from the train en route around the island.

View from the train en route around the island.

Craig said that Majorca was his favorite spot on the tour. That means he preferred it to Rome, Pisa, Naples, Florence, Cannes, Monte Carlo, Monaco, Barcelona, Munich and Pompeii. 2015-07-24 21.24.18

Majorca was not ungodly hot. There was a lovely breeze blowing and it was, indeed, a rustic vacation spot, although it seemed rather sleepy to me, in the same way that Hawaii seems sleepy after  you’ve thoroughly enjoyed the beaches and the beautiful vistas.2015-07-21 01.21.31

Three Films from the 48th Chicago Film Festival

Three films I’ve seen since Opening Night: “Benji,” the story of the tragic death of Benjamin Wilson, a young black Chicago basketball player senselessly shot and killed. Very good documentary, which I will speak about at greater legngth later.

“The Sapphires:” An Australian film with a Killer Soundtrack and featuring Chris O’Dowd (“Bridesmaids”) as the manager of a Supremes-like group of Aborigine girls who tour Vietnam during the Vietnam War and battle racism at home. Great performers. Great music. Great film.

“Holy Motors:” a joint French and German film (with subtitles) that represents all that is bad and pretentious about art. Incoherent. Boring. OVerlong.

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