The Red Balloon

The Red Balloon / Le Ballon Rouge (original title)

Over the weekend, I decided to stay out of the 100+ degree heat and watch a couple French Films, one of which was Le Ballon Rouge (The Red Balloon). I find it hard to believe that I had not seen this film before, but I must say I really enjoyed it. (And you can watch it on Netflix Instant View streaming video.)

The only short film ever to win an Oscar for best original screenplay, Albert Lamorisse tells the story of young Pascal (Lamorisse’s own son Pascal), a nine-year-old Parisian boy living an ordinary life in a sketchy Parisian neighborhood until the day that a large red balloon mysteriously floats into his life.

In this film, Lamorisse portrays Paris unlike what you have probably seen in most other films. There are no gorgeous shots of the Eifel Tower or Notre Dame. The sky is overcast, there are dull gray buildings flanking gray cobblestone streets with people in gray suits. Then in the midst of it, there is a single red balloon. I love how the color just pops!

As they walk the streets of Paris, the balloon provides the only pop of color in the boy’s mostly gray world.

The cinematography is sophisticated and elegant, as the film tells the story of this magical red balloon and the beautiful friendship formed between it and Pascal. Together as they walk the streets of Paris, the balloon provides the only pop of color in the boy’s mostly gray world.

There is barely a word spoken throughout this 34-minute film, so do not worry about subtitles or speaking French. In addition, if you have children, I highly recommend watching it with them. The film portrays the secret lives of children but doesn’t talk down to them or disrespect their fears or their loves.

Director: Albert Lamorisse
Writer: Albert Lamorisse
Stars: Pascal Lamorisse, Sabine Lamorisse and Georges Sellier

The post is also posted in my blog: The French Project

Fake it ’til you make it!

Pain au Chocolat

Pain au Chocolat

We’ve all heard the expression “Fake it ’til you make it!” and that’s what I intend to do – live like I’m living in France, until I can make the move.

For me, the French/European lifestyle is all about working to live, and not living to work.  Taking time to enjoy life’s pleasures. Being an artist. A writer. Dining outside. 

Parisian Cafe

Parisian Cafe

When I’m in Europe, I take the train to visit different cities. I walk more. I eat bread (*gasp*). Spend hours, sometimes entire days in Museums AND Cafés. Drink Champagne. Enjoy Crêpes and Pain au Chocolat (chocolate croissants)  – a lot! So why not do this now?

Nutella and Banana Crepe

Before I leave for my French Adventure, I plan on doing the following things right here in the Good Ole U.S.of A.:

1. Take the train to another State (perhaps Denverto visit my bestie Heidi; or Chicagoto visit my brother; or just maybe travel to a city I’ve never visited).
2. Finish my novel.
3. Relax in the park with a loaf of French bread, a bottle of wine and a good book.
4. Start drawing /painting again.
5. Enjoy the local museums and galleries.
6. Dine outside as much as possible.
7. Host a French Dinner & Movie Night –  complete with French music, a French film, Champagne, Hors d’oeuvres and Crêpes!
8. Speak French daily.
9. Cook French cuisine.
10. Sit in a local coffee-house for hours and people watch.

I better get started tout de suite!

This post is also posted in my new blog: The France Project 

I have a dream

The France Project ~ Dreaming My Dreams in French!

I have a dream.

I’ve had this dream for quite some time now.

My dream is to live in France for a minimum of 6 months, but would prefer a year if I can swing it.

I’ve had a love affair with France ever since the first time I visited, back in 1996. I’ve been back a few times and each time I love it all the more.  I enjoy the people, relish the culture and feel more artistic when I’m there.

I have set a goal: Move to France by March 2013.

This may seem like a long time off, but I think it’s realistic. There is a few things I need to do to prepare for the move.

First, I need to brush up on my French. (Hello Rosetta Stone!)

Second, I need to figure out how to finance this 6 month to 1 year sabbatical. (PayPal donations?!? – LOL)

Third, research and work out the details of the move, i.e., extended stay visa, a place to live, part-time work, etc., etc.

Fourth, put my belongings in storage and get on the plane!

I’m sure I will add to this list along the way, as I learn more about making an International move, but for now it’s a starting point. If you have any experiences you’d like to share, suggestions or advice, I’d love to hear (read) it.  I will be documenting my journey as I prepare for and embark upon this new adventure; for all the details and updates, please see my new blog The France Project at: http://thefranceproject.wordpress.com/

Until next time, Merci and au revoir !

Midnight In Paris – Just What the Doctor Ordered

Theatrical release poster

Yesterday afternoon my sister and I met up to see Woody Allen’s latest film. I hadn’t even seen a trailer, but a friend who knows of my love affair with Paris recommended the film. I only had to hear the name “Midnight in Paris” to know there was no doubt I’d see this movie – even though I’m not usually a huge Woody Allen fan.

For me, the movie was exactly what I needed on a hot summer’s afternoon. It’s a charming story about a Hollywood screenwriter, aspiring to publish his first novel, all the while wishing he lived in another time and place – the Golden Age in Paris.

This whimsical story had everything I loved; it was set in Paris, it brought to life some of my favorite writers, artists and musicians, and many scenes take place in the 1920’s.

I audibly sighed as the cinematographer highlighted one Paris attraction after the next; laughed aloud at many of the witty lines; and cringed at the negative dialogue of the supporting characters who weren’t so intrigued with Paris.  Like the main character Gil, I also love Paris at night, with all the monuments lit up perfectly, with the special glow that only Paris has. It’s quite apparent that Woody Allen has a love affair with Paris, too.

This movie premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival in May, and stars Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Carla Bruni and Adrien Brody. I just found out that the part of Cole Porter was played by French actor Yves Heck, but the voice and piano we hear are actually Conal Fowkes, with the Woody Allen Band. (http://www.davisfowkes.com/)  It was wonderful to hear the sounds of Cole Porter, with such delightful songs as You Do Something To Me, Let’s Do It and You’ve Got That Thing.

I think Tom Long of the Detroit News said it perfectly in his review: “Midnight in Paris is a loving embrace of the city, of art and of life itself.”

I give it 5 Red Stilettos!

Bikes, Bites and Art

Sacramento has a lot to offer its residents and visitors!! So many amazing restaurants with sidewalk seating, as well as art galleries, museums, boutiques, theatre and sporting events. One of my favorite things to do in Sacramento is the Second Saturday Art Walk – or Ride, I should say.

Some of us ride our bicycles around Downtown, Midtown, and/or East Sacramento, stopping to visit a gallery opening or two, then we’ll leisurely ride a few blocks to visit some more. We usually take a break for some Tapas or appetizers and a cool beverage before heading back out to see a few more galleries. It’s a pleasurable and entertaining way to enjoy the evening.

But even if you aren’t in town for Second Saturday, practically any summer day/evening is perfect for a bike ride in Sacramento. If you have visitors in town, or you yourself are without a bicycle to ride, may I suggest renting one from Bikes and Bites. The Bikes and Bites bike rental pairs out-of-town visitors and locals with cool beach cruisers so they can bike to one or more restaurants for a bite to eat in Midtown and Downtown Sacramento. The fleet of rental bikes includes both men’s and women’s classic single speed beach cruiser style bicycles, a combination lock, front and rear light set, an optional helmet, and a front-mounted basket with a sponsoring plaque on it.

Bikes and Bites is the brainchild of Robin Little, who has over 20 years of travel marketing experience and is the owner of UnionVacations.com. Bikes and Bites is the perfect way to get the message out to the public in the Sacramento Region about the importance of lowering their carbon footprint. There are currently 30 bikes available for rental with the possibility of additional bikes being added to the fleet during the 2010 season.

According to Robin, “We have taken the next step and are now placing bikes in a few office buildings, hotels and even a B&B.”

The Cost to rent a bike is only $10 for the first two hours and $3 for each additional hour, a maximum of $30 for 24 hours. What’s cool, and why this is call Bikes and Bites, is that your bike rental can get you easily around Midtown and Downtown Sacramento and spending money in sponsoring restaurants and shops.

The Sacramento Air Quality Management District’s, “Spare the Air” program will even pay for an hour of the bike rental if you ride your bike for several hours. (Please see http://www.BikesandBites.com for details and list of locations.)